L-Theatre, Osaka, Osaka, Japan
This coming Sunday is a busy one for Japanese fight fans with 3 shows in the country. Sadly none of the shows are major or have huge bouts, but there is some interesting action all the same.
The most notable single bout takes place at the L-Theatre in Osaka, on a show being promoted by Taiho promotions. The bout in question will see JBC number 2 ranked Super Featherweight Ken Osato (17-4-1, 5) take on Yuna Hara (11-2-1, 6) in a very good 8 rounder match up. The talented comes into the bout 2-2 in his last 4, but they did include a razor thin loss in a Japanese title bout against Masaru Sueyoshi in 2019. As for Hara he comes into this with momentum, having won his last 5, with 4 stoppages. Osato should be the favourite, but Hara is very much a live under-dog here.
Sadly that bout aside this is a weak card, with 4 supporting bouts, all of which are 4 rounders.
L-Theatre, Osaka, Osaka, Japan
After the Taiho card fans at the L-Theatre will also get the chance to see a West Japan Rookie of the Year show, with a scheduled 6 bouts set for it. The show will serve as the semi-finals for the West Japan Rookie of the Year tournament.
One of the bouts on this card will see Taito Nakamura (1-0) take on Gakuto Yamaguchi (6-0, 4) in a Featherweight bout. On paper this is a bit of a mismatch, given the clear experience edge for Yamaguchi, though it is worth noting he's only 20 years old and has had a very stop start career since debuting in Thailand in 2017, aged 15 and only made his Japanese debut last July, going 3-0 (1) in his homeland. As for Nakamura, who's 19 himself, he made his debut this past April and will come into this with plenty of belief himself.
The only debutant on this card is Super Flyweight hopeful Kohei Konishi (0-0), who takes on Ken Watanabe (2-0). The 23 year old Konishi is, like many debutants at this level, a total unknown whilst Watanabe debuted late last year and has struggled in both of his bouts so far, only narrowly defeating Genki Kakiuchi in April.
At Super Bantamweight Kirei Yasumura (1-0, 1) takes on 19 year old southpaw Seia Oshiro (3-0, 1). Yasumura, who's 22, debuted in November with an opening round KO win over Shinya Saito but sadly with that bout lasting just over 2 minutes it's hard to read much into it. As for Oshiro he debuted in August and has looked better with every fight so far, making this one a great match up to see what both men may have in the locker.
Arena Tachikawa Tachihi , Tachikawa, Tokyo, Japan
Outside of Osaka there is also a show in Tokyo which will feature a couple of good 8 rounders.
One of those 8 rounders will see the hard hitting Hayato Ono (8-4-2, 8) take on under-rated 34 year old Fumisuke Kimura (9-9-1, 6), in a rematch of a clash the men had in early 2019. Ono is heavy handed, but looks to be a bit of a faded force, having gone 0-2-2 in his last 4, with the first result from that win-less run being an opening round loss to Kimura. As for Kimura the veteran isn't a future title contender, but he is an upset minded fighter, who beat Ono and Giraffe Kirin Kanda in back to back fights, but is now win-less in his last 6, going 0-5-1. This really is a bout where both men will feel they need a win to keep their relevant career's alive.
The other 8 rounder is the main event of the show and will see JBC ranked Lightweight Shinnosuke Saito (9-4, 2) take on Ikemen Atsushi (7-8-2, 2). The talented Saito won the All Japan Rookie of the Year in 2019 and has gone 3-1 since then, with his most recent win coming in December against Mirai Naito. Although not yet ready for a title fight he is slowly edging his way there and we suspect the 26 year old is maybe 4 or 5 fights from a domestic title fight. At for Atsushi he's lost his last 4 and really hasn't been competitive. This focus here seems to be on getting Saito some ring time after a few months out, with bigger and better fights coming for him later in the year.
Holywings Club, Gatot Subroto, Jakarta, Indonesia
As well as all the action in Japan, we also get a small but very notable, card in Indonesia. The card features one of the brightest hopes in Indonesian boxing, a once touted Indonesian hopeful and a Croatian-Australian Heavyweight.
The rising star of Indonesian boxing, Andika D'Golden Boy (18-0, 8), will be seeking his 19th win as he takes on professional novice Wandi Priman Hulu (1-0). Andika was once linked to a fight with Hiroto Kyoguchi, before the pandemic ended those hopes, and in many ways the 26 year old hopefully has probably been saved from a loss, and given time to match, develop and prepare better for a high level bout like that. Sadly though we're not sure what he'll get from beating a Hulu, who struggled in his only recorded bout, last October.
In a more even looking bout we'll see the once touted Defry Palulu (24-2-1, 14) takes on Indian visitor Asad Asif Khan (11-2-1-1, 3). At one point Palulu was tipped as the big hope for Indonesia, but now aged 31 his career looks like it will never reach the heights once expected of him. Despite that he is still one of the countries best fighters and should be too good for the 28 year old Khan, who will be facing his most notable opponent to date. Khan has gone unbeaten since losing his first 2, but he has been matched very softly so far and this is a legitimate step up in class for him.
The most bizarre bout on the show will see former David Haye opponent Mark De Mori (39-2-2, 35) face off with Indonesian fighter Satria Antasena (5-19, 3) in a real "WTF?" bout. The 40 year old De Mori is no world beater, as we saw when Haye stopped him in just over 2 minutes, but he is riding a 9 fight winning streak, all by KO, and will likely extend that here. Antasena is a well travelled Indonesian fighter, but also someone who tends to pick up very early losses and has been stopped 15 times in his 19 losses, with 6 losses in the opening round. We expect another early blow out for him here
This coming Sunday is a big day in Japan, with 4 different shows, including a title bout in Osaka, several bouts with prospects and the East Japan Rookie of the Year final.
