We’ve only got one week boxing left in 2016, and only one fight of note this weekend. So let’s gather up one large stone, and pelt a couple birds with it, crushing them brutally beneath it with one monumental feather-and-blood-spurting boulder.
- Naoya Inoue vs Kohei Kono, next Friday, Tokyo. The Japanese really do love packing up the end of the year with big fights, and the first main event on the schedule is the best. Naoya Inoue literally hasn’t faced a contender since his 2014 Fighter of the Year-style campaign, but Kohei Kono definitely counts. Kono is a veteran of the junior bantamweight ranks, prone to losing to one contender then beating another. Last year, he beat Koki Kameda; this year, he lost to Luis Concepcion. He’s a volume fighter to Inoue’s boxer-puncher. Most importantly, Inoue is a phenom, and he should beat Kono, perhaps handily. On the undercard, a rebounding Akira Yaegashi continues his campaign at 108 pounds, facing a Thai fighter who mainly has beaten folk with losing records. Middleweight Ryoto Murata keeps stepping up in advance of making a big run in 2017.
- Moises Fuentes vs Kosei Tanaka, next Saturday, beIN Sports Espanol, Gifu Japan. There are some parallels in this New Year’s Eve bout and the one just above. Kosei Tanaka is just 20 years old, but hasn’t looked as splendid a phenom as Inoue with some rough outings of late. A move up from strawweight seems like it might have helped, but he did struggle for stretches in his last bout. Moises Fuentes is a “win against one contender, lose to another”-style vet. This is a pretty evenly-matched affair.
- Kazuto Ioka vs Stamp Kiatniwat, next Saturday, Kyoto Japan. It’s not listed as the main event but it’s the better fight. Kazuto Ioka was doing that (stop me if you’ve heard this before) Japanese phenom thing before running into the always-tricky Amnat Ruenroeng two years ago. He’s more than righted the ship with two wins over Juan Carlos Reveco, however narrowly the first time before a big stoppage the second time. This scribe hasn’t had much of a look at Stamp Kiatniwat, but some Transnational Boxing Rankings Board members think he belongs in the top 10 at flyweight. Also on the card, junior featherweight contender Jonathan Guzman takes on Yukinori Oguni in a potentially dangerous fight.
- Jezreel Corrales vs Takashi Uchiyama II, next Saturday, Tokyo. Takashi Uchiyama tries to avenge the shocking 2nd round knockout upset handed to him by Jezreel Corrales. This scribe, a longtime skeptic of Uchiyama, didn’t see it coming the first time but has long complained of Uchiyama’s pillow-soft schedule since 2012, so an upset was probably gonna happen sometime. Let’s see if Corrales can repeat the feat or Uchiyama is ready to compete for the first time in years. On the undercard, the world’s best junior flyweight, Ryoichi Taguchi, takes on a little-known South American puncher.
- The Rest. This Friday, light heavyweight Artur Beterbiev keeps spinning his wheels, this time against Isidro Prieto, as he awaits a bigger fight that doesn’t seem to be happening.