Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
Over the last few weeks the Japanese boxing scene has been frozen over almost due the State of Emergency ordered in certain areas of the country, which saw a number of shows in Tokyo and Osaka being postponed. This coming Wednesday we finally see the first of those postponed shows, taking place around 2 weeks after it's originally planned date. Despite the delay it's a show that is still anticipated and should have some genuine drama and excitement.
A lot of the drama and excitement will come in the main event as Japanese Middleweight champion Kazuto Takesako (12-0-1, 11) battles mandatory challenger Riku Kunimoto (4-0, 2), at long last. This bout had multiple dates set for it last year, before the pandemic and injuries forced it to be delayed over, and over, and was then delayed earlier this year. Due to the delays Takesako will have been out of the ring for 16 months, following an excellent win over Shinobu Charlie Hosokawa but he's likely to be very fresh having had time to recover after 3 successive tough bouts. As for Kunimoto we expect him to be very rusty, and it's more than 2 years since his last fight, with the pandemic really slowing his career down massively. Despite being inactive for 2 years Kunimoto is still only 23 and the long delay may actually help him, giving him time to mature into a young man. Either way this promises to be Takesako's power and strength against Kunimoto's speed and youth and should be a really intriguing match up. Our full in depth preview of this bout can be read here Power punching Takesako takes on unbeaten challenger Kunimoto in over-due fight!
The main support bout will be a bit of a strange one as Japanese ranked Bantamweight Yoshihiro Utsumi (16-9-4, 10) drops down in weight to Super Flyweight to take on Japanese ranked Flyweight Kento Yabusaki (8-4-1, 5). The 37 year old Utsumi has had some mixed results through his career, but can clearly fight, having beaten Hibiki Jogo in 2018 and going the distance with Hiroaki Teshigawara. Sadly though his best days are well behind him. Yabusaki on the other hand is 23 and looking to build on a major upset win over Shin Ono that he scored in 2020. This is two men in different divisions, going in different directions, meeting in a bit of crossroads fight.
Other bouts on this card include a toss up between Yuki Uchida (7-8, 1) and Yoshimitsu Kushibe (7-8-2, 1) in what should be a very competitive 8 round bout, and a battle of teenagers, as Sho Nagasato (2-0, 1) takes on the debuting Kanamu Sakama (0-0).
This coming Saturday is set to be a great day for Asian boxing, with notable action in Thailand, Japan, Russia and the US.
Workpoint Studio, Bang Phun, Thailand
For once we'll start in Thailand as WP Boxing give us one of their most interesting shows of 2020, and do so free on their YouTube and Facebook pages. The card isn't a monster card, but it does have two very interesting main bouts on it.
The highest profile bout on the card will see former world champions colliding for a regional title. In one corner will be former WBO Bantamweight champion Pungluang Sor Singyu (54-8, 36), who showed there was still something left in the tank with a recent upset win over Campee Phayom, whilst the other corner will host Amnat Ruenroeng (20-4, 6), himself a former IBF Flyweight champion. On paper it seems easy to favour the hard hitting, and naturally bigger, Pungluang, however Amnat showed he still have plenty to offer when he ran Srisaket Sor Rungvisai close a few months ago. This is a really intriguing match up and will be for the WBC Asian Boxing Council Featherweight title.
A second WBC Asian Boxing Council title fight on this card will be at Flyweight, with rising youngster Thananchai Charunphak (10-1, 8) defending his title over battle worn veteran Pigmy Kokietgym (61-13-2, 25). We are huge fans of the 20 year old Thananchai, who has been very impressive in recent bouts and will be looking to secure a third notable win here. Sadly Pigmy Kokietgym is about 10 years beyond his prime, and about 7lbs north of his best weight. We suspect Pigmy will give it a go early on, before being broken down and stopped by Thananchai. Although a mismatch we can't recommend fans following Thananchai enough, this youngster is one of the best prospects in Thailand.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
As well as as the action in Thailand we also get a pretty notable show at Korakuen Hall, sadly however this show won't be getting live TV coverage and instead will be televised a few days after the event takes place.
Originally the main event here was supposed to see Japanese Middleweight champion Kazuto Takesako (12-0-1, 11) make a mandatory defense of his title as he takes on unbeaten youngster Riku Kunimoto (4-0, 2), as part of the Champion Carnival. Sadly the bout was cancelled just over a week before the show due to Takesako suffering a training injury.
