Super Arena, Saitama, Saitama, Japan
This coming Saturday is set to be one of the biggest days in Asian boxing this year, as we get a hugely anticipated card from Saitama, headlined by a long over-due Middleweight unification bout between two fan friendly and aggressive fighters. Not only is the main event a great one, but the card in general is also a mouth watering one., with a second world title bout and a regional title bout.
The main bout on the card is the rescheduled bout between hard hitting Kazakh Middleweight star Gennadiy Golovkin (41-1-1, 36) and Japanese star Ryota Murata (16-2, 13), who were meant to clash on December 29th before the Japanese government made the bout impossible to stage due to covid regulations. The bout will see Golovkin enter as the IBF champion, seeking his second defense of this current reign. Although he will be the big favourite coming in to this bout, he is now 40 years old, with well over 400 bouts in total, as an amateur and professional, and he's been out of the ring since the end of 2020. It may well be the right time to face him, given his battle with father time. As for Murata, this is the bout he's been chasing for years, and at the age of 36 it really is now or never for him to show what he's capable of. Like Golovkin we've also not seen Murata fight recently, with his last bout coming at the end of 2019, and we expect him to be rusty, but he is so much younger than Golovkin. In regards to this one, it could be a very brutal, explosive, hard, tough and rough bout, which will likely see bombs thrown by both, with both likely needing to prove their toughness in what could be a very can friendly bout. Our in depth preview of this super clash can be read here The Middleweight Division gets a super fight as Golovkin and Murata face off!
In another world title fight we'll see WBO Flyweight champion Junto Nakatani (22-0, 17) make his second defense, as he takes on the heavy handed Ryota Yamauchi (8-1, 7) in an all Japanese title fight. The talented Nakatani, arguably the best fighter at 112lbs, won the title in 2020, with a brilliant win over Giemel Magramo, but he has a frustrating reign with his single defense coming last year against Angel Acosta in the US, in a bout marred by a brutal cut to Acosta. It's clear Nakatani is a special fighter, but the 24 year old needs to have a big year now and begin to really establish his reign, which has had a faltering start due to the pandemic. As for Yamauchi, the aggressive, heavy handed 27 year old is a really fun fighter to watch, but also a defensively flawed one, who was dropped in his 2019 loss to Wulan Tuolehazi, and although he's had some good wins so far this is a major step up in class for him. This should be a very entertaining bout, but one where Nakatani will enter as the clear favourite, though for those wanting a more in depth look at this bout our preview can be read here Nakatani seeks second defense as he takes on aggressive Yamauchi!
In another major supporting bout we'll see regional Lightweight champion Shuichiro Yoshino (14-0, 11) defending his WBO Asia Pacific and OPBF titles against former WBO Super Featherweight world champion Masayuki Ito (27-3-1, 15). As with the Golovkin Vs Murata bout this was scheduled to take place last year, before being postponed when the December 29th card was cancelled, and much like that bout this is one that has got a lot of expectations on it, with over a year of back story. Whilst we won't go into all the backstory of the bout, it is worth getting very excited about with Yoshino looking to throw his hat into the ring for a major Lightweight bout, with the likes of George Kambosos, Devin Haney, Ryan Garcia or Vasyl Lomachenko. For Ito the bout is about rebuilding his career after recent losses to Jamel Herring and Hironori Mishiro. Like the main event this should be a very, very compelling 12 rounder, and one that will see skills and power punching on show. Our preview of this bout can be read here Double champion Yoshino faces former WBO king Ito
In an interesting under-card bout we'll see former amateur standout Kazuki Anaguchi (1-0,1) take on the hard hitting Ryuji Yamamoto (6-1, 6). Anaguchi made his debut last year, and did so with a good win over Atsushi Takada, and it's clear from that performance, and his amateur pedigree, that he has the potential to be moved quickly and moved towards title fighters sooner rather than late. As for Yamamoto the 23 year old is a heavy handed youngster, who stopped his first 5 opponents before suffering a close decision loss in 2017. Notably he was out of the ring for close to 4 years after that loss before returning last year and stopping Takahiro Murai, in a very good win. It'll be interesting to see how Yamamoto deals with the skills of Anaguchi, and whether Anaguchi can handle the power of Yamamoto in a very good under-card fighter.
Abeno Ward Center, Osaka, Osaka, Japan
Staying in Japan there is also set to be a show in Osaka, with this show being a West Japan Rookie of the Year event.
