This coming Sunday is set to be a rather interesting, but low key, day for Asian boxing with two small shows in Japan, one in Hyogo and one in Mie.
Art Center, Kobe, Hyogo, Japan
The Hyogo show is the much more notable of the two but is, sadly, a pretty weak show overall.
The main event here will see Hiroki Tokuyama (9-3-1, 2) take on Japanese ranked Super Flyweight Shunji Nagata (12-18-2, 4), who will be risking his #20 JBC ranking. The 29 year old Tokuyama is best known for reaching the final of the 2017 All Japan Rookie of the Year final, losing to Fumiya Fuse in the final. Since then he has gone 4-2, and hasn't really looked particularly impressive since his Rookie of the Year campaign. Nagata on the other hand is a 36 year old veteran who's record is under-whelming but he is much better than the numbers suggest and he can cause upsets. Whilst neither of these two are going to reach the top of the sport, they should make for a very competitive and well matched bout.
Another ranked fighter on this card is Noboru Osato (12-8-4, 3), who is risking his JBC and WBO Asia Pacific rankings against Retsu Kosaka (10-5, 4). Osato is a "win some, lose some" fighter who manages to lose bouts he's expected to win, and then upset fighters that are regarded as better than he is, such as in 2019 when he defeated Ryo Suwa. He's a bit unpredictable, but when he's on song he is a legitimate banana skin. As for Kosaka he now needs a win after going 3-5 in his last 8, after starting his career 7-0. Interestingly Kosaka has got a very notable win, stopping Ryo Sagawa in 2017, but has gone 2-3 since then and it seemed to be more a case of Sagawa being inexperience than Kosaka being the better fighter.
The under-rated Hiroyuki Takahara (8-3, 6) will feature in an 6 round bout as he takes on Tamaki Miwa (6-6-1, 1), and looked to keep his winning run going. Takahara has won his last 4, including a massive win in August 2020 against Tom Mizokoshi, and will not be wanting that run to end here. Especially not as he's heading towards a Japanese ranking, and a potential title fight. Miwa on the other hand will be there to give a legitimate effort, but has lost his last 2 and lacks the power suspect he'd need to get Takahara's respect.
One other bout of note will see the limited Takuya Fujioka (9-10-1, 1) battle against Japanese ranked Super Bantamweight Shingo Kawamura (16-6-4, 8). The light punching Fujioka was last seen losing a competitive decision in 2019 to Juiki Tatsuyoshi and although no world beater he has shown himself to be a legit competitor who comes to win and put in a fair and honest effort every time. Kawamura on the other hand has really struggled since losing in an OPBF title fight to Satoshi Shimizu in 2018. Since that loss he has gone 0-2-3 and he desperately needs a win. Kawamura should be favoured, but it's hard to know just how badly damaged his confidence is having failed to win any of his last 6.
Messe Mie, Tsu, Mie, Japan
The show in Mie features a total of 6 bouts, with 5 of those being 4 rounders and one being an 8 rounder.
The most notable of the 4 rounders will see Ryumei Nakamura (3-1-1, 1) take on the amazingly named Turtle Nishida (6-10-2, 1). Nakamura is a 20 year old hopeful who sadly hasn't fought since late 2019 and hopefully his activity does pick up when Japan manages to get back on top of the Covid19 situation. He looked promising early in his career, but there is certainly a lot of work left for him to do. As for Nishida he's looking to bounce back from successive stoppage losses, but really is a very limited 33 year old who shouldn't pose too much of a test to Nakamura.
The main event of this show will be an a very good looking 8 rounder between Shuma Sugawara (6-2, 4) and Arashi Iimi (7-3, 7). For Sugawara this will be his first bout in over 2 years, following a 2019 loss to Roli Gasca, and despite his lay off the 25 year old was once highly regarded as a prospect and fingers crossed we can see him show some of that potential here. Iimi on the other hand impressed in 2017, losing in the All Japan Rookie of the Year final, but has struggled since then and is 3-2 since then. Iimi is a big puncher, and is dangerous, but is also vulnerable and desperately needs a big performance after losing his last two inside the distance.
For those wanting to watch this card live, it will be streamed live on Youtube thanks to sakana 1976 who continues to be a massive asset for Japanese boxing and one of the biggest helps for fans wanting see what Japanese boxing in regions like Aichi and Mie is like.
This coming Sunday is an incredibly hectic day in Japan with 4 different shows across the country, and when we talk about them being across the country we do mean that with hundreds of miles separating some of the shows.
The most notable card, in many ways, is in Kumamoto in the South West of Japan, where Yakushiji Promotions will be putting on a very significant card.
The main event of this show will be a rematch between Musashi Mori (8-0, 5) and Richard Pumicpic (21-9-2, 6). These two fought last November, when Mori took a technical decision over Pumicpic to claim the WBO Asia Pacific Featherweight title, and he will be looking to make his first defense of that national title here. Pumicpic, a real under-rated Filipino warrior, will be hungry to avenge his loss. This is set to be a very, very tough bout and will be shown live on local TV channel TKU. Sadly for those outside of Kunamoto this appears to be a bout we won't be getting. A full preview of this bout can be read here Mori and Pumicpic battle again!
