Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
This coming Monday action returns to Korakuen Hall for a an interesting card featuring a former world champion, an unbeaten hopeful and a once touted youngster looking to bounce back from their first defeat.
The main event of the show will see former WBC Flyweight champion Daigo Higa (16-1, 16) take on the unbeaten Seiya Tsutsumi (5-0-1, 4) in what is a really interesting Bantamweight bout. On paper Higa will be the clear betting favourite, despite the fact this is at Bantamweight, but Tsutsumi twice beat Higa in the amateurs, he's unbeaten and is very much an under-rated fighter. For Higa this will be his second bout since returning to the ring earlier this year, following a long suspension, and we suspect he has a point to prove. As for Tsutsumi this will be his first bout since a very controversial draw with Kazuki Nakajima, and we get the feeling he too will be in there with a point to prove. This could end up being an excellent fight, despite how easy it is to favour the more well known Higa.
In the chief supper bout we'll see Higa's "AMBITION Gym" stablemate Ryuto Owan (5-1, 3) take on Tomoya Kishine (6-3-1, 2) in an 8 rounder. Owan really impressed us in his first few bouts, and went 5-0 to begin his career before suffering a decision in Octoner 2018 to Tetsu Araki, in a bout for the Japanese Youth Bantamweight title. Sadly after that loss he was inactive and now, more than 2 years, we see him back in the ring for his first bout since that loss. For Kishine this will be his Korakuen Hall debut and he'll be looking to shine, though he has had mixed form, going 3-2-1 in his last 6. Kishine is no push over, but will certainly be regarded as the under-dog against the once touted Owan.
To kick off a new week attention returns to the Korakuen Hall where fans will get the chance to see a Japanese youth title fight and the next fight in the career of a very promising youngster.
The title fight will see the Japanese Youth Super Featherweight champion Kazuma Sanpei (15-4, 6) defending his title against the once beaten Yoshimitsu Kimura (9-1, 4). The talented Sanpei once promised a lot and was 11-0 but has subsequently gone 4-4 and struggled to get his career back on track. Saying that however Sanpei has won his last 3 bouts and now appears to be resurrecting his faltering career. On the other hand Kimura will be looking to get his career back on track, following a loss in April to WBO Asia Pacific Featherweight champion Richard Pumicpic. This is a step up in weight for Kimura but one he will feel he can make comfortably in what could be his break out performance. We are expecting something very exciting here.
In an under-card fight the unbeaten Ryuto Owan (4-0, 2) will take on Takuma Matsushita (5-4, 2). This isn't a step up for Owan as such, but is a chance for him to shake some ring rust after hang been out of the ring since February. Owan is very talented prospect, as wins over Alvin Medura and Jun Blazo have shown, but we're unlikely to see any new questions answered about him here. Matsushita has been stopped in 3 of his last 7, and is 2-5 during that 7 fight run and we'd be very surprised if he can survive the distance with Owan.
For a second day running Asian fight fans have a world title fight to get excited about, as WBC Flyweight champion Daigo Higa (14-0, 14) looks to kick off his 2018 with a homecoming defense in Okinawa. The destructive champion will be facing off with former WBO Minimumweight champion Moises Fuentes (25-4-1, 14). The aggressive and powerful Higa will be seeking his second defense, following an impressive win over Thomas Masson in October, and with 2018 being a potentially huge year for Higa there is few who would want to deny him a homecoming bout in Okinawa. For Fuentes, who looked terrible in his 2016 loss to Kosei Tanaka, this is likely to be one final shot at becoming a 2-weight champion. At his best Fuentes was a nightmare to fight, though his best days are well behind him and were down at Minimumweight, where he could use his size effectively. At Flyweight the Mexican is going to find life very difficult against the younger, stronger, bigger, fresher Higa.
In a leading support bout we get the chance to see another young puncher in action, as teenager Shawn Oda (6-0, 6) take on Filipino visitor Warren Mambuanag (11-8-2, 3). Oda came to our attention in 2016, when he claimed the All Japan Lightweight Rookie of the year, less than 7 months after his debut, and he has looked extremely promising and destructive. Despite the perfect start from Oda this is a step up and Mambuanag is no push over, having been the GAB Super Featherweight champion and a solid domestic level fighter on the Filipino scene.
Another teenager on this show will be former amateur stand out Ryuto Owan (3-0, 2), who goes in for a serious test as he battles big punching Filipino Jun Blazo (7-4-3, 6). Aged 19 Owan has a lot of potential, and his team really do have a lot of belief in him, putting him against someone as dangerous and heavy handed as Blazo, especially given that Blazo dropped Owan's stablemate Koki Eto back in 2016. Coming in to this Blazo has suffered back to back losses, but is a real dangerman for Owan and a monstrous step up in class.