This show has 8 bouts set for it, between Light Flyweight and Welterweight. We won't go into too much details for this show, though one bout that did catch out attention was the all debutant bout between Yuichi Ikeda (0-0) and Jop Mustafa Jom (0-0), who will be facing off at Welterweight. We expect this one will be a wild, and open brawl, with both men being youngsters each looking to kick off their career with an eye catching win. Maybe not an amazing bout, but it should be a very fan friendly one.
Alamodome, San Antonio, Texas, USA
We're not just getting unification bouts in Japan, as we also get a female world title bout in the US as Japanese female boxing legend Naoko Fujioka (19-2-1, 7) takes on Marlen Esparza (11-1, 1) in a bout to unify the WBA and WBC female Flyweight titles. For Fujioka this bout comes following her US debut win over Sulem Urbina last year and given her age it really is now or never for her to to make a name internationally and a win over Esparza would see her improve her already very impressive resume and reputation. As for Esparza the bout will serve as her second defense of the title, and will see her looking to build on an excellent 2021, which saw her beating Ibeth Zamora Silva and Anabel Ortiz. Given the styles of the two women this could end up being a genuinely thrilling action bout. Our full preview of this bout can be read here Fujioka and Esparza clash in Flyweight unification!
Also on this card will be a bout between the unbeaten pairing of Katsuma Akitsugi (8-0, 1) and Gregory Morales (13-0, 8). Akitsugi is a US based Japanese fighter who debuted back in 2018 and has already ended a number of unbeaten streaks, beating Arnold Dinong (then 7-0), Eros Correa (then 10-0) and Rasheem Brown (then 11-0) in his last 4 bouts. Morales on the other hand is a Mexican born American fighter who beat former world champion Rodrigo Guerrero last year, but has been feasting on limited or smaller men and will be stepping up in class here.
Rizal, Laguna, Philippines
As well as the action in Japan there's also a notable show in the Philippines, with a regional title bout in the headline bout, and several other notable contests. The show is certainly not a monster card, but it's a solid domestic level show for Pinoy fight fans.
The main event will see ArAr Andales (13-2, 5) take on Joey Canoy (17-5-1-1, 9) in a bout for the WBO Oriental Minimumweight title, with Andales seeking his first defense of the title. Of the two men Andales is more well known, having challenged Knockout CP Freshmart in 2019, and he has bounced back from back to back losses, to win his last 3, including his title win in 2021 against Minh Phat Sam. Andales is still just 22 years old and seems destined for another world title fight down the line. As for Canoy, he is one of the many Filipino fighters who's record is misleading with numerous close and controversial losses and notable wins against the likes of Melvin Jerusalem and Toto Landero. Given what we know of the two men this should be a very good fight, with two men each looking to move towards a major bout later in the year.
In a main supporting bout we'll see the hard hitting Weljon Mindoro (6-0, 6) take on the limited Jerwin Mejes (4-6-6, 3), in a scheduled 8 rounder. Mindoro debuted in 2019 and has never been beyond round 3 in his short career, though in fairness he has only faced very low level competition and this is a notable step up in class for him. As for Mejes, who has one of the oddest looking records in the sport, he has gone 0-4-4 in his last 8 though has been stopped in 4 of his 6 losses and will need to be wary of Mindoro's power early on.
One other notable bout on this card will see the once touted Al Sabaupan (26-3-1, 21) face off with the very limited Jason Egera (24-23-3, 11), with Sabaupan looking to get his career back on track with just his second fight since 2017. He was once regarded as a genuinely bright hopeful for Filipino boxing, but losses to Marvin Quintero, in 2012, and Ricardo Dominguez, in 2013, ended much of the hype around him. Although he's been inactive in recent years, he should have too much for the very poor Egera.
Others on this card include unbeaten 25 year old Ryan James Racaza (11-0, 7), who takes on Monico Laurente (30-17, 7), and 26 year old Denmark Quibido (11-0-1, 6), who takes on Jovel Romasasa (10-19, 4), with the unbeaten men in these bouts expected to extend their unbeaten runs.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
This coming Thursday we get the next Diamond Glove show from Korakuen Hall, and it's an interesting one with 3 bouts worthy of note on the show.
