This coming Sunday is a relatively busy day in Japanese boxing with 3 shows, including Rookie of the Year action, debuts of stand outs, a former champion and several notable Japanese domestic contenders.
City Sogo Gym, Hirakata, Osaka, Japan
The biggest show of the day will be in Hirakata City and be promoted by Green Tsuda, who are putting on a very solid overall card.
The main event will see former Japanese Super Flyweight champion Takayuki Okumoto (23-10-4, 11) take on Sonin Nihei (10-5-2, 2), in the second bout between the two men. Okumoto desperately needs a good performance to get his career back in track, following back to back losses including a big upset defeat to Akui Furatani last year. With that in mind it's probably no surprise to see him facing an opponent he easily beat when he last faced him, in fact in 2016 Okumoto stopped Nihei in just 2 rounds and will be looking to do the same here. Nihei, who was once regarded as a contender himself, is 2-4 in his last 6 and his career certainly seems to be going through a rough patch, meaning this is very smart match making from Okumoto's team.
In the chief support bout the talented and very promising Jinki Maeda (7-0, 4) will be looking to pick up his 8th straight win as he takes on Yuya Azuma (5-5-1, 1). Although this should be a straight forward win for Maeda, who is slowly moving towards a title fight it is worth noting that Azuma is no push over and despite losing his last 2, to very talented fighters. We expect to see Maeda needing to work hard for a victory here, and get plenty of rounds under his belt here.
Also on this card are two notable debuts. One of those is Takafumi Shibata (0-0), who takes on Ryosei Niguma (5-3-1, 3), and the other is Kaito Yamasaki (0-0), who battles Kohei Hamamoto (4-2-1, 3). Both of the debutants will be expected to shine as they kick off their career's in 6 rounders. Shibata fought around 50 times in the amateurs, had about 30 wins and came third in the All Japan championships in 2018. Yamasaki on the other hand had almost 40 bouts, won 24 and shined at the National High School championships.
Ohama Gym, Sakai, Osaka, Japan
A second notable card in Osaka will be taking place in Sakai City, with Mitsuki promoting the event. It's not as big as the Hirakata city show, but there are 3 noteworthy bouts on this show.
The show's opening bout is a 6 rounder between two JBC ranked female fighters as Sarasa Ichimura (3-8-1) takes on Aoi Watanabe (3-4, 1), in the second bout between these two women. Entering this bout both are ranked in the top 10 of their respective divisions, with Ichimura being a Minimumweight and Watanabe being a Flyweight, and Watanabe will be looking to beat Ichimura for the second time this year. Their first bout wasn't particularly exciting, but with both women having JBC rankings the bout is certainly a meaningful one.
Another noteworthy bout here will see two fighters who reached the All Japan Rookie of the Year finals in February facing off. In one corner is the once beaten Seika Fukuda (5-1, 1), who lost to Tsubasa Nari at Super Featherweight, and in the opposite corner will be Eiji Togawa (6-4, 3), who was beaten by Hiromasa Urakawa at Lightweight. Whilst neither man is expected to go far in the sport, this is almost the perfect comeback fight, and should be a very fun one to watch.
The main event will see JBC #2 Flyweight ranked fighter Shun Kosaka (16-7, 4) take on Shota Asami (8-8, 4), in what should be a pretty straight forward win for Kosaka at least on paper. Coming in to this Kosaka has fought at the top level of Japanese domestic boxing and shared the ring with the likes of Takuya Kogawa, Seigo Yuri Akui and Junto Nakatani, sadly however he lost to those 3 men and is now 1-4 in his last 5. Asami is no world beater, and he's 1-3 in his last 4, but he's proven to be very competitive in those losses and is certainly better than his record suggests.
Aioi Hall, Kariya, Aichi, Japan
At the Aioi Hall we'll get the Central Japan Rookie of the Year Finals, with 9 bouts set for this show, from Minimumweight up to Welterweight. There was originally 10 bouts scheduled but the final at 140lbs has been cancelled.
