Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
This coming Wednesday Kadoebi put on their next show under the "Slugfest" banner at Korakuen Hall and although it's not a huge card, it is an interesting one with 3 bouts worthy of note on a 5 fight card. The event these include a real 50-50 match up at Lightweight, an excellent domestic clash at 140lbs and a regional title bout at Flyweight.
The bout we're most looking forward to is the Lightweight bout, which will put former Rookie of the Year winner Yuichiro Kasuya (13-2-2, 4) against the very talented Masanori Rikiishi (7-1, 4), in a bout that will be pitting two JBC and OPBF ranked fighters against each other. Of the two Kasuya is probably the more technically well schooled, but his lack of power has held him back and he can be a very frustrating fighter to watch at times. Rikiishi is a more entertaining fighter and a heavier handed fighter, but this is a tough ask against a man with an excellent jab. The winner of this could well end up finding themselves in a title fight next year so this is a very notable and significant contest.
In a Light Welterweight bout the fun to watch Cristiano Aoqui (14-8-2, 10) will be up against Fumisuke Kimura (9-5-1, 6) in what could turn out to be a real humdinger. The 31 year old Aoqui, a Japanese Brazilian, is a really exciting fighter who has his limitations but is very exciting when he lets his hands go and is not an easy man to beat. Kimura on the other hand has got under-rated power, and is an upset minded fighter, as we saw with his wins over Yusuke Yamanouchi, Hayto Ono and Giraffe Kirin Kanda. Both of these guys can bang, and both will know that a good win could move them onto a Japanese title fight next year.
The main event will see world ranked Flyweight hopeful Ryota Yamauchi (6-1, 5) take on Satoru Todaka (10-3-4, 4) for the vacant WBO Asia Pacific Flyweight title. The talented Yamauchi is back on the fast track up the rankings following a 2019 loss to Wulan Tuolehazi and a win here would see him win his first title. Notably Yamauchi missed out on a Japanese title eliminator last year when he suffered a cut that hadn't healed in time for his eliminator and he'll be looking to make up for lost time here. As for Todaka the bout will be his second title fight, following a loss last year in a Japanese title fight against Kenichi Horikawa. Our full preview of this bout can be read here Yamauchi goes for gold as he takes on Todaka
This coming Monday focus heads to a Kadoebi card at Korakuen Hall, where we get an OPBF title fight, a really good looking novice pro bout, and several decent supporting bouts.
The main event will see OPBF Light Middleweight champion Akinori Watanabe (38-7-1, 32) making his first defense of the title, as he take on Thai challenger Sitthidet Banti (12-5, 6), in what looks like a very, very soft first defense. Watanabe has mixed against stiff competition through his career, and last December's war with Nobuyuki Shindo was truly sensational, so for him to have an easy bout isn't too bad, but it is a weak title defense. To show how weak it is, Banti was stopped by Japanese novice Takuma Takahashi back in August. Our preview of this bout can be read here Does Watanabe get an easy first defense of OPBF crown?
Whilst the main event is a mismatch there is some really interesting action on this card, including a brilliant match up between Ran Tomomatsu (1-0) and Mikio Sakai (1-0). Despite both men being professional novices both were talented amateurs and they both looked great, albeit in very different ways, on their debut. Of the two Tomomatsu looks the more physical and stronger fighter, but the less technical, whilst Sakai has a flash and speedier look to him. This is a huge risk bout for both, and something to get very excited about.
In another interesting support bout we'll see the talented Yuichiro Kasuya (13-2-1, 4) take on 2-time Japanese title challenger Satoru Sugita (15-6-1, 10). Since moving over to the Kadoebi gym we've seen Kasuya show more some real development, and belief in his punching, and with 3 wins already this year he does now seem to have some momentum behind him. As for Sugita this is a real must win after going 4-4 in his last 8, including his two losses in Japanese title fights. As his best Sugita would favoured against the best we've seen from Kasuya, though it's unclear what Sugita still has left and how much more Kasuya can improve.
