This coming Wednesday Japanese fans have a day to look forward to, with a world title fight in Kyoto and an interesting, though much smaller, card in Tokyo. Both shows have very interesting main events but are a bit weak below the top bout.
Kyoto City Gym, Kyoto, Japan
Of the two cards it's the one in Kyoto which will get more attention, with a world title bout, a Japanese Youth title bout and a former world title challenger all in action.
That world title bout will see WBC Light Flyweight champion Kenshiro Teraji (18-0, 10) making his 9th defense of the title as he takes on fellow Japanese fighter Masamichi Yabuki (12-3, 11) in a mouth watering all Japanese clash. This will pit the skills, timing and boxing brain of the champion against the power, physicality and size of the challenger, and these sorts of bouts can make for very interesting contests. There is no doubting Kenshiro is the better boxer, and he's proven it with notable wins against the likes of Ganigan Lopez, Pedro Guevara, Milan Melindo and Randy Petalcorin and Tetsuya Hisada, but he has yet to beat a true puncher, and has been battling out of the ring with Covid19. As for Yabuki it is a step up in class for him, though he's coming in good form and has learned form his losses, including an early career defeat to Junto Nakatani and a loss to Cuban standout Daniel Matellon. Coming in to this the challenger has stopped 4 of his last 5 and has proven he can go rounds when he needs to, taking a decision over former Kenshiro foe Toshimasa Ouchi. Our in depth preview of this one can be read here Kenshiro takes on Yabuki in defense #9!
In a Japanese Youth title bout at Flyweight we'll see Aoba Mori (7-2-1, 1) clash with Yuga Inoue (11-2-1, 2), in an interesting contest between two men who don't get much attention. The 21 year old Aoba is the younger man, and despite some set backs in recent bouts there is plenty of promise with him, as shown in his TKO win over Keisuke Iwasaki back in April. Although Mori has shown promise we suspect he will go in as the under-dog against Inoue, who is more well known and more established, having won Rookie of the Year and shared the ring with several notable domestic foes, including Kai Ishizawa. Neither man is a puncher, but both picked up stoppage wins last time out and will likely come in to this feeling they can hurt the other man. Our full preview of this bout can be read here Japanese Youth Flyweight title bout see Aoba Mori and Yuga Inoue clash!
In a stay busy fight former world title challenger Hiroshige Osawa (36-5-4, 21) will be up against Yoshiyuki Takabayashi (9-11-1, 4), in what really is a tick over bout for Osawa, who has sadly been inactive since beating Jason Butar Butar almost 2 years ago, and is certainly someone who's career has been negatively affected by the rise of Covid19. Osawa was on the verge of a world title fight going into last year, but it appearsthe chance of him getting a second shot are now dead in the water.
Sadly this show is essentially hidden away, despite how good it is, on what is essentially a Japanese PPV, costing 2,200Yen (around £15 or $20), a price that seems to be a sign of the times in Japanese boxing during the Pandemic era.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
Over in Tokyo we get a Dangan card that has a stellar domestic main event, and a very interesting supporting bout.
The main will see former Japanese Featherweight champion Taiki Minamoto (16-7-1, 13) trying to get his career back on track as he takes on the under-rated Shingo Kusano (13-9-1, 5). Minamoto, who won the Japanese title in 2018, has failed to pick up a win in over 3 years now and desperately needs a big result if he's to keep open hopes of getting another title opportunity. Kusano on the other hand performed brilliant in a tournament in 2019 and 2020, losing in the final in a barn burner. This might not have much in terms of star power, but it could end up being a brutal war over 8 fascinating rounds.
In the main support bout former world champion Ayaka Miyao (23-9-2, 6) will be up against Kaori Nagai (6-2-3, 2). On paper this is a total mismatch in favour of Miayo, however he is now 38, she's had numerous injuries including a nasty one in 2016 against Nao Ikeyama, has failed to win her last 3, and was brutally knocked out last time out. Nagai on the other hand is riding a 5 winning streak and at 31 will feel she has youth, energy and health on her side. A real must win for Miyao and a huge opportunity for Nagai.
