Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
It's fair to say that February is set to be a very, very quiet month with less action scheduled for the month than there was in January, also a super quiet month. Thankfully however this coming Thursday there is a notable show taking place at Korakuen Hall, and it's a genuinely exciting card with a Japanese Youth title fight and Japanese title fight both set for the show. Better than that, is the fact both of the title fights look very, very even and very interesting on paper..
The show only has 4 bouts on it in total. The most interesting of those will see Shinnosuke Kimoto (6-4, 2) take on Shota Ogasawara (5-3, 3) in a 6 round Super Bantamweight bout. Incidentally this is their second bout, but more about that in a moment. Coming in to this Kimoto is looking to rebound from a majority decision loss to talented youngster Tom Mizokoshi, a loss than ended a 2-fight winning run for him. As for Ogasawa he'll be fighting for the first time in over a year, following his loss in the 2019 All Japan Rookie of the Year. Although he lost last time out in a notable bout Ogasawara is better for a different loss, his thrilling 2019 loss to Ryugo Ushijima. As mentioned these two have fought before, with Ogasawara beating Kimoto back in 2017, in what was Kimoto's debut. Fair to say Kimoto will want revenge here!
The first of the two title fights on the show will see Ryu Horikawa (3-0-1, 1) clash with Yudai Shigeoka (2-0, 1) in a sensational looking Japanese Youth Light Flyweight title fight, for the vacant title. The 20 year old Horikawa impressed in his 2019 debut and impressed even more in his second professional bout, when he beat Yuki Nakajima, though was unlucky in his third bout when he was controversially held to a draw in China against Xiang Li. Horikawa is a very skilled and quick boxer-mover and will be looking to make the most of his slick footwork here. On the other hand Shigeoka, the older brother of Ginjiro Shigeoka, looked promising on debut and sensational in his second bout, as he calmly outboxed OPBF Lito Dante over 6 rounds. Shigeoka looks the more imposing fighter, the physically stronger and more polished, but also the man with the slower footwork. This should be a genuinely fantastic match up, and a really high level bout between two sensational youngsters. Our preview of this bout can be read here Horikawa and Shigeoka battle for Youth crown in Tokyo!
In the main event we'll see Japanese Featherweight champion Ryo Sagawa (10-1, 5) defend his belt against mandatory challenger Hinata Maruta (10-1-1, 8), in a bout that was originally scheduled for 2020 but was delayed due to Covid19. For Sagawa this will be his third defense since beating Reiya Abe for the vacant title in 2019 and he looks to continue an excellent 9 fight winning run which has seen him defeat Junki Sasaki, Ryo Matsumoto, Al Toyogon and the aforementioned Abe. The champion has looked fantastic in recent bouts, but there are question marks about his chin and durability. On the other hand Maruta, who turned professional with a lot of buzz, has failed to meet the expectations put on his young shoulders, however a win here would see that buzz return. Aged just 23 Maruta has the tools to go a very, very long way, but a 2017 loss to Hidenori Otake slowed his rise and a controversial draw against Ben Mananquil also slowed him down. Coming in this the challenger has won his last 3, and has shown a more aggressive side to his boxing than earlier in his career. Our in depth preview of this bout can be read here Sagawa and Maruta clash at last, in Japanese title bout!
Yoyogi First Gym, Tokyo, Japan
As well as the show at Korakuen Hall there will also be a special event at the Yoyogi 1st Gym in Tokyo. This however isn't one you'll find on Boxrec and is instead a charity event where we'll get 7 exhibition bouts, and nothing that will go down on a fighters record. Despite that it's something that is worth being aware of, in part due to the fighters featured on it, including several world champions, amateur standouts and genuine Japanese stars.
One of those will be an potential dream bout as WBA "Super" and Ring Magazine Light Flyweight champion Hiroto Kyoguchi (14-0, 9) shares the ring with the now retired Akira Yaegashi (28-7, 16), who himself held the IBF Light Flyweight title along with titles at Minimumweight and Flyweight. It's a shame the careers of these two didn't over-lap as this is a brilliant match up.
Another retired former world champion on this show will be former WBA Super Featherweight champion Takashi Uchiyama (24-2-1, 20) who will be in the ring with current Japanese national Super Featherweight champion Kosuke Saka (21-5, 18). Although Uchiyama would be strongly favoured to win, had the two men clashed for real, this could be an interesting exhibition, especially given that Uchiyama is in fantastic condition.
A third former world champion included in the event is former WBO Flyweight champion Sho Kimura (19-3-2, 12) who will be battling with former K-1 fighter Yoshiki Takei (0-0), who makes his professional boxing debut in March. Whilst not the greatest match up it will be a chance to see what Takei brings as a boxer, and we always love seeing Sho Kimura in the ring.
Former world title challenger Takeshi Inoue (17-1-1, 10) will be taking on amateur standout Yuito Moriwaki in one of several bouts between professional fighters and amateurs. Another of these will see 140lb hopeful Andy Hiraoka (16-0, 11) share the ring with Japanese Olympian Daisuke Narimatsu and the a third will see Japanese Youth champion Jin Sasaki (10-0, 9) [佐々木尽] face off with the very highly regarded Seon Okazawa.
