This past week hasn’t been news heavy from Asia but there has been a few announcements worth of note.
The biggest announcement of the last week was a big one in a way, but an expected one with Ioka gym officially confirming the previously reported WBA Flyweight title bout between Kazuto Ioka (21-1, 13) and Thai challenger Noknoi Sitthiprasert (62-4, 38). The bout, which had been essentially confirmed by the Thai’s team in February, is set for April 23rd and will take place at the EDION Arena Osaka as part of a double header. The other part of that double header will be a WBO Bantamweight title fight between defending champion Marlon Tapales (29-2, 12) and Japan’s once beaten Shohei Omori (18-1, 13), who’s only loss was to Tapales in 2015..
Misako Gym announced that their next major show will take place on April 13th as part of the “Diamond Glove” serious of shows, meaning that it will feature on television with Fuji TV airing footage from the card. The main event of the show is a brilliant WBO Asia Pacific Super Featherweight title fight, which will see Masayuki Ito (20-1-1, 9) defending the title against big punching Filipino Lorenzo Villanueva (32-2-1, 28).
Other bouts for that April 13th card include on the card will be Keita Obara (15-2-1, 14) up against Indonesian Larri Siwu (24-7, 20), Kentaro Masuda (26-7, 14) against Romel Oliveros (8-3-1, 3), the touted Motoki Osanai (1-0) against Takeshi Kaneko (4-0-1) and a fantastic match up between former Japanese and OPBF champion Yoshitaka Kato (30-7-2, 9) and the very highly regarded Shuichiro Yoshino (3-0, 2).
It was also this past week that we saw the Japanese award winners for February announced. The MVP award was won by the newly crowned Japanese Super Bantamweight champion Yusaku Kuga (14-2-1, 10), who blasted away Yasutaka Ishimoto early in the month to become the national champion. The Fighting Spirit award was claimed by the new “interim” Japanese Flyweight champion Masayuki Kuroda (26-7-3, 15), who ended the month with an action packed win over Yuta Matsuo.
Korean sources have reported that WBA Female Super Featherweight champion Hyun Mi Choi (13-0-1, 4) will be back in action on April 15th to defend her title against Japanese challenger Kimika Miyoshi (13-9-1, 5). Choi, a personal favourite of mine, has one of the most remarkable stories of any fighter in the sport today and her story is sure to be featured in a movie in the years to come.
For those unaware Choi, and her family, were born in North Korea before escaping to the South as refugee. She then went on to become a world champion on her debut, winning a WBA world title. She was mismanaged early in her career but eventually righted the ship to become a 2-weight champion and a true example of refugee success in Korea.
Sadly, staying on the subject of Choi a little bit longer, she recently set up a crowd sourcing page seeking money to further fund her career. It seems as if her target is going to be missed, by a long way, but if fans do want to give her page is here – http://www.ohmycompany.com/project/prjView.php?bbs_code=von_project&seq=1176.
Going back to bout announcements Taisei Gym announced their next show, set for May 5th in Sanda, Hyogo. The main event of that card will see former world title challenger collide as Riku Kano (11-2-1, 6) battled Filipino Jerry Tomogdan (22-8-4, 10) for the WBO Asia Pacific Minimumweight title. Both men have come up short at world level but will see a win here as the potential stepping stone to another world world title bout.
Also this week we saw Japanese subscription service Boxingraise.com announce the next 3 shows that they will carry. The first of those will be the upcoming “Dangan Ladies Vol 4”, on March 15th, a few days later they will carry “Big Fight Boxing 49” on March 19th and then they will have “Overheat Boxer’s Night 80” on March 22nd. The first two of those cards will be on tape delay whilst the third will be live.
Although none of the cards scream “must watch” I’ll admit I’m excited about seeing Kenta Nakagawa return to the ring to defend his Japanese title against Ryuichi Funai on the 22nd and it’s also good to see some attention being given to the female fighters on a card that has been set up exclusively for them.
It’s worth noting that the service, which costs ¥980 a month is expected to have more shows from later in the month, and is one of the best value subscription boxing services out there.
(Scott Graveson covers the Asian boxing Scene for www.asianboxing.info)