Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
After a low profile Rookie of the Year card on July 12th in Kariya we see higher level action return to Japan this coming Thursday as we get the first card in Tokyo since February. Thankfully this is actually worthy of attention, despite only having 2 bouts on it. This is a card where quality comes first, and the two bouts we get are both very solid match ups.
The first of the bouts on the show will see OPBF Featherweight champion Satoshi Shimizu (8-1, 8) defending his title against Kyohei Tonomoto (9-2-1, 4), in what will be Shimizu's 5th defense of the belt and Tonomoto's first bout at Oriental level. Shimizu won the belt way back in October 2017 and looked like he was going to quickly rise through the rankings, but a 6th round TKO loss at Super Featherweight last July put a stop to that and injuries delayed his return. Now aged 34 he can't afford another set back if he's to get a world title shot. Whilst Shimizu had a nightmare 2019 Tonomoto had a solid year winning, and defending, the Japanese Youth Featherweight title. Aged 25 Tonomoto will know that a win here will put him on the boxing map, but he will also know that he's been chosen as a supposedly safe opponent for Shimizu, given the champion's inactivity and recent injury woes. Our preview of this bout can be read here Shimizu returns to Featherweight to defend OPBF title!
The other title bout on this show is a Champion Carnival bout and will see Japanese Light Welterweight champion Koki Inoue (15-0, 12) defending his belt against mandatory challenger Daishi Nagata (14-2-1, 5). This bout was originally supposed to take place in March before being delayed, originally due to Inoue being injured, to May which it's self was delayed by the on going global situation. As a stand alone bout this is an excellent match up with Inoue, the cousin of Naoya and Takuma, looking to extend his reign and Nagata looking to claim a title in his second title fight. Style wise we're expecting this to be a really fun contest, with Nagata pressuring the more naturally skilled champion, who will stand and fight in spurts. Although we feel the champion will have too much we do expect this to be a very, very good fight and the ideal type of bout to headline the first Korakuen Hall boxing show in months. Our preview of this bout can be read here Koki Inoue returns to the ring to take on mandatory challenger!
Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
Former OPBF Bantamweight champion Mark John Yap (30-15, 15) looks to end his 2 fight losing run as he takes on former world title challenger Miguel Marriaga (29-3, 25). Although Yap is fighting above his best weight, and has never really refound the form he had when he was fighting out of the Muto Gym, he's going to be alive under-dog here against the big punching Marriaga. The heavy handed Marriaga is the naturally bigger man, and has only lost at world level, but there are questions about his mental attitude after his 2017 bout with Vasyl Lomachenko.
On the same card will be fellow Filipino John Vincent Moralde (23-3, 13), who will be up against Mexican Alexis del Bosque (17-5, 9) in what looks like a very interesting match up and an even contest on paper.
The big show of the day this coming Friday is Osaka where Teiken put in a title triple header, featuring two world title bouts.
The main event of this card is the rematch between American Rob Brant (25-1, 17) and Japanese star Ryota Murata (14-2, 11), with Brant looking to make his second defense of the WBA Regular Middleweight title, a title he took from Murata last year. This is a really tough bout for Murata, who will know another loss to Brant likely ends his career, whilst a win could open up a huge opportunity for a bout in a Japanese dome at the end of the year. For Murata this is a must win, whilst for Brant it's a bout he is expected to win, especially given how easily he beat Murata the first time around. A full preview of this bout is available here Brant and Murata go again, but will the outcome be any different?
The other world title bout on the card will see WBC Light Flyweight champion Kenshiro (15-0, 8) defending his title against mandatory challenger Jonathan Taconing (28-33-1, 11). The unbeaten champion will be seeking his 6th defense and a chance to take a huge step towards a potential unification bout with Hiroto Kyoguchi at the end of the year, a bout both men have spoken about. Although Kenshiro is in great form we expect Taconing to ask questions of the champion we've never seen Kenshiro answer, and Taconing poses a real threat as a hard hitting and teak tough southpaw. Taconing can be out boxed, but he is a very dangerous threat to Kenshiro. Our preview of this show down is here Kenshiro takes on hard hitting Filipino challenger Taconing!