Another bout worth noting here will see talented youngster Yuki Nakajima (2-1, 2) look to bounce back from his first defeat as he takes on Yasuhiro Tanaka (6-4-2) in a good looking comeback bout. Nakajima was beaten back in August, by the excellent Ryu Horikawa and although he was beaten it wasn't a loss to be ashamed by and he's certainly not having an easy blow out here, despite Tanaka's record. Tanaka has proven to be a competitive fighter at the lower levels of the Japanese scene and went 5 rounds with the excellent Rikito Shiba last year. That will be the target for Nakajima, and if he can beat what Shiba did then we'll be impressed.
As well as the action in Japan there is also a notable card in Kazakhstan, though one that appears to have gone through a number of changes in recent days. The card is being hosted to celebrate Kazakhstan Independence day, and should be a great show if you're a Kazakh with a great array of Kazakh talent on the show.
Former world champion Hekkie Budler was originally announced for main event of this show, but it now appears that the main event will see Viktor Kotochigov (10-0, 4) take on Javier Jose Clavero (27-5, 5). On paper this looks like a good test for the unbeaten 26 old Kazakh, but in reality Clavero should be seen as a clear under-dog against an unbeaten prospect fighting in front of his home fans. This is a step up for Kotochigov, but one he will be be expected to win with out too many issues.
A solid supporting bout will see the highly touted Sultan Zaurbek (8-0, 6) take on China's Leshan Li (16-3-2, 9), in what is Zaurbek's first title bout as they face off for the WBC Youth Super Featherweight title. We've been wanting to see Zaurbek take a step up for a while and this is exactly the sort of bout that should tell us more about the talented 23 year old. Impressive Zaurbek will be fighting for the 6th time in 2019. As for Li he's unbeaten in 3, but has yet to score a win of note in his 21 bout career.
Other fighters on this card include an array of Central Asian prospects and hopefuls. They include 22 year old American based Kazakh Iskander Kharsan (7-0, 6), 2-time Olympian Khurshid Tojibaev (3-0, 2) and 2016 Olympic champion Fazliddin Gaibnazarov (7-1, 4).
Eastern Cape, South Africa
In South Africa we'll see another bout in the excellent Philippines Vs South Africa rivalry. This time around it'll be unheralded Filipino Joey Canoy (15-3-1, 8) taking on South African Nkosinathi Joyi (28-5-1-1, 19) in a bout for the IBO Minimumweight title. On paper Joyi will be the favourite, the former IBF world champion is the more proven and more experienced man, however Canoy will be confident of picking up the win, in what is his third visit to South Africa, and he'll be boosted by John Riel Casimero's recent win against Zolani Tete.
This coming Saturday is massive with a trio of world title bouts, to warm up for the big day we get a really interesting card in Japan on Friday, with 2 really good Japan Vs Philippines bouts and a pair of bouts involving touted debutants.
The main event of the show will see OPBF Flyweight champion Jayr Raquinel (10-1-1, 7) look to make his second defense, as he takes on Japanese veteran Takuya Kogawa (30-5-1, 13), who is essentially fighting for his career at this point. The talented Raquinel won the title in March 2018, stopping Keisuke Nakayama, and impressed when he stopped Shun Kosaka in his first defense. Sadly a loss in China to Wulan Tuolehazi last September slowed his ascent and he's been out of the ring ever since. At the age of 34 Kogawa really is a veteran, and the popular Tokyo brawler has began to show signs of his career catching up with him in recent years. Since losing the Japanese title in June 2016 to Masayuki Kuroda we've not been impressed by Kogawa, who has struggled in his 3 subsequent bouts, though has been hit by stretches of inactivity. If Kogawa is half the fighter he once was this could be amazing, alternatively this could be the bout that pushes him into retirement. A full preview of this bout is available here Rising hopeful Raquinel and veteran Kogawa clash for OPBF title
Another brilliant bout between a Filipino and a Japanese local will see Pinoy hopeful Alphoe Dagayloan (13-2-5, 5) take on touted Japanese hopeful Ryota Yamauchi (4-1, 4). For Dagayloan this bout will see him looking to extend a 7 fight winning streak, and build on wins over the likes of Esneth Domingo and Danrick Sumabong. A win for the Filipino will almost certainly open up big opportunities in the near future, given his run of form. For Yamauchi however the bout will be his first since suffering a controversial loss in China to Wulan Tuolehazi, the same man who has also beaten Jayr Raquinel. A win for Yamauchi gets him back on the fast track, whilst a loss will give him some real rebuilding to do. It's great to see both men taking a risk here, and we're really expecting something very special from this bout. Our preview of this bout is available here Yamauchi and Dagayloan set to battle in intriguing 8 rounder!
