Despite Christmas now only being a few days away the scheduled for boxing for boxing is certainly not slowing down and this coming Thursday we see a really notable Dangan card from the Korakuen Hall, feature a Japanese unification bout, a Japanese interim title bout and the return of a former Japanese champion.
The Japanese title unification bout will come at Light Middleweight, as "regular" champion Nobuyuki Shindo (20-4-1, 8) takes on "interim" champion Akinori Watanabe (37-7, 31), in what looks like a really interesting match up. Shindo won the title in May, when he took a razor thin decision over Ryosuke Maruki at the champion carnival. Despite winning that bout Shindo suffered a hand injury that forced him out of the ring. During Shindo's recovery period Watanabe blitzed Maruki for the interim title. The winner of this will go into the champion carnival next year, with a mandatory hanging over their head, whilst the loser will have to question their future in the sport. A full preview of this bout can be read here Shindo and Watanabe battle to unify Japanese title!
The interim Japanese title bout comes at Bantamweight, where Hayato Kimura (27-10, 18) will face Seizo Kono (19-10-1, 12) in what is a more confusing situation. The Japanese Bantamweight title has seemingly been cursed in 2018 with numerous bouts falling through, often at short notice. In September Yuta Saito eventually took the vacant title, stopping Eita Kikuchi in 2 rounds, but has since suffered an illness which has forced him out of the ring until the new year. That has caused this interim title fight, which should be an entertaining bout. Things get more confusing however when the winner of this bout then has to face Saito in early 2019, with the winner of that bout then face Yusuke Suzuki (9-3, 6) before July 2019 in a mandatory title defense. Our preview of this bout can be read here Kimura and Kono battle for interim Japanese title!
In regards to the fight between Kimura and Kono we expect the two to be well matched, and it should be a compelling 10 round contest, it's just a shame that the whole Japanese title picture has been such a nightmare in 2019 and we've ended up in such a convoluted situation. Both have picked up recent losses, though Kimura certainly appears the more proven fighter at title level, and we suspect he comes into this bout as the marginal favourite.
As for the former champion that is Yusaku Kuga (16-3-1, 11), who returns to the ring since losing the Japanese Super Bantamweight title to Shingo Wake back in July. The hard hitting fighter from the Watanabe man is expected to get an easy confidence building win a he takes on the out-of-form Filipino John Mark Apolinario (20-12-3, 5), who was recently stopped by the limited but hard hitting Kenya Yamashita. Apolinario should offer little competition for Kuga, who we expect will be too big, too strong and too powerful.
The most notable show this coming Sunday, Easter Sunday, comes from the Sumiyoshi Ward Center in Osaka.
The main event will see WBO Asia Pacific Flyweight champion Masahiro Sakamoto (11-1, 7) make his first defense of the title, as he takes on highly experienced Thai Pigmy Kokietgym (60-9-2, 24). The Japanese fighter won the title last December, when he stopped Kwanthai Sithmorseng, and he'll be looking to score a second successive win over a Thai veteran here. For Pigmy another loss might well spell the end of his career, especially given he's already 36 years old and has been a professional for closing in on 19 years! A win for Sakamoto will take him a step closer to getting a rematch with Sho Kimura, the only man to beat him so far.
In a supporting bout former world title challenger Hirofumi Mukai (15-5-3, 5) looks for a stay busy win as he takes on Thai visitor Kathawut Saikaew Boxing Camp (0-1). Mukai has score back to back wins since his 2017 stoppage loss to Rex Tso in Hong Kong, and although bigger fights are around the corner we can't grumble too much about him staying busy given the competition he has faced through his career so far.
Arguably the most even looking match up on the show is a contest between Yuki Strong Kobayashi (12-7, 6) and Taichi Sugimoto (6-4, 2). We're not expecting anything too special here, but it does see Kobayashi risking his OPBF Bantamweight ranking.
Another show in Osaka, this time at the EDION Arena Osaka, will be promoted by Green Tsuda and looks a very interesting card with several bouts of note.
The main event is the most notable contest on the show and will see once beaten hopeful Kazuki Tanaka (8-1, 6) battle recent OPBF title challenger Seizo Kono (19-9-1, 12). The talented Tanaka was expected to be fast tracked into becoming a star however a 3rd round TKO loss last year to Ryohei Takahashi really did set him back, despite a bounce back win over Hikaru Marugame. Last time out Kono battled against Mark John Yap, and despite a solid effort he was stopped in 10 rounds. Given that both men need a win this should be a very hotly contested bout.
