Suntopia, Soja, Okayama, Japan
This coming Sunday the focus of boxing in Asia is on Okayama as we get a notable Japanese title fight, featuring someone who seems well on the way to getting a world title fight sooner rather than later.
The title bout will see hard hitting Japanese Flyweight champion Seigo Yuri Akui (16-2-1, 11) look to record his third defense of the title as he takes on Japanese veteran Takuya Kogawa (32-6-1, 14). Kogawa, a multi-time Japanese champion and a former world title challenger, has long been an amazing servant to Japanese boxing, and has been one of the best Japanese warriors to watch for close to 20 years, but in recent years he has slowed down and his career has shown signs of catching up with him, as we saw in 2019 against Jayr Raquinel. Akui on the other hand has proven to be something of a destructive freak, with 9 opening round wins out of 11 stoppages. Although incredibly dangerous early on he did prove his power carries to the later rounds last year, when he stopped the touted Taku Kuwahara in 10 rounds. A prime Kogawa would have been a very good test for Akui, but the 36 year old version of Kogawa could be in for a very rough night here. Our in depth preview of this bout can be read here Akui takes on veteran Kogawa in Japanese title defense
Sadly the under-card here is very weak, with the most notable bout on the under-card bout being a contest between Yasuhiro Kanzaki (6-2-1, 2) and Yudai Yoneda (4-3, 2), two 21 year olds. Of the two men Kanzaki is the more proven, and impressed in reaching the All Japan Rookie of the Year, he will know that Yoneda will be there to win, and will be looking to boost his career on a pretty notable card, at least by Okayama's standards.
Holywings Club, Gatot Subroto, Jakarta, Indonesia
The Japanese show isn't the only notable one this Sunday, as we also get a notable Indonesian card, thanks to Armin Tan and Probellum. The card won't get much international attention, but has several fighters of note on it.
The main event will feature a very interesting match up, as WBC International Light Flyweight champion Tibo Monabesa (21-1-2, 8) takes on unbeaten Filipino Jayson Vayson (9-0-1, 5), with Monabesa looking to make his first defense of the title which he won last April. The talented Monabesa has only lost once, losing in 4 rounds to Hiroto Kyoguchi in 2018, and has scored wins over solid opponents since then, including Toto Landero and Samartlek Kokietgym. As for Vayson he's not yet scored a win of note, but does hold a very notable draw against current world champion Rene Mark Cuarto, and will be looking to build on that standout result here.
Another notable bout on this card will see the once touted Defry Palulu (23-2-1, 14) take on Thai veteran Aekkawee Kaewmanee (24-14, 12). At one point in time Palulu was regarded as one of the emerging forces of Indonesian boxing, but a loss in 2014 to AJ Banal exposed him, and he's never really got close to reaching the heights expected of him since then. Now aged 31 it feels like father time has defeated Palulu. As for Kaewmanee, also known as Patomsith Pathompothong, he has been around, for a long time now, and aged 40 it's hard to imagine him having anything in the tank to even make this mildly interesting.
Karapapag Sport Hall, Baku, Azerbaijan
As well as the show in Japan and the one in Indonesia, there will also be a very, very low key show in Azerbaijan.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
This coming Tuesday we get the next card from the Ohashi Gym and it's a brilliant with 4 bouts worthy of real attention, including a Japanese title bout, and bouts featuring several exciting and talented prospects.
We'll start with some of those prospects, including the brilliant Toshiya Ishii (3-1, 2) who looks to bounce back from a close 2020 loss to Sho Ishida. The talented, aggressive and and heavy handed Ishii will be up against the flawed but hard hitting Jin Minamide (4-1, 3) in a bout that has the makings of a genuine shoot out. Ishii is the better boxer, the more rounded fighter, but also the man who will be looking to prove a point given his loss to Ishida. Minamide on the other hand is the bigger puncher, and a nasty at that, but also a man who hasn't fought since November 2019, when he lost to Kazuki Nakajima, and we need to wonder what sort of ring rust he'll be bringing into this fight.
