Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
The only Asian action this coming Saturday is Japanese card and it's a pretty interesting one, as well as their first live televised show of the new year.
The main event of the show will see Kyosuke Sawada (14-2-2, 6) and Kenshin Oshima (7-1-1, 3) battle for the vacant Japanese Bantamweight title, the cursed title. The title was made vacant when Yusuke Suzuki vacated due to injury, and continued a rather long line of events which plagued the title in recent years, including Sawada fighting to a technical draw for the title last year. Both Sawada and Oshima are looking to win their first title, and this is a meaningful bout, despite the recent history of the Japanese Bantamweight title. It is also a match up that looks likely to be really interesting, with both of the men involved in this being talented boxers, with Sawada being the more polished and aggressive, but Oshima being a smart counter boxer. This might not being a thrilling all action bout, but it should be a really, really interesting technical chess match. Our preview of this bout can be read here Sawada and Oshima battle for Japanese national title!
For those wanting action, we should get some explosive action in the main support bout, as Kaiki Yuba (7-1-2, 5) take on Tetsuya Kondo (6-4, 4). For Yuba this will be his first bout since a dramatic loss last year year to Jin Sasaki in a Japanese Youth title fight. We suspect Yuba will be seeking to make a statement following that loss. Kondo on the other hand has lost his last two, but shouldn't be written off, and has the power to take Yuba out if he connects. This should be a dramatic bout, even if the action isn't the most intense.
Other bouts on this card include a very interesting match up between the touted Yuki Nakajima (4-1-2, 4), who comes into this on the back of two disappointing draws, and former Rookie of the Year winner Daiki Kameyama (8-5-1, 2). This bout is one where both will feel it's a must win. Neither has been having good results recently, with Kameyama losing 3 of his last 4, and we expect this one to be a really good little war between two men each looking to advance their career with a much needed win.
One other bout worthy of some attention is a 6 rounder between the once beaten Ren Kobayashi (4-1-1, 2) and the unbeaten Shinba Yamaguchi (1-0-1, 1). Yamaguchi, a second generation fighter, is the son of former WBA Light Flyweight world champion Keiji Yamaguchi, and looked really explosive on his debut, before being held to a draw in his second pro bout. Sadly he's been out of the ring for close to 2 years due to the ongoing pandemic. Kobayashi on the other hand started his career with 3 straight wins but is 1-1-1 in his last 3, and has struggled for form, though did fight twice last year and will be hoping his recent activity will prove vital for him here.
The big focus this coming Thursday is on Korakuen Hall, where we get a very interesting Diamond Glove card featuring a rising a second generation hopeful, a former world champion and a Japanese title fight.
The main event is the Japanese title fight, which will see Japanese Lightweight champion Shuichiro Yoshino (11-0, 9) defending his title against Izuki Tomioka (7-2-1, 2) as part of the Champion Carnival. Yoshino, who holds the Japanese, OPBF and WBO Asia Pacific titles, will only be defending his national title, but a loss would seriously hamper his chance to advance to world level in 2020. As for Tomioka he's getting his second fight at the type of level, having previously lost to Masayoshi Nakatani in an OPBF title. On paper the stronger, heavier handed, and more powerful Yoshino should be favoured, but Tomioka certainly has the size and speed, both hand and feet, to make life very tricky for the champion. This bout has been previewed here Yoshino defends against mandatory Tomioka!
The former world champion on this show is former WBC Flyweight champion Daigo Higa (15-1, 15) who returns to the ring for the first time since his 2018 loss to Cristofer Rosales. The talented and aggressive Higa was given an indefinite suspension by the JBC following the Rosales loss, for his failure to make weight, with that suspension only being lifted late last year. On his return he's being matched with Filipino visitor Jason Buenaobra (7-4-3, 3), in what could turn out to be a rather solid test. Although Buenaobra is no world beater he has gone the schedule with Carl Jammes Martin, the only man to have heard the bell against the "Wonder Boy" and could prove to be a very durable test for the returning Higa. We really are looking forward to this one. Our preview of this bout can be read here Higa returns, but can he over-come the rugged Buenaobra?
Another bout of some note on this card is a contest between Japanese ranked Super Featherweight Kazuma Sanpei (18-5, 7) and Soreike Taichi (7-2, 5), who will know that a win here boosts their chance to get a Japanese title fight later this year. Coming in the 25 year old Sanpei is the more well established fighter and despite his record being blotted with losses he is 6-1 (3) in his last 7 and did show real promise early in his career, winning Rookie of the Year back in 2013. Taichi is less well known but has won his last 4, including good wins over Yusaku Sekishima and Masaki Saito. Interestingly Taichi's last loss was in 2014, when he was stopped in a round bye Reiya Abe.
The second generation fighter mentioned above is Shinba Yamaguchi (1-0, 1), the son of former world champion Keiji Yamaguchi, who takes a significant step up from his debut. The 19 year old Yamaguchi who won his debut in just 40 seconds last October, will be up against Filipino Luis Borje (5-1-1, 2) in what should be a very credible test. It's hard to say much about Yamaguchi's professional career so far but it is worth noting that both of Borje's set backs have come to John Mark Tihuk, who should be seen as one to watch going forward. A very tough test this early in Yamaguchi's career.
Las Vegas, USA
As well as the Japanese action there is also a bout of interest in the US, where we'll see an Uzbek fighter in action. The Uzbek on this show is 35 year old Ravshan Hudaynazarov (17-3, 13), who looks to end a 3 fight losing streak. The US based Uzbek began his career 17-0 before seemingly ending his career in 2014. He returned to the ring in 2018 and since then has gone 0-3, and been stopped in 2 of those 3 losses. On paper we would expect Hudaynazarov to turn things around here in what looks like an easy bout against Cameron Krael (16-15-3, 4), however Krael has a very misleading record and the kid can fight. We wouldn't be surprised at all by an upset here.
This same show will also feature Kyrgyzstan born American based hopeful Andrei Odintsev (4-0, 4) take on Britton Norwood (9-4-1, 7) in a 4 round Light Heavyweight contest.