In an interesting all-Japanese bout ranked fighters clash, as JBC and WBO Asia Pacific ranked Yuichiro Kasuya (12-2-1, 3) takes on OPBF and JBC ranked Takayuki Sakai (9-1-2, 6), in what is arguably the most over-looked bout on the card. The 22 year old Kasuya has been a professional for over 5 years and show a lot of early promise, winning the Rookie of the Year in in 2014. A 3 fight run that saw him going 0-2-1 slowed his ascent but with Kadoebi now behind him it seems like his career is back on track and hopefully he can build on the early promise he showed. Sakai on the other hand started his career 3-1-2 but has since reeled off 6 straight wins, including a very notable one over Amphol Suriyo, aka Pharanpetch Tor Buamas, last December. The winner of this one could well find themselves in a title fight very soon.
One of two notable debutants on this card is Mikio Sakai (0-0), who takes on the hard hitting Elfelos Vega (7-6, 5). As an amateur Sakai went 44-22 (19) and was a pretty notable amateur and even if he didn't regularly win national tournaments he was solid with Kadoebi clearly expecting big things from him. Vega is a very tough tough debut opponent, with the Japanese based Colombian being heavy handed and able to take a good shot. Vega hasn't fought since March 2018, but has shared the ring with the likes of Takeshi Inoue, Charles Bellamy and Kazuto Takesako, with only Takesako and Ryosuke Maruki managing to stop him. This looks like it could be a baptism of fire for Sakai.
Another debutant who is in tough is the 21 year old Ryo Nakai (0-0), who takes on unbeaten Filipino Jay Lloyd Quidlat (4-0-1, 2). The debutant ran up a 30-16 (15) record in the amateurs and should have the tools to handle Quidlat, who is unbeaten but has faced very limited opposition on the lower end of the Filipino scene. An interesting looking debut for Nakai, but a big step up for Quidlat.
In Okalahoma we're expecting to see two Central Asian prospects in action.
The more well known of those is hard hitting Uzbek prospect Shohjahon Ergashev (16-0, 14), who risks his unbeaten record against fellow puncher Abdiel Ramirez (24-4-1, 22). On paper this looks like an interesting match up, and it should be explosive, though Ramirez is the naturally smaller man and has lost 3 of his last 4. Given that both can punch we do expect to see heavy leather thrown, but Ergashev should be too heavy handed, too big and too tough for 28 year old Mexican.
The other Central Asian fighter on this card is Izim Izbaki (1-0, 1), though it should be noted Izbaki has had several fight fall through since his debut. Well regarded by those in Kazakhstan Izbaki has got potential, and should be far too good for the 26 year old Armonte Summers (1-1), who is listed as being 6'10". If this bout takes place we expect Izbaki to fight like a man with a point to prove given the issues he's had with getting in the ring since his debut last November.
Staying in the US we'll also see the unbeaten Bobirzhan Mominov (10-0, 8) take on Javier Flores (14-2, 12). The talented 27 year old Mominov is one of the less spoken about Kazakh prospects but has impressed and looks like someone who needs to be let off the leash sooner, rather than later. On paper this is a big step up for him, with Flores having never been stopped, and having gone 10 rounds with the once touted Ronald Cruz just a few months ago. A good test, but one that Mominov should pass.
New South Wales, Australia
One other bout of note will take place in Australia and see Australian based Filipino veteran Jack Asis (38-22-5, 19) fight for the 66th time as he takes on the unbeaten Youssef Dib (12-0, 5). Asis has had a real roller coaster of a career, turning around a 21-18-4 (10) record by scoring 14 straight wins, but he has suffered back to back losses entering this bout, and was stopped last time out after being dropped a number of times. The 26 year old Dib is no puncher, and did look poor last time out, but should have more than enough to beat the 36 year old Asis.