Another excellent match up between youngsters will see the touted Kosuke Tomioka (4-1, 3) battle against the often over-looked Suzumi Takayama (3-0, 3). For Tomioka this is his first bout since being stopped in the Rookie of the Year in December by Shunpei Kubo, and he'll know he can't afford to get caught against here. Takayama on the other hand has really seen his career hit a brick wall following an excellent win over Tetsuro Ohashi in October 2019, a win that saw him win the Japanese Youth Super Flyweight title. If Takayama is as good as he looked in 2019 he should be favoured here, but after almost 2 years out of the ring we do wonder what he'll look like here in this match up. We need to give Tomioka credit for jumping in with someone as dangerous as Takayama following his recent loss, however we suspect thus will be another defeat for the teenager.
One bout that could easily go over-looked on this card is a contest between the unbeaten Masayoshi Hashizume (17-0-2, 10) and the often over-looked Yoshiki Minato (9-4, 4). The 27 year old Hashizume has long been earmarked as a promising fighter, and did win the Rookie of the Year, way back in 2014, but has never managed to deliver on that promise. Interestingly this will be Hashizume's first bout since joining the Ohashi Gym, and it's going to be really interesting to see if the moves helps to kick start his career. As for Minato he's looking to bounce back from a loss to Taku Kuwahara earlier this year, and although he's now 1-3 in his last 4 he shouldn't be written off, he is talented, he's tough and he'll be in to win here. This should be a very interesting, high level boxing contest and we are not anticipating a stoppage either way.
The main event of the card is a genuinely mouth watering match up as the heavy handed Seigo Yuri Akui (15-2-1, 10) looks to defend his Japanese Flyweight title against the aforementioned Taku Kuwahara (8-0, 4). For Akui this will be his second defense, and he will be looking to build on a solid 10 round decision win over Seiya Fujikita back in October 2020, in his only defense of the title. That win was the first time Akui had gone 10 rounds and showed there was more to him than just his heavy hands and his fast starts. Kuwahara on the other hand is one of the most unheralded prospects in Japan, but he seems to be a fighter who has the potential to be something very, very special. This is the first time Kuwahara has been in with a real puncher, but if he can take Akui's power he could well answer one of the few questions that remain about him. Although neither man is a star the winner of this should be just a fight or two from a world title bout. Our preview for this bout can be read here Akui and Kuwahara battle for Japanese Flyweight crown!
Amakusa Park Gym, Asakuchi, Okayama, Japan
This coming Sunday isn't set to be a big day in Asian boxing, but it should be an interesting day for fight fans in Okayama thanks to Kurashiki Moriyasu who puts on a show featuring a Japanese champion and interesting looking main support bout.
The champion in question is Japanese Flyweight champion Seigo Yuri Akui (15-2-1, 10) who will be taking part in an 8 round non-title bout, as he takes on Yuto Nakamura (11-6-1, 8) in a Super Flyweight bout. The hard hitting Akui won the Japanese title in 2019 and recorded his first defense last year. Sadly Covid19 restrictions have made it difficult for him to secure a second title defense, and rather than face an over matched challenger he's dipping his toes in a new weight classes, and potentially leaving the door open to becoming a 2-weight Japanese champion in the future.
Whilst the focus here will be on Akui it is worth noting that Nakamura is no push over. In fact the 24 year old from Mie Prefecture is a former Japanese Youth Super Flyweight who has lost just one of his last 5 bouts, and that was a frankly ridiculous match up against Super Bantamweight Ryo Akaho. Nakamura will know that if he wins here he will open the door to a potential title fight of his own at 115lbs and will come into this hungry to make a statement. He will, however, have to be wary about the explosive power of Akui. If he can avoid getting blown out early he might have the size and strength to test the naturally smaller man.
In a solid looking supporting bout we'll see Kenya Okada (5-2-1, 3) take on Sho Omote (8-2, 3) in a 6 rounder. The 25 year old Okada has struggled for momentum, and is 2-2-1 in his last 5, after winning his first 3 bouts. Sadly for him his record is rather padded and he's yet to beat a fighter with a winning record. Omote on the other hand has shown some real promise, and won Rookie of the Year in 2019, beating the then 7-1 Kosuke Ando in the All Japan final. Despite his Rookie of the Year triumph Omote did lose last time out, in a notable upset against Shota Asami in November. On paper it's fair to feel that Omote should be the big favourite, however Okada is the naturally bigger man, and he will be looking to use that advantage here against the talented, but small, Omote.
