World Title Fight and Crossroads Lightweight Clash Set to Headline GGG v Murata Undercard


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The WBO World Flyweight title is on the line in an all Japanese clash as well as a Lightweight prospect involved in a step up against a former world champion at the Super Arena in Saitama. 

Gennadiy Golovkin and Ryota Murata are set for a ground-breaking Middleweight title unification in DAZN’s first show in Japan, courtesy of Akihiko Honda of Teiken Promotions. The fight could set up a historic trilogy with Canelo Alvarez, but the Japanese faithful will be hoping for a major upset for 2012 Olympic Gold medalist Murata.

Here is a look at how the undercard is shaping up for Saturday’s card, set to kick off at 10:10 am BST –

Hiroka Amaki (0-0-0) v Taiga Kato (0-0-0) – 4 rounds in the Welterweight Division:

A clash of debutants will open the card up, with two Japanese fighters going head-to-head in the Welterweight division. 147lbs is a thin division domestically, but as things stand is one of the most competitive and deep divisions in boxing at world level. Japan have five fighters ranked within the top 100, but none inside the top 20.

These two debutants will be looking to use this big stage to make a statement and kick their career off the right way, with hopes of one day getting to the very top level themselves.

Kazuki Anaguchi (1-0-0) v Ryuji Yamamoto (6-1-0) – 6 Rounds at Super-Bantamweight:

The 21-year-old Japanese Super-Bantamweight prospect Anaguchi looks to improve to 2-0 as he takes a step up against a fighter with six wins to just one defeat to his name.

An impressive southpaw, the young fighter made his debut back in July 2021, overpowering Atsushi Takada (6-1-3 at time of fight) with a 3rd Round stoppage. To comprehensively beat such a solid fighter in your opening bout is impressive enough, but to then take a step up against a fighter with just one blemish on their record is another matter.

Yamamoto turned professional at the ripe old age of 17, amassing five victories before picking up his one and only defeat at the end of 2017 with a majority decision loss to Hiroki Takayama. Following this, Yamamoto took four years away from the sport, returning as a 22-year-old with a knockout win over Takahiro Murai in 2021. Now 23, he will look to cause the upset against the young prospect. There will also be a clash of styles in this fight, with Ryuji Yamamoto fighting out of the Orthodox stance.

A win for Anaguchi would be a big feather in his cap early on in his career, to beat a fighter of Yamamoto’s record in only his second bout. For Yamamoto though, it will be about making a statement that he is back, and back for good by knocking off a prospect on a huge card.

Junto Nakatani (22-0-0) v Ryota Yamauchi (8-1-0) – WBO Men’s World Flyweight Championship Fight (12 Rounds):

A big step up in class now, as a world title is set to be contested on the undercard. WBO World Champion Junto Nakatani is set to defend his Flyweight crown against fellow Japanese fighter, Ryota Yamauchi.

Nakatani will be making his second defence of his title in this bout, with the 24-year-old powerhouse looking to make an impact on the world stage again after making his US debut on the Oscar Valdez v Robson Conceicao card. In that bout, he would knock out Puerto Rican fighter Angel Acosta in four rounds, a feat that took one Elwin Soto 12 rounds to do.

Now, Nakatani returns to the ‘Land of the Rising Sun’ for a domestic dust-up with world honours on the line. But what about his opponent?

Well, Yamauchi is far more of an unknown entity, with a weaker resume with only nine fights to his name and he already has a blemish on that record after his 2019 unanimous decision loss to Wulan Tuolehazi.

Since then, Yamauchi has picked up three wins on the Japanese domestic scene and looks to seize the opportunity of a lifetime against one of the most highly regarded fighters in the world.

On paper, this could be a mismatch, but perhaps surprising for such a lightweight class, both fighters pack some bite behind their punch, with only six of the 30 wins between them coming via a decision. As such, this will likely be a firefight between two punchers looking to go toe to toe with one and other, with Nakatani looking to try and use his youth and experience whilst Yamauchi will be gunning for a remarkable upset.

