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.