Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
For a second day running we get a show at Korakuen Hall, but this time it's a bit of a disappointing card as several bouts on the show were cancelled in the run up to the event due to injuries suffered in training.
The first of 3 bouts worthy of note will see veterans collide as Takuya Kogawa (30-6-1, 13) takes on Hayato Yamaguchi (15-8-1, 2). For the 35 year old Kogawa, who has been one of the very best servants to Japanese boxing, this will be his first bout since a brutal TKO loss last year against Jayr Raquinel. Sadly Kogawa has been on the slide for a few years now and retirement is beckoning him. As for Yamaguchi he's not been on Kogawa's level, however he's much fresher, less ring worn and could, very seriously, be a banana skin for Kogawa here.
In a potentially thrilling match up we'll see the crude but physically imposing Yoji Saito (1-1-2, 1) take on the Japanese ranked Masashi Wakita (10-9-2, 5). Saito turned professional in 2018 and has struggled to get going, but has been very fun to watch and his 2019 clash with Aso Ishiwaki was an absolute war. Following back to back draws Saito needs a win to give his career a shot in the arm. As for Wakita the 24 year old is a win some-lose some type who has just managed to squeeze into the JBC top 20. With 5 stoppage losses against his name Wakita's chin may not be able to survive the storm from Saito, but if it can, Wakita's experience ,may help him nick a decision. The big question mark over Saito is his stamina, and the question over Wakita is his chin. We expect this one to be a brilliant fight.
Talking about suspect chin's the main event will see Kazuki Saito (7-2, 5), who's chin has let him down before, take on veteran Tatsuya Yanagi (16-6-2, 6). The talented Saito looks the real deal when he's letting his shots go, but has been dropped several times during his career and appears to lack the size and durability to make the most of his wonderful skills. Yanagi on the other hand has an ugly looking record, but is always upset minded and has gone 5-1-1 in his last 7, including wins over Koichi Aso, Masashi Noguchi and Ryusei Nakajima. We expect this to be a very interesting match up, with both men and it's a hard one to call, especially with Saito having lot 2 of his last 4 and being low on confidence.
Interestingly this card will also feature a public exhibition between Teruya Iimura [飯村 樹輝弥] and Jun Ikegawa [池側 純], who will be hoping to make their professional debut's in the near debut. Both men passed B class tests in September and were solid amateurs on the Japanese scene, so hopefully we see them in live fights sooner rather than later.
Attention turns to Tokyo this coming Saturday as we get a really interesting Kadoebi card at the Korakuen Hall, headlined by a Japanese title fight but also featuring numerous other notable fighters.
The main event of the card will see Japanese Light Welterweight champion Valentine Hosokawa (24-6-3, 11) defending his title against unbeaten mandatory challenger Koki Inoue (12-0, 10), the third member of the Inoue clan. For the 37 year old Hosokawa this will be his third defense of the belt, which he won in 2017 against Koichi Aso. As for Inoue this will be his first title fight, and comes after a relatively disappointing performance against Marcus Smith, though a performance that did see Inoue battling with injuries. A full preview of this bout can be read here Another Inoue goes for gold, as Koki takes on Valentine Hosokawa.
In the chief support bout we'll see former OPBF Middleweight champion Koki Tyson (13-3-2, 11) take on durable Thai Chaiwat Mueanphong (4-3, 2). For Tyson this will be his first bout since signing with the Kadoebi Gym and his first bout since losing the OPBF title to Yasuyuki Akiyama in December 2017. Chaiwat on the other hand comes into this bout on the back of 3 straight losses, but has proven to be tough and almost went 7 complete rounds with Kazuto Takesako last year. Tyson should win, but will have to work for it.
An excellent supporting bout will see Japanese-Brazilian Cristiano Aoqui (13-7-2, 9) battle against Anthony Marcial (24-3-1, 22) of the Philippines.The talented Aoqui isn't a world beater, but is an exciting and fun yo watch fighter who has a notable fan base. Marcial on the other hand has an impressive looking record, but has mostly been a can crusher on the Filipino domestic scene. This could be a much, much better bout than it looks on paper, though we're expecting Aoqui to be too good for the visitor.
Another supporting bout will see Tsuyoshi Sato (8-1-1, 4) take on Tetsuya Tomioka (5-3, 5) in a Japanese Youth Light Flyweight title tournament semi final bout. The exciting Sato is aggressive, all action and very fan friendly, whilst Tomioka is a big puncher, with questionable durability. This might end up being the bout of the show, and both are very fun to watch. It's worth noting that this bout will be a semi-final bout of a 4 man tournament to crown a new Japanese Light Flyweight youth champion, with the other semi-final taking place on April 11th.
Other supporting bouts will see Hironori Shigeta (5-1-1, 3) take on Mitsumasa Takahashi (9-5-1, 3) and Aso Ishiwaki (5-2, 3) battle Yoji Saito (1-1, 1). On paper neither of these bouts look amazing, but both promise a lot. Shigeta is a Japanese ranked Welterweight, and the 2017 Rookie of the year, whilst Takahashi is a very solid domestic level guy. Ishiwaki is the 2018 Lightweight Rookie of the Year whilst Saito is a former amateur standout, and despite having a loss on his record is very much a prospect to make a note of.
As well as the great show in Japan there is also a low key card in the Philippines. The headline bout here will see Eduardo Mancito (16-10-2, 9) battling against Nathan Bolcio (14-15-3, 4). On paper this is a pretty good domestic bout, it's nothing amazing, but should be pretty competitive and that's always a good thing!
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.