This coming Sunday we get quite a bit of action with a televised card from Thailand and two shows from Japan, where we are well and truly in Rookie of the Year season!
Blue Arena, Samut Prakan, Thailand
One complain we've long had about the Thai scene is that we don't see enough good all-Thai match ups, with the country often relying on having a local fighter battle a limited foreign visitor. Thankfully that's not been possible recently and we have had some interesting all-Thai bouts in recent months as a result. We potentially get two more here.
In the main event of the card we'll see Campee Phayom (20-4-2, 12) defending his WBA Asia Super Featherweight title against former WBO Bantamweight champion Pungluang Sor Singyu (53-8, 35). The 22 year old Campee is no world beater in the making, but he's a solid fringe regional level fighter who is getter and is starting to get some attention in Thailand. He needs to be stepped up and given developmental fights and that's sort of what we see this as. Aged 30 Pungluang is a little bit long in the tooth, but isn't a shot fighter in terms of his age, he is however a fighter fighting well above their best weight, and that will likely be the difference here. We suspect Pungluang will ask questions of the youngster, but lack the physical traits to be a danger to the developing Campee.
In a second all-Thai bout on this show the unbeaten Nattapong Jankaew (5-0, 3) will be defending his WBA Asia South Super Flyweight title against Samartlek Kokietgym (34-13-1, 12). For the 24 year old Nattapong this will be his first defense as he looks to build on an solid win earlier this year against John Kenan Villaflor. The champion is the younger, unbeaten and naturally bigger man, but Samarlek has significantly more experience and has faced the likes of Naoya Inoue and Akira Yaegashi. We suspect Samartlek's experience will see him asking questions of Nattapon, but suffer a 5th straight loss here against a talented young who will be looking to launch himself towards bigger and better fights over the next few years.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
At the Holy Land of Japanese boxing we have an East Japan Rookie of the Year card. In total there are, 9 bouts set for this card.
From the bouts on this card the one that interests us the most is the Flyweight bout between Kei Fujita (1-0, 1) and Shugo Namura (2-0, 2). From the 3 combined bouts these two have had so far not one has gone beyond 2 rounds. We expect this to be a shoot out!
Another bout worthy of noting here will see 19 year old Aito Abe (1-0, 1) fight for the second time, as he takes on he 35 year old Kentaro Omori (2-2, 1). For Abe this bout will see him looking to build on his debut win in November whilst Omori will be returning to the ring more than 4 years after his last bout, was was a loss back in April 2016 to Satoshi Tanaka. Amazingly Omori's last win came in June 2015, at that point in time Abe was just 14!
Sun Rise Park Gym, Saga, Saga, Japan
Over in Saga we get a Western Japan Rookie of the year show, with just 4 bouts scheduled for this card.
The bout that stands out here will see 21 year old Featherweight hopeful Hikaru Fukunaga (4-1, 4) take on 36 year old southpaw Kohei Suzuki (1-0-1). Fukunaga competed in last year's Rookie of the Year, and was 1 win away from reaching the All Japan final, losing to the brilliant Jinki Maeda. Given his experience from last year, along with his power and aggression Fukunaga has got to be among the favourites for the tournament. As for Suzuki he impressed in August when he beat the more experienced Majisuka Kosaka and will feel the confidence of an unbeaten man who has twice gone the 4 round schedule. This could be a genuine highlight for fans at the Sun Rise Park Gym.
On the total opposite end of the spectrum we are interested in the match up between Yoshitada Shimogishi (0-1) and Ryoki Terada (0-3), who clash at 140lbs. With both men having lost all their bouts we have an interesting dynamic here with both know they can get off the mark. For Shimogishi this will be his first bout in more than 2 years, when he was stopped in 2 rounds by Sota Kohara. As for Terada he fought 3 times last year, and lost all 3 by decision. Whilst fights between win-less fighters aren't usually high quality they are usually entertaining and we see suspect that will be the case here.
This coming Tuesday we get two notable Asian cards, one in China and one in Japan. Both of those cards have an international feel and both have some really interesting match ups.