In a supporting bout Takayuki Okumoto (19-8-3, 9) will take on Indonesian Frengky Rohi (5-3-1, 1). The 26 year old Okumoto has gone 3-2-1 (3), with set backs to Eaktwan BTU Ruaviking, Eranio Semillano and, most recently, Ryuichi Funai in a Japanese title fight. The Indonesian visitor when 5-0-1 to begin his career, but has lost his last 3 bouts, and will struggle to over-come Okumoto here, in what looks like a very tough bout on Japanese soil.
A great match up between 24 year old fighters will see Ryo Sagawa (3-1, 2) take on the hard hitting Tsuyoshi Sawai (5-2-1, 5). Sagawa caught out eye on debut and looked very impressive, though was stopped in his second bout by Retsu Kosaka in a Japanese Youth title fight. Since that loss he has bounced back with two credible wins and will be looking for another one here. As for Sawai he's a very dangerous puncher at this level, and despite being flawed he can bang, with his power taking him to the 2016 Rookie of the Year final, where he lost to Yoshimitsu Kimura. This is a very interesting bout, and the winner could well go a very long way, despite already having a loss on their record.
Another bout pitting men with one loss against each other will see 2017 Super Bantamweight Rookie of the year Toshiki Shimomachi (7-1-1, 4) take on former amateur stand out Kiyohei Endo (1-1, 1). Shimomachi started his career 2-1-1 but is now riding a 5 fight winning run and has broken into the Japanese rankings. Endo, a former amateur stand out, suffered a surprise loss on debut but looks a class fighter and a win here would move him to the fringes of a Japanese ranking. A very interesting bout and one that both will be wanting to win, and win impressively.
There will also be a low key card in Aichi, as Yakushiji put on a show.
The main event of this card will see teenager Musashi Mori (5-0, 4) take on a Thai foe. The 18 year old Mori won the 2017 Rookie of the Year at Super Featherweight and enters this bout ranked by the JBC. A win for the teenager won't push him up the ranking, but will kick off a year which should push him towards a title fight, if not see him in the mix for a Japanese youth title before the end of 2018.
A pretty interesting supporting bout on this card will see Rookie of the Year runner up Katsuki Matsuura (5-1, 1) take on Toma Kondo (6-2, 1). These two men are both 21 years old, both have very similar looking records and whilst neither is much of a puncher they should make for a very exciting contest against each other. This could be a very interesting bout between two men each looking to bounce back from a loss. Very good match making here.
This coming Sunday is a busy day in Japan with 3 shows in the country, with 2 of those taking place in Osaka.
The most significant of those is a multi-title show from Muto promotions, with the card being headlined by OPBF Middleweight champion Koki Tyson (13-2-2, 11), who faces off with veteran Yasuyuki Akiyama (11-7-1, 8). The bout will see Tyson defending his OPBF title and also look to add the WBO Asia Pacific title, which is currently vacant but on the line for this bout. It's hard to see past a win for Tyson, given he holds almost every advantage, but the bout is likely to be the final one of Akiyama's career, and he will almost certainly give everything he has here.
A second OPBF title fight will see Bantamweight champion Mark John Yap (27-12, 13) seek his second defense, as he puts his title on the line against Japanese foe Seizo Kono (19-8-1, 12). The Japanese based Filipino champion will be making his second defense of the title, following his dramatic win over Kentaro Masuda, and knows that if he can continue on his current winning streak there is a chance he will be able to move towards a world title fight. For Kono the bout perhaps comes at the perfect time, with the Japanese man having won his last 4, and seemingly ended his blotchy form, which saw him going 2-5. Despite being on a bit of a run this is still a big ask for Kono.
In a rematch we'll see former multi-time world title challengers collide, as Hirofumi Mukai (14-5-3, 4) and Inthanon Sithchamuang (31-9-1, 19) battle for the WBO Asia Pacific Super Flyweight title, just as they did in November 2016. In their first meeting Mukai stopped the Thai in 3 rounds, but since then he has gone 1-1, beating a novice Thai and being stopped in a war with Rex Tso. As for Inthanon, he's fought once since losing to Mukai, also a win over a novice Thai. It's fair to say that Mukai will be favoured, given how easily he won the first contest between the two, but it'll be interesting to see what the Tso bout took out of him.
