Sanman Gym, General Santos City, Cotabato del Sur, Philippines
This coming Tuesday we'll be getting a very, very interesting card from the Philippines featuring 3 men who have competed in world title bouts!
The best of the bouts on the card is a mouth watering clash between Vince Paras (16-2, 14) and Robert Paradero (18-2, 12). Paradero is a 2-time world title contender, who lost to Vic Saludar and Knockout CP Freshmart last year. Although he has those two losses against his name, he is a very solid fighter, and someone who did seem to look to make a fight of things against Knockout, before being taken out in round 5. As for Paras the 23 year old showed what he could do when he challenged Hiroto Kyoguchi in 2018, losing but putting up a solid effort. Sadly neither man has a win of note in recent years, however this is a great match up which will see the winner move towards another major bout, whilst the loser will have some serious rebuilding to do.
Another former world title challenger on this card is Edward Heno (14-1-5, 5), who is being matched against unbeaten prospect RV Deniega (6-0, 3). Heno was last seen in action in 2019, when he lost a very competitive bout with the then WBO Light Flyweight champion Elwin Soto, and sadly any momentum he could have had from that bout has been lose with around 30 months of inactivity. Despite that he will come in to this bout as the favourite against the unbeaten 22 year old. Daniega is a talent, and a genuine hopeful for the Philippines, but sadly for him he is stepping up big time here and looks to be taking a leap up in class. Saying that Daniega is the bigger, younger, fresher and more active man and his team will know a win here gives his career a huge boost.
One other fighter of note on this card is the hard hitting Jhack Tepora (23-1, 17), who looks to rebuild from a huge upset loss to Oscar Escandon in 2019. Sadly for Tepora he has been out of the ring since December 2019, and that loss to Escandon really has derailed his career. Coming in to this bout, his opponent is unknown 2 weeks out so we're not expecting anyone too testing for the talented Tepora, who will be hoping to get an easy confidence building win here.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
As well as the Filipino card we also get a small, but interesting, card from Korakuen Hall.
In one of the main bouts here the 37 year old Hiro Ichimichi (6-0-1, 5) will face off with Ryuto Araya (14-9-1, 4). Ichimichi made his debut in 2019, aged 34 and despite having a draw on debut, he has impressed since then, and has shown really nasty power, with 5 stoppages in 6 bouts, including one against Hyoga Taniguchi. For him this will be his first 8 rounder, and he'll known a win over Araya will move him towards a potential title fight, something few would have expected when he was debuting. As for Araya he has fought a bit of a who's who of the Japanese scene over the last few years, and even challenged for the OPBF Featherweight title, but he has gone 3-5 in his last 8, and has suffered 5 stoppage losses, a worry against someone like Ichimichi.
In another solid bout on this card unbeaten teenager Kai Watanabe (6-0-1, 2) will be up against Ryota Ishida (11-2, 6). Aged 19 Watanabe is a genuine prospect, who won the All Japan Rookie of the Year in February and looks to build on that success here. He is quick, sharp and a very intelligent out-side boxer. Ishida on the other hand the type of fighter who wants to take the fight to opponents, and will look to drag Watanabe into something of a war. This should be a great chance to see what Watanabe is really made of, and really see what his potential is at this early stage of his career.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
This coming Tuesday Yokohama Hikari are back with another show under the A-Sign Boxing banner, and as with other A-Sign cards it is a surprisingly deep and stacked card, and is expected to be streamed live on YouTube. The show has 6 bouts in total, from which 4 are worth genuine attention, with at least on JBC, OPBF or WBO Asia Pacific ranked fighter involved.
The first of the 4 bouts worthy of attention is a bout between Kai Ishizawa (6-1, 6) and Masashi Tada (13-7-3, 8). The bout will see the all action, heavy handed and aggressive Ishizawa look for one of his biggest wins as he takes on the rugged former Japanese title challenger. The 23 year old Ishizawa lost last time out, losing a competitive decision to Masataka Taniguchi, but will know a win here will help put him right back in to the domestic title mix. At 31 years old Tada is coming to the end of his career, which began back in 2009, and has twice seen him fighting for domestic honours. Gone gone 2-4-2 in his last 8 Tada needs a win to remain relevant, but will be up against it as he takes on an excellent youngster. This has the potential to be the fight of the show.