We've saved the best until last, and that's a bout between WBA "super" and IBF Bantamweight champion Naoya Inoue (20-0, 17) and former WBC Flyweight kingpin Daigo Higa (17-1-1, 17) [比嘉 大吾], in what should be a sensational exhibition bout over 3 rounds and something worthy of paying the hefty admission fee for. This is two big names, both in their primes, facing off in a bit of a dream fight, even if it is just an exhibition.
This coming Saturday isn't a huge day of boxing in terms of quality, but there is actually quite a lot to talk about, with former world champions and promising hopefuls in action, and with fighters competing as far afield as Tijuana and Victoria.
Metro Manila, Philippines
The most notable show, for us at least, comes from Metro Manila, where we see a host of minor title bouts, and a clash between two former world champions.
The main event of this card will see former WBO Flyweight champion Sho Kimura (18-3-2, 11) take on former WBO Minimumweight champion Merlito Sabillo (27-7-1, 13), in what must be viewed as a must win bout. The rugged Kimura didn't look his usual self last time out, losing to Carlos Canizales but will be strongly favoured over Sabillo, who has lost his last 3 and is moving up to Flyweight for the contest.
Way up the scales we'll see Cambodian Heavyweight Eric Pen (5-0, 4) defending his WBA Asia title against Indonesian veteran Alexander Bajawa (43-10-4, 16). Pen is not going to be competing on the world stage, but could be in the mix to face the top fighters from around Asia in the coming years. Bajawa on the other hand is an under-sized and under-powered fighter who fought as low as Bantamweight earlier in his career. Bajawa has gone 2-8 in his last 10, and we suspect this will be another loss for the 37 year old.
In a bout that looks more interesting than it is Vietnamese hopeful Dinh Hoang Truong (1-0, 1) will face off with Thailand's Yuttana Wongda (14-25, 10) for the WBA Asia Super Middleweight title. Truong made his debut last May, with an opening round win, and on paper it looks good that he's fighting for a title this early. Sadly however Wongda is a blown up former Lightweight who has been stopped 17 times in his 25 loses. This shouldn't be a problem for the Indonesian novice.
Another horrific mismatch on this card will see Korean veteran Hee Jung Yuh (22-3, 11) take on Thai novice Kanyanat Chotchun (2-1, 1). The bout, for the WBC International female Super Flyweight title, should be a very easy win for the talented Korea, and we wouldn't be surprised by an early stoppage for the 40 year old Korean fighter.
On a different Filipino show we'll see Roberto Gonzales (28-6, 17) and Jason Egera (24-22-2, 11) clash in an 8 round bout. On paper this looks like a mismatch, but in reality it could be a lot more competitive than it looks. The 29 year old Gonzales has been stopped in 4 of his last 5 and has just a single win in the last 3 years. Egera is no world beater but he has been a banana skin in the past, and could be slip in another upset here, as he did in 2017 against Glenn Suminguit.
Back to mismatches! In Australia fans will see the world class Susie Ramadan (27-3, 12) take on Filipino visitor Gretel de Paz (6-5-2, 2) in a bout for the WIBA Super Flyweight title. In recent weeks we've ranted about mismatches for titles and this is another case where the title body involved, in this case WIBA, need to take a look at themselves. Whilst Ramadan hasn't fought in over a year she is still a world-class fighter and we expect to see that here. On the other hand de Paz I 1-2-2 in her last 5, and doesn't have the natural size or power to hold her own with Ramadan. Come on WIBA you can do better for "world" title fights!
Also in action is unbeaten Kazakh hopeful Ablaikhan Khussainov (10-0, 7), who will be fighting Mexico where he will take on local foe Mauro Loreto (20-10-2, 8). The unbeaten Khussainov began his career in China, fought 8 bouts in Canada and was last seen in Kazakhstan, and this will be his Mexican debut. Loreto shouldn't serve as much of a test here, and he is 3-5 in his last 8 bouts.
This coming Sunday we see two very notable cards in Asia, both of which are double headers, though both are at very different levels. The more notable is in China, though a Japanese card is certainly worth being aware of.
The Chinese card is expected to be a huge show in terms of local fan interest, with the new face of Chinese boxing headlining along side an incredibly popular foreign fighter, from nearby Japan.
The local star is current WBA "regular" Featherweight champion Can Xu (16-2, 2), who looks to make his first defense, as he takes on Japanese challenger Shun Kubo (13-1, 9), himself a former WBA Super Bantamweight champion.We saw Xu shock the boxing world earlier this year when he defeated Jesus M Rojas for the title in the US, announcing himself on the world stage in impressive and exciting fashion. As for Kubo this will be only his second fight since losing the WBA Super Bantamweight title to Daniel Roman back in September 2017, and he comes in to the ring following surgery to his eyes and more than a year of inactivity. This should be a really, really entertaining and action packed bout, but one where the champion should be favoured. A full preview of this bout can be found here Will Xu be successful in first defense as he takes on Kubo?
The other world title bout on this card will see WBA Light Flyweight champion Carlos Canizales (21-0-1, 17) take on former WBO Flyweight champion Sho Kimura (18-2-2, 11), who is dropping down 4lbs for this bout. Canizales has really made his name in Asia, despite being from Venezuela, with great performances against Ryoichi Taguchi, Reiya Konishi and Lu Bin. He has been very hard hitting, aggressive and exciting, and and will be looking to record his second defense. Kimura, who is huge in China following his win over Zou Shiming, will be looking to recapture world gold following his sensational 2018 loss to Kosei Tanaka but there are questions over how he will cope with dropping down to Light Flyweight. If Kimura can make weight safely we could be in for a true FOTY contender. An in depth preview of this bout is available here Canizales and Kimura battle for gold in China!