The first of the three bouts will be the debut of former amateur standout Ryusei Baba (0-0), who takes on Kenya Okada (5-3-1, 3) in a tough looking debut bout. The talented Baba went 45-26 in the unpaid ranks, winning national and international titles and is regarded as someone to really keep an eye on over the next 7 or 8 years. He might not be the mega prospect, like Naoya Inoue or Kazuto Ioka were, but there is a lot of expectation on his shoulders and many are tipping him to be moved aggressively, potentially towards a world title fight. Although no world beater Okada is no push over, and he's been unlucky in two of his recent losses, and he will be coming into this one knowing that a win would put him on the map, even with losses in previous two bouts. This should be a genuine test for Baba.
In the chief support bout we'll see former Japanese Featherweight champion Ryo Sagawa (10-2, 5) look to bounce back from his loss to Hinata Maruta as he takes on Retsu Kosaka (10-6, 4), in a really compelling match up. On paper this looks like an easy win for Sagawa, who is a genuine talent and a really intelligent boxer, however it's worth noting that he did suffered his first loss when he faced Kosaka in 2017. Since that 2017 bout Sagawa has gone 9-1, won a Japanese title and a WBO Asia Pacific title, and really built himself on the back of that loss, whilst Kosaka is 2-4 and really needs a win to remain relevant on the Japanese domestic scene.
The main event will see Lightweight triple crown winner Shuichiro Yoshino (13-0, 10) defending his Japanese title as he takes on second generation fighter Shuma Nakazato (10-1-3, 7), who will be competing in his first title bout. Yoshino is probably the best Lightweight in Japan right now, though there is argument he deserves to be behind Masayoshi Nakatani, and is a fighter who can genuinely do it all in the ring. He can box, he can fight and he can certainly punch. He'll enter as the big favourite, and as a fighter who is eyeing up bigger and better things in the near future, including potential world title eliminators. He will however have to make sure he doesn't over-look Nakazato. The challenger is stepping up big time here, but is young, hungry, sharp, under-rated and coming in to this with no expectations on his shoulders. Although we strongly favour the champion heading in to this, we wouldn't be surprised to see a very good performance from the hungry challenger. Our in depth preview of this cone can be read here Yoshino looks to defend Japanese title as he takes on Nakazato
After what has been a good August for fans of the Asian scene things slow down massively in early September. Which is a huge shame, as it seems to kill some of the growing momentum we've seen in places like Japan and Kazakhstan. Despite that we do get a Japanese show this coming Thursdays from Tokyo, it's a small show but pretty notable one all the same.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
This show sadly only features two bouts, but both are expected to be interesting ones.
The only supporting bout will see 2019 Rookie of the Year runner up Yasutaka Fujita (5-1, 5) take on Kensuke Nakamura (4-8-2). Since losing in the All Japan Rookie of the Year final last December, in a barn burner against Kodai Honda, we've seen Fujita change gyms and sign up with the Misako gym. The transfer to the well established gym is expected to see Fujita improve his boxing skills, and partner them up with power and aggression. On paper Nakamura is a weak opponent for Fujita, but the idea will be for Fujita to show those in charge at Misako what improvements he's been making, and to rebuild his confidence after the loss to Honda. We expect this one will be fun, be we do expect technical changes from Fujita.
In the main event Shuichiro Yoshino (12-0, 10) will be defending his JBC, OPBF and WBO Asia Pacific Lightweight titles against veteran Valentine Hosokawa (25-7-3, 12). For Yoshino the bout serves as his first defense of the triple crown and he will be coming in to the bout in search of a 9th straight stoppage. The hard hitting champion had has some issues at times, but he's proven to be a very good boxer-puncher and the hope, from him and his team, is for him to move beyond regional title level in the near future. As for Hosokawa the 39 year old is looking to become a 2-weight Japanese champion having previously held the Light Welterweight title. Despite his age Hosokawa is still very much a live fighter and a very under-dog here. We wouldn't be surprised at all if Hosokawa's aggression and work rate drags the very best from Yoshino here in a very good match up. Our full preview of this bout can be read here.
The big focus this coming Thursday is on Korakuen Hall, where we get a very interesting Diamond Glove card featuring a rising a second generation hopeful, a former world champion and a Japanese title fight.
