This coming Sunday is an incredibly hectic day in Japan with 4 different shows across the country, and when we talk about them being across the country we do mean that with hundreds of miles separating some of the shows.
The most notable card, in many ways, is in Kumamoto in the South West of Japan, where Yakushiji Promotions will be putting on a very significant card.
The main event of this show will be a rematch between Musashi Mori (8-0, 5) and Richard Pumicpic (21-9-2, 6). These two fought last November, when Mori took a technical decision over Pumicpic to claim the WBO Asia Pacific Featherweight title, and he will be looking to make his first defense of that national title here. Pumicpic, a real under-rated Filipino warrior, will be hungry to avenge his loss. This is set to be a very, very tough bout and will be shown live on local TV channel TKU. Sadly for those outside of Kunamoto this appears to be a bout we won't be getting. A full preview of this bout can be read here Mori and Pumicpic battle again!
Whilst the main event is brilliant it's not the only bout of note and the show features a number of notable prospects. Among those is the very highly regarded Ginjiro Shigeoka (2-0, 2) who steps into his first 8 round bout, and takes on once beaten Filipino Joel Lino (10-1-1, 3). Lino's only loss came to Shigeoka's stablemate, and recent world title challenger, Masataka Taniguchi. This is a very serious test for Shigeoka, but also a bit that gives him a chance to gain immediate comparisons to Taniguchi, whilst Lino gets the chance to perform in front of a notable Japanese crowd.
Another Japan Vs Philippines bout will see the aggressive Seiya Tsutsumi (4-0, 3) take on the tough Ryan Rey Ponteras (22-13-3, 11), in what could be a really fun war. Tsutsumi has one of the most fan friendly, aggressive and exciting styles out there whilst Ponteras is a criminally under-rated veteran, who has never been stopped and can be a banana skin for better known fighters. Thhis could be a very, very exciting bout.
Another notable fighter on this card was 2018 Rookie of the Year winner Sora Takeda (4-1, 1), who will be up against Sanchai Yotboon (4-2, 4), the man the aforementioned Shigeoka made his debut against. We suspect Takeda will have the skills to over-come the Thai visitor, but this could be a good test of Takeda's metal.
Another of the more notable Japanese cards comes form Hyogo, in a female orientated card.
The biggest match up here here will see former WBC female Minimumweight champion Yuko Kuroki (17-6-1, 8) take on former WBO Atomweight champion Nao Ikeyama (18-5-3, 5) in what is a must win bout for both fighters, who both have suffered 2 recent losses. Kuroki is the younger fighter, and certainly the one with more upside, though at 49 Ikeyama has proven that age really is just a number and she will be looking to extend her career in to her 50's with a win. This should be a very interesting bout, though Kuroki should enter as the clear favourite. A full preview of this bout can be read here Kuroki and Ikeyama battle in must win bout!
As well as the Kuroki Vs Ikeyama bout, there will be two title bouts on this show. One of those bouts will see Japan's in form Shione Ogata (10-6, 2) face once beaten Filipino foe Charimae Salvador (4-1, 1) for the vacant OPBF female Light Flyweight title. Ogata has won her last 3, claiming a WBA Asia and WBO Asia Pacific title in her last 2 bouts, As for Salvador she was beaten last time out, at Atomweight, but will be fighting at her natural weight here. We're expecting Ogata to pick up another win, but this isn't going to be a walk in the park.
The other title bout on this card will be a bizarre KBM and JBC female title bout, the first since a new OPBF rule was brought into play. The bout will pit Japan's Tamao Ozawa (15-5, 6) up against Korean Hye Soo Park (5-7-1, 1). The winner will become a unified 2-nation champion, albeit temporarily, with the winner likely to immediately vacate the other nation's title. The idea to this is to create depth to thinner divisions, but leads to some odd situations like this.
At the L-Theatre in Osaka fans will see a small card with a few notable names involved.
The main event of this card will see OPBF, JBC and WBO Asia Pacific ranked fighter Dynamic Kenji (10-3, 7) take on a Thai foe, who we believe will be Sophon Klachun (4-2, 1). We don't see this being much of a test for Kenji, who is edging his way towards a title fight, and will look to take the visitor out as he advances his march towards a career defining bout.
In an 8 round supporting bout fans will see Noboru Osato (10-7-4, 2) and the once beaten Ryotaro Motohashi (8-1, 2) battle in a very interesting match up. Neither of these men are big names, but they should make for a very competitive contest, much more saw the than records suggest.
Another 8 round supporting bout on this card will see Daijiro Yuki (8-5-1, 4) battle against Japanese ranked Welterweight Kazuyasu Okamoto (14-6, 4). This will be Okumoto's first bout since losing to Japanese champion Ryota Yada, and he will be looking to end a 2 fight losing run. Yuki on the other hand will be seeking a career best win.
The least notable of the Japanese cards takes place in Tsu and will be headlined by a Japanese Youth Super Flyweight title bout, with Yuto Nakamura (9-5, 7) defending his title against Toma Kondo (7-4, 1). This should be a hotly contested bout, though it's hard to doubt Nakamura and his edge in power. A full preview of this bout is available here Nakamura seeks first defense of youth crown, faces Kondo.
