Alamodome, San Antonio, Texas, USA
The most notably bout with an Asian fighter in this weekend comes from the US where WBC Featherweight champion Mark Magsayo (24-0, 16) takes on mandatory challenger Rey Vargas (35-0, 22). For Magsayo the bout will be his first defense, following his upset win against Gary Russell Jr earlier this year, and he'll obviously be wanting to hand over the title so soon after winning it, however he is in with a really awkward, tough and talented challenger. Of the two men Vargas is the more skilled, the more natural boxer, and the one who has the more proven resume, however this is only his second bout since coming back to the sport following a broken leg, and if Magsayo is going to beat him, this is probably the best time to face him. Whilst Vargas is the more talented it's fair to say that Magsayo has shown a real will to win in recent bouts, and he has dug deep in wins over Rigoberto Hermosillo and Julio Ceja, and it's hard to ever write him off after the win over Ceja. Our in depth preview of this bout can be read here Magsayo faces Vargas in first defense of WBC title
O2 Arena, Greenwich, London, United Kingdom
Staying outside of Asia for a little longer, we're also set to see the rematch between Israil Madrimov (8-0, 6) and Michel Soro (35-3-1, 24), who had a very controversial bout last year, with Madimov stopping Soro after the bell to end round 9. The bout, a WBA world title eliminator at 154lbs, left a sour taste and rather than letting the controversy stand the two men arranged this rematch, which actually serves both men well given the current state of the division. For Soro the bout is a chance to avenge his loss, and move towards another world title fight which given he's now 34 would likely be his last major bout. As for Madrimov the bout gives him a chance to get some more valuable rounds behind him, and if he wins he will be better prepared to face the top men in the division, though we suspect he would still be the clear under-dog against Jermell Charlo.
Esforta Arena Hachioji, Hachioji, Tokyo, Japan
In Japan we have the next show from Hachioji Nakaya Gym. The show isn't a huge one, but does have 3 very solid domestic type bouts on it.
The main event will see the hard hitting Jin Sasaki (12-1, 11) take on 2021 All Japan Rookie of the Year Kotaro Sekine (3-0, 3) in a very exciting 8 rounder. For Sasaki, who is one of the most fan friendly fighters in Japan, the bout will be his second since losing to Andy Hiraoka in a Japanese and WBO Asia Pacific title fight in October, and he will know the pressure is on him to perform in front of local fans in his home town of Hachioji. As for Sekine this is a massive step for a man who has only had 5 career rounds, but a win here would boost his standing in the sport, and move to within touching distance of a title fight. We do not expect this one to last long, but do expect a lot of fireworks.
On the subject of title bouts, the card has one of those as Hyoga Taniguchi (5-3-2, 1) clashes with Seika Fukuda (6-3, 1) for the Japanese Youth Super Featherweight title. Unlike the main event, neither of these men are big punchers, but the two youngsters are exciting, they like to throw a lot, and in many ways it feels like the styles should gel to give us a very, very fun action fight. Taniguchi will be the favourite, as like Sasaki he's from Hachioji City, but Fukuda will not be looking to make up the numbers and will be a very, very live under-dog. Our preview of this bout can be read here Taniguchi and Fukuda battle for Youth title
One other bout of note on this card is the rubber match between Yuni Takada (8-8-3, 3) and Shunsuke Isa (9-4-1, 1), who have had two incredibly close bouts in recent years. The first of those saw Takada pick up a close unanimous decision in 2019 with Isa beating Takada by split decision last year, to win the Japanese Youth Minimumweight title. Given how close and competitive their previous meetings were we expect another hotly contested bout here between two exciting, speedy and aggressive fighters.
House of Warriors Boxing Academy, New Delhi, India
Also in Asia will be a small card in India. Sadly the most notable bouts on this card are very, very clear mismatches.
One of those mismatches will see rising Indian hopeful Shiva (14-3-1, 7) battle against 21 year old novice Arun Sharma (3-4, 3). Coming into this Sharma has lost his last 3 bouts, including one in June, and he is clearly up against it here. Shiva on the other hand is unbeaten in his last 9, going 8-0-1, and should be too skilled, too experienced and too good for his foe.
