Kokugikan, Tokyo, Japan
The main action in a surprisingly busy Tuesday, comes from the Kokugikan in Tokyo as we get a world title double header, and in fact the last world title bouts to take place in Japan this year following numerous post-Christmas bouts being cancelled.
The first world title bout from the double header will see WBO Minmumweight champion Wilfredo Mendez (16-1, 6) defending his title against mandatory challenger Masataka Taniguchi (14-3, 9), in what could be a very interesting bout. This will be Mendez's third defense of the title, which he took from Vic Saludar in 2019, but he comes into the bout after almost 2 years of inactivity, and for his first bout in Asia. "Bimbito" is certainly a talented fighter, but he style may not have the success on the road as it has at home, and he can look very negative at times. Taniguchi has come up short at world level before, but he does seem incredibly focused on this bout, and has bounced back well from his last loss, to Vic Saludar, to score 3 notable domestic wins. His style could end up working against him at times, as Mendez is the much quicker man, but his physicality and power could be a major difference maker, especially with Mendez's recent inactivity. Our preview for this world title fight can be read here Taniguchi gets second WBO title shot as he takes on Mendez
The other title bout on this show, and the main event of the day, will see Japanese star Naoya Inoue (21-0, 18) return to a Japanese ring for the first time in over 2 years to defend his WBA and IBF Bantamweight titles against hard hitting Thai challenger Aran Dipaen (12-2, 11). Inoue and his team have made it clear they wanted a bigger name than Dipaen for this bout, but were turned down by a number of more well known names, and that can be dangerous if they are over looking the Thai and looking towards unification bouts in the new year. Dipaen isn't so much a threat to Inoue here, but Inoue could be a threat to himself if he's over-looking the challenger. As for Dipaen no one is giving him a chance, but he will know he has nothing to lose and he will be in there looking to put in the performance his career. We don't see this one lasting long, but it could be a genuine test of Inoue's focus given such a frustrating end to the year. Our preview of this bour can be read here The monster returns to Japan to defend against Dipaen!
As well as the two main bouts this card has several notable prospects on it, with youngster Keisuke Matsumoto (3-0, 3) taking on the much very experienced Takahiro Araki (12-10, 4), former Kickboxer Yoshiki Takei (2-0, 2) taking on Kazuhiro Imamura (2-0-1, 1), in what looks set to be his toughest bout to date, and the very exciting Toshiya Ishii (4-1, 3) taking on Takuya Fujioka (10-10-1, 1), in what looks to be a stay busy fight before bigger things in 2022.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
The show at the Kokugikan isn't the only one in Tokyo, with Koakuen Hall playing host to an OPBF title double header. The bouts here aren't huge, but both the title bouts do promise a lot of exciting action, and there is also a solid under-card match up as well.
One of those OPBF title bouts will see Light Welterweight champion Rikki Naito (23-2, 8) take on Japanese veteran Koichi Aso (24-9-1, 15). Naito has looked like something of a suspect champion since winning the title a few years ago, and was pushed hard in a number of defense, but there's no doubting his skills and ability with the main questions being about his power and stamina. As for Aso, the veteran is a former Japanese national champion, but is very much a fighter coming to the end of his career, and he no longer has the energy and aggression he did in his prime. This should be straight forward win for Naito on the cards, but Aso will make him for it. Our preview of this regional title bout can be read here OPBF champion Naito takes on Aso at Korakuen Hall
The other title fight promises violence as the hard hitting Kosuke Saka (21-5, 18) takes on the under-rated Yoshimitsu Kimura (12-2-1, 7) in a bout for the vacant OPBF Super Featherweight title. Saka has looked a brute in recent bouts, smashing up both Masaru Sueyoshi and Takuya Watanabe, in two very impressive back to back performances, though it's fair to say that he can be beaten and there are always question marks about his chin and his mental application in the ring. As for Kimura this will be his second shot at the title, having previously coming up just short against Hironori Mishiro, and he really has shown he belongs at this level. He will go in as the man with no momentum, but he has the skills and tools to spring the upset, in what should be a genuinely spectacular bout for those at Korakuen Hall. Expect a lot of heavy leather here, and some thrilling exchanges. Our preview of this bout can be read here Saka and Kimura battle for OPBF Super Featherweight title!
In one under-card bout worthy of some attention, we'll see boxing police officer Daisuke Sugita (6-2, 3) look to bounce back from a June loss to Ryo Akaho as he takes on youngster Ryuto Owan (7-1, 5). Sugita is a fun guy to watch, but he has been matched rather hand and losses to Akaho and Reiya Abe were both very one sided and showed he didn't belong in that company. Despite that he's a solid fighter and he has the tools to be a solid competitor on the Japanese domestic scene, albeit below domestic title level. Owan on the other hand is a promising and talented young fighter who seemed destined for big things until a loss in 2018 slowed his momentum, and a 2 year break from the ring followed. Since returning to action in October 2020 he has looked really impressive and he'll be looking to shine again here and move towards a potential title fight in 2022.
