This coming Monday is a really great day for fight fans wanting to watch some Japanese action with two free shows being made available through the promoters YouTube channel.
Amagasaki Cultural Center, Amagasaki, Hyogo, Japan
The more notable the shows will be streamed on the Boxing Real YouTube channel, and it's a pretty interesting show overall, even if it lacks major names.
The main event will see once touted prospect Rikito Shiba (4-1, 2) return to the ring for the first time since being stopped in a Japanese Light Flyweight title fight by Masamichi Yabuki, back in December 2019. The talented 25 year old will be dipping his toes at Flyweight as he takes on the experienced Hideyuki Watanabe (8-13-3, 6). On paper this is a clear mismatch, but given Shiba's confidence destroying loss to Yabuki, the 18 month lay off and the move up in weight it might not be the foregone conclusion that it looks. Watanabe, although no world beater, is a 36 year old veteran who has ran some solid domestic fighters very close in a number of his losses, including Takuya Kogawa, Naoki Mochizuki, Ryuto Oho and Yusuke Sakashita, giving him one of the most misleading records in the sport. Watanabe is expected to lose, but we expect him to give Chiba a genuine test.
The brilliantly named Condor Inaba (7-5-1, 3) looks to make a successful return to the ring himself, following a lengthy lay off, as he takes on light punching Yuga Inoue (10-2-1, 1). Inaba hasn't fought since October 2019, and although not a star in the making the 26 year old will be desperate to pick up his next win and get back on track. In the opposite corner is Inoue, no relation to Naoya and Takuma, who won the All Japan Rookie of the Year in 2017 but came undone against Kai Ishizawa and has moved through the weights ever since. Inoue is the more talented fighter, but we do worry for him here as he will be giving away quite a bit of size to Inaba.
Potentially the hidden gem on this show will see Hibiki Jogo (10-3, 5) take on Wataru Ikegami (8-5-1, 5). It's fair to say that international fans will not be too aware of these two men, but both are fan friendly fighters, who are happy to let their shots go, and their styles should gel really well. Jogo is a 27 year old who was last seen losing in a competitive bout to Tatsuya Takahashi and although not the biggest or strongest fighter he does have the desire to be involved in exciting contests. Ikegami on the other hand is one of the most under-rated fighters in the sport, with an eye pleasing aggressive style. He seemed to find his groove last time out, against Shion Tamada, and he'll want to build on that performance, which was genuinely very impressive. This one really could be a show stealer.
One other bout worthy of some attention will see Hyogo Kimura (6-2-1, 1), who lost in the All Japan final of the Rookie of the Year back in February, taking on the debuting Goki Kobayashi (0-0). Kimura was unfortunate in the Rookie of the Year, and his bout with Ryota Karimata was one of the best bouts on the show. He proved himself to be tough, skilled, and at 20 years old incredibly promising. Kobayashi on the other hand is a 22 year old debutant who fought more than 30 bouts as an amateur and picked up more than 20 wins. Hard to know much about how good Kobayashi is, but in all honest we're glad to see more of Kimura.
Arena Tachikawa Tachihi , Tachikawa, Tokyo, Japan
The other Japanese show will come from Tachikawa, and is also expected to be live streamed on the promoters YouTube channel. This is a much smaller show, but is a good example of a Japanese style "small hall" show. None of the bouts are high profile, or feature anyone with exceptionally high ceilings, but the contests should be well matched competitive bouts.
The main event will be a rematch between Shinnosuke Saito (8-3, 2) and Hokuto Matsumoto (6-4, 1), who battled late last year in a very competitive 8 rounder. Last time around Saito took a razor thin split decision and we expect a super close bout again here. Coming in to this Saito is riding a 5 fight winning run and certainly has some momentum on his side, whilst Matsumoto is struggling for form with just a single win in his last 4, however given how competitive their first bout Matsumoto will come into this believing he can pick up the win.