The third title bout on this card will see Filipino visitor Joe Noynay (17-2-1, 6) look to record his first defense of the WBO Asia Pacific Super Featherweight title, as he takes on 2012 Olympic bronze medal winner Satoshi Shimizu (8-0, 8). The bout sees Noynay return to Japan following his impressive title win over Kosuke Saka whilst Shimizu moves up in weight and tests the water at Super Featherweight. A full in depth preview of this bout can be read here Noynay takes on hard hitting Shimizu in regional title defense!
Also on this card is touted prospect Shokichi Iwata (2-0, 1) who looks to extend his perfect start as he battles 23 year old Filipino Paolo Sy (6-3-1, 3). Iwata was a fabulous amateur, scoring wins against the likes of Kosei Tanaka and Takuma Inoue among others, and has shown a lot of promise already, but this looks like his stiffest test so far. Sy is no world beater in the making but should ask some questions of Iwata.
As well as the show in Osaka there is also a good one in Tokyo as we get a female world title fight and an interesting cross roads fight.
The female world title fight sees the great Naoko Fujioka (18-2, 7) defending her WBA female Flyweight title against veteran Tenkai Tsunami (26-12, 15), who is looking to become a 3 weight champion her self. Fujioka is among the few true female legends of boxing, having won world titles from Minimumweight to Bantamweight, but she's now at an advanced age and we wonder how long she can keep putting on top performances. On the other hand Tsunami has had an incredibly hard career, and that will catch up with her sooner or later. Our preview of this female clash can be read here Fujioka and Tsunami meet in clash for WBA crown!
In a really good looking support bout we'll see veteran Akihiro Kondo (31-8-1, 18) take on youngster Andy Hiraoka (13-0, 9). The tough Kondo, a former world title challenger, was last seen being stopped by Downua Ruawaiking in an IBF world title eliminator and he will be desperate to put that loss behind him and pick up a win here. For Hiraoka this is a great opportunity to get himself a major win and move towards a major title fight, as he looks to add to the Japanese Youth title he won in 2017. Our preview for this bout can be read here Kondo looks to bounce back whilst Hiraoka looks for big win
Also on this card is Seiryu Toshikawa (10-5, 6), who is criminally under-rated. Despite not having a great record Toshikawa is a very talented 23 year old who is looking to bounce back from a split decision loss to Shawn Oda in late 2018. His opponent will be Filipino puncher Junny Salogaol (14-16-5, 13), a late replacement though a man who was training for a now cancelled fight in Japan in late June.
Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
From Japan to Saudi Arabia as we see boxing join the WWE in an the attempt of becoming part of the sporting propaganda of the Saudi government. Whilst this card isn't one we'll be focusing a lot on, especially given the action in Japan, it is still a show which will get a lot of attention, especially in the West.
The main event will see Amir Khan (33-5, 20) take on Billy Dib (45-5-0-2, 26) in a match that was put together on about 3 weeks notice. Originally Khan was going to Indian face Neeraj Goyat (11-3-2, 2) in a bout being sold on the Indian vs Pakistan rivalry, and was originally set to be for the WBC Pearl title. Goyat suffered an injury in a car accident weeks before the fight and Dib, a former Featherweight world champion, moved up the card to fill the position left by Goyat. Originally Dib was to face Indonesian fighter Carlos Lopez, so he has clearly landed a much better pay day here. Sadly the WBC Pearl title will no longer be on the line, and the bout will instead be for the WBC International Welterweight crown.
A more interesting bout on this card, at least terms of competitiveness, will see unbeaten and exciting Filipino Dave Penalosa (15-0, 11) take on South African foe Lerato Dlamini (12-1, 6) for the WBC Silver Featherweight title. This is a big step up for Penalosa who hasn't really scored a win of note. On the other hand the South African holds a really notable win over Simpiwe Vetyeka from 2017 and will feel that that bout will have prepared him for a bout like this against Penalosa.
Others on this card include Uzbek hopeful Shakhobidin Zoirov (2-0, 2), who has been very impressive in his professional career so far.
All the way over in Florida we'll get the chance to see a couple of unbeaten Kazakh fighters attempt to continue their run onwards and upwards.
