Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
This coming Tuesday fight fans at Korakuen Hall get an interesting card, with two solid title bouts and two interesting bouts featuring prospects.
The main event of the card will see hard hitting Lightweight champion Shu Utsuki (10-0, 8) take on the highly skilled Izuki Tomioka (7-5-1, 2), in what will be Utsuki's first defense. Utsuki won the title earlier this year, when he stopped Masahiro Suzuki in 9 rounds, and rather than taking on an easy opponent with a style that could make him look amazing he's taking on an awkward, quick boxer who has a style that could well make him look limited. As for Tomioka this is a third shot at a title, and whilst he's come up short in his previous two he has been very competitive, before being stopped, with Shuichiro Yoshino and Masayoshi Nakatani, suggesting he could be a nightmare for Utsuki as well. Our in depth preview of this bout Utsuki seeks first defense of Japanese title as he takes on Tomioka
The other title bout will see OPBF Light Welterweight champion Koichi Aso (25-9-1, 16) defending his belt against fellow veteran Akihiro Kondo (33-10-2, 18), in what could be a genuinely thrilling war. Both of these men are heading towards retirement, both have slowed and are edging towards 40 years old. However their styles, even at an advanced age, should gel with Aso being an aggressive pressure fighter letting shots go and using physicality whilst Kondo is a slower, more intelligent fighter who relied on timing and ring craft. The slowing feet of both men, and their styles should lead to something of an intense and thrilling action bout. Our preview of this bout can be read here OPBF king Aso takes on tough veteran Kondo!
In a notably supporting bout the once touted Go Hosaka (5-1, 3) looks to bounce back from his October loss to Ryo Nakai as he takes on the experienced Kazuma Sanpei (20-7, 9). When he turned professional, in the Philippines, Hosaka was tipped for big things and he looked like one to keep an eye on straight from his 2018 debut. Sadly however the closure of the ALA Gym and the pandemic really slowed his ascent and he hasn't looked good in either of bouts in Japan, a narrow win over Kanta Fukui and the loss to Sakai. As for Sanpei he's got a good looking record, but has lost his most notable bouts and is 1-2 in his last 3 with his last notable win coming back in 2019. He needs a win to remain genuinely relevant, but it's fair to say that he's been selected as the opponent here to give Hosaka's career the boost it needs. A loss for Hosaka really would be the destroy the expectation for him as a prospect.
Another supporting bout will see former Japanese amateur sensation Ryusei Baba (1-0) fight in his second professional bout, as he takes on the hard hitting Shugo Namura (5-1, 5). Baba, who really was a stand out amateur winning an All Japan crown and competing internationally, is expected to be moved quickly through the ranks with big bouts expected sooner rather than later. As for Namura, the hard hitting 27 year old has scored all 5 of his wins in the first 2 rounds, but has come up short against his only notable opponent, with Akira Hoshuyama beating him in the the East Japan Rookie of the Year final in 2020. If Baba can see out the opening two rounds, he should get the chance to shine here and take a controlled victory to move his career forward.