Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
This coming Saturday attention will be on Korakuen Hall in Tokyo, for a really interesting Ohashi Gym card, headlined by a regional title bout and featuring several notable prospects on the under-card, along with a battle of veterans.
The main event of the card will see the highly skilled Pete Apolinar (16-2, 10) look to make his first defense of the OPBF Super Bantamweight title, as he takes on hard hitting Japanese hopeful Yoshiki Takei (4-0, 4). The talented champion, from the Philippines, won the title in April, with an excellent KO win over Jhunriel Ramonal, but he will be up against someone who is looking to prove a point and has already shown scary power since making his professional debut in March 2021. Of the two men the more technically schooled if Apolinar, who has a slippery style and 109 rounds to his name, however he has been stopped twice and Takei is building a reputation as a brutish puncher, taking just 5 rounds to win his first 4 bouts. If Takei can't finish this one early it will a very, very interesting contest. Our preview of this out can be read here OPBF champion Apolinar faces hard hitting hopeful Takei
The aforementioned battle of veterans will see 43 year old Ribo Takahata (17-10-1, 7) take on 40 year old former Japanese Super Featherweight champion Seiichi Okada (22-7-2, 13), in a bout where the loser will almost certainly retire, and the winner may well make the same decision. Takahata enters the bout on the back of 2 stoppage losses in his last 3 bouts, but is a tough, awkward fighter with a relaxed style, sadly however his style does depend on him still having good reactions and they have stated to face. As for Okada, he's 1-1-1 in his last 3, but those bouts date 4 years years now, and he's a long way from being the fighter he once was. The really does have the feeling of two men battling to end their careers.
One of the notable prospects on the under-card is the very highly regarded Taiga Imanaga (1-0, 1), who returns to the ring just 2 months after his professional debut. The highly touted Imanaga, who is tipped for major success in the professional ranks, will be facing off with Filipino visitor John Lawrence Ordonio (7-3-1, 4), who will be making his Japanese debut. Imanaga was a stand out amateur, who has been viewed as part of the next generation of stars from the Ohashi Gym, and this is a credible step up for him, against a man who could easily be 10-1, with his only decisive loss coming to the hard hitting Antonio Siesmundo in April.
Another highly regarded young hopeful is Kaiyu Toyoshima (1-0), who debuted last October, with a good win over Shohei Horii, and will now be looking to over-come fellow novice Akkhaphon Ngamkaeo (1-0, 1), from Thailand. Toyoshima was a solid amateur and is tipped for notable success in the professional ranks, despite the relative slow start to his career, and he an his team will feel he'll be the comfortable winner here, against the teenage Thai traveller.
New Delhi, India
As well as the show in Japan there is also a smaller card in India, taking place in New Delhi.
The most noteworthy bout on this card will see Gaurav (7-1, 4) take on Saurabh Kumar (6-0, 3), in a rematch of a bout the two men had back in January. In their first bout Kumar took a split decision over Gaurav, to give him his sole loss, and it's fair to say that history between the two men could well fuel this bout. Guarav has fought once since then, picking up a rather pointless win in July, whilst Kumar has notched two wins, and has managed to pick up some meaningful ring time.
In a 6 rounder we'll see Honey (2-1) take on Keisham Luckyson Singh (4-0, 4), with the 21 year old Singh being favoured here. Honey's loss came in 2019, when he was stopped, and whilst Singh might not be a star in the making he can certainly punch, as we suspect we'll see here.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
This coming Friday we get the next Ohashi promoted show, and it's a really good one, with an excellent main event, and 3 very noteworthy supporting bouts.
The main event is a very anticipated WBO Minimumweight world title bout, which will see Masataka Taniguchi (15-3, 10) make his first defense of the title he won late last year, and take on the hard hitting Kai Ishizawa (10-1, 9), in the second bout between the two men. These two fought back in 2019, with Taniguchi taking a hard fought but clear win over Ishizawa. Since that first bout Taniguchi has gone 3-0 (3) and won the Japanese and WBO title, with his biggest wins so far coming last year when he stopped Wilfredo Mendez for the WBO title. As for Ishizawa he has gone 4-0 (3) since losing to Taniguchi, with his most notable win coming last time out when he stopped Katsuki Mori for the Japanese title. Given how good their first bout was, and the styles the two men employee, this should be a genuinely excellent bout and an action bout between two men who each really want to prove a point. Our in depth preview of this bout can be read here Taniguchi seeks first WBO title defense in rematch against Ishizawa!