Due to the main event bout being cancelled the headline bout here will see former world title challenger Takeshi Inoue (16-1-1, 10) fight in what is supposed to be a tune up contest against the unbeaten Nath Nwachukwu (6-0-2, 3), who will likely see himself as a live under-dog. Inoue, best known for his 2019 bout with Jaime Munguia, will be seeking a 4th straight win and will be hoping to move into a second world level bout next year. Notably he won't be defending his WBO Asia Pacific title here, which he did defend back in January. The 23 year old Nwachukwu won the All Japan Rookie of the Year at Middleweight in 2018 and has picked up 3 wins since then. Although he's the under-dog Nwachukwu will know a win here would genuinely change his career.
Another bout of note on this card will see flawed puncher Takuma Takahashi (5-0, 5) take on Kodai Kiyota (9-6-2, 9), in what could be a very explosive contest. Takahashi has looked very, very heavy handed, but he also showed some real vulnerability last time out, getting dropped and cut against Leonardo Doronio, and there are worries about his punch resistance. Kiyota is no world beater, and hasn't fought in over a decade, but he is heavy handed and could well have the power needed to take out Takahashi, if he lands clean.
Also on this card will be recent Japanese title challenger Koki Koshikawa (9-2, 6), who takes on Yuichi Ideta (13-15-1, 7), with Koshikawa looking to bounce back from a loss to Hironobu Matsunaga.
RCC Boxing Academy, Ekaterinburg, Russia
The WP Boxing event isn't the only one we'll be getting for free on YouTube as RCC will also be giving us a show, this time from Russia, with several Central Asian fighters on it.
One of the bouts on this show will see once beaten Uzbek hopeful Ravshanbek Umurzakov (10-1, 7) take on really talented Ukrainian Zoravor Petrosian (9-0, 4), in a bout that was originally for September. Umurzakov was upset back in January by Esneiker Correa, in a genuine surprise, and has been out of the ring since then. Petrosian on the other hand is a 22 year old who turned professional in 2018 and has scored 3 wins this year, whilst looking very highly skilled. This should be a very, very interesting match up.
In a supporting bout baby faced Kazakh fighter Yerzhan Zalilov (11-2-1, 5) take on Russian fighter Evgenii Liashkov (6-1, 1). At one point Zalilov looks like a fighter with the potential to go places, but sadly 2 losses in is last 3 bouts have pretty much ended his hopes of reaching the top of the mountain. Liashkov is a light puncher who lost on but has reeled off 6 wins and comes into this with real momentum.
One more bout on this show will see Uzbek born Russian Dmitry Yun (4-0, 1) taking on Sherzodjon Abdurazzokov (1-0). Yun is a really skilled boxer-mover, who looks like a brilliant talented, with lovely speed, movement and accuracy. Sadly however his lack of power, and questionable durability, seem likely to hold him back, despite how fantastic he is to see in full flow. Aged 20 Abdurazzokov is an Uzbek youngster who made his debut in 2019, and will go into this as the under-dog.
Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, Hollywood, Florida, USA
We will also Chinese Heavyweight hopeful Zhilei Zhang (21-0, 16) in action, as he begins his relationship with Matchroom Sports. The 37 year Chinese fighter, who has been spoken about as a future opponent for Anthony Joshua, will be up against 38 year old American Devin Vargas (22-6, 9). Sadly for a man that Eddie Hearn wants to talk about big fights for, time is rapidly running out for Zhang, and it seems highly unlikely that he will ever manage to reach the heights some expected of him.
This coming Friday fight fans in Japan will get two different shows in major areas, on in Osaka and one in Tokyo, there's also two shows in the Philippines and one in Dubai!
Of the two cards it's the Osaka one which will get most of the attention, featuring a major name in Japanese boxing along with a couple of bouts featuring interesting hopefuls.
The major name is that of Juiki Tatsuyoshi (10-0, 7), the son of former world champion Joichiro Tatsuyoshi, who despite not being anywhere near to the fighter his father was, is still a noteworthy prospect. Tatsuyoshi will be up against Daichi Matsuura (6-3-2, 2), who doesn't look likely to be much of a test for Tatsuyoshi, even if Tatsuyoshi is a long way from being a world beater himself.
The chief support bout on this card will see the heavy handed Kyosuke Tsutsumimoto (9-1, 8) take on Japanese based Korean fighter Tae Il Atusmi (15-2, 7) in a very interesting contest that could prove to be the highlight of the show. The 23 year old Tsutsumimoto enters this bout on the back of 5 stoppage wins, but this is a step up for him. Atsumi on the other hand will be looking to score his third straight win following a 2017 loss to Shingo Kawamura. This should be a very exciting and competitive contest between two guys who can hit hard.
