Earlier today we saw the official announcement of the 2015 "Strongest Korakuen" bouts with 4 contests being announced, all of which will take place on November with the winners guaranteed to get a Japanese title fight in early 2016.
The bouts have been set for the Flyweight, Bantamweight, Lightweight and Welterweight divisions and feature 4 former Japanese champions all facing men looking to get a chance to return to the top.
In the Flyweight bout we'll see former Japanese Light Flyweight champion Masayuki Kuroda (23-6-3, 14) battle former title challenger Yusuke Sakashita (13-5-2,8). For Kuroda this may well be one last hurrah in a career that has seemingly fallen apart in recent years, with a 2-3-3 record in his last 8 bouts, including a 10th round TKO loss to Suguru Muranaka last year. For Sakashita, who was himself KO'd by Muranaka, this is a great opportunity to get back into contention and possibly earn himself a contest with Takuya Kogawa.
At Bantamweight we'll see former champion Kentaro Masuda (21-7, 11) battle against the under-rated Hideo Sakamoto (16-1-3, 5). For Masuda, who does have a fight lined up in the interim, this is a chance to earn a shot at the title he lost earlier this year to Shohei Omori. As for Sakamoto this is his first real chance to move into title level and a chance to build on his 2014 win over Hiroki Shiino. At the moment we'd not fancy either man against current champion Omori however as a stand alone match up this will tell us a lot about both men. Notably Omori will have a defense against Hirofumi Mukai prior to this contest.
In the Lightweight bout will see the popular and teak tough Nihito Arakawa (25-6-1, 16) battle against recent contender Yuya Sugizaki (20-10-1, 6). Arakawa, a former domestic and OPBF champion has lost 4 of his last 5, and 5 of his last 7, but will know that a win here could help resurrect his floundering career. Sugizaki on the other hand was recently stopped by current champion Kota Tokunaga and know that another loss here will end any chance of him getting another shot at the title. At the moment Tokunaga has a defense lined up Yuhei Suzuki, the winner of that will be up against the Arakawa/Sugizaki winner.
The Welterweight bout will see the heavy handed Akinori Watanabe (32-4, 27) going up against the little known Toshio Arikawa (10-4, 8). Watanabe is a former Japanese, OPBF and PABA title holder who hits incredibly hard and is really fun to watch, though has been stopped in all 4 of his losses. Arikawa on the other hand is much less established and will hoping to score a career best win prior to this bout. Notable both of these men have bouts lined up before facing off in November. The winner of this bout will be expected to get a shot at Suyon Takayama.
As well as a title shot being up for grabs so too is a financial reward. The MVP of the event will earn ¥1,000,000 whilst the winners of the skills award and the fighting spirit awards will each garner ¥100,000
For fans wanting to attend this show is set to take place at the Korakuen Hall.
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