Xi An, China
The most interesting of the two cards is the Chinese one from Xi An, featuring local Chinese fighters along with Japanese and Korean visitors. The show features 3 regional title bouts along with several other less under-card bouts.
One of the title bouts will see local fighter Qixiu Zhang (10-5-1, 3) take on unbeaten Korean Jong Sun Gang (8-0-1, 5) in a bout for the WBC Youth Intercontinental Super Featherweight title. Zhang was stopped last year by Joe Noynay, in 8 rounds, though he can't be written off and did impress in stopping Nak Yul Park in Korea. On the other hand Gang, a natural Featherweight, was held to a draw last time out but has scored stoppages in 4 of his last 5. This could be the bout of the daY.
In a female bout we'll see Li Ping Shi (4-2, 2) make her first defense of the WBC Asian Boxing Council female Super Flyweight title as she takes on Japanese challenger Yuko Henzan (8-7-4, 2). Shi won the belt last year stopping Hyun Gee Gil and looks to be much, much better than her record suggests. Henzan on the other hand is a pretty limited fighter, despite having previously won the OPBF female Bantamweight title. Henzan lost last time she faced a Chinese fighter, coming up short to Fan Yin, and could only manage a draw with Phannaluk Kongsang last time she fought outside of Japan.
A third title fight will see Yougu Yu (5-1-3, 2) take on Hyuma Fujioka (10-8-1, 1) for the WBC Asian Boxing Council Continental Bantamweight title. Yu is 2-0-3 in his last 5 bouts, but those draws are a bit strange. He certainly deserved to lose to Yuya Nakamura in December, but also deserved a win over Yushi Tanaka back in April and that Tanaka fight showed he is a solid fighter. Fujioka has a poor looking record, but has been competitive with the likes of Ryo Akaho, Shohei Kawashima and Naoya Okamoto, so if a game fighter who will be in China to win.
One other bout of note here will see local fighter Shan Wu (8-5, 1) take on Chinese fighter Seita Ogido (13-4-3, 3). The 29 year old Wu has won his last 4 bouts, but has faced limited competition since losing to Min Jang in Korea. On the other hand Ogido is 2-2-2, with his last 2 wins really not being impressive and it does look like the Okinawa man will fall short of the expectations some had for him.
As well as the Chinese card there's also a really notable Japanese card, featuring two former world title challengers and a member of the Kameda family.
The main event of the show will see recent world title challenger Ryohei Takahashi (15-4-1, 6) look to bounce back from his loss to TJ Doehny, as he takes on Korean visitor Jin Wook Lim (10-6-5, 3). Whilst Takahashi is the much more well known fighter, given the Doheny bout, he's not a very skilLed fighter, relying more on toughness and work rate than technical skills. Lim isn't too well known but he but he has challenged for AN OPBF title before and is certainly a live under-dog here. Sadly for Lim he has been stopped in 2 of his last 4, and he would need a career best performance to pick up a win here.
The other world title challenger is Thai visitor Samartlek Kokietgym (34-9-1, 12), who has lost in world title fighters to Naoya Inoue and Akira Yaegashi. The highly experienced Samartlek will be up against Naoki Mochizuki (15-4, 8), a recent Japanese title challenger. Although the Thai is the more experienced man he is the much smaller fighter and we suspect that Mochizuki will be too big, too strong and too powerful for Samartlek.
One other bout of interest will see Kyonosuke Kameda (3-1, 2), the cousin of the Kameda brothers, facing off with the unbeaten Ryugo Ushijima (3-0, 2). Kameda comes into this on the back of 3 straight wins, following a stoppage loss on his debut, but we see this as a step up for Kameda. The 18 year old Ushijima really impressed us this past February in his win over Shota Ogasawara and we do believe he's very, very talented, with the potential to develop into a pretty solid domestic fighter. If Ushijima is as a good as he looked against Ogasawara he should take the win here.
This coming Friday is a crazy day in the world of Asian boxing with a trio of Chinese cards, as well as a notable Japanese show. The bouts aren't likely to have much global attention, but they range from a really high profile debut, to a potentially thrilling war on the verges of world class.