Also on this show is former Rookie of the Year finalist Hibiki Jogo (8-2, 4), who looks to rebuild from a 2018 loss to Yoshihiro Utsumi. From what we under-stand the talented Jogo will be up against experienced Filipino foe Marzon Cabilla (17-17-1, 6), in what should be a straight forward win for the local hopeful.
In Tokyo we'll see the next Golden Child card. This is a smaller card, but should be a pretty entertaining one, with several good looking bouts.
The main event of the card will the always fun to watch Shusaku Fujinaka (16-10-2, 11) take on Toshiro Tarumi (11-3-3, 6) in a Welterweight bout between Japanese ranked fighters. Coming in to this Fujinaka has lost 4 of his last 5, but they have included defeats in a WBO Asia Pacific title bout, to Keita Obara, and a Japanese title bout, to Ryota Yada. Tarumi on the other hand is ranked #2 by the JBC, and has won his last 6 to be on the verge of his first title bout.
The chief support bout is a fantastic match up, which will see young Japanese Middleweight prospect Riku Kunimoto (3-0, 1) take on the heavy handed, but flawed, Shoma Fukumoto (12-3, 10) in a really intriguing contest. Kunimoto is taking a massive step up in class, but a win here will help him race towards a Japanese national title fight. On the other hand a loss for Fukumoto, who has been stopped in 2 of his last 3, could be the end of his dreams. A must win for Fukumoto, but one that comes against a former national amateur standout. A full preview of this bout can be read here Kunimoto steps up to take on Fukumoto
Also on this card is a rare Japanese Heavyweight clash, as Yamato Fujinaka (7-5, 3) and Ryu Ueda (7-1-1, 4) face off for the second time. These two fought in November 2015, with Ueda taking the win by decision, and since then neither has really done too much of note.
As well as the Japanese cards, there is also a show in Cebu, featuring some pretty interesting local hopefuls.
One of the main bouts on this show will be a WBC Asian Boxing Council Silver Featherweight title bout, as the unbeaten Tomjune Mangubat (10-0-1, 9) takes on Arnel Baconaje (10-3, 8). This genuinely looks like it could be something really, really fun. We're not a fan of just how many regional minor titles there are out there, but if they are responsible for bouts like this, we can't complain too much!
A second title fight will see the unbeaten Mark Vicelles (9-0-1, 5) take on the under-rated Robert Onggocan (11-4, 7) , for a low key title on the domestic, or rather local, scene. The reality is that they could have used this bout as a major regional title eliminator, it's a fantastic match up, and should be some really special for the fans in attendance. It's a bout that clearly doesn't need a very low level title to be on the line, and the fight clearly overshadows the belt that they will be fighting for.
A second Filipino show will take place in Bukidnon.
The main event of this show will see Jerry Tomogdan (26-10-4, 14) battle against Dexter Alimento (13-5, 9) in what should be a pretty interesting match up between two under-rated Filipino's. Both have suffered recent losses and both need a win to remain relevant, but this not an easy one for either guy.
Also on this card is Robert Paradero (17-0, 11), who will be fighting for the first time in a year following visa issues with arranged bouts outside of his homeland. He will be expecting to pick up an easy win as he takes on 19 year old Jonathan Almacen (5-2-2, 1).
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
As well as the bouts in the power houses of Asian boxing there will also be Asian action in Dubai, as MTK Global take their show on the road and show case a number of prospects.
One of those Asian fighters is Abilkhaiyr Shegaliyev (2-0, 1), who will be battling against Teimuraz- Abuladze (9-6, 7) of Georgia. Another in action is Sultan Zaurbek (5-0, 3), who takes on Chinese foe Chenghong Tao (7-5-1, 5).
The biggest hopeful on the card however is 2016 Olympic gold medal winner Shakhobidin Zoirov (0-0), who will be making his professional debut against Indonesian foe Anthony Holt (5-4-1, 3), who was stopped inside a round last June by the then debuting Jin Minamide. This should be little more than a cameo for Zoirov.
Another central Asian fighter in action this Friday is Sanjarbek Rakhmanov (11-1-1, 5), who looks to score his second win following a 2018 loss to Marquis Taylor. The Uzbek will be up against unbeaten puncher Keith Hunter (9-0, 7) in what looks like a fantastic bout, at least on paper.
