We really are closing in on Christmas, and even though we're a few days away we are set for one of the annual treats boxing calendar, the All Japan Rookie of the Year final. As well as the Rookie of the Year's there's a lot of other stuff going on, with a title bout, an eliminator and a host of prospects in action. This Sunday is big for Asian boxing!
Our attention is obvious focused on the All Japan Rookie of the Year final from Korakuen Hall, with G+ airing the show live, and in full. For fans who want to know what makes Japanese boxing special at the lower end this is it. This is the culmination of a tournament that covers the whole country and takes the better part of a year. To get to the final you need to have won your regional final, and you don't get this far by chance. You get here on merit alone, and as a result we get some amazing match ups.
We won't be going through all 12 bouts, but we have picked out favourite match ups from the line.
It's always great to see all-unbeaten fights in the final and at Minimumweight we have one such bout, as Katsuki Mori (5-0, 1) takes on Takumi Chono (5-0, 3). This is a brilliant fight, with both men being young, having very similar records and both proving themselves to get this far. Mori is a sensational pure boxer from the Ohashi gym and will be looking to show case his skills, but Chono is not a push over, and has looked strong and powerful through out. The winner of this will really be one to watch in 2020.
At Featherweight we expect to see fire-works as Kyonosuke Kameda (5-1-1, 4) and Jinki Maeda (3-0, 2) face off. It's been an emotional year for Kameda, the cousin of Koki, Daiki and Tomoki, and only 2 weeks ago there was a a real chance he'd miss out on this bout due to the politics at the Kyoei gym. Now here the hard hitting 21 year old will be wanting to make the most of his opportunity. Maeda has quietly made his way to the final, blowing out his first two professional opponents before shutting out the then 4-0 Hikaru Fukunaga. We expect this one to be the standout bout of the day.
More fireworks are expected up at 140lbs where Kodai Honda (4-1, 3) and Yasutaka Fujita (5-0, 5) will face off. The 20 year old Honda lost on debut, more than a year ago, but has reeled off 4 wins since then, and he has stopped each of his last 3 opponents. Fujita on the other hand has been blitzing opponents and his 5 bouts have lasted just 10 rounds. Expect bombs to be thrown, and to be thrown early here!
Whilst the Rookie of the Year show is the biggest it's certainly not the only show of note, and at the Sumiyoshi Ward Center the Muto Gym will be show casing some of their brightest young talents, as well as a regional champion.
The main event of the show will see WBO Asia Pacific Bantamweight champion Yuki Strong Kobayashi (15-8, 9) defending his title against Korean challenger Ki Chang Go (8-3, 4). This will be Kobayashi's first defense since winning the title in May with a minor upset against Ben Mananquil, and he'll be looking to go into the new year with some real momentum behind following a bizarre decision loss to Keita Kurihara at the end of 2018. It's really hard to see what Go offers here, and it was only last year that Go was stopped by career Flyweight Masahiro Sakamoto, a stablemate of Kobayashi's at the time. Our full and in depth previous of this regional title bout can be read here Kobayashi defends against Go in Osaka!
In supporting bouts we'll see a trio of Muto gym prospects taking on Filipino foes. The most notable of the trio is Yusuke Mine (2-0, 1), who takes a huge step up to take on veteran Ardin Diale (35-15-4, 17). This is a brilliant bit of match making from the Muto team, who know that Diale is on the slide, but still very live and has been in there with a who's who of the lower weights. A risky match up for their star prospect, but a win here will instantly launch him into the mix for regional titles. High risk and high reward for Mine here.
Another stellar prospect is Tulio Kuwabata (3-0, 2), who will be fighting as Deka-narudo Torio, who takes on hard hitting Pinoy Ken Jordan (8-1-2, 7). The 23 year old Kuwabata is tipped very highly by those in Japan and has been matched aggressively so far, with this being a pretty logical looking step. Jordan is unbeaten in over 2 years and recently claimed an ABF title, back in August. This is a bout between two youngsters each coming to win, and it should give us some very competitive action over 8 rounds.
The third prospect of note is Ryosuke Nishida (1-0, 1), who made his debut in Thailand back in October. Unlike his fellow hopefuls he won't be in an 8 rounder, but instead he'll be scheduled for 6 rounds against the tough Pablito Canada (7-17-4, 1), and will likely be taken the distance by Canada who has only been stopped twice in his 28 bout career.
A second Osaka, card, this time from the EDION Arena, will also be worthy of some attention.
The main event here is a Japanese Super Flyweight title eliminator, the final of the eliminators to take place this year, and will see former world title challenger Hiroyuki Kudaka (26-18-3, 11) clash with Yuta Matsuo (15-4-1, 8) for the chance to fight Kenta Nakagawa in the new year. At 34 years old a loss will likely send Kudaka into retirement, ending an incredibly interesting and often exciting career, so we expect to see him being fired up for this. Matsuo is no world beater, but he is better than his record suggests and is hoping to secure a second Japanese Super Flyweight title fight, following a loss to Takayuki Okumoto earlier this year. Our in depth preview of this eliminator is available to read here Kudaka and Matsuo to clash in final Japanese eliminator of 2019!
In an 8 round supporting bout Kenta Nomura (6-3, 3) will battle Ryo Suwa (11-2, 2), in a very interesting looking contest. Nomura is looking to bounce back from an August loss to Toshiki Shimomachi, in a Japanese Youth title fight, and although he's nothing special he does tend to make for good fights. Suwa on the other hand has won 4 of his last 5 and will see this as a chance to take a huge step towards a potential youth title fight of his own.
