The month of May is set to be hectic, with notable bouts spread through the coming weeks. The action for the month actually kicks off with a big show it's self, with a Japanese title fight, the return for a popular warrior and a debut of a Vietnamese hopeful.
The aforementioned title fight will see Japanese Middleweight champion Hikaru Nishida (15-8-1, 7) battle against interim champion Tomohiro Ebisu (17-4, 17) in what looks set to be a really thrilling bout. Nishida has been inactive since June last year, when he lost the OPBF title to Dwight Ritchie, due to an injury and it's hard to say whether he will still be feeling the ill effects of that injury. Ebisu on the other hand comes into this bout following a thrilling win in December over Makoto Fuchigami. On paper this should be Nishida's pressure against Ebisu's power, and could be a very special way to kick off the month.
In a supporting bout we'll see former Japanese Super Bantamweight title challenger Gakuya Furuhashi (18-8-1, 8) return to the ring following his 10th round stoppage loss to Yasutaka Ishimoto last year. The always fun to watch Furuhashi has won just 1 of his last 5 bouts, but should get back to winning ways here, as he takes on the limited and faltering Masajiro Honda (6-8, 4), who has lost his last 3 bouts. A loss here for Furuhashi will likely end his career, which would be a shame, but a win could instantly see him put just a few bouts from a third title fight.
Also on the card will be the debut of Nguyen Gok Hai (0-0) from Vietnam, continuing the working relationship between the Kawasaki Nitta gym and Vietnamese boxing. The debutant will be up against Mao Tameda (1-2-1). Although it's hard to know how good Hai is it's fair to say that he wouldn't be invited over to Japan unless Kawasaki Nitta were aware that he was worth having over. This could be a very interesting debut.
The final Japanese show before Christmas is a wonderful card set to be shown on A-sign and features several bouts of note.
The main event of the card will see former Japanese Middleweight champions colliding as Tomohiro Ebisu (16-4, 16) faces Makoto Fuchigami (23-11, 14) in a bout for the “interim” Japanese Middleweight title. The bout, caused by the accidental injury to regular champion Hikaru Nishida, is a must win for both men. Ebisu held the Japanese title in 2013, but lost it in his first defense and has failed to score a win of note since then. Although a big puncher Ebisu has been stopped 4 times and is viewed as a glass cannon. Fuchigami is technically a better boxer but has lost 5 of his last 9 and has shown the damage of his long career with his punch resistance fading. The winner of this is guaranteed at least another big bout down the road, but it's hard to see what will be next for the loser.
The most notable of the under-card bouts will see the highly experienced Motoki Sasaki (41-10-1, 25) battle against Yuki Kimura (6-8-1, 5) in a stay busy bout. The talented Sasaki has made it clear that he's now looking for a title bout, despite being in his 40's, a win here could help open doors for such an opportunity in 2017.
In another supporting bout we'll see former world title challenger Ryo Akaho (28-2-2, 18) battle against a limited Thai foe. Akaho will be looking to secure his third straight win since his 2nd round TKO loss to Pungluang Sor Singyu, back in August 2015, and will be looking for a much better performance than he had last time, when he squeaked past Hiroaki Teshigawara.
In a 6 rounder we'll see Ryusei Ishii (6-2, 4) take on debutant Kazu Tanaka (0-0). As with all B class debutants we're interested in seeing how Tanaka gets on here with the RK Kamata gym fighter seemingly having enough promise for his team to throw him in with a capable fighter like Ishii. As for Ishii he'll be looking for a second successive win in what will be his first 6 rounder.
The next few weeks are busy in boxing with numerous notable bouts coming up. To kick off this coming week Hikari Yokohama put on their next show, which will be streamed on asign for those interested in watching it.
In the main event former Japanese Middleweight champion Tomohiro Ebisu (15-4, 15) goes up against former title challenger Yasuyuki Akiyama (10-6-1, 8) in a bout almost certain not to go the distance. Ebisu has never heard the final bell from 19 previous fights, with his frightening power seeing opponents off early but seriously fragile chin allowing anyone a chance against him. Whilst Akiyama has heard the bell a few times his chin isn't likely to survive 8 rounds with Ebisu, but his power may see him over-come the former champion.
In a great supporting bout the veteran Kinshiro Usui (25-4, 10) will be up against once beaten prospect Hikaru Marugame (5-1-1, 3). Marugame was tipped very highly when he turned professional but a draw and a loss in his last 2 leaves his career looking likely to be a burst, especially given the way he was beaten last time out. He'll need to look good here against the 36 year old Usui. As for the veteran he has gone 6-1 in the last 5 years and is unlikely to worry too much about Marugame and his potential.
