A boxing weekend of top class action is set to hit fever pitch in Japan, with a total of 6 world title fights across three shows.
The most notable being Ryota Murata’s first shot at world honours. The Middleweight looks to win the WBA ‘regular’ crown in fight number 13 when he meets the experienced Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam.
The Japanese favourite certainly did better than N’Dam at the Olympics, where Murata struck Gold in 2012 while N’Dam entered as one of the few professional boxers in 2016 only to crash out early.
But N’Dam 35-2(21KO’s) has a wealth of experience at the top level in the pro’s, and will look to expose Murata in the same way that he so nearly did with Peter Quillin and David Lemieux while dominating Curtis Stevens.
N’Dam is a terrific technical boxer, whose footspeed makes him a nightmare for any opponent. But in losses to Quillin and Lemieux, his chin has been his let-down. A total of 12 knockdowns in the two contests has cancelled out his many successes over the 12-round distance with each of them.
Murata 12-0(9KO’s) does not possess the same power as Lemieux, but should manage a knockdown or two on route to his maiden world title victory. Pick Murata UD
Also on the same bill in Tokyo, Ganigan Lopez risks his WBC Light Flyweight title against the fast-rising Ken Shiro 9-0(5KO’s).
Lopez 28-6(17KO’s) already holds a majority decision win in Japan, and at 35 seems to be coming on strong at the back end of his career.
The champion has learnt from defeats to Pedro Guevara and Denver Cuello, and that could be more than enough to find victory on away turf once again.
As with many Japanese fighters, Shiro will be tough to stop, and his own work rate as well as home advantage will make this close. Pick: Lopez SD
In the third world title fight of the night, Daigo Higa 12-0(12KO’s) looks to keep his knockout streak going as he makes a huge step up in class to face WBC Flyweight title holder, Juan Hernandez Navarrete 34-2(25KO’s).
The Mexican blitzed untested Nawaphon Kaikanha in Thailand inside 3 rounds, and with defeat in Japan to Kazuto Ioka long in the memory the feeling is that he can repeat his win last time out against Higa. Pick: Navarrete TKO 6
On the same night in Nagoya, the fans should enjoy far more success as former Minimumweight title holder Kosei Tanaka makes the first defence of his WBO Light Flyweight title.
Tanaka 8-0(5KO’s) won world honours in just his 5th contest, and already holds a significant stoppage win over Moises Fuentes.
The home favourite should have too much for the unbeaten Angel Acosta 16-0(16KO’s), but the hard-hitting Puerto Rican will prove his toughest test to date.
Acosta is the only man to stop Luis Ceja and can floor Tanaka before losing out on points. Pick: Tanaka UD
On Sunday, ‘The Monster’ returns as Naoya Inoue 12-0(10KO’s) looks for another explosive victory in Tokyo.
Ricardo Rodriguez 16-3(5KO’s) has displayed his toughness in two losses to David Carmona, but will not have the power or accuracy to keep the destructive WBO Super Flyweight ruler off him.
Inoue has already captured three belts, while turning back the likes of Omar Narvaez, Adrian Hernandez, Kohei Kono and the aforementioned Carmona. Rodriguez looks set to become another victim inside the distance. Pick: Inoue TKO 5
Yaegashi 25-5(13KO’s) was stopped by Roman Gonzalez and Pedro Guevara in successive bouts, but has rekindled his old form in his mid-thirties.
But former two-time world title challenger, Milan Melindo looks to be the toughest opponent in his most recent reign.
Melindo 35-2(12KO’s) will meet Yaegashi head-on for 12 exhilarating rounds, but the champion will emerge victorious with a contentious points win. Pick: Yaegashi SD
Sit back, relax and enjoy a bumper boxing weekend coming up.