On Friday night OPBF Lightweight champion Masayoshi Nakatani (18-0, 12) [中谷正義] will make his US debut, as he takes on fast rising American hopeful Teofimo Lopez (13-0, 11) in an IBF Lightweight world title eliminator.
Yesterday the two men took part in their weigh in and both fighters made the 135lb limit for the bout.
On the scales both men were well under the limit, at around 134.25lbs.
Despite weighing the same the two men looked very different, with Nakatani towering over Lopez, and showing just how clear the height differential between the two men is. Whilst he's the huge under-dog Nakatani will know that that natural size advantage is something he will need to use if he's to have any chance against the hard hitting and extremely confident Lopez.
Related - Does Nakatani have a chance against Lopez?
(Image courtesy of Photo by Mikey Williams / Top Rank)
Back in April we were expecting to see Korean fighter Jung Kyoung Lee (7-2-1, 3) [이중경] defending the the OPBF Light Middleweight title against Japanese puncher Akinori Watanabe (37-7-1, 31) [渡部あきのり]. Sadly that bout was cancelled in April when Lee suffered an injury just weeks before the scheduled date for the contest.
Although the bout was cancelled in April the plan had never been to scrap it all together, but to reschedule it, for when Lee was fit.
Yesterday Watanabe took to social media to announce that the bout was now back on, and was rescheduled for August 11th, with Lee having recovered from the injury that caused the bout to be delayed.
The contest will be held in Korea and will give Lee a chance to score his first defense whilst Watanabe will be looking to add to his impressive collection of title belts and become a 2-weight OPBF champion.
Earlier today we were informed that unbeaten Kazakh hopeful Batyrzhan Jukembayev (16-0-0-2, 13) [Батыржан Джукембаев] would be returning to the ring on September 26th, in Montreal, to take on his most notable opponent to date.
The Canadian based Kazakh will be looking to secure his 17th professional win as he takes on former IBF Lightweight champion Miguel Vazquez (41-8, 15), who will be fighting for the first time since he was flat our robbed in the UK against Ohara Davies, in one of the worse decisions of 2019.
For the unbeaten Jukembayev the bout is a fantastic step up in class, a real test and a chance to him to answer some really serious questions. He's not been matched incredibly easily but this is a clear step up for him and a move in the right direction, something his last few fights haven't been. In fact it's not been since Jukembayev beat Cosme Rivera back in 2017, that he's shared the ring with someone with experience at the higher levels of the sport.
Over the last few years Vazquez, who was an avoided champion, has become a really in demand gate keeper recently. In the last two 2 years he has gone in with Josh Taylor, Thulani Mbenge, Ghislain Maduma and the aforementioned Davies, and put in very credible efforts, win or lose. A similar performance here could well see him showing too much for Jukembayev in what is a very, very well matched contest.
Jukembayev is set to be 1 of 4 Kazakh's on this card, along with Sadriddin Akhmedov (9-0, 8) [Ахмедов Садриддин], Nurzat Sabirov (10-0, 9) [Нурзат Сабиров] and Aman Kazankapov (0-0-1) [Амана Казанкапова], though none of this trio have yet had their opponents announced.
Earlier today it was revealed that Wanheng Menayothin (53-0, 18) [วันเฮง ไก่ย่างห้าดาวยิม] had signed a professional contract with US promotional outfit Golden Boy Promotions, who will look to promote the unbeaten Thai in the US.
The decision for Wanhent to fight in the US is an odd one, given the fact Minimumweight have never drawn much of a fan base in the West, though we wouldn't be surprised if he was signed to draw attention to his unbeaten record, which has surpassed that of Floyd Mayweather Jr.
According to sources in Thailand the plan was to have Wanheng make his US debut in September, on the now aborted Saul Alvarez headlined card. Now however it's unclear what the immediate plan is, though it seems likely that Wanheng will be defending his belt against South African Simpiwe Konkco (19-5, 7), in what is a mandatory defense of the Thai.
Unfortunately the last few year's for Wanheng has seen rumour, speculation and talk about fighting on foreign soil, but rumours have vanished and talks have stopped. Hopefully their is real substance to this news and that Golden Boy will make good with the long reigning WBC Minimumweight champion.
(Image courtesy of Thailrec.com_)
Earlier today sources in Japan revealed that former WBO Minimumweight champion Tatsuya Fukuhara (21-7-6, 7) [福原 辰弥] had announced his retirement, ending a rather interesting, if often over-looked career.
The 30 year old from Kumamoto made his debut all the way back in 2008, and reached the All Japan Rookie of the Year final in 2009, losing to Takuya Mitamoro at Korakuen Hall. Despite reaching the final he spent a number of years in the proverbial boxing wilderness, fighting on the local Kumamoto scene.
It wasn't until 2013 that Fukuhara really got any attention again, losing to both Yu Kimura and a then debuting Takuma Inoue. Those losses saw Fukuhara's record slip to 12-4-3 (3) though he gritted his teeth and battled on, building on the experiences of those losses.
In 2015 Fukuhara got his first title fight, and beat Hiroya Yamamoto for the Japanese Minimumweigjht title. He would go on to record 3 defenses of the belt, taking the unbeaten records of Takumi Sakae and Genki Hanai along the way. Those wins helped him climb up the WBO world rankings and in 2017 he fought Moises Calleros for the interim WBO Minimumweight title. The Japanese local narrowly over-came Calleros, in an often forgotten classic. That interim title would be upgraded to the main title a few months later but he would lose the belt in his first defense, coming up short against Ryuya Yamanaka.
Following the loss to Yamanaka in August 2017 we saw Fukuhara have two shots at WBC champion Wanheng Menayothin, losing both bouts by decision, with the second of those coming this past May.
The reasons for Fukuhara's retirement are limited physical strength and a lack of motivation, though he will be back in the ring for one more appearance. That will be an exhibition on August 11th, in what will essentially be his retirement ceremony.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
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