The big show of the day this Saturday is in the Philippines, where we see a top prospect take on a former world champion and several under-card bouts worthy of some attention.
The main bout will see the unbeaten Mark Magsayo (19-0, 14) battle against former WBO Bantamweight champion Pungluang Sor Singyu (53-6, 35) in a bout for a couple of minor regional titles. For Magsayo this will be his second bout since a 2017 in over Shota Hayashi, in what was a really tough bout, whilst Pungluang will be looking to build on a recent win over Carlo Magali. Despite the two men having very, very, different careers it's worth noting that only 5 years separate these two men, yet their debuts were almost 9 years difference between their debuts. Pungluang is a true veteran, and will be here to win, but Magsayo will be favoured and has long been regarded as a special talent.
In an excellent GAB Bantamweight title fight we'll see Giovanni Escaner (19-4, 12) take on Renoel Pael (23-9-1, 12), with both looking to rebuild following a loss on foreign soil. Escaner was beaten in February by Joshua Greer Jr in the US, though had given a really decent account of himself before the stoppage. Pael on the other hand was taken to school in Japan by Ryusei Kawaura May, suffering his 5th loss on the road. With the GAB title up for grabs and a chance to get some momentum in to their career, we're expecting this to be a very hotly contested match up.
Another supporting bout of interest will see Filipino Roldan Aldea (14-7-1, 8) go up against Malaysian based Uzbek Anvar Turapov (5-1, 4). Coming in to this Aldea is riding a huge boost following his big upset win in Russia against Mikhail Alexeev whilst Turapov has notched 5 straight wins following a loss on debut. Given Aldea's recent win this could be interesting.
For a second day in a row we get action from Qingdao, and this is potentially just heavily stacked in favour of the locals as the other card.
The main event will see Ainiwaer Yilixiati (15-1, 11) drop down to Middleweight to take on Japanese Light Middleweight contender Ryosuke Maruki (16-6-1, 11) in a bout for two regional Middleweight titles. The hard nosed Chinese puncher suffered his only loss 3 years ago, when he was beaten in Australia by Jayde Mitchell, and has since reeled off 5 straight wins. Maruki on the other hand has lost 2 of his last 3, including a blow out loss to Akinori Watanabe a year ago and this will be a very tough bout for him in what will be his international debut.
Another bout on this card will see Tonghui Li (11-2, 5) take on Tanzania's Maono Ally (9-4-1, 5). Li lost in August 2018, to Jung Kyoung Lee, and had bounced back with a win over Arnel Tinampay last September but has been inactive since that win. Ally has lost in 3 of his 4 bouts outside of Tanzania, and was beaten last time out by Oliver Meng. Ally may not be the best fighter but we do love his nickname "The Monster of Bagamoyo".
One local who is looking to bounce back from a couple of recent set backs is Wuzhati Nuerlang (11-3, 9), who has been beaten twice on the road recently and needs a confidence building victory. He will be up against Tanzanian veteran Said Mbelwa (47-29-5-2, 31), who at the age of 41 really is on the back end of his career. Given Nuerlang's recent losses we can't hold this bout against him, and expect him to rebuild some of his broken confidence here.
Macao S.A.R., China
Staying around China, Macau hosts a small card, which on the whole isn't too interesting, though local hopeful Lap Cheong Cheong (6-0, 4) is in the headline bout, as he takes on Yu Fen Wu (0-0). Cheong isn't a big name but he is an incredibly fun to watch youngster. Aged 22 he looks like he might be the face of Macao boxing over the coming years, sadly though this is a clear step backwards for him to take on a debutant at this point in time.
Pocheon, South Korea
Staying in Asia there's also a low key card in Pocheon, though this really is a card that won't get much attention.
The main bout here is a 6 round Middleweight clash that will see Seung Hee Lee (3-5, 1) take on Hyo Joon Jang (1-1-1). Given this is the main event you can understand how low level this show really is.
Technically this show is a KBM 4 round parade show, and should be fun to watch, as they usually are, but it's very to talk about before hand as it's a card of novices and debutants, with not stand out bout on it.
In Victoria, Australian fans will see one of their unbeaten hopefuls go up against a former world title challenger.
