EDION Arena Osaka, Osaka, Osaka, Japan
This coming Sunday is a big day in Japan with 3 different shows, the most notable of which is a title double header in Osaka, promoted by former Japanese star Koki Kameda.
The main event here will see a 4th Japanese Heavyweight champion being crowned as the highly touted Brandon Mitsuro Tajima (1-0, 1) faces Korean fighter Sung Min Lee (7-2-1, 2) for the vacant title. Tajima made his long awaited debut earlier this year, but it was little more than a cameo as he dismantled Sang Ho Kim in 56 seconds. He will be hoping for a chance to show more of his ability here, though unfortunately Lee isn't the most testing of opponents, and in fact Lee is coming in to this on the back of an upset loss to Ja Sung Jo. Lee has proven to be tough and have heart, but this is a huge ask for him against a man many in Japan are very, very excited about. Our preview of this clash can be read here Tajima and Lee battle to become 4th Japanese Heavyweight champion
The other title bout on this show will see OPBF Super Featherweight champion Masanori Rikiishi (11-1, 6) defending his title against aggressive and hard hitting Filipino warrior Tomjune Mangubat (15-3-1, 12). For Rikiishi the bout will serve as his first defense of the title, which he won last time out with a very impressive win against Takuya Watanaba, and he will feel he has the tools and boxing IQ to neutralise Mangubat. As for the Filipino he'll be determined to make the most of this opportunity, especially given a loss last time out to unbeaten hopeful Charly Suarez. If Mangubat can get success with his pressure this will be a very tough bout Rikiishi, but that's a big if. Our preview of this contest can be read here OPBF champion Rikiishi defends against Filipino warrior Mangubat!
Outside of the two title bouts the big talking point of the show will be the professional boxing debut of 2008 Olympic gold medal winning Judoka Satoshi Ishii (0-0), who turns his hand to professional boxing at the age of 35. The former Judo star will be looking to secure a win in boxing as he takes on 30 year old novice Shuho Takayama (1-0, 1), in a 4 round Heavyweight bout. Interestingly Ishii has had success not just in Judo, where he was a genuine star, but also MMA and Kick boxing, and he is a well experienced combat sports practitioner, but we do wonder if it's too late for the Croatian based Japanese born fighter to make any sort of impact in professional boxing.
In a must win bout we'll see two former world title challengers face off as Hiroshige Osawa (37-5-4, 21) takes on Jeo Santisima (21-4, 18). Aged 37 Osawa is coming to the end of his career, and he's only fought once since the start of 2020, scoring a technical decision over Yoshiyuki Takabayashi last September. At his best Osawa was a solid regional level fighter, but given his age and inactivity it's hard to imagine him being even a shadow of the fighter he once was. As for Santisima he fought for a world title in 2020, and is 2-1 since losing in that title fight. Early in his career he looked explosive and powerful but when he's stepped he has looked limited and despite only being 26 it does feel like he's found his ceiling and is on the slide. We suspect Santisima is getting to Osawa at the the right point here, but this is certainly a hard one to call and Osawa might have one great performance left in the tank.
One other really notable bout on this card will see former world champion Ryo Miyazaki (26-2-3, 16), compete in the third bout of his on going comeback. On paper this is a big step up for Miyazaki as he takes on Azael Villar (18-1-3, 14), from Panama. Miyazaki, at his best, was a brilliant warrior, who had under-rated power, real toughness and great work rate, but at 33 he is old for a smaller weight fighter and it's hard to know how much he has left in the tank, even if he is something of a "young" 33. Villar on the other hand is 28 and has world rankings from 3 of the world title bouts, but this is a step up fir Villar, who has been beating low level fighters so far through his career. Given the styles of the two men, this should be a very, very fun and fan friendly bout.
One other under-card bout of note will see 2020 Rookie of the Year winner Sora Fukunaga (10-0, 5) clash with 2014 Rookie of the Year winner Kenya Yamashita (14-5, 11), in what should be a thrilling bout. Although Yamashita is flawed he is always worth watching with an ultra aggressive style, and we suspect he could ask questions of Fukunaga, who is looking to record arguably his most notable win to date. This should genuinely be a very, very exciting match up, albeit one without a major name involved in it.
Central Gym, Kobe, Hyogo, Japan
A second notable show takes place in Hyogo, and will be headlined by a former world champion taking on a former multi-time world title challenger, whilst the supporting card features two solid Japan Vs Philippines bouts.
The main event is a really dangerous one for former WBO Minimumweight champion Ryuya Yamanaka (17-3, 6), who only returned to the sport earlier this year following a brain injury several years ago in his loss to Vic Saludar. The talented Yamanaka was expected to ease his way back into the sport, taking on a few easier opponents before stepping up in class. He however has taken a different approach and will take on hard hitting former 2-time world title challenger Jonathan Taconing (29-4-1, 22), of the Philippines. Given Yamanaka's previous injury this is a very, very risky bout against a flawed but aggressive and hard hitting fighter and there is a real feeling of danger here for Yamanaka. If he wins however the rewards are a potential world title fight in 2023, marking what would be one of the most impressive comebacks in the sport in recent years.
A very notable 8 rounder on this card will see the unbeaten Kazuki Anaguchi (2-0, 2) step up in class to face his first international opponent, as he battles Filipino Ranelio Quizo (10-2, 3). Since making his debut, just over a year ago, Anaguchi has looked like the sort of fighter who will be fast tracked, and despite only having 6 professional rounds to his name he looks a potential title holder, at least on the regional or domestic level. As for Quizo he comes into this bout on 3 straight wins, including a 7th round TKO win over Philip Luis Cuerdo last time out, a bout that was longer than Anaguchi's entire career. Quizo has the tools to ask questions of Anaguchi, but we do feel the local fighter will take this opportunity to shine.
A third bout of note on this card will see bombs being thrown as visiting Filipino Jun Blazo (16-6-3, 12) takes on charismatic Japanese switch hitter Takahiro Tai (3-1, 3). The heavy handed Blazo has been a professional since 2014 and has proven to be a very dangerous fighter, even on his travels, famously dropping Koki Eto in 2016. Sadly for Blazo he enters this bout 0-5 in bouts in Japan, but he will perhaps feel this is a chance to score his first win on Japanese soil. As for Tai he's aggressive but flawed and whilst he certainly not a polished fighter, he is very entertaining, takes risks and tries to behead opponents. Expect this one to be a brutal and explosive war.
Aioi Hall, Kariya, Aichi, Japan
As well as the notable shows in Osaka and Hyogo we are also have the Central Japan Rookie of the Year finals. Sadly Central is over an over-looked region of Japan and with the show coming on the same day as two other notable cards it's even easier to over-look this card.
One of the more notable bouts on this card will be at Super Bantamweight, as the once beaten Junya Kawai (3-1, 1) takes on the unbeaten Ken Shioda (4-0, 2). Aged 31, Kawai has won his last two bouts and bounced back well from a 2021 loss to Shunsuke Bunno, however there are question marks regarding his long term future in the sport, given he's now 31 and actually debuted all the way back in 2015. As for Shioda he debuted in May 2021 and has been active, with 4 wins in around 15 months, and he will feel his activity and age, given he's only 28, will play a role here in what should be a great fight.
Another bout worthy of some attention is a clash between young Minimumweights, as 19 year old Rento Miyazawa (2-1, 1) faces 18 year old Seiya Imai (2-0) in a rematch of a bout we had last November. The older man debuted in July 2021 and won his debut before losing his second bout, to the then debuting Imai. Coming in this Miyazawa will be looking to avenge that loss, whilst Imai will bee looking to repeat his win over his fellow youngster.