This coming Saturday is a busy day for fight fans wanting to follow Asian fighters, with shows in Japan, China, Russia and the US all needing to be mentioned. For us it's the Japanese show that's the most interesting, though both of the Russian shows have the potential to be very good shows, even if the Asian bouts aren't the biggest.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
The Japanese show will be held at Korakuen Hall and will see Boxing Raise return for their first live stream since February. The event isn't a massive card, but is a very noteworthy one, with a tournament final, a former world title challenger and a former Japanese champion involved.
The main event will see Daisuke Watanabe (10-4-2, 6) and Shingo Kusano (13-8-1, 5) clash in the final of the Hajime No Ippo 30th Anniversary tournament. Both men have had to dig deep, and notch an upset or two along the way to get here. Neither man was favoured to reach the final and both men had to battle hard knowing a tournament win would be a massive boost to their career's. Originally this bout was planned for much earlier in the year, though due to the on-going situation it has been pushed back and back. On paper Watanabe will be the favourite, but the negative style of Kusano could really give him fits in an intriguing match up.
In the main support bout we'll see former world title challenger Shingo Wake (26-6-2, 18) take on the talented, but light punching, Shohei Kawashima (18-4-2, 4). On paper this is a must win bout for the 33 year old Wake, who was upset last year by Jhunriel Ramonal and desperately needs to make a statement, if he's to get a second world title shot. Kawashima is a talented fighter, but has gone 3-3 in his last 6 and was stopped last time out by Hiroaki Teshigawara. Despite being talented we don't really expect to see him holding his own with Wake here, who is fringe world class, despite the loss to Ramonal last year.
A third bout worthy of note will see former Japanese Lightweight champion Shuhei Tsuchiya (23-6, 18) face off with George Tachibana (8-4, 2). Tsuchiya is looking to pick a win following a loss in February, in what was a big upset against Shogo Yamaguchi, though it seems likely his glory days are gone and he isn't anything like the fighter he once was. As for Tachibana, who won the All Japan Rookie of the Year in 2018, the bout will be a chance for him to rebuild following a blow out loss in December to Tomoki Takada, in what was also a notable upset.
Fenghuang Streat commercial square, Changsha, China
Action continues to trickle through form China with another small card, this time in Changsha. Like many of the other recent Chinese cards this is packed with novices, including 8 debutants from the 14 bouts.
With so many debutants on the show we only actually have a single bout not featuring a debutant and that's the 6 round main event between Sheng Peng (4-6-1, 2) and Xing Xie (1-5, 1). Although it's the main event we aren't expecting anything too excited here from fighters who have little power and little in terms of form. Still there maybe a diamond in the rough on the under-card for those who are going to tune in here.
RCC Boxing Academy, Ekaterinburg, Russia
Over in Russian we'll see unbeaten Kazakh born Russian hopeful Stanislav Kalitskiy (10-0, 3) look to extend his unbeaten record as he takes on 25 year old Russian southpaw Dmitrii Khasiev (9-2-2, 3) in a 10 round. Kalitskiy has looked talented but lacked power and that may be an issue when he steps up in class, and takes on imposing fighters. Here however w edon't see it being an issue. Khasiev appears to be a solid professional, but it would be his biggest win if he was to take a victory here.
Pyramide, Kazan, Russia
On a second Russian show is the enigmatic Kazakh fighter Firuza Sharipova (10-1, 5), who takes on Tanzania's Happy Daudi (8-6-1, 4) in a contest for the IBA female Light Welterweight title. Although talented Sharipova is a frustrating fighter to follow, and seems to be more of a celebrity in Kazakhstan than a boxer now a days. This will be her first bout since April 2019, since which she has retired, had a child, and decided to return to the sport. Daudi on the other hand has never fought out of Tanzania and has never scored a win over a fighter with a win.
Whilst Sharipova should be criticised for her competition we do wonder what on earth is going on in the IBA to allow this to be for their "world" title. Disgraceful.