A second Japan Vs Thailand bout for a WBO Asia Pacific Flyweight title will see the once beaten Masahiro Sakamoto (10-1, 6) take on veteran former world champion Kwanthai Sithmorseng (50-4-1, 27). Aged 26 Sakamoto is just coming into his prime and the Flyweight will be looking to claim the biggest win of his career here. His only loss came in a bout for this very same title last year, when he suffered a very close loss to current WBO world champion Sho Kimura, and he will know that a win against Kwanthai could push him into the world title mix. As for Kwanthai, he's a long way removed from the man who claimed the WBA Minimumweight title in 2010. He has gone 19-4 since that win, but suffered 2 stoppages and only beaten very limited opposition. This should be a win for Sakamoto, but the question is really “how impressive does he look here?”
A second show in Osaka will be promoted by Green Tsuda and although not a big card does have one of the day's most interesting contests on it, as well as the continued push of a man who has been matched hard through his career.
That hard matched man is Takayuki Okumoto (18-8-3, 8), who's record doesn't suggest anything special but he did recently challenge Japanese Super Flyweight champion Ryuichi Funai, and ran Eaktwan BTU Ruaviking close in 2016. The Japanese fighter will be up against a Thai foe here, and should, easily, pick up the win in the card's main event.
Arguably the most interesting match up of the day is a supporting contest between two once tipped amateur stars, both in need of a big win after recent set backs. In one corner will be Kazuki Tanaka (7-1, 5), a Green Tsuda man who was tipped as a star but was stopped last time out by Ryohei Takahashi. Like Tanaka we saw Hikaru Marugame (6-2-1, 4) turn professional with high expectations, having competed on the international stage in the amateurs, but with 2 losses and a draw in his last 4 bouts those expectations are quickly dying. A loss here for either man would likely spell the end of any hope of them becoming a notable name, and the bout really is a must win for both.
A third card from Japan this coming Sunday is from Aichi, and is certainly one with an international feel, given the three most notable bouts all feature a visitor.
The main event sees former Japanese Light Middleweight title challenger Ryosuke Maruki (14-4-1, 9) take on Indonesia's Filipus Rangga (10-17, 1). The Japanese fighter looked like one to watch when he lost to Yuki Nonaka, with some suggesting just a tiny bit of seasoning was needed, and since then he has picked up two stoppage wins and looks like a genuine domestic contender, with a second title fight perhaps only a few bouts away. Rangga began his career 5-1 but since then has gone 5-16 and really is a very limited fighter on the domestic scene, and has fought at much higher weights. Not only is Rangga smaller, older, and less talented but he is also making his international debut. In all honesty Maruki should be disappointed if this goes beyond 6 rounds.
In an interesting support bout fans will see the pretty solid Shogo Yamaguchi (10-3-2, 5) take on domestically ranked Indonesian Lightweight Sam Puadi (7-8, 5). Yamaguchi has gone 1-3-1 in his last 5, though has faced the likes of Akihiro Kondo and Andy Hiraoka during that run, and really needs a win to kick start his once fledgling career. The visitor is 0-2 outside of Indonesia, including a loss earlier this year in Japan to Yuki Harada, though it's fair to say that the visitor will feel he has half a chance here against a very out of form Yamaguchi.
Also on this card will be a Heavyweight bout, as top ranked Japanese Heavyweight Kotatsu Takehara (13-11-3, 7) takes on Korean visitor Hoo Won Lee (4-3). The 39 year old Takehara is a 2 time Japanese title challenger and although he came up short in both bouts, to Kyotaro Fujimoto, he is a game fighter. Interestingly Takehara will be fighting for the first time since May 2016, when Japanese rules actually forbid him from fighting, and will surely be wanting to prove age is just a number. The 24 year old Korean visitor has age on his side, but the former Korean Heavyweight champion is stepping up in a big way here, and was stopped in a round back in June. If Takehara is half the fighter he was he should win, if he loses however it's got to be the end for him.
