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)
Tomorrow on Boxingraise we'll see Japanese "regular" Light Middleweight champion Nobuyuki Shindo (20-4-1, 8) [新藤寛之] and Japanese "interim" Light Middleweight champion Akinori Watanabe (37-7, 31) [渡部あきのり] face off to become the undisputed Japanese champion at 154lbs.
Today the two men took part in their weigh in and both men made weight for the contest, coming in on the 154lb limit for the bout.
Shindo won the title back in May, when he took a narrow decision over Ryosuke Maruki, but suffered a hand injury in that win that prevented him from returning to the ring for a while. As a result Watanabe faced Maruki for the interim title, and Watanabe stopped Maruki inside a round to claim the belt, taking us to this fight tomorrow.
Interesting the winner of this bout will already know that their next bout will take place during the 2019 Champion Carnival, when they will be defending the undisputed Japanese crown against Hironobu Matsunaga (14-1, 8) [松永 宏信] who became the mandatory challenger when he stopped Koshinmaru Saito (24-10-2, 13) [斉藤伸介] earlier this year.
Related - Shindo and Watanabe battle to unify Japanese title!
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
This past Friday we saw Hironobu Matsunaga (14-1, 8) [松永 宏信] secure his place in the 2019 Champion Carnival as the mandatory challenger for the Japanese Light Middleweight title. He booked his place there by stopping veteran Koshinmaru Saito (24-10-2, 13) [斉藤伸介] in 4 rounds.
What's unclear is who Matsunaga will be fighting at the Champion Carnival as the Japanese Light Middleweight title is currently split. The regular champion is Nobuyuki Shindo (20-4-1, 8) [新藤寛之], who has been injured since his title win back in May when he damaged his hand. The injury to Shindo has lead to Akinori Watanabe (37-7, 31) [渡部あきのり] becoming the interim champion, thanks to a very impressive performance in August.
We now know that Shindo and Watanabe will duke it out on December 20th to unify the title and book their place as the champion leading into the new year, and to secure themselves a fight against Matsunaga.
The bout will be Shindo's first since his injury, which was a serious hand injury, whilst Watanabe will be fighting for not only the first time since his interim title victory but also the first time since revealing that his daughter is suffering with leukemia, thought he has stated that treatment is going well.
We suspect that the December Dangan card will see at least 1 more big domestic being announced for it, though at the moment details are very scarce.
Earlier today Japanese fight fans got a Japanese title eliminator at 154lbs. The bout saw veteran Koshinmaru Saito (24-10-2, 13) [斉藤伸介] likely ending his career, as he was stopped by Hironobu Matsunaga (14-1, 8) [松永 宏信] in what was a surprisingly 1-sided affair.
Matsunaga looked the sharper fighter from the off and backed up Saito with smart foot work. Saito began to circle a lot around the ring, something his 39 year old legs probably shouldn't have been doing so early in the fight. Matsunaga didn't let his hands go a lot, but always looked to be trying to line up a powerful left hand whilst backing the veteran up.
In round 3 Matsunaga began to really pick up his output and put Saito on to his backside towards the end of the round. Saito wasn't hurt but was beginning to look his age.
The exhaustion and age of Saito showed again in round 4, as he tried to come forward but lacked any sense of sharpness, and everything he did looked slow and clumsy. An big onslaught from Matsunaga dropped Saito and this time he would be hurt, getting stopped as he rose.
This will almost certainly be the final bout of Saito's career whilst Matsunaga has secured himself a Japanese title fight at the 2019 Champion Carnival.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Tomorrow we'll see the next mandatory title challenger for the Japanese Light Middleweight title being decided. The bout to decide on the challenger will see veteran Koshinmaru Saito (24-9-2, 13) [斉藤伸介] battle against Hironobu Matsunaga (13-1, 7) [松永 宏信].
Today the two men took part in their weigh in and both fighters looked in great shape for what could be one of the most important bouts either man takes part in, with the winner being assured of a shot during the 2019 Champion Carnival.
On the scales Saito was around 153.8lbs whilst Matsunaga was just slightly heavier, though still under the 154lbs allowed.
Saito will turn 40 in February and will know that anything but a win here will likely end his career, after having come up short in a number of title bouts already. Matsunaga on the other hand is in his early 30's and will be hoping to get his first shot at a Japanese title, after having previously won a WBO Asia Pacific title in Korea.
Related-Veteran Saito takes on Matsunaga for Japanese title shot!
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
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