This coming Saturday is a really interesting day, without being a massive one. We get the kick off of a special Japanese tournament, a Japanese Youth title bout a regional title bout in Thailand and more in what is a busy, yet low key, day.
The main show is the Knock Out Dynamite Tournament show which takes place at the Korakuen Hall thanks to Reason Promotions along with Floyd Mayweather's Japanese TMT arm, and former Japanese world champion Takashi Uchiyama.
For those who haven't followed the news the Knock Out Dynamite tournament is actually 3 tournaments, each with 4 men involved, and will take place at 65KG's, 60KG's and 56KG's, as opposed to the more standard boxing weight classes. Their are cash prizes available for the winners with bonuses for any knockouts.
One of the 65KG weight class will see semi-finals take place between Mongolian fighter Byambatsogt Tuguldur (0-0) and Japanese veteran Shusaku Fujinaka (16-11-2, 11), in what looks like a mismatch on paper. It's hard to say much about the Mongolian, though Tuguldur could be a a genuine dark horse, given the reputation Mongolian fighters have for being tough, hard hitting and very exciting.
The winner of that semi-final will take on the winner of the other semi-final, which will pit Vladimir Baez (25-5-2, 23) against Tatsuya Miyazaki (9-12-1, 9). As with the other semi-final isn't doesn't look the most competitive of bouts, but Baez has struggled recently, with 2 losses in his last 3, and it's possible that Miyazaki could be getting him when his confidence is low. The reality, however, is that Baez will be too good and too powerful for Miyazaki here.
The 60KG tournament will see another seemingly debuting Mongolian in action with Tsendsuren Bat-Ireedui (0-0) set to take on veteran Ribo Takahata (15-8-1, 6) in one of the semi-final bouts. Aged 40 Takahata is coming to the end of his career, but is only 2 years removed from a Japanese title fight with Masaru Sueyoshi and is certainly not a fighter who is still solid despite his age. From what we could find the Mongolian has fought in MMA, but we've struggled to find any sign of a previous boxing career.
The winner in the Takahata Vs Bat-Ireedui fight will face the winner of a bout between Koichi Ito (11-7-3, 10) and Filipino Marvin Esquierdo (14-2-1-1, 8). This looks like one of the better semi final bouts on paper, and one where the visitor has a good chance of picking up the upset. Ito has scored just 1 win in his last 6, going 1-4-1, and that dates back over 4 years. He is however coming back after almost 18 months out, we expect to see him being reinvigorated by the break. The 24 year old Esquierdo is relatively unknown but has momentum, activity and youth on his side.
The 56KG division is really the most interesting, at least if we get the final we're expecting. In one semi-final we'll see the very talented promising Yuki Yamauchi (3-0, 2) taking on the experienced Ryuta Wakamatsu (12-14-1, 9). The 24 year old Yamauchi is a real talent and whilst this is a genuine step up in class he has shown what he can do against Filipino fighters like Alvin Medura and Claudevan Sese. For he's the hidden gem of this tournament. Wakamtsu on the other hand is a 35 year old veteran who has been around the Japanese scene for a decade, with very mixed success. Wakamatsu is better than his record suggests, but we'd be shocked to see him over-come Yamauchi.
This division has a second unbeaten man in it, with former Rookie of the Year winner Ren Sasaki (9-0, 6) taking on the more experienced Morihisa Iju (11-4, 9). When he won the Rookie of the Year back in 2017 Sasaki showed so much promise, and whilst that promise hasn't yet been realised it's clear he can go a long way, and we fancy him to get past Iju and set up a final with Yamauchi. Despite being the under-dog Iju is a very live fighter here and even with 3 losses in his last 4 he is a potential banana skin if Sasaki tries to look past him
A second Japanese show is set to take place in Hyogo, and whilst this is a less significant show than the other, it does have the bout of the day on it, with a mouth watering Japanese Youth Super Flyweight title bout.
