Over the last few days we've seen a lot of Japanese title bouts being revealed as part of the Champion Carnival. Earlier today those bouts were set in stone as the Champion Carnival presentation took place, confirming the contests we'd reported and getting all the champions and challengers in one event.
The first of the bouts will take place on February 1st at the Dynamic Glove show, and will see Japanese Welterweight champion Yuki Nagano (17-2, 13) [永野祐樹] defending his title against mandatory challenger Keita Obara (22-4-1, 20) [小原 佳太]. This bout has been known about for weeks and is an exciting, and potentially very explosive, way to kick off the Champion Vs Challenger series. This bout will be at Korakuen Hall, where most of the title bouts will actually take place.
The second bout will take on February 13th, when Lightweight champion Shuichiro Yoshino (11-0, 9) [吉野 修一郎] defends his belt against Izuki Tomioka (7-2-1, 2) [富岡樹]. This is expected to bee a match up showing a lot of skills, from both men, though the power and physical edges with the champion does make him the favourite. This is another bout at Korakuen Hall.
It's then almost a month later until we get the next bout in the series. That'll be on March 7th, on the March Dynamic Glove, when Light Middleweight champion Hironobu Matsunaga (16-1, 10) [松永 宏信] defends his belt against Yuto Shimizu (14-4-2, 5) [清水優人] in a potentially enthralling bout. The champion will be seeking his second defense whilst Shimizu will be getting his first title fight. This will be the third successive bout at Tokyo's Korakuen Hall.
Just one day later, March 8th, we get the Flyweight bout with the heavy handed Seigo Yuri Akui (14-2-1, 10) [阿久井政悟] defending his title against Seiya Fujikita (13-4, 6) [藤北誠也]. Given Akui's style this should be an explosive bout, and one to look forward to. This was announced way back at the start of the year and will take place at the Aeon Mall mall in Okayama City, the first of the bouts outside of Tokyo.
Just a week later, March 15th, action turns to the Aioi Hall in Kariya as Light Flyweight champion Yuto Takahashi (11-4, 5) [高橋悠斗] defends against hard hitting challenger Masamichi Yabuki (10-3, 10) [佐藤政道]. This will be the first title defnense for Takahashi, and will see him entering enemy territory.
The following day, March 16th, Light Welterweight champion Koki Inoue (15-0, 12) [浩樹井上] will take on Daishi Nagata (15-2-1, 5) [永田大士] in the main event of a card at Korakuen Hall from Ohashi. This is one of the few shows where under-card details have been revealed, and it makes for a very decent looking card overall.
After a slew of fights in March we then have a bit of a break before returning on April 9th for a double header at Korakuen Hall. One of the bouts here will see Bantamweight champion Yusuke Suzuki (11-3, 7) [鈴木悠介] make his first defense, as he goes up against Kyosuke Sawada (14-2-1, 6) [澤田京介] in a rematch of a bout both men had back in 2013. The other bout on this card will see Featherweight champion Ryo Sagawa (9-1, 4) [佐川遼] make his second defense as he takes on Hinata Maruta (10-1-1, 8) [丸田陽七太], in what we feel is the standout bout from this year's Carnival.
On April 28th Super Bantamweight champion Yusaku Kuga (19-4-1, 13) [久我勇作] will defend his title against Gakuya Furuhashi (26-8-1, 14) [古橋大輔]. This bout will be Kuga's first defense since reclaiming the title last year and will be Furuhashi's third shot, at a third different champion. This bout is also set to be at Korakuen Hall.
Interestingly the Super Featherweight bout between hard hitting champion Kosuke Saka (20-5, 17) [坂晃典] and teak tough challenger Takuya Watanabe (37-9-1, 21) [渡邉卓也] is pencilled in for April in Osaka, though no date or specific venue was confirmed at today's event.
On May 16th we'll see the Super Flyweight title bout as defending champion Kenta Nakagawa (18-3-1, 12) [中川 健太] takes on Yuta Matsuo (15-4-2, 8) [松尾雄太] at the Sumida City Gymnasium in Tokyo.
No those who are eagle eyed will be aware there were some division's missing.
Firstly the Minimumweight bout hasn't yet been decided. The title is currently vacant, after Norihito Tanaka (19-7, 10) [田中教仁] returned the belt earlier this year. What we do know is that Masataka Taniguchi (12-3, 7) [谷口 将隆] will be involved in the title bout, though there is currently no opponent, date or venue for the bout.
The Middleweight title bout will see the hard hitting Kazuto Takesako (11-0-1, 11) [竹迫司登] defending his belt against Riku Kunimoto (4-0, 2) [国本陸] but this bout has no date or location set. This bout is likely to be scheduled following Takesako's bout this coming weekend against OPBF champion Shinobu Charlie Hosokawa (12-4-1, 11) [細川チャーリー忍].
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
Earlier today news broke of the next Ohashi promoted show, "Phoenix Battle 71", which will take place on March 16th at Korakuen Hall and will feature not only a Champion Carnival bout but also a number notable Japanese hopefuls.
The main event will see Japanese Light Welterweight champion Koki Inoue (15-0, 12) [浩樹井上] defending his title against mandatory challenger Daishi Nagata (15-2-1, 5) [永田大士]. The unbeaten champion will be looking to make his second defense, after winning the belt last April, and if he wins the expectation is that he will likely vacated in pursuit of a world title fight down the line. As for Nagata he's gotten this shot following a decision win over Cristiano Aoqui back in October.