Interestingly the man who beat Marugame last time out is is also on this card. That is Reiya Abe (11-2, 5) who takes on Shingo Kusano (11-4-1, 4) in a rematch between the two. Abe has won his last 3, following a very close loss loss to Kusano in March 2015. Since the loss Abe has taken two unbeaten records. As for Kusano he has scored back-to-back wins since beating Abe, but this is a significantly tougher bout than his last 2.
One other bout of note on this card will see Japanese ranked Lightweight Masashi Noguchi (10-5-1, 4) face Kazuya Soma (7-9-2, 6) in what should be a good, but manageable, test for Noguchi who is 6-0-1, in his last 7, dating back more than 5 years.
The boxing year has been slow to get going, not just in Asia but worldwide. Thankfully that has started to change and on March 11th we see the 2016 Champion Carnival kick off with what appears to be a genuinely notable Japanese domestic card.
The champions Carnival bout, which is the main event of the show, will see Japanese and OPBF Middleweight champion Akio Shibata (27-8-1, 13) face off against the criminally under-rated Hikaru Nishida (14-7-1, 6), with both of Shibata's titles on the line. The veteran champion is well known as the debut opponent of Ryota Murata, where he was stopped in 2 rounds by the 2012 Olympic champion, but since then he has been reeling off wins at the top of the Japanese domestic scene. The only man in recent times to really push Shibata close was Nishida, when the two men met in 2014, and we expect another very competitive bout here. Of the two men Shibata is the better boxer, in fact he's a very technically capable boxer-mover, however Nishida is a strong, tough pressure fighter who will be in Shibata's face and try to break down the champion. This really could be an excellent way to kick off the Champion Carnival.
As well as the main event we also get a trio of notable supporting bouts. One of those features former world title challenger Daiki Kaneko (21-5-3, 14) who makes a move to Lightweight to face Kazuya Soma (7-8-2, 6). The 27 year old Kaneko impressed us in 2013, when he gave Takashi Uchiyama a very tough bout, however two losses last year, including a defeat to Masao Nakamura in a FOTY contender, has left him in need of a win. Soma is limited but is a naturally bigger fighter than Kaneko and could try to use that to his advantage against the former Japanese Super Featherweight champion.
Talking of former Japanese champions, former Middleweight champion Tomohiro Ebisu (14-4, 14) returns to the ring to face Toshihiro Kai (5-7-2, 1). This looks to be a mismatch however Ebisu is a “stop of be stopped” fighter and even the light punching Kai has a chance, if he can see out the first few rounds of Ebisu's assault. The former champion has never been the distance and he will be hoping to record his 15th stoppage win here, but he has shown fragility in the past.
The third bout of note sees recently OPBF Lightweight title challenger Accel Sumiyoshi (5-4-2, 1) battle Tatsuya Yanagi (11-3-1, 4) in, a rematch between the two men who fought to a draw last year. Coming in to this one the records suggest Yanagi should be favoured however Sumiyoshi is much better than his record indicates and he has been matched ridiculously hard since his debut in 2012, in fact he has fought the reigning Japanese and OPBF Lightweight champions and other title contenders. Whilst Sumiyoshi is better than the numbers suggest Yanagi is in a bit of a rut with a 1-3-1 record in his last 5. This is a bout neither man can really afford to lose.
We have also been made aware that there will be a show in Laos.
The main event of this card will see Thai veteran Terdsak Kokietgym (59-5-1, 39) [เทอดศักดิ์ สีซุปเปอร์เทคยิม] in a regional title bout whilst another bout on this card will see Laos teenager Nampetch Kwanjaisrikod (8-1, 3) [น้ำเพชร ก่อเกียรติยิม] continue her career. Sad we're unsure who Nampetch and Terdsak will be up against.
It's fair to say we've had a great start to the month, things do however take a small backwards on Thursday with some lesser bouts.
In the main event of the only Japanese show of the day fans will see former Japanese Middleweight champion Tomohiro Ebisu (13-4, 13) take on the light hitting Kazuyuki Fukuyama (9-6, 2) in what appears to be an easy looking bout for the hard hitting former champion. The 26 year old Ebisu is 2-2 in his last 4 bouts and it now seems clear that he needs to get some career momentum going and a win here is needed. Fukuyama on the other hand has lost his last 2 bouts, though he hasn't been stopped on more than 5 years and he could test Ebisu's resolve here.
In the chief support bout fans will see the experienced Kinshiro Usui (22-4, 10) continue his come back which began last December with a surprise win against Masaaki Serie. Usui, a former Japanese title challenger, will be taking on Kota Sato (10-6-2, 5), who is 1-2-1 in his last 4 bouts. Aged 23 Sato is still developing but knows that a win over Usui will seriously boost his career and move him towards a more notable bout in the near future.