The more notable of the two is Heavyweight hopeful Ivan Dychko (8-0, 8), who takes on Nate Heaven (9-2, 7). The talented, yet awful badly promoted Dychko, was originally pencilled in to fight Raphael Zumbano (39-16-1, 31) though Zumbano was later replaced by Heaven, who should pose of a test. Sadly for Dychko, a former amateur star, his competition has been awful and his activity has been less than great, and he's falling a long way behind some of his amateur contemporaries, such as Filip Hrgovic, Tony Yoka and Joe Joyce. If he stops Heaven, as expected, it's then a must for Dychko to step up in class.
The other Kazakh on this card is Mussa Tursyngaliyev (9-0, 6), who is pencilled in for a major step up in class as he takes on former world title challenger Ricardo Nunez (29-9, 23). On paper this looks a really tough match up for the unbeaten Tursyngaliyev however it should be noted that Nunez had his best wins down at Flyweight and Super Flyweight, and Tursyngaliyev is at Featherweight. Natural size difference will likely be the key between these two here.
This coming Monday Japanese fight fans get a genuinely exceptional card, headlined by an OPBF Featherweight title fight, between unbeaten fighters, and stacked with several other notable bouts, including 2 genuinely brilliant support bouts.
The main event of this card will 2012 Olympic bronze medal winner Satoshi Shimizu (7-0, 7) take on Takuya Uehara (16-0, 10). The bout will be Shimizu's 4th defense of the OPBF Featherweight title and if he wins he's expected to be moved aggressively into a world title fight in the new year. Despite being a stand out amateur Shimizu has looked like a flawed professional, but with his unbeaten record and perfect T/KO run it's hard to double the results, even if the performances haven't been the best. The 23 year old Uehara is a former WBC Youth champion but this is a massive step up in class, and is likely to be his first bout against a genuine puncher. This could be a good test for Shimizu, but one he'll be expected to pass. A full preview of this bout can be found here - Olympic hero Shimizu takes on Uehara in next OPBF title defense!
The co-feature looks even better than the main event, and is a really well balanced match up that should give us a combination between explosive heavy handed blows and skills. The match up pits the very heavy handed Tsuyoshi Tameda (18-3-2, 16) against the incredibly highly skilled Hinata Maruta (7-1-1, 6), in a bout that will likely lead the winner to a regional title fight in 2019. Tameda is the more raw fighter, but also the hard hitting and the one with real explosive power. Maruta is the more skilled man, but has failed to deliver on the promise he has in recent bouts, and some are perhaps not doubting the Morioka man. This really could be something very, very special. A preview of this can be read here - Preview - Maruta and Tameda to fight on December 3rd!
Another interesting all prospect match up is a mouth watering 8 rounder between Taku Kuwahara (2-0, 2) and Takamori Kiyama (2-0, 2), which may well go down as the best match up between a couple of 2-0 fighters ever. As an amateur Kuwahara was a 2-time national champion and the Ohashi gym view him as a potential major player in their gym, this is however a massive step up in class from the Indonesian fighters he has faced in his first two bouts, neither of which have lasted a round. Kiyama, from the Atsumi gym, was also an amateur standout, and he's has looked fantastic since turning professional as well. This is really a risky bout for both fighters but they should both be admired, for willing to risk their "0" against a fellow prospect this early on.
Former Japanese Supe Featherweight champion Seiichi Okada (21-6-1, 12) looks to record his 4th straight win, as he takes on the limited Takahiro Araki (12-7, 4). Okada is a faded force to the man who had pushed Takashi Miura hard in 2010 and had gone on to win the Japanese title the following year, running up 3 defenses before losing to Daiki Kaneko. He is however capable against the lower level domestic fighters and will see this as a good chance to score his 22nd professional win. The 31 year old Araki however is no push over and will see this an opportunity to get a win against a former national champion.
The once touted Sho Nakazawa (11-2, 5) looks to continue rebuilding his career after a 2017 loss to Ryo Hino. The former amateur standout will be looking for a second straight win as he takes on Filipino journeyman Jhon Gemino (17-11-1, 7). On paper this looks like a mismatch but Nakazawa really has failed to shine as a professional and Gemino is the sort of fighter who can be a very tricky out. We suspect Nakazawa gets the win, but Gemino won't have travelled to just roll over.
