This coming Sunday is a big day in Japan, with 4 different shows, including a title bout in Osaka, several bouts with prospects and the East Japan Rookie of the Year final.
Sumiyoshi Ward Center, Osaka, Osaka, Japan
The show with the most important single bout takes place in Osaka, where we see several rising stars of Japanese boxing in action.
The main bout of the show will see WBO Asia Pacific Bantamweight champion Ryosuke Nishida (4-0, 1) defending the title he won from Daigo Higa earlier this year. The talented, and really promising, Nishida will be up against fellow Japanese fighter Tetsuro Ohashi (8-2-1, 2), who is best known as a solid and promising young Super Flyweight. Ohashi is a very solid fighter, but this is a big step up for him, and he is very much like a smaller, less polished version of Nishida. As for the champion this is a solid first defense, even if it is a step down from his last two bouts, which saw him beating Shohei Omori and Daigo Higa. Unlike those bouts this will see Nishida up against a fellow boxer, as opposed to a fighter or puncher, and we could see him needing to answer some different questions here. Our preview of this one can be read here Nishida takes on Ohashi in first WBO Asia Pacific title defense
In a major supporting bout we'll see former Japanese title challenger Riku Kunimoto (4-1, 2) look to bounce back from his loss to Kazuto Takesako as he takes on the unbeaten Kazuki Kyohara (5-0-2, 3). On paper this looks a really even match up but in reality Kunimoto is the more proven and the more polished, and a very solid former amateur. Kyohara will know a win opens the door for a title fight of his in 2022, but he's meant to be little more than a game "opponent" here.
On the subject of good former amateurs we'll also see Kaito Yamasaki (1-0) fight in his second professional bout, as he takes on the experienced Takahiro Hamazaki (3-7-2, 1). Yamasaki was a very talented amateur and he looked like he could go a long, long way on his debut, but does have some questions to answer, including some about how he'll adapt to the professional ranks, and how his power will hold up. Hamazaki on the other hand is there to play the role of a veteran, and we suspect the 35 year old will ask some questions on route to a wide decision loss.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
Over in Tokyo we get two shows, the most notable of which is set to take place at Korakuen Hall. The reason is so notable is because it's the East Japan Rookie of the Year Final, and is a platform for future stars. In total there is 12 bouts set for this card, with bouts taking place from 105lbs all the way up to Middleweight, with the exception of 154lbs which isn't competed in as part of the Rookie of the Year.
One of the most interesting match ups for this show is at Bantamweight, as Hiroto Sato (3-0-1) takes on Shori Umezu (5-0, 5) in a battle of unbeaten youngsters. Sato, aged 21, only debuted in July but has managed to squeeze 4 fights in already this year, prior to this one. Sadly he did fight to a draw on debut, has shown a lack of power, which could be a major issue here. Umezu, himself only 23, made his debut in August 2020, and has taken out his first 5 opponents in a combined 8 rounds. He has never seen round 3, and has really heavy hands. He'll be looking to show what his power can do here.
Another interesting bout between two unbeaten fighters will see Ryuya Kusamura (2-0, 2) take on Minori Okamura (2-0, 1), with this bout being the Middleweight bout, and for those not aware Japanese Rookie of the Year Middleweight bouts tend to be among the most entertaining as it's usually two big, somewhat unpolished, guys landing a lot of leather on each other. Interesting both these men debuted in September, both had their second pro bout in November and will be having this bout just 3 and a half months after their debuts. Kusamura is the taller man, and the harder hitter, and has looked really fun to watch in his first two bouts. Okamura on the other hand has had attention on him, with his debut coming against Eigoro Akai, the son of a popular former fighter, and he has gone 4 rounds, which he did last time out. This should be a very, very fun 4 rounder.
Arena Tachikawa Tachihi , Tachikawa, Tokyo, Japan
Staying in Tokyo, there is a small, but notable card in Tachikawa city. The card is certainly not a huge one but it does have a very solid main event, as JBC ranked Lightweight Shinnosuke Saito (8-4, 2) takes on Mirai Naito (8-3, 3). Coming in Saito is going to be the favourite, and he certainly is the more prove fighter, though Naito will be wanting to prove himself, especially with this bout coming less than a week after his brother's upset loss to Koichi Aso. Saito did lose last time out, with that loss ending a 5 fight winning run, but he'll be hungry to get back to winning ways here.
