Yesterday we reported on the possibility of an IBF Light Welterweight title bout between Sergey Lipinets (12-0, 10) and Akihiro Kondo (29-6-1, 16) [近藤 明広]. Now, over-night, that bout has taken a huge step towards becoming a reality with with the IBF ordering the two men to negotiate a contest for the vacant title.
The title, which was given up by American star Terence Crawford after he unifed all 4 major belts, is expected to be the first of 4 titles that will become available in the coming weeks, as Crawford turns his attention on becoming a 3-weight champion and campaigning at Welterweight.
Lipinets had been promised a world title fight a while back, but due to back-to-back unifications his shot keptgetting delayed. With all the titles being unified the Kazakh couldn't have his shot delayed any further and a purse bid for a fight with Crawford loomed.
Although it's not yet clear where a Lipinets Vs Kondo bout would take place, it does seem likely that any purse bid would be won Lipinets' team and that could force the bout Stateside, where it could act as a secondary title bout on a notable show.
On September 9th we will see WBO Super Flyweight champion Naoya Inoue (13-0, 11) [井上 尚弥] make his US debut, as he defends his title against the once beaten challenger Antonio Nieves (17-1-2, 9) live on HBO, Sky Sports, WOWOW Prime and various other channels around the globe. The bout is expected to be a mismatch, but a chance for Inoue to show case his abilities on a global stage and begin his international take over.
In Japan the only way to watch it live is to pay for the WOWOW service, an expensive but high quality premium service which offers anumber of channels.
What's great to note however is that the bout will be shown on tape delay for free, with Fuji TV airing the bout late on Sunday night for fans without the premium service.
The Fuji broadcast is set to run from from 2:25 on Monday morning to 3:20, suggesting we'll only be getting Inoue's contest on the show, but it's a chance for those who don't have WOWOW to watch the fight in Inoue's homeland, and could well see some weary faces turning upto work on Monday morning.
It'll be interesting to see if this is a one off going forward, or whether Inoue's US bouts will be aired on Fuji TV live in the future, but for now it's good to see the bout being aired on both a premium channel and a free channel with in the space of 24 hours. It's clear he's a star for Fuji and is one of the most talented and exciting fighters in a generation and if Fuji are looking to become the biggest player in Japanese boxing they may need to pay for the live rights in the future, something they have the money to do.
Yesterday we reported that Kenichi Ogawa (22-1, 17) [尾川 堅一] had vacated the Japanese Super Featherweight title, forcing the cancellation of his scheduled bout with Tsuyoshi Tojo (13-15-5, 2) [東上剛司]. The now former champion has stated that his reasoning is to fight for a worldtitle rather than continue to reign supreme on the national scene.
At the time of the announcement it was unclear what the next domestic title bout would be, though it's now been confirmed that the Japanese title challenger bout between Masaru Sueyoshi (15-1, 10) [末吉大] and Ribo Takahata (13-7-1, 5) [高畑里望] will now be upgraded to a title bout, which is a decision that makes a lot of sense and pits the #1 and #2 ranked fighters against each otherforthe now vacant title.
Where it leaves Tojo is a tricky one, but we suspect that either Sueyoshi or Takahata would be happy to defend the title against him next year.
Interestingly the Sueyoshi Vs Takahata bout had been arranged before Ogawa's decision to vacate. It was originally the chief support bout to the contest between Ogawa and Tojo on October 7th, though will now be the main event of the card, which is yet to have any other bouts confirmed for it, though those will likely be announced in the next couple of weeks.
Earlier today our sources in Japan reported that 4-weight world champion Naoko Fujioka (16-2, 7) [藤岡 奈穂子] would move down in weight in an attempt to become a 5-weight world champion, the first in Japanese boxing history!
The story suggests that the Fujioka, who is a former WBC female Minimumweight, WBA female Super Flyweight, WBO female Bantamweight and is the current WBA female Flyweight champion, is set to fight for the WBO female Light Flyweight title.
From what we understand the bout will take place in Puerto Rico on September 9th and see Fujioka face off with unbeaten Costa Rican Yokasta Valle (13-0, 6), the current IBF female Minimumweight champion, who will be hoping to become a 2-weight champion herself.
Fujioka took to her blog to announce that the fight was in the pipeline a couple of days ago, though admitted that it wasn't yet a done deal and that she was still awaiting the contract for the fight, and details of her departure from Japan.
Give that the fight date is just over a week away we suspect that it will be officially announced shortly and we will get the chance to see Fujioka record yet another Japanese record.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
A lot can happen in a few weeks in the crazy world of professional boxing, and that has certainly been seen when it's come to the now former Japanese Super Featherweight champion Kenichi Ogawa (22-1, 17) [尾川 堅一].
Just over two weeks ago we saw the heavy handed king Teiken man announce that he would be making his 6th defense of the title on October 7th at the Korakuen Hall against veteran Tsuyoshi Tojo (13-15-5, 2) [東上剛司]. Today, just over 2 weeks later, that bout has been scrapped, with Ogawa vacating the title and stating that he was now going to concentrate on winning a world title.
Ogawa, who had been the champion since dethroning Rikki Naito back in December 2015, is ranked by all 4 world title bodies. Those rankings include a #4 ranking with the IBF, who currently have vacant positions at #1 and #2 as well as a vacant title, which was recently stripped from American Gervonta Davis who failed to make weight this past weekend. On paper this would mean that a bout between Ogawa and the #3 ranked Billy Dib (42-4-0-2, 24) would make sense and would be the top two fighters facing off for the vacant title, something we suspect Teiken would be very happy to help make. And something we suspect Dib would be fine with, given he has previous fought in Japan, losing to Ogawa's former stablemate Takashi Miura.
Although it's not yet been confirmed, it does seem like talks between the two camps will begin shortly and that a deal will be agreed between the two camps in the weeks to come.
Where this leaves Tojo is interesting and we wouldn't be surprised to see him getting a shot at the vacant Japanese title in 2018, though that is yet to be confirmed, what we do know is he won't be getting a shot on this card.
(Image courtesy of Teiken)
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