Sumiyoshi Ward Center, Osaka, Osaka, Japan
The show with the most important single bout takes place in Osaka, where we see several rising stars of Japanese boxing in action.
The main bout of the show will see WBO Asia Pacific Bantamweight champion Ryosuke Nishida (4-0, 1) defending the title he won from Daigo Higa earlier this year. The talented, and really promising, Nishida will be up against fellow Japanese fighter Tetsuro Ohashi (8-2-1, 2), who is best known as a solid and promising young Super Flyweight. Ohashi is a very solid fighter, but this is a big step up for him, and he is very much like a smaller, less polished version of Nishida. As for the champion this is a solid first defense, even if it is a step down from his last two bouts, which saw him beating Shohei Omori and Daigo Higa. Unlike those bouts this will see Nishida up against a fellow boxer, as opposed to a fighter or puncher, and we could see him needing to answer some different questions here. Our preview of this one can be read here Nishida takes on Ohashi in first WBO Asia Pacific title defense
In a major supporting bout we'll see former Japanese title challenger Riku Kunimoto (4-1, 2) look to bounce back from his loss to Kazuto Takesako as he takes on the unbeaten Kazuki Kyohara (5-0-2, 3). On paper this looks a really even match up but in reality Kunimoto is the more proven and the more polished, and a very solid former amateur. Kyohara will know a win opens the door for a title fight of his in 2022, but he's meant to be little more than a game "opponent" here.
On the subject of good former amateurs we'll also see Kaito Yamasaki (1-0) fight in his second professional bout, as he takes on the experienced Takahiro Hamazaki (3-7-2, 1). Yamasaki was a very talented amateur and he looked like he could go a long, long way on his debut, but does have some questions to answer, including some about how he'll adapt to the professional ranks, and how his power will hold up. Hamazaki on the other hand is there to play the role of a veteran, and we suspect the 35 year old will ask some questions on route to a wide decision loss.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
Over in Tokyo we get two shows, the most notable of which is set to take place at Korakuen Hall. The reason is so notable is because it's the East Japan Rookie of the Year Final, and is a platform for future stars. In total there is 12 bouts set for this card, with bouts taking place from 105lbs all the way up to Middleweight, with the exception of 154lbs which isn't competed in as part of the Rookie of the Year.
One of the most interesting match ups for this show is at Bantamweight, as Hiroto Sato (3-0-1) takes on Shori Umezu (5-0, 5) in a battle of unbeaten youngsters. Sato, aged 21, only debuted in July but has managed to squeeze 4 fights in already this year, prior to this one. Sadly he did fight to a draw on debut, has shown a lack of power, which could be a major issue here. Umezu, himself only 23, made his debut in August 2020, and has taken out his first 5 opponents in a combined 8 rounds. He has never seen round 3, and has really heavy hands. He'll be looking to show what his power can do here.
Another interesting bout between two unbeaten fighters will see Ryuya Kusamura (2-0, 2) take on Minori Okamura (2-0, 1), with this bout being the Middleweight bout, and for those not aware Japanese Rookie of the Year Middleweight bouts tend to be among the most entertaining as it's usually two big, somewhat unpolished, guys landing a lot of leather on each other. Interesting both these men debuted in September, both had their second pro bout in November and will be having this bout just 3 and a half months after their debuts. Kusamura is the taller man, and the harder hitter, and has looked really fun to watch in his first two bouts. Okamura on the other hand has had attention on him, with his debut coming against Eigoro Akai, the son of a popular former fighter, and he has gone 4 rounds, which he did last time out. This should be a very, very fun 4 rounder.
Arena Tachikawa Tachihi , Tachikawa, Tokyo, Japan
Staying in Tokyo, there is a small, but notable card in Tachikawa city. The card is certainly not a huge one but it does have a very solid main event, as JBC ranked Lightweight Shinnosuke Saito (8-4, 2) takes on Mirai Naito (8-3, 3). Coming in Saito is going to be the favourite, and he certainly is the more prove fighter, though Naito will be wanting to prove himself, especially with this bout coming less than a week after his brother's upset loss to Koichi Aso. Saito did lose last time out, with that loss ending a 5 fight winning run, but he'll be hungry to get back to winning ways here.
Aioi Hall, Kariya, Aichi, Japan
We'll also be getting rookies in action in Kariya as we get a show featuring only 4 rounders. Sadly it's always hard to get too excited about these shows, due to the lack of name value, but the 4 rounder format does tend to deliver some amazing action as two flawed novices put it all on the line. Despite the lack of notable names, we do like the look of these shows and this should be fun.
If pushed for a bout to make a note of, it's worth noting the nominal main event of the show will be a bout between Kenta Sugawara (2-2-1, 1) and Yuya Nakazato (5-12, 5), who is the most experienced man on the card, by far.
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Over in Vietnam we're going to be seeing once beaten Vietnamese fighter Van Thao Tran (13-1, 8) take on unbeaten Thai puncher Boonrueang Phayom (9-0, 9) in what looks set to be a really interesting match up. Tran was tipped for big things, following a solid amateur career, but inactivity and a loss in 2019 to Billy Dib has cost his career and he's really not reached the level that many had hoped he would. Aged 22 Boonrueang is one of the more interesting Thai prospects, and a genuine puncher, but someone who has fought at a very, very low level. For Boonrueang this is a massive step up in class, and his first fight bout outside of Thailand, but a win here would help set him up for a very interesting 2022.
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.