This coming Sunday is an interesting day for Japanese fight fans who get three shows across the country. The most notable show of the day is Shizuoka, packed with prospects, whilst the other two shows are both at Korakuen Hall as part of the East Japan Rookie of the Year.
FujisanMesse, Fuji, Shizuoka, Japan
The show we like the most of the three is the show from Shizuoka, which features a bunch of notable prospects, many of whom are tipped to win titles over the next few years.
The most notable of the prospects on the show is the brilliantly talented Rentaro Kimura (4-0, 3), who takes on a really tough bout foe here as he battles the heavy handed Yoji Saito (3-1-2, 3). We've loved watching Kimura so far, and he does look like a very, very special talent who can do it all in the ring, but he has been caught a few times in the past and we suspect his team have put this bout together to give him a genuine chin check, with Saito being a genuine brute in the ring. This will be a battle between Kimura's skills, speed and movement, and Saito's power, strength and aggression and it should make for a genuinely brilliant contest.
Another major prospect on this card is Kimura's stablemate Tsubasa Murachi (7-1, 3), who looks to continue to move his career forward as he takes on Yuto Nakamura (11-6-1, 8). The talented Murachi has been rebuilding well since a 2019 loss to Froilan Saludar, winning his last 3 by decision, and it certainly seems that that brutal KO loss has seen him fighting in a more safety first style that could end up really being a great change for his career, and longevity in the sport. Nakamura on the other hand is now world beater, but he is better than his record suggests and will looking to get his career back on track following a TKO loss in December to Ryo Akaho, in a bout that never really made much sense. At his best Nakamura is a good Super Flyweight and he should ask questions of Murachi, but not be a real threat to him.
Another very highly regarded prospect on this card is second generation fighter Kento Hatanaka (11-0, 9), the son of former world champion Kiyoshi Hatanaka, who looks to fight for the first time since beating Roland Jay Biendima in February 2020. Sadly Hantanaka's bout appears to be more of a tick over fight than a really competitive one as he takes on the limited Daisuke Sudo (7-7-3). Given lengthy break from action this is ideal to help Hatanaka shake some ring rust, but it really is a shame that his career has been on the back burner since the pandemic began to affect boxing in Japan.
One final touted prospect here is Narumi Yukawa (2-0, 1), a sparring partner of Kimura's and a man with a great story of redemption following an criminal issue before he got the chance to begin his professional career. He's in a really good match up on this show as he takes on Yuji Awata (12-8-1, 5), in what is arguably the most well balanced of the bouts with prospects, outside of Kimura's. Awata is no world beater but he's a very competent domestic level fighter and we suspect Yukawa will want to shine, but will have to work hard here.
It's also worth noting that Renataro Kimura's cousin Tentaro Kimura (6-0-2) is also on this card, as he takes on Satoru Hoshiba (7-5, 2). Kimura, although unbeaten, isn't regarded as a prospect in the same way that his cousin is, but is a talent and Danji Suruga, his promoter, does speak very highly of him, and his talent. Hoshiba's record is very misleading, but he's aggressive, he comes to fight, and he could be a real thorn in the side for Kimura here. Kimura is the favourite, but we suspect he will be asked real questions from the aggression and pressure of Hoshiba.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
The first of the Rookie of the Year cards starts at 11:30am and features a total of 8 bouts, all 4 rounders. We're not going to take a look at all of them but there are some have caught the eye.
One of those worthy of some attention will see Ryugo Yanagibori (4-2, 1) take on the amazingly named Scorpion Kintaro (2-0, 2), who we really do think might be a Mortal Kombat fan. The 27 year old Yanagibori made his debut in 2018 and and has been stopped in both of his losses, but is coming into this bout with a recent win over Yuki Aizawa, a win that secured his place in this stage of the Rookie if the Year. Kintaro on the other had debuted in April, and has scored two quick wins, but this will be the first time he's facing a fighter with some professional experience.
In a bout at Featherweight novice fighter Daisuke Yoshikawa (1-0) will take on heavy handed 32 year old Kiyoharu Nunozaki (4-0, 3), in what should be an explosive encounter. Interestingly Yoshikawa is just 5'6" and will be giving up 4" here to Nunozaki, who will be the bigger man, the more experienced man and the heavier handed.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
The second Rookie of the Year card, which will take place from 5:30PM, is a show with 6 bouts on it, including 3 at Welterweight. On this card there are a couple of debutants that we're going to be focusing on.