Aioi Hall, Kariya, Aichi, Japan
We'll also be getting rookies in action in Kariya as we get a show featuring only 4 rounders. Sadly it's always hard to get too excited about these shows, due to the lack of name value, but the 4 rounder format does tend to deliver some amazing action as two flawed novices put it all on the line. Despite the lack of notable names, we do like the look of these shows and this should be fun.
If pushed for a bout to make a note of, it's worth noting the nominal main event of the show will be a bout between Kenta Sugawara (2-2-1, 1) and Yuya Nakazato (5-12, 5), who is the most experienced man on the card, by far.
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Over in Vietnam we're going to be seeing once beaten Vietnamese fighter Van Thao Tran (13-1, 8) take on unbeaten Thai puncher Boonrueang Phayom (9-0, 9) in what looks set to be a really interesting match up. Tran was tipped for big things, following a solid amateur career, but inactivity and a loss in 2019 to Billy Dib has cost his career and he's really not reached the level that many had hoped he would. Aged 22 Boonrueang is one of the more interesting Thai prospects, and a genuine puncher, but someone who has fought at a very, very low level. For Boonrueang this is a massive step up in class, and his first fight bout outside of Thailand, but a win here would help set him up for a very interesting 2022.
April 24th - World and Regional title fights in Japan, world title eliminator in South Africa and more!
This coming Saturday is set to be a hectic day, with two notable Japanese shows, a world title eliminator in South Africa and a show in the Philippines featuring several noteworthy fighters.
EDION Arena Osaka, Osaka, Osaka, Japan
The most notable card comes from Osaka and is a lovely mix of everything Japanese boxing has to offer. It has a world title bout in the main event, a brilliant domestic bout in the co-feature role and several talented prospects in tough bouts through the card.
The main event will see WBC Light Flyweight champion Kenshiro Teraji (17-0, 10) look to record his latest defense as he faces Japanese veteran Tetsuya Hisada (34-10-2, 20), in a bout that has a surprising amount of history behind it. The two men were originally scheduled to fight in 2017, before Kenshiro vacated the Japanese title and went on to fight for the WBC belt. They were also scheduled to fight in 2020, before legal issues scuppered the bout. Of the two men Kenshiro is the more well known and the more proven, with this being his 8th defense, but the highly experienced Hisada is a very capable fighter, who gave Hiroto Kyoguchi a tough test in 2019 and will know that this is his last chance at a world title. We expect this one to be a brilliant bout between a strong, aggressive, veteran and a talented and intelligent champion. A genuinely fantastic match up. Our in depth preview of this can be read here 4 years in the making - Kenshiro Teraji Vs Tetsuya Hisada
The co-feature for this show will see talented teenage hopeful Ayumu Hanada (5-0, 4) take on the huge punching Mammoth Kazunori (6-3-1, 6) in a 6 round bout between the Flyweight and Super Flyweight limits. Hanada began his career in Mexico before moving back to Japan last year and he made his JBC debut late last year in a very impressive performance. He's very young, but lives up to the "Flaco" nickname, with an aggressive, exciting and explosive style. Talking about explosive however Kazunori is one of the heaviest handed fighters in Japan, and if he catches an opponent clean he can wipe some one out. This is a very dangerous bout for Hanada, but a win here will likely lead him to a potential bout with a Japanese ranked opponent next time out.
Another prospect on this card is Kantaro Juri (2-0, 1), who looks to score his third win as he takes on the light punching Toma Kondo (8-6-1, 1). The 24 year old Juri is a talented southpaw, who has a lot of promise and showed a lot of ability as an amateur, but is yet to show what he can really do as a professional. Fingers crossed we see him put together a better performance here than we've seen from him so far. Kondo is no world beater, but he is much better than his record suggests and 4 of his 6 losses have been by split decision. He's coming in to this on the back of a minor high, as he he surprisingly held Yuki Nakajima to a draw in December, and will feel like he can build on that result here.
