This Sunday closes out an incredibly long year for us boxing fans and does so in spectacular fashion with a trio of world title bouts, including a two mandatory title defenses by champions in their first defenses and a world title unification.
The first part of the world title triple header will see IBF Minimumweight champion Hiroto Kyoguchi (8-0, 6) making his first defense of the title he won earlier this year as he takes on talented Nicaraguan challenger Carlos Buitrago (30-2-1-1, 17)). For the fast rising Kyoguchi, who won the title a little more than a year into his career, the bout is another big step up in class and this really does look like a baptism of fire for the youngster, who looked explosive whilst going to 6-0 (6) to begin his career. In Buitrago we'll see Kyoguchi up against a challenger in his 4th world title challenger, and it's likely that it's now or never for the man who was once regarded as the next Roman Gonzalez. The bout matches aggressive against skills and should be a very entertaining clash of styles.
The second part of the triple header is an all Japanese bout, as WBO Flyweight champion Sho Kimura (15-1-2, 8) makes his first defense, following his shock upset over Zou Shiming in July. The new champion will be up against mandatory challenger Toshiyuki Igarashi (23-2-3, 12), a former WBC and Linear champion. Kimura really showed his will to win as he broke down the naturally more skilled Shiming and will be hoping to do the same here against the more experienced Igarashi, who will know it;s now or never if he's to become a 2-time world champion. Sadly fans who have followed Igarashi in recent times will be expecting head clashes to mar this bout, but on paper it's a very interesting and incredibly tough first defense for the Aoki gym fighter.
The main event of the triple header is one of the best match ups we've seen this year and pits WBA Light Flyweight champion Ryoichi Taguchi (26-2-2, 12) against his IBF counter part Milan Melindo (37-2, 13) in a mouth watering world title unification bout. Coming in to this Taguchi is the longest active reigning champion at 108lbs, having held his title since the end of 2014 and racked up 6 defenses, but his form has been inconsistent and he's certainly frustrated at times during his reign, whilst seeking a big bout. For the technically superb Melindo this is his second defense, and sees him returning to Japan, where he won his title, with a chance to earn Fighter of the Year honours with an impressive performance. Since winning the title in May Melindo has beaten Hekkie Budler and had a career defining year, with a win here potentially putting a cherry on top. The winner will not only unify the WBA and IBF titles but also claim the Ring magazine title and be regarded by some as the de facto best in the division.
Also on this card will be former world title challenger Shingo Wake (22-5-2, 14), who is looking for his third successive win since being stopped by Jnathan Guman in 2016, and the excellent Masataka Taniguchi (8-2, 6), who's only losses have been razor thin ones in battles for the Japanese and OPBF Minimumweight titles. Both Wake and Taniguchi will be up against limited Thai foe
This coming Sunday won't create many headlines in Asian boxing circles, but there is some pretty interesting match ups going on in Japan.
The most notable of the fights will be in Osaka, where we get a former world title challenger headlining, and an exciting local in a supporting bout.
The main event will see recent WBO Featherweight world title challenger Hiroshige Osawa (30-4-4, 19) take on world ranked Ecuadorian puncher Julio Cortez (13-0, 11) in a real must win for Osawa. Of course we all saw the Japanese fighter in action last November, when he was stopped in 7 rounds by the brilliant Oscar Valdez and he'll know that he can't afford a loss here if he's going to ever get a second shot at a title. Cortez is hungry for a shot himself and will come in to this fight as an unbeaten man who won't want to give up his 0 and could be a handful for Osawa.
In a supporting bout the always fun to watch Ryuto Kyoguchi (14-2-1, 10) will be battling a limited Thai foe. This will be Kyoguchi's first bout since his loss to Silvester Lopez earlier this year, and he'll be looking to make a statement and rebuild his confidence with a straight forward win here.
The other Japanese card takes place in Yamaguchi and will feature a few interesting fights of it's own.
