Super Arena, Saitama, Saitama, Japan
This coming Tuesday is one of the most anticipated days of the boxing calendar this year with a huge rematch taking place in Saitama, along with two other title bouts and notable bouts for two other prospects in what is a genuinely mouth watering Japanese show.
The main event of the card is a sensational match up as WBA "Super" IBF and Ring Magazine Bantamweight champion Naoya Inoue (22-0, 19) takes on WBC champion Nonito Donaire (42-6, 28) in a highly anticipated rematch. The two men had an instant classic in 2019, when Inoue dropped Donaire en route to a unanimous decision, in the WBSS Bantamweight final. That bout was however Inoue's toughest and the Monster suffered a number of serious injuries in the bout despite his win. Since then both men have looked destructive, with Inoue going 3-0 (3) and Donaire going 2-0 (2) and they come into this bout unifying 3 of the 4 major world titles. This is a bout that should have skills, fireworks and genuine excitement. Our in depth preview of this bout is available here The Drama In Saitama II - Inoue Vs Donaire "The Rematch"
In the chief support bout Andy Hiraoka (19-0, 14) will be defending his Japanese 140lb title against the hard hitting Shun Akaiwa (7-3-1, 5), in what is expected to be bit of a break out bout for Hiraoka. The talented, and world ranked, Hiraoka is expected to move towards major international bouts in the next year or two and a win over Akaiwa on a bit platform like this show is key to helping him build his profile. Although Hiraoka will be the favourite it is worth noting that Akaiwa is no push-over and he will be there looking to over-come Hiraoka and claim a career best win. Akaiwa will be dangerous, can hurt fighters, but we suspect his lack of overall polish will be the difference maker here. Our preview of this bout can be read here Hiraoka defends Japanese title against Akaiwa
Another major supporting bout will see former world title challenger Takuma Inoue (15-1, 3) face off with Gakuya Furuhashi (28-8-2, 16) in a bout to unify the WBO Asia Pacific and Japanese Super Bantamweight titles. Coming in to this Inoue, the younger brother of Naoya, will be the favourite, and is expected to have the skills, speed and energy to take home the win, however Furuhashi has been on a roll in recent years and comes into this looking to make a war and keep his career alive. The bout should be a brilliant clash of styles with a boxer against a swarmer, and it could, genuinely, be a brilliant tease for the main event, even if international fans aren't too familiar with Furuhashi, who is a genuine warrior. Our in depth preview of this bout can be read here WBO Asia Pacific and Japanese titles to be unified as Inoue faces Furuhashi
In a notable, and mouth watering, non-title bout we'll see the highly touted Toshiya Ishii (5-1, 3) take on Hikaru Fukunaga (9-2, 6) in what is a brilliant teaser for the three title bouts. Ishii is widely regarded within Japan as a special talent, and his sole loss was a very controversial one to Sho Ishida in Osaka, one that we felt he was very harshly treat by the judges. Since then he has scored two solid domestic wins and will know that another win here will put him well in the mix for a Japanese title fight. As for Fukunaga, who won Rookie of the Year in 2020, the bout comes on the back of a good TKO win over Dominique Kenshin, and he also proved his quality last year in a loss to the much touted Rentaro Kimura. This won't steal the show, but is an excellent 8 rounder between two young, talented, promising fighters willing to take on tough tests.
Another of the notable prospects on this card is the unbeaten 19 year old hopeful Kanamu Sakama (5-0, 4), who won the All Japan Rookie of the Year back in February, as he takes on Fuki Ishigaki (4-4, 2). The bout will be Sakama's first contest since he won the Rookie of the Year and see him coming in with plenty of momentum and a lot of expectation on his hard hitting shoulders. As for Ishigaki the bout will be his first since losing in December against Daisuke Sumita, who stopped him in 4 rounders. Sakama should be too good, and too big, but we do expect to see him being made to work for his win here.
Kokugikan, Tokyo, Japan
The main action in a surprisingly busy Tuesday, comes from the Kokugikan in Tokyo as we get a world title double header, and in fact the last world title bouts to take place in Japan this year following numerous post-Christmas bouts being cancelled.