Gauteng, South Africa
Under-rated Kazakh Alexandr Zhuravskiy (13-4-1, 11) ended a 3 fight losing run last time out, when he held Boyd Allen to a draw in South Africa. This coming Friday he returns to South Africa to take on 21 year old South African puncher Roarke Knapp (8-0-1, 7). This looks a tough ask for Zhuravskiy, however he continues to show that he's no easy out for anyone, and we wouldn't be surprised to see him to give Knapp a really serious test here.
Action returns to Korakuen Hall this coming Wednesday as we get the next stacked card from Kadoebi. The show features a former world champion, a former world title challenger and a very highly regarded prospect in what is genuinely a stacked card at this level.
The main event will see former IBF Super Bantamweight world champion Yukinori Oguni (20-2-1, 8) take on IBF world ranked ranked Bantamweight Sukpraserd Ponpitak (22-9, 14), aka Sukkasem Kietyongyuth. On paper Oguni should be strongly favoured, given he's the naturally bigger man and the fighter with the higher level of achievement, but this is only his second bout since losing the world title to Ryosuke Iwasa back in 2017, and is a huge step up in class from his win over Arega Yunian. The Thai is no world beater, but does seem more consistent than he was earlier in his career, and has had a couple of very close losses on his travels in the last few years, including a narrow loss in Japan to Kazuki Tanaka and another close one in China to Qiu Xiao Jun. This will likely be a lot more competitive than the records suggests.
In a main supporting bout we'll see former Japanese Flyweight and OPBF Super Flyweight champion Takuya Kogawa (29-5-1, 13). Kogawa, himself a former world title challenger looks like he is in soft here, as he takes on Hideyuki Watanabe (8-11-3, 6) in what should be an easy win for the veteran. Whilst Kogawa does have a habit of making things tricky for himself there shouldn't be any worries here. Watanabe has lost his last 5 and has just 1 win in his last 8, though does typically go rounds. We could see Kogawa shaking some ring rust here, but would be hugely surprised if he was tested.
Another former Japanese champion on this show is Takenori Ohashi (16-5-2, 10), who fights for the second time since losing the Japanese Featherweight title to Taiki Minamoto. The hard hitting Ohashi will not be getting a gimme, but should still manage to pick up a win as he battles Shun Wakabayashi (9-3, 2). It's worth noting that whilst Wakabayashi doesn't have an amazing record he has strung together 5 straight wins, with 2 of them coming on the road in China, and the most recent being a stoppage win over Xian Qian Wei, so he will have momentum and confidence coming into this one.
In other supporting bouts we'll see Ryoji Fukunaga (10-4, 10), Yuichiro Kasuya (11-2-1, 3) and the promising Yuki Nakajima (1-0, 1) all looking to pick up their next wins. All 3 will be expected to win, though all are taking steps up in class from their most recent bouts. Of the 3 men it's Kasuya who has the hardest on paper, taking on Toru Kiyota (9-2, 7) though we're mostly interested in seeing how Yuki Nakajima looks against Filipino Paolo Sy (6-3-1, 3).
The biggest bout this coming Thursday is a world title eliminator at 115lbs, with the winner becoming the mandatory challenger for Filipino fighter Donnie Nietes. The match up will see Filipino Aston Palicte (24-2-1, 20), who actually fought to a draw with Nietes last year, taking on Puerto Rican foe Jose Martinez (20-0-2, 13), in what looks like a really good match up on paper. Palicte is a huge Super Flyweight, with nasty power and underrated skills, though seemed to lack the ring craft at times against Nietes last year. Martinez on the other hand has 2 draws with recent world title challenger Alejandro Santiago Barrios, who himself fought to a draw with Jerwin Ancajas in 2018. Despite being unbeaten we've yet to be impressed by Martinez and this looks like his toughest bout to date. Palicte may not be an elite level fighter, but this does seem to be a bout that he should be favoured in. We've previewed this bout here Palicte and Martinez battle for world title shot!
In Tokyo fans will get the latest Dangan card, Dangan 221. The show is a low profile one, headlined by a 6 round Flyweight contest between Naoki Inaba (5-5, 2) and Takuya Kihashi (5-6-1, 2), in what is a less than fantastic match up on paper.
