EDION Arena Osaka, Osaka, Osaka, Japan
This coming Sunday is a big day in Japan with 3 different shows, the most notable of which is a title double header in Osaka, promoted by former Japanese star Koki Kameda.
The main event here will see a 4th Japanese Heavyweight champion being crowned as the highly touted Brandon Mitsuro Tajima (1-0, 1) faces Korean fighter Sung Min Lee (7-2-1, 2) for the vacant title. Tajima made his long awaited debut earlier this year, but it was little more than a cameo as he dismantled Sang Ho Kim in 56 seconds. He will be hoping for a chance to show more of his ability here, though unfortunately Lee isn't the most testing of opponents, and in fact Lee is coming in to this on the back of an upset loss to Ja Sung Jo. Lee has proven to be tough and have heart, but this is a huge ask for him against a man many in Japan are very, very excited about. Our preview of this clash can be read here Tajima and Lee battle to become 4th Japanese Heavyweight champion
The other title bout on this show will see OPBF Super Featherweight champion Masanori Rikiishi (11-1, 6) defending his title against aggressive and hard hitting Filipino warrior Tomjune Mangubat (15-3-1, 12). For Rikiishi the bout will serve as his first defense of the title, which he won last time out with a very impressive win against Takuya Watanaba, and he will feel he has the tools and boxing IQ to neutralise Mangubat. As for the Filipino he'll be determined to make the most of this opportunity, especially given a loss last time out to unbeaten hopeful Charly Suarez. If Mangubat can get success with his pressure this will be a very tough bout Rikiishi, but that's a big if. Our preview of this contest can be read here OPBF champion Rikiishi defends against Filipino warrior Mangubat!
Outside of the two title bouts the big talking point of the show will be the professional boxing debut of 2008 Olympic gold medal winning Judoka Satoshi Ishii (0-0), who turns his hand to professional boxing at the age of 35. The former Judo star will be looking to secure a win in boxing as he takes on 30 year old novice Shuho Takayama (1-0, 1), in a 4 round Heavyweight bout. Interestingly Ishii has had success not just in Judo, where he was a genuine star, but also MMA and Kick boxing, and he is a well experienced combat sports practitioner, but we do wonder if it's too late for the Croatian based Japanese born fighter to make any sort of impact in professional boxing.
In a must win bout we'll see two former world title challengers face off as Hiroshige Osawa (37-5-4, 21) takes on Jeo Santisima (21-4, 18). Aged 37 Osawa is coming to the end of his career, and he's only fought once since the start of 2020, scoring a technical decision over Yoshiyuki Takabayashi last September. At his best Osawa was a solid regional level fighter, but given his age and inactivity it's hard to imagine him being even a shadow of the fighter he once was. As for Santisima he fought for a world title in 2020, and is 2-1 since losing in that title fight. Early in his career he looked explosive and powerful but when he's stepped he has looked limited and despite only being 26 it does feel like he's found his ceiling and is on the slide. We suspect Santisima is getting to Osawa at the the right point here, but this is certainly a hard one to call and Osawa might have one great performance left in the tank.
One other really notable bout on this card will see former world champion Ryo Miyazaki (26-2-3, 16), compete in the third bout of his on going comeback. On paper this is a big step up for Miyazaki as he takes on Azael Villar (18-1-3, 14), from Panama. Miyazaki, at his best, was a brilliant warrior, who had under-rated power, real toughness and great work rate, but at 33 he is old for a smaller weight fighter and it's hard to know how much he has left in the tank, even if he is something of a "young" 33. Villar on the other hand is 28 and has world rankings from 3 of the world title bouts, but this is a step up fir Villar, who has been beating low level fighters so far through his career. Given the styles of the two men, this should be a very, very fun and fan friendly bout.
One other under-card bout of note will see 2020 Rookie of the Year winner Sora Fukunaga (10-0, 5) clash with 2014 Rookie of the Year winner Kenya Yamashita (14-5, 11), in what should be a thrilling bout. Although Yamashita is flawed he is always worth watching with an ultra aggressive style, and we suspect he could ask questions of Fukunaga, who is looking to record arguably his most notable win to date. This should genuinely be a very, very exciting match up, albeit one without a major name involved in it.