The first world title bout from the double header will see WBO Minmumweight champion Wilfredo Mendez (16-1, 6) defending his title against mandatory challenger Masataka Taniguchi (14-3, 9), in what could be a very interesting bout. This will be Mendez's third defense of the title, which he took from Vic Saludar in 2019, but he comes into the bout after almost 2 years of inactivity, and for his first bout in Asia. "Bimbito" is certainly a talented fighter, but he style may not have the success on the road as it has at home, and he can look very negative at times. Taniguchi has come up short at world level before, but he does seem incredibly focused on this bout, and has bounced back well from his last loss, to Vic Saludar, to score 3 notable domestic wins. His style could end up working against him at times, as Mendez is the much quicker man, but his physicality and power could be a major difference maker, especially with Mendez's recent inactivity. Our preview for this world title fight can be read here Taniguchi gets second WBO title shot as he takes on Mendez
The other title bout on this show, and the main event of the day, will see Japanese star Naoya Inoue (21-0, 18) return to a Japanese ring for the first time in over 2 years to defend his WBA and IBF Bantamweight titles against hard hitting Thai challenger Aran Dipaen (12-2, 11). Inoue and his team have made it clear they wanted a bigger name than Dipaen for this bout, but were turned down by a number of more well known names, and that can be dangerous if they are over looking the Thai and looking towards unification bouts in the new year. Dipaen isn't so much a threat to Inoue here, but Inoue could be a threat to himself if he's over-looking the challenger. As for Dipaen no one is giving him a chance, but he will know he has nothing to lose and he will be in there looking to put in the performance his career. We don't see this one lasting long, but it could be a genuine test of Inoue's focus given such a frustrating end to the year. Our preview of this bour can be read here The monster returns to Japan to defend against Dipaen!
As well as the two main bouts this card has several notable prospects on it, with youngster Keisuke Matsumoto (3-0, 3) taking on the much very experienced Takahiro Araki (12-10, 4), former Kickboxer Yoshiki Takei (2-0, 2) taking on Kazuhiro Imamura (2-0-1, 1), in what looks set to be his toughest bout to date, and the very exciting Toshiya Ishii (4-1, 3) taking on Takuya Fujioka (10-10-1, 1), in what looks to be a stay busy fight before bigger things in 2022.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
The show at the Kokugikan isn't the only one in Tokyo, with Koakuen Hall playing host to an OPBF title double header. The bouts here aren't huge, but both the title bouts do promise a lot of exciting action, and there is also a solid under-card match up as well.
One of those OPBF title bouts will see Light Welterweight champion Rikki Naito (23-2, 8) take on Japanese veteran Koichi Aso (24-9-1, 15). Naito has looked like something of a suspect champion since winning the title a few years ago, and was pushed hard in a number of defense, but there's no doubting his skills and ability with the main questions being about his power and stamina. As for Aso, the veteran is a former Japanese national champion, but is very much a fighter coming to the end of his career, and he no longer has the energy and aggression he did in his prime. This should be straight forward win for Naito on the cards, but Aso will make him for it. Our preview of this regional title bout can be read here OPBF champion Naito takes on Aso at Korakuen Hall
The other title fight promises violence as the hard hitting Kosuke Saka (21-5, 18) takes on the under-rated Yoshimitsu Kimura (12-2-1, 7) in a bout for the vacant OPBF Super Featherweight title. Saka has looked a brute in recent bouts, smashing up both Masaru Sueyoshi and Takuya Watanabe, in two very impressive back to back performances, though it's fair to say that he can be beaten and there are always question marks about his chin and his mental application in the ring. As for Kimura this will be his second shot at the title, having previously coming up just short against Hironori Mishiro, and he really has shown he belongs at this level. He will go in as the man with no momentum, but he has the skills and tools to spring the upset, in what should be a genuinely spectacular bout for those at Korakuen Hall. Expect a lot of heavy leather here, and some thrilling exchanges. Our preview of this bout can be read here Saka and Kimura battle for OPBF Super Featherweight title!
