Back on May 1st we saw a thrilling Japanese Featherweight title bout, as defending champion Taiki Minamoto (16-5-1, 13) [源大輝] just retained his title, fighting to a draw with Reiya Abe (19-2-1, 9) [阿部 麗也]. After the bout their was talk about a rematch, and talk about Minamoto potentially moving up. We'll be honest and admit we wanted to see a rematch, the first really was that good, though today the hope of a rematch was ended.
The decision has been made by Minamoto to abandon the division and begin campaigning at Super Featherweight, due to issues making the 126lb weight limit. Whilst that does ruin hope of a rematch it's not a bad thing for fans who are now set to get another hard hitting in the already stacked Japanese Super Featherweight picture and a number of potentially interesting bouts to fill the title void at Featherweight.
For the vacant title we would expect to see Abe fighting for the belt again next, with likely opponent being highly ranked by the JBC. The #2 ranked fighter, behind Abe, is former world title challenger Genesis Servania (32-2, 15) and we would certainly expect that to be an amazing match up. Others ranked highly by the JBC include Ryo Hino (13-1-2, 8) [日野僚], who would look to avenge a 2015 loss to Abe, the in form Ryo Sagawa (7-1, 4) [佐川遼], former world title challenger Hiroshige Osawa (35-5-4, 21) [大沢宏晋] and super talented youngster Hinata Maruta (9-1-1, 7) [丸田陽七太]. Any of those 5 possible foes against Abe would be great.
With Minamoto moving up he will find himself linked to fights against the likes of Japanese champion Masaru Sueyoshi (19-1-1, 11) [末吉 大] and former world champion Masayuki Ito (25-2-1, 13) [伊藤 雅雪], among others. Though, for now,m he'd be unable to challenge for the OPBF title held by Watanabe gym stablemate Hironori Mishiro (7-0-1, 2) [三代大訓], who defends that title in July.
Whilst it's obviously a shame we won't see Abe and Minamoto run it back with a rematch, the move up in weight for Minamoto is better for his health, and really changes the dynamic on the Japanese scene at both Featherweight and Super Featherweight.
Earlier today WBA "regular" Bantamweight champion Naoya Inoue (17-0, 15) [井上 尚弥] took part in a 4 round spar in front of the media.
The spar saw Inoue share the ring with former world title challenger Genesis Servania (32-2, 15), as he continues to prepare for his May clash with IBF Bantamweight champion Emmanuel Rodriguez (19-0, 12).
The spar saw Inoue looking super sharp with his jab being particularly crisp, and landing to both head and body of Servania.
Although Servania has often been a sparring partner for Inoue, especially in the last couple of years, he was seemingly playing the role of a "virtual" Rodriguez today, and Inoue stated, “The hairstyle and height are similar to Rodrigues, so it is easy to imagine. I want to confirm what I want to do.” It appears that Servania had a haircut in an attempt to look more like Rodriguez and to imitate him, without Inoue or his team even needing to ask the Japanese based Filipino.
Inoue, who turns 26 years old tomorrow, was wearing new sparring gear, bought for him by promoter Hideyuki Ohashi as a birthday present. The new gear is said to be very similar to what he's planning to wear against Rodriguez in Glasgow.
Inoue's sparring will continue with Servania over the coming days, whilst other Filipino and top amateurs will join in as Inoue continues to sharpen his tools ahead of the Rodriguez clash, in what will be a WBSS semi final.
(Image courtesy off Nikkan Sports)
On Sunday night in Fresno fans were able to witness several upsets, one of which saw former world title challenger Genesis Servania (32-2, 15) suffer a surprise loss to the little known Carlos Castro (22-0, 9) in a contest for the WBC Continental America's Super Bantamweight title.
The bout pitted two of Top Rank's fighters against each other with both knowing a win would open big doors to a potential world title fight later in the year. Going in Servania was the betting favourite, he had impressed on his US debut, losing a competitive fight with Oscar Valdez, and reeled off 3 KO wins since then, including one against fellow world title challenger Carlos Carlson. Castro however refused to play the role of under-dog loser, and made it clear from the off that he wasn't there to play second fiddle to the Filipino.
From the opening moments Castro looked sharp, quick and like a man with the perfect gameplan. He was using his speed to get in and out, firing off and getting away before Servania could respond. Castro's unwillingness to hold his feet made Servania look silly at times, and inactive at others as the unbeaten man racked up the early rounds by fighting smartly.
Servania would look to cut the distance, but struggle to land more than an occasional shot in the early rounds. Those occasional blows became rarer in the later rounds as his legs lost their snap, and even though Castro's output didn't increase late on he was still out working Servania.
After 10 rounds there was no questions as to who won, with Castro taking the decision 100-90, 99-91 and 98-92.
Later today once beaten Filipino fighter Genesis Servania (32-1, 15) will be facing off with the unbeaten foe Carlos Castro (21-0, 9) in a bout for the WBC Continental America's Super Bantamweight title.
Yesterday the two men took part in their weigh in and both fighters came in under the 122lb limit.
On the scales Servania, who is best known for his world title fight against Oscar Valdez, was 121.6lbs whilst Castro was 121lbs.
Servania is known to be chasing a second world title fight, and a win here would open the door to a potential second crack at world level. A win for Castro however would seriously put him on the boxing map and be, by far, the biggest win of his career.
(Photos by Mikey Williams/Top Rank).
Japanese based Filipino fighter Genesis Servania (32-1, 15) was supposed to return to the ring on January 12th in Tuscon Arizona. Originally the plan was for him to face Mexican Luis May (21-11-1, 8), as part of the under-card for Oscar Valdez's (24-0, 19) WBO Featherweight title defence against Andoni Gago (20-3-3, 6), before that show was pulled apart and cancelled.
Now Servania has a new date, venue and opponent set for his return.
The talented Filipino will be back in action on February 10th, at the Save Mart Arena in Fresno, California to take on the unbeaten American Carlos Castro (21-0, 9) in what is a much, much better bout than the proposed one with May.
The contest will take place on the under-card of Jose Carlos Ramirez's WBC Light Welterweight title defense against Jose Zepeda, and with Ramirez headlining the card the venue should be guaranteed to be packed with the champion being a huge local draw in California.
Servania, who famously dropped Oscar Valdez in a 2017 fight for the WBO Featherweight title, didn't have a great 2018, fighting just twice, but did keep his name out there with a win against Carlos Carlson on US soil. This will be his third US bout and we suspect the aim is to build him towards a second world title fight later in 2019.
Castro on the other hand is taking a major step up in class and his best wins to date have been against the likes of Juan Palacios and Jorge Diaz. He'll know a win here would push him towards a potential world title fight of his own, though will likely be aware that he's a major under-dog here.
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