For us the biggest show of the day is from Beijing, where we see a number of prospects in action, in bouts of varying quality.
One of the really good looking bouts will see Filipino Ronnie Baldonado (9-0-1, 6) defending his WBO “interim” Oriental Flyweight title against touted Indonesian puncher Iwan Zoda (14-2-1, 13). For the champion the bout will be his first defense of the title he won back in April, when he stopped Yiming Ma inside a round whilst Zoda will be looking to rebuild after a year that has seen hi suffer a stoppage to Robert Onggocan and a surprising draw with Ical Tobida. It's fair to say Zoda can ill afford a set back but Baldonado is on a role with a trio of first round blow outs.
Another really interesting contest will see Filipino prospect Mark Anthony Barriga (6-0, 1) take a huge step up to face former 2-time world title challenger Samartlek Kokietgym (33-6, 12) in a contest for the WBO International Minimumweight title. The 24 year old Barriga was a top Filipino prospect and it's clear his team view him as a special talent but this is a massive step up in class, and should tell us a lot about just how far Barriga could go. Samartlek, who is best known for losing in world title bouts to Naoya Inoue and Akira Yaegashi, does have a padded record, but is a very decent fight and will certainly not be afraid of Barriga's amateur background.
Another title bout featuring an unbeaten fighter on this show will see Jin Xiang Pan (7-0, 4) take on James MacDonald (8-1-1, 4) for the WBO Youth Super Featherweight title. On paper this bout doesn't have the appeal of the ones above, but it's a step up for both fighters and it should be very interesting to see where both men are going in their career.
Arguably the most notable title bout on the card, yet potentially the most one-sided, will see former Chinese amateur stand out Lu Bin (0-0) take on Thai foe Chatchai Or Benjamas (8-9, 6) for the vacant WBC Asian Boxing Council Light Flyweight Title. Making his professional debut in a 10 rounder is clearly Bin and his team looking to make a statement and given his background in amateur boxing and the APB there is real star potential here. It should be noted that Chatchai isn't great, and was an early opponent for the likes of Yohei Tobe and KJ Cataraja, but Bin's willingness to fight for a title early is still a statement from his team.
One other bout of note from this show will see big punching Filipino Jayar Inson (13-1, 9) take on China's Yangcheng Jin (5-1-2, 1). This is likely to be a straight forward win for the visitor, but he is coming in to the bout on the back of a loss on the road in South Africa, and may be wearing the mental scars of that defeat.
Xi An, China
We get more title action in Xi An as novices Yiran Li (3-0, 3) and Super Top Singnamchai (2-0, 1) battle for the WBC Youth Featherweight title. Li made his professional debut back in April and has needed just 7 rounds to despatch his first 3 foes whilst the Thai visitor apparently debuted in 2012, and hasn't had a boxing contest in more than 5 years, making this a very perplexing contest on paper.
Staying in China just a little longer fans will get card in Jinan where the headline bout will see Indonesian veteran Hero Tito (23-12-2, 8) battle with local Aizi Aili (5-2-1, 2), in what could be a pretty solid match up between well matched fighters at different stages of their career.
As well as all the action in China there will also be a notable card at the Korakuen Hall, which will be available on the A-sign service.
The main event of the card is a potential war as former world title challenger Hisashi Amagasa (33-6-2, 21) takes on Richard Pumicpic (19-8-2, 6) in a bout for the WBO Asia Pacific Featherweight title, essentially securing the winner a top 15 WBO ranking. Of the two men Amagasa is the more well known, given his bouts with Guillermo Rigondeaux and Josh Warrington, and will be favoured, however Pumicpic is no pushover and he has has pushed fighters like Ryosuke Iwasa, Cesar Juarez and Yohei Tobe all really close in thrilling fights. We're expecting this fight to be the bout of the day.
In another good looking contest we'll see veteran Takafumi Nakajima (28-9-1, 12) take on Jin Miura (9-2, 1). Coming in to this Nakajima has a little bit of momentum, with 3 straight wins to put back to back losses behind him, whilst Miura comes in on the back of a narrow loss in Russia. This could be a highly skilled battle with both men looking to really boost their hopes of a potential domestic title bout.
