February 6th-World title rematch in the Philippines, Rookie of the Year in Tokyo
Digos City, Davao del Sur, Philippines
This coming weekend we see a Minimumweight world title rematch, as IBF Minimumweight champion Rene Mark Cuarto (19-2-2, 11) takes on Pedro Taduran (14-3-1, 11), the man he beat for the title last year. In their first bout Cuarto used really good movement and timing to out box Taduran over 12 rounds, and he'll be looking to do the same here, however it's fair to say that Taduran will be determined to reclaim his title, and we see him starting fast and really putting the pressure on the champion this time around. Like their first bout, this is a really interesting match up, and one we expect will be explosive. Interestingly we don't see many all-Filipino world title bouts, so to see the same two men facing off in two of them is rather interesting and it's genuinely great to see more and more all-Filipino world title bouts. It's also interesting to note that the winner of this bout will likely need to face another Filipino later in the year, as Melvin Jerusalem is the highest ranked contender for the title. Our preview of this bou can be read here Taduran seeks revenge as he takes on Cuarto!
Also on this card will be a GAB Light Flyweight title bout, as Orlie Silvestre (16-6-2, 8) takes on Jerry Francisco (9-2, 2) in an interesting looking bout. Of the two men Silvestre is the more proven, but he has take a lot of punishment in recent years and Francisco will know this is a great chance to become a Filipino national champion.
Another bout on this card worthy of some interest is a bout between unbeaten fighters as Lienard Sarcon (8-0, 3) and RV Deniega (5-0, 2) battle in a very, very good 8 round match up Bantamweight. The winner of this will likely progress to title bouts later in the year making this bout a very, very notable one, for both men and the Filipino domestic scene in general.
Korakeun Hall, Toyko, Japan
In Japan attention turns to Korakuen Hall where we get the All Japan Rookie of the Year final. The card is set to feature 12 bouts, to crown Rookies of the Year and sees the best Rookies from East Japan take on the best from across Japan.
We won't look at all 12 bouts, but we have selected three that interest us the most.
The first of those is the Super Flyweight bout, which will see the heavy handed Masato Shinoda (4-0, 3) take on fellow unbeaten fighter Riku Yamashita (6-0-1, 3). The Super Flyweight division typically gives us a lot of notable future domestic and regional contenders, and we suspect that will be the same here. Shinoda is 25 years old and only debuted last July, but has advanced through the tournament and looks like he could be developed into someone who can mix at title level in a year or two, his biggest issue being a lack of experience. Aged 21 Yamashita is a baby, yet debuted back in 2019, and has had to come through some and competitive bouts. This one could be explosive, especially if Shinoda can make it his bout.
Another division that tends to be highlighter by the tournament is the Featherweight division, and that seems likely to be the case again here as Kai Watanabe (6-0, 2) takes on Chihiro Iwashita (3-0, 2). Watanabe is 19 years old, and debuted in April 2021, making him one of the busiest Japanese fighters last year. He does appear to lack power, but at 19 he's still a boxing baby, and won't have his man strength yet. Despite that his power is hurtful, and both of his stoppages have come in the opening round, with his last win coming in just 10 seconds. Iwashita on the other hand is 25 and will be regarded as the puncher, with TKO's in his first 3 bouts. Interesting Iwashita's stoppages have come in the first round, and with that in mind there could be some real fireworks early on here.
Japan has traditionally had a strong domestic scene at 130lbs, and that seems likely to continue for years to come. Despite that the Super Featherweight bout here could well help put someone new in the next over the coming years. The final here will see 25 year old Jinu Lee (7-0, 3) battle 20 year old Seiryu Yamana (2-0, 1). Lee has been really impressive since his 2019 debut and has only really been given a tough night by Tomohiro Igarashi back in September. That bout aside he's won pretty much every minute of every fight he's had as a professional. Yamana on the other hand has, rather notably, fought twice, and taken 2 unbeaten records, he will be looking to make it 3 in a row here. Lee will be the favourite, but Yamana should not be over-looked here and he will be full of confidence going into his Korakuen Hall debut.