One of the debutants is 28 year old Sarimanu Suzuki (0-0), who takes on 29 year old Yusaku Minami (2-2, 2). Whilst we're interested to see how Suzuki fares it's worth noting that Minami has been a stop or be stopped fighter, with his bouts never getting past round 3. Suzuki will know about Minami's history, and will be looking to make the most of Minami's questionable chin, whilst looking to also avoid his power.
Another debutant we'll be interested in seeing is 22 year old Middleweight hopeful Ryuya Kusamura (0-0) who takes on the limited, but experienced, Kazuki Ikeya (1-4). Given how few Middleweights there are in Japan it's always good to see novice Middleweights and we're hoping that Kusamura can make a mark going forward.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
This coming Thursday the Korakuen Hall plays host to the next show in the Diamond Glove series of events televised, on tape delay, by Fuji TV. Although not a massive card it does have a Japanese title bout, along with some very interesting supporting bouts, with some of the stars of the latest Rookie of the Year looking to shine.
The main event of the card will see Japanese Light Welterweight champion Daishi Nagata (15-2-2, 6) look to make his second defense of the title, which he took from Koki Inoue in 2020, as he takes on the unbeaten Masahiro Suzuki (5-0, 3). The tough and rugged Nagata will come in to this as a huge favourite and will try to use his physicality and pressure to break down the smaller, less experienced Suzuki, however that might not be as easy to do as Nagata might think. Suzuki, although inexperienced as a professional was a very good amateur and has impressed since kicking off his professional career with an excellent win against Antonio Siesmundo. This will be pressure against movement, and those bouts do tend to make for some very good stylistic clashes. Our in depth preview of this bout can be read here Nagata defends against unbeaten Suzuki!
In a really, really good looking chief support bout we'll see the very highly regarded Rentaro Kimura (3-0, 3) take on the once beaten Hikaru Fukunaga (8-1, 5) in a very solid 6 rounder. Kimura has looked fantastic since making his professional debut, late last year, and clearly has his eyes on getting title fights later this year. To do that he needs to keep winning and can't afford a slip up here against Fukunaga. As for Fukunaga he reached the All Japan Rookie of the Year final, but sadly tested posted for Covid19 before the bout and was unable to compete in his scheduled bout. With that disappointment we expect to see Fukunaga come in to this bout full of hunger and desire, and he could be a real test for Kimura in this mouth watering contest.
Another excellent match up on the under-card will see All Japan Rookie of the Year winner Ryota Karimata (6-0, 3) take on Hayato Aoki (4-0, 3) in a brilliant match up. The 25 year old Karimata is one of the potential stars from the belated Rookie of the Year tournament, and he looked solid through the tournament, despite some struggles in the final against Hyogo Kimura. He's aggressive, heavy handed, and a fun to watch fighter who lets his hands go. Aoki on the other hand is a 36 old who knows he can't afford any more set backs if he's ever going to secure a title fight. Expect to see a hot tempo set early on and bombs to be thrown by both men in this one.
Another notable standout from the latest Rookie of the Year tournament was Akira Hoshuyama (5-0, 2), who won a Flyweight. He will be looking to build on his Rookie success with a bout against former amateur standout Shisui Kawabata (2-2, 2), who has struggled since moving over to the professional ranks. Hoshuyama's Rookie of the Year final, against Yasuhiro Kanzaki, was one of the more controversial, and exciting, finals and he'll be looking to put to bed some question marks that hang over his head from that bout. Kawabata on the other hand desperately needs a win after back to back losses to Rikito Shiba and Yuki Nakajima. Kawabata might have two losses in 4, but he can fight, and if he clicks here he could end rebuilding rapidly, and becoming the fighter many expected him to become when he made his debut in early 2018.
The remaining bout on this carer will see the crude but fun to watch Shota Ogasawara (6-3, 3) take on Rookie of the Year runner up Naito Oikawa (3-1, 1) in a 6 rounder. This isn't a great bout, but it should be regarded as a must win for both men, following some disappointing performances in recent contests.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
This coming Thursday fight fans in Tokyo will get the next Diamond Glove show and it's an interesting one, with a Japanese title fight in the main event and two solid prospects in supporting bouts. It's not a massive card, and features just 4 bouts in total, but it is one worthy of attention.
