Over the last few days we've seen a lot of Japanese title bouts being revealed as part of the Champion Carnival. Earlier today those bouts were set in stone as the Champion Carnival presentation took place, confirming the contests we'd reported and getting all the champions and challengers in one event.
The first of the bouts will take place on February 1st at the Dynamic Glove show, and will see Japanese Welterweight champion Yuki Nagano (17-2, 13) [永野祐樹] defending his title against mandatory challenger Keita Obara (22-4-1, 20) [小原 佳太]. This bout has been known about for weeks and is an exciting, and potentially very explosive, way to kick off the Champion Vs Challenger series. This bout will be at Korakuen Hall, where most of the title bouts will actually take place.
The second bout will take on February 13th, when Lightweight champion Shuichiro Yoshino (11-0, 9) [吉野 修一郎] defends his belt against Izuki Tomioka (7-2-1, 2) [富岡樹]. This is expected to bee a match up showing a lot of skills, from both men, though the power and physical edges with the champion does make him the favourite. This is another bout at Korakuen Hall.
It's then almost a month later until we get the next bout in the series. That'll be on March 7th, on the March Dynamic Glove, when Light Middleweight champion Hironobu Matsunaga (16-1, 10) [松永 宏信] defends his belt against Yuto Shimizu (14-4-2, 5) [清水優人] in a potentially enthralling bout. The champion will be seeking his second defense whilst Shimizu will be getting his first title fight. This will be the third successive bout at Tokyo's Korakuen Hall.
Just one day later, March 8th, we get the Flyweight bout with the heavy handed Seigo Yuri Akui (14-2-1, 10) [阿久井政悟] defending his title against Seiya Fujikita (13-4, 6) [藤北誠也]. Given Akui's style this should be an explosive bout, and one to look forward to. This was announced way back at the start of the year and will take place at the Aeon Mall mall in Okayama City, the first of the bouts outside of Tokyo.
Just a week later, March 15th, action turns to the Aioi Hall in Kariya as Light Flyweight champion Yuto Takahashi (11-4, 5) [高橋悠斗] defends against hard hitting challenger Masamichi Yabuki (10-3, 10) [佐藤政道]. This will be the first title defnense for Takahashi, and will see him entering enemy territory.
The following day, March 16th, Light Welterweight champion Koki Inoue (15-0, 12) [浩樹井上] will take on Daishi Nagata (15-2-1, 5) [永田大士] in the main event of a card at Korakuen Hall from Ohashi. This is one of the few shows where under-card details have been revealed, and it makes for a very decent looking card overall.
After a slew of fights in March we then have a bit of a break before returning on April 9th for a double header at Korakuen Hall. One of the bouts here will see Bantamweight champion Yusuke Suzuki (11-3, 7) [鈴木悠介] make his first defense, as he goes up against Kyosuke Sawada (14-2-1, 6) [澤田京介] in a rematch of a bout both men had back in 2013. The other bout on this card will see Featherweight champion Ryo Sagawa (9-1, 4) [佐川遼] make his second defense as he takes on Hinata Maruta (10-1-1, 8) [丸田陽七太], in what we feel is the standout bout from this year's Carnival.
On April 28th Super Bantamweight champion Yusaku Kuga (19-4-1, 13) [久我勇作] will defend his title against Gakuya Furuhashi (26-8-1, 14) [古橋大輔]. This bout will be Kuga's first defense since reclaiming the title last year and will be Furuhashi's third shot, at a third different champion. This bout is also set to be at Korakuen Hall.
Interestingly the Super Featherweight bout between hard hitting champion Kosuke Saka (20-5, 17) [坂晃典] and teak tough challenger Takuya Watanabe (37-9-1, 21) [渡邉卓也] is pencilled in for April in Osaka, though no date or specific venue was confirmed at today's event.
On May 16th we'll see the Super Flyweight title bout as defending champion Kenta Nakagawa (18-3-1, 12) [中川 健太] takes on Yuta Matsuo (15-4-2, 8) [松尾雄太] at the Sumida City Gymnasium in Tokyo.
No those who are eagle eyed will be aware there were some division's missing.
Firstly the Minimumweight bout hasn't yet been decided. The title is currently vacant, after Norihito Tanaka (19-7, 10) [田中教仁] returned the belt earlier this year. What we do know is that Masataka Taniguchi (12-3, 7) [谷口 将隆] will be involved in the title bout, though there is currently no opponent, date or venue for the bout.
The Middleweight title bout will see the hard hitting Kazuto Takesako (11-0-1, 11) [竹迫司登] defending his belt against Riku Kunimoto (4-0, 2) [国本陸] but this bout has no date or location set. This bout is likely to be scheduled following Takesako's bout this coming weekend against OPBF champion Shinobu Charlie Hosokawa (12-4-1, 11) [細川チャーリー忍].
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
One of the most frequent questions we get asked is when will former WBC Flyweight champion Daigo Higa (15-1, 15) [比嘉 大吾] fight again?
Originally it seemed like the plan was for him to feature on the Fuji Boxing card set for December 23rd, though hope for that was dashed when Teiken announced that Roman Gonzalez would be on that show in the chief none-title bout.
Thankfully today we finally saw concrete news as to the when and where of Higa's return bout, though not the who.
