Several of our Japanese sources have reported that the Japanese Middleweight Daisuke Nakagawa (22-4-2, 17) has announced his retirement from professional boxing following his decision loss on February 28th.
Nakagawa lost a Japanese/OPBF Middleweight title unification bout to Akio Shibata (22-8-1, 9) and is said to have retired immediately after the bout.
Aged 36 Nakagawa's retirement did look likely to be sooner rather than later and it's probably fair to suggest that the loss to Shibata acted like a catalyst for the decision. Had he won we don't imagine he'd have retired though with his reactions slowing it did seem that he was, at least starting, to look like an old fighter. He was "shot" by any means but he wasn't snappy and he didn't have the energy needed to capitalise on the few openings he was offered.
We would like to wish Daisuke a happy retirement if the story is true and wish him all the best in the future. He was always fun to watch with his venomous power and he had an incredible career winning Japanese titles at Welterweight, Light Middleweight and Middleweight whilst scoring notable victories over Koji Numata, Akinori Watanabe and Tomohiro Ebisu.
(Picture thanks to Teiken promotions)
Earlier today Japan's Akio Shibata (22-8-1, 9) showed that his career still has plenty of legs left in it as he unified the Japanese and OPBF Middleweight titles.
Despite losing to the debuting Ryota Murata, last August, in his previous bout Shibata showed a re-affirmed focus to his boxing earlier today as he over-came the big punching Daisuke Nakagawa (22-4-2, 17) in a very hard fought decision and claimed a second victory over Nakagawa in less than 2 years.
Shibata, who entered the fight as the OPBF champion, was widely seen as the under-dog especially when you consider how easily Murata had dealt with him. Instead however Shibata bounced back from his high profile loss and used his speed and movement to confound Nakagawa who was often left hitting air.
Unfortunately for Nakagawa, the Japanese champion going in to this bout, he was unable to really make the most of his superior power. Every time he would have any success Shibata would connect with a quick jab and an accurate straight before getting out of range. The jab and movement of Shibata all but neutralised the explosive power of Nakagawa who found himself unable to get off early in the bout and was always chasing the from round 3 onwards.
Round 9 was the best that Nakagawa had and the last one that he had any great success in. It was then followed by Shibata taking the final few rounds to secure the victory and secure his standing as the Asian Middleweight champion.
Unfortunately for Shibata this victory is unlikely to leave many thinking he's the best Middleweight in Japan. That honour is clearly belonging to Murata who, now with some professional experience under, is likely to look towards the world scene than either the Japanese or OPBF titles even though both titles are clearly there for him to grab if he so wishes.
(Picture, courtesy of http://boxingnews.jp, shows Shibata landing a right hand on Nakagawa)
The Japanese Champions Carnival has had a number of fights around for 2014. The "Carnival", which sees the Japanese national champions fighting their mandatory challengers is an annual thing and this years looks like a genuinely exciting one with a number of fantastic looking contests.
The first, which is scheduled to take place on January 17th is for the vacant Japanese Minimumweight title as Go Odaira (8-3-3, 1) takes on Masashi Tada (11-3-1, 7). This bout, at the Korakuen Hall, headlines what is already looking like a very interesting cad.
We get the second of the title fights on February 1st when Yu Kimura (12-2-1, 2) battles the experienced Kenichi Horikawa (25-12-1, 4) for the vacant Light Flyweight title. Like the Minimumweight bout this is to be held in the Korakuen Hall, though unfortunately no card has really been really been arranged around it.
The vacant Super Featherweight title will be fought for on February 10th as Rikki Naito (8-0, 4) fights Hiroyasu Matsuzaki (22-6-2, 11). This bout, also at the Korakuen Hall, is a genuinely tough match up for the unbeaten Naito and could well be his toughest test so far.
On March 1st we get arguably the best of the bouts as Japanese Middleweight champion Daisuke Nakagawa (22-3-2, 17) fights OPBF Middleweight champion Akio Shibata (21-8-1, 9). This bout is not only a unification bout but also a rematch from 2012 when Shibata narrowly beat Nakagawa for the Japanese Light Middleweight title. This one has all the ingredients of a great fight.
Just days after the Middleweight clash we expect the Light Middleweight clash as Tadashi Yuba (45-8-2, 32), pictured above, fights against Takayuki Hosokawa (24-10-3, 8). This bout, on March 4th, looks like a mismatch on paper but Yuba will be 37 by the time this fight comes around.
March 17th will see Welterweight action as champion Suyon Takayama (19-1, 7) defends his belt against Tetsuya Suzuki (29-11, 17). This will be Takayama's 3rd defense of the belt and Suzuki's first title fight since losing the Japanese Middleweight title to Makoto Fuchigami in October 2010.
A week after the Welterweight title fight we will see Super Bantamweight Hidenori Otake (21-1-3, 9) fighting against Takafumi Nakajima (22-6-1, 9). This will see Otake looking for his 4th title defence whilst Nakajima will be looking for revenge over the man who beat him to it back in August 2012.
On March 30th the highly promising Yohei Tobe (7-1-1, 4) challenges Teiru Kinoshita (19-0-1, 3) for the Super Flyweight title. This will be Kinoshita's 6th title defense whilst Tobe, who has been unsuccessful in an OPBF title fight, wil be fighting in his first Japanese national title bout.
There are 4 other have been arranged in principle though no date has been set for either. These bouts will see Suguru Muranaka defending his newly acquired Flyweight title against former champion Masayuki Kuroda and Kentaro Masuda fighting Yu Kawaguchi for the vacant Bantamweight title. This second bout however does depend on Masuda winning his fight on December 11th. The third will see Suzuki Yuhei facing Yoshitaka Kato, if Kato defeats Masayoshi Nakatani on January 11th. We also believe that Satoshi Hosono will be fighting Yuki Ogata for the vacant Featherweight title.
As well as the bouts which have been agreed in principle their are 2 champions that don't yet have a challenger. These are Light Welterweight champion Keita Obara and Heavyweight champion Kyotaro Fujimoto. Fujimoto's bout however is expected to be on March 30
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