Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
Action returns to Korakuen Hall this coming Monday for the next show from Dangan. This isn't a particularly big show but it is one worthy of some interest with a title fight headlining the event and several interesting bouts featuring debutants.
The main event will see triple crown champion Ryoji Fukunaga (13-4, 13) defending his WBO Asia Pacific and Japanese Super Flyweight titles against the unheralded Takahiro Fujii (12-6-1, 3), who is stepping up massively here. The heavy handed Fukunaga had a brilliant 2020, with wins over Froilan Saludar and Kenta Nakagawa, but both of those bouts were punishing wars and it's probably a good thing that he's being matched a little bit more lightly here than we've seen for his last two bouts. Fujii really is a very limited, domestic level fighter and shouldn't pose too much if a threat to the champion, but it's a huge opportunity for him, and likely to be his only fight at this level. We expect Fujii to be hungry, fight to win, but then be broken down by the heavy hands of the champion. Our full preview of this bout can be read here Fukunaga defends two titles as he takes on Fujii!
In a brilliant chief support bout we'll see Jukiya Iimura (1-0, 1) take on Tomoki Kawasaki (0-0), in what we believe is the third of fourth date set for this fight. Iimura really impressed in his debut, back in January and we've been desperate to see him back in action. He looked really explosive, exciting and heavy handed in that bout and oozed charisma. Kawasaki on the other hand was a very decent amateur and will come into this bout with hunger to make a statement and shine in his first pro bout. These are the type of bouts that Japan gives us regularly, and others don't. Two young, talented, good amateurs facing off early in their careers, taking a risk and knowing that they can prove how good they are without waiting years. Something w would love to see in the UK and US.
Another debutant going in rather hard here is former amateur fighter Josuke Nagata (0-0), who went 38-20 in the unpaid ranks. Whilst not a stellar record he looked the part in the unpaid ranks and we're excited to see what he's going to do in the pros. He'll be up against the relatively decent Koji Tsurumi (5-3-1, 2), who comes into this bout on the back of an excellent win over the then debut Yugo Kon in January. Although his record looks poor Tsurumi is unbeaten in his last 3 and has shown some genuine ability, with wins against Kon, Kazusa Arai and Shion Yokoyama. This might look like a gimme for Nagata, but it's not and we expect him to be given a genuine test here.
This coming Friday we are set to get action featuring Asian fighters from Japan, Dubai and the US
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
In Japan we get a low key, but very interesting, card from the Kaneko Gym.
The main event here will see former OPBF and WBO Asia Pacific Middleweight champion Shinobu Charlie Hosokawa (12-5-1, 11) taking on unheralded prospect Rei Nakajima (3-0), who is stepping up massively. At 36 years old Hosokawa has seen better days and he has struggled for form recently, going 1-2-1 in his last 4, but he is still a heavy handed, physically strong, and experienced fighter who is a real danger man on the Japanese and Oriental scene. Nakajima on the other hand is a touted prospect at 154lbs and will be taking a massive step up in class. Aged 22 Nakajima is one of the most over-looked Japanese prospects out there, but a win here would get him series attention.
In an interesting looking support bout Japanese ranked Bantamweight Yoshihiro Utsumi (16-9-3, 10) will be up against the once beaten Tulio Kuwabata (3-1, 2). The 36 year old Utsumi is very much on the back end of his career, and he has suffered losses to Hiroaki Teshigawara and Kazuki Nakajima in his last 6, but he will go into this fight with a point to prove. As for Kuwabata this is a must win following a big upset loss in December, when he was stopped by Ken Jordan. Kuwabata looks like a real talent, but the loss to Jordan was a major set back and he can't afford another one here.
Another ranked fighter on this card is Jin Miura (10-3-4, 1), who takes on the once beaten Daiki Wakamatsu (7-1, 4) in one of the better looking bouts of the day. Amazingly Miura has won just 1 of his last 5, but has some how gone 1-0-4 during that run, including draws with Shingo Kawamura and Mugicha Nakagawa. Although unranked himself Wakamatsu comes into this bout with form and has won his last 6, following an early career loss. On paper this is a bit of a toss up and should be a very interesting match up.
One other bout deserving of a mention is one pitting Japanese ranked Super Flyweight Takahiro Fujii (11-6-1, 3) against Akira Kokubo (8-9-3, 2), in a battle of 30-something's. This bout, technically the chief support bout, is an all southpaw bout that could end up a very compelling contest, though is unlikely to be hugely exciting. Fujii enters with a JBC ranking, but the 31 year old isn't expected to get a shot at the title any time soon and is 4-3 in his last 7. Although Kokubo's record looks poor he is 4-1 in his last 6 and is much better than his record suggests.
Caesars Palace Dubai, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
As well as the action in Tokyo we also get a show from Dubai where we'll see some more Asian action.
The most notable bit of action for an Asian fighter here will see unbeaten Kazakh Viktor Kotochigov (12-0, 5) defending his WBC International Lightweight title against the under-rated Maxi Hughes (21-5-2, 4) in a very interesting match up. The 27 year old Kotochigov won the title in July 2019 and will be looking for his second defense here, as he continues to climb through the rankings towards a potential world title fight. Although very talented Kotochigov has been, at times, willing to cruise through bouts and 3 of his last 4 wins have been rather forgettable decisions. In the opposite corner to the Uzbek is a British fighter coming in on the back of an upset win over Jono Carroll. Despite having 5 losses to his name Hughes is a talented, technically sound, busy, accurate fighter and a very, very live under-dog here.
Lower down the card unbeaten Indian puncher Faizan Anwar (4-0, 4) will take on Filipino journeyman JR Mendoza (11-19, 5). The 19 year old Anwar has taken just 11 rounds to blow out his first 4 opponents but may be taken rounds here. Mendoza, although sporting 11 losses, has only been stopped 3 times in his career. Saying that however he is the naturally smaller man and hasn't had a boxing contest in 5 years, and ring rust may well prove to be a major issue for him here.
The Bubble, MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
Also in action will be unbeaten US based Kazakh Middleweight hopeful Zhanibek Alimkhanuly (8-0, 4). He was originally pencilled in to fight a world ranked southpaw, though sadly his original opponent was injured in training and instead the Kazakh will face Gonzalo Gaston Coria (16-3, 6). Coria is a 23 year old Argentinian southpaw, who gave 2-time world title challenger Artur Akavov a test in 2018, and should be a decent marker. Sadly after a solid 2019, which saw Alimkhanuly going 4-0 (3) it's a shame to not see him in with a more notable opponent this year. Fingers crossed that in 2021 we see Top Rank giving Alimkhanuly a big bout, as he deserves to show his skills against a top notch opponent sooner rather than later.