This Saturday promises to be a great day with a brilliant Japanese card being shown live on Boxing Raise, and a live show being streamed from the Philippines!
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
That Japanese card comes from Tokyo and features 4 bouts of note, none are world title bouts, but there are two less title bouts on the show, and a mouth watering domestic show down, as well as a bout featuring a former Japanese national champion.
In the main event OPBF Light Welterweight champion Rikki Naito (22-2, 7) will battle against fellow Japanese fighter Yusuke Konno (16-4, 9), with both Naito's OPBF title on the line. Coming in Naito will be the clear favourite, he's the more proven man, the Oriental champion and the quicker more skilled fighter. We shouldn't write off Konno however, and he's a big, strong, powerful fighter, with good stamina and he'll be desperate to force his will on Naito. This is very much a match up of skill Vs will and knowing that Konno will be pressing and pressuring through out we can't help feel that Konno is a very live under-dog here. Our full preview of this bout is available here Naito and Konno clash for OPBF title
The chief support bout is a mouth watering match up between youngsters as Yoshimitsu Kimura (12-2, 7) and Shuma Nakazato (10-1-2, 7) clash, in a truly brilliant match up. Kimura is coming in on the back of a split decision loss to OPBF 130lb champion Hironori Mishiro, which was a great clash last year, and he'll have given his standing and confidence a huge boost despite the lost. Incidentally Nakazato's sole loss also came to Mishiro, but since then he has gone 4-0-1 and will know a win here moves him to within touch distance of a title bout. We expect this to be highly technical but also really exciting with Kimura being the aggressor, applying calculated pressure and Nakazato looking to play the role of a puncher. We wouldn't be surprised if this was the bout of the week.
The other title bout promises to be just as good as the main event, with Japanese Youth Super Flyweight champion Suzumi Takayama (3-0, 3) defending his title against Hiroto Yashiro (2-0, 2), in what will be Takayama's first defense. Unlike most countries Japan matches their young up and comers against each other often and the Youth title has seen that happen more and more often in recent years. Prior to turning professional both of these youngsters had made their marks on the amateur scene and seeing them face off at this ultra-early point in their professional careers is really exciting. This is a hard one to call and we are expecting a brilliant, tactical, hard hitting battle here. A fantastic match up and credit to both men for accepting the bout. This should be something special. Our full preview of this bout can be read here Novices clash in Japanese Youth title clash!
Also on this card will be former Japanese Super Bantamweight champion Ryoichi Tamura (15-5-1, 7), who is always worth watching. The all action Tamura will be expected to pick up a relatively easy win here, as he takes on Ryu Oba (5-4, 3), though in fairness Tamura makes even mismatches fun and exciting with his action style and aggression. Although Oba is the under-dog he'll have some confidence having won his last 2 and will be here to win. This should be fun, even if it does have a very predictable winner.
The restart in Filipino boxing has been a slow one, though we do get another show in the country today as Sanman puts on a card with several notable names on it.
The main event will see former WBO Bantamweight champion Marlon Tapales (33-3, 16) battle against Eden Sonsona (36-11-2, 13) in a bout at a contracted 132lbs, well above Tapales' best weight. This will be Tapales's first bout since losing to Ryosuke Iwasa in an IBF "interim" Super Bantamweight title bout, and to see him going up the scales this much is a worry, though he should still have enough to beat Sonsona.
Another notable fighter on this card is 2-time world title challenger Aston Palicte (26-4-1, 22), who will be in action at Bantamweight, where he takes on Reymark Taday (10-12-1, 5), in what looks very much like a confidence builder for Palicte following 2 losses last year, including one to Kazuto Ioka.
Other notables involved on the show are Joey Canoy (15-4-1, 8) and the talented Dave Apolinario (13-0, 8), who are both facing domestic foes that they shouldn't struggle with.
This event is set to be streamed on the Sanman Facebook page for those wanting to enjoy some Filipino action.
Xi An, China
As well as the action in Japan there will also be a show in China. This is another low key Chinese card, as we still see the sport re-finding it's feet in the Middle Kingdom.
One of the few interesting bouts on this show will see Jin Ping Yang (2-0-1) take on Xiaokang Song (4-0) in a battle of unbeaten men, over 10 rounds. The 23 year old Yang made his debut in October 2018, with a 4 round decision, and stepped up to 6 rounders earlier this year. He's now leaping up to a 10 rounder in what is very, very clearly a step up in class. Song on the other hand is a 21 year old and has been a fighting in 4 rounders. This isn't an easy one to call, but is an interesting one on paper, and a somewhat compelling match up, given that the promoter is trusting the two men to headline the card.
In a second bout on this card Shichao Gao (5-1-1, 2) will take on JiZhong He (2-1, 1) over 8 rounds. We have been impressed by Gao in the past, and he seemed to be on the fast track to the top when he beat Koji Igarashi and Anurak Thisa last year, but a loss in June has slowed his rise. As for He it's hard to say anything at all about him given the very low level of competition he has faced so far, and this is a very, very big step up in class for him.
For a second day running we have a Chinese show to talk about, and it's another low level one with novices trading blows in 4 round bouts
Despite the bouts being full of novices it is interesting to see a clash between Huanran Li (4-0, 2) and Shichao Gao (5-0-1, 2), in a really good match up between unbeaten men. The 20 year old Li made his debut in 2018 and hasn't really scored any wins of note so far, but has taken his last two opponents out inside a round. As for Gao the 22 year old scored a notable win last year when he beat Nop Kratingdaenggym, albeit with a questionable decision. We like the look of this bout, a lot, and it's just a shame it's only a 4 rounder, this would have been a very interesting bout over 6 or 8 rounds.