The former world title challenger is Filipino fighter Ernesto Saulong (22-4-2, 9), who challenged the then IBF Super Bantamweight champion Ryosuke Iwasa in 2018, and will now be taking on Australian youngster Brock Jarvis (16-0, 15). Since then however he has gone 1-1-1, including a huge KO loss to Waldo Sabu in July 2017. Jarvis is a really talented, hard hitting 21 year old prospect, but needs to step up his competition, and on paper this is a very good step up. A win for Jarvis is expected, but we expect to see him given something of a test after 15 straight wins in the first 3 rounds.
This coming Sunday there will be a couple of Asian cards, one in Japan and one in Korea.
The Japanese card is a pretty interesting one, headlined by a rising hopeful and featuring a fairly solid supper bout.
The main event will see the once beaten Masanori Rikiishi (4-1, 3) take on Kei Iwahara (10-5, 5) in an 8 round bout between two Japanese ranked lightweights. Riikishi suffered his first loss last April, losing to Kosuke Saka after stepping up too much too soon, but bounced back with a couple of stoppages, including one over former Japanese title challenger Genki Maeda in December. Iwahara on the other hand is 3-1 in his last 4, and comes into this with notable wins over the likes of Yuji Awata, Mao Kawanishi and Daiki Ichikawa. This could be something very special.
In the main support bout Japan's Ryosuke Maruki (15-6-1, 10) will take on South Korean Gun Woo Gang (4-2-3, 1). Coming in to this Maruki has lost his last two, being narrowly out pointed by Nobuyuki Shindo and being blasted out by Akonori Watanabe, but typically he has been a solid and dependable fighter on the Japanese scene. Gang on the other hand has won just 1 of his last 5, going 1-2-2 during that stretch. This looks like a rebuilding fight for Maruki, and hopefully he'll be back into bigger fights later this year.
This card will also feature a number of Rookie of the Year fights as we begin the largest annual boxing tournament.
Busan, South Korea
Gun Woo Gang won't be the only Korean in action, with a card in Busan, which will feature several Korean fighters.
One of those Korean's is Bo Mi Re Shin (6-0-3, 3), who takes on Indian foe Rupinder Kaur (1-0, 1) in a bout for the Interim WIBA Super Featherweight title. The 24 year old Shin has a mostly weak looking record, but did notable score a stoppage win over Chika Mizutani in August last year and will be coming into this bout on the back of that big win. Kaur on the other hand will be fighting outside of India for the first time, and will be taking a serious step up in class, and cutting weight, significantly, having last fought above Light Welterweight.
In an interesting Champion V Champion bout we'll see KBF Super Featherweight champion Ki Soo Lee (8-3, 1) battling against IBC Super Featherweight champion Alvius Maufani (6-2-2, 3) in a clash between Korean and Indonesian champions. Lee has the edge in experience and home advantage, but Maufani has won bouts against more experienced foes in the past.
One other bout will see Uzbek puncher Abdurasul Ismoilov (3-0, 3) take on unbeaten local Jong Sun Gang (7-0, 4). This looks like the best match up on the show, with the Uzbek looking to build on a win over veteran Jaime Barcelona. Gang turned professional in late 2017 and has been active, with stoppage wins in his last 3. This looks like it could be very explosive, and very fun.
*Note Boxrec recently corrected Ismoilov's record which was previously 4-1 (4)
The big action this coming Friday comes from Tokyo, with Boxingraise showing it live online. The card features a couple of title fights along with two very good looking supporting bouts.
The main event will see Akinori Watanabe (36-7, 30) battle against Ryosuke Maruki (15-5-1, 10) for the interim Japanese Light Middleweight title. For Watanabe this is a chance to claim another belt to his collection, adding to reigns as the Japanese, OPBF and PABA champion at Welterweight. Maruki on the other hand gets a third shot as national honours, having come up short against Yuki Nonaka and Nobuyuki Shindo. We're expecting this to be explosive, with both fighters having very heavy hands, and very exciting with the winner then being lined up to face Shindo, either at the end of this year or in early 2019.
The other title fight will see Japanese Mminimumweight champion Shin Ono (22-9-3, 5) making his first defense of the title, as he takes on youngster Riku Kano (13-3-1, 7). The Watanabe veteran won the title earlier this year when he defeated Ryoki Hirai and will be hoping to use the title to land another world title fight, after having come up short in bouts against Katsunari Takayama and Wanheng Menayothin. The 20 year old Kano has promised a lot, but losses to Takayama and Jerry Tomogdan have slowed his career and a poor performance here could see him written off, despite his youth.
