December 2nd - Koki Inoue and Jheritz Chavez battle for title, Kuwahara and Matsumoto in supporting bouts
This coming Monday Ohashi will be putting on their next show, and whilst it's not a massive one it is a good one with 4 bouts of real not on it, including a Japanese champion, a former world title challenger and two unbeaten prospects.
The Japanese champion Koki Inoue (14-0, 11), the cousin of Naoya Inoue and Takuma Inoue, and despite being the Japanese champion he won't be defending his title here. Instead he goes up against hard hitting Filipino foe Jheritz Chavez (9-3-2, 7) in a bout for the WBO Asia Pacific Light Welterweight title, with Inoue looking to become a double champion and Chavez looking to take a career best win. Inoue has looked hit and miss at times, though is an incredibly talented fighter with a lot of potential and a win here should open up some big doors for him going forward. As for Chavez he was unlucky in 2018 when he challenged OPBF champion Rikki Naito and had him almost out of there late on. This should be a very exciting fight, with both men expected to try and make a statement as we close out 2019. Our preview of this bout can be read here Koki Inoue takes on Jhertiz Chavez for regional title!
The chief support bout will see the fast rising Taku Kuwahara (6-0, 4) hunt his 4th win of the year. "Ioka II", as he's been dubbed in Japan, is looking to build on a career best win over Jonathan Refugio as he takes on Ricardo Sueno (10-3-4, 3). Sadly this looks like a massive step backwards for Kuwahara, and one he only really gets away with thanks to his activity, with this actually being his 5th bout in the space of 365 days. Sueno was stopped in a round by Thanongsak Simsri the last time he fought in Japan, and whilst we expect him to last longer here, we suspect he'll suffer another stoppage loss here.
Former world title challenger Ryo Matsumoto (22-3, 20) continues to rebuild following back to back losses in 2018, to Daniel Roman and Ryo Sagawa. The once very highly touted Matsumoto is understandably rebuilding his confidence and will be up against fellow Japanese fighter Jinya Ito (8-5-1, 3) here. Although 2018 was a nightmare year for Matsumoto it's hard to deny his talent, and at just 25 years old he does have plenty of time to rebuild and challenge again for a world title. The truth here is that Ito should provide very little in terms of a challenge for Matsumoto, unless Matsumoto is mentally done with the sport, and we don't believe he is!
Another prospect on this card is unbeaten 27 year old Ohashi gym hopeful Katsuya Yasuda (5-0, 3), who takes on Indonesian journeyman Rengga Rengga (8-4, 2). The talented Yasuda has failed to kick on with his career as we'd hoped, and 2018 was almost a write off for him, but this is his 3rd bout in a little over 5 months, and hopefully he'll use that activity as a launchpad in the new year. Renga has lost his last 2 by stoppage, and is 0-4 outside of Indonesia, with all all 4 losses coming in the first 2 rounds. We can't see this being anything other than a blow out win for Yasuda.
The first Ohashi card of 2019 takes place this coming Monday when we see a card headlined by a 3-weight world champion, and features a number of excellent rising hopefuls.
The main event will see former 3-weight world champion Akira Yaegashi (27-6, 15) fight in a tick over, as he takes on limited Thai Sahaphap Bunop (4-2, 3), who has been stopped in both of his previous bouts in Japan. Yaegashi is trying to secure a world title fight at Super Flyweight later in the year, and this bout is being sold as a prelude for such a bout. It really should be little more than a stay busy for the popular Yaegashi.
In a much more compelling match up Andy Hiraoka (13-0, 9) will take on the unbeaten Atchariya Wirojanasunobol (12-0, 5) in a fantastic fight between unbeaten men. Of the two Hiraoka looks like the man with the bigger potential and upside, but he will certainly be asked questions here from the Thai, who is slippery, smart and a good boxer overall. This is likely to be the best bout on the card, by some margin. A full preview of this bout can be read here Hiraoka and Atchariya risk unbeaten records!
In an all-Japanese fight fans will see former Japanese Super Featherweight champion Seiichi Okada (22-6-1, 13) take on domestic foe Nakagawa Kanehiro (6-6, 4), in what should be a straight forward win for Okada. The veteran has won his last 4, but does turn 37 just days before this fight. Kanehiro on the other hand is just 23, but is 2-4 in his last 6.