Alcantara, Cebu, Philippines
As well as the action in Japan we are also looking forward to a show from the Philippines promoted by ARQ promotions, set up by Jason and Eva Mari Arquisola. The show was originally planned for March but delayed due to the ongoing situation.
The full line up hasn't been confirmed at the time of writing, though the main event is known to feature highly skilled Filipino youngster April Jay Abne (5-0, 2) risking his unbeaten record against Royder Lloyd Borbon (6-9-1, 6). On paper this shouldn't be too much of a test for Abne, however having been out for well over a year we're just glad to see Abne back in the ring and restart his journey to through the sport. He really is one of the most talented Filipino fighters out there, and a true joy to watch.
Others on this card will include Ian Abne (1-0, 1), Christopher Caburog (1-0), and Maurino Agum (2-0, 1) in what looks likely to be a showcase of young novices.
Amakusa Park Gym, Asakuchi, Okayama, Japan
This coming Sunday we get a small card from Okayama, headlined by a Japanese title fight and featuring just a single interesting support bout. Despite there not being much depth here that card will be an interesting one, and will be shown, on delay, on Boxing Raise.
The main event will see Japanese Flyweight champion Seigo Yuri Akui (14-2-1, 10) defending his title against mandatory challenger Seiya Fujikita (13-4, 6), who earned his mandatory position by essentially making weight last year.
Originally Fujikita was supposed to face Ryota Yamauchi in an eliminator last year, but Yamauchi was unable to fight due to an injury and Fujikita had to make weight to essentially get a title shot by default, as part of the Champion Carnival.
Whilst Fujitkita getting the bout is odd it is worth noting that this will be Akui's first defense of the title that he won last year, when he blew out Shun Kosaka. A win for Akui will move him towards bigger and better bouts. He's certainly the favourite, and is an incredibly quick starter, but Fujikita is tough, rugged and could make this a very, very interesting bout, if he can survive the first round blitz! Our full preview of this bout can be read here Akui clashes with Fujikita in Champion Carnival bout!
In the one supporting bout of note we'll see the once beaten Kenya Okada (5-1-1, 3) take on the more experienced Daisuke Sudo (6-6-3). Okada has rebuilt well since his 2018 loss to Yoshiki Minato, but is still lacking a win of note. In Sudo we see Okada in a step up of sorts, though Sudo is certainly no stand out. We're expecting a win for Okada here, but it is, legitimately his toughest bout since he lost to Minato more than 2 years ago.
This coming Sunday isn't a particularly busy day in Asian boxing but there is a fight of note taking place in Okayama, which is worthy of attention.
The bout in question will see the destructive Seigo Yuri Akui (13-2-1, 9) battle against Shun Kosaka (16-5, 4) in a bout for the vacant Japanese Flyweight title. The title was vacated earlier this year by Junto Nakatani, who has beaten both men involved in this bout, giving us a very interesting Japanese title scene at 112lbs. Of the two involved Akui is certainly the more fun to watch, especially early on, but with 2 stoppages against his name there is a feeling that he can be broken down and stopped. Kosaka also has a couple of stoppage losses but the first of those came more 4 years ago, to Tetsuya Hisada, whilst the other came in an OPBF title fight with Jayr Raquinel. Expect this to be a tough and hard bout, for both men. A full preview of this bout is available to read here Akui and Kosaka to fight for Japanese title!
There's plenty of action set to take place this coming Sunday, even if the quality of that action isn't the best.
For us the most notable card of the day takes place in Okayama, and will be available on demand on Boxing Raise.