The main event of the show will see Japanese Light Welterweight champion Daishi Nagata (15-2-1, 6) make his first defense, as he takes on veteran Akihiro Kondo (32-9-1, 18). The talented Nagata won the title in July when he scored a major upset victory over Koki Inoue, stopping Inoue who then retire from boxing. That was the highlight of a career that had promise a lot but had seen Nagata suffer from some misfortune, including a draw with Takeshi Inoue and a razor thin loss to Rikki Naito. At 30 years old we are hoping to see Nagata kick on, and have a solid reign with this title, and potentially a rematch Naito. Kondo on the other hand is a 35 year old who has shown his age recently. Losses to Downua Ruawaiking and Andy Hiraoka in 2019 have left his career hanging by a thread, and another loss here likely sends him into retirement in 2021. Although we do strongly favour a Nagata here it needs to be said that Kondo is tough, a veteran, knows how to handle himself in the ring and can make for exciting match ups due to his style and toughness. Our in depth preview of this one can be read here Nagata seeks first defense as he goes up against tough guy Kondo
In the chief support bout we'll see fast rising prospect Rentaro Kimura (2-0, 2) return for his third bout of the year as he takes on Thunder Teruya (7-7-1, 4) at Korakuen Hall. Kimura, who debuted in an empty Korakuen Hall a few months ago, has looked really impressive, and looks like a man capable of being fast tracked to titles next year. In many ways we had hoped he was going up against a better fighter than Teruya here, but in reality this should be regarded as a showcase for fans who haven't yet seen him. He's a real natural with amazing balance, footwork, timing and every punch in the book. Despite being the very, very, clear under-dog Teruya comes into this bout on the back of 3 straight wins and 5 wins in his last 6. He has got some momentum going for him and is the naturally bigger fighter, but he is going to be in with a sensational fighter.
Another prospect on this card is the once beaten Tsubasa Murachi (5-1, 3), who is in a very good looking bout here against Isao Aoyama (12-7-1, 3), in a bout which sees both men entering as Japanese ranked fighters. Of the two men the 23 year old Murachi is the one regarded as the bigger hope and the brighter talent, despite a brutal 2019 TKO loss to Froilan Saludar in a regional title fight. Since his sole loss he has bounced back with a single win, over Ryotaro Kawabata, and looked very good in that bout. The 31 year old Aoyama has had mixed success, going 4-4 in his last 8, but has shown enough to suggest that he should be able to ask questions of Murachi. He'll be a clear under-dog, but will certainly be there to win and will feel he has the experience to deal with Murachi.
The other bout on this card will be a female bout between Nanako Suzuki (4-2, 1) and Megumi Hosoda (3-1), in what should be an entertaining 6 round female war between two JBC ranked fighters.
FujisanMesse, Fuji, Shizuoka, Japan
For a second day running we get live streamed action from Japan, with the Suruga Boys Channel streaming a show from Shizuoka. The card isn't a huge one, but it is one we're really interested in, given it features a really fun to watch fighter, a prospect looking to bounce back from a brutal KO loss and one of the hottest young prospects in Japan
The most established name on the card I former Japanese Light Welterweight champion Koichi Aso (23-9-1, 15). The 34 year old Aso is certainly coming to the end of his career, and has lost 2 of his last 4, but will be looking to get another win on the slate here. In the opposite corner to Aso is the flawed Shogo Yamaguchi (12-5-3, 7), who has scored 1 win in his last 4, but that was a career best win over Shuhei Tsuchiya earlier this year. Given the styles of the fighters involved this could be a lot of fun!
The actual main event of the card will see Tsubasa Murachi (4-1, 3) looking to bounce back from a loss to Froilan Saludar, as he takes on domestic foe Ryotaro Kawabata (12-3-2, 6). The talented Murachi had won his firs 4 bouts with no real issues but was put in with Saludar way too early. He did have some success against the experienced Filipino, but was brutally knocked out in round 8 and it's now going to be interesting to see how he bounces back. Kawabata on the other hand isn't a gimme opponent and has shown what he can do with results like a draw against Rene Dacquel and a close loss to Mark John Yap. This is a genuine test for Murachi and could be a really, really tough out for the youngster.