The other notable mismatch will see unbeaten 24 year old Mahesh (7-0, 5) take on struggling 17 year old Sumit Kumar (1-2) in a 6 rounder. Mahesh might not be a world beater, but he's one of the more promising Indian fighters, and this looks like a bit of record padding for him here, though Kumar has never been stopped and may be able to take Mahesh a few rounds here.
Tokiwa Arena, Kobe, Hyogo, Japan
The bigger of two shows this coming Sunday comes from Kobe thanks to Senrima Kobe promotions. The card isn't a huge one, but does have a Japanese Youth title fight, as well as two relatively interesting lower level domestic fights.
The title fight will see Seira Kishida (5-1-2, 2) face off with Seika Fukuda (6-2, 1) for the vacant Japanese Youth Super Featherweight title. Aged 23 Kishida is the slightly older fight, and the mall taller one, standing just under 6 foot, and also the one bringing some momentum into the bout having gone unbeaten since losing in December 2018, running off a 4-0-2 run since then. As for Fukuda, who's 22, he's lost 2 of his last 3, though one of those was in the All Japan Rookie of the Year final in February 2021 to Tsubasa Narai. He'll go in with little momentum, but has gone 8 rounds, which Kishida hasn't and that could play a major role in this bout. Our in depth preview of this bout can be read here Kishida and Fukuda clash for Youth title
In the chief support bout Sho Omote (9-3, 3) will take on JBC ranked Flyweight Shun Kosaka (16-8, 4). The 27 year old Omote will know this is a chance for him to crash into the rankings, but with 2 losses in his last 3 he hasn't much momentum coming in to this, though did show his ability in 2019 and clearly has got potential to move towards a Japanese title fight in the next few years. Kosaka on the other hand has really struggled recently and is 1-5 in his last 6, with his only win in that run being a razor thin one against Shunji Nagata in 2019. Whilst Omote has no momentum, it's hard to imagine Kosaka has any confidence.
The main event of the card will see Japanese and WBO Asia Pacific ranked Super Flyweight Hiroki Tokuyama (11-3-1, 2) take on JBC 2 ranked Flyweight Keisuke Iwasaki (6-3-2, 2), in a bout at Super Flyweight. This should be on where Tokuyama is favoured, given the bout is at his weight and he is the local fighter, however it's certainly not a foregone conclusion and he has lost 2 of his last 4, and has struggled with the 8 round distance, even in bouts he has won over that distance. As for Iwasaki he comes into this on the back of a good win over Shota Asami last year, and also holds very solid wins over Ryuku Nakamine and Mammoth Kazunori, and whilst he is the smaller man, he has regularly fought at 115lbs and could end up having the tools to over-come Tokuyama here in a very matched bout.
Barangay Ligaya Gymnasium, General Santos City, Cotabato del Sur, Philippines
As well as the action in Japan we also have a small card in the Philippines. Sadly at the time of writing, the show hasn't yet had the B-sides announced, and even the A-sides aren't hugely appealing, though it's obvious they are being matched to pick up easy wins.
One of the A sides is veteran Ernie Sanchez (19-17-2, 10), who has genuinely faced a who's who of the sport over the years. In his 39 fight career he has faced the likes of Rey Vargas, Sergey Lipinets, Oscar Valdez, Masayuki Ito, and Evgeny Chuprakov. Sadly Sanchez has been struggling for victories in recent years, and comes into this with a 0-5-1 record in his last 6, so it's perhaps fair for his team to try and get him an easy win here.
One of the other A sides of note is young puncher Ken Jordan (9-1-2, 8) who seemed to be rebuilding well following a 2017 loss to Jimboy Haya. Sadly his rebuilding hit a wall at the start of the pandemic, and he's not fought since stopping touted Japanese fighter Tulio Dekanarudo in December 2019, which is a genuine shame, as that was the sort of win that should have served as a platform for his career taking off. Aged just 24, time is on his side, but it's still a huge shame that he has lost 2 years of his career.
Sambo Hall, Kobe, Hyogo, Japan
The main Asian card this coming Saturday comes from Hyogo where Shinsei Gym will be putting on a small, but solid, card.