On the subject of potential "fight of the show" it's hard to over-look the showdown between Kai Chiba (12-1, 8) and Haruki Ishikawa (8-2, 6), which promises fireworks. Both of these men are hard hitting, but have defensive flaws and both have been stopped. On paper Chiba is the more proven and he's also the more rounded, but Ishikawa is out there with a point to prove following a loss last year to Toshiya Ishii. We really are expecting big things from this one, and it has two guys whose style's should gel brilliantly!
Another supporting bout on the card will see the Japanese ranked Ryuto Araya (13-8-1, 4) risk his Super Featherweight ranking as he takes on Katsunori Endo (6-3, 3). The 32 year old Araya is a former OPBF title challenger who has had mixed successes in recently years. In the last 4 years he has gone 2-4 and really needs a big win soon if hg's to get a second shot at a title. As for Endo he's 29 and comes into the bout on the back of successive early wins. Expect to see Endo starting fast and then having questions asked of him as Araya's experience begins to show it's self.
The main event will see the highly skilled, though often frustrating, Reiya Abe (19-3-1, 9) take on the unbeaten Ren Sasaki (10-0, 6) in a bout that promises very high level boxing, but potentially frustrating action. The brilliant Abe had a forgettable 2019, with a draw against Taiki Minamoto and a loss to Ryo Sagawa standing out, but his resume is a deep one on the domestic stage and he will come into this bout as a very clear favourite. Sasaki on the other hand is clearly stepping up in class, though comes in as an unbeaten man, who knows a win will put him in the title mix. We suspect the skills of Abe will be too much for Sasaki, however Sasaki seems the more willing to let his hands go, and he could, potentially, take this on work rate. Either way this is going to be a high level match up, though it could be a very, very frustrating one.
This coming Friday is a really notable one, with a lot of exciting action, even with the biggest bout of the weekend, for us, being cancelled.
New York, USA
The bout that was cancelled, would have seen the unified Super Bantamweight champion Daniel Roman (27-2-1, 10) defending his WBA "super" and IBF titles against fast rising Uzbek amateur standout Murodjon Akhmadaliev (6-0, 5). Sadly this was called off due to an injury to Roman, however the plan seems to be to reschedule the bout for when Roman is 100%.
Despite the main bout being called off the card will still feature 2016 Olympic gold medal winner Daniyar Yeleussinov (7-0, 3), who has promised a lot but is yet to truly shine as a professional. The unbeaten Kazakh will be up against unbeaten American Reshard Hicks (12-0-1, 6). On paper this looks a good test for the Kazakh but in reality he shouldn't struggle with Hicks, if he's as good as many hoped he'd be.
Due to the world title fight being called off in the US, the best card appears to be in Japan where we see a former world champion, a Japanese title fight, a Japanese youth title fight and a Japanese title eliminator.
The main event will see former WBO Super Featherweight world champion Masayuki Ito (25-2-1, 13) fight for the first time since losing his belt to Jamel Herring. The talented Ito will be up against Indonesian foe Ruben Manakane (25-18-1, 14), who despite only being 26 will be fighting in his 45th pro bout. This is expected to be an easy win for Ito, who is flirting with the Lightweight division, but it's clear there is a lot to work on given before he returns to facing world class opposition, at least based on his performance against Herring. Despite this being a pretty obvious mismatch Manakane does enter as the Indonesian champion and is 7-1 in his last 8.
Despite the main event being a mismatch the supporting card is solid with the best of the bouts being a Japanese Featherweight title bout, with Reiya Abe (19-1-2, 9) and Ryo Sagawa (7-1, 4) battling for the title that Taiki Minamoto vacated earlier in the year. This has the hall marks of a very, very special bout with both fighters being very highly skilled but having different styles and mentalities. Abe is the more pure counter puncher, a sharp shooting, back foot fighter, whilst Sagawa is a more offensively minded boxer-puncher. These style really should gel and the two fighters will both be looking for their most significant win to date. This could be one of the most thrilling bouts of the month. Our preview of this bout is available to read here Abe and Sagawa battle to crown new Japanese Featherweight champion!
