Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
Action returns to Korakuen Hall this coming Friday for an interesting card from the MT Promotions, the gym that is behind the rise of current world champion Junto Nakatani.
The main event of the show will be a Japanese Minimumweight title eliminator as the hard hitting Kai Ishizawa (8-1, 7) takes on the much more experienced Naoya Haruguchi (18-11, 7), with the winner set to fight for the national title next year. Of the two men it's the 24 year old Ishizawa who is more highly regarded and more exciting, with his heavy handed pressure style being a fun one to watch, and he is someone who has long been tipped as one to watch on the Japanese scene. Sadly however he was underwhelming last time out, taking a decision over Yuni Takada, and there are question marks over what happens when his power doesn't hurt fighters. Haruguchi on the other hand is a 32 year old veteran who has proven to be tough, and is a much better fighter than his record suggests. On paper Haruguchi looks like a push over but his only stoppage loss was back in 2013, and since then he has faced a who's who including Reiya Konishi, Riku Kano, Tatsuya Fukuhara, Lito Dante, Norihito Tanaka and Shin Tomita. He's skilled, he's too, he's a big guy at 105lbs and he is a potential banana skin for Ishizawa. This might not look like a competitive match up, but it is a legitimate test for the exciting youngster.
A second really interesting bout on this card will be an 8 rounder between two talented professional novices, but two men who put winning ahead of entertaining. The bout in question will see Shigetoshi Kotari (2-1, 1) take on Jun Ikegawa (2-0). The talented Kotari made his debut in 2019, but has had a very stop start career, taking a year between his first two bouts and 7 months between his second and third bout. Kotari is a real technically smart fighter, but comes in on the back of a controversial loss in May to Junya Shimada, and we do wonder if he can bounce back from that disappointment. Ikegawa on the other hand debuted earlier this year, and will be looking for his 3rd bout in under 9 months. Ikegawa looks like a talent, but like Kotari he is a technical but boring fighter, and we do wonder if he has that extra gear to move into when he needs to. For fans expecting a war, this isn't going to fill their lust for blood, but it should be a bout a very interesting technical chess match.