Others on this card include former world title challenger Ryo Matsumoto (21-3, 19) and the once touted Sho Nakazawa (11-3, 5), who both need to rebuild after disappointing 2018's, and the very highly regarded Taku Kuwahara (3-0, 2). All 3 of these men will be facing off with Indonesian visitors who won't be expected to put up much of a challenge.
This coming Tuesday attention turns back to the Korakuen Hall in Tokyo as Hideyuki Ohashi puts on a really interesting and notable card with a fantastic headline bout, and several notable fighters on the under-card.
The main event will be a WBC Bantamweight world title eliminator, as OPBF Bantamweight champion Mark John Yap (29-12, 14) takes on the unbeaten Takuma Inoue (11-0, 3) for a shot at the currently vacant WBC Bantamweight title. Yap hasn't got a fantastic record, but comes into this bout on the back of a fantastic 10 fight winning run, including wins against the likes of Hiroyuki Kudaka, Takahiro Yamamoto, Kentaro Masuda and Takafumi Nakajima. Inoue, the younger brother of Naoya Inoue, has long been tipped for the top but an injury in 2016 slowed his rise. On paper this might look like a mismatch, due to the records, but in reality this is a fantastic 50-50 contest.
A full preview of that bout can be read here - Takuma Inoue and Mark John Yap clash in WBC Eliminator!
One of the main support bouts will see Ryo Matsumoto (21-2, 19) return to the ring for the first time since he lost to Daniel Roman in a WBA Super Bantamweight title fight earlier this year. The touted Matsumoto will be up against the in form Ryo Sagawa (4-1, 2), who has won his last 3 including a major domestic upset against Junki Sasaki. This should be a straight forward return to domestic level for Matsumoto but it'll be interesting to see what his confidence is like following the loss to Roman, where he was out boxed, out thought and out fought.
Another notable supporting bout will see Japanese Light Welterweight Youth champion Andy Hiraoka (12-0, 8) defending his title against Ukyo Yoshigai (6-2, 5), in what will be the second between the two men. These two fought back in August 2017, with Hiraoki stopping Yoshigai to claim the Japanese Youth title, which he has since defended once. Yoshigai will be seeking revenge, but will be be the under-dog against one of the top young talents in Japan.
Lower down on the under-card fans will be able to see former amateur stand out Katsuya Yasuda (2-0, 1) take on experienced Indonesian Anshori Anhar Pitulay (9-16-2, 6), in what is likely to be a mismatch, whilst Taku Kuwahara (1-0, 1) faces off with Ardi Tefa (6-7-1, 4), in what suspect will be a quick blow out win for the unbeaten Japanese fighter.
This coming Wednesday Japanese fight fans at the Korakuen Hall get a stacked card from Ohashi, with a world title fight headlining the card and a number of notable fighters on the under-card as the Ohashi gym put on a really solid show.
The main event will see the highly touted Ryo Matsumoto (21-1, 19) challenge WBA Super Bantamweight champion Daniel Roman (23-2-1, 9) in a bout that looks amazing on paper. The Japanese 24 year old has long been tipped as a future world champion and one of the future faces of Japanese boxing thanks to his strong amateur background, skills, speed and power. He has however been troubled by medical issues, which lead to his shock 2016 loss to Victor Uriel Lopez. Roman on the other hand broke Japanese hearts last year, when he battered Shun Kubo into a 9th round TKO. The American will be looking to repeat the feat here and move towards bigger bouts. Going into the bout with Kubo few would have thought Roman was a puncher, but the way he broke down and stopped the Shinsei man did impress and show that there was more on his shots than his record suggests.
Another youngster on this card is the very talented Andy Hiraoka (11-0, 8), who risks his unbeaten record against Fumisuke Kimura (6-2, 4). At just 21 years old Hiraoka is seen as the future of the Ohashi gym and although he has some questions to answer he does look a class fighter. The youngster will be in there with a tough and heavy handed foe who can be out boxed, but is a very solid test and should provide a stern test for Hiraoka.
A third youngster from the Ohashi gym in action here will be Tsuyoshi Tameda (15-3-2, 13), who faces off with a Thai foe in what is likely to be a bit if a straight forward win for the heavy handed 24 year old. This will be Tameda's second bout under the Ohashi banner and it's clear they view him as a key fighter for the future, and will be looking to guide him towards title fights by the end of the year.