The main event of the card will see the talented pairing of Seigo Yuri Akui (12-2-1, 8) and Yoshiki Minato (8-1, 3) meet in a brilliantly matched bout. We like Akui a lot, he's fun to watch, hard hitting and aggressive, but has been stopped in 2 of his last 3, and is certainly not an unbeatable fighter despite having real sting on his punches. Akui has already had success, winning the 2015 Rookie of the Year, and picked up solid wins over Kenji Ono, Ryuto Oho and Masamichi Yabuki, but he really cannot afford another loss at this point. Minato is less well known, but is riding a 4 fight winning run, which lead him to winning the 2018 Rookie of the Year. This could end up being the bout of the day.
Another potential contender for the bout of the day will see Japanese Youth Bantamweight champion Tetsu Araki (13-1-1, 2) make his first defense, and take on the unbeaten Atsushi Takada (6-0-3, 3), in what we're expecting will be a technical war. Neither of these guys is a huge puncher, but both are talented, skilled youngsters each looking to make their name. We're expecting a very, very good fight here. A full preview of this bout can be read here Araki and Takada battle for Youth Crown!
A second Japanese show comes from Gifu, where we'll see a rising hopeful take on a recent OPBF title challenger, looking to get his career back on track. Coming in both men need a win.
The match up will see 20 year old Ruito Saeki (7-2, 1) take on Shingo Kawamura (16-5-1, 8). Saeki was last seen in October, losing to former Japanese Featherweight champion Takenori Ohashi. That losses ended a 4 fight winning run for Saeki, who's other loss came in the 2016 West Japan Rookie of the Year final. Kawamura on the other hand has been stopped in his last 2 bouts, coming up short to Satoshi Shimizu in an OPBF title fight and Reiya Abe. For Kawamura this really is a must win, with a third straight loss likely ending his hopes of getting another major any time soon. For Saeki this is a great chance to get his career back on track a hiccup last time out. A very interesting bout.
Seoul, South Korea
Staying in Asia we also get a title double header from Korea, though if we're being totally honest neither looks to be an amazing match up despite national titles being on the line.
One of the title bouts will see Doo Hyup Kim (10-6-2, 5) make his second defense of the KBM Korean Light Middleweight title, as he takes on unbeaten foe Tae Yun Baek (3-0-1, 1). The 38 year old Kim won the title last year, when he over-came Boo Hyun Baek, but was lucky in his first defense, when he retained with a defense against Kun Woo Kang. Baek , the 27 year old challenger, has never been scheduled for more than 6 rounds, so this is a massive step up in class, but he will go in with the confidence of an unbeaten fighter.
The other title clash will be for the vacant KBM Korean Super Bantamweight title and will pit the unbeaten Han Bin Suh (3-0-2, 2) against Dae Young Lee (2-9-2). The unbeaten fighter is a 19 year old hopeful, who has drawn his last 2, and never featured in a bout longer than 6 rounds. Lee, who has won just 2 of 13 fights, is 40 years old and is 1-6-2 in his last 9. It's hard to say anything positive about this bout.
Eastern Cape, South Africa
It's sad to say that ALA have had a quiet year, the once dominant force in Filipino boxing has all but vanished this year with nothing major having happened, and not on the visible horizon. Their one highlight for the coming weeks will see former world title challenger Jonas Sultan (15-4, 9) travel to South Africa to take on Athenkosi Dumezweni (11-2, 8) in a bout for the WBC silver Super Flyweight title. Sultan is a real talent, one of many talented fighters under the ALA banner, but he's not very exiting and his last 3 bouts, including a loss to Jerwin Ancajas, haven't left great lasting memories. It's alays been hard to pick up a win in South Africa and given Sultan's recent performances he may not do enough to impress the local judges here. Dumezweni doesn't appear to be the next hidden gem of South African boxing, but he can hit and will be strongly supported here.
This coming Sunday we'll see two Japanese shows. Neither are particularly deep though both have significant main events.
On paper the slightly more significant card is in Yamaguchi, as we get a Japanese title eliminator and a noteworthy support bout.