The main event is the Japanese title fight, which will see Japanese Lightweight champion Shuichiro Yoshino (11-0, 9) defending his title against Izuki Tomioka (7-2-1, 2) as part of the Champion Carnival. Yoshino, who holds the Japanese, OPBF and WBO Asia Pacific titles, will only be defending his national title, but a loss would seriously hamper his chance to advance to world level in 2020. As for Tomioka he's getting his second fight at the type of level, having previously lost to Masayoshi Nakatani in an OPBF title. On paper the stronger, heavier handed, and more powerful Yoshino should be favoured, but Tomioka certainly has the size and speed, both hand and feet, to make life very tricky for the champion. This bout has been previewed here Yoshino defends against mandatory Tomioka!
The former world champion on this show is former WBC Flyweight champion Daigo Higa (15-1, 15) who returns to the ring for the first time since his 2018 loss to Cristofer Rosales. The talented and aggressive Higa was given an indefinite suspension by the JBC following the Rosales loss, for his failure to make weight, with that suspension only being lifted late last year. On his return he's being matched with Filipino visitor Jason Buenaobra (7-4-3, 3), in what could turn out to be a rather solid test. Although Buenaobra is no world beater he has gone the schedule with Carl Jammes Martin, the only man to have heard the bell against the "Wonder Boy" and could prove to be a very durable test for the returning Higa. We really are looking forward to this one. Our preview of this bout can be read here Higa returns, but can he over-come the rugged Buenaobra?
Another bout of some note on this card is a contest between Japanese ranked Super Featherweight Kazuma Sanpei (18-5, 7) and Soreike Taichi (7-2, 5), who will know that a win here boosts their chance to get a Japanese title fight later this year. Coming in the 25 year old Sanpei is the more well established fighter and despite his record being blotted with losses he is 6-1 (3) in his last 7 and did show real promise early in his career, winning Rookie of the Year back in 2013. Taichi is less well known but has won his last 4, including good wins over Yusaku Sekishima and Masaki Saito. Interestingly Taichi's last loss was in 2014, when he was stopped in a round bye Reiya Abe.
The second generation fighter mentioned above is Shinba Yamaguchi (1-0, 1), the son of former world champion Keiji Yamaguchi, who takes a significant step up from his debut. The 19 year old Yamaguchi who won his debut in just 40 seconds last October, will be up against Filipino Luis Borje (5-1-1, 2) in what should be a very credible test. It's hard to say much about Yamaguchi's professional career so far but it is worth noting that both of Borje's set backs have come to John Mark Tihuk, who should be seen as one to watch going forward. A very tough test this early in Yamaguchi's career.
Las Vegas, USA
As well as the Japanese action there is also a bout of interest in the US, where we'll see an Uzbek fighter in action. The Uzbek on this show is 35 year old Ravshan Hudaynazarov (17-3, 13), who looks to end a 3 fight losing streak. The US based Uzbek began his career 17-0 before seemingly ending his career in 2014. He returned to the ring in 2018 and since then has gone 0-3, and been stopped in 2 of those 3 losses. On paper we would expect Hudaynazarov to turn things around here in what looks like an easy bout against Cameron Krael (16-15-3, 4), however Krael has a very misleading record and the kid can fight. We wouldn't be surprised at all by an upset here.
This same show will also feature Kyrgyzstan born American based hopeful Andrei Odintsev (4-0, 4) take on Britton Norwood (9-4-1, 7) in a 4 round Light Heavyweight contest.
We get the next Diamond Glove show this coming Thursday from the Korakuen Hall, which features a couple of title bouts.