Although not the main event it's hard not to feel that Rentaro Kimura (1-0, 1) is the star of the show. The talented youngster has been tipped as a future world champion, he looked great on his debut, scored a KO of the year contender and was a very accomplished amateur. Sadly his original opponent had to pull out and has been replaced by Takafumi Iwaya (4-3), who is unlikely to pose many questions to Kimura who will be looking to shin and make a statement. Given how impressed Kimura looked on debut we can't imagine anything but a destructive stoppage here, before his team strap a rocket on him and race him to a title.
As well as the Japanese action there is also set to be a card in Russia featuring a couple of Kazakh hopefuls.
One of the hopefuls on this show is teenager Dastan Saduuly (3-0, 3) who takes on Vildan Minasov (3-0, 2) in an 8 round contest at 135lbs. So far neither of these two men have faced any sort of a test, so this is a step up for both men. The press in Kazakhstan are excited about the 18 year old Saduuly, and have tipped him since he made his debut, aged just 16, but this is his first real test. As for Minasov the 23 year old Russian has got more rounds to his name, but his competition has been horrifically bad and it's hard to say how he'll fair against someone who hits him back.
In a much more interesting match up we'll see the unbeaten Bobirzhan Mominov (11-0, 8) battle against Vaghinak Tamrazyan (17-7, 5) in a contender for the IBF Inter-Continental Welterweight title. For the 28 year old Mominov the bout will be a chance to build on a win over Cameron Krael back in June, as part of the Top Rank Summer Series, and will also be his first bout in Russia. Aged 34, and heading to his 35th birthday, Tamrazyan has won just 1 of his last 4, but has been matched hard and should prove to be a good test for the bullishly strong Mominov. Although maybe not the highest level bout we'll be getting this Sunday this could end up being a very good contest between two real tough guys, both vying for some silverware.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
We return to Korakuen Hall this coming Wednesday for the next show in the Japanese capital and this is an interesting one, with a Japanese title fight, the notable debut of a very promising young fighter and female bout. In total the card only has 3 bouts so for this, as we did with the Ohashi card last week, we'll look at all the bouts on the show.
The female bout, which we believe is the first Japanese female bout up on the countries boxing restart, will see 20 year old youngster Nanako Suzuki (3-2, 1) take on 36 year old Aoi Watanabe (2-2, 1). Coming into this it seems like both fighters do have limited potential, but may be able to make a mark on the domestic title scene and both are in the top 10 of the Japanese female Flyweight rankings. Of the two Suzuki is the one with the more upside, and despite losing last time out to Renz Dacquel she did some nice skills as she battled back from a knockdown. For Watanabe this will be her first bout in the capital and only the second she'll have faced someone not making their debut.
The big debut is that of Rentaro Kimura (0-0), who has been tipped for huge things by those in the know in Japan. Kimura has spoke about getting a world title fight within 10 fights, is managed the Suruga Boys gym and trains at the Misako gym, alongside a number of Japanese champions and world champion Kenshiro Teraji. The expectation is on the 23 year old to shine as he takes on Yuya Azuma (5-3-1, 1), however Azuma is no push over and has won his last 3 in a row. In fact Azuma's last two losses have both meen razor close and had he had a bit of luck on his side he could easily have an 8-1 record. This might look like an easy debut for the very talented Kimura but in reality this should be regarded as a very serious debut for former amateur standout.
In the main event we'll see a Champion Carnival bout as Japanese Super Flyweight champion Kenta Nakagawa (18-3-1, 12) defends his title against mandatory challenger Yuta Matsuo (15-4-2, 8). On paper this is likely to be a much, much better fight than the records of the two men suggest. Nakagawa is a very solid punching boxer-puncher, who has notable domestic wins against the likes of Hayato Kimura, Ryosuke Nasu and Takayuki Okumoto, but with his 35th birthday just a few weeks away we do wonder what he has left in the tank. He look great in December, beating Okumoto, but at his age a fighter can get old over-night. Matsuo on the other hand is a pressure fighter, with an exciting style and a point to prove following back to back set backs. Despite failing to win a bout last year Matsuo is hungry and could end up having the desire needed to over-come the champion. This is the sort of bout that the Champion Carnival gives us, and is one of the best match ups for the month of July. Our full preview of this bout can be read here Nakagawa takes on Matsuo in first defense!