A notable supporting bout here will see former OPBF Super Bantamweight champion Roli Gasca (24-8-1, 8), who recently signed with Osaka Teiken, take on the once beaten Shuma Sugawara (6-1, 4). This looks like a huge step up for Sugawara, but a win puts him on the title hunt, whilst Gasca will be fighting for the first time in well over a year.
This coming Saturday is an incredibly busy day for Asian fight fans.
We get the show of the day in Tokyo, with the Korakuen Hall hosting a title double header and a really good under-card.
The main event sees a trilogy come to a close as Yuko Kuroki (18-5-1, 8) and Saemi Hanagata (14-7-4, 7) fight for the IBF female Atomweight title. So far Hanagata is winning the series, 1-0 due to a draw in their second bout. Since their bouts together both fighters have proven to be world class, with Kuroki holding the the WBC female Minimumweight title for over 3.5 years, whilst Hanagata would hold her own in 3 world title fights but never manage to get the win. Given how competitive their first two bouts were and how both have developed since 2013 we're expecting a very exciting contest with a lot of leather being thrown between two fighters who know each other very well. - A full preview of this bout can be read here Kuroki looks to settle the score with third bout against Hanagata!
The second title bout on this card promises fire works as heavy handed OPBF Minimumweight champion Tsubasa Koura (13-0, 9) takes on talented youngster Daiki Tomita (12-0, 4). The champion will be looking to record his third defenses of the title, following very good wins over Masataka Taniguchi and Norihito Tanaka, and this promises to be another very tough test. Tomita, the 2016 All Japan Rookie of the Year has had a frustrating time since his Rookie win, being matched against some very poor opponents and having one fight cancelled, but he is a talent and should give Tomita a lot of questions to answer. A full preview of this bout can be read here Unbeaten men Koura and Tomita collide for OPBF honours!
The leading support bout will see hard hitting Japanese Flyweight prospect Masamichi Yabuki (7-2, 7) take on Panamanian based Cuban Daniel Matellon (7-0-2, 4). The Japanese puncher has only gone beyond 2 rounds once in his career, a 4 round decision loss to Junto Nakatani, and he is naturally very heavy handed. On the other hand Matellon is a world ranked fighter with real skills, but he will be the smaller man here. This will put power against speed, and should be a very compelling contest.
Former OPBF Featherweight champion Ryo Takenaka (16-3-1, 9) will be returning to the ring following his title loss, in June 2017, as he takes on the always testing Vergil Puton (17-10-1, 8). The talented Takenaka was going through a solid run run when he was the OPBF champion, making 3 defenses of the title, before losing via KO to Sa Myung Noh last year. On his return he will be moving up in weight to face Puton. The Filipino visitor doesn't have a great looking record, and has failed to win in his last 3 bouts, but he's tough and has proven to be a very good opponent at this type of regional level. Takenaka should be able to win, but this is a tough return for the man from the Misako gym.
Another really notable under-card bout on this card will see the all action Kenya Yamashita (12-4, 9) take a huge step up in class to face off with former world title challenger John Mark Apolinario (20-11-3, 5) in a Bantamweight bout. The exciting, but flawed, Yamashita has often been in some thrilling contests, but has shown issues with his chin and has lost 3 of his last 7 inside the distance. On the other hand Apolinario has won just twice in the last 30 months, with 5 losses in that same time period.
As well as the big show in Japan there is also a very notable card in Singapore, with two title bouts and several other bouts of note.
The main event of the card will see unbeaten local Muhamad Ridhwan (11-0, 8) take on former world champion Paulus Ambunda (26-2, 11) in a contest for the IBO Super Bantamweight title. The unbeaten Ridhwan, regarded as Singapore's biggest hope, has already noted two wins this year and his team will be seeing this as a logical step up in class. As for Ambunda this is probably his last chance saloon, and at the age of 38 it's hard to see where he would go if he lost here. Saying that however Ambunda has only lost to world class fighters, Tomoki Kameda and Moises Flores, and he could well have one final performance left in him.
Another major bout on this card will see Filipino Bantamweight contender Michael Dasmarinas (28-2, 19) face off against Ghanaian puncher Manyo Plange (17-0, 15). Coming in to this Dasmarinas has won his last 10, with 8 stoppages, including a big victory over Karim Guerfi last time out. Not much is known about Plange, however this will be his first bout outside of Ghana, and will be a massive step up in class for him.
In another title bout Malaysian fighter Muhammad Meeraj (8-2-1, 4) will take on teenager Natthawut Masamin (7-3, 5). The 28 year old Meeraj has won his last 2 bouts, including a win that saw him become the WBC Asian Boxing Council Light Heavyweight champion. He will be defeating that title here against his Thai foe. Masamin, the Thai Middleweight champion, has a very misleading record and gave Yuki Nonaka real issues earlier this year. We think Meeraj should have the size to win, but this is no gimme and could be a very tough contest to call.
In a potentially fan friendly contest fans will see Keng Fai Hui (4-0-1, 4) take on Abdelelah Karroum (3-0, 3). Both men have a reputation for being heavy handed and it seems likely that both will come out swinging here. Hui, a 23 year old from Malaysia, was held to a draw last time out, against Alexander David. Karroum on the other hand is a Singaporean based French born fighter who has stopped his first 3 opponents in a combined 4 rounds. Expected explosive action here!