In one under-card bout worthy of some attention, we'll see boxing police officer Daisuke Sugita (6-2, 3) look to bounce back from a June loss to Ryo Akaho as he takes on youngster Ryuto Owan (7-1, 5). Sugita is a fun guy to watch, but he has been matched rather hand and losses to Akaho and Reiya Abe were both very one sided and showed he didn't belong in that company. Despite that he's a solid fighter and he has the tools to be a solid competitor on the Japanese domestic scene, albeit below domestic title level. Owan on the other hand is a promising and talented young fighter who seemed destined for big things until a loss in 2018 slowed his momentum, and a 2 year break from the ring followed. Since returning to action in October 2020 he has looked really impressive and he'll be looking to shine again here and move towards a potential title fight in 2022.
Outside of Japan there is also a very notable card in Thailand, headlined by WBA Minmumweight "Super" champion Knockout CP Freshmart (22-0, 8), who will be up against once beaten Filipino challenger Robert Paradero (18-1, 12). The talented Knockout is seeking his second defense of the year, after a long break from the ring following his 2020 win over Norihito Tanaka, and he'll be looking to end the year with an impressive performance here before moving onto a potential unification bout in 2022. As for Paradero he's looking to bounce back from his sole professional loss, which came earlier this year to Vic Saludar. The challenger showed plenty to like in that loss, but a lack of experience was an issue, and he'll be wanting to prove he has learned from that set back. It's always hard to bet against a Thai in Thailand, but it is worth noting that Filipino do historically have more success as challengers in the Land of Smiles than almost any other country and Paradero will not be there to make up the numbers. Or in deoth preview of this bout can be read here WBA champion Knockout takes on Filipino Challenger Paradero
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
This coming Tuesday we get the next card from the Ohashi Gym and it's a brilliant with 4 bouts worthy of real attention, including a Japanese title bout, and bouts featuring several exciting and talented prospects.
We'll start with some of those prospects, including the brilliant Toshiya Ishii (3-1, 2) who looks to bounce back from a close 2020 loss to Sho Ishida. The talented, aggressive and and heavy handed Ishii will be up against the flawed but hard hitting Jin Minamide (4-1, 3) in a bout that has the makings of a genuine shoot out. Ishii is the better boxer, the more rounded fighter, but also the man who will be looking to prove a point given his loss to Ishida. Minamide on the other hand is the bigger puncher, and a nasty at that, but also a man who hasn't fought since November 2019, when he lost to Kazuki Nakajima, and we need to wonder what sort of ring rust he'll be bringing into this fight.
Another excellent match up between youngsters will see the touted Kosuke Tomioka (4-1, 3) battle against the often over-looked Suzumi Takayama (3-0, 3). For Tomioka this is his first bout since being stopped in the Rookie of the Year in December by Shunpei Kubo, and he'll know he can't afford to get caught against here. Takayama on the other hand has really seen his career hit a brick wall following an excellent win over Tetsuro Ohashi in October 2019, a win that saw him win the Japanese Youth Super Flyweight title. If Takayama is as good as he looked in 2019 he should be favoured here, but after almost 2 years out of the ring we do wonder what he'll look like here in this match up. We need to give Tomioka credit for jumping in with someone as dangerous as Takayama following his recent loss, however we suspect thus will be another defeat for the teenager.
One bout that could easily go over-looked on this card is a contest between the unbeaten Masayoshi Hashizume (17-0-2, 10) and the often over-looked Yoshiki Minato (9-4, 4). The 27 year old Hashizume has long been earmarked as a promising fighter, and did win the Rookie of the Year, way back in 2014, but has never managed to deliver on that promise. Interestingly this will be Hashizume's first bout since joining the Ohashi Gym, and it's going to be really interesting to see if the moves helps to kick start his career. As for Minato he's looking to bounce back from a loss to Taku Kuwahara earlier this year, and although he's now 1-3 in his last 4 he shouldn't be written off, he is talented, he's tough and he'll be in to win here. This should be a very interesting, high level boxing contest and we are not anticipating a stoppage either way.