Higa will return on the February edition of Diamond Glove, which will take place at Korakuen Hall on February 13th, in a bout set to be fought at 119lbs.
At the moment the details regarding an opponent are yet to be confirmed, with speculation being that he will face a limited regional opponent before a bigger test later in the year.
The popular Higa hasn't fought since April 2018, when he was handed an indefinite suspension by the JBC after becoming the first Japanese fighter to be stripped of a world title due to failing to make weight for a WBC Flyweight world title defense against Cristofer Rosales. Technically he was able to fight in December, after the JBC lifted his suspension, but as we often see with Japanese fighters his return was delayed slightly, rather than coming as soon as his suspension was over. Unlike in other countries where a fighter has been seen to fight the day after a drugs testing charge was dropped.
Higa's bout will be the chief support bout on a card set to be headlined by OPBF, WBO Asia Pacific and Japanese Lightweight champion Shuichiro Yoshino (11-0, 9) [吉野 修一郎], who will defend his Japanese title against Izuki Tomioka (7-2-1, 2) [富岡樹] as part of the 2020 Champion Carnival.
We might still be in December 2019 but we're already seeing dates being set for the 2020 Champion Carnival bouts.
Last week Japanese Lightweight champion Shuichiro Yoshino (11-0, 9) [吉野 修一郎] announced he would be facing off with his mandatory challenger Izuki Tomioka (7-2-1, 2) [富岡樹] on February 13th at Korakuen Hall and over the weekend we saw confirmation of another Champion Carnival bout.
On Sunday former world title challenger Keita Obara (22-4-1, 20) [小原 佳太] confirmed that he would be getting his shot at Japanese Welterweight champion Yuki Nagano (17-2, 13) [永野祐樹] on February 1st, also at Korakuen Hall
At the moment the full details of either card are yet to be confirmed, though Obara Vs Nagano will be part of a Dynamic Glove card, and will be aired on G+, though it's not yet clear if this will be a live broadcast or a tape delayed one. This show is expected to feature a number of top Teiken promoted prospects, though none have yet been confirmed for the show.
For those wondering Yoshino Vs Tomioka will be on a Diamond Glove show, set to be aired on tape delay on Fuji TV.
Earlier today at Korakuen Hall the Japanese award ceremony for October took place, with all 3 award winners taking part in the event, as well as one other fighter who we'll get on to a little bit later.
The main awards for the month was won by Shuichiro Yoshino (11-0, 9) [吉野 修一郎], who claimed the MVP award for his his excellent KO win over Filipino fighter Harmonito Dela Torre (20-3, 12) for OPBF and WBO Asia Pacific Lightweight titles.
The other two awards were both Fighting Spirit Awards, awarded to former Japanese Flyweight champion Junto Nakatani (20-0, 15) [中谷 潤人], for his win over -Milan Melindo (37-5, 13), and the newly crowned Japanese Light Flyweight champion Yuto Takahashi (11-4, 5) [高橋悠斗], for his upset win over Kenichi Horikawa (40-16-1, 13) [堀川 謙一].
The fourth man to turn up at the event was Izuki Tomioka (7-2-1, 2) [富岡樹], who we now know will definitely face Yoshino at the 2020 Champion Carnival.
Yoshino and Tomioka went face to face at today's event, and Yoshino announced that he would be making his mandatory defence of the Japanese title against Tomioka on February 13th at Korakuen Hall. The bout is the first of the 2020 Champion Carnival bouts to have had a date and venue set, though all the others will be announced in the new year.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
The third of today's Japanese title eliminators took place at Lightweight and, on paper at least, it looked like a genuinely compelling match up. The fight put the the talented but chinny Kazuki Saito (7-2, 5) [斎藤一貴] up against the skilled but light punching Izuki Tomioka (7-2-1, 2) [富岡樹] in what really did look like it could be a very, very interesting contest.
What we ended up getting was a let less interesting that we expected. We expected back and forth boxing, an ultra competitive bout and rounds that were hard to split. What fans ended up getting however was a bit of a masterclass.
From the opening rounds Tomioka, the much taller man, used his jab, and his reach. He peppered Saito at range, and whilst nothing he threw had much power on it, he was consistent with his shots. Saito on the other hand was forced to either remain at range or be handcuffed whilst coming forward.
The light punches of Tomioka took a toll on Saito, who was left with a swelling under his right eye as early as round 3. That forced Saito into taking more risks, gambling a bit more to try and get some success. The effort was great from Saito, but he really struggled with the smart footwork and movement of Tomioka, which took the sting out of out of Saito's offense.
Saito's will to win never faded, but he simply couldn't keep up with Tomioka's movement, and accuracy. Every time Saito landed he seemed to take one or two in return, and was chasing the bout the bout through out, never looking in control even when he was on the front foot. Instead the bout was just a show case of movement and accuracy from Tomioka.
After 8 rounds the score cards read 79-73, twice, and 78-74, all in favour of Tomioka.
With the win Tomioka secures himself a Japanese title fight, and will likely face Shuichiro Yoshino for the Japanese title in the 2020 Champion Carnival next year. As for Saito it's back to the drawing board as he looks to rebuild from his second professional defeat.
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