It's not all about youngster on this show, and in a battle between more established fighters fans will see 29 year old Quaye Peter (10-9-2, 6) take on the heavy handed Yuichi Ideta (13-10-1, 7). Coming into this the inconsistent Peter is 4-4 in his last 8, though is better than the numbers suggest. As for Ideta recent results are rather damning, with a 0-7-1 record in his last 8, though he was a promising fighter earlier on in his career and will be looking at this bout as a chance to re-establish himself as someone who matters. It's worth noting that Ideta has been out of the ring for 4 years, and it's now 7 years since his last win, which came against Suyon Takayama.
An interesting clash of young and old will see 24 year old puncher Kazuaki Miyamoto (5-1, 4) take on 35 year old former Japanese champion Seiichi Okada (20-6-1, 11). The youngster will be stepping up massively for this bout and will know he's the under-dog, despite being the younger man, and his own loss to Shuzo Inada last year does leave a lot of questions regarding his durability. Okada, another of the fighters from the Ohashi gym, has struggled since losing the domestic title to Daiki Kaneko back in 2012, though has won his last two bouts and will be hoping to move towards another title fight before his career is over.
This coming Wednesday in Japan fight fans have an interesting Ohashi card to look forward to. We'll be honest and not pretend that it's full of 50-50 bouts, but it keeps the gym's fighters busy, whilst a number them begin to move towards bigger and better bouts.
The main event of the card is the best looking contest on paper and sees Takuma Inoue (8-0, 2) return to the ring following almost a year out, to take on 4-time world title challenger Hiroyuki Kudaka (25-16-1, 11) in a solid test for the youngster. Inoue was supposed to fight for a world title at the end of 2016, but an injury forced that bout to be cancelled and now he's in need of a warm up bout before looking at bigger and better things. For Kudaka, previously known as Hiroyuki Hisataka, the bout is a chance to score a career defining win after some recent struggles in the ring, including losing 7 of his last 11. Kudaka's record isn't great but he's a tough out for most and should ask questions of rInoue.
Another relatively attractive bout will see Koki Inoue (8-0, 7), Takuma's cousin, step up to take on former Japanese title challenger Cristiano Aoqui (11-6-2, 7) in what is essentially a Japanese title eliminator. Inoue enters the bout ranked #3 and Aoqui is #8, with the winner almost certainly looking to get a crack before the end of the year. For Inoue the bout is a slight step up, but it's a logical step as he continues to impress and leave a wake of battered and beaten fighters in his wake. For Aoqui the bout serves as a chance to get back in to the mix after 3 losses in his last 4.
When it comes to fighters who are looking at bigger and better things, it's fair to say that Ryo Matsumoto (20-1, 18) is on the verge of a world title fight. As a result he's having a stay busy contest on this show against Indonesian foe Jason Butar Butar (25-22-1, 16), in what should be another straight forward win for the likeable Matsumoto, who is looking to put health issues well and truly behind him.
Another fighter looking for bigger things is Go Onaga (27-3-3, 18),who also faces an Indonesian journeyman as he takes on John Bajawa (13-14, 7). Onaga is looking to get himself a Japanese title fight in the near future, and the veteran cannot afford another set back. This should be a straight forward win for the Ohashi man, but he is now 37 and 18 months removed from his last victory.
Rounding out the notable fights on this show are two Ohashi novices tipped for big things. One of those is Kazuki Nakajima (1-0, 1), who looks for his second professional win as he takes on Resnu Sundava (2-1, 2) whilst the other is debutant Katsuya Yasuda (0-0), who faces Reno Arizona (1-2). Neither Ohashi man should worry here about winning, but both will want to impress Mr Ohashi, who we suspect wants to fast track both men following their impressive amateur careers.
For a second day running Japanese fans in Tokyo get a huge show at the Ariake Colosseum in Tokyo.
The main event here sees Japanese superstar Naoya Inoue (12-0, 10) defending his WBO Super Flyweight title against Mexican born American based challenger Ricardo Rodriguez (16-3, 5. The bout will be Inoue's 5th defense of the title and it's likely to be his last with his team talking about vacating the title later in the year, ahead of his US debut. The pressure is on the youngster to shine here but Rodriguez is tough and has never been stopped, and will be looking to score a career defining victory here.
The other world title fight here will see IBF Light Flyweight champion Akira Yaegashi (25-5, 15) battle against interim champion Milan Melindo (35-2, 12). The bout is, on paper at the very least, the most interesting of the 6 world title fights taking place this coming weekend and it looks like a genuine 50-50 match up. Of the two fighters Yaegashi is the more proven and the more well known, but he's also the older man and the man with a lot more miles on the clock. Melindo, the less proven fighter, is probably the more technically sound fighter, but a win here would be the biggest of his career by some margin.