Another notable supporting bout will see Jo Tanooka (10-2-3) battle against the experienced Junnosuke Nagayasu (13-10-2, 3). We like Tanooka but know that his lack of power will be an issue, here however he should be too good and too fast for the 32 year Nagayasu, who's been a professional since 2003.
In a 6 round bout fans will see the heavy handed teenage prospect Takahiko Suzuki (5-1, 4) battle against Sochiro Murata (4-3-3, 2). This will be Suzuki's first 6 round bout and that could see questions being asked of his stamina however Murata isn't a bad fighter himself and has gone 4-2 since a peculiar 0-1-3 start to his career
In the US fans will get the chance to see Filipino fighter Rolly Lunas (34-9-1, 20) battle against unbeaten American Manuel Avila (16-0, 7) in a real make or break fight for the 31 year old Pinoy puncher. Lunas was last seen in the ring in November 2013 when he was stopped by Chris Avalos in 3 rounds. Unfortunately for Lunas this is a second successive bout at Super Bantamweight, as opposed to his more natural Bantamweight, though this is certainly an easier bout than the one against Avalos.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
This year has been slow however we do see life and this Saturday sees a lot of interesting action. We have a brilliant bout in Japan, we have a notable prospect in the Philippines and two brilliant Chinese debutants in the US. What more could we want?
The first major bout in Japan this year comes this Saturday on a card that we have been excited about since it was first announced, and we won't pretend that the main event didn't make our hearts race when when we first learned of it.
We might as well start with that aforementioned main event which will see the unbeaten Jomthong Chuwatana (8-0, 4) defending his OPBF Super Featherweight title against former world title challenger Daiki Kaneko (21-3-3, 14). The bout is between two of the division's most talented, strong and naturally powerful fighters and is almost certainly going to be a highly skilled battle of power. Going into the bout it's a hard one to call. Kaneko is the home fighter and has been more active as a boxer recently however Jomgthong hasn't allowed rust to build up despite 1 boxing contest in the last 21 months due to the fact he has been active in Muay Thai, where he has an exceptional record. The winner of this deserves a world title fight and we'd not be massively shocked if the winner here got a shot at any of the current world champions, including Takashi Uchiyama and Takashi Miura. This really is as good a bout as you can get in the Super Featherweight division, barring unification bouts.
As well as the brilliant main event there is also a pair of notable All-Japanese Middleweight bouts on the card. For us the most interesting of those is the bout between the heavy handed Shoma Fukumoto (5-1, 5) and Kazuyuki Fukuyama (9-5, 2). Fukumoto is regarded as a potential national champion though there are questions about his chin. Those questions are unlikely to be asked by Fukuyama however we may see Fukumoto's stamina being given a test here.
The other Middleweight bout will see former Japanese champion Tomohiro Ebisu (12-4, 12) put his “stop or be stopped” reputation on the line as he battles the chinny Tatsuro Kawabata (6-5, 2). It's hard to see Ebisu losing here though he has lost 2 of his last 3 and there are serious worries about his chin and defences.
Another fighter on this card worth making a note of is Naoki Mochizuki (5-1, 4) who will be fighting against the more experienced Takuma Okada (5-9, 2). Mochizuki's sole loss came to the very good Sonin Nihei and it's fair to say the 20 year old puncher is worth keeping tabs on even if he's not going to be on the fast track to the top.
Cotabato del Sur, Philippines
It's not just Japanese fans who get a show on their doorstep as Filipino fans also get the chance to go and see live fights as SANMAN Promotions put on a small but interesting card.
The main event here will see the much touted Harmonito Dela Torre (14-0, 9) battle against JR Mendoza (10-17, 4) in what looks to be stay busy fight for the talented 20 year old prospect. We'll admit we do like Dela Torre, a lot, but this bout is a big step backwards compared to some of his other recent bouts and it's a bit of a shame he's not being moved forward with his career.
In the co-feature fans will see Ronie Tanallon (4-1-1, 1) up against the highly experienced Jonathan Ricablanca (7-45-2, 1) in what appears to be another mismatch, however this should be a more competitive bout that the main event.
Chinese fans will also have something to look forward to as two former Chinese amateur stand outs will be making their professional boxing debuts.
One of those men will be Wang Zhimin (0-0), who has yet to have his opponent named, whilst the other is Meng Fanlong (0-0) who will be fighting against the win-less Marcellus Yates (0-1) in what appears to be an easy start to his career.
District of Columbia, USA
Also in the US fans will get the chance to see Uzbekistan's limited Middleweight Rahman Mustafa Yusubov (11-19, 9) battle against Demond Nicholson (10-1, 10). Yusubov has lost his last 4 bouts however Nicholson was upset last time out in a contest he was expected to win and it may be that his confidence is now shot. Yusubov will be the clear under-dog though hopefully he will go for the win rather than turn up just to lose.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)