History is set to be made in Taiwan as the country hosts it's most notable show in history, with a couple of title fights in Taipei.
The main event of the card will see teak tough Japanese Super Feather Takuya Watanabe (34-8-1, 19) take on Thai foe Paiboon Lorkham (19-10, 8), aka Maxsaisai Sithsaithong, fight for the OPBF Silver Super Featherweight. Although his record doesn't show it Watanabe is a very talented fighter who has mixed at a very good level, losing to the likes of Masayuki Ito, Satoshi Hosono, Jae Sung Lee and Hisashi Amagasa. Although a talented boxer Watanabe is best known for his insane toughness, which saw him fight through a crimson mask against Lee for almost the entire fight. The Thai is much less well established, despite being 39 years old. His most notable bout to date have been losses to the likes of Hisashi Amagasa, AJ Banal and Joel Brunker, and they were all several years ago. Lorkham at his best might have been an interesting test for Watanabe, but this version or Lorkham is little more than body for Watanabe to beat in the main event of the show.
The other title fight will see Chinese fighter Wensi Huang (9-3-1, 3) take on Thai foe Jutamas Jitpong (4-2, 2) in a bout for the WBC Asian Boxing Council Continental female Super Flyweight title. The 29 year old Huang lost 3 of her first 6 bouts, including a contest against Ji Hye Woo, though has since gone unbeaten, albeit against dreadful opposition. Aged 20 the Thai is the younger fighter by far, but she has also come up short, losing to Yuko Henzan and Olga Gurova. This is a very limited match up, but does give the fans in Taipei a chance to see a female title bout, as well as the male one.
Over in the US we get the chance to see once beaten Filipino prospect Romero Duno (17-1, 14) look to build on his growing reputation. The 22 year old Filipino fighter will be up against Mexican foe Ezequiel Aviles (16-2-3, 6), who will be fighting outside of Mexico for the first time. It's worth noting that Aviles has only been stopped once in 21 bouts, but that loss was last time out, when Oliver Quintana stopped him in 10 rounds. It's also worth noting that Aviles has also been out of the ring for over a year following that loss
The card will also set to feature the debut of Uzbek prospect Elnur Abduraimov (0-0), though his opponent hasn't yet been announced.
New York, USA
Staying in the US fans in Brooklyn, New York, will be able to see Uzbek Heavyweight hopeful Bakhodir Jalolov (1-0, 1) continue his career. The highly touted Jalolov, a former amateur standout, will be up against Thomas Hawkins (4-3-0-1, 1) who has lost his last 3 and is without a win in over 4 years. Given how we have seen Uzbek fighters handled we're hoping this will be Jalolov's last bout at this level before he goes up against someone who can test him. He's too good to spend time against fighters like Hawkins.
Fight fans in Japan really do get to see the title action action flow through this month, and for a fourth day in a row those fans are set to get title action, as well as an under-card with some pretty notable names on it.
The first of three notable under-card bouts will see the hard hitting Tetsuya Tomioka (5-2, 5) battle against Ryuto Oho (10-4-1, 2) in a bout to crown the first ever Japanese Youth Light Flyweight champion. The hard hitting Tomioka was involved in a thriller almost a year ago with Katsunori Nagamine, and proved he was one to keep an eye on there, but has been stopped twice in 7 and may well find himself burning out quickly given he has a very exciting and aggressive style. With 15 fights under his belt Oho is more experienced than Tomioka, but has lost 2 of his last 3, including an opening round defeat to Seigo Yuri Akui. This should be a really entertaining mid-card bout, and could well be a bit of a show stealer.
A second under-card bout of note will see former WBC female Minimumweight champion Yuko Kuroki (17-5-1, 8) takes on Momoko Kanda (10-9-2, 4), in what will be Kuroki's first bout since losing the WBC title to the now retired Momo Koseki. At her best Kuroki is a genuine talent, in fact she defended the WBC title 5 times between her May 2014 coronation and her December 2017 loss to Koseki. Though against Koseki she was second best, by quite some margin. As for Kanda she has challenged for world and OPBF honours herself, but looks some way from being class. Kanda will be there to win, but Kuroki shouldn't struggle to get back to winning ways here.
The chief support bout, and probably the biggest mismatch on the card sadly, will see former world title challenger Shingo Wake (23-5-2, 15) take on Filipino visitor Roman Canto (12-10-3, 7). Wake is expected to be moved into a Japanese title fight with Yusaku Kuga later in the year and this bout looks little more than a stay busy contest, just to keep the ring rust off before that fight takes place. Canto is a naturally bigger man, having fought a fair bit at Super Featherweight, but really shouldn't be much of a test for the talented Wake.
The main event of the card will see OPBF Minimumweight champion Tsubasa Koura (12-0, 8) making the second defense of his title, as he takes on Norihito Tanaka (16-6, 9) and looks to take a huge step towards getting a world title fight. The exciting champion saw his 5 fight stoppage run come to an end last time out, as he struggled to over-come Masataka Taniguchi in a thrilling and hotly contested bout, but will be looking to impose his power again here. For the 33 year old Tanaka, this will be a second shot at a title, following a 2011 loss to Akira Yaegashi and although he will be the under-dog he is experienced and tough, and has never been stopped. On paper this could be a tough test for Koura, but one we expect him to pass.