Bonita Springs Elks Lodge, Bonita Springs, Florida, USA
In the US Azeri born fighter Fardi Pashazade (2-0, 2) will look to score his third win. The unbeaten, but untested, Pashazade will be up against Daniel Mitchell (0-2) in what looks like a third straight meaningless bout for the Azeri. So far Pashazade has blown out his first two opponents in double quick time and Mitchell has been stopped in both of his bouts. Worse than the stoppages for Mitchell is the fact he's not fought in almost 3 years. This really is an exercise in pointlessness for the 31 year old Pashazade.
After a bit of a break from events at Korakuen Hall return to the Japanese boxing "Holy Land" this coming Thursday for a really good looking card featuring an OPBF title bout, two Hajime No Ippo 30th anniversary tournament semi finals and two under-card bouts featuring notable names!
The main event will see Riku Nagahama (11-2-1, 4) take on unbeaten Japanese-Afghan Kudura Kaneko (11-0, 8) in a bout for the vacant OPBF Welterweight title fight. The talented Nagahama has won 3 in a row since losing to Yuki Nagano in May 2018, and will be getting his second title fight, follow a loss in a Japanese Light Middleweight title bout against Takeshi Inoue. Kaneko on the other hand is someone who is getting his first title fight, but has earned it on the back of impressive wins against the likes of Toshio Arikawa, Rikuto Adachi and Moon Hyon Yun. Neither of these two are well known, but a win here will put the winner on the map, and see them become the new OPBF champion. Our preview of this bout can be read here Kaneko and Nagahama clash for OPBF crown!
In one of the two Hajime No Ippo 30th anniversary tournament semi finals we'll see hard hitting and teak tough Korean fighter Jae Woo Lee (7-2, 6) take on Japan's Shingo Kusano (12-8-1, 5). On paper this could end up the more fun of the two semi final bouts, especially given the quarter final bouts the men were involved in. Jae Woo Lee got past Tsuyoshi Tameda in a 3 round war, whilst Kusano was dropped multiple times before bouncing back to beat Qiang Ma. This could be a thriller, but it's hard imagine Kusano handling the pressure of Lee.
The other semi final will see Filipino fighter Richard Pumicpic (21-10-2, 6), who had a bye in the round of 8, take on Daisuke Watanabe (9-4-2, 6), who advanced on the basis of a technical draw against Koshin Takeshima. This is the tougher of the two semi finals to predict. Pumicpic is, and has long been, an under-rated terror to face off with, but he is the naturally smaller man and is on away soil. Watanabe has an incredibly under-rated record, and on his day is a threat with his solid boxing and heavy hand. We expect another exciting fight here, though this could easily end up being a real mess, with head clashes, if the fighters aren't careful.
One of two notable fighters on the under-card is former OPBF Minimumweight champion Tsubasa Koura (14-1, 9), who will be up against Ariston Aton (9-2, 5). Koura, who hasn't fought since losing the OPBF title last year to Lito Dante, was originally scheduled to face Yujie Zeng (14-10-1, 6) before Zeng was replaced by Aton. For Koura the clear purpose of this bout is to rebuild however Aton is no push over and he was very competitive last December against Tatsuro Nakashima.
The other notable fighter on the under-card is former Japanese Lightweight champion Shuhei Tsuchiya (23-5, 18), who who has his first fight since June 2017, as he takes on Shogo Yamaguchi (11-5-3, 6). Tsuchiya was in the ring in January, albeit in a public exhibition, after his planned opponent failed to secure a visa, and we suspect he'll come on top here. As for Yamaguchi he has scored just 2 low level wins in his last 9, and was stopped last time out by Masanori Rikiishi.
The main focus this coming Tuesday is on the Korakuen Hall the much anticipated Hajime No Ippo 30th anniversary tournament quarter-finals. The card features the 3 quarter-final bouts and we are expecting serious fireworks in some of these.