The main event of the card will see Japanese Lightweight champion Shuichiro Yoshino (10-0, 8) take on Filipino foe Harmonito Dela Torre (20-2, 12) in a bout for both the OPBF and WBO Asia Pacific Lightweight titles. The unbeaten Japanese fighter has looked fantastic in recent bouts, stopping his last 6 foes and running up 4 defenses of the Japanese title. Although this is his first bout above domestic level the view is that he will be strongly favoured and is expected to become a triple champion, before moving on wards and upwards to potential world title fights down the line. Dela Torre was once a hotly tipped young Filipino prospect, but with 2 losses in his last 3 and only 1 win in the last 2 year his rise has hit a brick wall. Dela Torre has got skills but this looks like too much of a step from his last win, which was a decision over domestic journeyman Richard Betos last December, to be competitive with Yoshino here. Our full preview of this bout can be read here - Yoshino and Dela Torre battle for regional domination
A second title fight on this show will see Kenichi Horikawa (40-15-1, 13) defending his Japanese Light Flyweight title against Yuto Takahashi (10-4, 5). This is a really interesting match up between two flawed, yet determined fighters at very different stages of their career's. The 39 year old Horikawa is in the Indian summer of his career and has reeled off 8 wins since losing in 2017 to Tetsuya Hisada. Coming in to this Horikawa has already made 1 defenses this year and will know another win will guarantee him a fight at the Champion Carnival next year. On the other hand Takahashi is 26, just reaching his physical prime and comes into the bout on the back of solid performance against Tatsuya Fukuhara, Ryoki Hirai and Yuta Nakayama. Takahashi could well be getting to Horikawa at the perfect time. Our full preview of this bout can be read here Horikawa defends Japanese title against Takahashi in a battle of circumstance
Also on this card is the second bout of novice professional Kazuhiro Imamura (1-0, 1), who takes on the frustratingly fragile Kiyohei Endo (3-2, 3). Originally Endo was tipped as one to watch, following a 42-18 amateur career. Sadly however he was stopped by a journeyman on debut and has never managed to really get going, and a loss in his third bout to Toshiki Shimomachi didn't help. On the other hand Imamura debuted back in March following a 32-20 amateur career, and he'll be hoping to build on his debut win. This is an interesting fight, given given that neither can really afford a loss. Saying that however we don't think Endo will have toughened up, and if Imamura puts it on him we see Endo being stopped again here.
This coming Thursday fight fans in Tokyo get the chance to see a pretty significant Diamond Glove card, with a Japanese fight, a notable fighter in a supporting bout and two Japanese Youth title eliminators.
The main event will see unbeaten Japanese Lightweight champion Shuichiro Yoshino (9-0, 7) look for his fourth defense, as he takes on mandatory challenger Accel Sumiyoshi (11-4-3, 3). Yoshino has looked fantastic since winning the title in 2017, when he stopped Spicy Matsushita, and has stopped his last 3 challengers. Sumiyoshi on the other hand is getting his second shot at gold, after having challenged for he OPBF title way back in 2015. Since losing to Masayoshi Nakatani Sumiyoshi has gone 7-0-2 and put his career back on track with a solid unbeaten run, this is however a huge step up from those last 9 bouts. A full preview of this bout can be read here Yoshino defends against mandatory Sumiyoshi!
In a supporting bout former OPBF title challenger Daishi Nagata (11-2-1, 5) looks to bounce back from an October loss to Rikki Naito, as he takes on former Japanese title challenger Yusuke Tsukada (9-7, 3). Nagata is a fun guy to watch, and whilst he's no world beater he is likely to find himself in another title fight sooner rather than later. Tsukada on the other hand has been stopped in 3 of his last 4 and we wouldn't be surprised with him being stopped again here.
The really exciting part of the under-card are the two Japanese Youth title eliminators. The more exciting of the two comes at Light Flyweight, where Hizuki Saso (10-5-1, 3) will take on the unbeaten Rikito Shiba (2-0, 1) in what could be a really amazing fight, and a proper test for the unbeaten Shiba. The other eliminator will see the hard hitting Arashi Iimi (7-1, 7) take on Kenta Nomura (5-2, 2) in a Super Bantamweight eliminator.
The eliminators here will see the winner of the Super Bantamweight bout take on Toshiki Shimomachi later in the year for the vacant title, whilst the Light Flyweight winner will take on either Tsuyoshi Sato or Tetsuya Tomioka, who will have fought on April 6th after this was written.
We get Japanese title action from the Korakuen Hall this coming Thursday as the next Diamond Glove card takes place.
The headline bout looks to be a stay busy defense by Japanese Lightweight champion Shuichiro Yoshino (8-0, 6), who defends the title against Kazumasa Kobayashi (10-7-1, 6). For the talented Yoshino the bout will serve as his third defense of the title that he won back in October 2017, when he stopped Spicy Matsushita for the then vacant title. Since then he has impressed, but this is really just a chance to stay busy as opposed to really building on his reign. The 35 year old Kobayashi has been a professional for close to 13 years and never done enough to earn a title fight. Coming in to thus Kobayashi is horribly out of form, especially given that he has gone 2-6-1 in his last 9 fights, but he will know this is is one and only chance to grab a title before his career is over. A full preview of this bout is available to read here Yoshino defends Japanese title against veteran Kobayashi!