This coming Sunday is an interesting day for Asian fight fans. We get a world title fight, several interesting prospects, and a recent world title challenger all in action.
The biggest bout for the day, by some margin, is in Fukuoka and will see WBC female Minimumweight champion Yuko Kuroki (17-4-1, 8) take on long reigning WBC Atomweight queen Momo Koseki (23-2-1, 9). The bout will see Koseki move up in weight after an incredible 9 year reign as the Atomweight champion, which has seen her defend the title an incredible 17 times. For Kuroki the bout will be her 6th defense, and if she wins here she really will continue to build her reputation as the rising force in the division, perhaps even solidifying her place as the division's #2 fighter behind Anabel Ortiz.
Another notable female bout on this card will see Sana Hazuki (6-2, 2) battle Nanae Suzuki (5-2, 1) in a bout to decide the mandatory challengers for the Japanese female Atomweight title. On paper this is a real 50-50 fight with both being beatable but decent fighters, at least at domestic level. Coming in Suzuki has won her last 4, including a notable win over Chie Higano last time out, whilst Hazuki has gone 2-2 in her last 4, but has fought a slightly higher level of competition.
We get a trio of notable fighters in Ishikawa, unfortunately all three look like total mismatches on paper. The one possible saving grace of this show is a Japanese female title bout.
The main event of the card sees the entertaining Hurricane Futa (22-7-1, 13) take on Thai novice Detanan Rongriankila Korat (1-1, 1), in what looks set to be an easy ring return for Futa following a 5th round TKO loss to Ernie Sanchez in April. The tough Futa had never previously been stopped, so this bout will be all about how he is mentally following that defeat.
Another man returning to the ring following a loss last time out is Genesis Servania (29-1, 12), who put in a solid showing en route to a loss against Oscar Valdez in a WBO Featherweight title fight. The Japanese based Filipino stepped up and impressed against Valdez and will fighting a stay busy bout against a Thai here, before potentially moving towards a second world title fight in 2018.
The third mismatch featuring a fighter of note will see OPBF ranked Super Bantamweight Takashi Igarashi (11-3, 4) face off with Satopet Saithonggym (0-2). Coming in to this Igarashi has won his last 4, and will be looking for a third win of the year here. Satopet will be fighting for the third time this year, and in his previous bouts of the year he was stopped, with both bouts coming in Japan. It'd be a surprise to see the Thai avoid a third straight stoppage loss.
Arguably the one bout of real intrigue here is a Japanese female Featherweight title fight, as Asami Jinnari (5-2, 2) takes on Wakako Fujiwara (4-2-1, 2) for the vacant title. The 33 year old Jinnari has won her last two, following a 2016 loss to Ayumi Goto, whilst the 36 year old Fujiwara is aon a 3 fight winning run and appears to have the moment coming in to this one.
In Tokyo fight fans get the chance to see a couple of notable fighters, but sadly they are both in mismatches.
One of those fighters is the really promising and very much in form Reiya Abe (15-2, 7). Abe has had a really great few years and is riding a 7 fight winning streak with notable wins against the likes of Ryo Hino, Hikaru Marugame, Tsuyoshi Tameda and Satoshi Hosono. Given that level of competition that Abe has been facing we can't begrudge him an easy bout, but it's still disappointing that he's not being moved more aggressively towards a title fight of some kind.
In another bout fans will see 2016 Super Featherweight Rookie of the year Yuji Awata (9-4, 3) in action. Sadly, like Abe, he's up against a Thai visitor and is not expected to get much of a test here.
Cotabato del Sur, Philippines
In the Philippines there's a small but relative intriguing card.
The main event of the card looks likely to be a genuine entertaining contest as the once beaten Genisis Libranza (13-1, 9) takes on the often exciting Michael Enriquez (13-8-1, 9). The talented Libranza has notched up two wins since suffering a loss in April to Moruti Mthalane and will be favoured here against his more experienced foe. On paper Enriquez looks limited and he's lost 6 of his last 9, however he has been in thrillers with Rex Tso and Stamp Kiatniwat and we suspect this could also be a very entertaining contest, and Enriquez is likely to put up a better than his record suggests.
In a notable step up we'll see 20 year old Vincent Astrolabio (10-0, 7) take on former world title challenger John Mark Apolinario (18-11-3, 4). The unbeaten youngster stopped 7 of his first 8 but has gone the distance in his last 2 bouts and will likely feel he's proven his stamina in those two bouts. Apolinario foiught for the WBA Bantamweight title way back in 2013, losing a wide decision to Koki Kameda. Since that loss he has gone 2-8 and it's likely to become 2-9 here, with Apolinario having shown little desire since the loss to Kameda.
One really interesting bout here will see 19 year old Vince Paras (12-0, 10) risk his unbeaten record against fellow unbeaten Aldren Moreno (3-0, 2). The bout really could be very exciting. Both fighters are young, punchers who are being given an opportunity to prove themselves here. On paper Paras's extra experience will likely serve him well here, but Moreno was a former amateur stand out and his team wouldn't throw him to the wolves unless they believed he could win.