One other fighter of note on this card is Naoki Mochizuki (11-2, 6), who will be facing off with a Thai visitor.
Whilst big cards, with multiple noteworthy bouts, aren't rare in Japan it's rare to get a full card of notable and notable bouts. There is however one such card on December 30th when Ohashi put on a genuine super show with two world title bouts, two Olympic medal winners, several prospects and just one of those rare cards where everything looks to have significance...and that's despite the fact one of the key announced bouts for the show was actually cancelled due to an injury!
The main event of the card will see WBO Super Flyweight champion Naoya Inoue (11-0, 9) taking on former 2-time world champion Kohei Kono (32-9-1, 13). This will be Inoue's most notable bout in 2 years, since he beat Omar Andres Narvaez to claim the title, and will see him hunting his 4th defense and most notable so far. For Kono this is a chance to prove he's still a world class Super Flyweight and potentially a chance to become a 3-time world champion.
In the chief main event of the show we see IBF Light Flyweight champion Akira Yaegashi (24-5, 12) defending his title against Thailand's Samartlek Kokietgym (35-5, 12), who is best known for being stopped by the aforementioned Naoya Inoue in 2014. Yaegashi will be seeking his second defense of the title and will know that a win will lead him to about with interim champion Milan Melindo in 2017. A win for the challenger would be a shock and it would genuinely shake up the 108lbs division.
The chief support bout behind the double main event will see 2012 Olympic gold medal winner Ryota Murata (11-0, 8) fight against the once beaten Bruno Sandoval (19-1-1, 15). For Murata this bout is the next step forward as his team continue to pursue a 2017 fight with WBO champion Billy Joe Saunders, of the UK. Whilst Sandoval is a live opponent he hasn't really proven his worth and could well be an easy target for Murata, who has shown real improvement in recent bouts and with his heavy hands there is genuine potential.
Another major under-card bout will see the once beaten Ryo Matsumoto (17-1, 15) face off with his sole conqueror Victor Uriel Lopez (10-5-1, 4). This rematch was announced earlier in the year but cancelled as Matsumoto required surgery for a serious medical issue, the same issue that reared it's head in the first bout with Lopez. Now, supposedly healed, Matsumoto is looking for revenge whilst Lopez is looking to prove that Matsumoto's medical woes weren't the only reason for the result in the first bout.
In a relatively interesting bout we'll see former world title challenger Ryuji Hara (20-2, 12) battle with Hiroya Yamamoto (10-4, 4). Hara is looking to get his career back ion the right track after a 2-2 record in is last 4, and should be too good for Yamamoto however the under-dog is a 2-time Japanese title challenger, having come up short to Go Odaira and Takuya Fukuhara, and is certainly a live under-dog here.
Naoya isn't the only fighter from the Inoue clan on this card, as his cousin Koki Inoue (5-0, 4) takes on his biggest test to date, Futoshi Usami (14-2-1, 11). Inoue is touted as another world champion in the making but this is a credible test for the Kanagawa man, especially given that Usami fought for the OPBF Lightweight title in 2014, and went the 12 round distance with the world ranked Masayoshi Nakatani.
Another unbeaten prospect on this card is 20 year old hopeful Andy Hiraoka (7-0, 4), who fights for the second time as an Ohashi fighter. The talented youngster will be up against Indonesian journeyman Naty Yongraksa (0-0), in what should be a straight forward win for the local star. The visitor is 1-5-1 in his last 7 and it's hard to see what he has to really Hiraoka.
The second Olympian on the show is 2012 Olympic bronze medal winner Satoshi Shimizu (1-0, 1), who takes a huge step up in class to take on Filipino Carlo Demecillo (6-3, 1). Whilst this is a big step up for Shimzu from his debut it should be noted that Demecillo struggled to win a round recently when he took in Hisashi Amagasa, back in October. Demecillo should give Shimizu some resistance, but the bout should be a win for the Japanese local
For a second day running Thai fans will get televised action, though this time around the action is a bit more interesting and Channel 7 do appear to have picked up a solid looking card, well solid looking for a Thai show at least.
