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.
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)
Earlier today saw the Champion Carnival match ups for 2016 being announced.
The bouts, which see the Japanese champions taking on their mandatory challengers, will take place in 13 weigh classes between March 11th and April 28th with a huge bonus awarded to the MVP of event.
At Minimumweight the match up will see defending champion Tatsuya Fukuhara (16-4-5, 6) [福原 辰弥] defending his belt, for the first time, against world ranked foe Takumi Sakae (13-0, 8) [榮 拓海]. That match up a brilliant one, despite the contrasting records, and really should tell us a lot about both men going forward.
At Light Flyweight the fast rising Ken Shiro (6-0, 3) [拳 四朗] will face off against former world title challenger Atsuhsi Kakutani (17-4-1, 10) [角谷 淳志]. This is one of the tru stand out bouts and is likely to be another tough test for the 24 year old champion, who seems unlikely to ever have another easy one, whilst Kakutani has been awaiting a title fight for over a year now.
At Flyweight we expected fireworks as as former world title challengers collide in what should be a genuine war. The champion going in is the all action Takuya Kogawa (25-4, 13) [粉川 拓也] whilst his mandatory challenger is the gutsy Masayuki Kuroda (24-6-3, 14) [黒田 雅之].
The Super Flyweight bout will see unbeaten champion Sho Ishida (21-0, 11) [石田 匠] defending his belt against former OPBF title challenger Ryuichi Funai (24-6, 16) [船井 龍一]. For Ishida this will be his 5th defense of the title whilst Funai will have to make the Super Flyweight limit for the first time in more than 8 years.
In the Bantamweight division we see a vacant title up for grabs as former champion Kentaro Masuda (23-7, 12) [益田 健太郎] battles the unbeaten Yushi Tanaka (16-0-3, 10) [田中 裕士]. The title was vacated in late 2015 by Shohei Omori, ahead of Omori's WBO world title eliminator against Marlon Tapales, and we've managed to end up with a genuinely excellent match up between a veteran and a rising hopeful.
The Super Bantamweight bout appears to be one of the least interesting as Yasutaka Ishimoto (27-8, 7) [石本 康隆] defends his title against the little known Yosuke Fujihara (16-3, 4) [藤原 陽介]. Sadly this bout says more about the state of the division domestically than much else with Shingo Wake and Yukinori Oguni both progressing beyond the Japanese domestic scene and Ishimoto has recently scored wins over both Gakuya Furuhashi and Yusaku Kuga. Whilst Shun Kubo has won the OPBF title and Sho Nakazawa and Hinata Maruta are too low down the domestic rankings. It's a great division in Japan but this isn't a mouth watering match up.
The Featherweight bout will see old adversaries collide as Satoshi Hosono (30-2-1, 20) [細野 悟] battles Rikiya Fukuhara (31-8-1, 23) [福原 力也] for the third time in less than 4 years. In their first meeting Hosono stopped Fukuhara, back in 2012, whilst last year Hosono took a well earned, but relatively unimpressive, decision over his rival. We're expecting Hosono to go 3-0 against Fukuhara but the bout certainly won't lack excitement given the styles of the two men involved.
The super Featherweight bout will see heavy handed champion Kenichi Ogawa (17-1, 14) [尾川 堅一] defending his title against Satoru Sugita (11-2-1, 7) [杉田 聖]. This will be Ogawa's first defense of the title and it's hard to see him losing to Sugita, despite the fact Sugita is enjoying a rich vein of form with 5 straight wins coming into this one.
On paper one of the best bouts is he Lightweight contest between current champion Kota Tokunaga (17-2, 11) [徳永 幸大] and former champion Nihito Arakawa (26-6-1, 16) [荒川 仁人] in what could, potentially, be Arakawa's last shot at a title. Both will give their all here and this could end up being a bit of a war given the challenger's toughness and the champion's advantage in size.
In the Light Welterweight/Super Lightweight division we get another rematch as the unbeaten Hiroki Okada (11-0, 9) [岡田 博喜] defends his title against former foe Koichi Aso (20-6-1, 13) [麻生 興一]. Their first bout was a lot of fun and we're expecting this one to be just as fun, though it does need to be said that Okada has developed notably in recent fights and will still be fancied over the exciting Aso.
At Welterweight we'll see newly crowned champion Nobuyuki Shindo (17-3-1, 6) [新藤 寛之] defending his title against the heavy handed Toshio Arikawa (12-4, 10) [有川 稔男]. This bout was one we knew about before it was announced and really does look like a potentially exciting contest, with Arikawa having genuine fight ending power.
The Light Middleweight bout will see veteran Yuki Nonaka (28-8-3, 9) [野中 悠樹] defending his title against the really under-rated Yuto Shimizu (11-2-2, 4) [清水 優人], who has won his last 8 including victories over Hikaru Nishida, Toru Chiba, Takehrio Shimokawara and Yosuke Kirima. This could be a very tough test for the defending champion.
