The curse of the Japanese Bantamweight title has been on going saga this year, with 3 fights for the bout cancelled before Yuta Saito (11-9-3, 8) [齊藤裕太] defeated Eita Kikuchi [菊地永太] for the belt back in September.
Saito was pencilled in to defend the belt in a mandatory title fight before the year was over, with Yusuke Suzuki (9-3, 6) [鈴木悠介] his supposed opponent. Sadly that bout has been cancelled before it was even officially announced. Sadly the reason for the cancellation is a pretty serious one.
Saito, who's bout with Suzuki was expected to take place on December 20th, has been diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, a serious chronic condition that could keep him out of the ring for a prolonged time, and prevent him really building on the win over Kikuchi.
As a result of Saito's illness we will instead see Hayato Kimura (27-10, 18) [木村隼人] facing off with Seizo Kono (19-10-1, 12) [高野誠三] for the interim title on December. This bout was originally ordered as a Japanese title decider, but due to the health issues of Saito the JBC have taken the decision to put the interim title on the line.
Suzuki doesn't totally miss out. Instead the long term plan is for him to fight the eventual unified champion. Saito will need to face the interim champion within 4 months of the Kimura Vs Kono bout, to unify the titles, and the winner of the unification bout will need to face Suzuki within 3 months.
Whilst it does lead to an exciting year ahead for the Japanese Bantamweight title we do need to wonder quite why so many health issues have effected people, including Suzuki, linked to the belt since the start of this year. And we also need to wish Saito the best with his medical problem, which can have a significant effect on day to day life for sufferers.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
An important part of the Japanese boxing calendar is the Champion Carnival, which takes place in the first half of the year. The fighters who compete in the Champion Carnival are the national champions and the leading domestic contenders.
In August we a number of bouts to decide the top contenders being announced, with 6 such bouts being set for October 12, on a stacked card at the Korakuen Hall.
For those missed that report those bouts on October 12th will be:
Light Flyweight - Kenichi Horikawa (37-15-1, 11) [堀川 謙一] Vs Koji Itagaki (18-12-3, 7) [板垣幸司]
The Super Flyweight - Yuta Matsuo (14-3-1, 7) [松尾雄太] Vs Rey Orais (20-17-2, 5)
Super Bantamweight - Mugicha Nakagawa (23-5-1, 14) [武田勇太] Vs Naoya Okamoto (13-6-1, 6) [岡本直也].
Super Featherweight - Ken Osato (14-2-1, 4) [大里拳] Vs Satoru Sugita (14-5-1, 9) [杉田聖]
Light Welterweight - Koki Inoue (11-0, 10) [浩樹井上] Vs Marcus Smith (6-0-1, 6)
Light Middleweight Koshinmaru Saito (24-9-2, 13) [斉藤伸介] vs Hironobu Matsunaga (13-1, 7) [松永 宏信]
As well as the October 12th card we also, recently, saw the confirmation that the Flyweight bout would see Junto Nakatani (16-0, 12) [中谷 潤人] battle against Shun Kosaka (15-4, 4) [小坂駿], which that bout now set for October 6th as part of notable Japanese domestic card which is set to be televised on G+.
Today saw the rest of the bouts being announced.
On October 21st we'll have two of them take place in Fukuoka. One of those is the Minimumweight bout, which will see Takumi Sakae (19-2-1, 13) [榮拓海] take on Norihito Tanaka (16-7, 9) [田中教仁], in what could end up being one of the surprise contests from these eliminator style contests. On the same card will be the Welterweight clash between Yuki Beppu (18-0-1, 18) [別府優樹] and Yuki Nagano (14-2, 11) [永野祐樹], in what we are expecting to be a very explosive and exciting encounter between two fighters with very solid power at this level.
A week later, October 28th, we'll get the Lightweight bout, which will see Accel Sumiyoshi (11-4-2, 3) [アクセル住吉] face off with Tatsuya Yanagi (15-5-1, 6) [柳達也]. This bout will take place in Shimonoseki, Yamaguchi prefecture, which should favour Sumiyoshi but given the styles of the two men this has the potential to be very exciting.
On November 7th we'll get the Middleweight bout as former champion Hikaru Nishida (17-9-1, 8) [西田光] takes on Shuji Kato (9-1-1, 6) [加藤収二], with this bout taking place at the Korakuen Hall.
