The main action this coming Thursday comes from Shanghai in card that is essentially a China Vs Japan card. It's not a huge show, but it's certainly one worthy of some attention with a world ranked contender and a highly touted prospect involved.
The world ranked contender is China's awkward and tough Wulan Tuolehazi (12-3-1, 5), who will be defending his WBA International Flyweight title against Japanese challenger Satoshi Tanaka (7-5, 1). On paper this doesn't look like it'll be competitive, but the idea seems on be for Tuolehazi to just tick over whilst awaiting for a major title fight, following recent wins over Filipino Jayr Raquinel and Japan's Ryota Yamauchi. From what we can see the 28 year old Tanaka is simply there to make up the numbers.
In an excellent match up we'll see the WBO Youth Light Flyweight Xiang Li (7-2-1, 2) take on the very promising Ryu Horikawa (2-0, 1) from Japan. Li won the title on the road, beating the popular Raymond Poon Kaiching for the belt in Hong Kong, when he put up a great and energetic performance to over-come Poon and the crowd. Horikawa is a professional novice, but the 19 year old is regarded very highly in Japan and his win over Yuki Nakajima last time out showed just how skilled he was. For us this is the best fight on the card, and one that deserves the attention of fight fans.
Another bout worthy of note will see local fighter Ayati Sailike (7-8-2-1, 2) take on Japan's unbeaten Hiroki Hanabusa (6-0-2, 2). The 23 year old local isn't anyone special, but is experience, has taken on a number of unbeaten opponents and comes to win, though is technically quite limited. Hanabusa, who just 20, is looking to build on a good 2018, and a win here, in first 8 rounder, will likely see his team push him for a Youth title in 2020. Hanabusa is talented, but this is set to be a genuine test, even if Sailike's record suggests something else.
As well as the Chinese action there is also going to be a small card in the Philippines, featuring a former world title challenger up against a domestic journeyman.
The former world title challenger is Jerry Tomogdan (28-10-4, 15), who in a WBC Minimumweight title bout in 2015 to Wanheng Menayothin. Since that loss Tomogdan has had mixed success, going 12-4-1 (6) including a win over Riku Kano in Japan. His opponent will be Mike Kinaadman (7-11-2, 5), who really shouldn't give Tomogdan any issues here.
One of the great things about Japanese boxing is the fact that talented youngsters get in the ring against each other, rather than get protected in the hope of a bout marinating down the line. This type of match making is particularly in both the Japanese Youth title bouts, which regularly match top youngsters against each other, and the B class tournaments which usually match touted novice professionals against each other.
This coming Monday the Korakuen Hall place host to both, B Class tournament and Japanese Youth title tournament bouts, essentially Japanese Youth title eliminators, in what is set to be an excellent, but perhaps over-looked, show.
One of the Japanese Youth title eliminators will see Haruki Ishikawa (7-1, 5) and Atsushi Takada (6-1-3, 3) battle in a really interesting match up. The 19 year old Ishikawa lost in a very close bout against Yusei Fujikawa, in the All Japan Rookie of the Year final, but has bounced back with a good win over Alvin Medura back in April and certainly has a lot of promise. Takada on the other hand was beaten in a Japanese youth title fight in April and will be looking to secure a second shot at the title in the near future. On paper this is finely balanced and should be a very compelling contest.
The other Japanese title eliminator on this card will actually find themselves up against the winner of the Ishikawa Vs Takada fight, in a bout for the vacant title. This match up., on paper, looks like a mismatch with former Rookie of the Year winner Fumiya Fuse (8-0, 1) taking on 18 year old novice Toshiya Ishii (1-0, 1). This doesn't look great until you realise that Ishii was a very capable amateur, coming runner up in the 2018 Inter-High school tournament and being earmarked for professional success straight away. Fuse is a very talented boxer but this is, in many ways, his toughest test so far, whilst Ishii is will be hoping to have not bitten off more than he chew. A brilliant match up, and one where the winner will really earn something from victory.
In a B class tournament bout, at Light Flyweight, we see novice professionals clash in what could be a really interesting contest. The match up in question is a 6 round bout between Yuki Nakajima (2-0, 2) and Ryu Horikawa (1-0, 1). On paper this might not look anything special to those who don't follow the Japanese scene but for those with a hardcore interest this is something special between two talented former amateur standouts. Nakajima went 52-21 in the unpaid ranks, and has looked fantastic in his first 2 bouts, as a professional whilst Horikawa went 37-8 was matched hard on debut and had to show his mettle. Despite only 3 pro bouts between them this should be a very, very good fight
The key show this coming Thursday comes from Korakuen Hall and whilst it's not a huge show it is with a former world title challenger, a national title fight and a couple of prospects.
The main event of this card will see former world title challenger Keita Obara (20-4-1, 18) take on Indonesian foe Yosmar Kefi (9-10, 8), in what should be little more than a confidence builder for Obara. Given that Obara has lost 2 of his last 3, including a loss last time out to Kudratillo Abdukakhorov, he does need an easy win and it's hard to imagine anything but an easy one here. Kefi is 0-4 in Japan, having been stopped 4 times in the Land of the Rising Sun, and we suspect there will be another stoppage loss for him here.
The main support bout will see Japanese Minimumweight champion Norihito Tanaka (18-7, 10) make his first defense, as he takes on Naoya Haruguchi (15-10, 6) in a rematch between the two men. Tanaka won the belt earlier this year, when he stopped Shin Ono, and will be looking to avenge a previous loss to Haruguchi. Whilst Haruguchi did win their first bout it was a controversial decision and he'll need to perform a lot better here, given he's fighting in Tokyo this time around, and not Kagoshima, where he has picked up most of his wins. A full preview of this bout can be read here Tanaka to make first defense, battles Haruguchi
In an interesting support bout we'll see once beaten men collide, with talented Japanese youngster Yoshimitsu Kimura (11-1, 6) taking on Filipino counterpart Jules Victoriano (9-1, 6). Both of these men are in their early 20's, both have suffered a solitary loss and both scored a solid win last time out, with Kimura stopping Allan Vallespin and Victoriano stopped Landy Cris Leon. This is a really interesting supporting bout and could end up being the bout of the show.
One other supporting bout on this card will see Ryu Horikawa (0-0) make his professional debut, as he battles Jun Ishimoto (5-6-1, 3). Whilst we've not been given Horikawa's full amateur record he did impress last year on the national scene and their is expectation on him to have a big future. Ishimoto is no world beater, but a good opponent for a debutant. Ishimoto has never been stopped, isn't much of a puncher and should give enough resistance to see what Horikawa is made of.
As well as the action in Tokyo, we're also interested in a card in California, as Filipino Gretchen Abaniel (18-10, 6) takes on the unbeaten Seniesa Estrada (16-0, 6) in a bout for the WBC silver female Light Flyweight title. The experienced Abaniel is a "win some lose some" fighter who has faced a relative who's who of female boxing, with bouts against the likes of Tenkai Tsunami, Cai Zong Ju, Ayaka Miyao, and Kumiko Seeser Ikehara. Sadly she is far too small for Light Flyweight, and it's a shame her career hasn't been spent fighting at Atomweight. The 26 year old Estrada is less well known than Abaniel, but is unbaten, powerful and very promising. Coming in to this Estrada has won her last 4 by stoppage, and we whouldn't be surprised to see that run continue here against the talented, but under-powered Abaniel.