The second day of the month of November is genuinely one of the most interesting with 4 really notable bouts all taking place on same show, a show dubbed the “Strongest Korakuen Million Yen Fight”. The show is a return to the Strongest Korakuen tournament, which helps to decide the mandatory challengers for various Japanese titles. As well as the eliminator status of the bouts their will be additional bonuses, with a ¥1,000,000 up for grabs for the MVP of the event.
At Flyweight we'll see former world title challenger Masayuki Kuroda (23-6-3, 14) battle against Yusuke Sakashita (13-5-2, 8) for a shot at the domestic Flyweight title next year. Both have been beaten by former champion Suguru Muranaka but should make for an excellent match up together. Both have a lot to prove and both have styles that should make for a lot of action.
At Bantamweight we see former Japanese champion Kentaro Masuda (22-7, 11) battle against the under-rated Hideo Sakamoto (16-1-3, 5). Masuda is the more proven of the two fighters however Sakamoto has long been under-the-radar and could well see this bout as his potential coming out party. Notably Masuda's last bout of note saw him being blown away by Shohei Omori and it's hard to know how much he has left after a long and hard career whilst Sakamoto hasn't had the wars that Masuda has had.
At Lightweight we see the teak tough Nihito Arakawa (25-6-1, 16) battle against recent title challenger Yuya Sugizaki (20-10-1, 6). Of the two men Arakawa is the more well known and the more proven however his recent form has been disappointing with a 2-5 run in his last 7. Saying that however he has been mixing at a higher level to Sugizaki who was last seen being stopped by Kota Tokunaga. A win for Sugizaki would a career best whilst a win for Arakawa is pretty expected here.
The highest weight covered by the Strongest Korakuen show here is Welterweight where punchers collide as Akinori Watanabe (33-4, 28) take on the little known Toshio Arikawa (11-4, 9). Of the two men Watanabe is the more established, having held various titles, but has shown frailties when he's been hit back. Arikawa is scarcely known but with his power he is a danger man and a 3rd round TKO win over Shusaku Fuinaka is clear proof of that. We really don't expect to see this one go the distance and it really could be a very explosive and short lived encounter.
It's fair to say April has been a really interest month and it ends in an interesting fashion as well with a trio of Japanese title bouts as well as a compelling contest for a Filipino hopefully. A really good way to end the month and a brilliant way to move towards a potentially mind blowing May.
One of the really exciting shows this month for Japanese fans comes on the final day of April as the fans get a brilliant Japanese title triple header with an under-card that also delivers.
The main event, and for many international fans the real bout of interest, comes at Heavyweight as Japanese champion Kyotaro Fujimoto (11-1, 6) defends his title against the well known Nobuhiro Ishida (27-10-2, 11) in a very interesting rematch. Ishida seems to have the support of many western fans going into this bout who remember his shock win over the then unbeaten James Kirkland. Notably however Fuimoto did win the first meeting between the two men and seems to be taking this bout very seriously after perhaps over-looking Ishida the first time around. It's not often we'll say this about a Japanese bout at Heavyweight but this is a really good match up and one that should really be a bit special.
In another title bout fans will see Japanese Super Bantamweight champion Yukinori Oguni (14-1, 4) defending his belt for the first time as he takes on Gakuya Furuhashi (17-5, 7). Oguni, who is world ranked coming into this bout, won the title late last year when he narrowly over-came Yasutaka Ishimoto though will have to perform incredibly highly to over-come Furuhashi who has waited almost a year to get a shot at a world title following a bout with Hidenori Otake falling through last year, This could be a thoroughly engaging contest from start to end.
The third title bout will see two men looking to score a break out win, with neither being a name of note so far. This bout will see Kota Tokunaga (14-2, 9) battle against Yuya Sugizaki (20-9-1, 6) for the Japanese Lightweight title and it's fair to say that the champion will have an interesting list of possible challengers later in the year. This isn't a bout that sets out pulses racing but it could prove to be a very good contest between two men who both know that a win could be career changing.
The under-card, which only features a couple of bouts, is also mouth watering.
One of the under-card contests will see former Japanese Flyweight title challenger Yusuke Sakashita (12-5-2, 7) battle against Yasuhiro Sakurai (7-18). On paper this is a mismatch however Sakashita is coming into the bout following a 1-punch KO defeat to the then Japanese Flyweight champion Suguru Muranaka and that could well have shot the confidence and self belief out of Sakashita.
The other bout will see former Japanese Featherweight title challenger Yuki Ogata (20-1-1, 3) battle against Kentaro Yamada (8-5-1, 6). Again on paper this is a mismatch but Ogata only narrowly over-came Yamada when the two men met last September, with Ogata claiming a razor thin split decision. Yamada has to believe he can beat his more experienced foe, and will know that if he does he'll earn himself a Japanese ranking. Another brilliant match up on a genuinely fantastic card.
In the US fans will get the chance to see exciting Filipino southpaw Mercito Gesta (28-1-1, 16) in action against Carlos Molina (17-2-1, 7). Several years ago Gesta was one of the most hyped Filipino prospects though a 2012 loss to Miguel Vazquez seemed to show up a lot of his flaws. Since then he has worked hard on his issues improved notably. Those improvements should be on show against Molina, a talented fringe contender who managed to give Adrien Broner an unexpectedly competitive contest last year. This bout will push the winner towards a really good bout later in the year whilst the loser will be left with a lot of rebuilding to do.
(Image courtesy of http://www.kadoebi.com)