Action really begins to pick up this coming weekend with a host of fights taking place that are worthy of attention. We get the first televised Japanese card of the year, the first televised Korean card of the year and the first world title fight involving an Asian of the year.
The Japanese card, which will be aired live on G+ as part of their Dynamic Glove series, is an interesting card with a fantastic main event and two notable fighters in supporting bouts.
Tha main event looks set to be a genuine shoot out as Shinobu Charlie Hosokawa (12-4-1, 11) defends his Japanese Middleweight title against Japanese national champion Kazuto Takesako (11-0-1, 11). Whilst Takesako's title isn't on the line we still see this as being a very special and explosive bout between two hard hitters each out to make a statement. We do not expect this one to go the distance, and instead we expect bombs to be fired off until one man ends up being saved by the referee. It might be a short bout, it might be a long one, but with the power of the two men combined this is going to be a brutal for as long as it lasts. Our preview of this bout can be read here Hosokawa and Takesako battle in clash of champions
In the chief support bout we'll see former world title challenger Takeshi Inoue (15-1-1, 9) make his first defense of the WBO Asia Pacific Light Middleweight title, as he takes on Chinese challenger Cheng Su (14-2-1, 8). Although this looks interesting on paper, with both men having similar looking records, we really can't see it being anything more than an easy defense for Inoue. Footage of Su shows him to be a slow, open and clumsy fighter and Inoue's pressure should grind him down in the middle rounds. Anything other than a stoppage for the champion should be seen as disappointing for a man who will be hoping to get a second world title fight in the near future. Our preview of this fight can be read here Takeshi Inoue takes on Cheng Su in WBO Asia Pacific title defense
Also on this card will be unbeaten prospect Takuma Takahashi (4-0, 4), who looks for his 5th straight win as he takes on Filipino journeyman Leonardo Doronio (17-17-3, 11). The talented Takahashi is likely to be looking at title fights by the end of 2020, and already holds a win over recent OPBF title challenger Sitthidet Banti, and this seems an easy first bout of the year. Doronio was once a capable Lightweight, and scored good wins against Al Rivera and Burning Ishii among others, but has gone 3-8-1 (2) in his last 12 and shouldn't be competing at Welterweight, a weight that really doesn't suit him.
We get more title action in Mexico, as WBC "interim" female Light Flyweight champion Kenia Enriquez (22-1, 9) defends her title against Japanese challenger Chaoz Minowa (6-2, 5). For Minowa this is a must win after coming up short in 2 previous world title bouts, and given her amateur reputation if Minowa does fail to claim some version of a world title it would be regarded as a huge achievement. Sadly for Minowa we've been very impressed by what we've seen of the technically sound Enriquez, who will be expecting to notch her 4th defense of the WBC interim title. We've previewed this bout here Chaoz Minowa returns to Mexico to face WBC interim queen Kenia Enqiruez!
Jeonju, South Korea
Back in Asia we also get an interesting card in South Korea, featuring 5 title bouts! These are 3 WBA Asia title bouts and 2 KBM title bouts.
One of those WBA Asia title bouts will see the heavy handed Yang Hyun Min (8-3, 7) take on Italian born Australian Danilo Creati (4-0, 1) for the WBA Asia Middleweight title. For Min this is a second regional title fight, after he gave Yuki Nonaka a surprisingly tough test last September in a WBO Asia Pacific title bout. Min is no world beater, but he hits hard, takes a short and is aggressive. As for Creati this will be a notable step up in class for the unbeaten Australian and will be his first bout in Asia. This could be a very interesting clash of styles.
In a WBA Asia Super Bantamweight title fight the unbeaten Min Jang (9-0-2, 2) will take on limited Chinese foe Junhui Zhao (4-5-2 1). Jang is a former Korean Super Flyweight champion but is said to have out grown the 115lb weight class and the 19 year old is expected to make a splash, at least domestically, at Super Bantamweight. Zhao will be a clear under-dog here, but should make for a good foil for the local hopeful.
The most interesting of the WBA Asia title bouts comes at Super Flyweight where former OPBF Flyweight champion Keisuke Nakayama (11-5-2, 5) take on once beaten Korean Woo Hyun Kim (8-1, 1). The local, a former "interim" PABA Bantamweight champion, has fought just once in the last 3 years, but that was a win against the previously mentioned Junhui Zhao, and he'll feel confident of picking up a career best win here. Nakayama on the other hand is 1-3-1 in his last 5 and has not looked good recent performances. Nakayama needs a win to keep his career alive, but we wouldn't be surprised at all if this was a third straight defeat for him.
