According to Chinese sources we may end up seeing Cai Zong Ju (11-1, 1) [蔡宗菊] make her first defense of the IBO female Minimumweight before the end of "of the year".
At the moment the full details are scarce though the sources have explained that she is beginning a training came in Macau to help her prepare for a defensive bout.
The Chinese fighter won the IBO title this past June, when she out pointed Ana Victoria Polo, and has had a frustrating year with that being her only bout of 2018. Despite the lack of in ring activity she has been busy outside of the ring and become a bit of a celebrity in her homeland.
It should be noted that it's unclear whether the source was suggesting the end of the Julian year or the end of the Chinese year, though either way it's good to know that Zu is focusing on boxing following a lot of out of the ring activity recently, including photo shoots and televisions shows. Interestingly if it is for the end of the Julian year we might well see her bout take place on the December 31st card which is being put together, a card that is set to be headlined by a WBO Super Flyweight title bout between Kazuto Ioka (23-1, 13) [井岡一翔] and Donnie Nietes (41-1-5, 23).
Related - Ioka Vs Nietes eyed for December 31st in Macau!
Japanese policeman-boxer Daisuke Sugita (4-0, 3) [杉田大祐] is set to get his first professional title bout in the near future, though is going to have to travel for it.
The talented Watanabe gym hopeful, who was a stellar amateur with a record of 110-31 (47) amateur record, is going to be fighting for the Asian Boxing Federation (ABF) Featherweight title in Thailand. According to the sources the unbeaten man will be up against Worawatchai Boonjan (12-17-1, 11), aka Phupha Por Nobnom on November 13th.
The ABF title isn't recognised in Japan, but the JBC do allow fighters to fight on foreign soil for bouts they don't recognise. What this essentially means is that if Sugita wins, he would have to travel to defend the belt, though it seems more like Sugita is focused on getting a championship title rather than defending it anyway. The belt may also, potentially, help with world rankings and will speed up his ascent into bigger and better fights.
Sugita is a peculiar case of a boxer in Japan given that as a police officer, or more specifically as a public servant, he can't receive a purse for his fighting career, and his training time is limited to just 3 days a week. He seems content with this at the moment and is hungry to take the title home, but there is likely a burning desire to see what he can do as a fully fledged professional fighter and we do wonder if he ever will leave the police force to pursue professional boxing success.
Back in September Kazuto Ioka (23-1, 13) [井岡一翔] end his retirement, and returned with a sensational performance to defeat Puerto Rican McWilliams Arroyo and claim the WBC Silver Super Flyweight title. Following that win the Japanese fighter, who had claimed world titles at Minimumweight, Light Flyweight and Flyweight stated that he would like to fight fellow 3 weight champion Donnie Nietes (41-1-5, 23). Nietes had fought to a draw on the same card in a bout for the vacant WBO Super Flyweight title, with his bout against Aston Palicte being controversially ruled a draw.
At the time a bout between the two looked like something that would be special, though many thought it to be more of a dream fight than something that would actually end up taking place, especially given that Ioka stated he was wanting the bout this year. It looked at the time like one of the many rumours and bits of speculation that we'd get excited about before it either failed to materialise or was delayed until 2019.
Just moments ago however reliable Japanese sources reported that a deal for the bout was close to being done, and that it would indeed take place in 2018, being tucked onto December 31st on a card in Macau.
It seems like there are still some loose ends to be tied up before the bout is confirmed, though it would explain why all the other December 31st rumours and speculation haven't really gathered much pace, with TBS and the other promoters, such as Watanabe and Hatanaka, likely waiting to see how this plays out. In fact if this is completed in the next few days and officially announced, as expected, there may well be the money on the table to create a super card to end the year, with Ioka Vs Nietes headlining a show that could, conceivably, also feature the proposed Watanabe triple header, which included a WBC Minimumweight title bout between Wanheng Menayothin (51-0, 18) [วันเฮง ไก่ย่างห้าดาวยิม] and Shin Ono (23-9-3, 6) [小野 心].
Alternatively there may be some sort of split-site deal with TBS showing a card from Tokyo as well as the Macau one.
After a bit of silence on the Ioka Vs Nietes front things have suddenly got very real, very quickly, and we've been told to expect an announcement on the fight in the coming days.
Back in September we saw former IBF Super Bantamweight champion Yukinori Oguni (19-2-1, 7) [小國 以載] announce that he would be returning to the ring on December 1st. The return sees him fighting for the first time since losing the IBF title to Ryosuke Iwasa back in September 20177.
Now we have confirmation of who Oguni will be fighting on his ring return, and that will be Indonesian foe Arega Yunian (6-11, 1), who is 0-4 in Japan, having lost to the likes of Ryo Matsumoto and Hinata Maruta in previous visits to the Land of the Rising Sun.
This isn't likely to be a tough test for Oguni, but will be a chance for him to shake some ring rust before pursuing more significant fights in 2019, with the hope being that he could end up fighting for a world title by the end of next year.
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