One other bout that deserves a bit of attention is a match up between Daiki Asai (0-1) and Yu Konomura (10-9-2, 4). Asai lost his debut, last year, to Kyonosuke Kameda, but showed a lot as an amateur and clearly has some tools in his arsenal that could see him in some interesting bouts over the next few years. Konomura is a win some-lose some, type of fighter, but has began to find his self belief and power, scoring his last 3 wins by stoppage, and we suspect he'll come in to this confident that he can get another KO. Both of these guys are better than their records suggest, and they could end up giving a genuine treat deep on the under-card of this show.
Convention Center, Ginowan, Okinawa, Japan
A second Japanese card, which will be aired live in Okinawa and be shown on tape delay in Tokyo, will be a card that has a very easy to over-look main event, and a solid prospect on the under-card. It's not as interesting, or as big as the Osaka card, but is a show worthy of attention.
The main event here will see former WBC Flyweight champion Daigo Higa (17-1-1, 17) look to score his first defense of the WBO Asia Pacific Bantamweight title, as he takes on the unbeaten Ryosuke Nishida (3-0, 1). Higa won the title in impressive fashion last December, when he stopped Yuki Strong Kobayashi, but hasn't looked the most convincing since his forced move to Bantamweight. He is certainly heavy handed and very exciting, but we do wonder whether he has the natural size to compete against the better fighters in the division. For Nishida this is a massive step up, but he has impressed since turning professional, and he looked a real talent last time out, when he beat Shohei Omori. He has the style and size to neutralise Higa, and if he can put a complete performance together here he could upset the local hero. Our in depth preview of this one can be read here Higa returns to Okinawa to take on unheralded Nishida!
Higa's once beaten stablemate Ryuto Owan (6-1, 4) will also be on this show, as he takes on the tough and rugged Takafumi Iwaya (4-4). Owan won his first 5 bouts before losing in 2018, in a Japanese Youth title bout. Following that loss he disappeared for a couple of years before returning last year with a win over Tomoya Kishine and he looked really good in that win. Iwaya isn't a particularly well known fighter, but he is insanely tough and last year we saw him take a battering at the hands of the brilliant Rentaro Kimura, before finally being stopped in round 5. He's very limited but there is no doubting his toughness and he will be a potential nightmare for Owan here. Owan should have the tools to win, but he will have to work hard against one of the toughest men in the sport.
Suamlum Night Bazaar, Ratchadaphisek, Bangkok
Over in Thailand we get the next show from TL Promotions and it's one with a very peculiar main event.
That main event will see former Welterweight contender Teerachai Sithmorseng (44-1, 31) clash with former Bantamweight and Super Featherweight champion Sirimongkhon Iamthuam (97-5, 62), with the bout taking place all the way up at Light Heavyweight. The bout will be for Teerachai's WBA Asia title and it's fair to say that neither man will look in their best physical shape and condition.
The show will also feature the third professional boxing contest of Nonthasith Petchnamthong (2-0) who will be defending his WBA Asia Bantamweight title , as he takes on Suradech Ruhasiri (6-2, 5). Nonthasith is a top Muay Thai fighter who has been solid since turning to professional, and should be far, far too good for his Thai foe here. Though sadly Nonthasith has shown little power in professional boxing gloves, and it's going to be interesting to see whether or not he can stop his limited foe here.
2nd Floor, Mega Mart Burgos Poblacion Norte, Paniqui, Tarlac, Philippines
In the Philippines we're set to get a show that is rather disappointing overall, but one that does feature several fighters of note. Sadly however as with many Filipino shows it has the look of "mismatch city".
One of the notable fighters on this card is former amateur standout Charly Suarez (5-0, 4), who had been tipped as a future force for Filipino boxing when he turned professional. The now 32 year old Suarez turned professional disappointingly late and now, in his 6th bout, is taking on regional journeyman Lorence Rosas (9-5-2, 3). We know that Filipino fighters, like Japanese fighters, are limited right now due to travel issues brought on by covid19 but in reality Rosas is a poor choice of opponent, and he shouldn't really force Suarez to break a sweat. Rosas has lost his last 4, last fought in 2019, as a Super Bantamweight, and offers very little to test Suarez with.