One of the really good supporting bouts will see the in form Kyosuke Sawada (11-2-1, 6), who has won his last 7, taking on former Japanese title challenger Yosuke Fujihara (17-5, 4). Although Sawada struggled early in his career losing his first 2 bouts, he has has really turned things around and scored a career best win in May against Kinshiro Usui. As for Fujihara he's been out of the ring for almost a year but is a capable fighter and should be a good test for Sawada, albeit one that Sawada should pass as he continues his pursuit of a title fight.
Another supporting bout will see the hard hitting Kenshin Oshima (3-1-1, 3) take on the much lighter hitting Joe Tanooka (15-4-4, 1). Last time out Oshima was held to an unexpected draw by Nobuaki Kanazawa and he'll be looking to bounce back from that set back. As for Tanooka, who is one of the more pure boxers in Japan, he'll be looking to build on a good domestic win against Kenichi Watanabe. A really interesting match up against two polar opposites.
As well as the action in Japan there will also be a notable card in Shenzhen, China, where were several local fighters will be taking on interesting tests.
On paper the best of the bouts will see unbeaten Chinese prospect Wenfeng Ge (10-0, 6) look to build on his 2017 win over Amnat Ruenroeng as he takes on once beaten Filipino Ivan Soriano (18-1-1, 9) in a bout for the WBO International Flyweight title. Whilst Ge is unbeaten, and coming in to this on the back of a huge win, it's worth noting that Soriano hasn't lost in over 8 years and will feel confident of picking up a win here. Coming in to this both men are and both will know that a win here will shoot them up the rankings towards a potential world title shot, and a potential show down with either Sho Kimura or Kosei Tanaka.
A second title fight will see the once beaten Ahatelike Muerzhabieke (7-1-1, 4) battle against Thailand's Chaloemporn Sawatsuk (18-5, 14) for the WBO China National Super Middleweight title. The Thai once promises a lot, and began his career with 17 straight wins but has proven to be a huge disappointment since then, losing 5 of his last 6 by stoppage. Aged 19 this is a big step up in class for Muerzhabieke but he's won his last 5 and appears to be on a good run to build his confidence coming in to this bout.
In a battle of novices fans will see Bo Wang (1-0, 1) take on Aleksei Podkolzin (1-0). Wang needed just a round to win his debut in June 2016, but hasn't fought in an officially sanctioned professional bout since that contest, more than 2 years ago. Interestingly Podkolzin made his debut in January 2017, in a 10 rounder, but apparently hasn't fought since. This is an interesting match up, about as interesting as you can get between two men with 1-0 records.
This coming Tuesday is a pretty interesting day for fight fans in Asia, which a big show in Tokyo and a notable card in China. In total, across the two cards, there will be 6 title fights! And other notable fighters will also be in action.
For us the most notable card for the day is from the Korakuen Hall, where we'll be getting a Japanese title fight, an OPBF title fighter and several interesting fighters on the under-card.
The main event of the card will see OPBF Light Welterweight champion Rikki Naito (19-2, 7) defending his title against tough Filipino challenger Jheritz Chavez (8-2-2, 6), in what will be Naito's first defense. The Japanese fighter won the title this past January, when he stopped Jeffrey Arienza in 9 rounds, and he looked great in that performance. Despite having fought much of his career at 130lbs Naito looks to have filled out his frame well into a Light Welterweight and could well have a really good run at his new weight. As for Chavez he has proven his toughness, having gone the 10 round scheduled in his two losses to Vage Sarukhanyan and Hiroki Okada. Despite being tough he has looked slow in both of his losses and that will likely be the case again here, with Naito likely to be too quick for the challenger. Chavez has the power to hurt Naito, but we suspect Naito will fight on his toes and look to keep distance between the two men and score at range.
