Ota-City General Gymnasium, Tokyo, Japan
To end 2020 boxing gives the latest in the customary big Japanese show on December 31st thanks to Japanese broadcaster TBS. This year isn't one of the massive end of year shows like we have had some years but it's still a very solid show and feature a sensational main event and a potentially thrilling supporting bout, giving us a fun double header to close out the year.
The main event of the show, and the final main bout of 2020, will see WBO Super Flyweight champion Kazuto Ioka (25-2, 14) look to make his second defense as he takes on Kosei Tanaka (15-0, 9). This will be the first time Ioka has faced a Japanese fighter since his historical 2012 win over Akira Yaegashi, to unify the WBA and WBC Minimumweight titles, and it's by far his most interesting challenger in years, possibly going back to his rematch Juan Carlos Reveco. Having won world titles at 4 weights Ioka is one of the big stars in Japan but a loss here would be a hard one to come back from. For Tanaka the bout will see him looking to become a 4-weight world champion in just 16 bouts, and build on his reputation as one of the best young fighters in the sport. Unlike Ioka he has been willing to face Japanese foes and 2 of his last 4 bouts have been against fellow Japanese, including his 2018 war with Sho Kimura. This is the perfect bout to put 2020 behind us and is set to be a genuine treat for fight fans. Our in depth preview of this one can be read here The end of year clash - Kazuto Ioka Vs Kosei Tanaka
The main support bout will see WBO Asia Pacific Bantamweight champion Yuki Strong Kobayashi (16-8, 9) defending his title, for the second time, as he takes on former WBC Flyweight champion Daigo Higa (16-1-1, 16). For Kobayashi this is an amazing opportunity to get some exposure and make his name in front of a larger audience, with this bout being televised in the Kanto region of Japan. His 2019 title win against Ben Mananquil is a very under-rated one and his 2018 barn burner with Keita Kurihara is a sensation 12 round battle. As for Higa he's not yet looked settled since moving to Bantamweight, and he was certainly lucky last time out to only have a draw against his name when he went 10 rounds with Seiya Tsutsumi. This could be a genuinely fascinating match up, and a very fan friendly one. Our preview of this one can be read here WBO Asia Pacific champion Kobayashi takes on Higa as the year comes to an end!
One other bout worth talking about, though is unlikely to be televised even in highlights, will see Yuki Nakajima (4-1, 4) take on Toma Kondo (8-6, 1) in an 8 round bout. The 25 year old Nakajima is looking to score his third straight win since losing in 2018 to Ryu Horikawa and build on his thrilling victory over Shisui Kawabata. The youngster, who's older brother Kazuki Nakajima is regarded as a top prospect at the Ohashi Gym, has looked impressive but is, on paper, taking a step up in class here. Kondo on the other hand is coming into this with just 1 win in his last 5, though does tend to lost hotly contested bouts and could prove to be a very good test for Nakajima after a frustrating year.