In what looks likely to be an exciting brawl we'll see Gakuya Furuhashi (25-8-1, 14) and Ryoichi Tamura (12-4-1, 6) battle in a JBC Super Bantamweight eliminator. The experienced Furuhashi is trying to secure a third Japanese title fight but will be the under-dog here against Tamura, who held the title earlier this year. Furuhashi is a solid national contender but he has been in tough bouts through his career and it's hard to know what he has left in the tank. On the other hand Tamura's last 2 bouts have been really hard wars, with his last bout being a brutal war with Yusaku Kuga, and they may well have added a lot of miles to his clock. A preview of this bout can be read here Tamura and Furuhashi to battle in eliminator!
A second title fight will see fast rising youngsters Rikito Shiba (3-0, 2) and Shisui Kawabata (2-0, 2) battle for the JBC Youth Light Flyweight title. Both of these youngsters are tipped for big things, and in fact Shiba is pencilled in for a Japanese title eliminator later in the year, so to see them clash at this point is rather surprising, despite the Youth title. So far Shiba has looked the better fighter, and he really does look the goods, however Kawabata has sparred with Naoya Inoue among others and is very highly regarded. This could be another thriller. Our preview of this contest is here Shiba and Kawabata face off for Japanese youth title!
The rest of the card is full of small but still interesting bouts. These include a battle between Japanese ranked fighters, as Kanehiro Nakagawa (7-6, 4) looks to build on a career best win against Seiichi Okada as he takes on Ryuto Araya (13-7-1, 4). Other smaller bouts on this card include Satoru Goto (4-4-2) taking on the unbeaten Ryugo Ushijima (3-0-1, 2) and the debuting Taison Morishita (0-0) battling Kojiro Nishikawa (5-1, 2) in a tough 6 round debut.
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Another notable fighter pencilled in for the day is former world title challenger Muhammad Waseem (8-1, 6), who will be in action in Dubai. Sadly at the time of writing his opponent hasn't yet been announced.
In Tokyo this coming Friday we get a wonderful card with a couple of title fighters and several very interesting under-card bouts. If you're a fan of the Japanese, or Asian scene in general, this card deserves your attention, even if it's not a particularly huge one in terms of names. It's one that has quality match ups, rather than big name fighters.
The main event will see OPBF Bantamweight champion Keita Kurihara (13-5, 11) make his first defense, following his controversial title win in December against Yuki Strong Kobayashi. The hard hitting, and incredibly fun to watch, Kurihara will take on former world title challenger Warlito Parrenas (26-9-1, 23). For those who haven't seen Kurihara he's aggressive, very heavy handed and always worth watching. Parrenas, in his prime, was very similar, though the now Japanese based Filipino has aged significantly from his pomp and is certainly heading towards last chance saloon. If Parrenas can roll back the clock we could have a FOTY contender on our hands here. A full preview of this bout is available here Kurihara and Parrenas meet in OPBF title bout!
The other title fight on this card will see Japanese Light Middleweight champion Nobuyuki Shindo (20-4-2, 8) defending his title against mandatory challenger Hironobu Matsunaga (14-1, 8), in what is Shindo's second defense of the title. Shindo won the title in 2018 though suffered an injury in that win, leading to an interim title being created and Shindo then facing Akinori Watanabe in a thriller in December. Matsunaga on the other hand has earned his title shot thanks to a win over Koshinmaru Saito, in what was his 8th straight victory. Shindo is a tall, rangy boxer whilst Matsunaga is much shorter, and how that dynamic comes into play will be really interesting here. A preview of this bout is available here Shindo takes on mandatory challenger Matsunaga
This isn't just a top heavy card, but also one with good supporting bouts. On paper the best of those is Bantamweight bout between Matcha Nakagawa (13-1-1, 5) and Kai Chiba (10-1, 7). Both of these men are in their mid-twenties and both will know a win here pushes them to verge of a title fight. With both having just a single loss it's clear that both men will be looking to pick up a win here, and given their contrasting styles we're expecting a really compelling fight.