In a potentially better match up the under-rated Richard Pumicpic (21-11-2, 6), who is much, much better than his record suggests, will take on Landy Cris Leon (13-21-5, 6). Although Pumicpic's record is underwhelming he's a real nightmare to fight and has given the likes of Ryosuke Iwasa, Cesar Juarez and Musashi Mori fits. He record might not show it, but he is a legitimate handful at the Oriental title level and shouldn't be over-looked, even with 11 losses to his name. Leon on the other hand has gone from once being a decent regional journeyman to a man who has started to collect losses bout after bout after bout. This should be an easy win for Pumicpic, but given he's lost his last 3 we won't complain too much. He deserves an easy one if we're being honest.
Gqeberha, Eastern Cape, South Africa
Outside of Japan the most significant bout of the day comes from South Africa, where once beaten Filipino Christian Araneta (19-1, 15) takes on hard hitting South African prospect Sivenathi Nontshinga (9-0, 9), in what is an IBF world title eliminator at 108lbs. The talented Araneta suffered his only loss in 2019, when an arm injury forced him to retire against Daniel Valladares, in what was a fantastic though disappointingly short bout. Since that loss he has notched 2 domestic wins and appears hungry to make a statement. Nontshinga on the other hand is somewhat unknown outside of South Africa but has got notable wins over Siyabonga Siyo and Ivan Soriano. Interestingly he did go 7 rounds before stopping Muhsin Kizota in 2018, the same Kizota who looked clueless recently against Hasanboy Dusmatov, and there maybe is some doubt about how good he really is. The winner of this will be right in the mix and may well end up getting a shot at Felix Alvarado later in the year. This is easy to over-look but could be the bout that steals the weekend.
Universum Gym, Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany
Over in Germany we'll see unbeaten German based Thai Phannarai Netisri (7-0, 4) fight for a WBC Youth title. Sadly her opponent, at the time of writing, is yet to be announced as her original opponent appears to have been pulled out of the contest due to some nasty injuries suffered in their last bout. "Fai" is a really exciting young fighter at just 20 years old, and it's going to be very interesting to see how she develops from here
GK Ekaterininskiy, Krasnodar, Russia
As well as everything we've already mentioned there is also set to be an appearance from rising Uzbek hopeful Ulugbek Qayumboev (4-0, 4), who will be looking for his 5th straight early win as he takes on a yet to be named opponent. The 20 year old Qayumboev, who fights around the Lightweight division, debuted last year and has been blowing out very low level competition so far. Fingers crossed we see him stepping up later this year, though sadly this bout doesn't seem like to be much of an upgrade given no opponent was named 7 days out.
December 19th-Gaballo gets big fight, Kudaka and Ohashi clash in Osaka and Teerachai fights at 175lbs!
This coming Saturday is one that has seen a whole host of changes to what we were supposed to get, but still managed to deliver a decent day of boxing, even if two of the fights that we most wanted to see were cancelled. It's still a day that promises plenty of action and fingers crossed gives us a great great final weekend before Christmas.
Mohegan Sun Casino, Uncasville, Connecticut, USA
The show that the most changes was PBC's show in Uncasville, which was supposed to see two bouts featuring Filipino's in major bouts.
Originally we had expected to see Nonito Donaire (40-6, 26) battle Nordine Oubaali (17-0, 12), though Oubaali tested positive for Covid19 in November and then Donaire got a positive test in December, though it does seem like his was a false positive. As a result both of those men are off the show.
As a result of the positive tests we will now see unbeaten Filipino Reymart Gaballo (23-0, 20) take on Emmanuel Rodriguez (19-1, 12) for the interim WBC Bantamweight title, in a genuinely mouth watering match up, put on on short notice. Gaballo is looking to announce himself as the next big star of the Philippines and has the power, speed and style to genuinely make a name for himself at the top level. Rodriguez on the other hand is a former IBF champion who was last seen in the ring being stopped in 2 rounds by Naoya Inoue. Since that loss Rodriguez has genuinely had no luck at all, and we do wonder what his mental state his coming into this bout.