Another notable match up on this show will see world ranked Chinese Flyweight Wulan Tuolehazi (11-3-1, 5) taking on Filipino veteran Ardin Diale (35-13-4, 17). Tuolehazi will be looking to build on a very hotly contested win over Ryota Yamauchi from March, a bout that was much, much closer than the scores suggest and will be strongly favoured here. Diale is a veteran, but is well below world level and this should be a straight forward win for the Chinese local.
Another bout of note on this card will see Chinese youngster Shichao Gao (3-0-1, 1) take on former world title challenger Nop Kratingdaenggym (23-1, 9). The 21 year old Gao looked fantastic in March, when he beat Koji Igarashi, and will know that a win here will give his career a massive boost. A win isn't however a foregone conclusion for the Chinese fighter, and Nop is no push over, with 6 wins in a row since his 2016 loss to Nehomar Cermeno back in 2016. This could be a very compelling contest and a real test for the naturally bigger local.
As well as the card in China we also get a pretty notable regional title double header in Osaka, featuring two WBO Asia Pacific title fights and a bout featuring a very promising local hopeful.
One of the WBO Asia Pacific title fights will take place at Flyweight title as former world title challenger, Masahiro Sakamoto (13-2, 9) takes on Yusuke Sakashita (17-8-3, 12) in a bout that should be a lot more interesting than it looks. Sakamoto looked totally out classed when he faced Moruti Mthalane last year, and it was clear he isn't world class, but this regional title level is where he should find himself being really competitive. Sakashita is a solid Japanese domestic fighter, but we don't imagine him having the skills to really test Sakamoto, who looks to re-capture the WBO Asia Pacific Flyweight title. A preview of this bout can be found here Sakamoto and Sakashita battle for regional title!
The other title bout will see WBO Asia Pacific Bantamweight champion Ben Mananquil (17-1-3, 4), defending his title against former OPBF title challenger Yuki Strong Kobayashi (14-8, 8). This looks like an easy win for Mananquil, who will be looking to make his first defense and build on February's big win over Tenta Kiyose, also in Japan. For Kobayashi this will be his first bout since since losing in December to Keita Kurihara, in a controversial and very entertaining clash. That bout with Kurihara saw Kobayashi show great resilience and a good boxing brain, and he is a lot better than his record suggests. He will however be the under-dog here. A preview of this bout is available here Manaquil looks to defend regional crown against Kobayashi!
The other bout of note here will see rising prospect Tulio Kuwabata (2-0, 2) take on former world title challenger John Mark Apolinario (20-13-3, 5), in what is a huge step up in class for Kuwabata. Despite being a step up the 23 year old Japanese fighter will be strongly favoured and will know a win here is a huge step towards a a regional title bout. Apolinario was once a credible fringe world class contender but with a 6-13-1 (3) record in his last 20 it's clear he has lost his desire and will be expected to pick up another loss here.
One other Asian card set to take place this Sunday is in Mumbai, where Arif Khan promoted a rather low key affair. Although most of the bouts are scheduled for 6 rounds they are mostly between novices. The bout with the most experienced sees a combined 18 bouts between the men involved, with Rahukl Kumar (5-1-1, 4) taking on Shiva (8-3, 3) in a Welterweight bout.
Although it's good to see bouts in India, there's nothing to get too excited about here.
For us the biggest show this Saturday is in China where we get a China Vs Japan card featuring a number of bouts between fighters from those two countries. Not only is there the China Vs Japan theme, but also the return to the ring of a popular Japanese former world champion.
The former world champion is Sho Kimura (17-2-2, 10), who despite being Japanese is hugely popular in China following his title win over Zou Shiming in 2017. Kimura was dethroned of the WBO Flyweight title in September, by Kosei Tanaka, but will be strongly favoured to pick up a win here as he takes on Thai veteran Pigmy Kokietgym (60-10-2, 24) in a bout for the OPBF Silver Flyweight. Pigmy was once a solid fighter, and is a 2-time world title challenger, but is not a natural Flyweight, he's 37 and has been stopped 7 times in his career, with Kimura likely to make that 8.
One of the many China Vs Japan bouts will see China's Baishanbo Nasiyiwula (15-2-1, 6) take on Yusuke Konno (14-4, 7) in a bout for some minor WBA Light Welterweight title. Originally the title was listed as the WBA "International" title, though their is now speculation that it will be for the WBA "Asia" title. Nasiyiwula is a talented fighter, but often comes across as a man with a bad attitude, and a real arrogance. He has impressed in the past, but didn't look good last time out, when he fought Ernesto Espana. Konno on the other hand has a poor looking record, but comes into this bout on the back of 3 good domestic wins, including an excellent victory over Vladimir Baez in December and will be full of confidence.