Although buried in the middle of the card the show will also feature the once touted Yuichiro Kasuya (10-2-1, 2), who fights for the first time in over a year, as he takes on Thai foe Adisai Chantan (6-4, 2). Kasuya is a 22 year old who looked like a prodigious talent early on, winning the Rookie of the year at the age of 18 way back in 2014. Sadly his career has failed to take off and he'll be hoping a recent move to the Kadoebi Gym will help revitalise his career. Whilst Kasuya is 1-2-1 in his last 4 he is not expected to be tested too much in 2019 as he rebuilds his confidence.
In Tokyo fans will get the chance to see a number of notable fighters in action, though in fairness it's not like those notable fighters are really likely to bes tested given the level of competition theyt are facing.
The most notable of the bouts on the card will see the limited but teak tough Tatsuya Takahashi (27-7-5, 20) take on countryman Keita Nakano (14-12-6, 4). The bout has the potential to be a very fun contest, but Takahashi has an unwelcome ability to make his life harder than it needs to be and this bout will likely be another case of him getting into a bit of an unnecessary war. Nakano's lack of power won't help him in that war, but he could be surprisingly competitive here in what could be a very fun match up at the fringes of the Japanese title scene.
Another notable fighter on this show is the heavy handed Yuki Beppu (16-0-1, 16), who will be looking to keep his unbeaten record alive as he takes on a Thai opponent in the show's final bout. Little is known about the Thai but Beppu has feasted on a series of limited opponents since claiming the Japanese Rookie of the Year back in 2014, with the one exception being the drawn fight against Charles Bellamy. It's unfortunately time that Beppu started facing more notable opponents and really began to do more than run up KO's against over-matched foes.
A third fighter of note on this card is 2014 Super Featherweight Rookie of the Year Yuichiro Kasuya (9-2-1, 1). Like Beppu we'll see him in with a Thai foe, though this is more understandable given that Kasuya is almost 2 years removed from his last win, and has gone 0-2-1 in his last 3, albeit in very competitive bouts. The 21 year old does look like a fighter who needs to build belief in his power and an easy blow out against an over-matched Thai foe may be the perfect way to build that confidence.
New York, USA
In the US fight fans wil get the chance to see two exciting American based fighters from central Asia.
One of those fighters is Uzbek destroyer Shohjahon Ergashev (10-0, 10), who takes a huge step up in class to face fellow unbeaten fighter Sonny Fredrickson (18-0, 12). The hard hitting Uzbek went 4-0 (4) in 2017 fighting just 5 combined rounds, and has only gone beyond 2 rounds once, showing just what power he has early on. If he can take out Fredrickson then he'll be on his way to making a real statement in 2018. The 23 year old Fredrickson was a former amateur standout and will be looking to extend a 3 fight stoppage run, as he takes on his second successive unbeaten foe.
The other fighter of note on this card for us is Kazakh puncher Bakhtiyar Eyubov (13-0, 11), who looks to put a less than great 2017 behind him as he takes on Maurice Chalmers (14-13-1, 8). The bout looks like a mismatch on paper, but with Eyubov fighting just 7 rounds last year we can understand why he's being given a relatively easy one here, against a man who is almost 2 years removed from his last bout.
The most interesting show of the day, at least for us, is in the Korakuen Hall where we see the first set of Japanese Youth Tournament finals, with 4 finals, all of which are really interesting match ups, and bouts that should be really hotly contested.
The stand out bout is a rematch between Joe Tanooka (14-3-4, 1) and Kenya Yamashita (10-3, 7), who meet at Super Flyweight. Tanooka came runner up at the 2013 Rookie of the year whilst Yamashita won the Rookie of the Year the following year. In 2015 Tanooka scored a decision win over Yamashita, to give the heavy handed Yamashita his first loss, and since then both men have faltered yet remained popular. Tanooka has gone 5-1-1 since beating Yamashita, but shown a real lack of power with only a single stoppage. Yamashita is like an all action warrior and has gone 3-2 (3) since losing to Tanooka, with both losses being by stoppage. This will be a boxer vs bralwer, with history and the potential to be something really thrilling.