The title eliminator is at Lightweight as 33 year old Accel Sumiyoshi (11-4-2, 3) takes on 28 year old Tatsuya Yanagi (15-5-1, 6) in a bout to decide who will go on to challenge for the Japanese title at the Champion Carnival next year. Of the two men Sumiyoshi is the more proven fighter, having challenged for the OPBF title in 2015 and scoring notable wins over the likes of Allan Tanada, Naotoshi Nakatani, Motoki Sasaki and Shogo Yamaguchi. In fact at the moment Sumiyoshi is riding an 8 fight unbeaten run following his loss in his OPBF title fight. Yanagi on the other hasn't fought for a title recognised by the JBC, but did come up short against Jhertiz Chavez in a bout for a minor regional title. Coming in to this Yanagi has won his last 3, but hasn't really shone in those wins. It's also worth noting that this will be the third meeting between these two men, with Sumioyoshi leading the series 1-0-1. A preview of this bout can be read here - Sumiyoshi and Yanagi finish off trilogy in Japanese eliminator!
The other bout of note on this card will see Change Hamashima (10-3-1, 4) take on the JBC ranked Masaharu Kaito (6-2, 2). The 22 year old Hamashima has lost 3 of his last 5, but 2 of those came to the very talented Kudura Kaneko and even in those losses he didn't embarrass himself against a very solid puncher. Interestingly Kaito is 2-2 in his last 4, with one of his losses coming to Kaneko as well, but his last outing was a huge win last October over Ryota Toyoshima. Sadly Kaito has been out of action for a little over a year, and that ring rust could be an issue here against Hamashima.
The other show will take place in Okayama and it's only the main event worthy of any attention at all.
That main event will see the fun to watch Japanese Flyweight Seigo Yuri Akui (12-1-1, 8) take on world ranked Filipino Jaysever Abcede (17-8, 11). We've been impressed with Akui, who won the Rookie of the Year crown in 2015 and has since gone 6-1 (6) with 5 opening round stoppages including big domestic wins over Kenji Ono and Masamichi Yabuki. Although beatable, as we saw when Junto Nakatani stopped him last year, Akui is very dangerous. The visitor from the Philippines has had a reputation for being limited, but scored a huge knockout win in Thailand over Stamp Kiatniwat in May and claimed a WBA ranking as a result. We're expecting something explosive here!
This coming Sunday fight fans in Japan get 3 different shows across the country. On paper the most notable of those is from Okinawa, where fans will get three title fights and several notable fighters from recent Rookie of the Year competitions.
The main event of the card will see hard hitting Ryoya Ikema (12-4, 11) take on fellow puncher Mongkol Kamsommat (6-2, 5) in a bout for the WBC Youth Light Flyweight title. The 20 year old Ikema had a 2017 to forget, with losses to Koki Ono and Ryoki Hirai, but will feel confident of claiming his first title here as he takes on an opponent who has been stopped in both of his losses. The Thai however will fancy his chances to make a name for himself and will be coming in to this on the back of 4 straight wins.
A second title fight on this card will see Yuko Henzan (5-6-4, 2) battle Phannaluk Kongsang (3-4-1, 2) for the OPBF female Bantamweight title, in a less than great looking bout which will actually be a rematch from a bout back in November. When these two first fought, in the Philippines, they fought to an 8 round draw, and given how competitive that bout was we're expecting another close one here, but it's unlikely to be a high quality match up.
A really mouth watering bout will see Tatsuro Nakashima (7-0-1, 5) face off with Kai Ishizawa (3-0, 3) in a bout for the Japanese Youth Minimumweight title. Nakashima got all the way to the 2017 Rookie of the Year West final, where he fought to a draw with Yuga Inoue, and certainly looks like a talented youngster with power and ambition. As for Ishizawa he was a pretty solid amateur, going 28-14, and turning professional with a B class license. Since turning professional last June Ishizawa has looked sensational, and the 21 year old will be looking to continue to demonstrate his brutal power, which has seen him stop his first 3 foes in a combined 5 rounds. This could be a very explosive and exciting match up.
Other fighters of note on this card are 2016 Light Welterweight Rookie of year winner Ukyo Yoshigai (5-2, 4) and 2017 winner Marcus Smith (4-0-1, 4), though both men are up against relatively weak opponents and not each other, in what would have been a genuinely notable bout.