This coming Sunday sees 3 shows taking place across Japan.
The most notable of the shows is in Fukuoka where we get female world title action.
That world title bout will see WBC female Minimumweight champion Yuko Kuroki (16-4-1, 8) battle against Mari Ando (13-9, 6), in what will be the second bout between the two ladies. Kuroki won the title in May 2014, when she defeated Ando, and has racked up 4 defenses of the title whilst showing genuine signs of improvement. For Ando the bout will be a chance to gain some revenge over Kuroki but a loss will almost be the end of her hard career.
In a really interesting supporting bout we'll see the struggling Hideo Sakamoto (16-3-3, 5) face of with Ryotaro Kawabata (11-2-2, 5). Sakamoto made a name for himself in 2014, when he upset Hiroki Shiino, and looked to be beading towards a Japanese title, but a draw with Hiroaki Teshigawara has been followed by losses to Kentaor Masuda and Seizo Kono, leading some to wonder how much he has left. For Kawabata the bout is a chance to score his biggest win following draws against the likes of Hirofumi Mukai and Rene Dacquel. It's hard to know how good Kawabata is, but he did run Mark John Yap very close just a few fights back and clearly has potential.
Another title bout in Japan sees unbeaten youngster Takuya Uehara (10-0, 6) battle Filipino Markquil Salvana (11-2, 5) for the WBC Youth Featherweight title. For Uehara this will be his first title bout, but his team have prepared him pretty well with a string of 8 rounders, though he has only gone that distance once. Salvana has previously fought for a title, losing in a WBA Oceania title fight in 2015, and is struggling for form coming into this bout with 2 stoppages losses in his last 4. On paper this looks good but with Salvana's struggle and the fact he is moving up in weight does mean it's hard to see anything but a win for Uehara.
On the under-card here we'll see the now struggling Tatsuya Ikemizu (13-2, 6) battle against limited Thai Jaipetch Chaiyonggym (5-6, 1). Ikemizu has lost 2 of his last 3 bouts, albeit to good fighters in the form of Mak John Yap and Jonas Sultan, and is now looking to rebuild his career before being written off. Despite the set backs Ikemizu was the 2013 Bantamweight Rookie of the Year and has shown plenty of promise, though one wonders about his mental state. Jaipetch is expected to offer no resistance and will likely suffer his 5th stoppage loss.
There will also be a show in Hyogo, featuring no title action.
The main event of the show will see former Japanese title challenger Takumi Sakae (14-1-1, 9) face off with Ryoki Hirai (7-4-1, 3) as Sakae looks to end a bad year. Sakae began 2013 as a world ranked hopeful but a loss in a Japanese title fight with Tatsuya Fukuhara and a technical draw against Lito Dante has left him really needing to rebuild and a win over Hirai here would steady the ship leading into 2017. It looks like Hirai is a safe opponent for Sakae, with little to really test the youngster, but their will be questions about Sakae's confidence following the year he has had.
On the under-card wee see the once beaten Tetsu Araki (6-1-1) look to score a third straight win as he takes on Takuya Fujioka (7-5-1, 1) for the second time. This looks like a straight forward win for Araki, who's only loss was a razor thin set back to Tenta Kiyose in September 2015, however Fujioka did run Araki very close when the two men first fought back in July 2015.
Another notable under-card bout here will see Giraffe Kirin Kanda (7-2, 4) take on Shota Aikawa (5-6-2, 2) in an interesting looking contest. On paper Kanda will be the favoured fighter but he was stopped inside a round last December and has fought only a single round since that loss . Aikawa has lost his last 2, but will come in here looking to change that here against a possibly rusty Kanda.
In the main event of the card fight fans will see WBC female Minimumweight champion Yuko Kuroki (15-4-1, 7) battle against Filipino challenger Norj Guro (7-5-1, 4). For Guro this is a second world title fight, however much like her first it is a very undeserved shot at a title and one that would take a monstrous upset for her to make the most of. For Kuroki, who is one of the sports most improved fighters in recent years, this is a backwards steps following some of her recent wins, however we are expecting her to have a big fight later in the year.
The main event isn't the only bout with females as Tomomi Takano (8-2, 5) shares the ring with former world champion Tenkai Tsunami (22-11, 11) in an exhibition bout.,
In one of the supporting bouts fans will see the exciting Kenya Yamashita (8-2, 5) battle against Yutthana Narkprasert (0-5). This will be Yamashita's first bout since his thrilling stoppage loss to Katsunori Nagamine earlier this year, and although it's a massive step backwards we can't complain about the youngster taking an easy one, especially given the way he was stopped by Nagamine
One other fighter of note on this card is the promising Ryoichi Tamura (6-2-1, 3) who takes on an unknown Thai opponent in one of the under-card bouts. Although his record might now be great we have been impressed by Tamura and suspect he could well compete at title level in Japan, if not Asia.
The coming weekend closes with a busy, Japanese based, Sunday featuring 3 shows across the country.
