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 (5-0-1, 5)
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.
The Champion Carnival is one of the many long traditions in Japanese boxing, and sees the Japanese champions defending their belts against the top contenders to begin the new year. The challengers are often decided by winning a challenger decision bout, or an eliminator for our Western fans, and we now have 6 such bouts set for an October 12th show at the Korakuen Hall, with those bouts taking place from Light Flyweight to Light Middleweight.
The Light Flyweight bout will see former champion Kenichi Horikawa (37-15-1, 11) [堀川 謙一] battle against former foe Koji Itagaki (18-12-3, 7) [板垣幸司]. Horikawa is 2-1 against current Japanese champion Tetsuya Hisada [久田 哲也] and will be looking to get one more bout with Hisada in 2019, unless Hisada finally lands a world title fight. Horikawa holds a notable win over Itagaki from a WBO Asia Pacific title bout back in 2017, but that will only serve as for Itagaki who himself lost in a competitive bout with Hisada earlier this year. With Horikawa now 38 and Itagaki 35 both men are coming to the end of their careers so this really is a must win for both men.
The Super Flyweight bout will see Yuta Matsuo (14-3-1, 7) [松尾雄太] battle against Japanese based Filipino veteran Rey Orais (20-17-2, 5). Coming into this Matsuo is on a good run, following a 2017 loss to Masayuki Kuroda, with recent wins over Kazuto Nakane and Ryoji Fukunaga, and certainly has moment on his side coming into this bout. Orais on the other hand has fought just once in the last 10 years, beating Ken Achiwa this past May, those has mixed with good company including Denkaosan Kaovichit and Oleydong Sithsamerchai. Orais has next to no momentum but has got significantly more experience than the Japanese local.
At Super Bantamweight we'll see Mugicha Nakagawa (23-5-1, 14) [武田勇太] face off with Naoya Okamoto (13-6-1, 6) [岡本直也]. The 29 year old Nakagawa fought in the Champion Carnival challenger decision bout last year, losing a very competitive bout to the popular Yasutaka Ishimoto, and since then has stopped Markquil Slvana and Ricky Manufoe to rebuild some momentum. Nakagawa is a real talent and although he's not in among the very elite in Japan, like Ryosuke Iwasa and Shingo Wake, he's a very good domestic fighter. Okamoto Okamoto on the other hand is currently on a nice run, with recent wins over Gaku Aikawa, Daisuke Watanabe and Yuta Saito, who fights for the Japanese Bantamweight title in September. The winner of this will a have a bout with Wake lined up, but the reality seems to be that Wake will vacate, to chase a world title fight, and the winner of this bout will get a shot at a vacant title.
The Super Featherweight bout will be a rematch between Ken Osato (14-2-1, 4) [大里拳] and Satoru Sugita (14-5-1, 9) [杉田聖], who fight in a similar challenger bout last year, with Osato narrowly defeating Sugita. Osato's win lead to a fight with Masaru Sueyoshi earlier this year, which he lost, and he is clearly hunting a rematch with Sueyoshi. Sugita on the other hand has twice challenged for the Japanese title, losing to Kenichi Ogawa twice, and will be looking to make it third time lucky. Given the Japanese talent at 130lbs, it's a bit of a shame that we're getting a rematch here, but it's hard to argue with the quality of the men in the bout, and given how competitive their first bout was this could be very interesting.
Arguably the pick of the bouts, at least on paper, comes at 140lbs as Koki Inoue (11-0, 10) [浩樹井上], the cousin of Naoya Inoue [井上 尚弥] and Takuma Inoue (11-0, 3) [井上 拓真], takes on Rookie of the Year winner Marcus Smith (5-0-1, 5). Inoue has genuinely destructive since making his debut and has looked more than ready for a title fight, though doesn't seem to have found a champion willing to fight him, a win here however will force their hand and guarantee him a shot at the belt next year. Smith, a Japanese based American fighter, will be stepping up massively for this bout, but a win will give his career a huge shot in the arm and not only get him the title shot, but also the biggest win of his career, by far.