Another intriguing under-card fight will see the popular Joe Tanooka (15-6-4, 1) battle against Naoto Mizutani (5-6-1, 2). Tanooka is the clear favourite, but has lost 3 of his last 4 and desperately needs a win to remain relevant. He's not been matched softly, but too many losses and he will lose some of the fans that have been with him since his 2013 Rookie of the year campaign, where he reached the All Japan final. It's worth noting that Mizutani has also lost 3 of his last 4, but gave a very good test to Fumiya Fuse in February. Mizutani will be coming in to this lookign for an upset, like the one he got in September against Mirai Imagawa.
One more meaningful match up will see former title challengers collide. In one corner is former Japanese Lightweight title challenger Masaki Saito (15-13-6, 5) whilst the other will feature former OPBF Featherweight title challenger Ryuto Araya (12-7-1, 4. The men are meeting at a catch weight, around 133lbs, and both will know that a loss here could finish their hopes of getting another shot at a belt.
One other fighter pencilled in to fight on Friday is Kazakh Heavyweight hopeful Ivan Dychko (7-0, 7), who takes on 48 year old American Ray Austin (29-9-4, 18) in Miami. This will be Dychko's first bout since beating Maurice Harris back in July 2018 and if we're being honest it's a truly disappointing bout for his return. The Kazakh should be much, much further along with his career by now, but his team really have dropped the ball massively with him and this bout is further proof of that.
This coming Friday is a pretty big day in Asian boxing, with a female world title bout in Japan and the US debut of a notable Japanese hopeful.
The female world title fight will take place at the Korakuen Hall on a small but interesting card.
That title fight will see Japanese female star Naoko Fujioka (17-2, 7) defending her WBA Female Flyweight title against interim champion Irma Sanchez (30-7-1, 8) of Mexico. The talented Fujioka, the first ever 5 weight world champion from Japan, is a veteran at 43 years old but is the golden girl of Japanese boxing and is widely regarded as one of the top pound for pound female fighters. Aged 30 the Mexican challenger won the interim title last time out, narrowly defeating Brenda Ramos, and is an accomplished world class fighter who has faced a number of top foes, including Jessica Chavez, Carina Moreno and Mariana Juarez in her 12 year career. We suspect Fujioka will come out on top, but this is a genuinely tough match up and should be a really good test of what Fujioka has left.
The best of the supporting bouts on this card is a mouth watering domestic clash, as veteran Takafumi Nakajima (29-10-1, 13) takes on under-rated youngster Yuki Iriguchi (9-2-1, 4). Last time out Nakajima pushed Mark John Yap all the way in an OPBF Bantamweight title fight and us a proven quantity around title level, with notable contests against the likes of Shingo Wakes, Kinshiro Usui, Kosuke Saka, Hidenori Otake and Jonathan Baat. Although a proven fighter Nakajima is now 34 and it's unclear much longer he can go on.
Another under-card bout of some inter-rest will bee between Yutaka Motoyoshi (7-12, 5) and Ryuto Araya (11-7-1, 3). The 30 year old Motoyoshi has lost 4 of his last 5, including his last 3, and will know that he cannot afford another loss if he's to move his career to the next level. Also aged 30 Araya was once regarded as a promising fighter, but has himself struggled recently, losing in an OPBF title fight last year and suffering back to back loss to Tatsuya Otsubo. Whilst neither of these men will be competing at world level before they retire, both will come into this fight with belief they can win and that should give us a good contest.
In California we see two Asian fighters in action.