The main event is genuinely mouth watering as Naotoshi Nakatani (10-0, 6) risks his unbeaten record against former OPBF title challenger Accel Sumiyoshi (8-4-2, 2). Nakatani has genuinely impressed through his career so far, and famously won the All Japan Rookie of the Year in 2015, but this is a huge step up in class and should be his hardest test so far. Although Sumiyoshi's record is less than flattering he has been in tough through his 14 fight career and is a lot better than the numbers suggest. This could be a really, really good bout with fighters should be a lot more well matched than the numbers suggest.
Another bout of note on this card will see Fever Maki (8-5-1, 2) battle Yuki Ozawa (11-5, 2) in what looks like a distance bout, but one that could be fun and competitive. Neither guy is a puncher but together they should have some exciting exchanges.
One other bout of intrigue here will see the talented but light punching Change Hamashima (8-1-1, 2) take on the limited but heavy handed Takuya Matsusaka (6-5, 6). On paper Hamashima will be favoured, he is the better boxer, but Matsusaka does have fight changing power at this level and could change the fight if he lands clean.
In Australia we'll see veteran Les Sherrington (35-10, 19) take on Indonesian Marco Tuhumury (11-17-2, 4) in what should be another loss for Tuhumury, who has failed to shine when he's faced anyone of any note. Sherrington is nothing special, but he should be far too good for his man here.
This coming Sunday is set to be a very busy day in Japanese boxing circles
The most interesting card of the day comes from the EDION Arena Osaka where Green Tsuda put on what looks like a really interesting show.
The main event of the card will see Japanese and OPBF ranked Takayuki Okumoto (18-7-2, 8) battle against Filipino visitor Eranio Semillano (13-7-2, 4), with the Filipino himself holding a top 10 OPBF ranking. Both fighters will be entering this bout with the knowledge that a good performance could move them to an OPBF title fight, and both will also know that their opponent can be beaten, and can be stopped. Interestingly this is an southpaw bout with both men being 25 years old, but it's the visitor who will be the taller man.
In the chief support bout we'll see the hotly tipped Kazuki Tanaka (6-0, 5) take on world ranked Thai Sukkasem Kietyongyuth (16-6, 11). Although inexperienced Tanaka is tipped for the top and is a former stand out amateur who has long been viewed as a future world champion in the making. On paper this could be a step up, given that Sukkasem has a #15 ranking with the IBF, but the Thai has lost every time he's faced a notable fighter, and was stopped in 5 rounds last year by Japanese champion Yusaku Kuga, with that likely being the marker that Tanaka will be looking to beat.
Another Japan Vs Philippines bout will see exciting local Ryuto Kyoguchi (14-1-1, 10) takes on former world title challenger Silvester Lopez (27-12-2, 9). For Kyoguchi this is a real gut check with the youngster, the older brother of Hiroto Kyoguchi, having only had 1 round of in ring action in almost 2 years. At his best Kyoguchi is a real talent, but this is a genuinely tough test. Lopez, who fought for the WBC Super Flyweight title in Japan back in 2012, has picked up a lot of losses recently but is still a test at this level and did drop Sho Nakazawa back in 2015. Sylvester has power and could well be a banana skin if Kyoguchi over-looks him.
Also on this card will be former OPBF champion Yu Kawaguchi (25-8, 12) and rising female star Fuka Komura (2-0, 1), who will both be up against low key Thai foes.
Staying at the EDION Arena in Osaka there will also be a Dangan card. Originally it was set to be headlined by Ken Shiro defending the Japanese Light Flyweight title against Tetsuya Hisada but Ken Shiro chose to vacate the title, with a rumoured WBC title fight set to be announced, forcing that bout to be cancelled. Despite that the show will still go ahead and Hisada will get a shot at the Japanese title on April 21st.
As a result of Ken Shiro vacating the Japanese title we now see the main event as a bout between defending OPBF Super Flyweight champion Rene Dacquel (18-6-1, 6) and Japanese challenger Shota Kawaguchi (20-7-1, 8). The bout is a pretty good one on paper, but one where Dacquel will be favoured and one that feels like a disappointing main event given that Ken Shiro was supposed to be headlining.