Another prospect on this card is the highly touted Kazuki Nakajima (5-0, 4), who takes a notable step up in class to fight the experienced Yoshihiro Utsumi (15-8-3, 10). So far Nakajima has only been tested one, with Taiga Higashi giving him issues last December, and has otherwise had things all his own way. Utsumi on the hand has collected losses, but has faced tough competition with losses to Yasutaka Ishimoto, Ye Joon Kim and Hiroaki Teshigawara. It's worth noting that coming into this bout Utsumi scored a huge upset win over Hibiki Jogo and is riding a 3 fight stoppage run into this contest.
Our attention turns to Tokyo this coming Friday as Ohashi gym put on a notable card at the Korakuen Hall, in what is being sold as a double main event card.
One of the main event bouts will see Satoshi Shimizu (6-0, 6) defending the OPBF Featherweight title against Shingo Kawamura (16-3-1, 8). The heavy handed champion will be making his third defense of the title that he won last October, when he stopped Sa Myung Noh. The Olympic bronze medal winner has looked destructive but clumsy so far though is unlikely to be made to pay for his clumsiness here. The 28 year old challenger will be having his second title shot, following a loss to Mike Tawatchai in an IBF Pan Pacific Super Bantamweight title fight. Kawamura comes into this on the back of a 6 fight winning streak, including a win over Tae Il Atsumi, but this is certainly a big step up from that level of competition.
The co-main event will see former 3 weight world champion Akira Yaegashi (26-6, 14) take on former world title challenger Hirofumi Mukai (16-5-3, 6) in an interesting must win bout for both men. Yaegashi is hunting a Super Flyweight world title and although that is a huge task for the popular warrior he does seem to believe in himself and will know that a win over Mukai will open doors. As for Mukai the bout will see him looking to continue a 3 fight stoppage run, but this is his first step up in class since a 2017 loss to Rex Tso. The loser of this will have to seriously consider their future, whilst the winner will move towards one more notable bout.
The best of the under-card bouts will see the hard hitting Tsuyoshi Tameda (17-3-2, 15) take on Japanese based Korean Tae Il Atsumi (14-2, 7) in what should be a genuinely fantastic match up. The destructive Tameda, has stopped his last 4 opponents, and is unbeaten since a 2016 loss to Reiya Abe. He'll be looking to continue that form and move towards a potential Japanese or OPBF title fight in the future. As for Atsumi this bout will see him looking to rebuild from his aforementioned loss to Kawamura, who beat him just 2 fights ago. At his best Atsumi is a talented and hard hitting fighter, who holds notable wins over Sho Nakazawa, Dennis Tubieron, Burning Ishii and Neil John Tabanao. This should be a very exciting bout for the fans in the venue, even if it's unlikely to be televised.
Interestingly former Atsumi victim Sho Nakazawa (10-2, 4) is also on this card, as he fights in a straight forward match up against Ahmad Lahizab (3-5-1, 1) of Indonesia. It's hard to see anything but a win for Nakazawa, though he hasn't actually scored a win since April 2017 and has fallen a long way short of the promise he had shown as an amateur.
On the subject of people who showed promise as an amateur the fans will also see former amateur stand out Kazuki Nakajima (4-0, 3) take on the tough but light hitting Takuya Fujioka (8-8-1, 1). The talented Nakajima is tipped for big things thought he will need to get past the under-rated Fujioka here if he's to reach the heights expected of him. It's worth noting that Fujioka is a real potential banana skin and scored a big upset win in February when he defeated Futa Akizuki.
There's more Japanese action in the US as popular tough brawler Yoshihiro Kamegai (27-4-2, 24) takes on American foe Greg Vendetti (19-2-1, 12) in California. For Kamegai this will be his first bout in almost a year, with the iron chinned warrior not having fought since his August 2017 loss to Miguel Cotto in a world title fight. Part of the long break for Kamegai was due to a shoulder injury earlier this year, but with that now healed he's looking to get back to winning ways. As for Vendetti he's looking for his 4th win of 2018, but this is a big step up for "The Villain's who has won his last 15 bouts against limited opposition.