And finally, the Middleweight bout, which has already been announced and is another rematch, will see Akio Shibata (27-8-1, 13) [柴田 明雄] defending his title against the "better than his record suggests" Hikaru Nishida (14-7-1, 6) [西田 光], in a bout now set for March 11th.
With all 26 fighters being at the announcements earlier today it does seem likely that all 13 bouts will go ahead as planned, however the champions may decide to vacate their belts if a world title opportunity rears it's head.
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
Earlier today saw the JBC announce the award winners for this year's Champion Carnival bouts. As with the month awards there were 3 awards up for grabs, the MVP , the Fighting Spirit and the Skills award.
The MVP award went to the fantastic Shohei Omori (14-0, 9) who claimed the Japanese Bantamweight title on April 13th with a destructive 3rd round victory over Kentaro Masuda. Going in to the Champion Carnival bouts this looked like the most interesting bout on paper though proved to be a one-sided beat down as Omori proved to be too big and too fast for his brave foe who was lucky to see out the opening round. For those wanting to watch Omori Vs Masuda we've included the video at the bottom of this post.
The Skills Award was won by Super Featherweight champion Rikki Naito (12-0, 5) for his narrow defense against fellow speedster Masayuki Ito on February 9th. This bout was another highly anticipated contest and was one of the most competitive of the Champion Carnival match ups with not a lot separating the two slick fighters. We'll now see Naito return on June 6th at the Korakuen Hall as he takes on Nihito Arakawa in another potentially mouth watering clash.
The Fight Spirit award was won by Light Welterweight champion Hiroki Okada (10-0, 8) who scored a really impressive victory against Hayato Hokazono on March 7th. Okada was the big favourite going in, so a win was no surprise, but the manner of his victory was excellent as he took the fight to Hokazono and beat him down in double quick fashion. This was Okada's second defense of the title and it showed his maturity since winning the belt.
(Image courtesy of http://www.wozboxing.com)
Yesterday we saw all of the Champions Carnival being officially announced, with all but one of those bouts now having a date and venue set, with that one in particular likely to be announced in the coming days.
The Minimumweight bout will take place on March 26th at the Korakuen Hall and will see Go Odaira (11-4-3, 1) defending his belt against Yutaka Sowano (9-5-1, 6). For Odaira this will be his 3rd defense of the title he won in January 2014 whilst Sowano will be taking part in his first title fight. This will be one of two title bouts on this show though does, unfortunately, look like one of the weakest over-all bouts.
At Light Flyweight we will see Yu Kimura (15-2-1, 2) defending his belt, for the 3rd time, against former world title challenger Shin Ono (18-6-2, 2). This bout pits world ranked fighters against each other and the winner will almost certainly be getting a world title fight later in the year. This bout is set for April 4th and will also take place at the Korakuen Hall.
In the Flyweight division we get a genuinely mouth watering encounter as the all action Suguru Muranaka (21-2-1, 7) attempts to record the 3rd defence of his title as he goes up against Tetsuma Hayashi (25-2-2, 9). Muranaka is universally world ranked and has looked in great form recently with wins over Takuya Kogawa and Masayuki Kuroda in 2 of his last 3 bouts. Hayashi himself comes into this bout unbeaten in 8 bouts dating back to April 2012. This bout is set for April 8th and will also take place at the Korakuen Hall.
The Super Flyweight bout will see the unbeaten Sho Ishida (18-0, 10) defending his belt against Taiki Eto (14-3, 10). For Ishida this will be his second defense as the 23 year old attempts to work towards a world title later in the year. As for Eto this is a second chance to claim the national title that he failed to win when he fought Yohei Tobe last year. Notable this bout has no venue or date set though the suspicion is that it will be in Osaka, likely at the Bodymaker Colosseum, on the undercard of the much anticipated WBA Flyweight title bout between Juan Carlos Reveco and Kazuto Ioka. Notably this lends credence to the fact the Ioka Vs Reveco bout will be in April.
The Bantamweight title bout is possibly the pick of the bunch as Kentaro Masuda (21-6, 11), a late bloomer, hunts the 3rd defence of his title. Masuda, who looked sensational when he blasted out Konosuke Tomiyama in his first defense, will be up against the fast rising Shohei Omori (13-0, 8). To say Omori had a great 2014 is stating the obvious withhis win over Christian Esquivel being a fantastic victory however Masuda has really bloomed himself and this looks like it's going to be something very special. The date for this one has been set for April 13th and will be yet another bout at the Korakuen Hall.
