Through the first half of 2018 the Japanese domestic scene has seen the Champion Carnival take place, with the champions defending against their mandatory challengers, and where a title was vacant the top two fioghters have competed for the belt.
Today saw the annual award winners for the Champion Carnival being announced.
The MVP award, the most meaningful of the awards, was won by Japanese Middleweight champion Kazuto Takesako (8-0, 8) [竹迫司登], who earned the honour thanks to an opening round victory over Hikaru Nishida (17-9-1, 8) [西田 光], in a bout that saw Takesako claim the title in very impressive fashion. Takesako will now return to the ring this coming weekend to take on a Thai foe in a stay busy bout and sadly it does look like none of the domestic fighters will put up much of a fight for the destructive champion.
The Skill award was won by Japanese Super Bantamweight champion Yusaka Kuga (16-2-1, 11) [久我勇作], following his successful defense against Ryo Kosaka (15-4-1, 7) [小坂遼]. As with Takesako's win this was an opening round blow out, though unlike Takesako Kuga went into the bout as the champion. Notably Kuga will return on July 27th to defend his Japanese title against Shingo Wake (24-5-2, 16) [和氣 慎吾] in a mouth watering match up which will double as a world title eliminator, as well as a domestic title clash.
The Fighting Spirit award has gone to Japanese Light Welterweight champion Valentine Hosokawa (23-6-3, 10) [細川バレンタイン] following his excellent win over mandatory challenger Vladimir Baez (24-5-2-22). The champion, who is certainly a late bloomer in terms of professional boxing, had to pull himself off the canvas before stopping Baez, who fights as "Destino Japan", in the 7th round of a nail biter.
The final award was a Special Award, which was claimed by Ryota Yada (15-4, 12) [矢田良太], who won the Japanese Welterweight title with a stoppage win against Toshio Arikawa (15-5, 13) [有川 稔男]. The win put Yada on the proverbial map after some prior set backs, and he's now plannign to return to the ring in August to make his first defense.
At the moment there is no set date or venue for the award ceremony, but an announcement is expected shortly.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
*It should be noted that due to two different cancellations the Bantamweight title wasn't competed for during the Champion Carnival and there was no Heavyweight title bout either, due to a lack of suitable challengers.
Tomorrow fight fans in Japan will get the chance to see Japanese Featherweight champion Takenori Ohashi (15-4-2, 10) [大橋健典] defending his title against mandatory challenger Taiki Minamoto (14-5, 11) [源大輝], with the bout being shown on G+.
Today the tw omen weighed in for the bout and both fighters made the 126lb limit for the contest.
The champion for the bout was 125.88lbs on the scales,making the weight with some room to spare. Despite looking a little bit fleshy the champion looked solid and will be looking to build on his 2017 upset win over Kosuke Saka [坂晃典]. The champion spoke about being wary ofthe challenger and mentioned he felt when he challenged Saka, as if to suggest that he know how Minamoto will feel coming in to this bout.
The champion, who has previously challengedfor the Super Bantamweight title, was bang on the 126lb limit. He seemed tofeel that his boxing skills were the key to winning, and while Ohashi can punch, Minamoto seems to feel his speed and jab will be his keys to victory in this bout.
Asmentionedthe boutwill be aired in full on G+ and will come with a pretty interesting under-card, well worthy of a watch if you get the channel.
Related - Ohashi seeks first defense, takes on big punching Minamoto
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
One of the key parts of the Japanese boxing calendar is the Champion Carnival, which takes place over the first 6 months of the year and sees the national champions defending their titles against their mandatory challengers.
Today we saw the bouts being announced for the 2018 Champion Carnival at a huge press confeence, and as with every year, there were some brilliant bouts being announced.
At Minimumweight we'll see Ryoki Hirai (10-4-1, 4) [平井亮輝] and Shin Ono (21-9-3, 5) [小野 心] battle for the vacant title, which was given up by Reiya Konishi (15-0, 5) [小西伶弥] a few days ago. The bout will be Hirai's first title bout, whilst the experienced Ono will be getting his 4th shot at a Japanese title, having previously won an OPBF title and having several world title bouts. This bout will take place in Kobe on April 22nd and should be a very, very good match up.
The Light Flyweight bout will see defending champion Tetsuya Hisada (30-9-2, 19) [久田 哲也] make his 3rd defense of the title, as he takes on Koji Itagaki (18-11-3, 7) [板垣幸司]. This looks like a mismatch on paper, but it will be Itagaki's first, and likely last, shot at a domestic title and he sounded determined and confident at today's event. This contest has been pencilled in for April 19th and will take place in Osaka.
Although a number of bouts were announced today, some were already known about. One such bout was the Flyweight contest, which will see Masayuki Kuroda (28-7-3, 16) [黒田 雅之] defending his title against the exciting Katsunori Nagamine (14-1-1, 10) [長嶺克則. This will be Kuroda's third defense of the title, whilst Nagamine will be having his first challenge, and the bout really does have the potential to be a real thriller. As mentioned this bout was already known about, and will take place on March 3rd, as previously reported.
