After being rumoured for months, we have finally had confirmation this morning that Vic Saludar (18-3, 10) will be defending the WBO Minimumweight title against Japan's Masataka Taniguchi (11-2, 7) [谷口 将隆].
We were informed earlier today that the bout is now a done deal for February 26th at the Korakuen Hall in Tokyo.
The contest, which was first mentioned late last year, and originally targeted for New Year's Eve, slipped back and was rumoured for February 25th before today's information on the bout now being done.
For Saludar the bout will be his first defense, following his excellent title win last year, when he defeated Ryuya Yamanaka [山中 竜也] by unanimous decision, whilst Taniguchi will be getting his first world title fight.
The hard hitting champion, who also famously challenged the then champion Kosei Tanaka in 2015, will be fighting in Japan for the third times and has started to become popular with the local fans due to his style, aggression and power. He has proven his qualities in both of his prior Japanese bouts and we're really looking forward to seeing how he performs here.
The challenger on the other hand has lost in a Japanese title bout to Reiya Konishi and an OPBF title bout to Tsubasa Koura, though won the WBO Asia Pacific title bout last year when he defeated Joel Lino, to claim a professional title at the third attempt. It's worth noting that both of his losses were razor close and that with just a tiny bit of luck he would be 13-0.
At the moment the under-card is unconfirmed, though the date does match up for several other Watanabe gym fighters. These include a Japanese Bantamweight title bout between Yuta Saito (11-9-3, 8) [齊藤裕太] and Hayato Kimura (28-10, 19) [木村隼人] as well as the next bout of Ginjiro Shigeoka (1-0, 1) [重岡銀次朗] and potentially also the return of Seiya Tsutsumi (4-0, 3) [堤聖也], so we would expect at least 1 other bout of noting being added to this show when the full card is confirmed.
The bout will likely be officially announced in January, if it is signed and sealed as suspected, and would be one Watanabe's first major shows of the new year with the potential for the card to also feature the Japanese Bantamweight bout between Yuta Saito (11-9-3, 8) [齊藤裕太] and Hayato Kimura (28-10, 19) [木村隼人].
For Saludar the bout will serve as his first defense of the title, the title he won in July when he out pointed Ryuya Yamanaka, whilst Taniguchi will be getting his first world title fight, having previously fought for the Japanese, OPBF and WBO Asia Pacific title, winning only the WBO regional belt.
Earlier today at the Tokyo Dome Hotel the media were able to attend the press conference to announce the 2019 Champion Carnival bouts, with 13 contests being officially announced.
As previously reported the Minimumweight bout will see defending champion Shin Ono (23-9-3, 6) [小野 心] defending his title against Norihito Tanaka (17-7, 9) [田中教仁] on January 12th at the Korakuen Hall.
The Light Flyweight bout, to fill the recent vacancy left by Tetsuya Hisada (33-9-2, 19) [久田 哲也], will see Kenichi Horikawa (38-15-1, 12) [堀川 謙一] battle against Satoru Todaka (9-2-4, 3) [戸髙達], with this bout set to take place on February 14th, also at the Korakuen Hall.
The Flyweight bout, like the Minimumweight bout, had already been announced and will see Junto Nakatani (17-0, 12) [中谷 潤人] and Naoki Mochizuki (15-3, 8) [望月直樹] fight on February 2nd at the Korakuen Hall. This bout is to fill the vacancy left by Masayuki Kuroda (30-7-3, 16) [黒田 雅之], who like Hisada has stated he intends to fight for a world title in 2019.
The Super Flyweight champion Takayuki Okumoto (21-8-4, 10) [奥本 貴之] will defend his title on April 21st in Osaka, and will see Okumoto battle against Yuta Matsuo (15-3-1, 8) [松尾雄太], in what will be Okumoto's second defense of the title.
The Bantamweight bout will be a unification bout as regular champion Yuta Saito (11-9-3, 8) [齊藤裕太], who has been suffering from illness recently, battling against recently crowned interim champion Hayato Kimura (28-10, 19) [木村隼人]. There is no set date on this bout, but it's expected to take place in Tokyo, with the Korakuen Hall the most likely venue.
The Super Bantamweight title will have it's vacancy filled on January 12th, on the same show as the Ono Vs Tanaka card. Fighting for the title will be Mugicha Nakagawa (24-5-1, 14) [武田勇太] and Ryoichi Tamura (11-3-1, 6) [田村 亮一], who will be looking to follow in the footsteps of former champion Shingo Wake (25-5-2, 17) [和氣 慎吾] who looks to be heading towards a world title fight, like Hisada and Kuroda.
Arguably the best match up for the Champion Carnival is the Featherweight bout, which will pit Taiki Minamoto (16-5, 13) [源大輝] against Reiya Abe (18-2, 9) [阿部 麗也], who will be battling former amateur stand out Daisuke Sugita (4-0, 3) [杉田大祐] in January before facing Minamoto on May 1st at the Korakuen Hall. This is, to us, the stand out bout of the Champion Carnival and is genuinely a mouth watering clash.
The Japanese Super Featherweight champion Masaru Sueyoshi (18-1-1, 11) [末吉 大] will take on Ken Osato (15-2-1, 4) [大里拳], in a rematch of the bout the two men had during the 2018 Champion Carnival. This contest will take place on May 4th at the Korakuen Hall and will see Osato looking to avenge his loss and Sueyoshi looking to repeat his win over Osato.