The chief support bout will see fast rising Japanese prospect Taku Kuwahara (7-0, 4) [桑原拓] take a a really good step up in class to take on rugged Filipino foe Jaysever Abcede (20-9, 12). This will be the third straight Filipino fighter that Kuwahara will be up against and is a good quality of opponent form the youngster. As for Abcede this will be his third visit to Japan in 5 fights, after a win over Seigo Yuri Akui in October 2018 and a very competitive loss to Kento Hatanaka last August. A win here should put Kuwahara in line for a big fight later in the year, but a win is certainly not a given.
Another supporting bout will see former world title challenger Ryo Matsumoto (23-3, 21) [松本亮] take on unbeaten Japanese fighter Koshin Takeshima (4-0-1, 3) [竹嶋宏心]. On paper this is a mismatch, but Matsumoto is still rebuilding after a disastrous 2018 and a bout like this will certainly be a step up from his recent bouts.
One other fighter announced for this card is 2019 All Japan Rookie of the Year winner Katsuki Mori (6-0,1) [森且貴], who looks to kick off his 2020 campaign and build on an excellent year. The 19 year old shined through out the Rookie of the Year and looks like the skilled type of fighter who could go a very, very long way with Ohashi's guidance and backing. A genuine one to watch.
Earlier today we were informed that Japanese Super Flyweight champion Kenta Nakagawa (18-3-1, 12) [中川 健太] has got his first defense set, as he takes on mandatory challenger Yuta Matsuo (15-4-2, 8) [松尾雄太] as part of the Champion Carnival, on May 16th
For Nakagawa this will be his first defense of his second reign, after he reclaimed the title last year from Takayuki Okumoto, taking a clear decision over Okumoto in Osaka. His first reign was a short one, lasting only 5 months before he lost the title to Ryuichi Funai in his first defense. He'll be hoping for a more meaningful reign this time around.
On the other hand Matsuo is fighting in his third title fight, after having previously fought for the Japanese "interim" Flyweight title and the Japanese Super Flyweight title, losing to Okumoto last year. He earned his shot thanks to a draw with Hiroyuki Kudaka back in December.
Given the styles of the two men involved this should be a very fan friendly bout, even if neither of the men are particularly big names.
The bout is set to take place at the Sumida City Gymnasium in Tokyo. At the time of writing no under-card details have been released, though with the bout set for mid-May we're not expecting many more details on this one any time soon.
At the end of 2019 we saw WBO Asia Pacific Super Bantamweight title bout between Yusaku Kuga (19-4-1, 13) [久我勇作] and Jhunriel Ramonal (17-8-6, 10). The result of that bout was an opening round win for Ramonal, who denied Kuga a chance of becoming a double champion.
Despite that loss Kuga remained the Japanese Super Bantamweight champion and today we were informed his next defense was for April 28th as part of this year's Champion Carnival.
The heavy handed Kuga will be making his second defense of the title, which he now holds for the second time, as he takes on mandatory challenger Gakuya Furuhashi (26-8-1, 14) [古橋大輔], with the bout pencilled to take place at Korakuen Hall.
Kuga, from the Watanabe Gym, became a 2-time champion last May, when he beat Ryoichi Tamura in a 10 round barn burner to reclaim the title. He made his first defense in September, when he took out Yosuke Fujihara in just 95 seconds. Then he ended the year with the loss to Ramonal.
As for Furuhashi he is riding an 8 fight winning streak since a 2016 loss in a Japanese title fight to Yasutaka Ishimoto. He earned this title shot with a win in September over Ryoichi Tamura to secure his third shot at the title.
At the moment there are no other bouts for this show have been reported, though it seems likely that there would be at least 1 other notable bout on the show, as well as the typical Japanese under-card of novices and prospects.
News regarding bouts in Japan have been really slow this year, even slower than we typically see in January. Thankfully however our sources have began to send us more and more information and today we were informed of the plan for the April Diamond Glove show.
The card, which will take place at Korakuen Hall, is planned to be a Japanese title double header, and a significant part of the 2020 Champion Carnival.
One of the bouts will see Japanese Bantamweight champion Yusuke Suzuki (11-3, 7) [鈴木悠介] defending his title against mandatory challenger Kyosuke Sawada (14-2-1, 6) [澤田京介]. Interestingly this will be the second time these two men have faced off, having actually fought in 2013. Their first bout saw Suzuki defeat a then debuting Sawada, in what was Suzuki's second professional bout.
For Suzuki this will be his first defense, following his title win last July over Yuta Saito, in what was a truly brutal bout. As for Sawada the bout will be his first title bout.
The other part of the double header is a Japanese Featherweight title bout, and will see Ryo Sagawa (9-1, 4) [佐川遼] make his second defense as he takes on Hinata Maruta (10-1-1, 8) [丸田陽七太] in what is one of the standout bouts of the Champion Carnival.
Sagawa is currently riding an 8 fight winning streak, including excellent wins over Ryo Matsumoto and Reiya Abe, and is looking to build on his first defense, against Ryo Hino. As for Maruta he's looking to claim the national title in his first shot at the belt, having previously come up short in an OPBF Super Bantamweight title bout against Hidenori Otake.
At the moment no under-card details have been revealed, but given how exciting the double header is we wouldn't expect too much quality on the under-card.
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