The only bout with out a set date so far is the Bantamweight bout. Despite no set date we do know that Hayato Kimura (27-10, 18) [木村隼人] facing off with Seizo Kono (19-10-1, 12) [高野誠三], in what is a bit of an under-whelming contest given some of the Japanese domestic talent in the division. This bout is expected to have it's date and venue announced in the coming weeks.
Earlier today saw the East Japan Boxing Association announce their monthly award winners for the month of February.
The MVP for the month was Japanese Lightweight champion Shuichiro Yoshino (7-0, 5) [吉野修一郎], who successfully defended his title on February 8th against mandatory challenger Masaki Saito (14-13-6, 5) [斉藤正樹]. The champion, making his first defense, stopped Saito in the first round in what was a very impressive display.
The Fighting Spirit award was won by Hayato Kimura (27-10, 18) [木村 隼人所属], who stopped Kenya Yamashita (12-4, 9) [山下賢哉] in a barn burner on February 26th. The experienced Kimura out lasted Yamashita and stopped him in the 7th round of the contest to put himself straight back into the title mix, and potentially get himself a title fight later this year.
The Newcomer Award was won by Naoya Okamoto (13-6-1, 6) [岡本直也], who took a majority decision win against Yuta Saito (10-9-3, 7) [齊藤裕太] on February 26th.
The three men will be given their awards at a ceremony on April 12th at the Korakuen Hall.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
This past Saturday fight fans had the chance to see "Superfly 2", which was a genuinely fantastic card combining skills, action and excitement. Today Japanese fans got another dose of Super Flyweight action, as the domestically ranked Kenya Yamashita (12-4, 9) [山下賢哉] battled 2-time Japanese title challenger Hayato Kimura (27-10, 18) [木村 隼人所属] in an all thriller.
For those who have followed Yamashita's career so far the bout was a typical Yamashita fight. It was fought at close range with both men throwing a huge number of punches and standing toe to toe. Surprisingly however it was Kimura who came out on top as he rode the assaults of Yamashita and banged in some pretty brutal body shots to take some of the sting out of his foe.
In round 6 it seemed clear that Yamashita was struggling with the pace, despite the fight being fought at his normal range. The youngster refused to back off however and was rattled by some clean shots from Kimura, who was using all the tools in his arsenal to pick away at Yamashita, and his badly swelling eye.
In round 7, with Yamashita's eye almost closed, the referee stepped in. The 21 year old hadn't been down, and had thrown a shot back just before the stoppage, but there was no real complaint with the referee's actions given the swelling and how Kimura was clearly surging whilst Yamashita was quickly fading.
With the win Kimura looks on the verge of a third Japanese title fight, and in all honesty it wouldn't be a shock to see him clinching the title in the near future. He's nowhere world class, but can certainly win a domestic title. For Yamashita there is no questioning his excitement or style, though he does perhaps deserve a bit of care from his team given this was his third stoppage loss, and his style doesn't make for very long careers. Saying that however Yamashita is one of the most exciting domestic level talents in Japan and we can't help but enjoy watching the heavy handed warrior, despite all his limitations.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Tomorrow fight fans at the Korakuen Hall will get the next in the Dangan line of shows. The main event of the card will see two Japanese Ranked Super Flyweights face off in a potentially thrilling clash between youth and experience.
The bout in question will see the all action Kenya Yamashita (12-3, 9) [山下賢哉] take on former 2-time Japanese title challenger Hayato Kimura (26-10, 17) [木村 隼人所属].
Today the two men weighed in for the bout. On the scales Yamashita made the 115lb limit on his first attempt, and looked solid at the weight. He stated that he sees this bout as his chance to move from a Youth fighter, with him actually being the Japanese Youth Super Flyweight champion, to a full contender at the domestic level.
For Kimura things were a little more difficult, and he was around 115.5lbs on his first attempt to weigh in. He did however manage to go away and lose the excess weight to come in at 114.8lbs. Apparently the cold weather in Tokyo made it tricky for him to sweat out the water weight for the first weigh in, though the extra time saw him manage to lose more than enough weight.
For fans wanting to watch this card it will be added to the Boxingraise website later in the week.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
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