This coming Monday attention turns to Japan as Ohashi put on their next notable show, headlined by an OPBF title fight and featuring several fighters of note on the supporting card.
The main event of the card will see OPBF Featherweight champion Satoshi Shimizu (5-0, 5) defending his title, for the second time, against Korean challenger Kyung Min Kwon (6-3, 3). The 2012 Olympic Bronze medal winner has been fast tracked like few before him, even for the often fast tracked Japanese, and won the OPBF title after just 13 months as a professional. He made his first defense back in December and will be looking to score his third win in less than 6 months as he takes on Kwon. The Korean challenger is a bit of an unknown, though his record doesn't suggest he'll be much of a threat for the heavy handed Japanese fighter, who is expected to get a world title fight by the end of 2018.
The chief support bout will see former 3-weight world champion Akira Yaegashi (25-6, 13) take on Indonesian foe Frans Damur Palue (15-18-2, 10) in a bout at Super Flyweight, as Yaegashi chases a 4th world title. For the popular Yaegashi this will be his first bout since he lost the IBF Light Flyweight title inside a round to Milan Melindo last May. He's moving up 7lbs from that loss, though the general feeling is that he's pretty much a spent force as a fighter, after having had a career of wars. Palue is expected to lose, and to be stopped, but given how much damage Yaegashi has taken through his career, this could be his chance to score a career defining victory, and retire the very exciting Yaegashi. The visitor is the naturally bigger fighter, the younger man, and although the far less skilled he has a chance to define his career here.
Shimizu isn't the only fast rising unbeaten fighter on this card, as OPBF and JBC ranked Light Welterweight Koki Inoue (10-0, 9) is also on the card. Sadly the talented, destructive, Inoue isn't yet getting his first title bout, but will instead be fighting in a stay busy bout against a Thai visitor. The plan seems to be based around keeping Inoue busy as he prepares for a Japanese title fight, likely later this year. Koki is the cousin of Naoya Inoue and Takuma Inoue, and like those two he is an excellent talent who really doesn't need any more easy bouts after this one, though in fairness he has already scored 3 very solid domestic level wins and is just staying busy here.
Another unbeaten prospect on this card will be former amateur standout Kazuki Nakajima (3-0, 2), who takes part in his first 8 round bout. The talented Japanese hopeful failed to shine last time out, narrowly over-coming Taiga Higashi, and will be up against a Thai novice here in what should be little more than a show case for Nakajima, who has a lot of talent, but can't be rushed in the way Shimizu was. Instead he's maybe 2 or 3 years away from a title fight.
As with the last few years this year is set to end with a spate of Japanese action. The first of two big shows to end 2017 is in Yokohama, where Ohashi and Fuji TV put on an interesting looking show.
The main event of this year closer will be the end in the latest chapter of Naoya Inoue's (14-0, 12) career, as he makes his 7th, and likely final, defense of the WBO Super Flyweight title. The talented Japanese fighter had been ruining out of willing opponents and will close 2017 with a bout against the inform Frenchman Yoan Boyeaux (41-4, 26). On paper it looks good but the reality is that this is a huge step up in class and likely serves as a dummy run for the “Monster” before he moves up to Bantamweight in pursuit of a third divisional world title.
A second world title bout on this show will see WBC Light Flyweight champion Ken Shiro (11-0, 5) make his second defense, as he goes up against confident Panamanian visitor Gilberto Pedroza (18-3-2, 8), who fights in his first world title bout. The talented Ken Shiro has had a career defining year with wins over Ganigan Lopez and Pedro Guevara and closing out the year with a third win would, in fairness, put him on the fringes of the Fighter of the Year shortlist. As for Pedroza this is a huge opportunity to claim a world title and make a name for himself ahead of the near year.
A third title bout on this card will see OPBF Featherweight champion Satoshi Shimizu (4-0, 4) make his first defense as he looks to move towards a world title fight. The talented Japanese fighter, who came to international attention in 2012 when he claimed a Bronze medal at the London Olympics, will be up against Filipino challenger Eduardo Mancito (15-7-2, 9). The champion won the title in impressive fashion earlier this year, when he stopped Korean Sa Myung Noh and is expected to make an easy first defense here. Although limited Mancito is tough and is expected to get some rounds out Shimizu, who can prove whether his power is legitimate or not here.