Whilst the main event is less than great the under-card is a pretty good one, topped by an excellent match up between Ryo Sagawa (5-1, 3) and Shingo Kawamura (16-4-1, 8), in what we suspect will be the show stealing fight. Coming in to this Sagawa is riding an impressive 4 fight winning run including big domestic wins over Junki Sasaki and Ryo Matsumoto, who he stopped in September. Sagawa was a top amateur and despite an early career loss is showing the potential to build on that amateur success. As for Kawamura he last fought in a losing effort against Satoshi Shimizu, though gave Shimizu fits before losing to the OPBF Featherweight champion. Given the styles, skills and hunger of the two men this has the potential to be a tremendous contest, and the winner will certainly see themselves in the title mix in the new year. An in depth break down of this fight can be read here Sagawa and Kawamuro battle in mouth watering showdown!
One of the other supporting bouts will see Kei Iwahara (9-5, 4) face off with the hard hitting Daiki Ichikawa (11-4, 9), in another bout between two fighters with a Japanese ranking. The 28 year old Iwahawa has gone 2-2 in his last 4, but has mixed against decent domestic foes, such as Genki Ishikawa, Yuji Awata and Kazuma Sanpei. On the other hand the hard hitting Ichikawa is a 23 year old who has proven to be a bit of a glass cannon, being stopped in 2 of his 4 losses including a defeat last year in Russia to Muhammadkhuja Yaqubov. If Ichikawa can catch his man he'll be very dangerous, but there's a chance that Iwahara will be too good to be caught by a bomb here.
On paper the weakest of the support bouts will see the talented but light punching Joe Tanooka (15-5-4, 1) battle against Motoki Osanai (2-2, 1), a former amateur standout who has struggled as a professional so far. The 24 year old Tanooka came runner up in the 2013 Rookie of the Year and has been in with a who's who of the Japanese scene, scoring notable wins over Ryuto Oho, Kenya Yamashita and Hajime Nagai. Although a very light puncher Tanooka is popular and often fun to watch and will be risking his Japanese ranking here. Osanai was tipped for big things, but has been matched hard and is yet to really shine. The feeling is if, or when, Osanai finds his groove he could prove to be a real talent, and this could well be his chance to shine as he drops down to Bantamweight.
Another interesting match up on this card will see the limited but heavy handed Tetsuya Tomioka (5-3, 5) battling against Filipino visitor Jeronil Borres (8-4-1, 5). The hard hitting Tomioka has been stopped in all 3 losses, but has mixed with top domestic competition losing to Junto Nakatani and Katsunori Nagamine, but can certainly bang and fighters do need to respect his power. Borres, who was last seen getting stopped by Nakatani, has scored just a single win in his last 5, though was unlucky to lose in Korea against Joo Hyun Jung last year. For both this will be a chance to bounce back from a recent stoppage loss, and should make for a good action bout.
This coming Thursday Japanese fight fans at the Korakuen Hall get a triple header of title fights, and whilst none are massive, all three look like they will be solid bouts, where both men have some to gain and something to lose.
One of the main bouts will see WBO Asia Pacific Bantamweight champion Hiroaki Teshigawara (16-2-2, 9) defends his belt for the second time, battling against former 2-time world title challenger Teiru Kinoshita (26-2-1, 9). For the hard hitting, and really exciting, Teshigawara this will be his second defense following a win in a brilliant bout against Jason Canoy back in February. The champion will know that a win here moves him a step closer to a world title fight, but a loss will be a massive hit to his career, and be a major set back. As for Kinoshita, who has lost in world title fights to Zolani Tete and Jerwin Ancajas, this is a must win. A loss for Kinoshita now would essentially kill any dreams of getting another shot at a world title, and would be his third loss against a notable fighter in less than 4 years, which is sadly a 4 year period without a single win of note. We don't imagine Kinoshita will pose much of a threat to Teshigawara but could have the skills to ask some questions of the champion.
Another WBO Asia Pacific title fight will be at Super Flyweight, as former Japanese national champion Ryuichi Funai (29-7, 20) takes on former world title challenger Warlito Parrenas (26-7-1, 23) for the currently vacant title. On paper this is probably the best of the three title bouts and features two talented fighters each looking to work their way towards a potential world title bout. Coming in to this Funai is world ranked by all 4 title awarding bodies and he'll be interested in getting a world title fight later this year. Parrenas is best known for losing to the then WBO champion Naoya Inoue in 2015, and since then he has beaten 2-low key Thai foes whilst becoming a trainer at the Morioka gym. Given that Parrenas is a big puncher he has a real shot here, but he will be the under-dog against the more active, and more rounded, Funai.