The second title on this fight will see former Japanese Welterweight champion Nobuyuki Shindo (19-4-1, 8) face off with Ryosuke Maruki (15-4-1, 10) for the vacant Japanese Light Middleweight title, which was vacated by Takeshi Inoue earlier this year. Shindo claimed the Japanese Welterweight title in his second shot at the title, beating Yasuhiro Okawa, but only held the title for 3 months before being stopped by Toshio Arikawa. Since then he has gone 2-0 (2) but not looked that impressive. As for Maruki this will be his second shot at the title, having come up short in a very competitive contest against Yuki Nonaka in 2016. Since then he has gone 3-0 (3) and looked very destructive. The bout really is a must win for both men, who can't really afford another loss at title level, and should be very exciting.
On the under-card fans will see the hard hitting Ryosuke Takami (11-2, 10) take on Filipino foe Junny Salogaol (13-13-4, 12) in a bout that should be very explosive. Takami, given his record, will be the big favourite but the visitor has certainly got a punchers shot, and is tough enough to give Takami some real questions here. Although Salogaol was stopped by Hiroaki Teshigawara last year he does tend to go the distance in his losses and suspect Takami will be tested here.
Interestingly another bout on this card will see the under-rated Ken Achiwa (11-13-5, 4) take on Japanese based Filipino Rey Orais (19-17-2, 5). Although his record is less than flattering Achiwa is actually a really decent domestic level fighter, who has scored draws against the likes of Tatsuya Takahashi and Joe Tanooka, and ran Suguru Muranaka very close last December. The bigger talking point however is that of Orais, who will be having his first fight in a decade. The Filipino is now a trainer at the Flame Yamagami gym and despite not fighting since March 2008, when he was stopped by Denkaosan Kaovichit, he is still only 33. Given that Orais is working as a trainer we suspect he will look in surprisingly good shape for this and could prove to be a very interesting match up.
Xi An, China
In China fans get a quadruple header of regional title fights.
One of the most interesting of those bouts pits unbeaten fighters against each other, as China's Baolin Kang (4-0) takes on Indonesian puncher Ari Agustian (5-0, 5) for the vacant WBC Asian Boxing Council Youth Featherweight title. The 20 year old Kang made his debut back in October 2016 and despite never scoring a stoppage has looked pretty solid, whilst fighting mostly as a Lightweight. Agustian on the other hand has never fought outside of his homeland, though did score a notable domestic level win over Boido Simanjuntak back in November. The Indonesian fighter looks like a crude but very aggressive and hard hitting fighter. Although he has clearly been selected too lose he is a very under-dog here.
Another pretty interesting looking bout will see unbeaten Chinese fighter ZongLi He (3-0, 1) take on Filipino Diarh Gabutan (20-6-3, 11) for the vacant WBC Asian Boxing Council Silver Super Flyweight title. The Chinese 23 year old really hasn't shown too much through his career so far, defeating 3 domestic novices, but this is a monstrous step up in class against a well schooled and experienced Filipino visitor. Gabutan, who has got a poor record on the road with 1 win from 4 bouts outside of the Philippines, is better than his record suggests and we think he'll be too good, too experienced and simply know too much for Chinese youngster.
Another Chinese local who could find themselves up against it is 19 year old Li Ping Shi (2-2, 1), who battles against Korean Hyun Hee Kil (4-1, 1) for the vacant WBC Asian Boxing Council Female Flyweight title. The Chinese fighter won her first couple of fights, against limited Thai fighters, but has gone on to lose her most recent bouts, including one to Korean veteran Hee Jung Yuh and has no real form coming into this bout. Kil on the other hand lost her debut, but has won her last 4 and will feel like she's in great form her, despite having faced very limited opposition. Shi has a good chance here, but will be the slight under-dog.
One bout where the Chinese local will be favoured is a contest between the hard hitting Yiran Li (4-0, 4) and the out of form Filipino Joe Tejones (10-5, 6), for the WBC Youth World Featherweight title. The Chinese puncher, who will be defending the title for the first time, has looked very dangerous at the lower levels and will be looking to step up here. The Filipino has been going on a win-loss, win-loss run over the last few years, with a notable stoppage loss to Hinata Maruta. Tejones is a decent fighter at this type of level, but we suspect the Chinese fighter will shine here and take his best win to date.
This coming Sunday is a busy day in Japan with 3 shows in the country, with 2 of those taking place in Osaka.