Seoul, South Korea
Fans in Korea will get their own title bout, as the unbeaten In Duck Seo (8-0-1, 5) takes on the limited Joong Kyung Lee (3-2) in a bout for the KBF Light Middleweight title. Seo is unbeaten, but could only a manage a draw last time out, in a very good match up against Dong Hee Kim down at 140lbs. As for Lee, who will be having his 6th bout of the year, this bout follows an 8 round loss to Moon Sung Choi and he will certainly be coming into this one looking to score a big domestic win.
In Japan this coming Sunday we'll see two rather low key cards.
On paper the more significant of them will come from Wakayama where we get two Japanese ranked fighters in action.
In the main event of the show Seizo Kono (18-8-1, 11) will take on Takuya Taniguchi (6-10-2, 1), with Kono looking to move towards a potential title fight. Although Kono has got a number of losses on his record he has mixed at a good level, battling the likes of Rey Vargas and Yu Kawaguchi. The reality here is that this should be an easy win for Kono, but he has slipped up against limited foes in the past
The other ranked fighter on this card is former OPBF title challenger Eita Kikuchi (20-4-4, 8), who will be battling against Takuya Fujioka (7-6-1, 1). Coming in to this bout Kikuchi has won his last 6, albeit against limited foes, and moved up the Japanese rankings as he's began a genuine run towards a Japanese title fight. Fujioka is better than his record suggests, but shouldn't be much of a test for Kikuchi, who is heavier handed, more experienced and generally more talented.
The other Japanese card is from Fukuoka, and will be headlined by unbeaten puncher Yuki Beppu (14-0-1, 14), who takes on Taengthong Sithsaithong (0-2). The Thai has fought twice before in Japan, and suffered stoppages both times with this likely to be a third stoppage loss for the Thai in the Land of the Rising Sun.
This coming Sunday is a busy day in Japan with 3 shows taking places in the country.
The most notable of those shows is in Hyogo, whee we see a former world title challenger and several other bouts of note.
That former world title challenger is teenager Riku Kano (10-2-1, 5), who is fighting for the first time since suffering a technical decision loss to Katsunari Takayama earlier this year. The teenager was supposed to fight in a second bout with Thai veteran Pigmy Kokietgym but Pigmy was replaced, several weeks out, by Thoedkiad Weerachon (0-5) giving us a very disappointing headline bout.
In a supporting bout we'll see Hikaru Matsuoka (12-3-3, 1) hunting for a 5th straight win as he takes on the inform Tenmei Serizawa (8-3, 4), who has turned around his career after a 3-3 start. On paper this looks like it should be a win for Matsuoka but his lack of power is an issue and has struggled with fighters he would have been favoured against before.
Interestingly one of the men to beat Matsuoka will be on the card as well, that's Seizo Kono (17-8-1, 11), who stopped Matsuoka in a round last year. Kono will be up against the limited Ryota Kihara (8-9-4, 6) and will be looking to build on an upset win over Hideo Sakamoto this past August. Kihara has won his last two bouts but this is a big step back up in class for him.
Also on this card will be teenage puncher Futa Akizuki (7-0, 6) who will be looking to score his second win on home soil after starting his career in Thailand.
The day also features 2-shows at the L-Theatre in Osaka with one of those show's being much more interesting the the other.
The more interesting of those shows is first of those shows, promoted by Taiho.
The main event here will see Japanese based Mexican Kenbun Torres (11-2, 9), the son of former world champion German Torres, battle against Filipino foe Engelbert Moralde (9-3, 6). Torres, who debuted way back in 2003, ended a 9 year sabbatical from the ring earlier this year and will be looking to score a career best win as he takes on Moralde. The Filipino has come up short when he has faced anyone of any note but could potentially pick up a win here in a very competitive looking match up.
In the chief supporting bout we'll see Japanese ranked Super Featherweight Ken Osato (9-1-1, 3) battle against Toshiya Yokogawa (7-10-1, 6). On paper this isn't a great bout and Osato has proven he's a genuine prospect with solid results against the likes of Kento Matsushita and Retsu Kosaka. Despite that Yokogawa will come to fight and Osato will have to work for his win and it won't be handed to him here.
One bout that probably will be a mismatch will see Japanese ranked Super Bantamweight Yuta Uetani (18-5-1, 9) take on Takuya Yamamoto (7-5, 4). Uetani isn't a top tier domestic fighter, but he's not far off and holds a number of notable wins including, a stoppage against Mark John Yap, with really only title level fighters beating him, including Shinsuke Yamanaka. Yamamoto on the other hand has done little of note and shouldn't really be a test for Uetani.