The main event of the show will see Yuga Inoue (11-2-1, 2) and Aoba Mori (7-2-1, 1) battle for the vacant Japanese Youth Flyweight title. Of the two men Inoue is certainly the more well known, having won the 2017 All Japan Rookie of the Year, gave Kai Ishizawa fits in their 2018 Youth title bouts, and has some solid domestic level wins. He's a very talented youngster, and he has the potential to mix at the higher domestic levels over the coming years, but is still a fighter who is developing and is a long way from being the finished product. Mori made his debut in 2017 and despite some mixed results has shown plenty of potential. Aged 21 he's also a man who is far from the finished product, but to date he has shown less overall ability than Inoue and this is a clear step up for him here. Yuga Inoue clashes with Aoba Mori for Youth title
In a support bout bout we'll see the out of form Shohei Kawashima (18-5-2, 4) take on the once beaten Takeshi Takehara (6-1, 1). The talented Kawashima started his career by going unbeaten in his first 16 bouts before losing a very competitive decision to former world champion Cristian Mijares. Sadly since losing to Mijares we've seen Kawashima struggle to string together good results, going 4-4 since loss, including KO losses to Hiroaki Teshigawara and Shingo Wake, leaving him in desperate need for a win. Takehara on the other hand is looking to build on a 2020 win over Beverly Tsukada, and continue to rebuild following a 2019 loss to Ryuya Tsugawa. The light punching Takehara will be the under-dog coming in to this one, but he'll know that this is the perfect time to face Kawashima, who's confidence must be shot to bits.
In another under-card bout we'll see the once beaten Seika Fukuda (6-1, 1) take on Yuna Hara (9-2-1, 5) in a very interesting match up over 6 rounds. Fukuda's only loss came in February this year when he was stopped in the All Japan Rookie of the Year final against Tsubasa Narai, and since then he has bounced back with a win but is stepping up here. Hara on the other hand Hara on the other hand is best known for coming close to reaching the 2018 All Japan Rookie of the Year final, losing one bout before the final to Hiroki Hanabusa. Since then however he has bounced back, scored 3 straight stoppages, and looks to be developing his confidence and punching power.
Manual Artime Community Center Theater, Miami, Florida, USA
As well as the Japanese show there will also be a pair of Asian fighters in action on a US card in Miami. One is a rising Cruiserweight hopeful, whilst the other is a Filipino who should be in the mix for a world title fight, but has sadly become the forgotten man in and around the Bantamweight division.
The Cruiserweight hopeful is Kazakh puncher Serik Musadilov (10-0, 9), who stopped his first 9 opponents before going the distance this past July with Lamont Capers, in what was an underwhelming performance from the Kazakh. He'll be looking to return to stopping fighters here, as he takes on the limited Dustin Long (6-2-2-1, 4), who is 39 years old, and has been stopped twice, including an opening round loss to Tristan Kalkreuth back in March. Long's record is padded, but he does have a notable win over Marsellos Wilder, the brother of Deontay Wilder. That win aside, there's nothing on Long's record and it's hard to imagine him surviving long against Musadilov.
The other Asian fighter on this card is 24 year Filipino contender Mike Plania (25-1, 12) , who will be up against Ricardo Nunez (29-12, 23), in what is Plania's second bout since his 2020 upset win over Joshua Greer Jr. The talented Plania really deserved a big fight on that back of the Greer win, but his team have sadly dropped the ball with him, as the Filipino took 10 months out of the ring before beating Emmanuel Mogawa in April this year and is now wasting more time taking on Nunez. The 33 year old Nunez was, once, a very, very good fighter and a world class fighter, but that was a decade ago, at Flyweight. In recent years however he has been racking up losses, and is now more than 4 years removed from a win and has lost his last 6 in a row. This really should be little more than a stay buys bout for Plania.
Universum Gym, Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany
Over in Germany we'll be getting Heavyweight action as unbeaten Kazakh Heavyweight hopeful Zhan Kossobutskiy (16-0, 15) takes on fellow unbeaten Alexis Garcia (11-0, 7), in a good looking match up. Sadly whilst this one looks good on paper it's hard to have any idea how good Garcia is given his competition, so far, has been dreadful, to say the least. We suspect Kossobutskiy will have no problem picking up the win here, though hopefully Garcia will put up something of a fight before taking the L.
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.