The biggest mismatch on this card will see the once beaten Ryo Matsumoto (19-1, 17) battle against Hendrik Barongsay (29-25-3, 18) in what is little more than a stay busy fight for Matsumoto. The talented Japanese youngster looked better than ever last time out, blowing out Hideo Sakamoto in less than 2 minutes, and it wouldn't be a surprise to see Barongsay last a similar amount og time here.
One of the biggest names on the under-card is former multi-time world title challenger Satoshi Hosono (32-3-1, 21), who will take on Masashi Noguchi (12-6-1, 6) in an 8 rounder. This will be Hosono's first bout since losing in October to Jonathan Victor Barros in an IBF world title eliminator. Aged 33 this will probably be the start of Hosono's last run, and he really can't afford another set back. Noguchi is a former Japanese title challenger, who lost in December to Shuhei Tsuchiya, and is the naturally bigger man, but a win here would be his best to date.
In another notable under-card bout we'll see 2012 Olympic Bronze medal winner Satoshi Shimizu (2-0, 2) take on his first domestic opponent, Takuya Yamamoto (8-6, 4). The bout should be a straight forward win for Shimizu, though it's probably fair to say that his eyes are on the future and it's hard to imagine him not fighting for a domestic title before the end of 2017, especially given that he's now 31 and doesn't have much time to waste.
Also on the under-card is the re-re-scheduled meeting between talented youngster Andy Hiraoka (8-0, 5) and Shogo Yamaguchi (10-2-1, 5), who were originally meant to meet in the 2014 Rookie of the Year. The two were also meant to fight earlier this year. Sadly Hiraoka was forced to pull out of both the previous dates but will be looking to prove a point here. As for Yamaguchi he's going to be wanting to take his frustrations out on the younger man in what could be an under-card classic.
There will also be title action in Okinawa, albeit at a lower level as fans get an OPBF title fight.
That that OPBF title fight will see Japan's Seita Ogido (11-2-2, 3) battle unbeaten Filipino Edward Heno (10-0-4, 4) for the vacant Oriental Light Flyweight title. The title was vacated earlier this, by Ken Shiro ahead of his WBC world title fight with Ganigan Lopez, and the bout to crown a new champion does look like an interesting one. Ogido is seen as a promising youngster in Japan, and fought to a draw with the under-rated Jonathan Refugio earlier this year, suggesting there is talent there. Heno on the other hand is a bit of an unknown quantity, despite being unbeaten in 14 bouts, though he did impress last time out as he claimed the PBF title. This bout really could answer questions about both men.
The chief supporting bout here will see Masatoshi Kotani (20-2, 13) hunt an 11th straight win as he takes on Indonesian visitor Musa Letding (12-6-4, 6) in an 8 rounder. Kotani has been unbeaten since a 9th round stoppage loss to Filipino Cirilo Espino in 2012 and looks to have improved significantly since then. As for Letding he's 0-4 out side of Indonesia and will be looking for his first win on the road.
In another under-card bout we'll see the heavy handed Morihisa Iju (10-2, 8) battle against Masaya Kohama (6-5-1, 3). This bout will be Iju's third of the year, but will see him returning to the ring following a March loss to Ryo Kosaka and it's clear he'll be looking to avoid back-to-back defeats. Despite losing last time time out Iju should be favoured given that Kohama has been stopped in his last 3, with the most recent of those coming last July to Yohei Tobe.
There will also be a small card in the Philippines. The card here is very poor overall but the main event does look interesting as Pedro Taduran (10-1, 7) and Philip Luis Cuerdo (9-3-1, 4) battle for the PBF Minimumweight title in a good looking 10 rounder. Coming in the once beaten Taduran has won his last 4 and has rebuilt well following his first loss however Cuerdo was stopped last time out, whilst leading on the score cards.
In late March we see Ohashi putting on their first show of 2017, and although it's not a huge show, like the FES cards, it is a solid Phoenix Battle card with a host of notable names in action.
In the main event we see the highly talented Ryo Matsumoto (18-1, 16) take on domestic rival Hideo Sakamoto (17-3-3, 5) in a really good match up. Matsumoto, who under-went serious surgery last year to solve a long term medical issue, will be looking to make a huge mark in 2017 but will have to over-come Sakamoto first. If the youngster wins then all signs point towards Matsumoto getting a world title fight before the end of 2017. Sakamoto might not be a big name but he is a very under-rated fighter with notable wins over Kazuyoshi Niki, Hiroki Shiino and Ryotaro Kawabata, but has suffered recent losses to Seio Kono and Kentaro Masuda in recent years.
