Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
The most notable show for us this coming Friday comes from Korakuen Hall as Yokohama Hikari put on a really interesting card, with an excellent main event, and several solid under-card bouts, which will go under the radar of many Western fans.
The main event will see Japanese Light Middleweight champion Hironobu Matsunaga (19-1, 12) take on the hard hitting Ryota Yada (20-7, 17) in a potential war. The 34 year old Matsunaga has been on a great run in recent years, not just winning and defending the Japanese title but also scoring a recent in Mexico on a rare international excursion. Given his aggressive style Matsunaga is a great fighter to watch, he always come forward and he looks to pressure opponents into mistakes. Yada on the other hand is looking to rebuild his career as a massive 2020 loss to Yuichi Ideta, and he'll know another loss here essentially ends his his hopes of winning a major title before his career comes to an end. Yada is aggressive, heavy handed and exciting, but flawed and he would need a career best performance here to take home a victory.
Recent Japanese youth title challenger Yuni Takada (8-8-2, 3) will be in a notable support bout as he takes on Yoshiki Yamashita (8-3). On paper this looks like a mismatch, especially given that Takada has gone 0-4-1 in his last 5 bouts, but he has fought at a decent level, with competitive losses against Kai Ishizawa and Norihito Tanaka, and he'll see this as a chance to get his first win since July 2019. Yamshita on the other hand is 4-1 in his last 5, including a really good win over Hizuki Saso back in June, and he'll be looking to continue building momentum and head towards title fights of his own.
Another noteworthy bout on this card will see former world title challenger Ryohei Takahashi (19-4-1, 8) take on veteran Hyuma Fujioka (11-10-1, 1). The 31 year old Takahashi is best known for his 2019 loss to TJ Doheny, and since then he has scored 3 wins, but the most recent of those was a controversial one more than a year ago against Kiyohei Endo. Fujioka on the other hand is man with a win some lose record, and can be a banana skin for decent fighters, when he turns up. He's certainly no world beater, but he is better than his record suggests and could be a bit of a nightmare for Takahashi here.
Motospace Dubai Investment Park, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
As well as the action in Japan we also have a card of note in Dubai, where we'll see a talented Pakistani fighter in action, against a former world title challenger, and a bout featuring a promising Indian fighter.
The talented Pakistani fighter on this card is former IBF world title challenger Muhammad Waseem (11-1, 8), who looks to score his first win of 2021 as he takes on Colombian fighter Rober Barrera (23-3-0-1, 13), who is best known for his 2017 bout with Ryoichi Taguchi. Once regarded as the big hope of Pakistani boxing, Waseem is with out a doubt a talented fighter, but like too many talented fighters he has let his talent go to waste, and now aged 34 it's hard imagine him getting another world title fight. In fact it seems almost like he has aged out of contention, and that's not much of a surprise given this will be only his 5th bout since 2018! Barrera, on paper, looks a good opponent, but in reality he has he's been beaten in 3 most notable bouts and is a natural Light Flyweight. We suspect Barrera will put up an effort, but natural size will play a part and he'll come undone here against the bigger, more skilful Waseem.
As well as Waseem's bout there is another interesting one as 20 year old Indian fighter Faizan Anwar (9-0, 4) takes a huge leap up in class and takes on Viktor Plotnikov (33-13-0-1, 15). Anwar has shown some promise, but has also had some luck, and was very fortunate this past August when he took a decision over Ricky Sismundo. At his best Plotnikov was a very solid European level fighter, though sadly those days are well behind him and the 44 year old has now lost 10 in a row, leaving him without a win since 2015.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
The first Japanese show in August is a small one, but one worthy of some attention with two title bouts on it, and both of those do promise a lot of action, even if they are both, on paper, mismatches.
The first of the two will be for the Japanese Youth Minimumweight title and will see Shunsuke Isa (8-3-1, 1) clash with Yuni Takada (8-7-2, 3), for the vacant title. Of the two men it's fair to say that Isa has the better looking record, and in many ways he will be regarded as the favourite. His overall record is more impressive and he's won two of his last 3. However Takada is no push over and in recent bouts he has held Hizuko Saso to a draw and gave both Norihito Tanaka and Kai Ishizawa genuine tests. Isa will have the tools to come out with a win, but if he over looks Takada he could be in a lot of trouble here thanks to Takada's solid jab and work rate. Our preview of this bout can be read here Isa and Takada face off for Japanese Youth title!