Christmas is creeping up on us and on December 24th we have a really intriguing card from Osaka, which features an OPBF title fight and two hotly tipped Japanese prospects.
The title bout promises to deliver explosive action, as the heavy handed Keita Kurihara (12-5, 11) take on the limited but hard hitting Yuki Strong Kobayashi (14-7, 8) for the OPBF Bantamweight title, which was vacated by Mark John Yap earlier this year. On paper the bout doesn't look like anything special, but given the styles of the two fighters we're expecting a very exciting brawl. Coming in Kurihara has scored 3 straight wins of note, stopping Ryan Lumacad, Tetsuya Watanabe and Kazuki Tanaka, all since a 5th round TKO loss to Hiroaki Teshigawara. As for Kobayashi he is himself riding a 4 fight winning run, including a win last time out against Vincent Astrolabio on the Manny Pacquiao Vs Lucas Matthysse under-card. Both of these guys are defensively flawed, but both can bang and that should make this fight very exciting. A preview of this bout is available here Kurihara and Kobayashi battle for OPBF title in Christmas Eve treat!
One of the prospects on this card is Rio Kuwabata (1-0, 1), who takes a notable step up in class to face off with Yosuke Taniguchi (7-5-1, 2). The 22 year old Kuwabata made his debut back in China, in a 4 rounder, and this is a notable step up for a man who is tipped to be a success. As for Taniguchi he has gone on a 5 fight unbeaten run, including a win over Shachihoko Dragons Keita last time out. Although this is expected to be another win for Kuwabata it's fair to say he's in with a live opponent here and should consider this a serious test.
The other prospect of note on this show is Riku Kunimoto (2-0), who has shown touches of genius, but really appears to be lacking just one or two things at the moment. Aged 21 Kunimoto is a Japanese Middleweight worth making a mental note of, though it could be a few years before we see him really being tested. Saying that however he's not being matched softly and his third bout will see him in with the experienced Toshihiro Kai (6-10-2, 2), who has gone 2-4 in his last 6 bouts but has scored a notable win over Yutaka Oishi.
One other bout of note on this card will see former Japanese Super Flyweight champion Hiroyuki Kudaka (26-18-2, 11) take on Japanese based Filipino Jayar Estremos (11-14, 4). This is Kudaka's first bout since losing the Japanese title to Takayuki Okumoto in August and we do wonder what the highly experienced 4-time world title challenger has left in his 33 year old body, after what has been a relatively exciting yet over-looked career. Estremos on the other hand has won just 1 of his last 10 bouts, but he has been matched hard with bouts against notable foes in Thailand. If Estremos has found his desire to fight he could make for a tough opponent for Kudaka, but the reality is that Kudaka should be strongly favoured here, and should be able to come out on top of an exciting contest.
A second card will also take place in Osaka, albeit a much less notable card.
The main event of the card will see Tomoko Okuda (4-2-1) taking on Thai visitor Anchalee Mankong (2-3), in what looks like a very weak main event contest. It's hard to imagine Okuda losing, despite her limitations, but regardless it's not a main event that will draw much interest.
Despite not being the main event, the best match up, on paper at least, will see Hirokazu Okajima (8-6-2, 4) battle against the hard hitting Kazuaki Miyamoto (6-2, 5). The 33 year old Okajima has been out of the ring for over a year, following a 5th round KO loss to Masashi Wakita, and is more than 6 years removed form his last win, against Akira Shono in 2012. Miyamoto is limited himself, and both of his losses have been by stoppage, including one early this year to a very faded Seiichi Okada. This is one where we expect both men to have the power to stop the other in what could an entertaining lower level scrap.
Distrito Federal, Mexico
Arguably the biggest bout in Asia this weekend will come from Mexico as WBC female Bantamweight champion Mariana Juarez (49-9-4, 18) rematches Japanese challenger Terumi Nuki (10-3, 7). These two fought in 2017, with Juarez taking a clear win, and since then Nuki has gone 1-1, losing a wide decision to Debora Anahi Dionicius. This is likely to be Nuki's final shot at a world title for a while if she comes up short, so we're expecting a very fiery effort here from the challenger. At the age of 38 Juarrez is an old fighter, especially given she's had 62 bouts and fought in 455 rounds. Despite her age she is on a 6 fight unbeaten run and will not be handing over her title over without someone ripping it from her hands.
The biggest Asian show comes from the City Sogo Gym in Osaka, as we get a Japanese title fight, a hotly tipped female fighter and a mouth watering domestic clash.