Central Gym, Kobe, Hyogo, Japan
A second notable show takes place in Hyogo, and will be headlined by a former world champion taking on a former multi-time world title challenger, whilst the supporting card features two solid Japan Vs Philippines bouts.
The main event is a really dangerous one for former WBO Minimumweight champion Ryuya Yamanaka (17-3, 6), who only returned to the sport earlier this year following a brain injury several years ago in his loss to Vic Saludar. The talented Yamanaka was expected to ease his way back into the sport, taking on a few easier opponents before stepping up in class. He however has taken a different approach and will take on hard hitting former 2-time world title challenger Jonathan Taconing (29-4-1, 22), of the Philippines. Given Yamanaka's previous injury this is a very, very risky bout against a flawed but aggressive and hard hitting fighter and there is a real feeling of danger here for Yamanaka. If he wins however the rewards are a potential world title fight in 2023, marking what would be one of the most impressive comebacks in the sport in recent years.
A very notable 8 rounder on this card will see the unbeaten Kazuki Anaguchi (2-0, 2) step up in class to face his first international opponent, as he battles Filipino Ranelio Quizo (10-2, 3). Since making his debut, just over a year ago, Anaguchi has looked like the sort of fighter who will be fast tracked, and despite only having 6 professional rounds to his name he looks a potential title holder, at least on the regional or domestic level. As for Quizo he comes into this bout on 3 straight wins, including a 7th round TKO win over Philip Luis Cuerdo last time out, a bout that was longer than Anaguchi's entire career. Quizo has the tools to ask questions of Anaguchi, but we do feel the local fighter will take this opportunity to shine.
A third bout of note on this card will see bombs being thrown as visiting Filipino Jun Blazo (16-6-3, 12) takes on charismatic Japanese switch hitter Takahiro Tai (3-1, 3). The heavy handed Blazo has been a professional since 2014 and has proven to be a very dangerous fighter, even on his travels, famously dropping Koki Eto in 2016. Sadly for Blazo he enters this bout 0-5 in bouts in Japan, but he will perhaps feel this is a chance to score his first win on Japanese soil. As for Tai he's aggressive but flawed and whilst he certainly not a polished fighter, he is very entertaining, takes risks and tries to behead opponents. Expect this one to be a brutal and explosive war.
Aioi Hall, Kariya, Aichi, Japan
As well as the notable shows in Osaka and Hyogo we are also have the Central Japan Rookie of the Year finals. Sadly Central is over an over-looked region of Japan and with the show coming on the same day as two other notable cards it's even easier to over-look this card.
One of the more notable bouts on this card will be at Super Bantamweight, as the once beaten Junya Kawai (3-1, 1) takes on the unbeaten Ken Shioda (4-0, 2). Aged 31, Kawai has won his last two bouts and bounced back well from a 2021 loss to Shunsuke Bunno, however there are question marks regarding his long term future in the sport, given he's now 31 and actually debuted all the way back in 2015. As for Shioda he debuted in May 2021 and has been active, with 4 wins in around 15 months, and he will feel his activity and age, given he's only 28, will play a role here in what should be a great fight.
Another bout worthy of some attention is a clash between young Minimumweights, as 19 year old Rento Miyazawa (2-1, 1) faces 18 year old Seiya Imai (2-0) in a rematch of a bout we had last November. The older man debuted in July 2021 and won his debut before losing his second bout, to the then debuting Imai. Coming in this Miyazawa will be looking to avenge that loss, whilst Imai will bee looking to repeat his win over his fellow youngster.
October 20th-Tai and Fuse battle for Youth title, prospects get a chance to shine
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
This coming Wednesday we get more action from Korakuen all as the Kaneko Gym put on a small show, but a fairly notable one, headlined by a Japanese Youth title fight and featuring some very promising Japanese prospects.