The final bout confirmed for this show will be at 154lbs and see 39 year old veteran Koshinmaru Saito (24-9-2, 13) [斉藤伸介] battle against the in form Hironobu Matsunaga (13-1, 7) [松永 宏信]. Saito, who has come up short regularly in title fights will likely know that a win here will open up one more shot, almost certainly a final shot, following losses in title bouts against the likes of Takeshi Inoue, Yuki Nonaka, Suyon Takayama and Akinori Watanabe. A win however is not assured for Saito and Matsunaga has proven his quality in recent wins against the likes of Hisao Narita, Sanosuke Sasaki, Je Ni Ma and Patomsuk Pathompothong.
Earlier today fight fans in Thailand, and those who were watching on Thairath, had the chance to see a pretty interesting card, headlined by a really good match up between Thai veteran Mike Tawatchai (45-12-1, 28) [ไมค์เกษตรพัฒนา] and Japanese visitor Ryohei Takahashi (15-3-1, 6) [高橋竜平].
On paper this was a match up that looked likely to be entertaining, though few would have expected what we got, with Takahashi fightign at an insane pace always pressureing the Thai and forcing a real action bout. The Thai looked to avoid the war but kept getting dragged into a fight, and it was a fight he struggled to ever shine in, with the visitor out working him, out fighting him and refusing to change tactics.
In the end Takahashi's work rate sealed the deal and forced the judges to give him the win, with scores of 117-111, twice, and 116-112.
For Takahashi this is a huge win and could help him take a step towards a potential world title fight. It also leaves Tawatchai needing a win in September, when he returns to the ring against Muhamad Ridhwan inm Singapore.
The card also featured a second win for a Japanese fighter with Hironobu Matsunaga (13-1, 7) [松永 宏信] scoring a 4th round TKO win against Patomsuk Pathompothong (34-9-1, 21) [ปฐมศึก เกษตรพัฒนา]. The only real relief for Thai's was Downua Ruawaiking (12-0, 9), who continued his unbeaten run with a 6th round KO win against Filipino foe Jason Egera (23-20-2, 11).
Earlier today saw the official announcement of A-Sign Bee Vol 3, set for May 26th at the Korakuen Hall in Tokyo. As with the previous A-Sign Bee cards the show will be featured on the A-Sign boxing service and the card it's self is littered with notable bouts, in what will be a bit of a Green Tsuda Vs Yokohama Hikari card.
The main event of the show will see Hironobu Matsunaga (11-1, 5) [松永 宏信] battle against Ryota Yada (12-4, 10) [矢田 良太] in what looks like a mouth watering clash. Of the two men Matsunaga is arguably the one with the more impressive win, but Yada is a big puncher and will be seeking to score a big win himself here.
In a major support bout between we'll see the unbeaten Kazuki Tanaka (7-0, 5) [田中 一樹] battle Ryohei Takahashi (10-2-1, 2) [高橋 竜平] in a really mouth watering match up. Both of these young fighter will be hoping to get into the title mix by the end of 2017 and a win here could fast track them there.
The card hasn't been full announced, though it's fair to say those two bouts announced for the card today were both pretty good looking bouts and should give is some really exciting action as the A-sign brand continues to grow an develop.
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
Over the last day or so we have been informed that former Japanese Lightweight title challenger Masashi Noguchi (12-6-1, 6) [野口将志] had transferred gyms.
The talented fight, who was really out-gunned last December when he fought Shuhei Tsuchiya, has joined the Ichiriki gym and is now beginning to work on his ring return. That ring return is a few months off but has been pencilled in for "A-Sign Bee Vol 4", on June 19th and will be looking to move down in weight, to the talent packed Super Featherweight division.
Having mentioned A-Sign Bee Vol 4 we do need to state that Noguchi's opponent hasn't yet been announced but we are expecting a simple foe for Noguchi's return.
We suspect that some reading "A-Sign Bee Vol 4" will be wondering about the "A-Sign Bee Vol 3", well that too has been announced, albeit with only limited information made public. It's set for May 26th and will feature Akihiro Kondo (28-6-1, 15) [近藤 明広], Hironobu Matsunaga (11-1, 5) [松永 宏信] and, notably, Tomomi Takano (9-2, 6) [高野 人母美]. None of that trio have had their opponents named but hopefully decent opponents will be confirmed in the near future.
Although not confirmed it will likely be announced that both the A-sign Bee shows will be made available on A-sign like the first two shows in the series were.
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