In a major supporting bout we'll see the unbeaten Koki Inoue (6-0, 5) battle against Japanese ranked Mitsuyoshi Fujita (10-2, 3) in what should be a good test for Inoue. The unbeaten 24 year old only debuted in December 2015 but is one of the fastest rising fighters on the Japanese domestic scene and made a statement last year when he scored 5 wins, including a very impressive stoppage against Futoshi Usami. Fujita has suffered 2 losses, but has won 8 in a row since those back to back losses in 2013-2014. Although not as proven as Inoue he is experienced and has earned a Japanese ranking with wins against the likes of Yusuke Yamanouchi and Genki Maeda.
Another notable Ohashi gym fighter in action here is former world title challenger Ryuji Hara (21-2, 12), who faces domestic opponent Akiyoshi Kanazawa (14-6-4, 7). Hara scored two wins last year and looks to be rebuilding his career step by step following stoppage losses in 2014, to Kosei Tanaka, and in 2015, to Katsunari Takayama. This is a decent match up for for Hara, given he is rebuilding, but it's fair to say he needs to step up a bit later this year. Kanazawa has gone 3-4-1 in his last 8 though has been matched hard, and almost scored an upset last year over Kenichi Horikawa. Although limited Kanazawa will serve as a good test here.
A really interesting bout sees the unbeaten Andy Hiraoka (8-0, 5) finally battle with Shogo Yamaguchi (10-2-1, 5). Originally this bout was supposed to take place in December 2014, as the Rookie of the Year Lightweight final, but Hiraoka suffered an illness forcing him out of the bout. Since then Yamaguchi has gone 4-2, though has been matched hard with losses to Akihiro Kondo and Genki Maeda, whilst Hiraoka spent notable time training in the US and signed with Ohashi late last year.
Another interesting match up will see Quaye Peter (9-8-2, 5) take on recent Japanese title challenger Valentine Hosokawa (20-6-3, 9) in a very fan friendly match up. Both guys have lost their last two, and will be coming to impress here, but neither has performed badly in all honestly Hosokawa was very unlucky last time out against Hiroki Okada. Given the styles of both men and their need to score a win we suspect this will be a really exciting contest with both men knowing a win could net them a title shot later in the year.
Also on the card is former Japanese champion Seiichi Okada (19-6-1, 11), who battles against the limited but tough Kentaro Yamada (8-7-1, 6). Yamada has lost his last 6, but he has been in with a real who's who including Rikki Naito, Masayuki Ito and Yuki Ogata, and will certainly be looking at this bout as a chance to end that losing run.
Whilst big cards, with multiple noteworthy bouts, aren't rare in Japan it's rare to get a full card of notable and notable bouts. There is however one such card on December 30th when Ohashi put on a genuine super show with two world title bouts, two Olympic medal winners, several prospects and just one of those rare cards where everything looks to have significance...and that's despite the fact one of the key announced bouts for the show was actually cancelled due to an injury!
The main event of the card will see WBO Super Flyweight champion Naoya Inoue (11-0, 9) taking on former 2-time world champion Kohei Kono (32-9-1, 13). This will be Inoue's most notable bout in 2 years, since he beat Omar Andres Narvaez to claim the title, and will see him hunting his 4th defense and most notable so far. For Kono this is a chance to prove he's still a world class Super Flyweight and potentially a chance to become a 3-time world champion.
In the chief main event of the show we see IBF Light Flyweight champion Akira Yaegashi (24-5, 12) defending his title against Thailand's Samartlek Kokietgym (35-5, 12), who is best known for being stopped by the aforementioned Naoya Inoue in 2014. Yaegashi will be seeking his second defense of the title and will know that a win will lead him to about with interim champion Milan Melindo in 2017. A win for the challenger would be a shock and it would genuinely shake up the 108lbs division.
The chief support bout behind the double main event will see 2012 Olympic gold medal winner Ryota Murata (11-0, 8) fight against the once beaten Bruno Sandoval (19-1-1, 15). For Murata this bout is the next step forward as his team continue to pursue a 2017 fight with WBO champion Billy Joe Saunders, of the UK. Whilst Sandoval is a live opponent he hasn't really proven his worth and could well be an easy target for Murata, who has shown real improvement in recent bouts and with his heavy hands there is genuine potential.