In supporting bouts we'll see former world title challenger Atsushi Kakutani (18-5-1, 11) and unbeaten teenager Daiki Tomita (8-0, 2), both of whom will be battling against limited Thai visitors.
We also get a small card in Okinawa. The card really doesn't have much of note on it, but does feature one man who we suspect will be one to watch over the coming decade or so.
The fighter is Lightweight puncher, and 2016 Rookie of the Year, Shawn Oda (5-0, 5). The teenager really impressed last year, debuting in May and winning the Rookie of the Year in December, and will be looking to kick off 2017 with a bout against Thai visitor Tienchai Sor Kanitsorn (2-8, 1). Tienchai is a regular in Japan, fighting his 10th bout in the country, and although he's there to be beaten by Oda we suspect the local will still be looking to give the fans a show before stopping the Thai.
There will also be a low key card in Shizuoka.
In the main event of this card we get a really good match up as former Japanese title challenger Cristiano Aoqui (11-5-2, 7) takes on the under-rated Noriaki Sato (4-1-1) in a bout at Welterweight. Aoqui's best success has been at 140lbs, where he fought the then Japanese champion Hiroki Okada last year, but it looks like he's moving up to continue his career. Sato on the other hand was forced up in weight after failing to make weight for last year's Strongest Korakuen, when he was unable to make 140lbs to face Koichi Aso. The bout should be an exciting one and a real crowd pleaser.
In a supporting bout on this card the 21 year old Daiki Ichikawa (8-2, 6) will be risking his OPBF ranking against Takaki Sakurai (7-7-1, 3). Coming in Ichikawa is ranked in the top 15 by the OPBF at Lightweight and may well feel like he is just a few fights away from getting a title shot, something he is ill prepared for at the moment. As for Sakurai he's lost his last 5, but could still be a problem for the heavy handed Ishikawa, if the youngster is over-looking Sakurai.
Daejeon, South Korea
There is also set to be a very low profile card in South Korea. This card doesn't have anyone of any note on it , with the main event being a 6 rounder between Hyun Min Yang (4-1, 4) and Heuk San Lee (1-0-1).
This Saturday is an incredibly busy day in the world of boxing with bouts coming thick and fast on a day thats sees notable fighters in action and some wonderful match ups.
In Tokyo we get the first Japanese title fight of the month alongside a couple of other noteworthy bouts.
The title bout in question will see Japanese Light Flyweight champion, and current world ranked fighter, Yu Kimura (15-2-1, 2) defending his national crown against Hayato Yamaguchi (12-5-1, 2), who is making his second Japanese title challenger. For Kimura this is a must win bout if he hopes to get a world title fight later in the year however he won't have been able to prepare for Yamaguchi as he would have liked as the challenger only signed for the fight a few weeks ago after Shin Ono suffered an injury that forced him out of the bout. Of course saying that Yamaguchi will not have had a full training camp himself for this bout.
On the same card we will see the return to the ring of Yasutaka Ishimoto (24-8, 7) who will be fighting for the first time since his narrow loss to Yukinori Oguni last December in a Japanese Super Bantamweight title fight. The popular Ishimoto should be able to end a 2-fight skid as he takes on the limited Yoshihiro Utsumi (12-5-3, 7) in what looks to be a confidence building bout for the 33 year old Ishimoto.
In another bout of note fans will get the chance to see the once beaten Masanobu Nakazawa (16-1-1, 6) battle against the hard hitting Kazuya Soma (7-6-2, 6). Coming into this bout Nakazawa is on a 13 fight winning streak and we suspect that'll continue here, though Soma can hit hard enough to trouble fighters at this level.
A third noteworthy bout on this show will feature 2014 All Japan Flyweight Rookie of the Year Kenji Ono (7-1, 3) who battles against Taichi Yokote (6-2, 3), who has been inactive since a close decision loss in November 2013. This looks like a really good match up on paper and the sort of 50-50 fight that we love seeing, even if Yokote has been out of the ring for more than a year.
In Osaka there are two shows in the same venue, the “L Osaka”.
The first of those shows will be the Taiho promoted card which features only a single notable fighter, in a mismatch no less. Though it does have two relatively interesting looking support bouts.