Arguably the most interesting bout on the card will see Akiyoshi Kanazawa (13-6-4, 7) battle against the under-rated Shunji Nagata (10-15-2, 3). On paper this looks like another mismatch but it's genuinely a more interesting fight than it first appears. Kanazawa has the much better record but has gone 2-4-1 in his last 7, whilst mixing with good company on the hole. The first of those 4 defeats however came in 2014 to to Nagata who will be hoping for a repeat here. Kanazawa will obvious but hunting revenge and given their history this could be a very good and competitive bout.
The other show at the L-Theatre will be headlined by an intriguing lower level bout between Shachihoko Dragons Keita (6-5-1, 1) and Yu Konomura (7-4-1, 1). Neither guy has much of a punch and neither will go on to win titles, unless something changes massively, however they should make for a competitive and close bout which is better than a total mismatch. A lot of pride will be on the line here and it should be good.
In Australia fans will see local novice Tino Tanuvasa (2-0, 2) take on Australian based Indonesian veteran Aswin Cabuy (19-58-4, 7), in what should be a straight forward win for the unbeaten man.
In Tokyo fans get the first ever “Ladies Dangan” card, a card put on by “reason”, who promote the Dangan cards, and features only female fighters. The concept is an interesting one and we're hoping it's a success.
Whilst the concept is a good one, that match ups are also good with some genuinely well matched contests taking place on a card that features some notable names. One of those well matched bouts will see OPBF female Minimumweight champion Mika Oda (6-7-1, 1) defending her title against Saemi Hanagata (11-6-2, 5). Incidentally Oda won this title in her last bout, which was way back in September 2014. Whilst Oda won the last meeting between these two she has been inactive whilst Hanagata has fought thrice winning two of those bouts and controversially losing the other, which was a world title bout.
The other title bout on this show sees OPBF female Atomweight champion Momoko Kanda (9-8-2, 3) defending her belt against Masae Akitaya (9-6-2, 3), in what looks like an excellent match up. Both fighters have their limitations but both have experienced fighting at world level and both have acquitted themselves well and we wouldn't be surprised if this scrap ended up being a high paced and highly entertaining contest between two fighters both looking to prove themselves.
Another high profile bout on this card sees former world champion Tenkai Tsunami (21-11, 10) battle against the once beaten Emika Himuro (5-1-1, 1). Although her record may not suggest it Tsunami is a world class fighter who is tough, game and has a great work rate, sadly however her battles have taken a bit of a toll on her and she looked rather poor last time out against Carolina Rodriguez. Despite that she should have more than enough to over-come the 35 year old Himuro.
Another veteran in action is multi-time title challenger Kayoko Ebata (8-6, 4), who takes on Sornsawan Sarakarngym (0-1). Aged 40 Ebata is a real veteran, having debuted back in 2007, and although not a world champion she has fought in 4 world title bouts, and found herself very competitive in several of them. Sadly she's likely to be ending her career shortly though she has had a career to be proud of.
As well as the Tokyo card there is also a show in Hyogo courtesy of Shinsei gym.
The main event of this card will see JBC ranked Ryo Kosaka (11-3-1, 5) battle against Kosuke Mizuno (7-6-2, 2). This looks to be a mismatch, especially given that the 24 year old Mizuno has gone 2-3-1 in his last 6, though Mizuno is a southpaw and is tough so may give Kosaka some questions over the 8 round distance.
The chief support bout looks to be a mismatch as former OPBF title challenger Eita Kikuchi (18-4-4, 8) battles against limited Thai Petchmai Sor Praithong (1-6). Petchmai was stopped in his only previous bout in Japan and we expect to see that happen again here, though Petchmai did win his last bout and may well have some confidence coming in to this one.
A third bout of note will see Seizo Kono (15-8-1, 10) battle Thai novice Yodsing Padjaigym (0-0). Kono has gone 2-5 in hius last 7 but is better than his record suggests and blew away Hikaru Matsuoka last year. This should be a win for Kono but we really know nothing about the Thai who may be one of those fighters with a lot more experience than his record suggests.
This coming Friday is a really busy day in Asian boxing with shows in Japan and China as well as notable bouts outside of Asia.
