Today was a big day for Japanese boxing with the annual awards being handed out to a number of fighters in the country, and a big event being held in their honour.
The MVP award was won by WBA Middleweight champion Ryota Murata (13-1, 10) [村田 諒太], who announced himself on the world stage with a stoppage win over Hassan N'Dam. He may only have gone 1-1 (1) for the year but the win over N'Dam was huge for Japanese boxing and opens the door to some massive Middleweight fight for Japanese boxing.
The Skills Award was won by Naoya Inoue (15-0, 13) [井上 尚弥], who had a rather frustrating 2017. He went 3-0 (3) for the year, but really lacked the opponents to really test him and seemed to be several levels above anyone he fought.
A special award was won by both unified Light Flyweight champion Ryoichi Taguchi (27-2-2, 12) [田口良一] and WBO Flyweight champion Sho Kimura (16-1-2, 9) [木村翔]. Both of these men had huge 2017's, with Taguchi unifying the WBA, IBF and Ring Magazine titles and Kimura winning the WBO title and recording a mandatory defense to put himself among the very elite at Flyweight.
The effort award was won by Heavyweight contender Kyotaro Fujimoto (18-1, 10) [藤本 京太郎], who unified the Japanese, OPBF and WBO Heavyweight Asia Pacific titles.
It was a great award ceremony for youngsters and the KO award was won by one of the younger fighters, with WBC Flyweight champion Daigo Higa (15-0, 15) [比嘉 大吾] claiming the honour whilst WBC Light Flyweight champion Ken Shiro (12-0, 6) [拳 四朗] claimed the new comer award, and along with Inoue and Murata showed just how good the Fuji TV roster is right now for boxing.
Taguchi claimed his second award by winning the Japanese Fight of the year, for his bout against Milan Melindo (37-3, 13) whilst the best non-world title fight was the January clash between Takashi Miura and Miguel Roman, in what was a WBC world title eliminator.
Excellent Athlete prizes were won by all the Japanese fighters who held a world title at some point in 2017. That includes most of the fighters above, along with Jorge Linares, Kosei Tanaka [田中恒成], Ryuya Yamanaka [山中 竜也], Shinsuke Yamanaka's [山中慎介], Shun Kubo [久保隼], Kazuto Ioka [井岡一翔], Tatsuya Fukuhara [福原 辰弥] and Hiroto Kyoguchi [京口 紘人].
The female MVP for the year was Naoko Fujioka (17-2, 7) [藤岡 奈穂子], who became a 5-weight world champion and had an excellent year. The female fight of the year was the WBC female Minimumweight title fight between Momo Koseki [小関 桃] and Yuko Kuroki [黒木 優子], who had an excellent bout towards the end of 2018.
A number of retired fighters claimed individual awards, with a Special Achievement Award being claimed by former WBA Super Featherweight world champion Takashi Uchiyama [内山 高志] whilst other special awards were won by Takashi Miura [三浦 隆司] and Akifumi Shimoda [下田 昭文]. The trainer award was shared by Takeshi Nogi, from Shirai Gushiken Gym, and Masayuki Ariyoshi, from the Aoki gym, who both lead their most notable charges to world titles in 2017.
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
News! We try and give you the most interesting news stories from the Asian boxing world!