Another major under-card bout will see the once beaten Ryo Matsumoto (17-1, 15) face off with his sole conqueror Victor Uriel Lopez (10-5-1, 4). This rematch was announced earlier in the year but cancelled as Matsumoto required surgery for a serious medical issue, the same issue that reared it's head in the first bout with Lopez. Now, supposedly healed, Matsumoto is looking for revenge whilst Lopez is looking to prove that Matsumoto's medical woes weren't the only reason for the result in the first bout.
In a relatively interesting bout we'll see former world title challenger Ryuji Hara (20-2, 12) battle with Hiroya Yamamoto (10-4, 4). Hara is looking to get his career back ion the right track after a 2-2 record in is last 4, and should be too good for Yamamoto however the under-dog is a 2-time Japanese title challenger, having come up short to Go Odaira and Takuya Fukuhara, and is certainly a live under-dog here.
Naoya isn't the only fighter from the Inoue clan on this card, as his cousin Koki Inoue (5-0, 4) takes on his biggest test to date, Futoshi Usami (14-2-1, 11). Inoue is touted as another world champion in the making but this is a credible test for the Kanagawa man, especially given that Usami fought for the OPBF Lightweight title in 2014, and went the 12 round distance with the world ranked Masayoshi Nakatani.
Another unbeaten prospect on this card is 20 year old hopeful Andy Hiraoka (7-0, 4), who fights for the second time as an Ohashi fighter. The talented youngster will be up against Indonesian journeyman Naty Yongraksa (0-0), in what should be a straight forward win for the local star. The visitor is 1-5-1 in his last 7 and it's hard to see what he has to really Hiraoka.
The second Olympian on the show is 2012 Olympic bronze medal winner Satoshi Shimizu (1-0, 1), who takes a huge step up in class to take on Filipino Carlo Demecillo (6-3, 1). Whilst this is a big step up for Shimzu from his debut it should be noted that Demecillo struggled to win a round recently when he took in Hisashi Amagasa, back in October. Demecillo should give Shimizu some resistance, but the bout should be a win for the Japanese local
It's fair to say that Japanese fight fans have been left somewhat short changed during this year's “Golden Week”, and where theirs often 2 or 3 major card there wasn't really any, with the recent Watanabe card coming just before the Golden Week and the next big card, an Ohashi one, coming on the Sunday after the Golden Week. Saying that however the wait until this Sunday is a worthy one with their being several notable shows throughout Japan.
Of those Japanese shows it goes without saying the biggest, and the best, is in Tokyo and is going to be the highly anticipated Ohashi card from the 10,000 seater Ariake Colosseum. The card, which we strongly suspect will have more than 10,000,000 viewers, will see only two bouts televised live but they are both likely to feel a little bit special.
The first of those bouts is expected to be an all out war as IBF Light Flyweight champion Akira Yaegashi (23-5, 12) defends his title against the aggressive and very fun to watch Martin Tecuapetla (13-6-3, 10). This bout really does promise a lot of excitement, and for fans who like a war this is as sure fire a slugfest as we can think of with both men enjoying a tear up. Yaegashi will be the favourite but we wouldn't be surprised to see him taken to hell and back to retain his title.
Of course whilst Yaegashi's bout promises real 2-way fireworks it's unlikely to be the bout that gets international attention. Instead that attention will be focused on 23 year old sensation Naoya Inoue (9-0, 8), who defends his WBO Super Flyweight title against mandatory challenger David Carmona (20-2-5, 8). The bout will be Inoue's second defense of his title and is likely to be his final bout in Japan before making a highly anticipated US debut later in the year. Although the bout is anticipated, because of Inoue's incredible appeal and ability, it's a mismatch and is unlikely to be more than a cameo-like appearance from the “Monster”, who has fought just 4 rounds in the last 18 months.
The two world title bouts are of course the bouts getting the most attention but their will also be a third title bout on the show, as youngster Takuma Inoue (6-0, 1) defends the OPBF Super Flyweight title against Indonesian challenger Afrizal Tamboresi (12-4, 6). The bout really should be a mismatch in favour of Takuma, who should make the second defense of his title here, but Tamboresi knows there is nothing to lose and their will be no pressure on him coming into this bout against the much touted Inoue.