Whilst the main event is brilliant it's not the only bout of note and the show features a number of notable prospects. Among those is the very highly regarded Ginjiro Shigeoka (2-0, 2) who steps into his first 8 round bout, and takes on once beaten Filipino Joel Lino (10-1-1, 3). Lino's only loss came to Shigeoka's stablemate, and recent world title challenger, Masataka Taniguchi. This is a very serious test for Shigeoka, but also a bit that gives him a chance to gain immediate comparisons to Taniguchi, whilst Lino gets the chance to perform in front of a notable Japanese crowd.
Another Japan Vs Philippines bout will see the aggressive Seiya Tsutsumi (4-0, 3) take on the tough Ryan Rey Ponteras (22-13-3, 11), in what could be a really fun war. Tsutsumi has one of the most fan friendly, aggressive and exciting styles out there whilst Ponteras is a criminally under-rated veteran, who has never been stopped and can be a banana skin for better known fighters. Thhis could be a very, very exciting bout.
Another notable fighter on this card was 2018 Rookie of the Year winner Sora Takeda (4-1, 1), who will be up against Sanchai Yotboon (4-2, 4), the man the aforementioned Shigeoka made his debut against. We suspect Takeda will have the skills to over-come the Thai visitor, but this could be a good test of Takeda's metal.
Another of the more notable Japanese cards comes form Hyogo, in a female orientated card.
The biggest match up here here will see former WBC female Minimumweight champion Yuko Kuroki (17-6-1, 8) take on former WBO Atomweight champion Nao Ikeyama (18-5-3, 5) in what is a must win bout for both fighters, who both have suffered 2 recent losses. Kuroki is the younger fighter, and certainly the one with more upside, though at 49 Ikeyama has proven that age really is just a number and she will be looking to extend her career in to her 50's with a win. This should be a very interesting bout, though Kuroki should enter as the clear favourite. A full preview of this bout can be read here Kuroki and Ikeyama battle in must win bout!
As well as the Kuroki Vs Ikeyama bout, there will be two title bouts on this show. One of those bouts will see Japan's in form Shione Ogata (10-6, 2) face once beaten Filipino foe Charimae Salvador (4-1, 1) for the vacant OPBF female Light Flyweight title. Ogata has won her last 3, claiming a WBA Asia and WBO Asia Pacific title in her last 2 bouts, As for Salvador she was beaten last time out, at Atomweight, but will be fighting at her natural weight here. We're expecting Ogata to pick up another win, but this isn't going to be a walk in the park.
The other title bout on this card will be a bizarre KBM and JBC female title bout, the first since a new OPBF rule was brought into play. The bout will pit Japan's Tamao Ozawa (15-5, 6) up against Korean Hye Soo Park (5-7-1, 1). The winner will become a unified 2-nation champion, albeit temporarily, with the winner likely to immediately vacate the other nation's title. The idea to this is to create depth to thinner divisions, but leads to some odd situations like this.
At the L-Theatre in Osaka fans will see a small card with a few notable names involved.
The main event of this card will see OPBF, JBC and WBO Asia Pacific ranked fighter Dynamic Kenji (10-3, 7) take on a Thai foe, who we believe will be Sophon Klachun (4-2, 1). We don't see this being much of a test for Kenji, who is edging his way towards a title fight, and will look to take the visitor out as he advances his march towards a career defining bout.
In an 8 round supporting bout fans will see Noboru Osato (10-7-4, 2) and the once beaten Ryotaro Motohashi (8-1, 2) battle in a very interesting match up. Neither of these men are big names, but they should make for a very competitive contest, much more saw the than records suggest.
Another 8 round supporting bout on this card will see Daijiro Yuki (8-5-1, 4) battle against Japanese ranked Welterweight Kazuyasu Okamoto (14-6, 4). This will be Okumoto's first bout since losing to Japanese champion Ryota Yada, and he will be looking to end a 2 fight losing run. Yuki on the other hand will be seeking a career best win.
The least notable of the Japanese cards takes place in Tsu and will be headlined by a Japanese Youth Super Flyweight title bout, with Yuto Nakamura (9-5, 7) defending his title against Toma Kondo (7-4, 1). This should be a hotly contested bout, though it's hard to doubt Nakamura and his edge in power. A full preview of this bout is available here Nakamura seeks first defense of youth crown, faces Kondo.
A notable supporting bout here will see former OPBF Super Bantamweight champion Roli Gasca (24-8-1, 8), who recently signed with Osaka Teiken, take on the once beaten Shuma Sugawara (6-1, 4). This looks like a huge step up for Sugawara, but a win puts him on the title hunt, whilst Gasca will be fighting for the first time in well over a year.