In Okyama we'll be able to see two really interesting match ups on the Japanese domestic scene, despite neither fight being a hugely significant one, for now.
The more interesting of those two bouts will see talented 22 year old Seigo Yuri Akui (11-1-1, 7) return to the ring since his first loss, to Junto Nakatani, and battle against the heavy handed Masamichi Yabuki (6-1, 6). The promising Akui was looking like a star in the making before running into the naturally bigger Nakatani last August and simply being out power by his foe. As for Yabuki he's a big puncher who lost in the 2016 Rookie of the year final, with that loss also coming to Junto Nakatani. It's clear both men will be looking for a statement win here, and a chance to work their way towards a rematch with Nakatani. This could be very exciting with both men having hands, and both looking to push themselves to a bigger and better fight.
The other bout of note on this card will see Kota Fujimoto (7-2-1, 2) battle against Shunji Nagata (11-16-2, 3). Coming in to this Fujimoto is ranked by the OPBF, and will be favoured here, but Nagata could be a banana skin, and certainly not be there to roll over though will be giving away significant size to Fujimoto.
At the L-Theatre in Osaka fans will get a relatively notable card featuring several fighters with some form of ranking, and 3 bouts worthy of some note.
The main event will see OPBF ranked Super Flyweight Kenji Kihisa (8-3, 5) take on WBO Asia Pacific ranked fighter Shota Kawaguchi (21-9-1, 9). Coming in to this Kihisa is on a 3 fight stoppage run, including a career best win over Futa Akizuki which pushed him into the OPBF rankings. If we remove the run from Kihisa he doesn't have much else on his record, but the 27 year old does look like he is hitting his stride now. Kawaguchi is a former WBO Asia Pacific “Interim” champion, but has gone 4-5 in his last 9, including a stoppage last time out to Ryuichu Funai in a Japanese title fight. Kawaguchi needs a win to remain relevant whilst a victory for Kihisa will put him into the title mix, a really key bout at this regional level.
In a supporting bout fans will see OPBF ranked Super Flyweight Tatsuya Ikemizu (17-2, 7) take on Naoto Fujimoto (9-8-1, 4). The 25 year old Ikemizu has rebuilt well from losses to Mark John Yap and Jonas Sultan, scoring 4 straight wins, but this bout is a step up from the 4 Thai's he has faced over the last 18 months. Although a step up for Ikemizu from recent bouts, it's hard to imagine Fujimoto providing any sort of real test for the 2013 Rookie of the Year winner.
One other bout of note on this card will see Noboru Osato (8-6-4, 1) take on Takuya Yamamoto (8-8, 4) in a bout that both men really need to win. Osata has gone 3-3-1 in his last 7, including a close loss to Yuki String Kobayashi last time out, and really needs a win to give his career any sort of momentum. As for Yamamoto he has lost his last 2, including a 109 second blow out loss to Satoshi Shimizu, and has gone 2-5 in his last 7, showing just how much he needs another win.
For a second day running we get a show dedicated to the Japanese Youth Tournament, with 3 finals and two semi finals taking place on a show that really looks brilliant on paper in regards to even match ups, even if the card lacks bit name appeal.
On paper the best of the bouts is the Flyweight final, which pits two unbeaten punchers against each other in a real humdinger. In one corner is 2016 Flyweight Rookie of the year Junto Nakatani (12-0, 9), who had to answer real questions last time out against Yuma Kudo in his semi-final bout. In the opposite corner is 2015 Light Flyweight Rookie of the year Seigo Yuri Akui (11-0-1, 7), who enters on the back of 5 stoppage wins including a huge one over Kenji Ono and a solid showing in his semi final against Ryuto Oho. This has the potential to be the best bout of the whole Youth Tournament and is a really tough one to call.
At Super Bantamweight we're expecting a full on shoot out as 21 year old Ryota Ishida (8-1, 6) takes on 22 year old Takuya Mizuno (11-1-1,11). Ishida has stopped his last 3, and hasn't seen the final bell since he was fighting in 4 rounders, more than 2 years ago. Mizuno has stopped his last 4 foes, and has shown power through out fights with stoppages in rounds every round from 1 to 6. This promises to be be a hard hitting bout, and although we favour Mizuno, it could go either way, and should be a real treat.
