Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
This main show for us this coming Thursday comes from Korakun Hall as the Ohashi Gym put on a solid show with an excellent Youth title bout, and some compelling under-card bouts.
The main event on this card is one of the very best contests on the boxing calendar right now and will see former amateur standout Ryutaro Nakagaki (2-0, 2) take on hard hitting youngster Ayumu Hanada (6-0, 4) in a bout for the Japanese Youth Super Flyweight title. As an amateur Nakagaki was among the very best in Japan and when he turned professional the expectations were high for him, though there was worries about his style and power. In just 2 fights he has gone a long way to answering those worries. Hanada on the other hand is an explosive fighter who cut his teeth in Mexico as a teenager before returning to Japan and impressing back at home. On paper this is a hard one to call, and if Hanada lands clean he can certainly hurt Nakagaki, though we suspect the amateur background of Nakagaki could prove to be the difference maker here. Our full, in depth, preview of this contest can be read here Unbeaten Youngsters Nakagaki and Hanada face off for Youth title!
The chief support bout is likely to be a genuine shoot out as the flawed but heavy handed Tsuyoshi Tameda (21-6-2, 19) takes on Soreike Taichi (7-4, 5). The hard hitting Tameda has lost his last two, both by stoppage, and is 2 years removed from his last win. However with his power he is always dangerous. Taichi, who has also lost his last two by TKO, is the naturally bigger man and will likely feel his size will be key. This won't be the highest level of boxing, but it will, almost certainly, see bombs traded and will not see the final bell. We are expecting a real shoot out here.
In a potentially competitive bout at Welterweight we'll see Takeru Kobata (9-5-1, 4) take on Tetsuya Kondo (6-2, 4). Neither of these two youngsters are expected to make a mark at the top of the domestic scene, but they should make for an exciting match up. Kobata is highly ranked by the JBC, and will be coming in to this bout on the back of an excellent win over Rikuto Adachi, but is a limited fighter who doesn't look like a Japanese champion in the making. Kondo on the other hand is a solid fighter, but was blown out in 2019 by Jin Sasaki, inside a round, and Kondo will also go in to this feeling like he can stop Kondo.
Despite being quite a bit down the show arguably the best supporting bout is a clash between Katsuki Mori (8-0, 1) and Ren Kojima (6-1-2), who fight at just over the Minimumweight limit. The 21 year old Mori has been consistently impressive since starting his career and since winning Rookie of the Year in 2019 he has become a fighter who belongs on the radar of every fan who follows the lower weight classes. Ren Kojima on the other hand won the Rookie of the Year in February and is looking to build on that triumph. Neither man has much power, and this will be expected to go the distance, but both are skilled, and both are busy in the ring. Expect this one to be a very, very compelling contest.
Shinjuku FACE, Tokyo, Japan
As well as the Korakuen Hall show there is also an East Japan Rookie of the Year card from the Shinjuku FACE. This isn't a particularly great Rookie of the Year event, with just 4 bouts actually taking place on the card, after two contests set for the show got cancelled.
Of the 4 bouts on the card the two we're expecting to be the most interesting are the two all debutant clashes. One of those will see Masato Shinoda (0-0) clash with Juki Kitabayashi (0-0) in a Super Flyweight bout. The Super Flyweight Rookie of the Year is always among the very best, due to the depth of talent, and this is an all debutant bout between two southpaws, which can get very wild. Whilst certainly not close to the quality of bouts on the Ohashi show we suspect this could be a great bout for fans in the venue.
The other all debutant bout comes in another strong division for the Rookie of the Year, with Masaki Banjo (0-0) and Koki Yamase (0-0) facing off in a Super Featherweight bout. Both of these men are teenagers and it could well be that one, if not both, of these youngsters go on to make a mark at a higher level over the next decade or so. The Super Featherweight division has long been one of the most interesting in Japan and top Rookies have regularly made a mark at higher levels in the sport, so this could well be the starting chapter of two very interesting stories.
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.