In the chief support bout the light punching Yoshiki Yamashita (7-3) will be up against the JBC ranked Hizuki Saso (12-7-2, 4). Coming in to this Yamashita does have some momentum, having won 3 of his last 4, and the 23 year old will know that a win here would put him on the domestic map and help him secure a JBC ranking. As for Saso this will be his first fight since being stopped by Masataka Taniguchi, in what was a Japanese title fight last year. Whilst this is not a huge bout, we do expect it to be a very competitive one.
Another former Japanese title challenger on this show is Ryuji Ikeda (14-7-3, 9), who is in dire need of a win having gone 1-3-1 in his last 5. Whilst Ikeda is a former Japanese title challenger he will probably be the under-dog here, as he takes on the heavy handed Hayato Ono (8-4, 8). Kato is a stop or be stopped fighter, and he will be looking to bomb out Ikeda and get his own career back on track. We are not expecting high level boxing here and we're also not expecting the judges to be needed.
One final bout worthy of note for those tuning in is a match up between Dominique Kenshin (5-2, 2) and Shogo Sakai (7-6-3, 5). Kenshin reached the East Japan Rookie of the Year final last year, and whilst not a great fighter the 20 year old has got ambitions to compete at the domestic title scene. He is a crude heavy handed, and chinny fighter so his fights are always worth tuning in to. Sakai is also heavy handed, but hasn't been seen in the ring since 2017, and now aged 32 he can ill afford any more set backs with his career.
The One Boxing Stadium, Seoul, South Korea
As well as the action in Japan we're also set to get a small show in South Korea. The main event here will see Kook Min Moon (7-1-1, 5) battle against Tae Sun Kim (5-1-1, 2) for the KBM Super Featherweight title. For both men this is a huge opportunity to win their first title, though it feels like it's a bigger chance for the 21 year old Moon who is more active than Kim and appears to be the man with more ambition in the sport. Saying that however a win for Kim would see him being given a massive boost and potentially begin his move towards bigger and better international fights.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
This coming Wednesday action returns to Korakuen Hall with a small card from Misako. The card isn't a big one, but it does feature a number of noteworthy names on it, including 4 Japanese ranked fighters, one of which is a former world title challenger!
The first of the 4 ranked fighters in action will be JBC ranked Lightweight Shinnosuke Saito (7-3, 2), who battles Hokuto Matsumoto (6-3, 1) in an 8 rounder. The 25 year old Saito won the All Japan Rookie of the Year in 29019 and is looking to build on that with his second win of 2020. Matsumoto on the other hand will go in to the bout with an upset minded mentality, just as he did in July when he Ryosei Niguma and when he ran Masahiro Suzuki close a year ago. It's easy to favour Saito here, but make no mistake Matsumoto will see this as a great chance to score a win over a domestically ranked foe.
In a bout between Japanese ranked fighters JBC ranked Featherweight Yuki Kumazoe (14-6, 5) will move up to face JBC ranked Lightweight Tomoki Takada (7-5-2, 4), in another 8 rounder. The 28 year old Kumazoe is seeking a third straight win since his 2017 loss to Ryota Ishida and is looking for a 5th win in 6 following a nightmare stretch in 2012-2015, which saw him lose 5 in a row. As for Takada he's looking to build on a big win last December over George Tachibana, and the 27 year old will be looking at this as a great chance to make moves towards a Japanese title fight in the next year or two.
The most noteworthy name on this show is former world title challenger Norihito Tanaka (19-8, 10), who looks to bounce back from a loss in March to Knockout CP Freshmart. The 35 year old Tanaka will be looking to show age is just a number as he battles 22 year old Yuni Takada (8-5-2, 3). On paper we would expected Tanaka to win, but given his age and ring years we do wonder what he has left to offer. By that same token Takada is now push over and he fought to a draw in august against upcoming Japanese title challenger Yuni Takada. This could be much, much more competitive than it looks.
This coming Sunday is one of the busiest days we've seen this year for boxing in Asia, with numerous cards taking place, at varying levels.
City Sogo Gym, Hirakata, Osaka, Japan
The best of the shows will come from Osaka, thanks to Green Tsuda who put on a Japanese Youth title bout and a contest featuring a former national champion.