The KBM title bout which has caught our attention sees all action Han Bin Suh (5-0-3, 4) defending his KBM Super Middleweight title against former amateur standout Dong Myung Shin (2-0). Suh really caught our attention last year, with the 19 year old going 2-0-2 for the year and being involved in some sensational bouts. Although not the most polished of fighters he did give us the vibe of being an old school Korean fighter. Shin is a talented fighter, and was a very experienced amateur turning professional, but with his 32nd birthday coming in March his best years are likely behind him. Interestingly when this bout was first announced Korean sources stated that if Suh won he would be chasing an OPBF title fight with Hiroaki Teshigawara later in the year, in what would be a massive step up in class.
The other KBM title fight takes place at Super Featherweight and will see unbeaten Korean based Kyrgyzstan fighter Urmat Amankulov (4-0-2, 3) battle against Seung Yoon Shin (4-3-3, 2) for the vacant title. Shin has scored 1 win in his last 3 and it would be a genuine surprise if he was competitive with Amankulov.
Camarines Sur, Philippines
One more Asian show of note will come from the Philippines, where we get some low level action.
In one of the most noteworthy bouts on this card the once beaten 21 year old local Michael Mendoza (10-1-2, 3) will battle Indonesian journeyman Stevanus Nana Bau (10-12-2, 2), with the two men trading blows for the lightly regarded WBF International Flyweight title. Coming in to this Mendoza has won 5 in a row since his soul defeat, to Arvin Magramo, almost 2 years ago and appears to be building some genuine momentum. Bau on the other hand has lost 4 of his last 6 and is win-less outside of Indonesia, with an 0-8 record on the road. Fair to say we're not expecting much of Bau here.
The only other bout of note here will see the once touted Al Sabaupan (25-3-1, 20) end a lengthy break from the ring to take on Benny Tamaela (4-9-1, 1) in an 8 rounder. Although Sabaupan hasn't fought since November 2016, when he was stopped by Jheritz Chavez, he'll be strongly favoured here. Tamaela is a 36 year old who has 1 win since the start of 2016 and is 2-9-1 in his last 12. An easy comeback for Sabaupan.
For a third day in a row we get OPBF title action in Asia as we get a bout for the OPBF Middleweight title. That bout headlines a card that features a couple of other notable names.
That OPBF Middleweight title bout will be a rematch between Shinobu Charlie Hosokawa (11-4-1, 10) and Koki Tyson (14-3-3, 12), who fought to a draw earlier this year. We were genuinely surprised to see the two go the distance when they first fought, though it should be noted that Tyson took the bout on relatively short notice when Yuki Nonaka vacated the belt. This time around Tyson has had a full training camp, and may well find himself fighting a more aggressive bout than last time around. Both men are former holders of this belt, both can bang, and both are exciting fighters. We would be surprised if they go the distance again here, though it's still a very hard bout to call, and could go either way. A full preview of this bout can be read here Tyson and Hosokawa set to go again for OPBF crown!
Another rematch on this show will see former world title challenger Shingo Wake (26-5-2, 18) take on Jhunriel Ramonal (15-8-6, 8), in what is expected to be Wake's final bout before getting a second world title bout. These two clashed back in 2013, when Wake was the OPBF Super Bantamweight champion, and Ramonal was stopped in 3 rounds by the sharp shooting Japanese fighter. Since the Ramonal has gone 2-2-2. Wake on the other hand has gone 11-1, fought for a world title and claimed the Japanese title. Give the difference in form and the result of their first bout it's hard to imagine anything but another early win here for Wake.
Also on this card is former Japanese Minimumweight Shin Ono (23-10-3, 6), who will be looking to bounce back from January's loss to Norihito Tanaka. The 36 year old Ono, who made his debut in 2001, will be up against fellow veteran Akira Kokubo (8-8-3, 2), who is 35 years. On paper Ono has the experience edge, and is a multi-time world title challenger, but he will be moving up in weight for this, was stopped last time out and has little Momentum. Kokubo on the other hand has momentum coming in to this, with 4 straight wins including a good one last time out over Taiyo Inoue. This bout, being fought at a contracted limited around 110.25lbs, should be a lot more interesting than it looks on paper.
We're back at Korakuen Hall this coming Tuesday for what looks like a pretty good card from the Kaneko Boxing gym.
The main event of the card is a potentially match up as the hard hitting pairing of Shinobu Charlie Hosokawa (11-4, 10) and Koki Tyson (14-3-2, 12) battle for the now vacant OPBF Middleweight title. The two men, who have both previously held this title, are flawed punchers and both will know this is a huge chance to reclaim a big regional title. Of the two Hosokawa is the more crude, but aggressive, fighter whilst Tyson is the more skilled boxer-puncher. Given the styles of the two men this could be a very, very exciting bout and is something that could end at any moment. This has the ingredients to be an instant classic. A full preview of this bout is available here Hosokawa and Tyson battle for OPBF title in potential shootout!