Outside of Japan there is also a very notable card in Thailand, headlined by WBA Minmumweight "Super" champion Knockout CP Freshmart (22-0, 8), who will be up against once beaten Filipino challenger Robert Paradero (18-1, 12). The talented Knockout is seeking his second defense of the year, after a long break from the ring following his 2020 win over Norihito Tanaka, and he'll be looking to end the year with an impressive performance here before moving onto a potential unification bout in 2022. As for Paradero he's looking to bounce back from his sole professional loss, which came earlier this year to Vic Saludar. The challenger showed plenty to like in that loss, but a lack of experience was an issue, and he'll be wanting to prove he has learned from that set back. It's always hard to bet against a Thai in Thailand, but it is worth noting that Filipino do historically have more success as challengers in the Land of Smiles than almost any other country and Paradero will not be there to make up the numbers. Or in deoth preview of this bout can be read here WBA champion Knockout takes on Filipino Challenger Paradero
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
This coming Wednesday fight fans at Korakuen Hall, and those who subscribe to Boxing Raise, will get the chance to see a pretty low key, but interesting, Japanese card from Korakuen Hall. The show doesn't have a huge bout on it, but does have 4 potentially solid bouts on it.
The main event of the show will see the unbeaten Seiya Tsutsumi (5-0-2, 4) look to build on a frustrating 2020, which saw him fight to two draws, as he takes on the once beaten Tulio Kuwabata (3-1-1, 2). The talented Tsutsumi was incredibly unlucky early in 2020, when he was held to a much debated draw with Kazuki Nakajima and then later went on to hold Daigo Higa to a draw later in the year. As for Kuwabata he turned professional under a lot of hype and expectation but with a loss and a draw in his first 5 bouts he really needs to get things together and get some momentum back into his career. Tsutsumi should be favoured, though Kuwabata can certainly box and this isn't a gimme.
In a main supporting bout we'll see former world title challenger Takuya Kogawa (31-6-1, 14) take on Shun Kosaka (16-6, 4), in what should be a very fan friendly bout. The 35 year old Kogawa is a stalwart of Japanese boxing and has done so much in his 15 year career, but has looked like a faded fighter in recent years, despite a recent win over Hayato Yamaguchi. Aged 25 Kosaka is much younger than Kogawa, but has lost 3 of his last 4 and damage has been accumulating on him in recent contests. Coming in to this it is worth noting Kosaka has been out of the ring for over a year, and that may be a blessing in disguise, but we're not sure it'll be enough to help him to victory here.
The always fun to watch Yoji Saito (2-1-2, 2) will be looking to second successive wins as he takes on veteran Takahiro Araki (12-9, 4), who needs a win after back to back stoppage losses. The talented and rock handed Saito is one of the most dangerous in Japanese boxing, with brutal power, though he can be out boxed and if Araki can get his respect this could be tough for Saito. However that's a big if, and the likely outcome here is for Saito's pressure and steam roller aggressive to be too much for Araki who may be lucky to see out the first 3 rounds.
In a 4th bout of note we'll see the once touted Yuichiro Kasuya (13-3-2, 4) look to rebuild his career after successive set backs, as he takes on Mirai Naito (8-2, 3). Kasuya was once a really promising youngster, who won the All Japan Rookie of the Year at a very young age, but since then things haven't really gone his way and his negative style and lack of stopping power has been a major issue for his career. That was shown last year when he lost a decision to Masanori Rikiishi. Naito, the brother of Rikki Naito, has shown a lot of promise, but a loss last October to Ryo Nakai has left him needing a win and although he's not the natural talent Kasuya is, he'll be hungry to get his career back on track. We suspect this one could be messy, but it's one that both men will feel they need to win.
For fans with Boxing Raise we believe this will be made available on demand, and sadly not streamed live.
A new month kicks off and we're immediately into action with Boxingraise wasting no tume in streaking their first card of November, and it's a pretty good one from Kadoebi Houseki.
The main event of the card, and we suspect the real reason Boxingraise are streamign the show instead of putting it on delay, is a Japanese Light Welterweight title fight that sees reigning champion Hiroki Okada (13-0, 10) defending his title against veteran Valentine Hosokawa (20-5-3, 9). For Okada the bout will be his 6th defense of the title and many have assumed that if he wins he will choose to vacate the title in 2017 and chase the OPBF title, rather than face mandatory challenger Koichi Aso, who he has already beaten twice. For Hosokawa the bout will be a third title bout and if he loses here the odds are that he won't get another at this level.
In the chief support bout we see Japanese ranked fighters facing off with Japanese ranked Featherweight Takenori Ohashi (12-4-2, 8) taking on ranked Super Featherweight Takahiro Araki (9-5, 4), with Araki coming down in weight for the bout. Whilst neither guy looks great on paper they have styles that should gel well and should make for an interesting bout, that both will believe they can win.
Top ranked Japanese Welterweight contender Daisuke Sakamoto (12-8-3, 7) will be in action against unknown Thai Kriangkrai Suksanguan (1-0, 1). Sakamoto, like many Japanese fighters in and around the Middleweights, has a misleading record full of early career setbacks. Just 3 years ago he was 7-8-1 (3) but has since gone 5-0-2 (4) and holds a major win over Japanese champion Toshio Arikawa and will be hunting a title fight in 2017.
On the under-card we'll see the touted Kazuki Saito (1-0, 1) battle against Thailand's Petchmahalert Eminent Air (0-3). Whilst Saito might not be one of the big name Japanese prospects the 24 year old was a very accomplished amateur, going 83-14, and is tipped to do big things in the near future. The Thai has been stopped in his 3 previous bouts and we suspect to see the same happen again here.
We were also supposed to see Yuta Nakagawa (18-4-1, 9) face Keigo Soma (8-11-2, 4) on this card, though that bout has been cancelled.