Another China Vs Japan bout, with a title on the line, will see world ranked Chinese fighter Wulan Tuolehazi (10-3-1, 5) battle against highly regarded Japanese prospect Ryota Yamauchi (4-0, 4) in a bout for the WBA International Flyweight title. Tuolehazi has impressed in recent years, turning around a 0-2 start to professional boxing to have a 10-3-1 record including a big win over Jayr Raquinel last year. Yamauchi has impressed us since his professional debut, and already has a couple of solid wins on his record, but this is a big step up for him. We suspect Yamauchi has the tools needed to over-come Tuolehazi, but he will need to answer serious questions here, and prove himself more than he has at any other point in his career. A full preview of this bout can be read here Yamauchi and Tuolehazi battle in mouth watering Flyweight clash
The China Vs Japan rivalry may be set to give us a very special bout as Fangyong Zhang (11-4-1, 3) and Ryuto Maekawa (11-1-1, 7) clash in a potential war. Neither of these are world beaters, but both are happy to let their hands go and be involved in a fight. Maekawa is best known for his insane bout with Rex Tso whilst Zhang is less well known he is certainly not a bad fighter to watch and should make for the perfect partner with Maekawa for a brilliant fight.
As well as the big card in China there will also be a big one in the US, in fact the US card in Pennsylvania is the biggest of the day in terms of general boxing. The card isn't just big in a wider boxing sense but also features several Asian fighters.
The most significant bout, in regards to Asian interest, will see the unbeaten Uzbek fighter Kudratillo Abdukakhorov (15-0, 6) take on Japanese puncher Keita Obara (20-3-1, 18) in an IBF Welterweight world title eliminator. The talented Abdukakhorov will be making his US debut and begin a 3 fight deal with Top Rank with this fight, and will know that a win will open up major doors, though he is up against a serious puncher in Obara. For Obara, who has been stopped in all 3 of his losses, this is a must win but he has failed to win his biggest bouts and at the age of 32 he is likely on the slide. Our preview of this bout is available here Abdukakhorov and Obara battle for mandatory position
Once beaten American based Kazakh Askhat Ualikhanov (4-1, 2) will take on Puerto Rican puncher Jose Lopez (11-1, 9) in an 8 round bout. The 28 year old Ualikhanov was beaten on debut, in 2016, when he was controversially DQ'd and since then has reeled off 4 wins, to rebuild his reputation. Lopez on the other hand was stopped last time out by journeyman Carlos Winson Velasquez and is may not find this bout to be the confidence builder he needs.
New South Wales, Australia
There will also be a show in Australia, featuring a couple of Filipino fighters.
The main event of this card will see WBSS participant Jason Moloney (17-1, 14) return to the ring for the first time since losing to IBF Bantamweight champion Emmanuel Rodriguez. The talented, once beaten, Australian will be up against Filipino visitor Cris Paulino (19-3, 8) in a bout for the WBA Oceania Bantamweight title. Given that all 3 of Paulino's losses have come by stoppage it's hard to imagine him lasting with the hard hitting Moloney, who will likely get to Paulino sooner or later.
Another Filipino on this card is Rey Juntilla (23-8-5, 14), who takes on Billel Dib (22-3, 10). The 29 year old Juntilla has lacked activity in recent years, with only 1 bout in the last 2 years, and although he has a good looking record he has lost against almost every noteworthy name he's faced. Dib is no world beater, and has lost 2 of his last 3, but he should pick up an easy win here.
In a bit of an oddity we'll see German based Moroccan Bilal Messoudi (6-4-1, 2) take on Chinese fighter Shayilanbieke Kadeerbieke (2-3-2, 1). Although Messoudi has lost 4 bouts he has mixed with decent fighters and is better than the numbers suggest. As for Kadeerbieke this will be his first bout outside of China, and we'll be honest and admit that is strange he's set to fight in Germany.
This coming Monday is a big one in Japan, especially in Aichi where fans get a really notable card, featuring an all-Japanese world title bout, a WBC Youth title bout and a contest featuring a really promising Japanese prospect. As well as the Aichi card there will also be a small show in Oita.
It's the Aichi card which will get all the attention, though sadly appears set to only be televised live in small Japanese market on CBC, rather than receive national coverage. A huge disappointment.
The main event of the card will see WBO Flyweight champion Sho Kimura (17-1-2, 10) go for his third defense, as he faces the unbeaten Kosei Tanaka (11-0, 7), who is looking to become a 3 weight champion in just 12 fights. The bout is seen as something that will come down to how Tanaka's handles the pressure and tempo of Kimura and whether or not Kimura can deal with the movement and skills of Tanaka. Stylistically this should be very interesting, and the winner will have doors swung wide open for big Flyweight bouts later in the year. In fact the winner of this will likely be featured on the year ending “Kyoguken” show on TBS. Notably we should have a live stream of this bout on our site so please keep your eyes peeled for that! A full in depth preview of this contest can be read here courtesy of George Delis.
The second title bout on this card will see second generation fighter Kento Hatanaka (6-0, 6) fight against limited Indonesian foe Aprilianto Rumahpasal (1-2, 1) in a bout for the WBC Youth Flyweight title. Hatanaka, the son of former WBC Super Bantamweight champion Kiyoshi Hatanaka, is tipped for big things in the future and will be looking to move from a “Prince” to a “King” by taking his title here. The Indonesian visitor is unlikely to pose much of a threat here, in what will likely be a mismatch.
Another likely mismatch will see former 2-time Japanese Bantamweight title challenger Yushi Tanaka (21-2-3, 14) take on Rusli Yanto (2-1). This should be little more than a stay busy win for Tanaka, who will be hoping to get another title opportunity in 2019.
