The most notable card this coming Sunday comes from Kobe where we get a world title fight, a Japanese title fight, a once beaten hopeful and an unbeaten prospect.
The world title bout will see the once beaten Reiya Konishi (17-1, 7) challenge huge punching IBF Light Flyweight champion Felix Alvarado (34-2, 30), in what looks like a really tough test for the Japanese hopeful. Konishi is a former Japanese Minimumweight champion who is best known for losing a competitive bout to Carlos Canizales last year, in a really good but now forgotten bout, and this will be his second shot at a world title. Alvarado on the other hand is looking to make his first defense of a title he won last year, when he battered Randy Petalcorin into submission. Alvarado is one of the true danger men at 108lbs and we suspect he will be too powerful for Konishi, though few can question Konishi's heart and desire, which could make this very, very fan friendly. A full preview of this bout can be read here Konishi challenges heavy handed champion Alvarado!
The second title fight on this card will see Japanese Light Flyweight champion Kenichi Horikawa (39-15-1, 13) make his first defense, as he goes up against Masashi Tada (13-5-3, 8). Horikawa is a true veteran of the Japanese scene, and is enjoying his second reign at the age of 39. Although an old man Horikawa has great energy and desire and is riding an excellent 7 fight winning run into this bout, having gone unbeaten since a 2017 loss to Tetsuya Hisada. As for Tada this will be his second Japanese title fight, following a loss in 2014 to Go Odaira in a bout for the Japanese Minimumweight title. The loss to Odaira saw Tada take a lengthy break from the ring before returning in 2017 and going 0-1-2 in his first 3 bouts, though he has now scored back to back wins to get this shot at Horikawa. At 29 Tada has youth on his side, but this is a massive step up for him. Our preview of this bout is available here Veteran Horikawa battles Tada!
Also on this card are Ryo Suwa (10-1, 1) and Tetsuro Ohashi (6-0-1, 1), neither of whom have had their opponents named at the time of writing. Suwa has scored 3 straight wins since losing in 2017 to Ikuro Sadatsune, and is a very talented fighter, even if he lacks power. Ohashi, also a feather fisted fighter, impressed last year when he won the Rookie of the Year and we're really excited to see where the 20 year old Super Flyweight can go following that success.
A second Japanese card comes from Shizuoka, where we get the next Suruga Boys card. Although a much smaller card than the Kobe one, it is an interesting one with several good looking match ups, and the next appearance of a very promising young prospect.
The main event will see former Japanese title challenger Satoru Sugita (14-6-1, 9) take on the heavy handed but limited Daiki Ichikawa (11-5, 9). Coming in to this Sugita has gone 4-4, alternating wins and losses in his last 8, and using that record he should be on track to pick up a win here. Ichikawa has lost 3 of his last 5 and whilst he's not the most skilled fight he does have heavy hands, and if he lands cleanly on the crafty Sugita he could pick up a shock stoppage.
The chief support bout will see Japanese ranked Super Bantamweights clashing, with Yuta Horiike (15-6-3, 3) taking on Gakuya Furuhashi (24-8-1, 13). Of the two men it's Furuhashi who is better known, thanks to 2 domestic title fights, but the 31 year old from Kanagawa has had a very tough career and is stepping up after 6 relatively straight forward wins. At 34 Horiike is the older man, and whilst he hasn't got the in-ring miles that Furuhashi has he isn't as technically good as his foe. The loser of this really will have no where to go.
Arguably the best bout on this card is actually a huge step up for a touted prospect. That prospect is Tsubasa Murachi (3-0, 3), who leaps up in class to take on Filipino Raymond Tabugon (21-9-1, 11) in a mouth watering clash. Although little known outside of Japan Murachi is a fantastic talent who had real questions to answer last time out, against Chinese fighter Sheng Peng, and we're expecting him to need to answer more questions here. Tabugon is a 28 year old who has lost 2 of his last 3, but has mixed with a who's who, including Luis Nery, Juan Francisco Estrada, Andrew Moloney and has previously scored upsets in the past, including wins over Lito Dante and Jake Bornea. This could be a very, very tough test for Murachi.
This coming Sunday sees a number of shows taking place in Asia, though the reality is that much of the focus is on just one of those shows, as Watanabe gym put on world title double header. Despite that there is notable names on a second Japanese card and title action from Korea.
The obvious starting point for a look into the fights for the day begins with that Watanabe card, which will feature a trio of title bouts, including two at world level.
The most notable of the world title fights sees WBA “super”, IBF and Ring magazine Light Flyweight champion Ryoichi Taguchi (27-2-2, 12) defending his titles against talented South African challenger Hekkie Budler (31-3, 10). The defending champion has a really strong claim to being the best Light Flyweight on the planet, with notable wins against the likes of Alberto Rossel, Ryo Miyazaki and Milan Melindo, though will know that this will not be an easy assignment against a former WBA Minimumweight champion. At his best Taguchi is a nightmare to fight, he's tough, has great stamina, freakish size and fantastic work rate. Sadly however he is inconsistent and can look like his mind is else where. If Taguchi is anything but his best he could be very easily beaten by the “Hexecutioner”, who had a notable title reign at 105lbs and can be a genuinely awkward fighter with his speed, determinedness and high out put. Whilst Taguchi should be favoured, this is far from a foregone conclusion and should be a very enthralling 12 round war.