The most notable the Asian shows is a Shinsei promoted card from Hyogo which features a former 2-weight world champion, a female world title bout and several notable prospects.
The former world champion in action is the legendary Hozumi Hasegawa (34-5, 15) who will be dipping his toes at Super Featherweight as he faces the world ranked Mexican fight Carlos Andres Ruiz Machuca (14-1, 5). For Hasegawa this is a step up in weight but potentially could see him make a move towards a world title fight at 130lbs in 2016. For Ruiz it's a monstrous step up in class as he faces his most notable opponent so far.
The co-feature of this show is a female world title bout that sees former WBA female Minimumweight champion Etsuko Tada (14-2-2, 4) face of against Mexican Kareli Lopez (8-5-3, 2) in a bout for the vacant IBF female Minimumweight title. Tada was originally scheduled to be facing Victoria Argueta but Argueta is out and has been replaced by Lopez, who really shouldn't test a fighter as talented as Tada.
The most notable of the fighters on the under-card is the unbeaten Reiya Konishi (9-0, 4). The unbeaten 22 year old will be up against Shogo Hayashi (7-2, 4) in a really good looking 8 rounder. Konishi came to our attention last year, when he won the Rookie of the Year, and has already won a couple of 8 rounders this year. For the youngster this is a step up but a step up that he will be expected to make without too many problems.
Another notable Minimumweight youngster in against here is Ryuya Yamanaka (10-2, 2), a 20 year old title hopeful. Yamanaka will be up against the light punching Ryo Narizuka (7-6) in what looks like a stay busy fight for Yamanaka before a potential title fight in 2016. Although Yamanaka isn't a prospect with much fanfare he will know that a win would do and he will also know that a loss will cost him his rankings, with the JBC, OPBF and WBO.
A third notable under-card bout will see OPBF fighters face off as Japan's Seizo Kono (15-7-1 10) battles Benjie Suganob (9-4-1, 5). The winner of this one will be in the running for an OPBF title fight in 2016. On paper Kono is the more established fighter however Suganob is the fighter who has been competing at a higher weight and may be able to use that to his advantage in what is a very intriguing match up.
As well as the show in Hyogo Japanese fans also have a card from the Korakuen Hall in Tokyo. The card, from Flash Akabane, is a less interesting one, though does feature an OPBF title fight and a bout involving one of Teiken's most promising young prospects.
The title bout on this card sees OPBF Super Middleweight champion Yuzo Kiyota (28-4-1, 26) defending his title against limited Indonesian challenger Michael Speed Sigarlaki (16-15-2, 14). On paper this looks like it could be an explosive one, however Sigarlaki will need to be regarded as a major under-dog coming in to this one and we're not expecting the challenger to have much success.
The prospect in action is the really exciting Lightweight hopeful Shuya Masaki (2-0, 1) who takes on Fumio Ujihara (4-2, 3). On paper this is a step up for the unbeaten 21 year old Lightweight prospect however it's step up that he should make if he's anywhere near being as good as touted.
As well as the Japanese action Asian fans will also get a small show from Yunnan, courtesy of Zovi promotions. The card isn't a big one, and it features no notable names, however fans will likely get some enjoyable action from the show.
San Juan, Puerto Rico
Whilst the headline action for us are the Japanese cards they aren't the only ones to feature notable names. Another notable name is in Puerto Rico as he looks to continue moving towards a major title bout.
That notable fighter is former multi-weight world champion Nonito Donaire (35-3, 23). The “Filipino Flash” looks to scored his third win since being stopped by Nicholas Walters as he takes on Mexican fighter Cesar Juarez (17-3, 13), in a bout for the WBO International Super Bantamweight title. Coming in to this one Juarez has been on a good run and enters following back to back wins over Cesar Seda and Juan Carlos Sanchez Jr, Donaire however is regarded as being better than anyone Juarez has fought. Whilst Donaire is still regarded highly there are question marks about how much he has left and this fight could well see those question marks answered one way or another.
On the same card fans also get the chance to see Mongolian fighter Bayan Jargal (17-7-3, 11) take on the unbeaten William Silva (22-0, 13). This looks to be a very tough ask for Jargal, who has gone 2-7-1-1 in his last 9, though Silva does have a typical “padded Brazilian” record and is very much an unknown quantity.