At Super Flyweight we'll be getting a rematch between Hiroyuki Kudaka (25-17-2, 11) [久高寛之] and Go Onaga (28-3-4, 19) [翁長 吾央], who face off following a technical draw in December. The two men will be fighting for the currently vacant title, which was given up by Ryuichi Funai (29-7, 20) [船井 龍一] earlier this week. Sadly at the time of writing this bout has no venue, or set date, but seems likely to be fought in Tokyo on either a Dangan show or an Ohashi one, potentially in April or May.
Interestingly the first Champion Carnival bout comes in just over a week's time, as Ryo Akaho (31-2-2, 20) [赤穂 亮] defends his Bantamweight title against Yusuke Suzuki (9-3, 6) [鈴木悠介] at the Korakuen Hall on January 20th, in a bout set to be televised on G+. For Akaho the bout willbe his second defense, whilst Suzuki gets his first title fight, in what looks like a really exciting way to kick off the 2018 Champion Carnival, and should be a very brutal bout.
At Super Bantamweight we'll see Ryo Kosaka (15-3-1, 7) [小坂遼] challenging champion Yusaka Kuga (15-2-1, 10) [久我勇作], with Kosaka essentially filling in for the injured Yasutaka Ishimoto (31-9, 9) [石本康隆]. The bout is a decent looking one, but it's hard to not expect a win for the champion, who has looked fantastic in a number of recent contests, and could well find himself in the world title mix later this year. This bout is scheduled for March 27th at the Korakuen Hall.
Featherweight champion Takenori Ohashi (15-4-2, 10) [大橋健典] will look to build from his dramatic 2017 win over Kosuke Saka (16-4, 13) [坂晃典] as he defends his title against fellow puncher Taiki Minamoto (14-5, 11) [源大輝]. This bout promises to be explosive, even if both are a bit crude, and Ohashi will be hoping to avoid a similar finish to his title win, where Saka turned away thinking he had heard the bell, and got iced by Ohashi in the final seconds of the round. These two will meet on April 7th at the Korakuen Hall.
In early February we'll see Ken Osato (13-1-1, 4) [大里拳] challenge Super Featherweight champion Masaru Sueyoshi (16-1, 10) [末吉 大]. For Sueyoshi this will be his first defense whilst Osato looks to build on his big 2017 win over Satoru Sugita (13-5-1, 8) [杉田聖]. The talented Sueyoshi has frustrated at times, but does look class when he gets going and should be favoured here for the February 3rd bout, but Osato is in good form and could easily spring the upset, if Sueyoshi is anything less than his best.
At Lightweight we'll see the very talented Shuichiro Yoshino (6-0, 4) [吉野修一郎] defending his title, for the first time, against Masaki Saito (14-12-6, 5) [斉藤正樹]. Yoshino has really shined so far in his short career and looks to be a star of the future for Japanese boxing, though will obviously need to get his first defense under his belt before becoming a star. Saito looks like a limited challenger, though is a very experienced fighter and should be able to give Yoshino some questions. This bout will be taking place on February 8th at the Korakuen Hall.
The Light Welterweight contests looks set to be one of the most exciting, as Valentine Hosokawa (22-6-3, 9) [細川バレンタイン] makes his first defense, and takes on the heavy handed Vladimir Baez (24-3-2-22). This bout looks likely to be a war, and whilst Baez will be the favourite, despite being the challenger, we can't rule out the champion, who hs long been under-rated. Like many this contest will take place at the Korakuen Hall and is set for May 7th.
One of the most explosive bouts on paper will see Welterweight champion Toshio Arikawa (15-4, 13) [有川 稔男] taking on fellow puncher Ryota Yada (14-4, 11) [矢田良太]. The contest might not have a future world champion or potential star in it, but given the power of both men this should be a shoot out, and could be something fvery, very special for the fans, who will be in the Korakuen Hall on April 16th.
At Light Middleweight we'll see triple crown winner Takeshi Inoue (12-0-1, 7) [井上 岳志] take on former Welterweight champion Nobuyuki Shindo (19-4-1, 8) [新藤寛之] in what should be a really good test for Inoue, who will be lookibg at bigger and better things in 2018. Shindo's reign at Welterweight was a short one, and whilst he will be hoping to become a 2-weight champion he is really up against it here against the fantastic Inoue. This bout is set to take place on April 26th at the Korakuen Hall.
The heaviest weight being contested at this year's Champion Carnival is Middleweight, and it may well end up being the best of the bouts, as March 3rd plays host to a contest between defending champion Hikaru Nishida (17-8-1, 8) [西田 光] and the heavy handed Kazuto Takesako (7-0, 7) [竹迫司登]. Nishida is a freakishly strong fighter who brings a lot of pressure, and whilst he can be out boxed he is a tough and aggressive nightmare,. Takesako on the other hand is a really brutish puncher and this will be something very special.
The winners of the bouts will of course be the defending champion, and will also be in the running for a number of prizes, including a notable award for being crowned the MVP of the Champion Carnival, or winning either the Skill or Battle awards.
(Photographs courtesy of boxmob.jp)
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