Yukinori Oguni (14-1, 4) will be making the first defense of his Super Bantamweight title as he takes on Gakuya Furuhashi (17-5, 7). This bout is a notable on for both men with Oguni trying to defend the title and move towards a world title bout whilst Furuhashi gets a long awaited title bout. For those who don't recall Furuhashi was originally set to fight then champion Hidenori Otake back on July 18th of last year, of course Otake suffered a rib injury and then went on to vacate the titleto battle Scott Quigg for the WBA world title. Otake's injury may have cost Furuhashi a title shot last year but it did leave an opportunity for Oguni who took it by defeating Yasutaka Ishimoto and we now find the Oguni colliding with Furuhashi who finally gets his chance on April 30th at the Korakuen Hall in what is 1 of 3 titles bouts on the same show, more about that later.
Another very interesting, and potentially explosive, encounter comes at Featherweight where Satoshi Hosono (26-2-1, 20) looks to defend his title against Rikiya Fukuhara (30-7-1, 22). This is a rematch of a non-title bout the two men had back in 2012 and is also a rescheduled bout that was supposed to take place last year, before Fukuhara suffered an injury. We suspect this could be very exciting as long as it lasts though we do feel that Hosono has to be favoured when the two come to blows on March 5th at the Korakuen Hall.
Yet another really good bout, and in fact the first of the Champion Carnival bouts, takes place on February 9th and sees unbeaten Super Featherweight champion Rikki Naito (11-0, 5) attempt to record his 3rd defence as he battles fellow unbeaten Masayuki Ito (16-0-1, 7) in what looks like a genuinely brilliant bout that is set to be a high speed chess match. This "unbeaten showdown" is the perfect way to kick off the Champion Carnival match ups.
As mentioned earlier there will be 3 title fights on April 30th, one of those is the Super Bantamweight title bout, another is the Lightweight title bout that will see Kota Tokunaga (14-2, 9) fighting against Yuya Sugizaki (20-9-1, 6) for the vacant belt. Both men will be fighting in their first title bouts and it's probably fair to say this is the weakest of the bouts however it's he sort of bout that could be surprisingly good with both fighters going all out to make a name for themselves and win the title.
At 140lbs we will see the unbeaten Hiroki Okada (9-0, 7) attempt to record his second defense of the title as he battles against former title challenger Hayato Hokazono (18-4-1, 11). Okada's predecessor, Keita Obara, took 4 rounds to deny Hokazono the title in April 2013 however Obara looks to be significantly better than Okada. For Okada this is a good, solid test whilst Hokazono gets a second bite at the proverbial apple in what looks like a competitive match up but not a headline stealing one. This will be one of two bouts on March 7th at the Korakuen Hall.
The other title bout on March 7th takes place at Welterweight as Suyon Takayama (21-1, 7) attempts to record his 5th defence of the title. Takayama, who won the title back in December 2012, will be up against former foe Nobuyuki Shindo (16-2, 6) in a rematch of a 2008 encounter, won by Shindo via split decision. We'll be honest Takayama is one of the weakest champions in Japan and we'd not be shocked to see him dethroned by Shindo, however Shindo himself is no world beater and this could be another close contest between the two men.
On April 19th at the Sumiyoshi Ward Center in Osaka we see Japanese Light Middleweight champion Yuki Nonaka (27-8-2, 9) defending his belt for the second time as he takes on former champion Takayuki Hosokawa (26-10-3, 9). This bout is a fight with possible world title implications as both men are ranked by the IBF and is a fight we actually expected to see last year, before Hosokawa vacated the belt due to illness. Nonaka comes into this bout on the back ofa very good, albeit razor thin, win over Charlie Ota and a win here would really put Nonaka onto the verges of a world title eliminator.
The Middleweight bout, which takes place on the same show as the Odaira/Sowano contest, will see Akio Shibata (24-8-1, 10) defending his Japanese title for the 3rd time as he takes on Yasuyuki Akiyama (10-4-1, 8) in what looks to be a mismatch. Shibata, the unified OPBF and Japanese champion, has to be heavily favoured here though Akiyama has nothing to lose and will be coming into the contest full of confidence courtesy of his longest career winning streak, 4 bouts.
Possibly the most interesting bout for Western fans comes at Heavyweight where Kyotaro Fuimoto (11-1, 6) attempts to record his 3rd defence of the title and over-come nemesis Nobuhiro Ishida (27-10-2, 11) in a much anticipated rematch that takes place exactly a year after their first, very competitive, meeting. A year ago Fujimoto took home the win over Ishida in an 8 round bout that began Ishida's Heavyweight run, since then both men have picked up a couple of wins and Ishida has literally done all he can to force this rematch which could be one of the true highlights of the Champions Carnival. For those wondering this is the 3rd bout on the April 30th card at the Korakuen Hall.
The table below lists all the bouts in date order:
Note-All bouts except for the Lightweight bout sees “Fighter 1” entering as the champion.
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