Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
The biggest card of the week sees attention turn to Australia, for a major Lightweight title rematch between Devin Haney and George Kambosos. The main event doesn't involve an Asian fighter, but one of the main support bouts does, and it's an incredible notable one.
The bout in question will see two world ranked contenders face off as popular Australian Jason Moloney (24-2, 19) takes on highly experienced Thai fighter Nawaphon Kaikanha (56-1-1, 46), in what is a WBC world title eliminator, setting the winner up for a potential WBC Bantamweight title fight next year. The highly skilled Moloney will go in as the favourite, as he looks to secure a second world title shot following a loss to Naoya Inoue back in 2020. Since that loss he has reeled off 3 wins, included notable ones against Joshua Greer Jr and Aston Palicte. As for Nawaphon the Thai is looking to land his own second shot at a world title, having lost in a WBC Flyweight title bout back in 2017 against Juan Hernandez Navarrete. Since that loss Nawaphon has reeled off 20 wins, including wins over former world champions Amnat Ruenroeng, Sonny Boy Jaro and Kompayak Porpramook, though all 3 were very much faded forces by the time he faced them.
Art Center, Kobe, Hyogo, Japan
As well as action in Australia, we're also set for a trio of shows from Japan. The most notable of those is from Kobe.
One of the main bouts here will see Hiroyuki Takahara (9-4, 6) look to bounce back from a recent loss as he takes on Kyohei Tonomoto (12-3-1, 5) in what should be a hotly contested bout. Takahara, from Kobe himself, has really turned his career around in recent years, winning 5 of his last 6, and he'll be desperate to get back to winning ways here. As for Tonomoto he showed that he was a decent fighter when he challenged OPBF champion Satoshi Shimizu in 2020, since then he has reeled off 3 wins, and although he's the away fighter here he will know this is a great chance to continue building some career momentum.
The chief support bout will see Kazunori Yorimasa (6-7-4, 2) take on JBC #3 ranked Flyweight contender Shun Kosaka (17-8, 4). Kosaka, who has challenged for the OPBF and Japanese Flyweight titles, is really struggling to keep his career alive and has lost 5 of his last 7. Thankfully for him a win in May, against Sho Omote, has kept his career alive but another loss will see him losing his ranking and any chance of getting another big fight in the near future. As for Yorimasa he will come into this as a major under-dog, however he did score a win last time out, when he beat Kenta Taguchi, and he is 3-1-2 in his last 6, giving him more momentum than we'd expect given his career record.
A third bout of note will see Seira Kishida (6-1-2, 2) risking his Japanese Super Featherweight ranking as he battles Morihisa Iju (11-5, 9). Kishida suffered an early career loss, but has gone 5-0-2 since then, including a win over Seika Fukuda last time out. He's no world beater but the 24 year old is heading in the right direction and it wouldn't be any surprise at all to see him competing for a Japanese title in the future. Iju on the other hand is better than his record suggests, but unfortunately he's not fought in almost 3 years and has lost 3 of his last 4, so we do wonder what his hunger and desire is like coming in to this bout. At his best Iju could ask questions of Kishida, but we're not sure we'll see Iju even close to 100%.
Shiroyama Sky Dome, Ashikita-gun, Kumamoto, Japan
A second Japanese card, this time in Kumamoto, features something of a Japan Vs Taiwan show, with the two feature bouts both featuring locals taking on the visitors.
The nominal main event of the show will see professional novice Kazuhiro Imamura (2-1-1, 1) take on Yu Che Li (6-3-2, 4) in a 6 rounder. Imamura was last seen being stopped inside a round by the destructive Yoshiki Takei, towards the end of last year, and is now without a win since October 2019, going 0-1-1 since then. Although he had promise he was derailed by the pandemic and is now 30 years old and needs to make up for lost time after this bout. As for Li, the Taiwanese 29 year old debuted in 2016 but has lost his last 2 bouts, and like Imamura needs a win to get his career going again. Sadly for him this is a big on Japanese soil and he'd likely need a career best performance to take home a win.
The other Japan Vs Taiwan bout will see the once beaten Misaki Hirano (6-1, 2) take on Chuan Hsun Hong (3-2, 2). Hirano suffered his sole loss back in October 2020, and since then has reeled off 5 wins and won the All Japan Rookie of the Year, which he did back in February. He certainly has momentum on his side coming into this bout but this will be his first bout against a non-Japanese fighter. As for Hong, he has never faced a man with a loss, and won the WBO Asia Pacific Youth Featherweight title last time out. Notably though he has lost 2 of his last 3, and has only scored 1 win since the start of 2019.
Aioi Hall, Kariya, Aichi, Japan
On a third show in Japan, this time in Aichi, we'll see the highly experienced Takahiro Murai (16-10-2, 5) take on Tom Hamaguchi (6-4-2) in an 8 rounder. Neither of thee two are JBC ranked, or heading towards a title bout, but they are well matched and they should make for a decent contest. Although both men are relatively limited, and both have bad looking records, it should be noted that both are better than the numbers indicate, with Murai having had a number of very close decisions go against him and with that in mind he should be favoured here.
The Flash Grand Ballroom of the Elorde Sports Complex, Paranaque City, Metro Manila, Philippines
Over in the Philippines fight fans will get the chance to see the once beaten Arvin Magramo (14-1-1, 9) take on veteran Jonathan Refugio (22-8-5, 8), in what looks like a good step up for Magramo. At one point Refugio was considered a very solid regional level fighter, and he has been in with something of a regional who's who including Melvin Jerusalem, Hiroto Kyoguchi, Taku Kuwahara, Knockout CP Freshmart, Merlito Sabillo and Wanheng Menayothin. Sadly though he has only notched a single win since the start of the pandemic and it's hard to imagine him having what's needed to over-come the fresher, hungrier Magramo.
May 1st-Action in Kobe!
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.