The second title fight will see Gakuya Furuhashi (27-8-1, 15) defending the Japanese Super Bantamweight title for the first time, as he takes on youngster Seigo Hanamori (7-3, 5). The all action Furuhashi won the title earlier this year, when he stopped Yusaku Kuga in a 2021 Fight of the Year contender, but he's hard a long, punishing and hard career, with a style that will take a toll on any fighter. As for Hanamoori, he's stepping up massively in terms of class, but has got some momentum of his own, with stoppage wins in his last 4 bouts. Sadly for Hanamori he's not a natural Super Bantamweight, he's very much untested at this level, and he is leaping up to face one of the best 122lb fighters in Japan. We really can't see this being anything but painful for the challenger who will do well to see the final rounds. Our full preview of this one can be read here Furuhashi returns to make first defense of Japanese title!
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
This coming Wednesday our attention turns to Tokyo for a solid card from Yokohama Hikari. The show isn't a massive one, by any stretch, but it has 3 very good bouts on it all of which could have headlined smaller shows.
The main event of the card will see Japanese Light Middleweight champion Hironobu Matsunaga (17-1, 11) look to make his third defense of the title, as he takes on the unbeaten Rei Nakajima (4-0). The talented and aggressive Matsunaga is one of the most fun Japanese fighters to watch in the "middle weight" range, as he's the type of fighter who brings incessant pressure, pushes forward and tries to force his will on his opponents. That has worked well for him over the last 5 years and he has won his last 11, against some pretty well established fighters on the Japanese scene. The challenger however is the exact opposite. Nakajima is a speed, slippery fighter, who uses good timing, good boxing IQ and quickness to land shots and avoid taking many. Nakajima isn't too well established, but really impressed last time out, beating Shinobu Charlie Hosokawa, and will come into this bout feeling he has the tools to defeat Matsunaga. This could be a very, very interesting bout. Our in depth preview of this bout can be read here Japanese champion Matsunaga clashes with Nakajima
In a second title bout we'll see Japanese Youth Minimumweight champion Kai Ishizawa (7-1, 7) defending his title against Yuni Takada (8-6-2, 3). The exciting and hard hitting Ishizawa won the title way back in 2018, when he stopped Yuga Inoue, but hasn't managed to defend it yet and will have to vacate it later this year, as he's now 24. It seems very clear that he and his team wanted to make at least one defense before handing it back. As for Takada he won't be expected to put up much of a challenge, having gone 2-4-1 in his last 7 and he's winless in his last 3. However Takada has been matched hard, having faced the likes of Norihito Tanaka, Toshiki Kawamitsu and Tetsuya Mimura, and will be there knowing this is a rare title opportunity for him. We suspect Ishizawa will be in here to make a statement and really test the heart and toughness of Takada from the off, before going on to bigger and better things. Our preview of this bout can be read here Ishizawa takes on Takada in Japanese Youth title defense
The third bout of note on this card will see highly skilled Japanese Featherweight Reiya Abe (20-3-1, 9) take on the once beaten Koshin Takeshima (4-1-1, 3). The brilliant Abe has gone 12-1-1 (5) in his last 14 bouts, scoring notable wins against the likes of Tsuyoshi Tameda, Joe Noynay, Satoshi Hosono and Daisuke Watanabe. Although not the most fun fighter to watch there is no doubting his talent, ability and high level boxing IQ. Traits that have seen him dubbed a boxing genius in Japan. Takeshima on the other hand turned professional with quite a bit of buzz around him, and there was high expectations on his shoulders, but he's gone 0-1-1 in his last 2 and has looked underwhelming at times. He's clearly a talented fighter, but he doesn't appear to have developed well since turning professional. Sadly for Takeshima we suspect he will come undone again here, especially given his poor performance last time out, against Yamato Hata.