The more notable of the two is Japanese Light Welterweight hopeful Hiroki Okada (18-0, 13), who is a former Japanese and WBO Asia Pacific champion and is currently the owner of several world rankings. The Japanese fighter, who recently signed a promotional deal with Top Rank, will be making his US debut as he takes on Argentinian fighter Cristian Rafael Coria (27-6-2, 11). Amazingly this bout will Okada's first outside of the Korakuen Hall but it does appear that he's been matched safely so he can get a win on the road and then begin going through the final stages before a world title fight. The 35 year old Coria is a 12 year veteran who has never been stopped, but has lost to a number of recognisable names, such as Paulus Moses, Daud Yordan and Custio Clayton. Okada should win, but it's less about the result and more about whether he can impress Top Rank enough to push him straight into a world title bout, or whether he will have wait to get his shot at a world title.
On the same card fans will be able to see touted American Jamel Herring (17-2, 10) take on Filipino prospect John Vincent Moralde (20-1, 10). Herring was a 2012 US Olympian who had been touted as a potential professional star, but he has lost 2 of his last 4, suffering a 10th round TKO to Denis Shafikov and a 10 round unanimous decision Ladarius Miller. Moralde has promised a lot, and he finally lived up to that promise last time out, when he defeated Ismail Muwendo over 8 rounds. If Moralde can put it together again here he'll give his career a huge boost, and claim the USBA Super Featherweight title.
A second card with some interest comes from Pennsylvania as unbeaten Kazakh Shyngyskhan Tazhibay (6-0, 2) battles against Yasmani Pedroso (2-4, 1), in what looks like a straight forward win for the unbeaten 26 year old. Tazhibay has had some fanfare, but inactivity in 2017 and 2018 has really hampered his development, much like mismatches like this. We hope to see him face better competition shortly, but at this rate it looks like it could take a long time before he faces someone of any note.
It's not just Japanese and Filipino fight with something to get excited about as Chinese fans in Zhengzhou also get a notable card with a couple of title fights and a couple of interesting looking support bouts.
The main event will see the unbeaten Yelieqiati Nihemaituola (13-0-1, 5) take on Filipino visitor Eranio Semillano (16-8-3, 5) in a bout for the WBA Asian Boxing Council Bantamweight title. The unbeaten local will be looking to make his first defense of the title, which he won in April by stopping Conrado Tanamor, but is facing one of the most notable opponents of his career. The 26 year old Semillano is no world beater but is a solid opponent on his day, as shown with wins over the likes of Wilbert Berondo. Sadly for Semillano he doesn't seem to have the consistency needed to score good wins on a regular basis, and it's hard to imagine him putting it together against Nihemaituola.
Another title bout will see Youli Dong (12-0-1, 8) battle Adam Diu Abdulhamid (12-6, 5), in what will be Dong's first defense of the WBO Asia Pacific Youth Welterweight title. The unbeaten Chinese drew in his debut but has built fantastically afterwards claiming a couple of WBO regional titles along the way. Although Dong failed to score a stoppage in his first 4 bouts he has stopped 8 of his last 9 and looks to be building the tools he needs for a bright future. On the other hand Abdulhamid was touted as an amateur but has failed to come good, losing 3 of his last 4, and it's unlikely a bout on the road against a hard hitting Welterweight prospect will be good for his career.
Talking about fighters who were once touted it's good to see that Chinese Light Heavyweight Peng Qu (12-2-1, 8) will be returning to the ring 10 months after a surprise loss in China to Gasan Gasanov. The Chinese local has been inactive since losing to Gasanov last November but will be looking to bounce back with a win here, as he takes on Tanzanian visitor Benson Mwakyembe (11-4-1, 6), who should be an easy comeback opponent. Mwakyembe has been stopped in 3 of his last 5 and is naturally smaller than the Chinese fighter, who will likely be looking for a quick blowout.
An interesting support bout here will see Mongolian debutant Tsendbaatar Tsendbaatar (0-0) face off with Joseph Omana (12-5-1, 6) in a 6 round bout. We're unsure about Tsendbaatar's background, though we always love to see Mongolian fighters in action so we hope his bout against his Chinese based Filipino foe will be available online. Coming in to this one Omana has lost his last 4, and is without a win in a little over a decade! Despite that he is still only 28.