Although Gaballo took this bout on short notice he had been set to fight on the show anyway, with the Filipino scheduled to face Jose Velasquez (28-6-2, 19) for the WBA "interim" Bantamweight title before replacing Donaire in the main event, so he should be in great shape for this bout.
EDION Arena Osaka, Osaka, Osaka, Japan
Over in Osaka we again see a card that had one main event planned for it, before changes had to be made, and end up getting a different bout that had already been postponed twice.
Originally we were set to get a WBC Light Flyweight title fight here, with Kenshiro Teraji (17-0, 10) defending his title against Tetsuya Hisada (34-10-2, 20). That bout was cancelled when Kenshiro was contacted about a drunken incident in the summer, scrapping the bout at relatively short notice.
Sadly instead of the world title bout headlining the show we will instead see 4-time world title challenger Hiroyuki Kudaka (26-18-4, 11) headline the event in a bout against the once beaten Tetsuro Ohashi (7-1-1, 2). the 35 year old Kudaka, also known as Hiroyuki Hisataka, is a true veteran of the sport having debuted back in 2002, and has been in with a who's who of the sport, including Tomonobu Shimizu, Takafumi Sakata, Denkaosan Kaovichit, Hugo Fidel Cazares, Omar Andres Narvaez and Takuma Inoue. Sadly in recent years Kudaka's career has been catching up with him and he's scored just 1 win in his last 6. Ohashi on the other hand is a 22 year old looking to bounce back from an 8th round KO loss to Suzumi Takayama last year. Although he lost there he is still very well regarded as a prospect and did win the 2018 All Japan Rookie of the Year at Super Flyweight.
In a supporting bout we'll see recent OPBF title challenger Kyohei Tonomoto (9-3-1, 4) take on Kimihiro Nakagawa (7-4-2, 3), in what should be a really good, 50-50 type bout between two men each looking to pick up a win to end the year with. Tonomoto showed good ability in his July loss to Satoshi Shimizu, but lacked the power needed to get Shimizu's respect, despite the loss we are looking forward to seeing him in action. Nakagawa on the other hand is riding pretty following an upset loss against Yosuke Kawano in April 2019 and will be looking to build some momentum after 20 months away from the ring.
The real one to make a note of on this show is the rescheduled match up between Ryosuke Nishida (2-0, 1) and Shohei Omori (21-3, 16), which is now on it's third date. The bout is a massive step up for the talented, and touted Nishida, who looks like he is potentially the future of the Mutoh Gym and someone that MTK's Japanese arm will be very hopeful of. Omori on the other hand is former world title challenger who will be looking to salvage his faltering career. For Nishida the bout is massive risk-reward, and he will likely enter as the under-dog, but a win would put him right in the domestic and regional title mix. For Omori a loss is unthinkable, and he needs a win. A really big match up, despite the issues surrounding it.
For those wanting to watch this card, it appears it will be shown live on Boxing Real.
Suamlum Night Bazaar, Ratchadaphisek, Bangkok
We also get action in Thailand, as TL Promotions put on their last show of 2020.
The main event here is a weird one as Chaloemporn Sawatsuk (21-6, 14) takes on former Welterweight contender Teerachai Kratingdaenggym (43-1, 31), aka Tewa Kiram, for the vacant WBA Asia Light Heavyweight title. Teerachai, best known for his bout with Lucas Matthysse, has no right fighting at 175lbs, though he should look in much better physical shape than the 32 year old Chaloemporn, who is only 5'6" and has looked very chubby when competing as a Middleweight. On paper not a bad bout, though we do, genuinely, wonder how the men will look at Light Heavyweight.
For those wanting to watch this it will be aired on Thairath.
This coming Sunday is a weird day, as there's shows in 3 different countries and yet there is a real lack of quality across those shows. In fact, if we're being honest, there's only one bout that really stand outs as being worthy of attention. A real shame of a day.
Aqua Bunka Hall, Toyonaka, Osaka, Japan
For us the one bout of note comes from Japan and pits a rising prospect against a former world title challenger. This could be a coming out party for the prospect, or a case of biting off more than he can chew.