The main event will see the Japanese and OPBF ranked Ryota Kajiki (24-9, 15) battle the horribly over-matched Tokiya Nishioka (9-4-2, 5). Whilst Kajiki has gone 4-3 in his last 7 they did include a loss to Daiki Kaneko in a Japanese title bout and he is much better than fighters like Nishioka who was stopped in 2 rounds last time out. A horrible mismatch.
A much better looking bout sees Ippo Nishiwaki (7-3-1, 4) fight against Hirokazu Okajima (8-4-2, 4) in an even looking an match up between two flawed but capable fighters who will each be hoping that a win will move them towards bigger and better things. It's not a headline style bout but it's a very solid match up in it's own right.
A second notable support bout will see Akiyoshi Kanazawa (11-3-4, 5) attempt to score his first in 3 fights as he fights Junya Nishikawa (7-5-2, 2), Kanazawa isn't as good as his record suggests, despite a notable win over Atsushi Aburada, though he should be good enough to see off Nishikawa.
The other Osaka show is promoted by Osaka Teiken and unfortunately looks just as bad in regards to it's main event, though the two support bouts are both solid and meaningful domestic bouts.
The main event will see OPBF and Japanese ranked Flyweight Myung Ho Lee (17-4-1, 5) battle against Thai visitor Dawut Manopkanchang (0-2), who has been stopped in two previous visits to Japan. Aged 20 Dawut is still a young fighter but there is no need to have him in the ring with someone like Lee, even though he may see out there bell here given Lee's relative lack of power.
A solid looking support bout will see Japanese ranked Featherweight Ryuto Kyoguchi (13-0-1, 9) battle against Kosuke Saka (9-3, 6). We expect Kyoguchi to come out on top however this no walk in the park and Saka has been in with good competition losing to the likes of Masayuki Ito and Hiroshige Osawa. For Kyoguchi it's a tough assignment but one he'll need to pass if he's to be taken seriously as a Japanese contender, for Saka it's a chance to move himself towards a possible title fight.
The other notable support bout will see former All-Japanese Rookie of the Year Bunta Mitaka (6-2-2) take on Shingo Kawamura (9-2, 4) in a real must win for both. Mitaka has lost his last 2 bouts, including a 3rd round TKO loss to the excellent Shohei Omori, and has seen his 2013 Rookie of the Year crown becoming little more than history. On the other hand Kawamura was stopped last time out by the excellent Kongthara KKP and will know that he needs a win to remain relevant. A brilliant match up.
We see Korean outfit AK Promotions continuing their activity in Thailand as they take Jaesung Lee (18-4-2, 9) over to Chonburi to battle against Joaquim Mahe (10-2, 6) in a contest for the vacant WBC Asian Boxing Council silver Featherweight title. Lee was run close last time by Angelito Merin, who fought under the name Rivera AK Gym, and may well find himself being run close again here by his French opponent, who gave Tepparith Kokietgym a very competitive contest earlier this year.
In Mexico fans are going to be treat to a potentially explosive clash between hard hitting Filipino Jonathan Taconing (20-2-1, 17) and Mexico's very own Raul Garcia (36-3-1, 22). Taconing, the OPBF Light Flyweight champion, is a thunderous puncher who has stopped his last 7 opponents since being controversially beaten by the then WBC Light Flyweight champion Kompayak Porpramook back in 2012. As for Garcia he's a former IBF champion who has a number of notable wins on his record, including his world title win over Florante Condes. This is potentially the fight of the weekend and has the potential to be a FOTY contender.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
After a huge weekend of fighters we see the action continuing with fights on a busy Monday that show cases two highly touted Japanese prospect with both expected to go far and reach heady heights in the next few years.