The biggest bout of the day will see WBC female Minimumweight champion Yuko Kuroki (14-4-1, 7) defending her title against former 2-time IBF champion Nancy Franco (14-6-2, 4). On paper it would be easy to over-look this bout, given that the fighters have a combined 10 losses, but in all honesty the bout is a match up between two of the top fighters in the division, and should have been a unification bout, were it not for politics. Boxrec rank both in the top 10 and we would be very surprised if the bout didn't deliver top level and high paced action.
The only bout of note on the under-card sees Japanese ranked Koki Ono (9-3, 5) battle against the more experienced Munehito Kijima (6-8-1) in what looks like an intriguing bout. Ono, who has won his last two bouts, will know that his ranking is at stake and that he should be favoured to win. Kijima on the other hand has lost back-to-back bouts and can't afford a 6th loss in 8 bouts. Interestingly it's Kijima who has faced the better opponents over-all, with his last two losses comign to Takumi Sakae and Kenichi Horikawa.
Whilst the best single bout is in Fukuoka the best over-all show, by some margin, is in Tokyo as fans get the chance to watch the 2016 All Japan Rookie of the Year finals. Ahead of this show we have done a mini-feature here, which looks at the fighters in action the match ups that we are set to get.
A third Japanese card comes from Hyogo and is a very low profile show. Despite the low quality on offer out eye was caught by a Super Bantamweight match up between two unbeaten youngsters.
The bout in question will see 18 year old puncher Yuki Iriguchi (4-0, 3) risk his record against 19 year old Ryosei Hamaguchi (2-0, 1). We won't pretend the bout is something it's not, but it is great to see youngsters putting their records on the line early, rather than protecting their “0” and we hope the winner continues to be matched competitively in the future.
This coming Sunday sees two shows form Japan.
One of those shows comes from Osaka.
The main event here sees former world title challenger Hiroyuki Hisataka (23-13-1, 10), who has come up short in 4 world title challenges, battle against domestic rival Keisuke Tabuchi (9-2, 7). On paper this looks like a good match up however it should be a straight forward win for Hisataka, given the level he has competed at, and that's despite the fact that he's lost 4 of his last 6. The key here is the fact that Tabuchi has only competed at a very low level, and Hisataka is a massive step up in class, despite his record.
The only other notable bout on this card will see the Japanese ranked Yutaka Oishi (11-4, 6) take part in a 6 round bout with Toshihiro Kai (4-7-2, 1). Oishi is ranked at Light Middleweight, but given how weak the division is that ranking doesn't mean a lot. Saying that however Oishi has only been beaten once in the last 3 years, and that was by the talented Zac Dunn. Kai is fighting for the first time since losing in the All Japanese Rookie of the Year final, back in December,and is stepping up considerably for this bout.
This show will feature 6 other bouts.
The other show is in Fukuoka and and is headlined by a current world champion, albeit competing in a non-title bout.
In the main event fans will see current WBC female Minimumweight champion Yuko Kuroki (13-4-1, 6) take part in a stay busy fight against Thai visitor Kanittha Saknarong (0-3). This is a really poor match up on paper though appears to be a case of getting Kuroki in the ring after several months of inactivity. Whilst the bout is a let down it does come after a very tough series for the 24 year old who perhaps does deserve an “easy” bout, though not one that's this easy. To show how poor Saknarong is, she has twice lost to Riyako Goshi
The other notable bout on this card will see Japanese ranked Minimumweight Tatsuya Fukuhara (14-4-5, 5) battle against Thai visitor Thongchai Chaiyonggym (0-0). This should be a straight forward win for Fukuhara, who was the man Takuma Inoue faced on debut back in December 2013. Whilst Fukuhara has gone 2-2-2 in his last 6 it's really hard to see anything but a win for him here.
As well as the two bouts we've mentioned this card will feature 5 other contests.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
The busy action continues on May 9th with a host of notable fighters in action with some very interesting match ups.
The most significant bout involving an Asian comes from Texas, where unbeaten Bantamweight Tomoki Kameda (31-0, 19) attempts to claim the WBA “regular” title and over-come Britain's hard working Jamie McDonnell (25-2-1, 12). This bout was originally announced as a WBO-WBA unification bout but Kameda was forced to vacate by the WBO who refused to recognise the bout as a unification due to the WBA having multiple champions. Whilst the WBO's move has removed some lure of the bout we're still expecting the action inside the ring to be fantastic and we really can't wait for this.
On a different US show fans will have the chance to see Chinese Heavyweight giant Taishan Dong (3-0, 2) continue his development as he takes on American foe Karinn Davis (2-4, 2). Whilst Dong is heavily hyped in the US he is being matched softly and that's shown again here with Davis being a 40 year old who fought much of his career at Cruiserweight before making his Heavyweight debut earlier this year. Notably Dong will have a 1' height advantage here completely dwarfing Davis when the two get in to the ring.
Whilst the attention grabbing bouts, for many, are stateside we do still get plenty of notable action in Japan with the most notable of two shows coming from Kobe.
The Kobe show is a genuinely intriguing one which is headlined by the come-back of the popular Hozumi Hasegawa (33-5, 15). Hasegawa, fighting for the first time since he was stopped by Kiko Martinez last year, will be taking on dangerous Mexican Horacio Garcia (29-0, 21) in what looks to be a really tough return to action. This is a really difficult bout for Hasegawa though he knows that if he scores a win he could well be back in the title mix by the end of the year. The stakes however are high and another stoppage loss could well be the end of his fantastic career.