In one of the leading support bouts Takuma Inoue (9-0, 2) will take on 2-time Japanese Bantamweight champion Kentaro Masuda (27-8, 15), in what looks likely to be a mismatch. The talented Takuma was supposed to fight for a world title a year ago, but an injury ruled him out and he now seems to be trying to get back to fully fitness and shake off any ring rust before moving back into the world title picture. Masuda is an exciting fighter, but with recent stoppage losses to Shohei Omori and Mark John Yap his limitations have been shown, and he's a fun but crude fighter who should be easily out boxed by Inoue.
A third Inoue on this card is the fast rising Koki Inoue (9-0, 8), who takes on Korean visitor Dong Hee Kim (8-1-2, 3). The Korean enters the bout as the Korean Light Welterweight champion and an OPBF ranked fighter and it's clear that Inoue is chasing titles, with this bout potentially opening the door for an OPBF title fight in 2018. Inoue has been very impressive, very exciting and very aggressive since his debut however the Korean has never been stopped, looks to be tough and durable and will not have travelled to just roll over to Inoue.
Also on this card as Ohashi novices Katsuya Yasuda (1-0, 1) and Kazuki Nakajima (2-0, 2), who will both be in 6 rounders and will be looking to have big 2018's.
A second Asian show will take place in Kazakhstan where we get a number of interesting, though lower key bouts.
One of the key bouts from the show will see once beaten Kazakh hopeful Firuza Sharipova (7-1, 4) battle against Belgian fighter Djemilla Gontaruk (13-4-1, 2) in a bout for the WBC silver Female Super Featherweight title. The bout looks like a good one on paper, but coming in to this the Kazakh has won 7 in a row whilst Gonturak has lost against every notable opponent she has faced, including a loss last time out to Ramon Kuehne and her wins have been against very limited foes.
Another title bout on this card will see Aidyn Yelzhanov (4-0, 3) take on Sergey Dudinsky (4-1, 3) for a WBC regional title at Super Bantamweight. The 24 year old Yelzhanov has impressed so far,but has been fighting at a very liw level and will have to show something new to over-come the hungry Dudinsky, who has won his last two.
One other bout of note will be the home coming, of sorts, for Light Heavyweight prospect Ali Akhmedov (10-0, 7), who takes on Ismat Eynullayev (12-2, 8). Akhmedov has fought 5 of his last 6 outside of Kazakhstan, where he is incidentally 5-0 (5), and will be looking to put on a show here. Eynullayev, from Azerbaijan, has won his last 3 but will not be expected to put up much of a challenge against the home town hero.
In the Russian capital fan will be able to see Russian Uzbek Ulugbek Khakberdiev (4-0, 2) look to build on his solid 2017 as he takes on Ugandan puncher Med Sebyala (17-10-1, 14). The unbeaten Kazakh has gone under the radar this year, despite stopping Dmitry Sukhotsky in September and looks to end his year with a 5th straight win. The 37 year old Sebyala has lost 2 of his last 3, but does appear to be a legitimate puncher and could chin check the powerful Kazakh.
To begin October we turn our attention to the Korakuen Hall,where Ohashi gym put on a solid looking card.
The main event is a genuinely brilliant match up as 2012 Olympic bronze medal winner Satoshi Shimizu (3-0, 3) takes a massive step up, to challenge OPBF Featherweight champion Sa Myung Noh (11-3, 4, who will be looking to defend the title he won back in June when he upset Ryo Takenaka. To date Shimizu has fought just 9 rounds as a professional and has looked destructive, but flawed, with a lot of power and exciting style. As for Noh he's looking to build on a career defining win and will be hoping that another win in Japan could help him more towards a potential world title fight, and it is worth noting he enters this bout with a WBC world ranking which will improve if he retains his title here.