The card featured a third fighter from the Inoue clan, with the touted Koki Inoue (2-0, 2) taking on another Indonesian, in Bimo Jaguar (0-0), in what is unlikely to be anything other than an early blow out win for the biggest of the Inoue's. Koki, for those unaware, is the cousin of Naoya and Takuma and, like the brothers, is trained by their father Shingo who may well be the best young trainer in world boxing.
One other notable name on this card is world title contender Ryo Matsumoto (17-0, 15), who risks his rankings and unbeaten record against Victor Uriel Lopez (8-5-1, 3). This seems likely to be Matsumoto's final bout before a world title fight, later in 2016. That talented Matsumoto has been treading water for a while, and this seems to be another stay busy, but he is insanely talented and is viewed as another fighter who is going to be part of a Japanese revolution over the coming years.
Talking about the next wave of Japanese fighters their will also be one of the youngest in action in Hyogo. That's 18 year old Riku Kano (9-1-1, 5), who faces former world champion Merlito Sabillo (25-2-1, 12) in a bout for the OPBF interim Minimumweight title. Kano has his eyes on setting the Japanese age record, for the youngest world champion from Japan, but knows that he will need to beat Sabillo here. For the Filipino form champion this is a must win and he knows his career will essentially be over as a top contender if he loses the 18 year old Kano.
Sadly we do need to say that although listed on boxrec, Futa Akizuki (6-0, 5) will not be making his Japanese debut on this card.
In Osaka fans will get a show at the Mierparque Hall in Osaka City.
Here the main event will see the promising 20 year old Takuya Uehara (8-0, 5), an OPBF ranked Super Featherweight contender, battling against Indonesian ranked Ramli Pasaribu (4-7, 1). Uehara is OPBF ranked already though hasn't really proven himself against anyone of actual quality. A win here won't change that, but we suspect that this could his final bout before facing a known opponent, possibly this coming summer.
In the chief support bout fans will see Japanese ranked Flyweight Shunji Nagata (10-14-2, 3) face off with former Japanese Super Flyweight title challenger Masato Morisaki (10-4-1, 6). For Morisaka this will be his second bout since he was stopped, in 5 rounds, by Sho Ishida back on December 31st 2014 and although the “more proven” fighter he has fought just 2 rounds since that Ishida bout. Nagata might not be a great fighter but he's someone who has been battle tested and should give Morisaka a very good fight.
A third bout of note on this card will see OPBF and JBC ranked 140lb fighter Ryusei Yoshida (27-8, 14) fight in what really should be a stay busy contest against Tatsunori Fukunaga (7-6, 3). If Yoshida wins, as is widely expected, he could potentially be the next Japanese title challenger later in the year, and will almost certainly call out Hiroki Okada.
A fourth Japanese show is set to take place in Aichi, with this one having 4 bouts that caught our eye.
The main event of the card will see veteran Daiki Koide (22-7-2, 9) battle against OPBF ranked Korean visitor Dong Hee Kim (2-0-1), who incidentally claimed the KBF 140lb title last time out. On paper this looks like a horrible mismatch but Kim has been fast tracked and has already proven that he can go rounds, with 22 career rounds already, and he may well see Koide as just the next step on his way through the OPBF rankings.
Another Japan Vs Korea bout on this card sees former Keita Obara opponent Kazuya Maruki (19-3, 12) face off with Chan Hee Park (5-6-1) in what looks likely to be another good bout for fans, though with Park lacking power it's hard to see what he has to compete with the talented Maruki. For those who haven't seen Park before we suggest watching his fight with Kyoo Hwan Hwang from last year as it really was so fun and just a crazy battle.
Maruki's brother, Ryosuke Maruki (11-3-1, 7) will also be up against a Korean visitor, in the form of Joon Yong Lee (5-3-3, 3). On paper this is a mismatch but Lee is the Korean Middleweight champion and may well be a real handful for Maruki, in what could be a genuinely fun bout for fans at the venue. Notably Lee enters the bout as a highly ranked contender by the OPBF so will be fighting to defend that ranking.
The final bout of note is an all-Japanese bout at Heavyweight. The bout will see the unbeaten Ryu Ueda (5-0, 2) risk his perfect record against veteran fighter Kotatsu Takehara (12-11-3, 6). This is a big step up in class for Ueda however Takehara has won just 2 of his last 4, and was stopped in both of his losses. It's a good test for the 23 year old novice who knows a win could see him move towards a Japanese title fight, and perhaps even a chance to become the third ever Japanese Heavyweight champion.
Incheon, South Korea
As well as all the action in Japan there is also a card in Korea, under the KPBF banner.