Should Nakatani be victorious, it would open the door for potential unifications against Sunny Edwards or Julio Cesar Martinez in the future, with potential bouts against McWilliams Arroyo and Moruti Mthalane also available. For Yamauchi, capturing the world title would be a career highlight, and would unquestionably put him in a position for more big fights, and subsequently more paydays as well.

Shuichiro Yoshino (14-0-0) v Masayuki Ito (27-3-1) – WBO Asia-Pacific & OPBF Lightweight Championship Fight (12 Rounds):

Despite the World Flyweight title being up for grabs in the previous bout, it will be this continental Lightweight title bout that takes its place as the co-main event for the Golovkin v Murata card. Undefeated Japanese Lightweight champion Shuichiro Yoshino defends his WBO Asia-Pacific and OPBF titles as he takes on former World Super-Featherweight Champion Masayuki Ito.

Yoshino has perennially conquered the Japanese domestic lightweight scene, capturing the title in his sixth professional fight back in 2017. The 30-year-old has now defended his Japanese title on seven occasions, and in 2019 captured the Asia-Pacific and OPBF straps to add to his already illustrious collection. Now, Yoshino has the opportunity to defend his two continental titles on the grand stage of the co-main event of a Gennadiy Golovkin world title fight.

His opponent, Masayuki Ito is the fighter who is looking to take it all away from him, as the former WBO World Super-Featherweight Champion looks to continue his odyssey to conquer the ever-talented 135lb division to make him a two-weight world champion. However, it has not been smooth sailing so far for the 31-year-old.

Ito achieved a lifelong dream in 2018, defeating Christopher Diaz for the then-vacant WBO World Super Featherweight Championship. After defending against undefeated Russian Evgeny Chupkarov, Ito would come up against Jamel Herring. After citing struggles of making weight, Ito would ultimately lose his title to Herring on a unanimous decision, with a wide scorecard.

This would ultimately prompt the Japanese fighter to move up to Lightweight, a decision that certainly seemed to make sense at the time. However, after making a successful lightweight debut, he would go on to lose his second bout at the weight with a narrow majority decision loss to the undefeated Hironori Mishoro.

Ultimately, in a highly competitive division, this made an already difficult route to world level even tougher, with serious quality in depth ranked above Ito. But, after a comeback win against Valentine Hosokawa, Ito is willing to cut his teeth at continental level as an away corner fighter, looking to pick up the titles and take the 0 off of his undefeated opponent.

Yoshino brings a high knockout percentage of just under 80% to the dance, but, at least in theory, has not come up against an opponent of Ito’s calibre before. One point that is factual is that Yoshino has never come up against a former world champion of any weight class in his career, so this will likely prove his toughest assignment to date. Meanwhile, Masayuki Ito may have a lower knockout percentage at a little under 50%, but he has boxed at a higher level before, of course winning a world title as well as going 12 rounds with Jamel Herring, albeit in a losing effort.

Whilst similar in age differentials, these two fighters have experienced very different careers, but now face a crossroads bout in their ploy to breach the top level in the 135lb division.

In theory, a loss may only be a setback for Yoshino, as it would be his first loss and it would come against a very credible fighter. That could well make him a very dangerous opponent, as he has the potential to come again, perhaps unlike Ito.

As aforementioned, Ito suffered two defeats on his Super-Featherweight journey, before experiencing a third loss in just his second fight at the weight class. As such, another loss would be hugely detrimental to Ito’s career and would make the dream of becoming a two-weight world champion seem like a distant possibility.

However, with Ryan Garcia making his comeback on the same platform on the same day, there is plenty of incentive for Ito to put on a good performance if he is to set up such a fight.

Undercards are often heavily criticised, but with a mix of prospects, a crossroads fight and even a world title clash, there is plenty to look forward to from 10:30 am BST on Saturday 9th April, all of course in the build-up to the momentous Middleweight title unification between Gennadiy Golovkin and Ryoto Murata.

Can any of these fighters break out from the undercard and make a name for themselves? Or can one of these fights possibly even steal the show?

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