The prospect looking to shine here is Ryosuke Nishida (2-0, 1), who takes on former WBO Bantamweight title challenger Shohei Omori (21-3, 16) in a really intriguing bout. Nishida turned professional following a solid, though not spectacular, amateur career and is spoke about highly by those in Osaka. He's one of the few exciting prospects at the Mutoh Gym, and we can't help but feel he might be getting this fight a little bit too early in his career. He's clearly talented, and understands how to box, but this is a massive step up. As for Omori he's a former Japanese Bantamweight champion and a very dangerous southpaw with power and speed. Sadly though Omori's once promising career has hurt a number of hurdles in recent bouts, and two losses to Marlon Tapales have left him looking like he'll never reach the top. A win for Nsihida puts him on the map here, but this is not a foregone conclusion and Omori is very much a dangerous fighter at this level. By far and away the most interesting bout of the day.
Dayao Walnut Culture Square, Chuxiong, China
We also get a card in China. Sadly though this is a mega small card, sadly most of the fighters on this card are debutants and very few are expected to go on to achieve anything any time soon.
The one notable exception is 21 year old LeQuan Wang (5-0, 3), who has more bouts to his name than the rest of the card combined. The unbeaten Wang, who debuted in May 2019, has a decent looking record, but 4 of his 5 wins have come against debutants. He'll be looking to beat another debutant here as he takes on Jiabao Yu (0-0). It's hard to know if Wang is decent, though his record being as padded as it is it's fair to say his team are going for the slow build tactic of developing someone. As for Yu, well this is his debut and he seems to lack any amateur experience to read into. On paper this looks like a mismatch, but may end up being more interesting than it first looks.
Jai Balaji Sports Academy, Sonipat, India
We also have a relatively small card in India. The show here really isn't one worthy of much attention, though there is a somewhat notable fighter on the card.
That somewhat notable fighter is Shiva (11-3, 5), who takes on Shivam Shivam (0-0)*. It's fair to suggest that Shiva is expected to pick up a win here, and record a 6th successive win as he continues to move his career forward. Despite Shiva being a somewhat notable fighter it's a shame the 25 year old isn't being matched a little bit tougher than this.
*Shivam was scheduled to debut earlier this month though it's unclear if that bout ever took place.
Originally this coming Wednesday there was supposed to be two shows at the Rose Bunka Hall in Toyonaka, but due to issues with the "on going global situation", and more specifically the Osakan gym cluster, the shows were merged into one after 6 bouts were cancelled.
Originally the plans were to have a 5 bout show and an 11 bout show. Sadly due to the cancellations essentially now just a single 10 bout event. Most of the show will be part of the West Japan Rookie of the Year, though a number of bouts will be just regular 4 rounders.
Rose Bunka Hall, Toyonaka, Osaka, Japan
Sadly with this show now only being rookie bouts no one involved is a particularly well known fighter, but there are some good looking bouts on the show, as there always is for rookie events.
One of the better match ups will be a Rookie of the Year bout at Super Featherweight, with Seika Fukuda (2-0) and Yoshitaka Goto (1-0, 1) facing off. Both of these unbeaten men are 21 and both will be looking to build on wins they scored in 2019. Coming in Fukuda has the edge in experience, having 8 rounds to his name, but Goto seemingly has more power, and is slightly taller. Not much to pick between the men, and that tends to make these bouts pretty interesting in the ring.
Another Rookie of the Year bout that caught our eye is a Super Bantamweight bout between Sora Fukunaga (4-0, 1) and Kairi Suetsugu (0-0-1). On paper Fukunaga has a clear edge in experience but Fukunaga will not be in the ring to just lose. Fukunaga has been a professional since 2018 and has scored some notable wins, with a win over Keisuke Iwasaki aging very well. Suetsugu on the other hand is a bit of a mystery, having only fought once, but that could work to his favour here.
In regards to a non-Rookie of the Year bout we'll see Yusa Toyonaka (1-1, 1) take on Tomoya Ichikawa (1-0, 1) battle in a 4 round Welterweight bout.