The first really interesting match up on the show comes at Flyweight where 18 year old Yuki Morikawa (1-0-1) risks his unbeaten record against the much more experienced Katsuki Matsuura (6-4-1, 1). Morikawa made his debut back in 2019, with a draw, but looked good in his second bout, this past May, and a win here would move his career onto bigger and better things Matsuura on the other hand is 24 and on paper looks like a handful. It worth noting however that Matsuura is 1-4-1 in his last 6, and has really no momentum at all coming into this bout.
The second bout of real interest to us here us at Bantamweight where Kenta Sugawara (2-1-1, 1) clashes with Takuto Mino (2-0). The 21 year old Mino made his debut last November, and struggled in that bout, but looked solid last time out against Yuto Oki. Mino on the other hand hasn't really had much moment with his career, and was only able to earn a draw last time out, though is more experienced and has been a professional since 2018.
At Super Bantamweight we'll see 30 year old Fumiya Abe (4-2-1, 2) look to bounce back from a 2020 TKO loss to Ren Anzai as he takes on the unbeaten Prince Fujiwara (3-0-1, 2), who impressed us in 2020 with his win against Judgement Aizu. Aged 22 there is real potential for Fujiwara, from the Suruga Danji gym, so we're looking forward to seeing how he performs here.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
This coming Sunday we will see last year's All Japan Rookie of the Year tournament come to an end, ending a tournament that has seen it's final pushed back 2 months, from it's original December date, due to Covid19. Despite the delay the finals are still set to be something special, and will be shown live on G+, though sadly the event will be a fan-less one.
Rather than going through the full card, which will feature 12 bouts in total, we'll just talk about a few that we think will be the most fun to watch, or have the best long term prospects involved.
The first bout we think could be a little bit special is the Super Flyweight bout, which will see Shunpei Kubo (6-1-1, 4) clash with Taichi Sugimoto (6-0-1, 1). To reach this bout Kubo had to upset Kosuke Tomioka in the East Japan final, in what was a genuine surprise, and he'll be flying high here. Despite his loss, suffered in 2019, Kubo has gone 4 fights unbeaten and will feel a huge boost of confidence following the win over the highly fancied Tomioka. Sugimoto on the other hand is a 22 year old who drew his secnd professional bout, but has since bounced back with 5 straight wins, and has shown he's very comfortable with the 4 round distance.
At Super Bantamweight Yuki Yazan (7-2, 4) will battle the unbeaten Sora Fukunaga (8-0, 4) in a really good looking match up. The 29 year old Yazan has won his last 4 and was incredibly active last year, fighting 4 times in 2020. Despite that he did struggle in one of those bouts, but his route to the Rookie of the Year final did look rather easy, as he barely lost a round in his 3 Rookie bouts. Fukunaga on the other hand is 23 years old, has stopped 4 of his last 5 though did struggle against Ren Nishimura in November, and it's clear that if he can't take opponents out he might be well struggle.
In the Super Featherweight bout the heavy handed Tsubasa Narai (6-0, 5) will take on fellow unbeaten fighter Seika Fukuda (5-0, 1). The 21 year old Narai has been really impressive in the Rookie of the Year, reaching the all Japan final with 3 straight stoppage wins, and it's clear he'll enter with the confidence of a man in great form and self belief. Fukuda on the other hand is a 21 year old non puncher. Despite not having much in terms of power Fukuda looked very good last time out, and, as an unbeaten fighter himself, will also be full of confidence. This should be a very interesting match up.
Another match up pitting unbeaten men against each other will see Eiki Kani (3-0-2, 1) take on Katsuhiro Nakata (5-0, 4). The 19 year old Kani reached the final following a brilliant 4 round bout with Kenji Yoshino, and he has shown an aggressive, exciting style, but it looks like he can be hurt. At 19 he is still a kid, but he has a very, very fan friendly style and will mature into a better fighter in the years to come. Nakata on the other hand is 29 years old and is an out and out puncher, with 4 stoppages in his 5 career bouts. If Kani gets into a fire fight he could be in trouble but his tenacity could be a problem for Nakata, and this could be a very, very explosive match up.