That title fight sees unbeaten men clash as former Rookie of the Year winner Tetsuro Ohashi (7-0-1, 2) takes on former amateur standout Suzumi Takayama (2-0, 2). The title is vacant, but this is a great bout to fill that vacancy and pits a skill fighter against an aggressive fighter. Ohashi has barely lost a round during his 8 fight career, and whilst he does lack power there is a lot of skill and IQ behind what he does. Takayama hasn't yet face a Japanese opponent, but looks like he could go through most of the Japanese scene quickly, so don't be surprised it Watanabe strap a jet to him if he comes through this with his unbeaten record intact. Our full preview of this bout is available to read here Ohashi and Takayama battle for Japanese Youth title!
As well as the title bout we'll also see Shohei Kawashima (17-3-2, 4) fight in what looks like a stay busy bout against Masajiro Honda (6-11, 4). The talented Kawashima won the Rookie of the Year in 2014, and has shown real promise, though has twice lost close decisions on the road, losing narrowly to Cristian Mijares and Juan Miguel Elorde. We see this as being little more than a work out for Kawashima who really does deserve so much more in terms of competition than Honda, who has been stopped in each of his last 6 bouts.
Bang Phun, Thailand
As well as the action in Japan there is also some interesting action in Thailand, as the Work Point Studio plays host to another card.
The headline bout here will see Chainoi Worawut (7-0-1, 7) take on Filipino foe Alvin Medura (9-4, 7), with the unbeaten local for the vacant WBC Asian Boxing Council Super Bantamweight title. The local, also known as Thattana Luangphon, is a very promising 22 year old who is rising through the ranks and looks likely to be one of the nations big stars of the future. Medura isn't a terrible fight, but shouldn't be much of a test for the Thai, who appears to be getting matched progressively harder. This should be a test for the unbeaten puncher, but a test he passes without too many issues.
In a supporting bout on this card teenage Super Flyweights clash, with Danai Ngiabphukhiaw (2-1, 1) and Yodtanong Chaepet (2-0, 1) facing off in a 6 rounder, we believe as part of a Work Point Super Flyweight tournament.
In Cebu we get a small Filipino card, featuring two men men who are each looking to take a step towards a bigger fight.
One of those men is Clyde Azarcon (15-3-1, 5), who will be looking to bounce back from his first round loss to Ginjiro Shigeoka earlier this year. The loss to Shigeoka was from a brutal body shot and we fully understand why Azarcon has been matched softly here, as he takes on Garry Rojo (9-13-1, 5) in what should be a straight forward win.
The other is the under-rated Carlo Demecillo (13-5-1, 6), who is riding a 4 fight unbeaten run since a loss to Ruben Manakane in Indonesia. Although he's yet to get a big win he did come close to get a career best victory last Novemeber, when he drew with Arthur Villanueva, and it's clear he can take the next step up. Here he's up against Jonathan Francisco (10-12-1, 4) and this should be little more than a simple win for the talented Demecillo.
Staying in Asia there will also be a card in Vietnam, thanks to Victory 8.
The main event will be a WBA East Asia title bout between local novice professional Dinh Hoang Truong (1-0, 1) and South Korean visitor Gyu Hyun Lee (2-4-1). It's hard to get too excited about this bout, though we are looking forward to seeing Filipino hopeful Charly Suarez (3-0, 3), who goes up against a local opponent.
Christchurch, New Zealand
One other bout featuring a fighter from Asia takes place in New Zealand where once beaten local Bowyn Morgan (20-1, 10) takes on Filipino visitor Nelson Tinampay (14-7-1, 6) for the WBU Welterweight title. Whilst Morgan is no world beater, and his competition hasn't been amazing so far, he has notched some notable wins over the likes of Gunnar Jackson and Jack Asis. On the other hand Tinampay is very limited and was stopped 44 year old Yong Soo Choi in 2017, and has been stopped 3 times since then. This should be an early win for the local.
This coming Tuesday we'll see a really good card from Tokyo as Japanese and Korean fighters clash, and we get a female title fight featuring a fighter who has been put on the fast track.
The female title fight will see Japanese female Minimumweight champion Chie Higano (8-8-1, 2) defending her title against touted novice Mizuki Chimoto (1-0, 1), who looks to win a Japanese title fight in just her second bout. Chimoto was a former amateur standout who looked sensational on her debut and is clearly being pushed hard by her team at the Watanabe Gym. Higano is a nightmare to fight with her aggression and style, but she will enter as the under-dog against the talented upstart in what should be a very interesting match up. A full preview of this bout is available here Chimoto goes up against Higano in Japanese title fight!