The main event will see the flawed but hugely entertaining Takahiro Tai (3-0, 3) take on the talented, but light punching, Fumiya Fuse (10-1, 1) in a bout for the Japanese Youth Bantamweight title. The men fight very, very differently to each other, with Fuse relying on speed, combinations and accurate shots whilst Tai likes to entertain, with switch hitting, showboating and throwing very little other than bombs looking to leave an impression, but their style should gel really well here and deliver something resembling an action war. Our preview of this bout can be read here Fuse and Tai battle for Youth title
In the chief support bout the promising Yuya Oku (1-0, 1) will look to build on his impressive debut, which lasted just 50 seconds, as he takes on Yuya Azuma (5-6-1, 1). Azuma tends to be a durable and tough foe, but a technically limited one, and we suspect Oku will go for an early finish, realise Azuma is not going to fold and end up cruising to a wide decision win. Oku is certainly a talent and we should see what he's all about here.
Another notable novice on this card is Yuri Kanaya (0-0), who makes his debut against JBC ranked foe Sora Takeda (6-2, 1). The 25 year old Kanaya went 35-17 (10) in the unpaid ranks and will be looking to impress now he's turned professional, and a win over a JBC ranked opponent on debut would be an impressive way to kick things off. Takeda on the other hand is looking to bounce back from a January loss to Katsuki Mori, in what was a genuinely fantastic 8 rounder. Although Kanaya was a good amateur this is a very tough debut and Takeda has the tools to be a banana skin here in what could be a bit of a hidden gem of a bout.
July 24th-Action in Kobe!
Central Gym, Kobe, Hyogo, Japan
This coming Saturday isn't a big day for fight fans in the East, but fans in Kobe do get a pretty interesting show thanks to Shinsei who will be putting on a 5 fight card, with several good looking bouts, one of which includes a really interesting prospect that we're high on.
The first of three bouts deserving of attention here is a 6 rounder between former amateur standout Kazuki Anaguchi (0-0), who's making his debut at the age of 21, and Atsushi Takada (6-2-3, 3), in an all southpaw bout. The talented Anaguchi went an incredible 68-6 in the unpaid ranks, and really shone in the 2019 Kansai Student League, winning all 5 of his bouts despite being younger than many of his foes. He's regarded as one of the best youngsters in Japan and will be looking to show what he can do here against Takada. Takada on the other hand is ending a break from the ring of almost 2 years, and it's now more than 3 years since the now 24 year old last scored a victory. Takada can't afford a loss, though he may well be in with a future star of the sport here.
In the chief support slow we'll see the charismatic and enigmatic Takahiro Tai (2-0, 2) take on young veteran Joe Tanooka (15-8-5, 1) in a major step up. Tai is one of the most interesting prospects in Japan, with a switch hitting style, and a real flair for excitement. He's the sort of fighter who catches the eye quickly with his powerful shots and show boating nature, but will need to keep his cool here against the slippery and light punching Tanooka. Tanooka is certainly not a dangerous fighter to go up again, but he's got good ring craft, a smart boxing brain and can certainly pose questions to the novice. We expect Tai's power to be too much in the end, but don't be surprised if the youngster needs to work for a win here.
The main event will see the once touted Tetsuro Ohashi (7-2-1, 2) take on the JBC ranked Isao Aoyama (12-8-1, 3). Ohashi was hotly tipped as we went in 2019, following an All Japan Rookie of the Year win in December 2018, but since then he has gone 1-2 and really needs to get his career back on track, and get some momentum building following losses to Suzumi Takayama and Hiroyuki Kudaka. As for Aoyama his record isn't great but he's much, much better than the numbers suggest and if he's hungry he could have the tools to defeat Ohashi and take another step towards a potential Japanese title fight. This one is expected to go the distance, as neither is a puncher, but should still be a very interesting bout as both men will be desperate for a victory given recent set backs.
Kobe Municipal Chuo Gymnasium, Kobe, Japan
We get lucky this coming Sunday as Boxing Real are set to stream a solid card from Japan for free. It's certainly not a massive show, by any stretch of the imagination, but it's a solid one all the same with a former world champion, some solid domestic fighters and an enigmatic prospect all on the show.
The main event will see former WBA Super Bantamweight champion Shun Kubo (14-2, 9) taking on youngster Ruito Saeki (7-4-1, 1). The 30 year old Kubo has struggled to build any career momentum since his 2017 title loss to Danny Roman, and it seems his confidence is shot and he needs a few wins to rebuild that. Last year he picked up a relatively easy win over Takashi Igarashi and he's stepping up from that bout here. Saeki is no world beater, not even close, but he's tough and will come to win. Sadly Saeki has gone 0-3-1 in his last 4 and a win for him would be a big upset, but we suspect he will come to test Kubo, who has shown some real fragility in recent years.