The most significant of those is a multi-title show from Muto promotions, with the card being headlined by OPBF Middleweight champion Koki Tyson (13-2-2, 11), who faces off with veteran Yasuyuki Akiyama (11-7-1, 8). The bout will see Tyson defending his OPBF title and also look to add the WBO Asia Pacific title, which is currently vacant but on the line for this bout. It's hard to see past a win for Tyson, given he holds almost every advantage, but the bout is likely to be the final one of Akiyama's career, and he will almost certainly give everything he has here.
A second OPBF title fight will see Bantamweight champion Mark John Yap (27-12, 13) seek his second defense, as he puts his title on the line against Japanese foe Seizo Kono (19-8-1, 12). The Japanese based Filipino champion will be making his second defense of the title, following his dramatic win over Kentaro Masuda, and knows that if he can continue on his current winning streak there is a chance he will be able to move towards a world title fight. For Kono the bout perhaps comes at the perfect time, with the Japanese man having won his last 4, and seemingly ended his blotchy form, which saw him going 2-5. Despite being on a bit of a run this is still a big ask for Kono.
In a rematch we'll see former multi-time world title challengers collide, as Hirofumi Mukai (14-5-3, 4) and Inthanon Sithchamuang (31-9-1, 19) battle for the WBO Asia Pacific Super Flyweight title, just as they did in November 2016. In their first meeting Mukai stopped the Thai in 3 rounds, but since then he has gone 1-1, beating a novice Thai and being stopped in a war with Rex Tso. As for Inthanon, he's fought once since losing to Mukai, also a win over a novice Thai. It's fair to say that Mukai will be favoured, given how easily he won the first contest between the two, but it'll be interesting to see what the Tso bout took out of him.
A second Japan Vs Thailand bout for a WBO Asia Pacific Flyweight title will see the once beaten Masahiro Sakamoto (10-1, 6) take on veteran former world champion Kwanthai Sithmorseng (50-4-1, 27). Aged 26 Sakamoto is just coming into his prime and the Flyweight will be looking to claim the biggest win of his career here. His only loss came in a bout for this very same title last year, when he suffered a very close loss to current WBO world champion Sho Kimura, and he will know that a win against Kwanthai could push him into the world title mix. As for Kwanthai, he's a long way removed from the man who claimed the WBA Minimumweight title in 2010. He has gone 19-4 since that win, but suffered 2 stoppages and only beaten very limited opposition. This should be a win for Sakamoto, but the question is really “how impressive does he look here?”
A second show in Osaka will be promoted by Green Tsuda and although not a big card does have one of the day's most interesting contests on it, as well as the continued push of a man who has been matched hard through his career.
That hard matched man is Takayuki Okumoto (18-8-3, 8), who's record doesn't suggest anything special but he did recently challenge Japanese Super Flyweight champion Ryuichi Funai, and ran Eaktwan BTU Ruaviking close in 2016. The Japanese fighter will be up against a Thai foe here, and should, easily, pick up the win in the card's main event.
Arguably the most interesting match up of the day is a supporting contest between two once tipped amateur stars, both in need of a big win after recent set backs. In one corner will be Kazuki Tanaka (7-1, 5), a Green Tsuda man who was tipped as a star but was stopped last time out by Ryohei Takahashi. Like Tanaka we saw Hikaru Marugame (6-2-1, 4) turn professional with high expectations, having competed on the international stage in the amateurs, but with 2 losses and a draw in his last 4 bouts those expectations are quickly dying. A loss here for either man would likely spell the end of any hope of them becoming a notable name, and the bout really is a must win for both.
A third card from Japan this coming Sunday is from Aichi, and is certainly one with an international feel, given the three most notable bouts all feature a visitor.
The main event sees former Japanese Light Middleweight title challenger Ryosuke Maruki (14-4-1, 9) take on Indonesia's Filipus Rangga (10-17, 1). The Japanese fighter looked like one to watch when he lost to Yuki Nonaka, with some suggesting just a tiny bit of seasoning was needed, and since then he has picked up two stoppage wins and looks like a genuine domestic contender, with a second title fight perhaps only a few bouts away. Rangga began his career 5-1 but since then has gone 5-16 and really is a very limited fighter on the domestic scene, and has fought at much higher weights. Not only is Rangga smaller, older, and less talented but he is also making his international debut. In all honesty Maruki should be disappointed if this goes beyond 6 rounds.
