Boxing is full of weird stories, and we get a weird bout announced almost monthly now a days.
The latest of those was announced today, and will see little known Indian fighter Neeraj Goyat (11-3-2, 2) take on British-Pakistani fighter Amir Khan (33-5, 20), in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
The bout came a little bit out of the blue, though is a major bout, and the latest sporting chapter in the often intense India Vs Pakistan sporting rivalry, that has been dominated by cricket.
Khan is the much, much, much more well known fighter. He is a 2000 Olympic silver medal winner, a multi-time world champion a fighter who has faced a who's who, including Terence Crawford, Saul "Canelo" Alvarez, Zab Judah, Devon Alexander, Danny Garcia, Marcos Maidana and Marco Antonio Barrera. At his best he a fantastic fighter, though he was dominated last time out by Terence Crawford, back in March and is 2-2 in his last 4. At 32 years old he is seen as a fighter very much on the slide.
Goyat on the other hand is one of the more notable professional fighters from India, with experience of fighting in China, Thailand, India, Korea, Mexico and Canada. Although of of the biggest names in Indian boxing he hasn't managed to really become a star, and is well behind the popularity of Vijender Singh, Vikas Krishan and amateurs stars like Amit Panghal. At the age of 27 however there is time for him to break out, and a win over Khan would seriously put him on the map.
Interestingly this bout is slated to be for the WBC Pearl title, a belt that appears to have been made just so the WBC can claim another sanctioning fee in a bout worth millions, in fact Khan is said to be getting around £7,000,000 for the bout. The bout will take place at the King Abdullah Sports City in Jeddah, will explain the huge purse for Khan, for taking on such an unknown foe,
Earlier today it was revealed that unbeaten Kazakh Kanat Islam (25-0, 20) [Ислам Канат] would be moving up in weight for his long awaited ring return on July 5th.
The full details of Islam's bout, his first since September 2017, haven't been announced yet but we have started to get more and more details in the last few days.
The details that have emerged so far are not only that it will be on July 5th, and that it will be a Middleweight bout, in Almaty, but also that it will be for a minor WBO title. The opponent hasn't been confirmed, but Islam is said to be targeting a top 10 WBO ranked Middleweight. Looking at the current rankings that could mean a bout with someone like Steven Butler (27-1-1, 23), Alantez Fox (25-1-1, 12), Luke Keeler (16-2-1, 5) or Patrice Volny (14-0, 9), all of whom would make for very tough opponents for Islam on his return after such a long break from the ring.
(Image courteys of Boxer's team)
Tomorrow fight fans at Korakuen Hall will see Japanese Flyweight champion Junto Nakatani (18-0, 13) [中谷 潤人] battle against Filipino foe Philip Luis Cuerdo (11-6-1, 4), who is a late replacement for the injured Wolf Nakano who was supposed to battle for Nakatani's title in what would have been Nakatani's first defense.
Due to Nakano's injury what was originally planned as a Japanese Flyweight title defense became a non-title fight at Super Flyweight, and today both Nakatani an Cuerdo took part in their weigh in for the bout.
On the scales Nakatani was 114.4lbs for the bout, and he looked in good shape. He looked comfortable, though was clearly not boiling down as much as usual for the bout, weighing in almost 2.5lbs heavier than usual. Cuerdo, the much shorter man, came in at the same weight as Nakatani, but looked much, much smaller than the Japanese fighter.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Back in December former Japanese Super Flyweight champion Yohei Tobe (13-3-1, 9) [戸部洋平] announced that he had retired form professional boxing, citing issues with his eyes. Today he returned to the ring, for a special retirement ceremony at Korakuen Hall.
The well liked Tobe was brought a bouquet of flows by former Misako gym stable mate Keita Obara before the head of the Misako gym spoke about Tobe. The comments given towards Tobe, who had once looked like a star in the making, were clearly from the heart.
Tobe himself took the microphone and spoke to the fans, , revealing that he remembers his debut bout like it was yesterday and that his Japanese title win, with fans cheering, is something he will treasure for a life time. He also went on to reveal he is planning to remain in sport, and contribute to the local community in a sporting position, allowing youngsters to feed from his experience as a fighter.
The ceremony was ended with a 10 bell salute.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
In July we'll see Ryota Murata (14-2, 11) [村田 諒太] having a rematch with WBA "regular" Middleweight champion Rob Brant (25-1, 17), as Murata looks to recapture the title he lost last year.
In the eyes of many the bout is a pointless rematch, a bout that Murata won't win and will take a lot of punishment in, like he did in their first bout.
Today Murata showed that he preparing for the rematch with real hunger and belief that he can adapt, and can over-come Brant. He did that by taking part in a media work in Tokyo, along with his sparring partners for the bout.
The sparring partners that Murata is training with, in particular, for this bout are unbeaten Middleweight Isaiah Steen (12-0-0-1, 10) and once beaten Super Middleweight Winfred Harris Jr (18-1, 9). They have been brought in to replicate the style of Brant, and whilst they didn't spar with the 2012 Olympic champion during today's session it is clear they are both there to prove a point and get quality time with the world class Murata.
Whilst there was no sparring Murata did work the pads with Carlos Linares, The padd work seemed to show that Murata was sharp, on point and looked really good. Of course there's a huge difference between pad work and actually fighting, and there's worries of course that he won't replicate his forme in the ring against Brant, who's style really is always going to be a nightmare for Murata, but we can hope that he puts up a better effort than he did in his title loss.
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
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