In the chief support bout we'll see the hard hitting and very skilled Kazuki Saito (6-1, 5) take on Filipino veteran Monico Laurente (30-14, 7). The talented Saito is a wonder to watch, but has shown real issues with his chin, having been down several times already in his career and stopped in his only loss. Laurente isn't likely to pose a threat to Saito's chin, but will be there to win and will have the experience to ask questions of Saito.
Another supporting match up will see the Japanese ranked Sonin Nihei (9-3-2, 1) take on Takahiro Fujii (10-6-1, 3) in what should be a pretty good support bout. Nihei returned in December, after almost 2 years out, and shocked Tatsuya Ikemizu with a decision win and he'll be looking to build on that here. Fujii on the other hand is a win some-lose some fighter on the domestic scene, and should ask questions of Nihei, though we suspect that Fujii will come up short in a competitive bout.
One more notable fighter on this card is 2018 Rookie of the Year winner George Tachibana (7-3, 2), who takes on Akira Morita (7-7, 2) in what will be Tachibana's first bout since winning the Rookie of the Year crown. This isn't likely to be a tough test for Tachibana but it is good to see him back in the ring following his Rookie triumph.
Attention turns to Osaka this coming Sunday for a card promoted by Hiroki Ioka.
The main event of this card is a mouth watering clash between unified OPBF and WBO Asia Pacific Middleweight champion Shinobu Charlie Hosokawa (11-3, 10) and veteran challenger Yuki Nonaka (32-10-3, 10). The champion is a marauding, puncher, who doesn't know how to take a step backwards, and instead marches forward looking to impose his will on opponents. It was that desire that helped him win the titles last year, as he broke down Yasuyuki Akiyama in the 11th round of a very hard and gruelling fight. Nonaka on the other hand is a technically sound 41 year old southpaw, who gave Takeshi Inoue real problems last year. Nonaka lacks power but is a very smart fighter and will be looking to use his boxing brain here in what could be one last hurrah for the Hiroki Ioka promoted fighter. A full preview of this bout is available to read here Regional champion Hosokawa takes on veteran Nonaka!
Sadly the under-card is a bit lacking, with the best of the under-card bouts being a contest between Japanese ranked Super Flyweight Tatsuya Terada (7-3-2, 1) and recent Japanese youth title challenger Ryosuke Nasu (9-4-3, 2). The 29 year old Terada is 4-1-1 in his last 6 and is in good form, but certainly needs a big win this year if he's wanting to move into title contention. Nasu on the other hand lost in a razor thin bout to Yuto Nakamura in a Youth title fight, and has had really mixed form in recent years, including a KO loss to Masamichi Yabuki and an upset win over Naoto Iwai. Neither of these look like future champions but they should make for an interesting match up against each other.
On Wednesday we see a unified champion defending their regional titles on what is a very weak show, with one of the worst fight posters we've seen this year and one of the weakest cards, with just 3 bouts taking place on it.
The main event will OPBF and WBO Asia Pacific Middleweight champion Yasuyuki Akiyama (12-7-1, 9), making his first defense of both titles, as he faces the heavy handed Shinobu Charlie Hosokawa (10-3, 9). Last year Akiyama won the belts with a massive upset win over Koki Tyson, stopping Tyson in the 5th round of a scheduled 12. At the age of 38 it's unclear what Akiyama has left in the tank though it is worth noting that he owns a 2017 win over Hosokawa. For Hosokawa this is a chance to avenge his loss to Akiyama and claim a couple of regional titles whilst extending an impressive run of results, which has seen him stopping his last 4 opponents in a combined 18 rounds. We're expecting a very explosive contest here!
The main support bout will see the fast rising Daisuke Sugita (3-0, 2) take on Thai foe Somphot Seesa (2-1, 2) in an 8 round bout. Sugita is a real talent, and had a very strong amateur career before making his debut back in April. Last time out he became the first man to stop Masaaki Serie and he'll be looking to build on that win here. The Thai was stopped last time out, by Ren Sasaki, and is clearly there to keep Sugita busy, rather than to test the prospect.
There was a supporting Heavyweight bout scheduled for the card collide as Ryu Ueda (6-1-1, 3) was supposed to take on Yamato Fujinaka (7-5, 3). This bout has been cancelled leaving the only other bout on this card a Lightweight clash between Tsubasa Matsudo (4-10-4, 1) and Nobuya Kasai (4-7-1, 3), which isn't particularly inspiring.