The title bout is actually in the middle of the card, with the main event being the Japan Vs Korea bout that looks most likely to have fireworks. The match up in question will see unbeaten Korean teenager Jeong Han Cha (5-0, 5) take on Japanese puncher Takahiko Kobayashi (8-3, 6) in a bout at 140lbs. This has the potential to be a very exciting bout between two heavy handed, but flawed, young fighters who will be in the ring attempting to stop the other, rather than win a decision.
Another Korean teenager on the show will be In Soo Jang (5-1-1) who will battle former Japanese amateur standout Suzumi Takayama (1-0, 1), in what could be a very interesting match up. Jang is only 19 but already has a 6 round bout under his belt. Takayama on the other hand made his debut in February and is taking a clear step up in class here, though was a very accomplished fighter on the amateur scene.
Another Japanese novice on this card will be Ai Tomomatsu (0-0), a former amateur stand out who will be up against unbeaten Korean puncher Sang Geun Lee (6-0, 4). This is a baptism of fire for Tomomatsu, but a win will give his career a huge boost straight away and we wouldn't be surprised by him showing his amateur skills to shine here. Lee is dangerous, but Tomomatsu will be favoured.
One other interesting bout between fighters from the two countries will see Do Jin Lee (6-1-3) take on Mirai Naito (7-1, 3), the brother of OPBF Light Welterweight champion Rikki Naito. On paper this looks like a really competitive bout, and although we don't expect thrilling fireworks this should still be a very compelling match up.
Attention turns to Tokyo this coming Tuesday for the next notable Watanabe card, headlined by a world title fight and supported by a number of really interesting prospects.
The main event of the show will see WBO Minimumweight champion Vic Saludar (18-3, 10) making his first defense and taking on Japanese challenger Masataka Taniguchi (11-2, 7). Saludar, who won the title last year when he beat Ryuya Yamanaka, has proven to be a difficult assign for top fighters, with Kosei Tanaka needing to pull himself off the canvas to stop him and his win over Yamanaka. Taniguchi on the other hand is taking a huge step up in class, but is a top class fighter who's only losses have been razor thin ones to Tsubasa Koura and Reiya Konishi. We're really expecting this to be something really special. Our preview of this bout can be read here Saludar returns to Japan to defend against Taniguchi!
The main under-card bout will see former amateur standout Shu Utsuki (3-0, 2) take on Japanese based Filipino Jerry Castroverde (10-5, 5), who is promoted by Nobuhiro Ishida. Utsuki has shown great promise already in his career, but this is a very clear step up in class and will be the first time he has taken on someone with real ring experience. Castroverde on the other hand has lost 3 of his last 6, but has mixed with good competition, including Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov and Tae Il Atsumi. This is a huge step up for the unbeaten man.
Another big supporting bout will see the 2017 Rookie of the year Fumiya Fuse (7-0, 1) take on Naoto Mizutani (5-5-1, 2) in a really good looking 8 round bout. We've been impressed by Fuse, who really shined last year on his international debut in Korea, and we're expecting to see huge things from him in 2019. This should be a straight forward win for the youngster, but Mizutani has mixed with so very notable foes, including Kenshin Oshima and Ryo Akaho, so may have a few tricks up his sleeve to teach Fuse.
Teenage sensation Ginjiro Shigeoka (1-0, 1) will be fighting his second professional bout on his card, as he takes on once beaten 20 year old Thai Gerttipong Kumsahwat (3-1, 3), in what should be another bout to allow Shigeoka to shine ahead of a planned 8 round bout in April.
Talking about low key Thai's it's worth noting that Suzumi Takayama (0-0) will be making his debut against a low key Thai, taking on Nirun Baonok (5-14, 4), who has stacked up losses in Japan. Typically Baonok has given rounds to good fighters and been matched really hard, but given the fact Takayama was a stand out amateur we don't see this being a competitive match up.