The first Japanese show of June takes place at the Korakuen Hall and features a number of notable fighters, including a couple of touted debutants and a Japanese champion.
The main event will see hard hitting Japanese Middleweight champion Kazuto Takesako (8-0, 8) defending his title against a Thai foe. Originally Takesako was supposed to battle Filipino journeyman Joel Dela Cruz (20-26-3, 8), though Dela Cruz has been replaced just days before the fight. The destructive Takesako won his Japanese title in 92 seconds back on March 3rd, destroying Hikaru Nishida, and was unable to find a suitable challenger in time for this date so will instead be staying busy with this bout. Whilst it doesn't make a lot to fight a mismatch just to stay busy Takesako has fought just 3 minutes and 2 seconds in the last 12 months and returning to the ring as soon as he could was probably in his best interest.
One of the debutants here is Jin Minamide (0-0), who takes on Indonesian Anthony Holt (5-3-1, 3) in what should be a show case for Minamide. The other debutant is Takuma Takahashi (0-0), who will be facing a Thai in another bout that is expected to be a show case. These two Japanese debutants are both B class fighters and both former amateur standouts who are expected to go on to have success going forward, so are well worth making a note of their names.
In a supporting bout Japanese ranked Flyweight Spicy Matsushita (17-10-1, 2) will go up against Ryusie Ishii (7-4, 4). Matsushita fought for the Japanese title last October, losing in 7 rounds to Shuichiro Yoshino and this will be his first bout since that defeat. The 21 year old Ishii has lost 3 of his last 5, but will feel like this is a great opportunity to claim a big over a Japanese ranked foe, who just turned 35 and is thought to be past his best.
The chief support bout from this card will see JBC and OPBF ranked Featherweight Junki Sasaki (19-3, 7) going up against the very hard matched Ryo Sagawa (3-1, 2). Coming in to this Sasaki is riding a 6 fight winning streak, since losing in April 2015 to Ryo Takenaka. On paper that sounds good, but the reality is that his competition haven't been great and it's hard to know just his good he really is. On paper Sagawa looks to be a big under-dog but he has been matched hard and this is certainly the sort of bout and his team will feel their man can win, and will know that if he does he will automatically find himself in the title mix. High risk and high reward from Sagawa's team here.
In Azerbaijan we get a rescheduled show that was originally supposed to take place on April 27th.
The main event will see South African Cruiserweight Kevin Lerena (20-1, 9) battle against German based Ukrainian Roman Golovashchenko (19-1-0-1, 17) for the IBO Cruiserweight title. Larena is riding a 9 fight winning streak coming into this bout with notable victories over Micki Nielsen, Youri Kayembre Kalenga and Dmytro Kucher, as well as avenging his sole loss to Johnny Muller. Golovashchenko on the other hand is unbeaten in 16, including a no-contest against Yakup Saglam, but hasn't yet beaten anyone of real note, and this should be a straight forward win for Lerena.
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.