The main event of this show will see former Japanese Welterweight champion Ryota Yada (19-6, 16) take on Takuya Fujii (7-5, 3) in an 8 rounder. On paper this looks like an easy win for Yada, but he's coming into this bout following 2 stoppage losses in his last 3 bouts, including a loss last December in a sensational bout against Yuki Beppu. Fuji is no world beater but he could be the right person at the right time here.
Although it's not the main event the more interesting bout on this card will see JBA Youth Super Bantamweight champion Toshiki Shimomachi (11-1-2, 7) defending his belt against unbeaten challenger Hiroki Hanabusa (8-0-3, 3). The hope was to get this bout sorted earlier in the year but due to what's been going on in the world it was delayed. Despite the delay we're really looking looking forward to this one and expect a very, very good, hotly contested bout, though one where the champion probably has the slight edge. Our in depth previous of this bout can be read here Shimomachi takes on Hanabusa in Youth title defense!
Another bout on this card worthy of note is a contest between Jinki Maeda (4-0, 2) and Arashi Iimi (7-2, 7). The unbeaten Maeda won the Rookie of the Year last year, when he defeated Kyonosuke Kameda in the final, and he will be looking to build on that success here. Interestingly the hard hitting Iimi lost in a Rookie of the Year final back in 2017 against the previously mentioned Toshiki Shimomachi. On paper this should bhe a very, very good test for Maeda, and see what his chin is like.
This show was also supposed to feature a contest between former Japanese Super Flyweight champion Takayuki Okumoto (23-9-4, 11) and once beaten prospect Tulio Kuwabata (3-1, 2). Sadly however this bout was cancelled when the "Osakan gym cluster" was discovered, leading some suspicion to it being an issue at the Mutoh Gym, where Kuwabata trains. This meant that for health and safety a number of bouts involving fighters from a number of Osaka gyms were cancelled, including this bout.
Arena Tachikawa Tachihi , Tachikawa, Tokyo, Japan
In Tokyo we get another small card, featuring a total of 6 bouts, two of which involve a Japanese ranked fighter.
The main event of the show will see Japanese and WBO Asia Pacific ranked Minimumweight Hizuki Saso (12-6-1, 4) take on Yuni Takada (8-5-1, 3). Coming in to this Saso has won 6 of his last 7 and built a bit of moment, despite a loss last year to Rikito Shiba. On the other hand Takada has lost 3 of his last 5 and is struggling for any traction in his career, with another loss expected here.
The other ranked fighter on this show is Japanese ranked Lightweight Shinnosuke Saito (6-3, 2), who takes on Yuji Hashimoto (6-4, 4). Coming in to this Saito has the momentum, having won Rookie of the Year in 2019, but this is a step up for him and his first 6 rounder. On paper Hashimoto likely doesn't look much of a threat, but he has actually gone 6-1 in his last 7, albeit against very low level competition. Both men will be coming into this one hungry, and it could end up being a surprisingly good bout.
Aioi Hall, Kariya, Aichi, Japan
The third Japanese card comes from Kariya and is a 6 bout Central Japan Rookie of the Year show.
From the 6 bouts on this card the one that has us most interested is a bout between unbeaten youngsters Rikiya Nakamura (2-0, 2) and Aito Takabatake (3-0), who clash in a bout at 140lbs. Strangely it appears boxrec have got Takabatake listed with a loss, though we have confirmed that he did actually win his September 2018 bout against Hitoka Kitagawa. This should be a genuine highlight for the show and hopefully both men do go on to have promising careers in the years to come.
Daesan Gymnasium, Daegu, South Korea
As well as the Japanese action we're also set to get some action from Korea thanks to a KBA show in Daegu. The card is certainly nothing special and it's a very low profile effort.
Although it's a very poor card the main event of the show does have some significance, as Hyeon Oh Lee (3-4-1) and Chul Hyun Lim (5-16-2, 3) battle for a KBA ranking at Super Bantamweight. Neither man is expected to go far in the sport, Lee is a 27 year old who has won just 1 of his last 5 whilst Lim is a 39 year old who's last win came in 2010. If we're being this is a very weak main event for a very weak card. The sort of thing we expect when we think of the KBA, sadly.