In an interesting support bout fans will see the pretty solid Shogo Yamaguchi (10-3-2, 5) take on domestically ranked Indonesian Lightweight Sam Puadi (7-8, 5). Yamaguchi has gone 1-3-1 in his last 5, though has faced the likes of Akihiro Kondo and Andy Hiraoka during that run, and really needs a win to kick start his once fledgling career. The visitor is 0-2 outside of Indonesia, including a loss earlier this year in Japan to Yuki Harada, though it's fair to say that the visitor will feel he has half a chance here against a very out of form Yamaguchi.
Also on this card will be a Heavyweight bout, as top ranked Japanese Heavyweight Kotatsu Takehara (13-11-3, 7) takes on Korean visitor Hoo Won Lee (4-3). The 39 year old Takehara is a 2 time Japanese title challenger and although he came up short in both bouts, to Kyotaro Fujimoto, he is a game fighter. Interestingly Takehara will be fighting for the first time since May 2016, when Japanese rules actually forbid him from fighting, and will surely be wanting to prove age is just a number. The 24 year old Korean visitor has age on his side, but the former Korean Heavyweight champion is stepping up in a big way here, and was stopped in a round back in June. If Takehara is half the fighter he was he should win, if he loses however it's got to be the end for him.
Seoul, South Korea
Fans in Korea will get their own title bout, as the unbeaten In Duck Seo (8-0-1, 5) takes on the limited Joong Kyung Lee (3-2) in a bout for the KBF Light Middleweight title. Seo is unbeaten, but could only a manage a draw last time out, in a very good match up against Dong Hee Kim down at 140lbs. As for Lee, who will be having his 6th bout of the year, this bout follows an 8 round loss to Moon Sung Choi and he will certainly be coming into this one looking to score a big domestic win.
After a crazy Saturday, with all the Filipino action, the fights slow down and on Sunday we only get a single, small, show in Japan.
The card will be a double header, with the Maruki brothers headlining, and featuring in the only bouts of note.
The main event will see recent Japanese title challenger Ryosuke Maruki (13-4-1, 8), who pushed Yuki Nonaka all the way last July, take on Rocky Indonesian visitor Irawan Sikumbang (6-2, 2). The bout really should be a mismatch, with Maruki being better than his record suggests. Although the Indonesian may try and make it a fight we suspect Maruki's physicality will be too much for the visitor.
Ryosuke's older brother Kazuya Maruki (19-5, 12) will be looking to resurrect his own career, following backto back defeats, as he takes on Yosmar Kefi (5-8, 4). Although Maruki is out of form he's not a bad fighter and should have the power and physicality to over-come Kefi, who has been stopped in two previous visits to Japan.
Arguably the most intriguing bout of the day comes from Korea and features world ranked Korea Ye Joon Kim (14-1-2, 7) as he looks to defend his minor IBF title against Japanese visitor Yuki Strong Kobayashi (10-5, 5). Kim is regarded as one of the best Korean born prospects but this is a good test against a former OPBF title challenger. If Kim, who is enigmatic to say the least, is at his best he could make this look easy but Kobayashi is an upset minded fighter and showed that last year when he defeated Hikaru Matsuoka, and the year before when he beat Bunta Mitaka.
In a supporting bout we'll see the unbeaten In Duck Seo (6-0, 3) battle against Jae Sun Kim (4-2-2, 2) in a bout scheduled for 8 rounds. The 22 year old Seo will be looking for his second win this year and has, impressively, beaten 4 unbeaten opponents in a row.. Kim hasn't won a bout in his last 3, but is a step up in class for Seo.
There will also be a single show in China.
In the main event we'll see the exciting Baishanbo Nasiyiwula (9-0-1, 4) take on Filipino visitor Stephen Gelawa (6-2-1, 4). The Chinese fighter has impressed in the past, and has won his last 8 bouts including victories over Tackie Annan, to claim the WBC Youth title at 140lbs, and Nelson Tinampay. Gelawa has been stopped in his last 2 bouts, including a defeat to Charles Bellamy, but is a decent test for Baishanbo at this point.
In another main bout we'll see Chinese based Russian Andrey Kalyuzhnyy (12-2, 10) take on Yang Liu (4-3-1) in what looks like a mismatch of a 10 rounder. Although not an evenly matched bout the Russian is rebuilding following a loss earlier this year.