Former amateur standout Koshin Takeshima (1-0, 1) will be having his second contest on this show, and will also be facing an Indonesian visitor, Kiki Marciano (1-2). The 22 year old Japanese Featherweight looked great on debut, back in July, and is expected to be in the title mix sooner rather than later. This bout however is more about getting him some ring time and keeping him active rather than chasing belts. Despite the familiar surname Kiki Marciano is nothing like the great Rocky Marciano and we would be very surprised to see him last the scheduled 6 rounds.
As well as the action in Aichi there will also be a small card in Oita.
The main even here looks to be a well matched 6 round bout between Takeru Kobata (6-3-1, 2) and Tomoki Takada (5-4-2, 3) at 140lbs. These two aren't likely to find themselves fighting for titles any time soon, but should make for a compelling match up together, give their limitations.
In the chief support bout Kanta Takenaka (5-3-1, 1) will battle Shun Imuta (4-1-2, 3), in another 6 round contest. This also looks like it could be a compelling contest, albeit at the lower end of the Japanese domestic scene.
The biggest card this coming Friday is in Qingdao as we get two world title fights and several other minor title contests.
One of the world title bouts will see WBO Flyweight champion Sho Kimura (16-1-2, 9) return to China, where he won the title last year against Zou Shiming, to defend the belt against Froilan Saludar (28-2-1, 19). Kimura has made just a single defense of the title, but looks like a solid champion who is strong, hungry and hard hitting, much more so than his record suggests. As for Saludar he was once tipped as a major star but has failed to reach the heights expected of him. Saying that however Saludar has seen his brother, Vic Saludar, score a massive win recently over Ryuya Yamanaka and will feel full of confidence following his brothers win. We're expecting heavy leather to be thrown here and we suspect both have the power to hurt the other.
The other world title fight will see unbeaten WBA Minimumweight champion Knockout CP Freshmart (17-0, 7) defending his title against China's very own Xiong Zhao Zhong (27-7-1, 14). This will be Knockout's first bout outside of Thailand and will see him hunting a 5th defense of the WBA regular title. Although talented Knockout does have flaws and with the Chinese crowd against him he may need to up the pace in the later rounds, something he's rarely done when he's been fighting at home. For Zhong the bout is one final chance to become a 2-time world champion, though at the age of 35 it's hard to know what he really left in the tank.
In another title bout we'll see China's Baishanbo Nasiyiwula (13-2-1, 6) take on Filipino fighter Sonny Katiandagho (12-2, 7) for a couple of regional titles. Coming in to this Nasiyiwula will be trying to bounce back from his April loss against Fredrick Lawson in the US, and will be dropping back down from Welterweight to Light Welterweight for this bout. As for Katiandagho he was stopped 2 fights ago, and has been down a few times during his career, though will feel confident here having gone 2-0 in fights in China.
Other bouts on this card include Can Xu (13-2, 1) against Jelbirt Gomera (13-4, 7) and an interim regional Flyweight title bout between Wulan Tuolehazi (7-3-1, 3) and Yokthong Kokietgym (18-4, 11).
Fight fans in Tokyo will get something a bit special as reason put on a stacked card at the Korakuen Hall.
The major attraction here is an amazing match up for the Japanese Super Bantamweight title, as defending champion Yusaku Kuga (16-2-1, 11) takes on former world title challenger Shingo Wake (24-5-2, 16) in what is essentially a world title eliminator between two world class fighters. The hard hitting Kuga has made two defenses of the title that he won in February 2017, though certainly got pushed hard in the first of those against the aggressive and hard hitting Ryoichi Tamura. Wake on the other hand is a former OPBF champion who's only loss in the last 6 years came to the hard hitting Jonathan Guzman in 2016. This is a puncher against a boxer, and we're expecting a compelling stylistic match up here.
Whilst the main event is brilliant it may end up being outshone by a supporting bout between unbeaten Minimumweight prospects, who trade blows for the Japanese Youth Minimumweight title. The bout in question will see 2016 Minimumweight Rookie of the Year Daiki Tomita (12-0, 4) take on the heavy handed Kai Ishizawa (4-0, 4) in what is really a fantastic match up. The 20 year old Tomita had a break out 2016 with his Rookie of the Year triumph and since then has gone 4-0 (2) with a notable domestic win over Desierto Nagaike. On the other hand Ishizawa, who debuted in June 2017, has just been destructive with his April win over Tatsuro Nakashima being a huge statement. This really has the potential to be a very special bout.
Former Japanese and OPBF champion Takuya Kogawa (29-5, 13) will be returning to the ring for his first bout of the year, as he takes on former Japanese title challenger Yusuke Sakashita (16-8-2, 11). At his best Kogawa was world class, and has long been a fan favourite due to his high octane style and willingness to have a tear up against anyone. Sadly though at the age of 33 we suspect his career is catching up with him and he may not have too long left at the top. Saying that however we still suspect Kogawa will have more than enough to over-come the somewhat limited Sakashita who has gone 4-4 in his last 8, losing to the 4 notable fighters that he's shared the ring with in that time.
Another really interesting match up will see former Japanese Super Bantamweight champion Masaaki Serie (27-9, 10) return to the ring after more than 2 years away from the ring. Unfortunately for the 35 year old Serie he will be up against the fast rising Daisuke Sugita (2-0, 1), who is tipped for big things. At his best Serie was a really solid fighter, who scored notable wins against the likes of Mikihito Seto, Shoji Kimura and Yasutaka Ishimoto. Sadly for Serie he was showing signs of his age before his break from the ring, and had gone 3-4 in his previous 7 bouts. Sugita is a former amateur stand out who debuted in April and is taking a big step up here, but one that we expect him to make with ease given just how good he was as an amateur, and how good he's been since turning professional.