The main event will see Japanese Welterweight champion Ryota Yada (16-4, 3) make his first defense as he takes on Kazuyasu Okamoto (14-5, 4). The hard hitting Yada claimed the title back in April, when he stopped fellow puncher Toshio Arikawa in 8 rounds, in what was a brutal and hard hitting bout. The win over Arikawa was the 4th straight victory for Yada who has bounced back very well from his 2016 loss to Jayar Inson. The challenger will be in his first title fight, though unfortunate for Okumoto he was stopped last time out by Vladimir Baez and hasn't notched up a win since April 2017. The challenger really would need a career defining performance here to even test Yada.
The chief support bout actually looks likely to be the bout of the show as the once beaten former amateur stand out Kazuki Tanaka (9-1, 6) takes on the inform and very hard hitting Keita Kurihara (11-5, 10). Coming in to this bout Tanaka has a #3 ranking with the JBC and is looking to build on good wins over Hikaru Marguame and Seizo Kono. On the other hand Kurihara, who is ranked by the OPBF, JBC and WBO Asia Pacific, is looking to build on devastating wins over Ryan Lumacad and Tetsuya Watanabe. We're expecting this to a brutal clash and could go either way.
Once beaten Japanese ranked Super Bantamweight Toshiki Shimomachi (8-1-1, 5) will be in action against Filipino fighter Renan Portes (10-6, 6). Shimomachi has rebuilt well following a 2-1-1 start to his career and claimed the Super Bantamweight Rookie of the Year crown last year. Despite his ranking this is a slight step up in class the Japanese fighter. As for Portes he has been picking up loses on the road for the last 2 years, including a stoppage loss to Hayate Kaji last year and Mike Tawatchai earlier this year.
Also on this card will be former female stand out Kasumi Saeki (1-0) who steps up to 8 round bouts as she takes on a Thai visitor in what is likely to be her final bout before a title shot.
A second show in Osaka will be held at the Sumyoshi Ward Center and will be a relatively low key card with only 4 bouts worthy of any mention.
The main event will see WBO Asia Pacific Flyweight champion Masahiro Sakamoto (12-1, 8) fighting in a non-title bout against South Korean Super Flyweight champion Ki Chang Go (6-2, 2). On paper this doesn't look the best of match ups, but with Sakamoto moving up in weight for this contest he could be pushed hard by the Korean visitor, who has won his last 6 after a 0-2 start to his professional career.
In the chief support bout fans will see OPBF ranked Super Bantamweight Shachihoko Dragons Keita (8-5-4, 1) face off with Yosuke Taniguchi (6-5-1, 1), in what should be a very safe bout for Keita, who has gone 3-0-3 in his last 6 bouts. Although we wouldn't fancy Keita to claim an OPBF title he should manage to pick up a win here.
Another ranked fighter on this card is Kota Fujimoto (8-2-1, 2), who risks his JBC and OPBF rankings against Tatsuya Terada (6-3-1, 1). Coming in to this Fujimoto is riding a 3 fight unbeaten run, including a draw with the touted Masayoshi Hashizume from last December. As for Terada he was beaten last time out and his wins have, for the most part, come against very limited opponents.
Also on this card is the debuting Riku Kunimoto (0-0), who makes his debut against a Korean opponent. Kunimoto is tipped to have a big future but it will be interesting to see how he kicks off his career, and how he looks as a professional fighter.
As well as the action in Osaka there is also an interesting card set to take place in Laguna, featuring an OPBF champion defending his title, and a couple of unbeaten prospects.
The OPBF champion is the inform Light Flyweight contender Edward Heno (12-0-5, 5), who defends his title against the fringe world class Jesse Espinas (19-2, 11) in what looks like an amazing match up. This will be Heno's second defense, following a excellent win over Merlito Sabillo this past February, and another win here will push him well up the world rankings towards a world title fight. Espinas comes into this bout riding an 8 fight winning run, with notable wins over Joey Canoy, Paipharob Kokietgym and Elias Joaquino. This is set to be a very special bout and should see the winner announce themselves as a leading contender in one of the deepest divisions in the sport.
On the under-card fans will see Enrique Magsalin (4-0-2, 1) risk his unbeaten record against the once beaten Adrian Lerasan (6-1, 1) whilst Prince Andrew Laurio (9-0-1, 6) will take on Jopher Marayan (7-11-2, 3). We expect to see the unbeaten men continue to keep their “0” in tact, but Magasalin looks like he has a genuine test on his hands.