Genuinely one of the worst Japanese cards we've seen this year!
This coming Thursday there will be interest for fight fans from across Asia, with shows in Japan and the Philippines and two central Asian fighters in action in New York.
The show in Japan is from the Korakuen Hall where Kaneko Boxing will be showing casing some of their most notable fighters.
The main event will see a bout between two Japanese ranked Middleweights, with the two fighters essentially fighting to become the leading contender to face Kazuto Takesako. The bout will see Hisao Narita (12-6, 6) face off with Shinobu Charlie Hosokawa (9-3, 8) in what looks likely to be a very hotly contested bout. Of the two men it's Hosokawa who is ranked higher by the JBC, and is also ranked by the OPBF. Coming in to this he has stopped his last 3 opponents, and has looked like a genuine puncher whilst rising through the domestic scene. Despite having 3 losses against his name Hosokawa has gone 7-1 (7) since a faltering 2-2 (1) start to his professional career. On the other hand Narita was stopped last time out by Sanosuke Sasaki and will be looking to bounce back from that and score what would be a career best victory.
The main support bout will also feature two ranked fighters, as Welterweights Shusaku Fujinaka (16-8-2, 11) and Toshiro Tarumi (9-3-3, 5) clash in a very interesting match up. Fujinaka is best known for his 2015 loss to Randall Bailey, and since then he has gone 4-2, losing to Moon Hyun Yun in a thriller and being stopped by Keita Obara last December, despite those set backs he has proven to be a credible fighter on the domestic stage and will be wanting to get a shot at the national title. Tarumi on the other hand has had mixed success on the domestic level, but notable wins over Quaye Peter, Takashi Inagaki and Noriaki Sato show he can perform at this level, when it all clicks. If both men are on form this could be a very special bout, though obviously depends on both fighters, neither of whom have proven to be incredibly consistent so far.
Also on this card will be Takahiro Fujii (10-6-1, 3), though his opponent is yet to be announced, in an 8 rounder.
In the Philippines fans will get a title double header.
The main event will see the touted Carl Jammes Martin (8-0, 7) take on George Lumoly (10-4-1, 8) For the WBA Asia Bantamweight title. The hard hitting 19 year old Jammes has stopped his last 4 foes and picked up a few minor titles, and will expect to do the same again here, as he takes on a foe with 4 stoppages losses already. We've not managed to get too much information on Lumoly but given he has 8 stoppages it's fair to say that Martin won't want to take too many risks, but will be confident of stopping the visitor.
In a bout for the LuzProBA Flyweight title John Magagmoc (3-0-1) will battle against Enrique Magsalin (3-0-2, 1). The 17 year old Magagmoc made his debut last August and has been very easily matches so far, so this is a huge step up for him. At 23 years old Magsalin is the older man, and the more physially mature, but has also been matched lightly and will also be taking on his most notable opponent. This is an interesting one, and will answer questions about both men, but neither really look like they are ready for a title fight.
New York, USA
In New York it will be an Uzbek looking to shine with 24 year old Super Featherweight hopeful Elnur Abduraimov (0-0) making his debut. He won a Bronze medal at the 2015 AIBA World Champion and is expected to be fast tracked. Sadly at the time of writing his opponent hasn't yet been named.
This coming Tuesday fight fans in Tokyo will get the chance to see an OPBF title double header thanks to Kaneko gym and Dangan,who appear to be putting on a potentially thrilling show.
The main event of the card will see OPBF Super Bantamweight champion Hidenori Otake (30-2-3, 13) look for his third defense as he takes on big punching Filipino Brian Lobetania (13-4-3, 11). The champion is one of the toughest fighters in the sport, as he showed in his 2014 loss to Scott Quigg,and is coming in to this bout with good form following 8 straight wins, including victories over Jelbirt Gomera, Kinshiro Usui and Hinata Maruta. As for the challenger this bout is clearly a reward for his recent TKO win over the previously unbeaten Kai Chiba, who Lobetania beat back in January. The bout will put Otake's toughness against the power of Lobetania in what should be a really exciting contest.
The other OPBF title fight will see Flyweight champion Keisuke Nakayama (10-2-2, 4) make his second defense of the title, as he takes on unbeaten Filipino challenger Jayar Raquinel (8-0-1, 5). The champion hasn't looked the best, in either his title win or his first defense, and his title reign isn't likely to push him towards a world title fight, but he is the champion and will have the champions edge coming in to this bout. Saying that however we have been impressed by what we've seen of Raquinel and he looks like he has the potential to go a long way, the big question is whether he's quite ready for a bout at this level. If the Filipino is ready then we suspect he'll take the title, and push on with a very successful career.