The only other man with any professional experience on this show is Shaoyan Chen (1-0-1), who takes on the debuting Yuxiang Ying (0-0). Hard to say much about this one, but as with all bouts between novices, we at least expect something a bit competitive, and on paper, at least, it's not a total mismatch.
This coming Sunday we see two very notable cards in Asia, both of which are double headers, though both are at very different levels. The more notable is in China, though a Japanese card is certainly worth being aware of.
The Chinese card is expected to be a huge show in terms of local fan interest, with the new face of Chinese boxing headlining along side an incredibly popular foreign fighter, from nearby Japan.
The local star is current WBA "regular" Featherweight champion Can Xu (16-2, 2), who looks to make his first defense, as he takes on Japanese challenger Shun Kubo (13-1, 9), himself a former WBA Super Bantamweight champion.We saw Xu shock the boxing world earlier this year when he defeated Jesus M Rojas for the title in the US, announcing himself on the world stage in impressive and exciting fashion. As for Kubo this will be only his second fight since losing the WBA Super Bantamweight title to Daniel Roman back in September 2017, and he comes in to the ring following surgery to his eyes and more than a year of inactivity. This should be a really, really entertaining and action packed bout, but one where the champion should be favoured. A full preview of this bout can be found here Will Xu be successful in first defense as he takes on Kubo?
The other world title bout on this card will see WBA Light Flyweight champion Carlos Canizales (21-0-1, 17) take on former WBO Flyweight champion Sho Kimura (18-2-2, 11), who is dropping down 4lbs for this bout. Canizales has really made his name in Asia, despite being from Venezuela, with great performances against Ryoichi Taguchi, Reiya Konishi and Lu Bin. He has been very hard hitting, aggressive and exciting, and and will be looking to record his second defense. Kimura, who is huge in China following his win over Zou Shiming, will be looking to recapture world gold following his sensational 2018 loss to Kosei Tanaka but there are questions over how he will cope with dropping down to Light Flyweight. If Kimura can make weight safely we could be in for a true FOTY contender. An in depth preview of this bout is available here Canizales and Kimura battle for gold in China!
Another notable match up on this show will see world ranked Chinese Flyweight Wulan Tuolehazi (11-3-1, 5) taking on Filipino veteran Ardin Diale (35-13-4, 17). Tuolehazi will be looking to build on a very hotly contested win over Ryota Yamauchi from March, a bout that was much, much closer than the scores suggest and will be strongly favoured here. Diale is a veteran, but is well below world level and this should be a straight forward win for the Chinese local.
Another bout of note on this card will see Chinese youngster Shichao Gao (3-0-1, 1) take on former world title challenger Nop Kratingdaenggym (23-1, 9). The 21 year old Gao looked fantastic in March, when he beat Koji Igarashi, and will know that a win here will give his career a massive boost. A win isn't however a foregone conclusion for the Chinese fighter, and Nop is no push over, with 6 wins in a row since his 2016 loss to Nehomar Cermeno back in 2016. This could be a very compelling contest and a real test for the naturally bigger local.
As well as the card in China we also get a pretty notable regional title double header in Osaka, featuring two WBO Asia Pacific title fights and a bout featuring a very promising local hopeful.
One of the WBO Asia Pacific title fights will take place at Flyweight title as former world title challenger, Masahiro Sakamoto (13-2, 9) takes on Yusuke Sakashita (17-8-3, 12) in a bout that should be a lot more interesting than it looks. Sakamoto looked totally out classed when he faced Moruti Mthalane last year, and it was clear he isn't world class, but this regional title level is where he should find himself being really competitive. Sakashita is a solid Japanese domestic fighter, but we don't imagine him having the skills to really test Sakamoto, who looks to re-capture the WBO Asia Pacific Flyweight title. A preview of this bout can be found here Sakamoto and Sakashita battle for regional title!
The other title bout will see WBO Asia Pacific Bantamweight champion Ben Mananquil (17-1-3, 4), defending his title against former OPBF title challenger Yuki Strong Kobayashi (14-8, 8). This looks like an easy win for Mananquil, who will be looking to make his first defense and build on February's big win over Tenta Kiyose, also in Japan. For Kobayashi this will be his first bout since since losing in December to Keita Kurihara, in a controversial and very entertaining clash. That bout with Kurihara saw Kobayashi show great resilience and a good boxing brain, and he is a lot better than his record suggests. He will however be the under-dog here. A preview of this bout is available here Manaquil looks to defend regional crown against Kobayashi!
The other bout of note here will see rising prospect Tulio Kuwabata (2-0, 2) take on former world title challenger John Mark Apolinario (20-13-3, 5), in what is a huge step up in class for Kuwabata. Despite being a step up the 23 year old Japanese fighter will be strongly favoured and will know a win here is a huge step towards a a regional title bout. Apolinario was once a credible fringe world class contender but with a 6-13-1 (3) record in his last 20 it's clear he has lost his desire and will be expected to pick up another loss here.
One other Asian card set to take place this Sunday is in Mumbai, where Arif Khan promoted a rather low key affair. Although most of the bouts are scheduled for 6 rounds they are mostly between novices. The bout with the most experienced sees a combined 18 bouts between the men involved, with Rahukl Kumar (5-1-1, 4) taking on Shiva (8-3, 3) in a Welterweight bout.
Although it's good to see bouts in India, there's nothing to get too excited about here.