A more perplexing match up will see the once beaten A Fu Bai (7-1, 4) take on novice Yuan Yao (1-0). This will be Bai's first bout since he suffered his sole defeat, a 6 round decision loss to Viktor Kotochigov. Yao only debuted back in July, but did so against an experienced foe and impressed, so he may be be more competitive than the numbers suggest.
Of course much of the day's action, again, comes from Japan where there will be 3 cards, the most notable of which will be the Rookie of the West finals, and feature a total of 12 bouts from Minimumweight to Middleweight
One of the best bouts on the card is at Super Bantamweight where we see unbeaten fighters face off. In one corner will be Ioka gym's Bunta Okamoto (4-0, 2) whilst in the other corner will be Gifu Yokozeki's Ruito Saeki (4-0). With Super Bantamweight being one of the best division's in Japan this is a really significant and could see another youngster pushed towards making a mark on the division next year.
Another intriguing match up comes at Bantamweight where Hibiki Jogo (3-0, 3), another Ioka prospect, takes on fellow puncher Yuto Nakamura (6-2, 5), a 19 year old banger from the Ichino gym. This should be an explosive contest with neither man being known for going the distance.
At Super Flyweight we see another bout between unbeaten men as Kota Fujimoto (5-0, 1) takes on Katsuya Murakami (4-0-1, 1) in what looks likely to be a distance between between two men who are skilled but a bit feather fisted. A technical bout should be likely, but should be a really intriguing one with both fights looking to keep their unbeaten records.
Another show takes place in Aichi.
In the main event of the show we'll see Japanese ranked Light Welterweight Yuya Okazaki (11-9-2, 4) face off with veteran Daiki Koide (22-8-2, 9). Okazaki is without a win in almost 2 years, going 0-2-1 in his last 3, but has mixed with stiff competition in the likes of Keita Obara, Noriaki Sato and Motoki Sasaki. As for Koide he is 3-3 in his last 6 but is 2 years removed from his last win and was last seen being stopped by Korean Woo Min Won, so there are a lot of questions about what he has left in the tank. Interestingly this will be the second bout between these two who fought in July 2014, when Okazaki took a razor thin victory over Koide.
In the chief supporting bout we'll see recent Japanese title challenger Ryosuke Maruki (12-4-1, 7) battle against Elfelos Vega (6-4, 4). This will be Maruki's first bout since July's loss to Yuki Nonaka and give his performance there it's hard to see anything but a win here, with Vega having lost his last 3. Despite Vega being the under-dog he is a live under-dog who is tough and has the power to perhaps hurt Maruki, if he can land clean. Both of these men have a Japanese ranking coming into this bout so the winner could, potentially, get a title fight in 2017.
The card will be a family affair for the Maruki family as Ryosuke's brother Kazuya Maruki (19-4, 12) takes on Dai Taoka (8-3, 5). Kazuya will be looking to bounce back from a shock defeat to Chan Hee Park in May and although he has an impressive looking record he is 2-2 in his last 4 and certainly a beatable fighter. Despite Maruki being beatable Taoka has gone 1-3 in his last 4 and has lost his last 2. This should be competitive and both fighters know they can't afford another loss at the moment.
There will also be a low level card in Tokyo, headlined by an interesting looking, and well matched, 10 rounder. The bout in question will see Ryuto Araya (10-4-1, 3) face off with Yosuke Kawano (10-5-2, 4) in what is a really solid looking domestic Featherweight bout. Coming in to this Araya will be risking a 10 top Japanese ranking but should be good enough to over-come Kawano,
This coming Wednesday is a big one for Japanese boxing with 2 world title fights and two other title bouts all taking place on Ioka show in Osaka.
The most interesting bout on the card is an IBF Super Bantamweight title bout which sees Japan's tricky Shingo Wake (20-4-2, 12) face off against Dominican power puncher Jonathan Guzman (21-0-0-1, 21) fighting for the vacant title. The bout sees both men taking part in their first world title fight and both men know that a win will open the door to them getting more high profile bouts in the near future. For Wake the bout is his first against a genuine puncher whilst Guzman will be facing his first world class Super Bantamweight and the bout really should be something very telling.