Sadly one of the cancelled bouts was an intriguing match up between exciting hopeful Ryosuke Nishida (2-0, 1) and former world title challenger Shohei Omori (21-3, 16). We're hoping that this one gets re-arranged for later in the year.
We really are closing in on Christmas, and even though we're a few days away we are set for one of the annual treats boxing calendar, the All Japan Rookie of the Year final. As well as the Rookie of the Year's there's a lot of other stuff going on, with a title bout, an eliminator and a host of prospects in action. This Sunday is big for Asian boxing!
Our attention is obvious focused on the All Japan Rookie of the Year final from Korakuen Hall, with G+ airing the show live, and in full. For fans who want to know what makes Japanese boxing special at the lower end this is it. This is the culmination of a tournament that covers the whole country and takes the better part of a year. To get to the final you need to have won your regional final, and you don't get this far by chance. You get here on merit alone, and as a result we get some amazing match ups.
We won't be going through all 12 bouts, but we have picked out favourite match ups from the line.
It's always great to see all-unbeaten fights in the final and at Minimumweight we have one such bout, as Katsuki Mori (5-0, 1) takes on Takumi Chono (5-0, 3). This is a brilliant fight, with both men being young, having very similar records and both proving themselves to get this far. Mori is a sensational pure boxer from the Ohashi gym and will be looking to show case his skills, but Chono is not a push over, and has looked strong and powerful through out. The winner of this will really be one to watch in 2020.
At Featherweight we expect to see fire-works as Kyonosuke Kameda (5-1-1, 4) and Jinki Maeda (3-0, 2) face off. It's been an emotional year for Kameda, the cousin of Koki, Daiki and Tomoki, and only 2 weeks ago there was a a real chance he'd miss out on this bout due to the politics at the Kyoei gym. Now here the hard hitting 21 year old will be wanting to make the most of his opportunity. Maeda has quietly made his way to the final, blowing out his first two professional opponents before shutting out the then 4-0 Hikaru Fukunaga. We expect this one to be the standout bout of the day.
More fireworks are expected up at 140lbs where Kodai Honda (4-1, 3) and Yasutaka Fujita (5-0, 5) will face off. The 20 year old Honda lost on debut, more than a year ago, but has reeled off 4 wins since then, and he has stopped each of his last 3 opponents. Fujita on the other hand has been blitzing opponents and his 5 bouts have lasted just 10 rounds. Expect bombs to be thrown, and to be thrown early here!
Whilst the Rookie of the Year show is the biggest it's certainly not the only show of note, and at the Sumiyoshi Ward Center the Muto Gym will be show casing some of their brightest young talents, as well as a regional champion.
The main event of the show will see WBO Asia Pacific Bantamweight champion Yuki Strong Kobayashi (15-8, 9) defending his title against Korean challenger Ki Chang Go (8-3, 4). This will be Kobayashi's first defense since winning the title in May with a minor upset against Ben Mananquil, and he'll be looking to go into the new year with some real momentum behind following a bizarre decision loss to Keita Kurihara at the end of 2018. It's really hard to see what Go offers here, and it was only last year that Go was stopped by career Flyweight Masahiro Sakamoto, a stablemate of Kobayashi's at the time. Our full and in depth previous of this regional title bout can be read here Kobayashi defends against Go in Osaka!
In supporting bouts we'll see a trio of Muto gym prospects taking on Filipino foes. The most notable of the trio is Yusuke Mine (2-0, 1), who takes a huge step up to take on veteran Ardin Diale (35-15-4, 17). This is a brilliant bit of match making from the Muto team, who know that Diale is on the slide, but still very live and has been in there with a who's who of the lower weights. A risky match up for their star prospect, but a win here will instantly launch him into the mix for regional titles. High risk and high reward for Mine here.
Another stellar prospect is Tulio Kuwabata (3-0, 2), who will be fighting as Deka-narudo Torio, who takes on hard hitting Pinoy Ken Jordan (8-1-2, 7). The 23 year old Kuwabata is tipped very highly by those in Japan and has been matched aggressively so far, with this being a pretty logical looking step. Jordan is unbeaten in over 2 years and recently claimed an ABF title, back in August. This is a bout between two youngsters each coming to win, and it should give us some very competitive action over 8 rounds.