As well as the interesting main event there was also some notable fighters on the under-card. The most notable of those fighters is the fast rising Shun Kubo (6-0, 4) who is world ranked at Super Bantamweight, by the WBC, and should really have an easy time in his upcoming bout with Masajiro Honda (6-5, 4). We like Kubo a lot and hope that we see him in a more notable bout next time out.
A genuinely notable bout on this card will see Japanese based Filipino Jonathan Baat (28-6-3, 14) take on Takahiro Shigee (12-1-1, 10). This is Baat's first bout since he upset Kenta Onjo in March and if he wins again here he'll be on the verges of a title fight. For Shigee this will be his first bout of note since he was stopped in 8 rounds by Rodrigo Guerrero last July. Incidentally both men have been stopped by Guerrero.
Another really interesting match up on this card will see Tetsuya Hisada (21-9-2, 11) take on Shun Kosaka (9-1) in what should be a very competitive 8 round bout between decent but flawed fighters. Neither of these two are great but that should lead to a competitive match up and at the end of the day that's what we enjoy more than quick blow outs in mismatches.
A second Japanese card comes from Osaka where fans will get a female world title bout along with a number of relatively miss-able under-card bouts.
The main event will see WBC female Minimumweight champion Yuko Kuroki (12-4-1, 6) defending her title against multi-time title challenger Masae Akitaya (9-5-2, 3). For Kuoki this will be the second defense of the title she won last May, with a decision over Mari Ando, and on paper it's a step down. However Akitaya is certainly not a push over and will come into this bout feeling like this could be her last chance. Don't be surprised if this one ends up being fantastic despite neither fighter being being near the elite.
As for the under-card there isn't really anything of note happening on it, despite 8 scheduled bouts supporting the main event.
There will also be title action in Korea where we're expecting a couple of low level title bouts,
The most “interesting” of those bouts is a WBA Asia Middleweight title bout between Eun Chang Lee (8-4, 4) and Thailand's John Ford (6-6-1, 5). Lee may be remembered by some for his Macau Bout with Brazilian Middleweight Esquiva Falcao and although he clearly lost that bout he did show his toughness and strength. Ford on the other hand was last seen being stopped by Shuhei Tsuchiya at Light Welterweight. Given the size difference between the two we have to assume this is going to be a horrible mismatch.
The other title bout is set to be for some PABA title, though we're unsure which actual belt it will be with the suspicion it'll be a female title bout at Super Featherweight.
As well as the two title bouts this show will feature 3 under-card bouts.
We get the chance to see an interest bout in Bulgaria as Kazakh Bantamweight banger Zhanat Zhakiyanov (24-1, 17) will be battling against the unbeaten Argentinian Hector Rolando Guzman (14-0, 9). This bout will be for the WBA International Bantamweight title and seems to suggest that Zhakiyanov may not be heading the WBC route after all, a smart move considering the champion is the sensational Shinsuke Yamanaka.
Wellington, New Zealand
In New Zealand fans will have the chance to see an “interim” WIBA Super Bantamweight title fight as Thailand's Anrey Onesongchaigym (7-1-1, 3) battles Gentiane Lupi (3-1-1, 1). This bout isn't likely to tell much about either fighter though should leave the loser well away from a notable fight.
If we say November ended in style with a number of big and exciting bouts then we need to confess that November starts even better with a day so brilliant, packed and wonderful that we know a lot of great bouts will go over-looked just do to the depth of the day.
The headline bout of the day is in the US where WBO Bantamweight champion Tomoki Kameda (30-0, 19) battles against interim champion Alejandro Hernandez (28-10-2, 15). On paper this looks a mismatch given that Hernandez's record contains numerous losses however in reality the Mexican is a very good fighter and comes into this bout on a good run of results with wins over Marvin Mabait and Daniel Rosas. We'd still favour the more talented and slicker Kameda but this certainly isn't the mismatch the that numbers would suggest and Hernandez is a tough and difficult assignment for anyone at 118lbs.
Tomoki won't be the only Japanese fighter on this side as older brother Koki Kameda (32-1, 17) will also be in action. Koki, fighting for the first this year, will be battling against Mexican veteran Omar Salado (24-8-2, 15) in what we suspect will be a bout designed to help him shake off some ring rust ahead of a probably WBA Super Flyweight title fight next year against Kohei Kono. Notably for Koki this will be his debut and gives him a great chance to impress a new audience much like Tomoki did on his US debut when he stopped Pungluang Sor Singyu.
It's not just in the US that we get a world title fight but also in Japan with Fukuoka hosting a female world title fight between WBC Female Minimumweight champion Yuko Kuroki (11-4-1, 6) and former IBF champion Katia Gutierrez (19-4, 4). Kuroki will be defending her title for the first time since winning it earlier this year with a decision over Mari Ando and she has gone from the frying pan into the fire with Gutierrez being a very, very tough opponent. We favour Kuroki but this is a very tough contest between two truly world class fighters.