The main event will see the unbeaten Petchchorhae Kokietgym (13-0, 8) trying to record a double over promising Indonesian teenager Iwan Zoda (6-1, 5), in a bout for the interim WBO Asia Pacific Flyweight title. These two men met last October with Petchchorhae taking a 6 round decision win, though since then the Indonesian has picked up 5 straight stoppage wins and could well go into this bout believe he can avenge his sole defeat. We'll admit we're actually rather exciting about this one.
The key support bout here will see former world title challenger Samartlek Kokietgym (21-5, 6) take on Indonesia's Iwan Key (9-12-3, 1). It's hard to see Key offering much resistance to Samartlek, who has run up 4 wins since his 11th round TKO loss to Naoya Inoue, almost a year ago to the day.
One man we're excited to see return to action is unbeaten prospect Kongthara KKP (8-0, 6) who will be up against Indonesia's Rasmanudin (19-10-3, 10). A few years ago this would have been a solid bout but in recent times Rasmanudin has become a “loser” and is 1-6-1 in his last 8. We expect this to be another loss to the talented and fast rising Rasmanudin.
Although this week started with a female world title fight the action really didn't last and for the past few day's we've had almost no action. Thankfully however the weekends with a few fights, albeit nothing great.
The biggest potential fight this Friday was a clash which would have seen OPBF Super Middleweight champion Yuzo Kiyota (25-4-1, 23) defending his title. Unfortunately the title part of that bout fell through when none of the ranked contenders were happy to fight Kiyota, understandable given his power and aggression. Sadly with no ranked contenders happy to face him Kiyora has ended up facing off against Indonesian fight Hero Yauw Katili (6-6-1, 4). From what we understand Katili's record is incomplete but he has never fought anyone like Kiyota and this looks to be little more than a stay busy bout from the fun to watch Japanese slugger.
Sadly many of the other bouts on the same show lack any type of appeal with the best of the rest being an 8 rounder between the 22 year old Yoshitomo Watanabe (4-1, 3) and Thailand's Pirat Manopchaigym (0-0). Although Pirat is listed on boxrec.com as a debutant we have our suspicions that he has fought before however his actual number of fights and level of fights is up in the air.
In total there are 8 bouts on this show but it's hard to get excited about any of them now that Kiyota is facing a significantly over-matched opponent.
Outside of Asia fans will get the chance to see the Kyrgyzstan born Timur Shailezov (17-7-1, 4) fighting against the hard hitting and somewhat promising Victor Ruiz (13-3, 10). Shailezov has started to become a bit of a journeyman with 5 losses in his last 6, including stoppages to Rex Tso and Zhanat Zhakiyanov, though he did shock the previously unbeaten Miguel Cartagena last time out. In Ruiz we have an unknown but young and hungry Mexican who has shared the ring with the very good Francisco Rodriguez Jr. On record we'd favour Ruiz but on recent performances it's fair to say that Shailezov could score another upset.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Nonthaburi province, Thailand
In Thailand we get a televised show on Channel 7 which is headlined by the world class Paipharob Kokietgym (24-0, 19) who will be defending his WBO Oriental Light Flyweight title for the first time. In the opposite corner to Paipharob will be Filipino fighter Bobby Concepcion (11-4-1, 5). We don't see anything but a win for Paipharob but hopefully he'll move on after a win because he really has the skills to make a mark on the world stage.
In one of the support bouts fans will get the chance to see Thailand's Samartlek Kokietgym (16-4, 5) fighting in a warm up bout prior to his world title challenge with Naoya Inoue, on September 5th. For those worrying about the Inoue fight there is very little risk for Samartlek as he takes on Indonesia'sDomi Nenokeba (11-18-1, 7), a man who is winless in more than 4 years!
The only other bout that we have had confirmed for this show Ratchasak Kokietgym (22-3-1, 10) battle against Indonesia's Jemmy Gobel (18-24-5, 13). This will be Ratchasak's first fight since his loss in Macau to Rex Tso though unlike that bout we don't see him chasing shadows here.