In the chief support bout we'll see the fast rising Yoshiki Takei (3-0, 3) take part in his 4th professional boxing bout, as he takes a huge step up and battles against Shingo Kawamura (15-8-4, 8). So far Takei, who first made his name as a kick boxer, has taken out his first 3 opponents inside the opening round. He was a very, very good kick boxer, and is now looking like one of the most dangerous prospects in Japanese boxing, with brutal power, very good technique and a significant amount of combat sport experience. Kawamura on the other hand is an experienced 31 year old who has twice challenged for OPBF titles, being stopped by Satoshi Shimizu in 4 rounds and Hiroaki Teshigawara in 6 rounds. Given Takei's power this could be over quickly, though if Kawamura can see out the first few rounds this could get interesting.
Another unbeaten prospect on this card is third generation fighter Keisuke Matsumoto (4-0, 4), who takes a notable step up in class as he battles Morihisa Iju (11-5, 9). The talented Matsumoto, who has had his name circulated in Japanese boxing circles since he was competing in the Under 15 tournaments, did look shaky at times early in his career, but has progressed nicely in his last two bouts, and appears to be developing really well, likely why his team have stepped him up in such a notable fashion here. Aged 33 Iju is no world beater in the making, but he has respectable power, and is tough, having not been stopped since his 6th bout. Iju has been inactive recently, and has lost his last 3, but is rugged, and a genuinely good test for the 22 year old Matsumoto at this point in the youngster's career.
Also on this card is a potential shoot out, as the hard hitting, yet frustrating, Jin Sasaki (11-1, 10) takes on Marcus Smith (7-1-1, 7) in an 8 round Welterweight bout. An 8 round bout that really isn't expected to go the distance. The 20 year old Sasaki started his career 11-0 (10) before losing last time out against Andy Hiraoka in a in a bout for the WBO Asia Asia Pacific and Japanese Light Welterweight title, with Sasaki missing weight as well as looking lacklustre through the bout. The result was a disappointing one, for one of the most fan-friendly young prospects in Japan. Here he is moving up in weight but is up against a naturally bigger fight who's also a puncher. Smith, a Japanese based American born fighter, has shown nasty power of his own, and has also shown a good chin, going 8 rounds with Koki Inoue in 2018. Sadly Smith has been out of the ring for over 2 years, but he will come into this knowing it's a huge opportunity for him to make up for lost time against a popular young banger.
Echo Arena, Liverpool, England, United Kingdom
As well as the interesting show in Japan we are also set to see WBO Bantamweight champion John Riel Casimero (31-4, 21) make his long awaited mandatory title defense against English fighter Paul Butler (33-2, 15). This bout was supposed to take place in 2021 before Casimero had to pull out, on the week of the fight, due to illness. Butler had a chance to fight for the interim title, but turned it down, and as a result both men are now essentially forced into facing each other. If Casimero fails to fight he will be stripped and if Butler pulls out or misses weight he will miss out on being the mandatory challenger. In this right this will be a case of Casimero's wild power, and freakish ability to hurt fighters, against Butler's slippery technical, boxing. Sadly though it does feel like an under-whelming fight in one of the sports best divisions Our preview of this fight, which was done for the original date of the bout, can be read here Casimero defends WBO crown against Butler in mandatory defense
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
The main action this coming Thursday takes place at Korakuen Hall as we get a touted prospect being matched hard, a potentially explosive bout just under the Light Middleweight limit and a Super Middleweight bout between two debutants.
The most notable bout, and the show's main event, will see former Kick boxing champion Yoshiki Takei (1-0, 1) continue his professional boxing career as he goes up against fellow unbeaten Azusa Takeda (5-0, 5). as a kick boxer Takei was a genuine standout, but has changed over to boxing, signed with the Ohashi Gym and is being trained by former 3-weight world champion Akira Yaegashi. This is just his second bout as a boxer, but the expectations are high, and he looked very good in his debut. Takeda on the other hand has been a professional boxer since 2018, and has looked destructive, with 5 wins all inside the distance, but his last bout was more than 2 years ago, and his bouts, so far, have come against very inexperienced fighters. He's looked dangerous but, if we're being honest, this is a major step up in class for him, even if Takei is a novice boxer himself.
In another main bout on this card we'll see the once touted Rikuto Adachi (14-3, 11) battle against Tetsuya Kondo (6-3, 4), in a scheduled 8 rounder. Adachi was touted a few years ago, though sadly his career has fallen apart recently, and he is 2-2 since May 2019, having been stopped in both of those losses, both in bouts for the Japanese Youth Welterweight title. We suspect the plan here is for Adachi to dip his toes the Light Middleweight limit, though with his chin and the relatively tough domestic picture at the weight it may not be the best move for him. Kondo has had mixed results, losing in his debut and be splattered inside a round by Jin Sasaki in 2019. Notably Kondo will be the smaller man, but he does have decent power and if he can get close to Adachi he may have the power to take him out.