In a supporting bout Japanese ranked Bantamweight Yuki Yonaha (8-3-1, 5) will take on Kenta Sakata (7-7-2). The talented Yonaha will be looking to build on a 2020 win over the once touted Motoki Osanai and will be expected to pick up a straight forward win here against the light punching Sakata, who is a natural Flyweight and has gone 1-4-1 in his last 6.
Arguably the best of the supporting card will see the enigmatic, switch hitting, stylist Takahiro Tai (1-0, 1) take on Koichi Wakita (7-2-3, 2), who is risking his JBC Bantamweight ranking. Tai was a joy to watch in his debut, last December, and although very much a work in progress has one of the most flamboyant styles of any Japanese fighter, with a cocky in ring personality, taunting, switch hitting and a style more akin to Emanuel Augustus than a Japanese fighter. Wakita on the other hand is a 31 year old veteran who is certainly no push over, but has a lack of power and often sees his bouts being super close decisions. We expect this to be a test for Tai, but a test he should pass.
Gyeongnam, South Korea
As well as the Japanese show there is also supposed to be a Korean card, under the KBA banner, taking place in Gyeongnam. Sadly details of this card haven't been forth coming, despite the KBA announcing the main event draws for the show way back in January. There is a very, very real chance this show has fallen though, or could end up being cancelled at late notice.
Sadly no bouts have been confirmed for this show at the time of writing, though the main event was announced as featuring Hee Jung Yuh (23-3, 12) defending her WBC International female Super Flyweight title for the first time, albeit against a yet to be announced opponent. The 41 year old Korean veteran is riding an 8 fight winning streak, since her 2015 loss to Naoko Fujioka, but those wins have come at a very, very low level. Sadly we can't say anything about her opponent, given no foe has been named, but it's fair to say that if the show goes ahead it won't be anyone too testing.
The chief support bout is supposed see see Young Gil Bae (30-7-2, 23), the husband of Hee Jung Yuh, fighting for the WBF Asia-Pacific Flyweight title. Sadly Bae, like Yuh, has no opponent listed for this event. For Bae this will be his first bout in more than 2 years and he comes into the contest on the back of successive wins. Although not a big name fans may recognise his names for his losses in Thailand, to Srisaket Sor Rungvisai and Wanheng Menayothin. Given his inactivity and the lack of opponent we wouldn't expect anyone even slightly testing here for Bae.
There is a very, very real chance this show has fallen though, or could end up being cancelled at late notice, so don't get your hopes up on this one folks!
December 13th becomes the latest date for a promoter to hold two events at the same venue in Japan, and although neither of the shows are amazing, both look relatively interesting with title action and a couple of decent bouts. Interestingly it appears the first will be made available on YouTube, as part of the Boxing Real channel whilst the second will be available, on demand, on Boxing Raise.
EDION Arena Osaka, Osaka, Osaka, Japan
The first of the cards features a solid, if somewhat easy to over-look, main event, a Japanese female title bout and an anticipated debut.
The main event on the first show will see Yuki Yonaha (7-3-1, 5) take on the JBC ranked Motoki Osanai (4-2, 1) in an interesting 8 rounder. The 29 year old Yonaha is without a win in well over 4 years, but did show plenty of desire and hunger in his most recent bout, a draw with Naota Iwai, and it's clear he is a talent, though we do question his hunger and desire in the sport. Osanai on the other hand turned professional to fanfare, taking part in his pro-test bout on the same day as Hiroto Kyoguchi and Masataka Taniguchi, but was sadly left in their shadows and lost 2 of his first 3. Coming into this he has scored 3 wins and appears to be building some career momentum, and a win here would continue the ball rolling. One of those ones where the abilities of both men are a lot better than their records suggest.