A second Japanese card will be held in Osaka where we see several rising prospects and a former Japanese champion in action. Sadly however this card really lacks in terms of quality match ups.
The main event on this card will see second generation fighter Juiki Tatsuyoshi (8-0, 5), the son of the legendary Joichiro Tatsuyoshi, take on Indonesian veteran Noldi Manakane (32-24-2, 18). The Japanese fighter will be fighting in his first 10 rounder and taking a notable step up in class as he battles his first former world title challenger. Sadly though Manakane is a long, long way from the fighter who challenged Koki Kameda or the WBA Bantamweight title back in 2012 and the 34 year old has won just 8 of his last 21 fights.
The former champion on this card is former Japanese Featherweight champion Kosuke Saka (17-4, 14), who continues to rebuild his career following his shock loss to Takenori Ohashi last December. The heavy handed Saka shouldn't struggle at all with the light hitting Gusti Elnino (4-12-1, 1), who fights outside of Indonesia for the first time. Saka might not be the best fighter, or the smartest, but he should be far too strong and powerful for Elnino.
The once beaten, and heavy handed, Kyosuke Tsutsumimoto (7-1, 6) will be looking to score his 4th straight stoppage as he takes on Arega Yunian (6-10, 1). The Japanese fighter has rebuilt well since a loss in a 4 rounder to Bunta Okamoto back in 2016, and looks to be rising through the ranks, helped in part to a big win in April against Engelbert Moralde. The Indonesian fighter also fought in April, but unlike Tsutsumimoto he was himself stopped, being taken out in 3 rounds by super prospect Hintata Maruta. Given how their performances went in April it's hard to see anything but a stoppage win for Tsutsumimoto.
Also on this show will be the highly promising Ginjiro Tsutsumimoto (1-0, 1), who impressed us back in his amateur days. The talented Japanese hopeful will be up against his own Indonesian foe in the form of Iwan Sanca, who has been stopped in both of his defeats. We've got big hopes for Tsutsumimoto and really can't imagine him struggling, at all, in this bout as he moves towards bigger and better fights.
Eastern Cape, South Africa
Outside of Asia the most interesting match up will see once beaten South African fighter Yanga Sigqibo (10-1-1, 3) face off against Filipino foe Rene Dacquel (20-7-1, 6) in a bout for the WBC international Super Flyweight title. The South African fighter won the national title last year and made one defense, but this is a big step up for him as he takes on a former OPBF champion. Dacquel was dominated last time out, by Andrew Moloney, but is a very capable fighter and has got a real chance of picking up a solid win on the road here.
The more notable of two Australian cards comes from Victoria where Brian Amatruda gives us a pretty interesting match up with a Thai involved, and also a bout with a notable Filipino.
The interesting bout, for us, will see the once touted Kaewfah Tor Buamas (27-4, 17) take on rising Australian hopeful Liam Paro (14-0, 10). The Thai would win his first 23 bouts but has since gone 4-4 as his career has began to go backwards and he has suffered recent defeats to Czar Amonsot, Masayoshi Nakatani, George Kambosos and Atchariya Wirojanasunobol all in the last 24 months. As for Paro this is a slight step up in class, but the 22 year old looks a class act and should have the edge in size, power, youth and skills as we go into this bout. A win from Paro is expected, but the real question will be about how he wins.
The Filipino on the other hand is Czar Amonsot (34-4-3, 22). He hasn't had his opponent for the contest announced as of yet, but isn't expected to face much of a test as he competes in a 6 rounder and looks to bounce back from an October 2017 loss to Carlos Manuel Portillo.
Western Australia, Australia
Staying in Australia there will also be a couple of mismatched featuring Indonesian fighters.
One bout will see the under-rated Brandon Ogilvie (19-2-1, 10) take on Indonesian journeyman Rusmin Kie Raha (15-15-3, 3). Although no world beater Ogilvie is certainly not a bad fighter, and his 2016 draw in Tokyo against Yoshitaka Kato was impressive, as was his stoppage win against Pharanpetch Tor Buamas. As for the Indonesian he has suffered 9 stoppage losses in his 15 defeats and has gone 3-13-1 in his last 17 bouts.
The other match up with an Indonesian visitor will see the once beaten Jackson Jon England (4-1, 3) battle against the very limited Arief Blader (23-28-2, 8). Although England was beaten last time out, losing to the then debuting Richard Lockett, he should easily pick up a win here against a very out of form Blader, who has lost his last 6 and has started to collect losses on a very regular basis.
This Sunday closes out an incredibly long year for us boxing fans and does so in spectacular fashion with a trio of world title bouts, including a two mandatory title defenses by champions in their first defenses and a world title unification.
The first part of the world title triple header will see IBF Minimumweight champion Hiroto Kyoguchi (8-0, 6) making his first defense of the title he won earlier this year as he takes on talented Nicaraguan challenger Carlos Buitrago (30-2-1-1, 17)). For the fast rising Kyoguchi, who won the title a little more than a year into his career, the bout is another big step up in class and this really does look like a baptism of fire for the youngster, who looked explosive whilst going to 6-0 (6) to begin his career. In Buitrago we'll see Kyoguchi up against a challenger in his 4th world title challenger, and it's likely that it's now or never for the man who was once regarded as the next Roman Gonzalez. The bout matches aggressive against skills and should be a very entertaining clash of styles.
