Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
For hardcore of the Japanese scene we get a live card from Boxing Raise and Dangan Aoki this coming Friday, and it’s the one card that genuinely standsout for the month of January. It’s a small card, with just 4 bouts on it, but all 4 of those bouts are meaningful ones, including two brilliant looking Japanese title fights, and it’s a show that looks like it will be worth watching every second of.
The show will begin with a B Class Tournament final at Super Bantamweight as the once beaten Koki Mioya (8-1-2, 2) takes on the unbeaten Tentaro Kimura (5-0-2), the cousin of the highly regarded Rentaro Kimura. The 23 year old Mioya has gone unbeaten in 7 bouts, including a draw in the 2018 All Japan Rookie of the Year final, and has looked like an improving fighter in recent years, but is still very much a work in progress. Kimura, who will be overshadowed by his brother, is a relatively crude fighter, but a fun one to watch and his September battle with Wataru Yokoyama was certainly a treat from Suruga Boys. We don’t expect highly quality boxing here, but we do expect a really fun 5 round war here between two men with a will to win, and relatively little power.
In another 5 rounder we’ll see an A-Class tournament final as heavy handed Lightweight hopeful Shu Utsuki (7-0, 6) takes on the experienced Masashi Wakita (10-10-2, 5). Since turning professional Utsuki has been highly impressive, showcasing solid boxing skills, very heavy hands, and a fun aggressive style. He’s still a work in progress but the 26 year old is looking like a future star for the Watanabe gym. In the other corner is Wakita, a 24 year old who is very much a “win some, lose some” fighter, but generally makes for fun battles, and he could, if he can see out the first round or two, make for a fun war with Utsuki. Sadly however there’s a very real chance that Utsuki could make this look very, very easy.
The first of two title fights will see the heavy handed Kosuke Saka (20-5, 17) defending the Japanese Super Featherweight title against the teak tough Takuya Watanabe (37-9-1, 21), in what may well be an early contender for FOTY. Saka is a crude but aggressive and heavy handed fighter who, on his day, can be a nightmare for anyone on the regional and domestic scene. He looked fantastic in his title, though it should be noted he’s not fought since December 2019 and he has been inconsistent in his biggest bouts. Watanabe on the other hand is a true warrior, who appears to be made out of something they should be using to make tanks. His bouts are almost always action packed bouts and despite often relying on his toughness he is a solid boxer-fighter. He earned this show with his November 2019 win over Taiki Minamoto and despite being inactive for a year the break may well have done him a favour after a lot of very tough and punishing fights. Our in depth preview of this one can be found here Brutality awaits Saka and Watanabe in overdue Japanese title fight!
The other title fight on this show will see JBC Super Bantamweight champion Yusaku Kuga (19-4-1, 13) defending his belt against Gakuya Furuhashi (26-8-1, 14). Kuga, as with Saka, is a crude fighter but a monstrous puncher who can box a bit and bang a lot. Sadly for Kuga he will enter this bout after a lengthy break from the ring, and was last seen suffering a KO1 loss to Jhunriel Ramonal in December 2019. That loss will still be on his mind given he wasn’t able to get a confidence building win in 2020. Furuhashi will be getting his third shot at a Japanese title, having previously come up short against Yukinori Oguni and Yasutaka Ishimoto. At 33 years old Furuhashi is very much a veteran and he will know this could be his final shot at a Japanese title. As with the other title bout this could end up being a legitimately thrilling war, with Furuhashi setting a high tempo and Kuga looking to land bombs. Our in depth preview of this bout can be read here Warriors Kuga and Furuhashi battle for Japanese throne!