The main event of the card is a genuinely mouth watering match up as the heavy handed Seigo Yuri Akui (15-2-1, 10) looks to defend his Japanese Flyweight title against the aforementioned Taku Kuwahara (8-0, 4). For Akui this will be his second defense, and he will be looking to build on a solid 10 round decision win over Seiya Fujikita back in October 2020, in his only defense of the title. That win was the first time Akui had gone 10 rounds and showed there was more to him than just his heavy hands and his fast starts. Kuwahara on the other hand is one of the most unheralded prospects in Japan, but he seems to be a fighter who has the potential to be something very, very special. This is the first time Kuwahara has been in with a real puncher, but if he can take Akui's power he could well answer one of the few questions that remain about him. Although neither man is a star the winner of this should be just a fight or two from a world title bout. Our preview for this bout can be read here Akui and Kuwahara battle for Japanese Flyweight crown!
This coming Monday is a great day for those wanting to follow Japanese boxing, with free live streams available and shows in both Hyogo and Tokyo. The day might not be the biggest, but there is plenty to be excited about, and plenty of potentially thrilling match ups and action
Bunka Center, Sanda, Hyogo, Japan
The first of the cards will be from Hyogo on a Taisei promoted card in Sanda. This event will have 4 bouts on it, and may well have the bout of the week on it.
That potential bout of the week will see former multi-time world champion Katsunari Takayama (31-8-0-1, 12) take on former 2-time world title challenger Reiya Konishi (17-2, 7) in a bout that has the ingredients to be something truly special. For Takayama, who's now 37, the bout is a return to the professional ranks after a short lived flirtation with the amateur game, and he has eyes on getting another world title before hanging them up for good. For Konishi the bout is a must win following recent losses to Carlos Canizales and Felix Alvarado, another loss will be the end of his world title dreams. Given the styles of the two men expect this to be all action, bloody, thrilling and a bit of a war. The only real shame here is that this is scheduled for just 6 rounds.
Also on this show we'll see an 8 round bout we'll see Japanese ranked Flyweight Arata Matsuoka (9-6, 4) take on Hideyuki Watanabe (8-12-3, 6). On paper it's hard to see this being anything but a win for the 25 year old Matsuoka, who is a former Japanese Youth Flyweight champion. Although no world beater Matsuoka is much better than his record suggests and is 6-1 in his last 7. As for Watanabe he's actually 1-6 in his last 7, though has been competitive in a number of those losses, and could well be a banana skin for Matsuoka here. This is a much, much better bout than it looks on paper.
Bunka Center, Sanda, Hyogo, Japan
After the first card in Sanda we get another, at the same venue by the same promoter, who has essentially split the show in to two to deal with the on going guidelines on boxing in Japan. This only features 3 bouts but two of those are well worthy of attention.
The first of those two notable bouts will see former world title challenger Sho Ishida (28-2, 15) take on Japanese Youth Bantamweight champion Toshiya Ishii (3-0, 2), in what could be a genuinely intriguing and explosive encounter. The twice beaten Ishida is likely best known for his WBA world title bout with Kal Yafai in the UK, though was once touted as an outstanding prospect form the Ioka Gym, and the next star from the gym, following Kazuto Ioka. That promise has never been delivered on but he'll be aware that a loss almost certainly ends any dream of a second world title fight. Ishii on the other hand has been thrown in deep from the off, with his second bout coming against the then 8-0 Fumiya Fuse and his third but being a war with Haruki Ishikawa. A win for Ishii puts him straight into the domestic title picture. A brilliant, risky, and wonderful match up that we are really looking forward to.
The other bout on this second part of the event will see another former world title challenger in action as Riku Kano (16-4-1, 8), who has previously fought the aforementioned Katsunari Takayama, takes on Ryoki Hirai (13-6-1, 4) for the WBO Asia Pacific Light Flyweight title. Kano was once regarded as a prodigy but with a 6-3 record in his last 9 he's fallen a long way short of expectations. Thankfully he is only 23, but it really does seem like he has got a lot of work to do to even come close to what was predicted for him. In Hirai we have an under-rated fighter who hasn't had much fanfare or success, but is in his prime and will see this as a great chance to make a mark on the sport around 8 years after his debut! A very interesting bout that will put the winner in the world title mix, and leave the loser with some serious questions to answer. Our full preview of this bout can be read here Kano and Hirai clash for WBO regional title
For fans wanting to watch the action from Hyogo it'll be streamed on TV Osaka's YouTube channel, who will be showing both parts of the event!