The third title bout will see Japanese Lightweight champion Shuichiro Yoshino (7-0, 5) make his second defense, and take on the hard matched challenger Genki Maeda (6-2-1, 2). The talented Yoshino has been fast tracked through the Japanese ranks and claimed the national title last year, when he stopped Spicy Matsushita in the 7th round of their bout. The champion made his first defense this past February, blowing out Masaki Saito in 156 seconds, and has looked like a sensational prospect since making his debut in 2015. Whilst the champion is a former amateur standout and expected to go on to be a huge success the same can't be said for Maeda. Despite the fact he has been matched incredibly hard. So far Maeda has shared the ring with Yoshimichi Matsumoto, Mitsuyoshi Fujita and Shogo Yamaguchi, in just 9 bouts. Maeda is a pretty good fighter, but is going up against a really good fighter here, and we can't help but think this bout will be a case of levels, and Yoshino is several levels above Maeda.
As well as the action in Japan there will also be a notable bout in California, as Filipino Mercito Gesta (31-2-2, 17) takes on the once touted Robert Manzanarez (36-1, 29) in a bout for the NABO Lightweight title. This will be Gesta's first bout since losing in January to Jorge Linares, in what was Gesta's second loss in a world title fight. Despite losing to Linares the Filipino did acquit himself much better than he did in his other loss, a terrible performance against Miguel Vazquez. Manzanarez has rebuilt excellently since his sole loss, back in 2012, with 15 straight wins, but this is a big step up in class for him, and it could be too much too soon for the 23 year old American.
Belfast, United Kingdom
In regards to Asian fighters the biggest single fight is a Bantamweight unification contest, as Zhanat Zhakiyanov (27-1, 18) takes on Ryan Burnett (17-0, 9) in Belfast. Coming in to that bout the heavy handed Zhakiyanov will be looking to defend the WBA title, however the Kazakh will be up against a real boxing talent in the form of the excellent Burnett. For both men this will not only be a unification world title bout, but also their first defense, making this a very tricky assignment for two men who only won their title's earlier this year. The Kazakh upset Rau'shee Warren for his title earlier this year, out hustling the American in a very competitive bout, whilst Burnett completely schooled fellow Brit Lee Haskins, despite one judge some how confusing the two fighters. This should be a really good bout,and could well crown the heir apparent for the Bantamweight division.
Whilst the biggest single fight, from an Asian perspective, takes place in Northern Ireland it's hard not to feel like a card from Tokyo is actually the more interesting show. Not only does it have a Japanese title fight, but it also has 4 Japanese title eliminators, and really does promise a fantastic value show.
The main event sees fast rising prospect Shuichiro Yoshino (5-0, 3) battle against veteran Spicy Matsushita (17-9-1, 2) for the Japanese Lightweight title, with both men competing for their first national titles. The unbeaten Yoshino has been touted since his debut, and really has looked like a champion in the making thanks to wins over Chaiyong Sithsaithong, Yoshitaka Kato and Kenta Onjo, and a win here is likely to see him begin a notable reign as a national champion, with not many domestic fighters looking up to the task of beating him. As for Matsushita the bout really is a must win, and he does come into the contest on the back of a huge win over a then unbeaten Yuichiro Kasuya. Sadly for Matsushita form has been an issue and his recent wins have all been razor thin decisions, which won't bode well against the talented Yoshino.
At Featherweight we see an elimination bout as Dai Iwai (21-4-1, 7) and Taiki Minamoto (13-5, 11) battle for the right to challenger for the national title next year. Of the two men Iwai is the more experienced and the more technically gifted fighter, but Minamoto certainly has the edge in power, and acquitted himself well in a 2015 loss to the then Japanese Super Bantamweight champion Yukinori Oguni. Coming into this Iwai will be the favourite, we suspect hat the bout will be incredibly competitive.
In a potential thriller at Welterweight we'll see the tough and hard working Moon Hyun Yun (18-4-3, 4) take on the big punching Ryota Yada (14-4,12), in possibly the best bout of the card. Yun is coming in to this after a Japanese FOTY contender against Shusaku Fujinaka and he's unbeaten in 6, including a draw with former champion Nobuyuki Shindo. The heavy handed Yada has blown out his last 2 opponents, but has a lot of question marks lingering over him following last years stoppage loss to Jayar Inson, who moved up in weight and bullied him. We're expecting this one to be a little bit special, and can't see anything but an action bout.
