Although the iconic Korakuen Hall is one of, if not the, busiest venue in world boxing it doesn't actually play host to many world title fights. This coming Monday we get one of those rare world title bouts in the headline of a pretty notable card put on by the Nitta Gym.
The world title bout in question will see IBF Flyweight champion Moruti Mthalane (37-2, 25) defending his title against mandatory challenger Masayuki Kuroda (30-7-3, 16). It's a clash of veterans and a very, very interesting match up. Mthalane impressed last time out, when he made his first defense of his second reign, and stopped Masahiro Sakamoto in Macau, defending the belt he had won when he narrowly beaten Muhammad Waseem in July. In title win Mthalane did look sharp to begin with but his age began to get to him late and it's unclear what he really has left at the age of 36. Kuroda, himself 32, is getting his second crack more than 6 years after battling Juan Carlos Reveco for the WBA title. Kuroda has had mixed fortunes at Flyweight but has won 6 in a row to earn this shot. A full preview of this bout can be read here Kuroda goes up against IBF champ Mthalane!
In a really good supporting bout we'll see the once beaten Ryo Hino (12-1-2, 7) go up against Tasuku Suwa (6-3-1, 1). On paper it's easy to think Hino is in for an easy night, but in reality we're expecting a very, very close bout. Hino's sole loss came to Reiya Abe way back in 2015, and since then he has gone 7-0-1 (5), with a notable win over Sho Nakazawa and a draw against Coach Hiroto. Suwa on the other hand has lost 3 of his last 4 is no push over and does have skills to test fighters, as we saw when he gave Ryo Sagawa a good battle last year. Hino's the clear favourite, but Suwa is a live under-dog.
One other bout of interest on this card is a well matched contest pitting Yui Oikawa (7-4-1, 1) against Shinnosuke Hasegawa (8-2-1, 6). Neither of these men are expected to be major stars, but both will enter this bout with the belief they can win. Oikawa was stopped last time out, but is 5-2 (4) in his last 7 and is certainly a man with some belief. Hasegawa on the other hand has won his last 7, but they have come against some very poor opposition, and it will be him stepping up in this bout.
Also on this card is 2018 Middleweight Rookie of the Year Nath Nwachukwu (3-0-2, 1) who takes on the once beaten Yasunori Mihara (4-1, 3) in what will be Nwachukwu's first bout since his Rookie triumph in December.
This coming Thursday sees Dangan put on a really low key but very interesting card stacked with B license fighters, in really well matched bouts as well the ring return of a former world champion.
The best of the bouts on this card will see the very promising Junpei Inamoto (1-0, 1) take on the promising Taiga Higashi (5-2, 2) in a really mouth watering bout B class tournament bout at Bantamweight. We caught Inamoto's debut last year and were immediately raving about the teenager, who appeared to have the aura of a star in the making and the confidence of someone who would be fast tracked. This is however a very tough assignment for Inamoto give than Higashi's two losses were very close bouts, to good fighters, in the form of Matcha Nakagawa and Kazuki Nakajima. The winner of this is scheduled to take on Seiya Tsutsumi later this year, in another fantastic bout.
Another of the B Class tournament bouts, this time at Featherweight, will see 20 year old Tasuku Suwa (5-2-1, 1) battle against out form 22 year old Nakagawa Kanehiro (4-5, 3). Suwa has lot 2 of his last 3, but strangely he has never lost a bout scheduled for less than 6 rounds, being 4-0-1 in 4 rounders and 1-0 in 5 rounders, which is notably here given that this bout will be fought over 5 rounds. Coming in to this Kanehiro has lost his last 3, and 4 of his last 6, but could see this as a chan e to get back to winning ways. It's a really good match up between two men who will both feel like they can win here. The winner of this bout will be facing Ren Sasaki in the tournament final.
The least interesting looking of the B class tournaments bouts is at Flyweight and feature Yasuhiro Tanaka (4-3-2) battling namesake Satoshi Tanaka (4-4, 1). The 26 Satoshi Tanaka has lost his last 3 bouts, and can be hurt, with a couple of stoppage losses against him. Yasuhiro Tanaka has also lost his last 3, bit has really struggled more generally, winning just 2 of his last 7. These is by far the weakest of the B class tournament bouts, but both men will feel they can score the win here, and it should be competitive, even if it does perhaps lack in term of quality. The winner of this is set to battle former amateur stand out Rikito Shiba.
One of the most intriguing bouts on this card will see former amateur stands collide. In one corner will be Watanabe gym's Shu Utsuki (1-0, 1) whilst the other man will be Kadoebi debutant Yoji Saito (0-0), with the two men clashing in a 6 rounder. Utsuki had a reported amateur career of 81-27 and is tipped to be a star of the future. We've not been given Saito's amateur record, but we have been informed that he was also very accomplished in the amateur ranks which makes this a really baffling bout, but one we're really interested in and can't wait to see.
Another really interesting bout will see 2017 Super Flyweight Rookie of the Year Mirai Imagawa (8-3, 2) battle for the first time since his Rookie of the Year win over Katsuki Matsuura. The 22 year old Imagawa will take on Koya Sato (10-4-1, 2), who has won his last 3 and started to turn his career around following a 4 bout losing streak. This is a good test for Imagawa but one that he should be able to pass, if he's as good as the Rookie win suggests.
Also on this card will be former female world champion Ayaka Miyao (21-7-1, 5), who returns to the ring for the first time since being stopped against Nao Ikeyama. The former WBA Atomweight champion suffered a serious leg injury in that bout, back in December 2016 and has been out of the ring ever since. Her return will see her battle against Filipino foe Aisah Alica (7-8, 5), who has lost in 7 of her last 9, including a stoppage loss to the then WBC Atomweight champion Momo Koseki. This should be a easy match up for Miyao, but we can't begrudge her that after the injury she suffered.