The main event is a great bout but it may actually be the second best fight on the card as former world title challenger Satoshi Hosono (33-3-1, 22) takes on talented youngster Reiya Abe (14-2, 7). On paper we suspect many will favour Hosono, given his experience and the fact that his set backs have come against world class opposition, however Abe is no joke and he has rocked up 6 straight wins,including notable victories against Ryo Hino, Hikaru Marugame, Shingo Kusano and Tsuyoshi Tameda. This really could be a very special bout between fighters at different points in their career.
On the under-card fight fans will see Tsuyoshi Tameda (14-3-2, 12), making his Ohashi debut, and Ryuji Hara (22-2,13) who both take on Thai foes in what should be showcases contests before bigger bouts later in the year, with Hara expected to get a second world title fight in the very near future.
For a second day running Japanese fans in Tokyo get a huge show at the Ariake Colosseum in Tokyo.
The main event here sees Japanese superstar Naoya Inoue (12-0, 10) defending his WBO Super Flyweight title against Mexican born American based challenger Ricardo Rodriguez (16-3, 5. The bout will be Inoue's 5th defense of the title and it's likely to be his last with his team talking about vacating the title later in the year, ahead of his US debut. The pressure is on the youngster to shine here but Rodriguez is tough and has never been stopped, and will be looking to score a career defining victory here.
The other world title fight here will see IBF Light Flyweight champion Akira Yaegashi (25-5, 15) battle against interim champion Milan Melindo (35-2, 12). The bout is, on paper at the very least, the most interesting of the 6 world title fights taking place this coming weekend and it looks like a genuine 50-50 match up. Of the two fighters Yaegashi is the more proven and the more well known, but he's also the older man and the man with a lot more miles on the clock. Melindo, the less proven fighter, is probably the more technically sound fighter, but a win here would be the biggest of his career by some margin.
The biggest mismatch on this card will see the once beaten Ryo Matsumoto (19-1, 17) battle against Hendrik Barongsay (29-25-3, 18) in what is little more than a stay busy fight for Matsumoto. The talented Japanese youngster looked better than ever last time out, blowing out Hideo Sakamoto in less than 2 minutes, and it wouldn't be a surprise to see Barongsay last a similar amount og time here.
One of the biggest names on the under-card is former multi-time world title challenger Satoshi Hosono (32-3-1, 21), who will take on Masashi Noguchi (12-6-1, 6) in an 8 rounder. This will be Hosono's first bout since losing in October to Jonathan Victor Barros in an IBF world title eliminator. Aged 33 this will probably be the start of Hosono's last run, and he really can't afford another set back. Noguchi is a former Japanese title challenger, who lost in December to Shuhei Tsuchiya, and is the naturally bigger man, but a win here would be his best to date.
In another notable under-card bout we'll see 2012 Olympic Bronze medal winner Satoshi Shimizu (2-0, 2) take on his first domestic opponent, Takuya Yamamoto (8-6, 4). The bout should be a straight forward win for Shimizu, though it's probably fair to say that his eyes are on the future and it's hard to imagine him not fighting for a domestic title before the end of 2017, especially given that he's now 31 and doesn't have much time to waste.
Also on the under-card is the re-re-scheduled meeting between talented youngster Andy Hiraoka (8-0, 5) and Shogo Yamaguchi (10-2-1, 5), who were originally meant to meet in the 2014 Rookie of the Year. The two were also meant to fight earlier this year. Sadly Hiraoka was forced to pull out of both the previous dates but will be looking to prove a point here. As for Yamaguchi he's going to be wanting to take his frustrations out on the younger man in what could be an under-card classic.
There will also be title action in Okinawa, albeit at a lower level as fans get an OPBF title fight.
That that OPBF title fight will see Japan's Seita Ogido (11-2-2, 3) battle unbeaten Filipino Edward Heno (10-0-4, 4) for the vacant Oriental Light Flyweight title. The title was vacated earlier this, by Ken Shiro ahead of his WBC world title fight with Ganigan Lopez, and the bout to crown a new champion does look like an interesting one. Ogido is seen as a promising youngster in Japan, and fought to a draw with the under-rated Jonathan Refugio earlier this year, suggesting there is talent there. Heno on the other hand is a bit of an unknown quantity, despite being unbeaten in 14 bouts, though he did impress last time out as he claimed the PBF title. This bout really could answer questions about both men.