Arguably the best of the prospects in action is the much touted Light Flyweight Genki Hanai (2-0, 2) who appears to be one of the most prospects in the world. Hanai is the sort of fighter who gets in the ring, closes the distance and going on the offensive with brutal shots on the inside, as seen in his bout Against Thailand's Farung Porsuwangym. We suspect to see Hanai record his third stoppage in as many fighter here as he takes on Filipino visitor Crison Omayao (16-8-2, 4) who enters on the back of a 6 fight winless streak, including a 4th round KO defeat to Naoya Inoue a little more than 2 years ago, and an opening round defeat to Kosei Tanaka back in July. We love Omayao's bravery but his management need to consider his health as he can't keep taking beatings to Japanese prospects like this and end up with much of a future. Omayao does enter the bout ranked #9 at Minimumweight by the OPBF but it's a mystery he still has any sort of a ranking considering his current run which is unlikely to change until his management start to look after their fighter.
Aside from the main event on this Gifu show there is little of real value despite the show having several competitive looking 6 rounders on it.
The other standout prospect in action is in Osaka as Sho Nakazawa (4-0, 4) puts his unbeaten record on the line against OPBF ranked Filipino Super Bantamweight Jhunriel Ramonal (14-7-4, 7). This is a huge step up for Nakazawa though we don't think we've seen his true potential so far and if he can impress against Ramonal, as we suspect, he'll be moved towards a title fight in 2015. For those who haven't seen Nakazawa in action we have a couple of his fights, including his bout with Thailand's Charit Aomtanom.
Thankfully this show isn't just a show with just one notable bout, in fact this card features a trio of notable bouts. The second of that trio will be a potentially explosive encounter between the unbeaten Ryuto Kyoguchi (12-0-1, 9) and the heavy handed Shohei Fujimoto (9-3-3, 8). On paper we have to favour Kyoguchi, who's only "black mark" has come against the criminally under-rated Adones Aguelo, Fujimoto on the other hand has been stopped in all 3 of his losses.
In the main event fans will get a chance to see a battle between ranked contenders as Myung Ho Lee (16-4-1, 5), a former OPBF Flyweigth title challenger, battles against Takashi Omae (12-3-5, 1). Going in to this bout Lee enters as the #7 ranked Japanese Flyweight and the #10 ranked OPBF Flyweight whilst Omae is the #9 ranked Japanese Light Flyweight contender however Lee comes into this bout with a record of 1-3-1 in his last 5 bouts, including decisions losses to both Rocky Fuentes, in an OPBF title fight, and Edgar Sosa, in Mexico. Omae on the other hands is on an excellent unbeaten run of 8 bouts undefeated dating back more than 3 years.
Another show in Osaka seems just as interesting as the other one, in fact it this one actually has 4 bouts of note on it.
The main event here will see the heavy handed and exciting Koki Tyson Maebara (6-1-1, 6) battle against Thai visitor Petchsuriya Singwancha (12-8, 6) in a very interesting looking Middleweight bout. On paper this bout does look like a mismatch however the Thai has been in great form with 7 straight wins and actually enters as the WBC Youth Light Middleweight champion, though admittedly his title isn't on the line here.
In a Light Welterweight bout the heavy handed Jumbo Oda Nobunaga Shoten Petagine (8-2, 7) battles against the tough Shohei Kanemoto (9-8-1, 3) in what will be a second meeting between the two men. Back in April Kanemoto shocked Petagine with a majority decision win and it's fair to say the heavy handed Petagine will be seeking revenge here.
In a compelling Super Flyweight bout Cyborg Nawatedani (7-2-2, 3) will be battling against Shunji Nagata (10-11-2, 3) in a battle between ranked Japanese fighters. Nawatedani enters as the #10 ranked Flyweight whilst Nagata is ranked #13 and this bout really should help the winner move up the rankings. The 25 year old Nawatedani enters the bout unbeaten in 7 contests whilst Nagata has won his last 3. Although Nawatedani enters, rightfully, as the favourite it needs to be noted that Nagata has mixed with better company such as Myung Ho Lee and Tetsuya Hisada.
One final bout of note will see tough Filipino journeyman Marjohn Yap (19-11, 10) battle against Yuta Uetani (15-5-1, 7) in what looks set to be a “tough guy fight” between two very, very hard men. Between them they have suffered just 2 stoppage defeats and we suspect they won't be stopping each other here, in potentially the fight of the day.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)