In the co-main event WBA Flyweight champion Kazuto Ioka (19-1, 11) will be facing off against Nicaraguan fighter Keyvin Lara (18-1-1, 6). For Ioka the bout will be his third defense and it seems likely that he could be up against Juan Francisco Estrada later in the year if he wins here. For Lara the bout is a huge step up in class and a huge opportunity, however it seems likely to be one that has come far too soon for him again a man who appears to be really growing into the Flyweight division.
In a supporting title bout Japanese Light Middleweight champion Yuki Nonaka (29-8-3, 9) will be defending his title against hungry lion Ryosuke Maruki (12-3-1, 7). Maruki will be in his first bout at this level, though is a former WBC Youth champion, and will need a career best performance to really trouble the veteran champion. As for Nonaka the 38 year old will be seeking a 5th defense of his title and will be hoping to extend his 11 fight unbeaten record.
Another supporting title bout on this show will see OPBF Bantamweight champion Takahiro Yamamoto (17-4, 14) take on Filipino puncher Rex Wao (11-2, 9) in what could be a thrilling, but short, bout. For Yamamoto this will be his second defense and is one that he will be expected to win however Wao is a serious puncher and knows that a win here will help kick start his career after 2 losses in his last 3 bouts, with the most recent loss coming well about above the Bantamweight limit.
In regards to non-title bouts on this card we are interested to see Masayoshi Hashizume (10-0, 7) return to the ring as he faces fellow unbeaten Sangthong Tor Buamas (5-0, 5) in what could be an interesting assignment for the 2014 Rookie of the Year. Hashizume has impressed us in the past and does look fun and will hopefully move on to bigger things. For Sangthong this could be a coming out fight or it could see him exposed for his paper record.
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.
In one of a trio of main events on this card fight fans will see promising Light Middleweight Ryosuke Maruki (10-3-1, 7) battle against South Korean visitor Jung Hoon Yang (9-7, 2). Coming in to this one Maruki will be looking to record a 4th straight win and move towards a potential Japanese title fight in the near future.
In another “Japan Vs Korea” bout we'll see the big punching Yuki Beppu (10-0, 10) take on Jin Soo Kim (6-5, 3) in what should be Beppu's 11th straight stoppage win. Coming in to this one Beppu's form is brilliant, and has seen him claim the Rookie of the Year crown last year, Kim however has lost his last 3 and has won just twice in his last 6 bouts.
Another of the feature bouts will see 2014 All Japan Rookie of the year, at Super Bantamweight, Shohei Kawashima (11-0-2, 3) risk his unbeaten record against Kosuke Mizuno (7-5-2, 2). On paper this should be an easy bout for Kawashima however Mizuno is better than his record suggests and he really could be a great test for the unbeaten youngster.
As well as the 3 noted bouts there will be 4 other contests on this show.
Another Japanese show takes place in Okinawa and features a really good looking main event.
That main event will see the world ranked Go Onaga (25-2-2, 18) take on the criminally under-rated Jonas Sultan (9-2, 5) of the Philippines. We know the 35 year old Onaga will be strongly favoured here however Sultan has the ability to be a genuine banana skin and has never “cleanly” lost a bout so far. Whilst Onaga will be expected to win we'd not be surprised at all by a Sultan win, especially given his form and confidence on the back of a 5 fight winning streak.
Sadly the resat of this card is relatively uninteresting.
In Osaka we get the West Japan Rookie of the Year tournament with 12 bouts to decide the West representative for the All Japan final, which is to take place in December.
Of the 12 bouts the most notable on paper seems to be at Lightweight where 21 year old Tomoaki Matsumura (5-0, 3) battles against 20 year old Daiki Ichikawa (6-0, 4) in a really good looking all-unbeaten fight. The contest certainly won't “create a star” but it really is a fantastic fight and one of those brilliant match ups that the Rookie of the Year helps to generate.
A similarly attractive match up comes at Featherweight where Yuto Nagano (5-0, 2) battles Shuma Nakazato (4-0, 3). Again both fighters are unbeaten and young and looking to make a name for themselves. Interestingly Nakazato is probably the more well known of the two men considering that his father is a well regarded gym chairman, who helps handle the career of Katsunari Takayama.
This show promises a lot of action and we're really hoping that it lives up to the hopes we have for it.