The standout bout among the quarter finals will see the unbeaten Koshin Takeshima (4-0, 3) take on the criminally under-rated Daisuke Watanabe (9-4-1, 6). The talented Takeshima will be looking to build on solid wins already this year over Jian Wang and Jon Jon Estrada, but this will be his first bout against a fellow Japanese fighter. Watanabe on the other hand is unbeaten in his last 4, including a KO win last time out against Dai Iwai, and is unbeaten since a 2018 loss to Reiya Abe. This is by far and away the most interesting of the 3 quarters and should be a very hard one to call.
In a bout with an international flavour we'll see China's Qiang Ma (5-1-2, 3) take on the out of form Shingo Kusano (11-8-1, 4). Although this is Ma's international debut he does appear to have all the momentum coming into this and is unbeaten in 7 bouts, including a win last time out for a minor, regional, WBO belt. The 30 year old Kusano has lost his last 4 bouts, and is win-less since a February 2016 victory over Apisak Puttawong, who has gone 0-6 since losing to Kusano.
Whilst we would be shocked by a Kusano win over Ma that's not the quarter final we see as the biggest mismatch. Instead that mismatch is the quarter-final pitting the huge punching Tsuyoshi Tameda (21-4-2, 19) against Korean Jae Woo Lee (6-2, 5). Coming in Tameda should be regarded as one of the clear favourites for the tournament and he's looking for his 4th win of the year, and his 9th win in 10 bouts. Lee, a former Korean Featherweight champion, has a punchers chance, but he's been out of the ring since March 2018 due to injuries and should be regarded as a very, very clear under-dog. If Lee comes out swinging this could be very fun, but we see Tameda's power and experience being too much for the visitor.
Also on this card is the highly touted Masahiro Suzuki (3-0, 2), who looks to continue his ascent to big fights as he takes on fellow Japanese fighter Hokuto Matsumoto (5-2, 1). this will be Suzuki's second bout against a Japanese foe, as he looks to build on August's win over Kosuke Arioka, and net his third victory of the year. We regard Suzuki very highly, but this isn't a gimme. The light punching Matsumoto was stopped last time out, by Kenta Endo, but is a tough and talented fighter and he will be looking for an upset win here.
We're focusing on Tokyo again this coming Monday for a small card at Korakuen Hall. It's not one which will get pulses racing but does feature a very interesting main event, and a few domestic names on the under-card.
The main event will see former OPBF title challenger Dai Iwai (23-5-1, 7) take on the under-rated Daisuke Watanabe (8-4-1, 5), in a very interesting bout. Iwai has the edge in experience, and has shared the ring with the likes of Masayuki Ito and Taiki Minamoto, but on the whole he has been rather softly matched. On the other hand Watanabe has been matched ridiculously hard, and has picked up some solid wins against the likes of Gakuya Furuhashi and Yosuke Fujihara. Although it doesn't look an even match up on paper we're expecting this to be very hotly contested.
Another bout that doesn't look like it will be competitive, though we're expecting it will be, sees former Japanese title challenger Tatsuya Takahashi (30-9-5, 21) take on Junnosuke Nagayasu (14-14-3, 4). The bout looks like a straight forward win for Takahashi on paper, but his record is mostly padded with wins against limited opposition and he is 3-4 in his last 7, dating back just over 2 years. With 44 bouts to his name, and some very damaging wars along the way, it's hard to know what Takahashi's body has left in it, and he has certainly not looked great in recent years. The 36 year old Nagayasu has gone 1-4-1 in his last 6, but that record doesn't show how close his losses have been and he is certainly no push over.
On paper a much better bout will see the limited but hard hitting Renji Ichimura (7-4, 6) take on Shingo Kusano (11-7-1, 4) in a support bout. This one could steal the show Ichimura is a stop or be stopped type of guy, and has only seen the final bell in 3 of his 11 bouts. Coming in to this he has been out of the ring for close to 3 years, but that rest could well have done him the world of good, and he's still only 25. Kusano, the last man to beat Reiya Abe, has lost his last 3 but a win over Abe holds a lot of weight and he ran Ryohei Takahashi really close last time out, showing that there is talent there. Although neither man is a world beater, this should be a really solid match up.