The second part of the triple header is an all Japanese bout, as WBO Flyweight champion Sho Kimura (15-1-2, 8) makes his first defense, following his shock upset over Zou Shiming in July. The new champion will be up against mandatory challenger Toshiyuki Igarashi (23-2-3, 12), a former WBC and Linear champion. Kimura really showed his will to win as he broke down the naturally more skilled Shiming and will be hoping to do the same here against the more experienced Igarashi, who will know it;s now or never if he's to become a 2-time world champion. Sadly fans who have followed Igarashi in recent times will be expecting head clashes to mar this bout, but on paper it's a very interesting and incredibly tough first defense for the Aoki gym fighter.
The main event of the triple header is one of the best match ups we've seen this year and pits WBA Light Flyweight champion Ryoichi Taguchi (26-2-2, 12) against his IBF counter part Milan Melindo (37-2, 13) in a mouth watering world title unification bout. Coming in to this Taguchi is the longest active reigning champion at 108lbs, having held his title since the end of 2014 and racked up 6 defenses, but his form has been inconsistent and he's certainly frustrated at times during his reign, whilst seeking a big bout. For the technically superb Melindo this is his second defense, and sees him returning to Japan, where he won his title, with a chance to earn Fighter of the Year honours with an impressive performance. Since winning the title in May Melindo has beaten Hekkie Budler and had a career defining year, with a win here potentially putting a cherry on top. The winner will not only unify the WBA and IBF titles but also claim the Ring magazine title and be regarded by some as the de facto best in the division.
Also on this card will be former world title challenger Shingo Wake (22-5-2, 14), who is looking for his third successive win since being stopped by Jnathan Guman in 2016, and the excellent Masataka Taniguchi (8-2, 6), who's only losses have been razor thin ones in battles for the Japanese and OPBF Minimumweight titles. Both Wake and Taniguchi will be up against limited Thai foe
The most notable card of the day comes from Shanghai and is a really weak card, which has got all it's interest based on the main event alone, and if we're being honest we really hope this isn't the type of thing Chinese boxing will become when it develops more stars.
That main event will see WBO Flyweight champion Zou Shiming (9-1, 2) making his first defense of the title as he takes on Japanese challenger Sho Kimura (14-1-2, 7). We saw Shiming win the title last year, when he beat Kwanpichit OnesongChaigym in their second bout, and he will be favoured here against the relatively unknown Japanese challenger. However Shiming has been inactive since November, has seen a number of dates for a bout fall through this year and is now 36. Although Kimura is unknown outside of Asia he's a decent fighter on a 16 fight unbeaten run, which includes a notable regional title win over Masahiro Sakamoto, and he is 4-0 (3) outside of Japan, with a win in Hong Kong in his most recent outing.
A second Chinese show comes form Jinan and is a much less card, with little of real appeal.
On paper the best match up looks to be a 6 rounder between the unbeaten pairing of Aikeremujiang (4-0, 3) and Yongchao Sheng (2-0, 1). Aged 20 it appears that Aikeremujiang is a promising puncher but this could be a genuine test and the 24 year old Sheng won't be wanting to give up his unbeaten record.
The only other 6 rounder on this card will see highly experienced Filipino Richard Garcia (26-24-1, 7) take on the win-less Yangyang Wang (0-4-1) in a bout that could be competitive, but is unlikely to excite too many fans on paper.
As well as the action in China there will also be a show in Osaka, with a title bout headlining this card too.
That title bout will see Japanese Light Flyweight champion Tetsuya Hisada (28-9-2, 17) defending his title, for the first time, as he takes on veteran Atsushi Kakutani (19-5-1, 12), who gets his third shot as a national title. Coming in to the bout Hisada is on a sold run of 7-0 (6) including wins over Shun Kosaka, Hayato Yamaguchi and, most notably, Kenichi Horikawa. It's not a world class run, by any stretch, but it is a solid domestic run and one that has seen him really earn the title. Kakutani on the other hand looks like a man in last chance saloon, having been blown away by Ken Shiro 15 months ago. Aged 32 it's likely now or never for Kakutani, who is best known for dropping Adrian Hernandez in a WBC title fight almost 4 years ago. This should be a good fight and a really competitive one, but it's hard to see Hisada losing against this aged version of Kakutani.
In a supporting bout the once beaten Yuki Takahashi (8-1, 4) will take on the limited but heavy handed Tatsuya Miyazaki (8-9-1, 8), in a bout that could see the 22 year old Takahashi being given a chin checking.
Eastern Cape, South Africa
Outside of Asia we get yet another title fight as Gideon Buthelezi (19-5, 4) defends his IBO Super Flyweight title against Filipino foe Ryan Rey Ponteras (20-11-1, 9) in what could be a much better bout than it looks on paper. On paper Buthelezi is the clear favourite, but the Filipino has placed the role of the up-setter in the past, and will be looking to do so again here, against the under-rated Buthelezi.
West Midlands, United Kingdom
This coming Saturday is a pretty notable day for Asian fight fans, with the most notable bout coming in the UK as Englishman Khalid Yafai (21-0, 14) defends his WBA Super Flyweight title against Japanese challenger Suguru Muranaka (25-2-1, 8). The unbeaten champion won the title last year, when he outpointed Luis Concepcion, and will be making his first defense here. The champion will be strongly favoured here but Muranaka is unbeaten in over a decade and has beaten notable fighters like Takuya Kogawa, Masayuki Kuroda and Hiroyuki Hisataka. This could be a very exciting bout, despite the general view of it being a mismatch in favour of Yafai.