The chief supporting bout here will see Masatoshi Kotani (20-2, 13) hunt an 11th straight win as he takes on Indonesian visitor Musa Letding (12-6-4, 6) in an 8 rounder. Kotani has been unbeaten since a 9th round stoppage loss to Filipino Cirilo Espino in 2012 and looks to have improved significantly since then. As for Letding he's 0-4 out side of Indonesia and will be looking for his first win on the road.
In another under-card bout we'll see the heavy handed Morihisa Iju (10-2, 8) battle against Masaya Kohama (6-5-1, 3). This bout will be Iju's third of the year, but will see him returning to the ring following a March loss to Ryo Kosaka and it's clear he'll be looking to avoid back-to-back defeats. Despite losing last time time out Iju should be favoured given that Kohama has been stopped in his last 3, with the most recent of those coming last July to Yohei Tobe.
There will also be a small card in the Philippines. The card here is very poor overall but the main event does look interesting as Pedro Taduran (10-1, 7) and Philip Luis Cuerdo (9-3-1, 4) battle for the PBF Minimumweight title in a good looking 10 rounder. Coming in the once beaten Taduran has won his last 4 and has rebuilt well following his first loss however Cuerdo was stopped last time out, whilst leading on the score cards.
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
The first big Japanese show of the month takes place this coming Sunday in Kanagawa and looks set to be a significant one for a number of fighters as well as fans who can tune in on Fuji TV.
The main event of the show sees WBO Super Flyweight champion Naoya Inoue (10-0, 8) defending his title, for the third time, against Thai Petchbarngborn Kokikietgym (38-7-1, 18). For the challenger this will be his most notable fighter to date, and sees him return to Japan for his 6th bout in the country, it will however be his most difficult, and probably most painful. For Inoue the bout is a chance to get back to his most destructive against an opponent who really isn't in his league.
Naoya's little brother Takuma Inoue (7-0, 2) is taking on another serious test as he faces fringe level Filipino fighter Froilan Saludar (23-1-1, 14). Saludar was, once, tipped to be one of the big stars of Filipino boxing but appears to have fallen well short of that mark. A win here for the Filipino would however reignite his career and put him back in the title mix. Inoue is the favourite and will be viewing this bout as a test before a potential world title fight, with the Japanese youngster said to be targeting a Bantamweight title later in the year.
A third Inoue on this card is cousin Koki Inoue (4-0, 3) who looks to continue his impressive start as he takes on Indonesian veteran Heri Andriyanto (22-22-2,10). Inoue will be stepping into his first 8 round bout but we don't expect to see Andriyanto lasting the distance against the aggressive and heavy handed Japanese fighter.
Whilst much of the attention will be on the Inoue family there is however a lot of buzz around the debuting Satoshi Shimizu (0-0), who will be facing off against Korean visitor In Kyoo Lee (3-2, 1). Shimizu won a bronze medal at the 2012 London Olympics. Aged 30 Shimizu's time to progress is relatively short but he's likely to be fast tracked and we could see him facing notable names as early as his next fight
A second Japanese card will be taking place in Osaka, with boxingraise.com showing this one on a 1 day tape delay.
In the main event fans will see the promising Takuya Uehara (9-0, 6) face off against the much more experienced Katsuhiko Kanno (9-9-7, 4). This Kanno has won just 1 of his last 9 bouts, but he has faced stiff competition and held several fighters to a draw, in fact with 7 draws from his 25 fights we can call him a draw expected. Aged 20 Uehara is a really promising fighter but this is a step up in class.
In a supporting bout former Japanese title challenger Masato Morisaki (11-4-1, 6) will be up against Takahiro Murai (13-6-2, 4) in what looks like a relatively even match up between two men each in need of a big win to build towards 2017 on.
Another notable match up here sees 23 year old prospect Kazuaki Miyamoto (1-0, 1) facing off against an Indonesian foe. Not much is known about the “opponent” but Miyamoto is tipped to be a special fighter and a win here will likely result in him moving into 8 round bouts and then building towards a title opportunity in 2017