One other bout we want to mention from this card is a Super Middleweight clash between the debuting pair of Dan D Dillinger (0-0) and Kazuma Ito (0-0). Dillinger, originally from Liberia, is 34 years old and we don't expect him to have a long career, but at 6'1" he's certainly a huge guy to be fighting in Japan and it's going to be interest to follow his career, no matter how short it ends up being. Ito on the other hand is 32 and has some amateur experience, going 5-3 in the unpaid ranks. We don't expect either of these to make much of a mark on the sport, but it is interesting to see a Japanese bout at Super Middleweight, something that really is rare.
Guru Kashi University, Talwandi Sabo, India
As well as the Japanese card there will also be a small one in India. Sadly this card is mostly packed with debutants and novices, and the most experienced fighter on the show is limited Featherweight Sandeep Singh Bhatti (3-2), who takes on debuting 18 year old Sandeep Singh (0-0).
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
This coming Thursday we get the next show from the Ohashi Gym and despite once looking like a really good card the show has been ravaged by issues which has resulted in two of the bouts being removed from the show in the weeks leading up to the event. Despite the cancellations on the event we still have a solid show which should shine a light on some of the most promising young talent in Japan.
The main event will see unbeaten Japanese 140lb hopeful Andy Hiraoka (16-0, 11) fight in Japan for the first time since 2019 as he takes on domestic foe Fumisuke Kimura (9-6-1, 6) in a scheduled 8 rounder. The talented Hiraoka, who is co-promoted by Top Rank, has had his last two bouts in the US, and now looks to tick over in what should be a straight forward bout here. In the opposite corner to the unbeaten 24 year old will be a 33 year old puncher who has lost his last 2 and would be seeking his first win in almost 2 years. On paper Kimura should be able to ask some questions of Hiraoka early but we suspect he'll come undone and be stopped somewhere in the middle rounds.
In the chief support bout we'll see former K-1 champion Yoshiki Takei (0-0) make his professional boxing debut and take on 34 year old veteran Kazunori Takai (6-7-3, 3). Although Takei will be boxing for the first time he has turned to the sport with lofty expectations and has impressed with his hands, in K1 and in his pro-test bout. Despite only taking to the sport in the last few months it's clear Takei has a natural affinity to boxing and with Akira Yaegashi training him huge things are expected from him. It's hard to see this being anything but an impressive looking debut from Takei, who really has looked a natural in the footage that's been released of him training.
Potentially the bout of the show will be a Flyweight bout as the unbeaten Taku Kuwahara (7-0, 4) takes on former Rookie of the Year winner Yoshiki Minato (9-3, 4). The 25 year old Kuwahara has been tipped for major success, but was sadly unable to fight in 2020, losing some of the moment he had built following a successful 2019, and will feel a need to shine here. Minato, who's just 22, made his big mark in 2018, when he won the All Japan Rookie of the Year, but back to back losses in 2019 slowed his climb through the rankings. Thankfully for Minato he scored a huge win last year, stopping Kohei Oba, and will be riding that win into this bout. Although not a huge bout this has the potential to be a very, very interesting and competitive one.
The show will also have a Japanese Youth title bout on it, as Rikuto Adachi (14-2, 11) and Takeru Kobata (8-5-1, 3) trade blows for the vacant Japanese Youth Welterweight title. For the 22 year old Adachi this will be his first bout in well over a year, and his first since he left the Hiroki Ioka gym and became an Ohashi Gym fighter. Although talented Adachi was stopped juts a few bouts back, for this very title, when Kudura Kaneko broke him down and on paper this looks like it could be a tough bout for him. Kobata, despite having a less than flattering record, looked good last time out, when he ran Shoki Sakai close, and has the style and tenacity that could break Adachi down. Although not the most interesting bout on the show, on paper, this could end up being a very hotly contested one. Our in depth preview of this bout can be read here - Adachi and Kobata go for Youth gold at Welterweight!
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
It's fair to say that February is set to be a very, very quiet month with less action scheduled for the month than there was in January, also a super quiet month. Thankfully however this coming Thursday there is a notable show taking place at Korakuen Hall, and it's a genuinely exciting card with a Japanese Youth title fight and Japanese title fight both set for the show. Better than that, is the fact both of the title fights look very, very even and very interesting on paper..
The show only has 4 bouts on it in total. The most interesting of those will see Shinnosuke Kimoto (6-4, 2) take on Shota Ogasawara (5-3, 3) in a 6 round Super Bantamweight bout. Incidentally this is their second bout, but more about that in a moment. Coming in to this Kimoto is looking to rebound from a majority decision loss to talented youngster Tom Mizokoshi, a loss than ended a 2-fight winning run for him. As for Ogasawa he'll be fighting for the first time in over a year, following his loss in the 2019 All Japan Rookie of the Year. Although he lost last time out in a notable bout Ogasawara is better for a different loss, his thrilling 2019 loss to Ryugo Ushijima. As mentioned these two have fought before, with Ogasawara beating Kimoto back in 2017, in what was Kimoto's debut. Fair to say Kimoto will want revenge here!