Hong Kong S.A.R., China
In Hong Kong we'll see DEF Boxing put on a show, featuring a number of talented fighters from across Asia, including a number of genuinely notable fighters.
The main will see OPBF female Super Bantamweight champion Ayumi Goto (6-0, 4) battle against Thai foe Sumanthar Baenkham (1-2), in what looks set to be a total mismatch. Goto won't be defending her title here but her appeal as a championship level draw has helped her get a major spot on this card, and seemingly help begin a working relationship between DEF boxing and Goto's promoter Watanabe.
Another Watanabe gym fighter on this card will be Mako Matsuyama (8-11-2, 3), who famously had a 2014 FOTY contender with DEF's star Rex Tso. The limited but fun to watch Matsuyama will be up against Filipino foe Crison Omayao (21-13-4, 7). On paper this has the potential to be something very, very fun. Neither guy is great but both are exciting and together they should make for a very fan friendly contest here.
Another notable name on this card is the teak tough Takuya Watanabe (31-7-1, 16), who is a former WBO Asia Pacific Super Featherweight champion. The tough Watanabe, best known for his bloody war with Jaesung Lee, will be fighting in Hong Kong for the second time and will be strongly favoured to beat Thai puncher Tabthong Tor Buamas (15-6, 12), in a bout scheduled for 8 rounds. Another bout where a Japanese fighter will be favoured against a Thai will feature the once beaten Sho Kimura (13-1-2, 6), who faces off with Suphakit Khampha (6-3, 3) in another bout scheduled for 8 rounds.
Australian Capital Territory, Australia
In Australia fight fans will see Felipe Ferreira (5-2, 2) take on Australian based Indonesian trial horse Aswin Cabuy (19-60-4, 7) in a bout for the New South Wales State Super Middleweight title. The 42 year old Cabuy is unlikely to pick up the win here but rarely does he just lie down and he could give Ferreira a good test here.
The best show of the week, and one of the best of the month, comes on Wednesday when Morioka and Mutoh co-promote a great show with 5 title bouts in Osaka.
The “main event” of the show will see OPBF Light Middleweight champion Takayuki Hosokawa (28-10-5, 9) look for his second defense of the title as he takes on fellow Japanese fighter Yutaka Oishi (13-5, 7). The bout will see Hosokawa looking for a much better performance than his last one, a hard fought struggle for a draw with Koshinmaru Saito, however there are some suggesting he is at the very end of his career with injuries and accumulated damage adding up. For Oishi this is a great opportunity to claim a major title, but he will be the big under-dog here.
The most exciting fighter on the card is 19 year old hopeful Hinata Maruta (3-0, 2), who looks to make his first defense of the WBC Youth Bantamweight. The talented Japanese youngster will be up against Filipino southpaw Joe Tejones (6-1, 2) in what should be a chance to Maruta to get rounds against a southpaw. From what we under-stand a win here will see Maruta progress towards either a Japanese, an OPBF or a WBO Asia Pacific title fight in 2017 with his team actively chasing tougher assignments. For Tejones the bout is a big step up and it's hard to see what he'll have to test Maruta.
The other OPBF title fight will see Middleweight champion Dwight Ritchie (14-0-0-4, 1) make the first defense of his title as he takes on the limited but heavy handed Japanese slugger Koki Tyson (10-2-2, 10). Ritchie won the title earlier this year in Japan, where he defeated Hikaru Nishida, and will be hoping for more success here. He is however up against a very different type of fighter here with Nishida being a basic pressure fighter whilst Tyson is a boxer-puncher, sadly for Tyson he is rather limited and comes into this on the back of a very poor performance against Joon Yong Lee.
In a WBO Super Flyweight Asia Pacific title bout we'll see former world title challengers face off as Japan's Hirofumi Mukai (12-4-3, 2) battles Thailand's Inthanon Sithchamuang (30-8-1, 18). Mukai has twice fought for world titles in Thailand, having a technical draw with Pongsaklek Wonjongkam and suffering a stoppage loss to Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, and has struggled against other notable opponents like Shohei Omori and Mark Anthony Geraldo. Inthanon on the other hand is best known for losing to Kohei Kono earlier this year, and has suffered other losses in Japan, where he is yet to score a win.
At Flyweight we'll see the unbeaten, and genuinely promising, Masahiro Sakamoto (8-0, 4) take on the once beaten Sho Kimura (12-1-2, 6) for the WBO Asia Pacific title. Sakamoto has been unbeaten since his debut back in December 2014, and has won the 2015 Rookie of the Year and holds wins over Atsushi Aburada and Il Che. As for Kimura he was beaten in his debut but has gone 14 fights unbeaten since fighting 3 of those bouts in Thailand. This is the first title bout for both men and should tell us a lot about both fighters.
In a notable non-title bout on the card we'll see exciting prospect Naoto Iwai (2-0, 1) take on Filipino veteran Donny Mabao (22-27-3, 4) in a 6 rounder. The bout is a good step up for Iwai, who was last seen beating Juan Purisima in the Philippines, and a win here is likely to see Iwai move into 8 rounders in 2017, with the teenager already showing glimpses of real talent like stablemate Maruta