The third prospect of note is Ryosuke Nishida (1-0, 1), who made his debut in Thailand back in October. Unlike his fellow hopefuls he won't be in an 8 rounder, but instead he'll be scheduled for 6 rounds against the tough Pablito Canada (7-17-4, 1), and will likely be taken the distance by Canada who has only been stopped twice in his 28 bout career.
A second Osaka, card, this time from the EDION Arena, will also be worthy of some attention.
The main event here is a Japanese Super Flyweight title eliminator, the final of the eliminators to take place this year, and will see former world title challenger Hiroyuki Kudaka (26-18-3, 11) clash with Yuta Matsuo (15-4-1, 8) for the chance to fight Kenta Nakagawa in the new year. At 34 years old a loss will likely send Kudaka into retirement, ending an incredibly interesting and often exciting career, so we expect to see him being fired up for this. Matsuo is no world beater, but he is better than his record suggests and is hoping to secure a second Japanese Super Flyweight title fight, following a loss to Takayuki Okumoto earlier this year. Our in depth preview of this eliminator is available to read here Kudaka and Matsuo to clash in final Japanese eliminator of 2019!
In an 8 round supporting bout Kenta Nomura (6-3, 3) will battle Ryo Suwa (11-2, 2), in a very interesting looking contest. Nomura is looking to bounce back from an August loss to Toshiki Shimomachi, in a Japanese Youth title fight, and although he's nothing special he does tend to make for good fights. Suwa on the other hand has won 4 of his last 5 and will see this as a chance to take a huge step towards a potential youth title fight of his own.
This show will also feature the debut of former amateur standout Kantaro Juri (0-0), who fought in the Asian and World Youth Championships back in 2014, who will be in a 6 rounder at a contracted 53KG's. Sadly his opponent here hasn't been confirmed, though we have been told it will be an Indonesian opponent.
As well as the Japanese action there is also a low level Indian card in Golaghat.
This card will be headlined by Sagar Narwat (9-1-1, 3) taking on Shiva (9-3, 3) in an 8 round bout. For Narwat this is a chance to get back to winning ways following October's loss to Troy O'Meley in Australia. As for Shiva he's now wheeled off 3 straight wins after he suffered a trio of losses on the road in 2017. Sadly this bout aside the card isn't really worth getting too excited about.
Strangely Thailand plays host to two highly regarded Japanese prospects, as they look to make a mark early in their careers.
One of those is the 23 year old Yusuke Mine (1-0), who looks to build on his July debut win over Jessel Guardario. Sadly, given Mine's debut came against a decent opponent, this bout looks to be little more than a tick over as he takes on Thai local Kamon Singram (0-28). On one hand it feels like a waste of a bout for Mine, who has the ability to be fast tracked into the Japanese rankings, however we understand that his team are wanting to keep him busy and are looking to get him some experience of fighting outside of his homeland.
The other Japanese fighter on this card is the debuting Ryosuke Nishida (0-0), who took part in his B license test in September. The talented Nishida is tipped as a major one to watch from those at the Mutoh gym and apparently they struggled to get him a suitable domestic opponent, hence him travelling for this bout. Sadly, though as with Mine, he's facing a very limited opponent in the form of Sakol Ketkul (0-5-1), who has been stopped in his last 3 bouts.
Camarines Norte, Philippines
As well as the Thai card there is also a low profile one in the Philippines, and this really is no better than the Thai card.
One of the bouts here will see the limited Jerome Clavite (8-4-2, 4) take on Pit Anacaya (9-28-2, 2). Given that Anacaya has lost his last 4, and last scored a win in November 2014, it would seems obvious he is there to pad Clavite's record, but Clavite himself has been out of the ring for over 2 years.
In another match up the 21 year old Remon Basas (4-4, 3), who lost 3 of his last 4, will be taking on Jerry Mae Villagracia (6-8, 2). Whilst Basas hasn't had great form it is better than that of Villagracia, who has been stopped in his last 7.