The unbeaten Shuichiro Yoshino (9-0, 7) [吉野 修一郎] will be making his 4th defense of the Japanese Lightweight title, as he takes on the challenge of Accel Sumiyoshi (11-4-3, 3) [アクセル住吉]. This bout is set to take place on April 11th at the Korakuen Hall.
Another bout that really whets the appetite is the Japanese Light Welterweight title bout. That contest will see champion Valentine Hosokawa (24-6-3, 11) [細川バレンタイン] defending his belt on April 6th at the Korakuen Hall against Koki Inoue (12-0, 10) [浩樹井上] in a mouth watering step up for the challenger.
We'll see attention turn to Osaka for the Welterweight title bout, as Ryota Yada (18-4, 15) [矢田良太] defends his belt against Yuki Nagano (15-2, 11) [永野祐樹]. This bout is set to take place on April 21st, though the specific venue wasn't announced.
The Light Middleweight title bout will see Nobuyuki Shindo (20-4-2, 8) [新藤寛之] defending the title against Hironobu Matsunaga (14-1, 8) [松永 宏信] in what should be a thrilling contest between a very hungry challenger and an under-rated champion. These two will clash at the Korakuen Hall on May 1st, as a double header with the Minamoto Vs Abe bout.
On March 2nd we'll see Japanese Middleweight champion Kazuto Takesako (10-0, 10) [竹迫司登] defending his belt against Shuji Kato (10-1-1, 6) [加藤収二], in what will be Takesako's second defense. This will also be at the Korakuen Hall.
At the moment the full details of who will be showing what bouts is unclear, but we're glad to now have most of the matches set, with dates and venues.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Fight fans at the Korakuen Hall, and subscribers to Boxingraise, were able to watch a new Japanese "interim" Bantamweight champion being crowned as multi-time title challenger Hayato Kimura (28-10, 19) [木村隼人] and Seizo Kono (19-11-1, 12) [高野誠三] battled for the belt. On paper this looked interesting, with both being flawed, but decent, fighters chasing a potentially career defining win and opening up a bout for the full version of the title in early 2019 against the beatable Yuta Saito (11-9-3, 8) [齊藤裕太], who is currently battling illness.
Sadly for a bout that promised quite a bit, it massively under-delivered with the styles and mentality of both men not really lending it's self to a good fight. Instead it was a rather dull watch, with Kono being far more skilled, but far less aggressive, and Kimura being aggressive but lacking the skills needed to land.
The first round saw Kimura start fast, possibly looking to jump on Kono before he could settle. It wasn't long however until Kono started to control the distance and timing, countering and avoiding the shots of Kimura, who at times looked like a rank novice, flailing at the air. Sadly Kono refused to really let his hands go, even when the openings were there.
Despite landing the better shots, including sharp straight right hands, and clean jabs, Kono seemed to be too focused on his defense which seemed to be responsible for him being down when the open scoring was announced after round 5. Kimura, due to missing so often, dropped his work rate and began to target the body, a smart game plan, and likely part of why he was in the lead.
In round 6 the pace did pick up a bit, and it seemed like Kimura was the man again forcing the action, as the Hall picked up it's volume. The following round saw Kono being dragged into a war, as his defense began to fall apart under the pressure of Kimura, pressure that was becoming significantly more intense. Despite the early successes of Kono's counters he was completely falling apart, unable to back up, or get the respect of, Kimura who was wading in and raining down punches, and having real success with his right hand around the guard.
With Kono having had a nightmare round 7 it seemed like he would have to come out fast for round 8. Sadly though he was tired and being worn down by the aggression of Kimura, which just never relented, forcing the referee to eventually step in and save Kono.
It was clear that Kono was skilled, through the first 5 rounds he looked very talented, and he managed to give Kimura some slight swelling under his right eye. The problem for Kono however was that Kimura's body attack in rounds 4 and 5 began to take slow the reflexes of Kono and the with the increase in pressure in round 6, and particularly round 7, really took everything he had out of the tank and it seemed like a matter of time until the Kono was going to be stopped.
A bout between Kimura and Saito will be pretty stylistically in the new year, with the winner of that mandated to defense against Yusuke Suzuki (9-3, 6) [鈴木悠介]. They should both be fan friendly bouts, but sadly this wasn't, at least not until round 6 when Kimura began to pick up the pace.
Tomorrow fight fans will be able to see Hayato Kimura (27-10, 18) [木村隼人] and Seizo Kono (19-10-1, 12) [高野誠三] battle for the Japanese interim Bantamweight title.
Interestingly the good people at Polish betting website STS have priced the bout up for gamblers in the country.
They have made Kimura the betting favourite, pricing him at 1.25, which is 1/4 or -400, to win the contest. The odds on Kono to win are 3.2, which is 11/5 or +220.
The bout is also expected to go long, with the over/under being set at 7.5 rounds, with odds of 1.30, with is the equivalent or 3/10 or -333, on it going over. The odds on under 7.5 rounds are 2.9, which is the same as 19/10 or +190.
Related-Kimura and Kono battle for interim Japanese title!
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
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