The first of the two title fights on the show will see Ryu Horikawa (3-0-1, 1) clash with Yudai Shigeoka (2-0, 1) in a sensational looking Japanese Youth Light Flyweight title fight, for the vacant title. The 20 year old Horikawa impressed in his 2019 debut and impressed even more in his second professional bout, when he beat Yuki Nakajima, though was unlucky in his third bout when he was controversially held to a draw in China against Xiang Li. Horikawa is a very skilled and quick boxer-mover and will be looking to make the most of his slick footwork here. On the other hand Shigeoka, the older brother of Ginjiro Shigeoka, looked promising on debut and sensational in his second bout, as he calmly outboxed OPBF Lito Dante over 6 rounds. Shigeoka looks the more imposing fighter, the physically stronger and more polished, but also the man with the slower footwork. This should be a genuinely fantastic match up, and a really high level bout between two sensational youngsters. Our preview of this bout can be read here Horikawa and Shigeoka battle for Youth crown in Tokyo!
In the main event we'll see Japanese Featherweight champion Ryo Sagawa (10-1, 5) defend his belt against mandatory challenger Hinata Maruta (10-1-1, 8), in a bout that was originally scheduled for 2020 but was delayed due to Covid19. For Sagawa this will be his third defense since beating Reiya Abe for the vacant title in 2019 and he looks to continue an excellent 9 fight winning run which has seen him defeat Junki Sasaki, Ryo Matsumoto, Al Toyogon and the aforementioned Abe. The champion has looked fantastic in recent bouts, but there are question marks about his chin and durability. On the other hand Maruta, who turned professional with a lot of buzz, has failed to meet the expectations put on his young shoulders, however a win here would see that buzz return. Aged just 23 Maruta has the tools to go a very, very long way, but a 2017 loss to Hidenori Otake slowed his rise and a controversial draw against Ben Mananquil also slowed him down. Coming in this the challenger has won his last 3, and has shown a more aggressive side to his boxing than earlier in his career. Our in depth preview of this bout can be read here Sagawa and Maruta clash at last, in Japanese title bout!
Yoyogi First Gym, Tokyo, Japan
As well as the show at Korakuen Hall there will also be a special event at the Yoyogi 1st Gym in Tokyo. This however isn't one you'll find on Boxrec and is instead a charity event where we'll get 7 exhibition bouts, and nothing that will go down on a fighters record. Despite that it's something that is worth being aware of, in part due to the fighters featured on it, including several world champions, amateur standouts and genuine Japanese stars.
One of those will be an potential dream bout as WBA "Super" and Ring Magazine Light Flyweight champion Hiroto Kyoguchi (14-0, 9) shares the ring with the now retired Akira Yaegashi (28-7, 16), who himself held the IBF Light Flyweight title along with titles at Minimumweight and Flyweight. It's a shame the careers of these two didn't over-lap as this is a brilliant match up.
Another retired former world champion on this show will be former WBA Super Featherweight champion Takashi Uchiyama (24-2-1, 20) who will be in the ring with current Japanese national Super Featherweight champion Kosuke Saka (21-5, 18). Although Uchiyama would be strongly favoured to win, had the two men clashed for real, this could be an interesting exhibition, especially given that Uchiyama is in fantastic condition.
A third former world champion included in the event is former WBO Flyweight champion Sho Kimura (19-3-2, 12) who will be battling with former K-1 fighter Yoshiki Takei (0-0), who makes his professional boxing debut in March. Whilst not the greatest match up it will be a chance to see what Takei brings as a boxer, and we always love seeing Sho Kimura in the ring.
Former world title challenger Takeshi Inoue (17-1-1, 10) will be taking on amateur standout Yuito Moriwaki in one of several bouts between professional fighters and amateurs. Another of these will see 140lb hopeful Andy Hiraoka (16-0, 11) share the ring with Japanese Olympian Daisuke Narimatsu and the a third will see Japanese Youth champion Jin Sasaki (10-0, 9) [佐々木尽] face off with the very highly regarded Seon Okazawa.
We've saved the best until last, and that's a bout between WBA "super" and IBF Bantamweight champion Naoya Inoue (20-0, 17) and former WBC Flyweight kingpin Daigo Higa (17-1-1, 17) [比嘉 大吾], in what should be a sensational exhibition bout over 3 rounds and something worthy of paying the hefty admission fee for. This is two big names, both in their primes, facing off in a bit of a dream fight, even if it is just an exhibition.