One under card bout of note here will see Japanese ranked Middleweights face off, with #2 ranked Kazuyuki Fukuyama (11-8, 3) battling against Shinobu Charlie Hosokawa (8-3, 7), who is #6 himself. This bout could decide the next title challenger, and should be a very well matched and interesting bout at this level.
This coming Friday is an action packed day with a lot of Asian fighters in action.
The most notable action of the day for Asian fight fans comes from Japan where we get an OPBF title fight and two match ups pitting JBC ranked fighters against each other.
The OPBF title fight will see former world title challenger Hidenori Otake (27-2-3, 12) take on once beaten Filipino Jelbirt Gomera (12-1, 6) in a bout for the vacant OPBF Super Bantamweight title, which was recently vacated by Shun Kubo. For Otake the bout will be his first for an OPBF title, though he did have a 2 year reign as the Japanese champion before his most notable bout to date, a loss to Scott Quigg in 2014. Since that loss he has won 5 in a row, though looked poor last time out against Alexander Espinoza. Gomera is a real unknown, with his sole loss coming to the talented Mark Anthony Geraldo and his best win being over tough journeyman Eduardo Mancito. Gomera might be getting this bout at the right time, but Otake will certainly be regarded as the favourite.
In a supporting bout we'll see Shusaku Fujinaka (15-6-2, 10) take on Moon Hyun Yun (17-4-3, 4) in a really mouth watering domestic encounter. Of the two men Fujinaka is the more well known, though that's down to his 7th round KO loss to Randall Bailey from back in 2015 than any wins that he has scored. Yun is a former Japanese title challenger and although he lacks power he has an exciting and will be looking to earn another title fight. This could end up being the fight of the show.
Another bout between Japanese ranked fighters comes at Middleweight where the heavy handed Shinobu Charlie Hosokawa (6-2, 5) takes on former Japanese title challenger Yasuyuki Akiyama (10-7-1, 8). Coming in to this Hosokawa has won his last 4 bouts by stoppage and looks like a man who can carry his power up to at least domestic level. Akiyama has lost his last 3, but has mixed with good company and knows that this is step back down in class from what he has been up against. This could be a very solid fight even if neither man has an out standing record.
Metro Manila, Philippines
Staying in Asia there will also be a low profile card in Metro Manila. The card is a mostly forgettable one, though the main event will see the once beaten Jheritz Chavez (6-1-2, 4) battle against Jonel Gadapan (12-8-2, 8) for the GAB Light Welterweight title. Chavez will be the favourite and he has impressed in recent times, beating both Tatsuya Yanagi and Al Sabaupan in his last 3 bouts. Although the under-dog Gadapan is an upset minded fighter and he holds a recent win of his own over Nelson Tinampay, suggesting he won't be there to roll over, though he has been stopped in 6 of his 8 career losses.
In Moscow fans are in for a genuine treat as OPBF Light Welterweight champion Al Rivera (17-2, 15) takes on Russian Aik Shakhnazaryan (19-2, 10) in a bout for the WBC International title. The heavy handed Rivera impressed last year when he dominated Shinya Iwabuchi for the title, and would go 3-0 (3) for the year scoring not only the win over Iwabuchi but also a solid win over Adones Cabalquinto. Coming in to this the Filipino is on an impressive 7-0 (7) run. The once touted Shakhnazaryan won his first 15 bouts but suffered back-to-back losses in 2015 and has been rebuilding with 4 stoppage wins, but this pormises to be a much tougher bout for the Russian than his last 4.
In Australia we'll see talented Filipino Czar Amonsot (33-3-3, 21) continue to carve out a career down under as he battles 21 year old Hungarian Zsigmond Vass (12-4, 2) in a bout for Amonsot's Interim WBA Oceania title at 140lbs. Coming in to this Vass has beaten nobody of note and been stopped in the opening round in his last 2 losses. Although not widely regarded as a top contender Amonsot is world ranked and has gone 15-0-2 (11) since his memorable war with Michael Katsidis.
Also on this card will be Indonesian Jason Butar Butar (24-21-1, 15), who will be expected to pick up another loss here as he takes on the exciting but limited Joel Brunker (30-2, 17). Whilst Brunker is limited Butar Butar is little more than a record padder on the international stage, and that is likely to be seen again here.
Staying in Australia we'll also see Thai novice Chaiyan Sakkoed (0-3) go for his first win as he takes on the debuting Timacoy Williams (0-0). With 3 straight losses we know Chaiyan is limited, and he's already been stopped in two of those defeats, with a third stoppage loss likely to come here.