Another potential thriller comes at Featherweight as the talented, but out of form, Tsuyoshi Tameda (13-3-2, 11) takes on Retsu Kosaka (8-2, 3). We've seen Tameda losing his last two, suffering a decision loss to Simpiwe Vetyeka and suffering a stoppage to Reiya Abe, but has been given time to rest, heal and reignite his fire, with this being his final bout for the Yonekura gym, before joining the Ohashi Gym. As for Kosaka he has lost 2 of his last 3, but shone last time out beating the touted Ryo Sagawa in 2 rounds. This looks like a win on paper for Tameda, but it's not going to be easy against the hungry Kosaka.
Potentially the hidden gem on this show will be the Lightweight bout, as the really exciting and promising Izuki Tomioka (3-0, 1) takes on the Japanese Yuichiro Kasuya (9-1-1, 1). We were really impressed by Tomioka last time out, as he stopped Shun Shimazaki in 5 rounds, and the 20 year old from Saitama looks like a real one to watch. Kasuya, who won the Rookie of the Year at Super Featherweight in 2014, has faltered in his last two, drawing with Masaki Saito and losing to Spicy Matsushita. With those recent set backs against Kasuya we suspect he'll try to up his game, but Tomioka will be too good for him.
At Super Featherweight we'll see the struggling Kazuma Sanpei (12-4, 4) battle the inconsistent Ryusei Ishii (7-3, 4) in what looks like the black sheep of the match ups. Sanpei has gone 1-4 in his last 5, with 3 stoppage losses during that run, and his 11-0 (4) start to professional boxing is a distance memory, with only a single win in the last 3 years. Ishii has gone 2-2 in his last 4, though did earn his place in this bout with a dominant win over Sho Nagata in May. Ishii has some momentum here, Sanpei has none, leading us to favour Ishii for the win.
Fight fans in Las Vegas will see American based Uzbek hopeful Sanjarbek Rakhmanov (7-0-1, 3) fight in an 8 rounder, as he looks for a 4th straight victory. At the time of writing his opponent hasn't been announced, so we suspect it will be a less than taxing foe foe the unbeaten prospect.
In Pakistan we'll see a bizarre all-debutant 10 rounder, as Ali Dad (0-0) takes on Asmatullah (0-0). It's really odd to see a debutant in a 10 rounder, to see two of them in a 10 rounder is even weirder and it's hard to see what the plan behind this bout was, though hopefully it helps in the development of Pakistani boxing going forward, and is interesting to see how they are growing the sport there.
To end the month of March Japanese fans get a low key show at the Korakuen Hall.
The most notable of the bouts on this card will see the unbeaten Japanese ranked Super Featherweight Yuichiro Kasuya (9-0-1, 1) risking his unbeaten record against Japanese ranked Lightweight Spice Matsushita (16-9-1, 2), in a bout that will see Matsushita move down to 130lbs. The 20 year old Kasuya first made a name for himself in 2014, when he claimed the Rookie of the Year crown, and notched a really good win last year over Kazuma Sanpei. Last time out however he was held to a really unexpected draw against Masaki Saito. Although Matsushita has picked up losses through his career, including on last time out to Can Xu, he is still a solid fighter and could be a real banana skin for the unbeaten youngster.
The main event of the card will see former Japanese Bantamweight title challenger Tatsuya Takahashi (25-6-5, 18) take on Thai visitor Rungpetch Saithonggym (0-2). Although he drew earlier this year with Yuta Saito it's fair to say that Takahashi is best known for his 2014 loss to Kentaro Masuda. Since then he has gone 7-0-2 (5) and tried to work his way into another title fight. A win here won't get him a shot out right, but will keep him in the mix and see him continue his unbeaten run. As for the Thai he suffered 2 losses in Japan last year, and we suspect he'll suffer a third successive loss in the country here.
Western Cape, South Africa
In South Africa we'll see local unbeaten fighter Mzuvukile Magwaca (17-0-2, 10) battle with tough Filipino Jason Canoy (26-6-2, 19) in a bout for the WBF Bantamweight title. The unbeaten Magwaca has won his last 4 bouts, following a 2013 draw with Makazole Tete, including a stoppage over Filipino Michael Enriquez. This is a step for the local fighter and Canoy is certainly no push over, as shown in his wins over Drian Francisco and Jestoni Autida, but he is perhaps best known for his 2015 loss to a then debuting Hinata Maruta. Although he lost to Maruta he did prove he was ridiculously tough and we know he has nasty power of his own. This could be a very good match up
The wonderful Boxingraise give us their next live show this coming Tuesday with a really good looking, and deep, card from the Korakuen Hall. The show doesn't look like an outstanding one on paper, but fans who know the fighters involved will know that the card will deliver some real highlights.