Whilst we're expecting the Taguchi Vs Melindo bout to go the distance the same cannot be said of the other title bout, which pits hard hitting IBF Minimumweight champion Hiroto Kyoguchi (9-0, 7) against big hitting Filipino Vince Paras (13-0, 11). This bout looks less likely to be a long drawn out war of attrition and more of a shoot out, with both men believing in their power and aggression. From the footage available it does seem like Kyoguchi has got more weapons in his arsenal, and he has showed them against a higher level of competition. Although Kyoguchi will be favoured Paras can bang and looks like a dangerous fighter, so the champion will not want to take too many risks here. Given how the two men fight this has the potential to be something very special, but also potentially very short.
The third title bout will see WBOA Asia Pacific Lightweight champion Nihito Arakawa (31-6-1, 18) defending his title against Rimar Metuda (12-3, 7). It's been known that Arakawa is chasing another world title fight, and we suspect Metuda has been hand selected as an opponent to make Arakawa look good against. Metuda is tough and can bang, but with 3 losses in his last 5 he certainly come into this as the under-dog, and as the man taking a huge step up in class.
A second, much over-shadowed, Japanese card comes from Shizuoka
The main event of the card will see the fantastically promising Kento Hatanaka (5-0, 5) take on a Thai visitor over the 8 round distance in a Super Flyweight bout. The 19 year old Japanese youngster, who is already ranked by the JBC, shined last time out when he stopped Kenta Matsui and is expected to continue his rise here as he looks to move towards a title fight of some kind. Sadly little is known about the visiting Thai.
The heavy handed but some what fragile Daiki Ichikawa (10-4, 8) will be up against Indonesian Agus Kustiawan (18-7-2, 8) in the shows chief support bout. On paper this doesn't look amazing but it could prove to be a pretty interesting bout. Ichikawa has lost 2 of his last 3, and needs a win if he's to keep his once promising career alive. The visitor has never won outside of Indonesia, but could see this as a great chance to pick up a win on the road.
In a third bout of some note fans will see Yuta Horiike (13-6-3, 3) take on upset minded Filipino veteran Edison Berwela (16-37-8, 5), who looks to build on his big January win over touted Thai teenager Saenganan Sithsaithong. On paper this looks a bit like a mismatch but Berwela has shown a tendency to score the occasional shock win, beating Saenganan as well as Jetro Pabustan and Robert Udtohan, and could see this as a chance to take another unexpected scalp. Horiike will be favoured but can't make the same mistakes as others when it's come to facing Berwela.
Seoul, South Korea
In Korea fans will get a small but notable Boxing M card, headlined by a title fight and featuring a number of Rookie bouts.
The title bout will see Gi Won Shin (3-1-2) and Shin Yong Kim (3-3-1, 2) face off for the vacant Boxing M Korean Welterweight title. On paper this probably shouldn't be a title fight, given that neither has a solid record and neither has won any of their last 3 bouts, but the contest should be competitive and both will be very hungry to pick up the win.
Among the most interesting of the rookie bouts is a clash between Super Featherweights Dong Kwan Lee (5-1-2, 1) and Ro Joon Suh (5-0, 2), in what could be the bout of the show. Another bout that stands out is a Heavyweight clash between Korean based American Aaron Singleton (3-0, 1) and Sung Min Lee (3-1, 2). A third Rookie bout worthy of some attention will see Mu Soon Kwon (1-0) face off with Korean based Mongolian hopeful Batzorig Batjargal (2-0, 1) in a bout at Welterweight. All 3 of these bouts will be fought over the 6 round schedule.
The main show for us this coming Saturday is a televised card from the Korakuen Hall, which will be covered live by G+.
The main event of the card will see talented Super Featherweight contender Masayuki Ito (21-1-1, 10) take on Filipino foe Glenn Enterina (11-2-1, 8) in what is expected to be one of Ito's final bouts before a potential world title clash. The talented Japanese fighter, who unified the WBO Asia Pacific and OPBF titles at the end of 2016 is regarded as top 15 fighter by 3 of the alphabet organisations and will be seeking a title fight sooner rather than later. In his way will be the big punching Enterina, who will be seeking his first win outside of the Philippines, but will be regarded as a huge under-dog against the highly schooled Japanese hopeful.
Arguably the best bout on this card will see the touted Sho Nakazawa (10-1, 4) take on Ryo Hino (10-1-1, 6) in a very even looking match up on paper. Nakazawa was once seen as a top prospect in Japan but a loss last year to Teiru Atsumi put the breaks on that and two subsequent wins have scarcely excited the fans who seem to know that he is talented, but isn't quite as exciting as they had first hoped. As for Hino he's a bit of an unknown, though he did give Reiya Abe a tough bout a couple of years ago and has stopped his last 4. This could be skills against power, and should be the best bout on the card.
Another competitive looking contest will see the Japanese ranked Yuta Horiike (12-5-3, 3) take on Kyosuke Sawada (7-2-1, 4) in what should be a good supporting contest, just like the bout between Yosuke Fujihara (16-5, 4) and Keita Nakano (14-11-6, 4), which is likely to be much better than it looks on paper. Both of these bouts will be over 8 rounds and could be very interesting contests for fans watching at the venue and on TV.
In Osaka we'll see the unbeaten Takuya Uehara (12-0, 7) look to extend his unbeaten record as he takes on a Thai visitor in an 8 rounder. Uehara, the WBC Youth Featherweight champion, will not be risking his belt here but shouldn't have any problems beating the Thai, who we have been informed is naturally smaller and is typically fighting as a Super Bantamweight.
Ansan, South Korea
There will also be a show in Ansan, South Korea, with this show being part of the rising Boxing M series of shows. The theme of the show is that it's the last 8 of a Korean Lightweight tournament, however those bouts are joined by an interesting 6 rounder between Jae Woo Lee (4-2, 4) and Young Hwan Jun (3-3-1, 1), who we believe will be fighting for the right to challenge for a Korean title.