There is also a small card in the Philippines this coming.
The main event will see Michael Escobia (12-16-1, 3) take on Jestoni Autida (10-7,5), in what should be a highly entertaining domestic level clash. Escobia is 2-13 in his last 15 bouts, but has mixed at a decent level and took a big upset win last September against Jelbirt Gomera. Interestingly Autida is also best known for his upsets, wins over Jeffrey Francisco and Ratchasaki Kokietgym, and he did manage to be competitive with Jason Canoy and Ernesto Saulong. Both of these men are better than their records suggest, and we expect that to be shown here in what is likely to be a very good fight.
Sadly the rest of the card is pretty forgettable and unlikely to be too exciting.
This coming Sunday attention turns to Tokyo, with a world title triple header from the Kokugikan.
The biggest of the bouts is a rematch between Ryota Murata (12-1, 9) and Hassan N'Dam N'Jikam (36-2, 21), with the Japanese fighter seeking to avenge his sole defeat and claim the WBA Middleweight title. These two fought back in May, with N'Dam winning a very controversial split decision over Murata, in a bout that many felt the Japanese fighter had clearly won, especially given that he dropped the Frenchman and had him rocked a number of times.
In another interesting match up we'll see WBC Flyweight champion Daigo Higa (13-0, 13) defending his title for the first time as he takes on French challenger Thomas Masson (17-3-1, 5). The champion won the title back in May when he stopped Juan Hernandez in very impressive fashion to continue his perfect stoppage run. Masson on the other hand is fighting above European level for the first tine, having twice been a European champion. The challenger will be the taller, and longer man, and will be looking to fight at range, but this is a huge step up for him.
The third title bout on the show will see WBC Light Flyweight champion Ken Shiro (10-0, 5) defending his belt against mandatory challenger Pedro Guevara (30-2-1, 17), himself a former champion. The champion won the title back in May when he narrowly out pointed Ganigan Lopez and will seeking to continue his rise here against a very talented former champion. As for Guevara the bout will see him return to Japan to try and reclaim the title that he lost to Yu Kimura, also in Japan.
A fourth bout of note on this show will see Ryuto Owan (2-0, 2) take on fellow puncher Alvin Medura (5-1, 5) in a bout which should be an explosive encounter. Both guys can bang and both will be in there looking to secure their biggest win to date. Owan, has stopped his first 2 foes in a combined 3 rounds and will be stepping up in a big way here, whilst Medura has had 15 combined career rounds, with his 5 wins coming in just 9 combined rounds.
A much smaller Japanese show will be held in Tottori, where there is only really two fights of any note.
One of those is the main event, which will see former Japanese Lightweight champion Kazuhiro Nishitani (17-4-1, 9) take on a Thai foe, in his first bout since vacant the Japanese title, which he only won in March. Nishitani's opponent shouldn't be much of a threat, though we will admit we would have preferred to have seen him in with a domestic foe rather than a limited visitor.
The other will see former world title challenger Mika Iwakawa (6-5-1, 2) fight for the first time since coming up short against Yunoka Furukawa in a bout for the WBA Atomweight title. Like Nishitani she will be up against a Thai foe, and will be expected to pick up an easy win en route to bigger and better things.
Another small Japanese card will take place in Okayama and will be head lined by a low key match up between Kota Fujimoto (6-2, 2) and Kenta Sugimoto (11-10-2, 1). On paper this looks like a probable win for the 19 year old Fujimoto, but he has lost his last 2 bouts and his early career momentum has come to a screeching halt. Although his record might not show it Sugimoto is a real potential banana skin and he holds notable wins over Tetsuya Hisada and Shunji Nagata, showing that there is a good fighter there, and he shouldn't be over-looked against Fujimoto.
New South Wales, Australia
We'll see another notable Japanese fighter in title action in Australia, as the Ryuji Hachimitsu Ikeda (12-3-2, 8) takes on Darragh Foley (12-2, 8) in a bout for the WBA Oceania, WBC “interim” Asian Boxing Council and WBO Oriental Light Welterweight titles. The bout looks a really good one on paper and should see two well matched fighters going up against each other in a potentially explosive bout, with both men having enough bang to hurt the other.
Also on this card fans will see Thai Pakdee Tor Buamas (11-7-1, 7) take on the once beaten Ben Savva (7-1, 2), in a bout for the lightly regarded vacant WBC Asian Boxing Council Continental Welterweight Title. Interestingly the Thai is unbeaten in his last 4, albeit at a very low level, and does have some momentum coming in to this one. He is however up against a man who has won his last 6 and has shown some promise, even if he's not looking like a future world champion in the making.