There will also be Japanese action in Germany, as former WBC Light Flyweight title challenger Atsushi Kakutani (19-6-1, 12) takes on promising German prospect Mirco Martin (12-0, 6) in a Flyweight bout. Kakutani was once a promising fighter but losses in his 3 most significant bouts doesn't bode well for him here, especially given he's now 33 and has been inactive for over a year. Martin comes into this bout on a good run of results, including a bit win last time out against former world title contender Jose Antonio Jimenez.
In Tokyo this coming Friday fight fans will see the next Asign Bee show.
The main event of the card is a mouth watering match up between Reiya Abe (16-2, 8) and Daisuke Watanabe (6-3, 3). Coming in to this Abe is ranked the JBC, OPBF and IBF and looks to be well on his way to a title fight thanks to wins over the likes of Ryo Hino, Hikaru Marugame, Tsuyoshi Tameda and Satosho Hosono. On paper Watanabe looks like an easy opponent for for the red hot Abe but the reality is that Watanabe is a very credible fighter who holds notable wins over the likes of Jun Blazo, Yosuke Fujihara and Gakuya Furuhashi. This is a really well matched bout and should be very contest in the ring.
In the led support bout recently title challenger Akihiro Kondo (29-7-1, 16) will be up against a Thai foe. Kondo gained some international respect last November when he gave the talented Sergey Lipinets a competitive 12 round bout for the IBF Light Welterweight title, this will be his first bout since loss
In another notable bout fans will see the under-rated Ryohei Takahashi (13-3-1, 5) battle Tetsuya Koyama (7-9, 2). The under-rated Takahashi has been matched hard, but looks like someone who will always be able to mix in and around the top of the domestic level. He shouldn't struggle with Koyama, but Koyama is the naturally bigger man and could ask some questions of his man.
Another bout worth noting from this card is a competitive contest between Ryuto Araya (11-6-1, 3) and Tatsuya Otsubo (10-8-1, 3). Both of these men have fought in title bouts, with Otsubo losing a decision to the then Japanese Featherweight champion Satoshi Hosono in 2015 and Araya losing to then then OPBF Featherweight champion Rtyo Takenaka early last year. It's also worth noting that these two fought last October in a nail biting fight,that Otsubo won with cards of 76-75 in his favour from all 3 judges. This could be the highlight of the card.
New South Wales, Australia
In Australia local fans will see hard hitting prospect Brock Jarvis (12-0, 11) take on once beaten Indonesian fighter Hamson Tiger Lamandau (8-1-1, 5). The hard hitting Jarvis has stopped his last 11 foes, including the notable but very shop worn Rasmanudin, and looks like one of the most exciting prospects down under. As for Lamandau he is best known for suffering a 6th round loss to Hinata Maruta last year, and has fought only once since then.
After a few quiet days in Asian boxing we get back into the swing of things on Thursday, as we approach the weekend with a great card from the Korakuen Hall.
In the main event we'll see former world title challenger Jetro Pabustan (29-4-6, 9) make his first defense of the WBO Asia Pacific Bantamweight title, as he takes on the always fun towatch Hiroaki Teshigawara (14-2-2, 8). The Filipino won the title earlier this year, when he took a technical decision win over Tatsuya Takahashi, and will be looking for a third straight win. Although coming in on a big win Pabustan is inconsistent and often involved in messy bouts, with a staggering 13 technical decisions in his 39 fight career. For Teshigawara the bout willserve as his first title contest, but he has mixed with good competition fighting to a draw with Hideo Sakamoto and narrowly losing to Ryo Akaho last October. Given the styles of the two men this should be action packed, but given Pabustan's reputation this may get messy and heads may get involved.
In a solid supporting bout we'll see the under-rated Ryuto Araya (11-5-1, 3) looks to bounce back from a loss in an OPBF title fight to Ryo Takenaka. In the opposite corner to Araya will be former Japanese title challenger Tatsuya Otsubo (9-8-1, 3), who will be fighting for just the second time since the end of 2015. Both men will feel they need a win to remain relevant and both will know that a loss will be very hard to bounce back from. We're not expecting a war here, but this should prove to be an compelling contest.