The main event here is a PABA “interim” title bout that sees Korean Jong-Min Jung (6-7, 2) battle Ghana's Razak Nettey (17-4, 13) at Featherweight. Notably this Nettey is a replacement for Filipino Jason Redondo and unfortunately for the Korean it seems Nettey may not have been an easier option.
This card will also feature two other PABA affiliated title bouts, one at Bantamweight and one at Light Middleweight. From what we understand the Bantamweight bout will see Woo Hyun Kim (5-1, 1) battle Michael Barnor (15-7-2, 11). The Light Middleweight bout will see Youn Bae Kim (4-0, 1), the current PABA interim champion, battle Joo Hun Kim (7-1, 2), the KPBF champion.
*Note several Korean records have been provided by the KPBF.
Whilst we all know that New Year's Eve is a date to always mark down on your boxing calendar for the action from Japan we have also got a special show on December 29th as Ohashi follow up their very successful FES 2014 with FES 2015, another festival of boxing with big names and the backing of Fuji TV.
The main event of the card sees the return of the hugely popular Naoya Inoue (8-0, 7) who defends his WBO Super Flyweight title for the first time since he won it last December. Inoue, who really impressed a year ago when he blitzed Omar Andres Narvaez, has been out of the ring with a hand injury, suffered in that bout, and gets thrown straight into the deep end once again as he faces big punching Filipino fighter Warlito Parrenas (24-6-1, 21). The bout has got attention due to it beign Inoue's return however Parrenas is a serious threat and despite having 6 losses, 4 by stoppage, he has really impressed in recent bouts, including a controversial draw in Mexico with David Carmona. The pressure is on Inoue to impress, though Parrenas will know that this is a huge opportunity to make a name for himself and become a fixture on the world scene.
The Inoue Vs Parrenas bout is one of two world title bouts with the other being a really exciting looking Light Flyweight bout between former 2-weight world champion Akira Yaegashi (22-5, 12) goes up against IBF champion Javier Mendoza (24-2-1, 19). For Mendoza this will be his second defense, following a controversial technical decision win against Milan Melindo earlier this year and this is a great chance for him to make a name for himself. Sadly for the Mexican he is going up against one of the most popular Japanese fighters in Yaegashi, who will have the whole venue behind him. Yaegashi is looking to become the third Japanese man to become a 3-weight world champion and will know that this is a must win if his career is going to continue at the world level.
The two world title fights are joined by both an OPBF and a Japanese title fight. The OPBF title fight sees Naoya's younger brother Takuma Inoue (5-0, 1) defending the OPBF Super Flyweight title against under-rated Filipino Rene Dacquel (15-5-1, 5). This is Takuma's first defense of the title, that he won back in July when he out pointed Mark Anthony Geraldo, and is another tough match up for the talented youngster. The speed Inoue will be up against a man who is in good form having recently beaten both Melvin Gumban and Thembelani Nxoshe. This is a really good match up, but one that will get over-looked given the two main events.
The Japanese title fight is a genuinely thrilling match up as Japanese Featherweight champion Satoshi Hosono (29-2-1, 20) takes on former world champion Akifumi Shimoda (30-4-2, 13) in as good of a domestic title bout as you could make. Hosono is hoping to secure a 4th world title fight in 2016 though will need to impress against Shimoda, whilst also recording his 5th defense of the title that he won in April 2014. For Shimoda, who is best known for suffering KO of the Year type losses to Rico Ramos and Marvin Sonsona, will know that a win here could help him get a title fight, though will be aware that another eye catching KO loss will be the end of his career.
On the under-card, in non title bouts, we have two notable fighters. The highest profile of those is former OPBF champion, and current world ranked contender, Ryo Matsumoto (16-0, 14) who faces under-rated Filipino Jestoni Autida (9-3, 4). On paper this looks like a stay busy bout for Matsumoto, who is likely eyeing a world title fight in 2016, however Autida cannot be over-looked and in 2015 he has already upset Ratchasak KKP and pushed Petch Sor Chitpattana very close, with both of those bouts taking place in Thailand. This is a genuine test for Matsumoto.
The other notable fighter is the debuting Koki Inoue (0-0), the cousin of Naoya and Takuma. Koki, a former amateur stand out himself, will be up against Indonesian fighter Arif Maud (1-2, 1) in a 6 rounder. The promising Inoue is a 23 year old southpaw who will be looking to make a name for himself at 140lbs and could potentially be a third member of the Inoue family to become a star.