The title bout on this card will see Japanese female Minimumweight champion Yumi Narita (4-4-3, 1) defending her title against Mont Blanc Miki (4-3-1, 1), in what will be Narita's first defense of the title. On paper this is another where the records of the two fighters suggests a poor bout, but the styles and mentalities of the two women should actually make for a war. Neither of the two are technically fantastic but both are warriors who let their hands go and we expect this to be a genuine tear up. Our full preview of this bout can be read here Narita takes on Miki in first Japanese title defense
As for the debutant that is switch hitter Takahiro Tai (0-0), who fights out of the gym by his father. Tai was a solid amateur on the Japanese amateur scene and is looking to make an impact on his professional debut as he takes on Ryosei Hamaguchi (6-6, 2) in a 6 rounder. We don't think Tai will be fast tracked, but there was a lot to like from his amateur performances and he's very much a fan friendly, stylish fighter with a lot of flare. We see that winning over fans quickly here. Hamaguchi isn't a bum, but he has lost 4 of his last 5, and has scored just 1 win in the last 3 years, so would need something a bit special to test the talented Tai here.
EDION Arena Osaka, Osaka, Osaka, Japan
The second part of the card will again feature a title bout, an intriguing 8 rounder and a debut...well a debut of sorts.
The title bout here, which is also the main event, will see WBO female Super Flyweight champion Miyo Yoshida (14-1) making her second defense of her title as she takes on Tomoko Okuda (6-2-2, 1). The talented Yoshida will be strongly favoured here, though it is worth noting that this will be her first bout since transferring over to the Misako Gym and the change in her team and set up could end up leaving some questions for her to answer. Okuda has been fortunate at times with some results, but at 37 we really do wonder if she has the tools to hang with a top class fighter like Yoshida. Our full preview of this world title bout can be read here Yoshida takes on Okuda in second WBO world title defense
In an excellent 8 round match up we'll see the once beaten Yuga Inoue (10-1-1, 1) take on Daiki Tomita (14-2, 5), in a bout between two top 10 JBC ranked Light Flyweights. The light punching Inoue has scored 3 wins since his 2018 loss to Kai Ishizawa for the Japanese Youth title, and has rebuilt in a hard way, going up against solid fighters and testing the water at Flyweight. He's had a loss, and gone straight back in with tough competition rather than rebuilding his confidence with easy wins. In fairness that's actually what Tomita is looking to do here in his first bout since a 10th round TKO loss to Kenichi Horikawa in July. Although both men are in their early 20's this is strangely a cross roads bout and the winner will find themselves on the verge of a Japanese title fight, whilst the loser will begin a long climb back up the rankings. A genuinely excellent match up.
Also on this card is the debut of Ayumu Hanada (4-0, 3), or rather the Japanese debut of Hanada. Or more precisely the JBC debut of Hanada, who began his career in Mexico and fought in an unrecognised bout in Japan in 2019. Despite the weird start to his career Hanada is expected to be a star and he has impressed, bot just in his Mexican bout but also his "unofficial", for lack of a better word, bout in Japan. In the opposite corner to Hanada is the heavy handed Ryuku Nagamine (5-1, 5), who began his career with 5 early wins before losing to Keisuke Iwasaki in the Rookie of the Year last year. Given his power he's a real dangerman for Hanada and, if we're being honest, this could end up being the bout of the day. Both men are explosive punchers and both will be looking to make a statement. If you're going to watch this one, don't blink!
As well as the action in Japan we also get a small Chinese card from Quzhou. Sadly this is a very low level card.
The most interestingly match up on the show will see 20 year old hopeful Yeerjialahasi Laayibieke (4-2, 3) take on the once beaten Jiaming Li (4-1, 2). Whilst this isn't expected to be a great fight we do love the fact it looks like a pretty 50-50 match up. Notably Laayibieke has won his last 4, with his last 3 coming by T/KO, but he's not the only one with momentum, and Li has also won his last 4. A genuinely interestingly match up.
The only other 8 rounder on this card will see Jiajia Li (6-2, 2) battle Ayati Sailike (10-8-3-1, 4) in a decent looking match up. We don't think this will be as good as the other one, but it is a lot more even than it looks on paper. The 32 year old Li was beaten last year, and since then has picked up two very low key wins. Sailike on the other hand is unbeaten in more than 2 years and looks like he's coming into his prime. This could end up being a lot better than it appears on paper.
Note - Hanada's Japanese debut was a WBF title bout in Osaka in June 2019. The bout isn't recognised by the JBC, his "actual" record is 5-0 (3)