On paper the worst of the finals is at Bantamweight, where the recently beaten pairing of Wataru Takeda (10-1-1, 4) and Yuto Nakamura (7-3, 6) face off. Takeda was beaten last October, just 2 fights back, by Ryohei Takakhashi after claiming the 2015 Rookie of the year, and although he has shown some signs of being a real prospect there are still a lot of questions left for him to answer. Although beaten 3 times Nakamura has never been outclassed, with all 3 losses being razor thin ones and he will be in there looking to make a statement. This looks like the worst of the finals for the day, but should still deliver a great contest.
At Light Welterweight we get two semi-final bouts. One of those will see the once beaten Ukyo Yoshigai (5-1, 4) take on Andy Hiraoka (9-0, 6) in a really interesting contest. Yoshigai, who won the 2016 Rookie of the year, was beaten back in April by Giraffe Kirin Kanda, but that loss will have helped his development. Hiraoka on the other hand has looked great in recent bouts, but has only fought 10 rounds since the end of 2014, and it's hard to know how good he really is, even if he does pass the eye test with ease.
The other bout looks like a potential fire fight as Hayato Ono (5-1, 5) battles Takahiko Kobayashi (6-2, 5). Between the two men they have heard the final bell just once, in what was Kobayashi's most recent bout. Ono will see this as a potential chance to set up a rematch with Yoshigai, the only man to have beaten him, whilst Kobayashi will be looking to avenge a 2016 loss to Ono, in which he was stopped in the 5th round. There's history here, two punchers, and two men who have questionable durability. With this one the best advice is don't blink!
One of the biggest changes to the Japanese domestic scene in 2017 is the development of the new Youth Tournament, aimed at those who have progressed beyond Rookie status but aren't yet ready for Japanese title fights. The tournament has it's semi finals this coming Tuesday in a second successive day of Dangan cards.
The lowest weight being competed at is Flyweight, and we get two really good semi-finals. One of those will see the unbeaten Seigo Yuri Akui (10-0-1, 6) battle against the light punching Ryuto Oho (9-3-1, 2). The bout looks like one where Akui will be favoured but this is a really creditable test and Oho won't be turning up to pick up a loss, especially after having lost last time out to Yuta Matsuo.
The other Semi final at Flyweight will see 2016 Rookie of the Year Junto Nakatani (11-0, 9) take on the light hitting Yuma Kudo (6-2-2, 1). On paper this looks like a mismatch in favour of the unbeaten puncher but Kudo has never been stopped and will likely be looking to break Nakatani mentality by simply not going away. This could be a very interesting test for both men.
At Super Flyweight we'll see the exciting Kenya Yamashita (9-3, 6) take on the once beaten Naoto Iwai (3-1, 1). The bout will be Yamashita's first since changing gyms earlier this year and will be Iwai's first since losing his unbeaten record, also earlier this year. This bout really has the look of being something a bit special with Yamashita being a brawler with an exciting style and Iwai being a more pure boxer type, giving a good stylistic combination, and both will be very hungry for a win.
The next division with a semi-final bout will be Featherweight, where Retsu Kosaka (7-2, 2) will take on novice Ryo Sagawa (1-0, 1). Looking at the records alone suggests that this will be a mismatch in favour of Kosaka, but he has lost his last 2 bouts and last scored a win a year ago, against a poor Thai import. Segawa on the other hand looked great on debut last December and is tipped as a real diamond in the rough, which he'll be looking to prove here.
The Super Featherweight semi final will see Sho Nagata (7-2, 2) face off with the heavy handed Ryusei Ishii (6-3, 4). Although Nagata has the better looking record he has had a few very close wins, including his last 2 bouts, and could consider himself lucky to have the record he currently has. Ishii is the bigger puncher but we have seen him being stopped. With both men having limitations it's fair to say that this may actually be the most interesting bout, despite the less than great records of the two men involved.