Shinjuku FACE, Tokyo, Japan
The other show is the latest in the A-Sign series of shows and will come from the Sinjuku FACE in Tokyo. On paper this is the less interesting of the 3 events from Japan, and sadly is another small show, with just 3 bouts on it.
In the main event we'll see emerging Welterweight star Jin Sasaki (8-0, 7) taking on Tatsuya Miyazaki (9-13-1, 9) in a 6 rounder. When we talk about prospects we usually consider their skills as the key factor, but with Sasaki we are looking at the full package, with the 19 year old having skills, power, charisma and the X-Factor. He looks like a genuinely bankable future star for Japanese boxing, and just needs to work on his defense and carry his destructive power up through levels. Sadly the 36 year old Miyazaki is unlikely to ask many questions of Sasaki, but if he lands clean he could end up giving Sasaki's chin a test.
In the chief support bout the exciting Ryugo Ushijima (4-1-2, 2) will be up against the light punching Hyuma Fujioka (10-10-1, 1). Although we don't see future world champion potential in Ushuijima he does make for fun fights and his 2019 bout with Shota Ogasawara was a real highlight and his 2020 bout with Ryukyu Oho was a fun one a few months ago. In Fujioka we have a tough but limited fighter, who should ask questions of Ushijima, but come up short in what should be a solid bout.
Sadly a bout between Hyoga Taniguchi (4-2-2, 1) and Hiro Ichimichi (4-0-1, 3), which looked excellent on paper, has had to be cancelled after Taniguchi was involved in a traffic accident. As a result the only other bout on this show will see Ken Koibuchi (6-4, 5) take on Tetsuya Kondo (4-2, 3), in what should be a very explosive, but lower level, bout.
For fans wanting to watch this show it will be shown on the A-Sign YouTube channel.
Dayao Walnut Culture Square, Chuxiong, China
We also have action in China, albeit at a much lower level, with 5 of the 6 bouts on the card being 4 rounders.
The one bout scheduled for longer than 4 rounds is an 8 rounder between Chunhua Yang (4-1-1, 2) and Jun Qi (2-1-1), who clash at Super Flyweight. Coming in to this Yang was beaten in September, in his only other bout this year, and his 4 wins have come against poor opposition and novices, with Qi will be facing his most experienced opponent to date.
We get another excellent card from the Korakuen Hall this coming Thursday as we get a triple header under the Diamond Glove banner, featuring an OPBF, a Japanese and a Japanese Youth title bout.