In the chief support bout we will see the unbeaten and promising Shohei Okuda (11-0, 4) battle against Ryusei Yoshida (24-6, 11) in a very tough and interesting bout. Okuda is a Japanese ranked fighter who will see his opportunity to jump up the rankings with a win here and although Yoshida is unranked this is a great step up for Okuda who has yet to have a coming of age fighter, despite being a 2012 Rookie of the Year winner.
Another support bout on this show will see Aiki Koto (7-1-1, 4), a Japanese ranked Light Flyweight, will be battling against Koki Ono (7-2, 4). This is one of those very even bouts that we love seeing on the Japanese domestic scene. Both of these guys has suffered an early blow out defeat but both have the talent and desire to come again and could become a force on the fringes of the domestic scene, especially if they compete in bouts like this one.
We get another title bout in Tokyo, albeit at a lower level as Japanese Light Flyweight champion Yu Kimura (14-2-1, 2) battles against Atsushi Aburada (9-6, 5). For Kimura this will be his second defense following an excellent win over Yuki Chinen earlier this year whilst for the challenger this will be his first title opportunity and it looks to be a big ask for Aburada to over-come the world ranked Kimura.
It's not just the main event here that looks interesting, far from in fact, and the under-card is packed with some very good fights and fighters.
One of those fighters is former Japanese Flyweight title challenger Tetsuma Hayashi (24-2-2, 8) who fights in what looks like a mismatch against Ryutaro Taira (8-4-2, 3). Hayashi is a fun fighter and he really did push Takuya Kogawa close in their bout in 2012, since then he is unbeaten in 7 though did look less than sensational last time out fighting to a draw with Hideyuki Watanabe. Whilst Hayashi wasn't great last time out Taira has only won 1 of his last 5 and can't be favoured here to even push Hayashi close.
A good bout on this card will see the heavy handed Yuichi Yokoyama (14-2, 13) battle against Filipino visitor Jonel Alibio (17-18-5, 9) in what looks to be a very good bout, despite the very different records of the two men. Alibio hasn't been in form recently though is a former OPBF champion and may have the experience to trouble Yokoyama.
Another heavy handed fighter in action is Hiroyuki Otsuka (7-2, 6) who will be up against the more experienced Takumi Suda (10-10-2, 2). Otsuka looked really promising at one point though has lost 2 of his last 3 and is needing to rebuild his career, however this isn't a gimme and Suda could prove to be a banana skin.
For us the best of the under-card bouts will be a contest between Jun Hamana (9-2, 3) and Shota Suito (9-3-1, 1). This is another 50-50 bout and despite it almost certainly being a distance bout it should be really good. Hamana's bout with Kazuma Sanpei impressed us whilst Suito is better than his record indicates and this should be a very interesting, high paced and exciting bout with neither having real fear of the other man.
Another Japanese card takes place in Hyogo. Whilst this one doesn't have a title fight on it it does look like a brilliant show and the type of thing that makes the Japanese domestic so exciting right now.
The main event here will see Japan's very own Hikaru Matsuoka (7-1-3, 1) battle against one of boxing's most under-rated fighters, Richard Pumicpic (15-6-2, 4). Pumicpic is the type of fighter nobody looks good against, he's hard working, tough, aggressive and a bit like a terrier in many ways. Matsuoka will have home advantage but Pumicpic proved he was good in Japan when he pushed OPBF Bantamweight champion Ryosuke Iwasa all the way earlier this year. Very tough assignment for the Japanese fighter.
Another solid fight on this card is the co-feature which will see the very experienced Junichi Ebisuoka (23-17-6, 10) battling against Giovanni Escaner (11-3, 7). Neither of these guys are world beaters but both are better than first meets the eye. Ebisuoka has a bad looking record though is just below the Japanese title picture whilst Escaner has lost 3 of his last 4 but has been competing against a solid level, such as Oleydong Sithsamerchai. This has the potential to be a truly sensational contest between two men who both want a win badly and we would suggest that this one will be worth catching if you're in Hyogo.
A third bout on this card that has caught out eye is between the destructive Yuji Itani (4-0, 4) and Filipino Jonel Gadapan (8-7-1, 4). We suspect that this will be a somewhat straight forward win for Itani but it's still worth keeping an eye on him, afterall he may be fast tracked given that he's already in his 30's.
Distrito Federal, Mexico
In Mexico we have two bouts of note in a card that looks like it will be worth tuning in to.
The main even will see Mexican based Japanese fighter Shoki Sakai (17-4, 11) battling against the always interesting Nery Saguilan (30-4-1, 11). Going in to this bout the Mexican will be hunting a second successive victory over a Japanese fighter, having beaten Seiichi Okada last time out. Sadly we suspect that Okada was a bit of a shot fighter however Sakai certainly isn't and this could be a very interesting bout.
The other bout that has caught our eye is between Filipino fighter Silvester Lopez (22-8-2, 16) and the heavy handed Mexican fighter Rey Vargas (21-0, 18). This will be the second meeting between the two after Vargas scored a stoppage victory over an injured Lopez earlier this year. Interestingly in their first meeting Lopez dropped Vargas prior to being injured in the 7th round.
(Image courtesy of http://www.warriorsboxing.com)