Youngster Kaiki Yuba (2-0, 2) has looked like a real one to watch so far, and he'll be looking to continue his momentum as he takes on the tough Pablito Canada (6-12-3, 1). So far Yuba has fought just 4 rounds, but the second generation fighter is expected to reach huge heights, like his father Tadashi Yuba a 5-weight domestic champion. The Filipino journeyman has been stopped once in his 21 fight career, being stopped by Jon Jon Estrada last year, but has since gone the distance with Jelbirt Gomera, Hirotsugu Yamamoto and Hironori Mishiro. This should be a win for Yuba, but also a good solid test of what he does when a fighter doesn't just fall over.
Another under-card bout on this card will see former Japanese Super Flyweight champion Yohei Tobe (11-2-1,7) return for his first fight in over a year. The talented Tobe, who really has had a frustrating career plagued with inactivity and untimely setbacks, will be expecting an easy win here as he takes on Thai visitor Saengthong Tor Buamas (5-2, 5), who has been stopped in his last 2 visits to Japan, and is unlikely to avoid the same fate here.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo
Title action returns to the Korakuen Hall on February 9th as we get a title double header, as part of a Diamond Glove card.
The main event of the card sees OPBF Featherweight champion Ryo Takenaka (15-3-1, 8) defending his title against fellow Japanese fighter Ryuto Araya (11-4-1, 3). The champion will be seeking his third defense here and is looking to build on recent wins over the likes of Vinvin Rufino, Akira Shono and Randy Braga. Although the OPBF champion Takenaka is relatively unknown outside of Japan, though may well be looking to break out this year and move towards a potential bout of international note. Whilst Takenaka is heading places the same can't really be said of Araya, who has won his last 3 but is 6-4 in his last 10, including stoppage losses to Daisuke Watanabe and Takuya Yamaguchi. This is a big opportunity for Araya but a huge step up in class and likely another loss for the struggling 29 year old.
A potentially thrilling co-feature will see the all action Koichi Aso (20-7-1, 13) face off with the heavy handed Kazuki Matsuyama (13-7-1, 7) for the vacant Japanese Light Welterweight title, a title that was vacated by Hiroki Okada last year. The under-rated Aso has lost in two title fights at this level, losing twice to former champion Okada, but does deserve to remain in the title mix and is one of the better Japanese fighters at 140lbs. For Matsuyama this will be his first title fight and gives him a great chance to claim a title, though recent stoppage losses to Shuhei Tsuchiya and Daishi Nagata don't bode well against a fighter like Aso who will come out swinging here.
A good looking under-card bout sees the under-rated Yusuke Suzuki (6-3, 4) take on Ken Kodama (8-2-1, 3). Suzuki might not have a great record but his losses have come to good fighters in the shape of Yusaku Kuga, Ryoichi Tamura and Jeffrey Francisco and he was a talented amateur who could well bounce back from this less than stellar start. As for Kodama he probably isn't quite as good as his record suggests and a win here would be the best of his career so far.
An interesting supporting bout will see veteran Norihito Tanaka (14-5, 7) end a 5 year break from the ring, as he takes on Yuto Takahashi (6-2, 4). Although inactive Tanaka was once a good fighter, and has shared the ring with the likes of Kenichi Horikawa, Ryoichi Taguchi and Akira Yaegashi. As for Takahashi he has bounced back from back-to-back losses to Tsubasa Koura and Naoyuki Tsukada and could prove to be too young and too fresh for Tanaka.
On the under-card we'll teenage hopeful Izuki Tomioka (1-0) take on Korean visitor Joon Woo Park (4-6, 2). Tomioka looked impressive in his debut, back in December against fellow debutant Tatsuki Shinozuka, and will be looking to impress against here. Park has lost 3 of his last 4 but hasn't been stopped since his debut, more than 8 years ago, and should prove to be sturdy if nothing else.