Another potential action bout will be at Bantamweight and see veteran Eita Kikuchi (21-4-4, 8) take on the exciting Yusuke Suzuki (8-3, 5). The 31 year old Kikuchi lost 2 of his first 11, before rebuilding his career and has subsequently only been beaten by Shingo Wake, in an OPBF title fight, and the aforementioned Minamoto, with both of those losses coming at Super Bantamweight. On paper Suuki's record is less than great, but to date his losses have all come to very good fighters, with the first coming to Yusaku Kuga back in 2013, the second to Ryoichi Tamura in 2015 and the third coming to Jeffrey Francisco in the Philippines last year. All 3 of those losses were close and were losses which will aid the development of the 28 year southpaw.
Another eliminator will take place Flyweight, and sees the always fun to watch Katsunori Nagamine (14-1, 10) battle against the in-form and very under-rated Akinori Hoshino (14-7-1, 9). The heavy handed Nagamine began his career 10-0 before being beaten by the excellent Ken Shiro in 2015. Since that loss Nagamine has bounced back with 4 stoppages, including thrilling wins over Kenya Yamashita, Mako Matsuyama and Tetsuya Tomioka, which have all been all out wars. Around a year agoHoshino was 11-7-1 (8) and it looked like his career was going no where. Since then however he has moved down in weight and reeled off 3 big wins, including a stoppage of Kenya Yamashita and a decision over Shun Kosaka. We're expecting another good one here, though it's hard to see a win for Hoshino.
Gümligen bei Bern, Switzerland
There's yet more notable action featuring a Japanese fighter as Aniya Seki (31-3-2, 5) takes on Hungarian Kleopatra Tolnai (13-12-1, 4) in Seki's adopted homeland of Switzerland. The bout will see Seki defending her WBC Silver female Bantamweight title, for the second time, and in all fairness this be a simple defense against an opponent who has won just 1 of her last 5.
Attention turns to Tokyo again this coming Thursday, ending a few days of quietness for the sport in the Land of the Rising sun.
The main event of the card will see the heavy handed Keita Obara (17-2-1, 15) take on Thai visitor Saddam Kietyongyuth (26-2, 21) in a bout for the WBO Asia Pacific Welterweight title. For Obara this will be his first title bout since losing in a world title fight to Eduard Troyanovsky last September. It will also confirm that he is now a full time Welterweight, finally letting his body ditch the crippling limits of Light Welterweight. For Saddam this looks like a really tough contest, with the Thai scoring 3 low key wins in the last 6 years. Losses to Alisher Rahimov and Cole Smith don't bode well for Saddam and we suspect Obara will break him down in the middle rounds.
In the co-feature we'll see Japanese Light Middleweight champion Takeshi Inoue (10-0-1, 5) making the first defense of his title, as he takes on fellow unbeaten Riku Nagahama (7-0-1, 3) in a really mouth watering clash. Coming in to this Inoue is riding a 9 fight winning run, including notable wins over Chan Ho Lee, Akinori Watanabe and Koshinmaru Saito, who he beat for the title earlier this year. The champion is an exciting fighter who can box, or brawl, and is looking to make a statement by taking on such a tough challenger in his first defense. As for Nagahama, the #1 ranked contender, he comes in on a 7 fight winning run, including victories over Brandon Lockhart and Hideo Mikan, with his last 3 by stoppage. Given the recent performances by both men this should be a really fan friendly contest.
The most notable of the under-card bouts will see the fast rising Shuichiro Yoshino (4-0, 2) take on Thai visitor Katika Saithonggym (0-1), in what is a stay busy fight for the Japanese fighter. Yoshino will know that he's supposed to win here with not issues, but can't over-look the Thai as he has got a Japanese title eliminator bout with Spicy Matsushita lined up for October. If Yoshino suffers a cut here he will be kicking himself, so expect to see the talented youngster show some caution, but see off the visitor relatively early.
In another supporting bout we'll see the unbeaten Yoshimitsu Kimura (7-0, 3), who claimed the Rookie of the Year crown at Featherweight last year, take on Kanehiro Nakagawa (4-4, 3) in what looks like a decent for the unbeaten 20 year old. Nakagawa is a very beatable fighter, but he does have plenty of sting on his shots and should give the unbeaten man a chin check, at the very least.