The main event of the card will see OPBF Super Bantamweight champion Hiroaki Teshigawara (20-2-2, 13) defending his title against fellow Japanese fighter Shohei Kawashima (18-3-2, 4), in what could be an intriguing clash of styles. On paper neither man looks like a puncher, but Teshigawara is certainly a heavy handed fighter and 7 of his last 8 wins have come inside the distance including wins over Keita Kurihara, Teiru Kinoshita and most recently Shohei Omori. On the other hand Kawashima is a boxer, and he managed to hold his own with a 2016 version of Cristian Mijares, yeah Mijares was a faded force but Kawashima should touches of being a legitimate talent. Sadly for Kawashima his lack of power and physicality is always going to be an issue against a fighter like Teshigawara, but he should have enough to ask questions of Teshigawara. Our preview of this bout can be read here Teshigawara takes on Kawahsima in next OPBF title defense
The Japanese title fight on this card will see the in form Ryo Sagawa (8-1, 4) defending his Japanese Featherweight title against mandatory challenger Ryo Hino (13-1-2, 8). For Sagawa the bout will be his first defense of the title, whilst Hino will be getting his first title fight. Sagawa won the title back in September, when he took a close decision win over Reiya Abe, and has now won 7 in a row taking notable wins over Abe, Ryo Matsumoto, Al Toyogon and Shingo Kawamura. As for Hino, the challenger hasn't done a lot to deserve this shot at the title, but is unbeaten since a 2015 loss to Abe, and has gone 8-0-1 since then with a single big win of note coming against Sho Nakazawa. It's really hard to go against Sagawa at the moment, and we suspect he'll come out on top here, and set up a mouth watering clash at the 2020 Champion Carnival with Hinata Maruta. Our full preview of this bout is available to read here Sagawa takes on Hino in first Japanese title defense
The third title bout on the card will see 20 year old puncher Haruki Ishikawa (8-1, 6) clashes with teenager Toshiya Ishii (2-0, 1) for the vacant Japanese Youth Bantamweight title. The two men were part of a 4 man tournament, with Ishikawa stopping Atsushi Takada in 3 rounds to progress to the title bout whilst Ishiiout pointed the skilled Fumiya Fuse, taking a technical decision over the Rookie of the Year winner. This might be less significant than the other two title bouts on the card, but could turn out to be the most compelling, and it's going to be very interesting to see what the future brings for both men as their careers progress. Our in depth preview of this bout is here Ishii goes for belt in third pro bout, faces hard hitting Ishikawa!
In a non-title bout we'll see Jin Miura (10-3-3, 1) take on Shingo Kawamura (16-5-3, 8), in their second clash in 3 months. The two men fought in September, to a technical draw, and will be hoping for a decisive outcome this time around. Interestingly Kawamura is 0-2-2 in his last 4, with stoppage losses to Satoshi Shimizu and Ryo Sagawa, whilst Miura is coming into this bout on the back of 3 successive draws.
One of the great things about Japanese boxing is the fact that talented youngsters get in the ring against each other, rather than get protected in the hope of a bout marinating down the line. This type of match making is particularly in both the Japanese Youth title bouts, which regularly match top youngsters against each other, and the B class tournaments which usually match touted novice professionals against each other.
This coming Monday the Korakuen Hall place host to both, B Class tournament and Japanese Youth title tournament bouts, essentially Japanese Youth title eliminators, in what is set to be an excellent, but perhaps over-looked, show.
One of the Japanese Youth title eliminators will see Haruki Ishikawa (7-1, 5) and Atsushi Takada (6-1-3, 3) battle in a really interesting match up. The 19 year old Ishikawa lost in a very close bout against Yusei Fujikawa, in the All Japan Rookie of the Year final, but has bounced back with a good win over Alvin Medura back in April and certainly has a lot of promise. Takada on the other hand was beaten in a Japanese youth title fight in April and will be looking to secure a second shot at the title in the near future. On paper this is finely balanced and should be a very compelling contest.
The other Japanese title eliminator on this card will actually find themselves up against the winner of the Ishikawa Vs Takada fight, in a bout for the vacant title. This match up., on paper, looks like a mismatch with former Rookie of the Year winner Fumiya Fuse (8-0, 1) taking on 18 year old novice Toshiya Ishii (1-0, 1). This doesn't look great until you realise that Ishii was a very capable amateur, coming runner up in the 2018 Inter-High school tournament and being earmarked for professional success straight away. Fuse is a very talented boxer but this is, in many ways, his toughest test so far, whilst Ishii is will be hoping to have not bitten off more than he chew. A brilliant match up, and one where the winner will really earn something from victory.
In a B class tournament bout, at Light Flyweight, we see novice professionals clash in what could be a really interesting contest. The match up in question is a 6 round bout between Yuki Nakajima (2-0, 2) and Ryu Horikawa (1-0, 1). On paper this might not look anything special to those who don't follow the Japanese scene but for those with a hardcore interest this is something special between two talented former amateur standouts. Nakajima went 52-21 in the unpaid ranks, and has looked fantastic in his first 2 bouts, as a professional whilst Horikawa went 37-8 was matched hard on debut and had to show his mettle. Despite only 3 pro bouts between them this should be a very, very good fight