The main event of the card sees Japanese Flyweight champion Takuya Kogawa (27-4, 13) defending his title against Yudai Arai (8-3-3. 4), in what will be Kogawa's second main event on the Boxingraise service. The veteran champion will be looking for his 4th defense of the belt and it's possible that a win here could see him getting a long awaited third world title fight in 2017. For Arai the opportunity is a rather unearned one but one that he was never going to turn down and we hope that he puts up a credible effort in what will almost certainly be a fun fight, as all Kogawa contests are.
The chief support bout will see #1 ranked Japanese Flyweight Yuta Matsuo (11-2-1, 6) take on Ryuto Oho (9-2-1, 2) in an intriguing 8 rounder, that will likely serve to build up a a potential Matsuo Vs Kogawa bout in 2017, as part of the Champion Carnival if both fighters win. Oho is unranked coming into this bout but is a real potential banana skin and has shown his ability against the likes of Jo Tanooka, Shuji Hamada and Katsunori Nagamine, and was a 2013 Rookie of the Year. Matsuo cannot over look his foe here.
In another supporting bout the highly experienced Masaki Saito (13-11-5, 4) faces the unbeaten Yuichiro Kasuya (9-0, 1) in a bout between two men with Japanese rankings. Saito is really experienced and holds notable results against the likes of Seiichi Okada, Tsuyoshi Tojo and can be a handful on his day. Kasuya on the other hand is rising prospect but this could be, potentially, his toughest bout to date, as he looks to build on a win over Kazuma Sanpei.
Talking about Kazuma Sanpei (12-3, 4) he will himself be in action as he goes up against the JBC and OPBF ranked Masaru Sueyoshi (12-1, 7) in possibly the best looking bout on the card. Sanpei has lost 3 of his last 6, including a 7th round TKO to Sueyoshi and a split decision to the aforementioned Kasuya, but he is certainly better than those results would suggests. Seuyoshi on the other hand looks like a man heading for titles and comes into this on a career best win over Shingo Eto. Good bout that sees Sanpei seek revenge and Sueyoshi look continue his solid run of 9 wins.
A final out of note sees former OPBF title contender Dai Iwai (18-4-1, 7) battle Takehiro Shinohara (7-4-2, 7). Iwai is looking for his second win since last year's stoppage loss to Masayuki Ito and although he'll be the favourite he is facing a real puncher in Shinohara, who stopped Daisuke Watanabe last year, but has sadly been inactive for more than a year coming in to this.
Action returns to the Korakuen Hall again with the next “Dangan” card, and although it's not one of the best we'll see this year it does feature a really good 8 round bout and an “interim” OPBF title bout.
The title fight will see former Japanese Welterweight champion Suyon Takayama (23-1, 7) battle Filipino visitor Joel Dela Cruz (19-23-3, 7) in a bout for the “interim” OPBF Welterweight title. The bout looks like a major mismatch on paper, but it does seem that the winner have a more serious bout later in the year with a contest against the winner of a bout between Jack Brubaker and Paddy Murphy, who meet in around 3 weeks for the full OPBF title.
Whilst the main event isn't that attractive we do really like the supporting bout between the unbeaten Yuichiro Kasuya (8-0, 1) and Kazuma Sanpei (12-2, 4). The unbeaten 19 year old impressed in 2014 claiming the All Japan Rookie of the Year, at 130lbs, and notched up two wins last year to extend his winning record. Although lacking in power Kasuya has progressed a long way from his debut just over 2 years ago. Sanpei won the Rookie of the Year himself in 2013 though has since gone 3-2 with stoppage losses to Johnreil Maligro and Masaru Sueyoshi, and knows that he needs to build on his most recent win, a narrow decision win over Ribo Takahata. This won't be a war but will be a very competitive contest between two talented youngsters looking to begin 2016 with a notable win.