This show will also feature the debut of former amateur standout Kantaro Juri (0-0), who fought in the Asian and World Youth Championships back in 2014, who will be in a 6 rounder at a contracted 53KG's. Sadly his opponent here hasn't been confirmed, though we have been told it will be an Indonesian opponent.
As well as the Japanese action there is also a low level Indian card in Golaghat.
This card will be headlined by Sagar Narwat (9-1-1, 3) taking on Shiva (9-3, 3) in an 8 round bout. For Narwat this is a chance to get back to winning ways following October's loss to Troy O'Meley in Australia. As for Shiva he's now wheeled off 3 straight wins after he suffered a trio of losses on the road in 2017. Sadly this bout aside the card isn't really worth getting too excited about.
Strangely Thailand plays host to two highly regarded Japanese prospects, as they look to make a mark early in their careers.
One of those is the 23 year old Yusuke Mine (1-0), who looks to build on his July debut win over Jessel Guardario. Sadly, given Mine's debut came against a decent opponent, this bout looks to be little more than a tick over as he takes on Thai local Kamon Singram (0-28). On one hand it feels like a waste of a bout for Mine, who has the ability to be fast tracked into the Japanese rankings, however we understand that his team are wanting to keep him busy and are looking to get him some experience of fighting outside of his homeland.
The other Japanese fighter on this card is the debuting Ryosuke Nishida (0-0), who took part in his B license test in September. The talented Nishida is tipped as a major one to watch from those at the Mutoh gym and apparently they struggled to get him a suitable domestic opponent, hence him travelling for this bout. Sadly, though as with Mine, he's facing a very limited opponent in the form of Sakol Ketkul (0-5-1), who has been stopped in his last 3 bouts.
Camarines Norte, Philippines
As well as the Thai card there is also a low profile one in the Philippines, and this really is no better than the Thai card.
One of the bouts here will see the limited Jerome Clavite (8-4-2, 4) take on Pit Anacaya (9-28-2, 2). Given that Anacaya has lost his last 4, and last scored a win in November 2014, it would seems obvious he is there to pad Clavite's record, but Clavite himself has been out of the ring for over 2 years.
In another match up the 21 year old Remon Basas (4-4, 3), who lost 3 of his last 4, will be taking on Jerry Mae Villagracia (6-8, 2). Whilst Basas hasn't had great form it is better than that of Villagracia, who has been stopped in his last 7.
The main focus this coming Friday is in Osaka, at EDION Arena, where we see the debut of a very touted youngster and the next bout in the career of a second generation hopeful who is quickly proving he is more than just his father's son.
The second generation fighter is Juiki Tatsuyoshi (11-0, 8), the son of the legendary Joichiro Tatsuyoshi. The unbeaten Tatsuyoshi has shown real improvement in recent bouts and was expecting to take another step forward here, but due to issues securing a suitable opponent he will instead be up against Takuya Fujioka (9-9-1, 1). With heavy hands, improving skills and developing his experience Tatsuyoshi is likely to find himself in the domestic title picture in 2020 or 2021, and a win here is seen as a given. Fujioka poses little threat to Tatsuyoshi, but is seen as a tough and durable foe, and has only been stopped once in his 19 bouts, with that stoppage coming to the excellent Kazuki Nakajima. With that in mind we expect Tatsuyoshi to get some good rounds here.
The other bout of note on this show is the debut of former amateur stand out Yusuke Mine (0-0),who looks to make a mark as he takes on Filipino visitor Jesel Guardario (8-3-1, 4). The talented Mine is regarded as a top talent and is turning professional at the age old 23, rather than try to make his way to the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. The Osakan is regarded as the brightest hope at the Mutoh gym since Nobuo Nashiro and will be desperate to leave a great impression. As for the visitor he will be returning to Japan after a loss last year to Ryo Suwa, and will be seeking his first win outside of his homeland.
As well as the card in Osaka there will also be a low key one in Tokyo. This card is a lot less interesting, but should still have some thrills and spills.
The main event of the card will see Hirohisa Ichikawa (7-6-2, 2) take on JBC ranked Minimumweight Hizuki Saso (10-6-1, 3) in an 8 round bout. On paper this looks like a mismatch but it's actually the third time the two men have met, following a draw and a win for Ichikawa. Given how close their previous bouts have been this should be another hotly contested bout. It's worth noting that Saso has gone 4-1 in his last 5, including good wins against Jeffrey Galero and Desierto Nagaike, but was stopped last time out by talented youngster Rikito Shiba
The chief support bout will see OPBF ranked fighter Daishi Nagata (12-2-1, 5) take on Korean visitor Yong Hwan Jun (5-4-1, 2). Despite losing in 2 of his last 6 Nagata has shown he belongs in the title mix, and a rematch with Rikki Naito is likely going to be his target for later in the year. The Korean visitor won the national Welterweight title back in February, and comes into this bout with some momentum, but a win here would clearly be the biggest of his career so far.
In the US we'll see talented Filipino hopeful Mike Plania (20-1, 11) take on the limited Matias Agustin Arriagada (6-5, 3), of Argentina. The 22 year old is looking to extend a 5 fight winning streak, a streak that has been build since his loss to Juan Carlos Payano in 2018, and a win here could see more doors open Stateside for him. As for Arriagada he is there to play the foil for Plania, and he's lost his last 4, though did go the distance with the much touted Otha Jones III last time out. This should be an easy win for Plania, who has a very bright future.