Earlier this month the Korean Boxing Management, aka BoxingM, reported several interesting stories.
First there will be a Korea Vs Japan card in on June 25th at the Korakuen Hall. Originally this card was pencilled in for March 14, but was delayed to give the Reason promotions, who do the Dangan shows, a bit of extra time to organise the event, which we now know will take place at the Korakuen Hall. We haven't had the names of anyone involved in this card announced, yet, but it is expected to be a strong card with both countries being allowed to send good fighters to it, rather than mismatches favouring the home country.
Secondly, and arguably more interestingly, is an agreement between the two countries to allow national titles from both countries to be fought for in Japan, and to allow fighters from both countries to fight for the Japanese title. This is part of a wider change from the JBC, though the Korean's have explained it pretty well.
The BoxingM described the rule change as "a boxing M registered player can challenge a Japanese women's title match", and "So if a player who needs a Korean title match does not have an opponent, a title match is possible against a Japanese player, and JBC has approved it." The first bout under this rule will take place on April 13th in Kyoto.
At the moment it's unclear how wide scoping this rule is, but it does also appear to apply to male title fights too, and is the rule that was made in the 1970's, though never actually invoked. In theory it opens up titles to more challengers, which can be vital in the division's where national competition is lacking, and will allow fighters more opportunities to fight for and defend national titles. One thing that has been reported is that this is not explicitly limited to BoxingM and the JBC, but is actually OPBF wide, allowing Indonesian's, Thai's and Filipino's in on national title action from across other OPBF countries.
To our understanding if a fighter, wins a national title, not of their body, they can defend it in the country they won it, but if they leave that country to fight the title becomes vacant.
The first fight under this new rule, according to BoxingM, will see Tamao Ozawa (15-5, 6) [小澤瑶生] fight against against Hye Soo Park (5-7-1, 1) for the JBC and BoxingM female Light Flyweight titles in April, in what is a rather unique bout given this dual national title fight situation.
Back on December 24th Keita Kurihara (13-5, 11) [栗原 慶太] took a narrow decision win over Yuki Strong Kobayashi (14-8, 8) [小林佑樹] to become the OPBF Bantamweight champion. The bout turned out to be a very controversial one, not because of the scoring but because of the time keeper, who made who made 3 different mistakes.
He gave an interval of 76 seconds, between rounds 5 and 6, allowed round 6 to last 4 minutes and allowed a break of 2 minutes and 2 seconds between rounds 6 and 7.
Today the JBC made their ruling on punishments, and have announced that the time keeper Mr Koshijima, has had his time keeper license indefinitely suspended due to his errors.
The time keeper wasn't the only official to be reprimanded. JBC Supervisor Yukihiro Koike, has been suspended, for the time being and Nobuyoshi Uraya, who is highly ranked in the Kansai boxing scene, has also been "strictly cautioned".
The JBC have also issued an apology for the errors, though seem to have not punished Kurihara or made the bout a no-contest, which had been mentioned as a possibility earlier in the year.
Earlier today we were informed that the JBC may be set to order a rematch between Keita Kurihara (13-5, 11) [栗原 慶太] and Yuki Strong Kobayashi (14-8, 8) [小林佑樹], after their December 24th bout for the OPBF Bantamweight title fight, saw numerous time keeping errors potentially effecting the outcome of the bout.
The errors included a 1 minute 16 second break between rounds at one point, a 2 minute break between rounds at one point and a long 4 minute round.
Strangely at least 1 of those errors clearly helped out the eventual loser, Kobayashi, who was given a few extra seconds to recover following a knockdown at the end of round 5, a round that saw him being dropped badly on the bell. It could well have been a mistake caused by how late in the round the knockdown came. Notably however the 6th round went on for 4 minutes, rather than 3.
There is serious talk that the bout will be declared a No Contest upon review and the two men will have a rematch. On the other hand another option is that the result, a unanimous decision for Kurihara, with scores of 113-111 from all 3 judges, stands and the men will just have an immediate rematch.
Amazingly the bout saw Kobayashi being dropped 4 times, once each in rounds 1,2,5 and 12 with the final knockdown essentially deciding the bout.
The JBC (Japanese Boxing Commission) has long been one of the most proactive boxing commissions anywhere on the planet, and have essentially been one of the gold standards, along with the BBBofC (British Boxing Board of Control). They do make mistakes, but they tend to be forward thinking, and attack problems progressively with things like the multi-tier licensing system, to keep domestic bouts competitive, and the prohibited invitation boxers list, to prevent weak imports from flooding the market and either put up no effort or lacking the skills needed.
The latest issue to effect Japanese boxing in a big way has been the issue of weight, with a lot of fighters missing weight in 2018. At one point it was almost weekly with fighters cancelling bouts due to weight issues, or making it to the scales only to have to cancel the bout after being unable to make weight. It's an issue that really exploded this year and the JBC originally had no set answer to it, with numerous bouts being cancelled, and several fighters being given significant punishments.
Today we finally saw the JBC put their foot down on fighters missing weight, and announcing their punishment, and rules, going forward from September 1st.
Firstly they announced a change in in the participation of the weigh in.
If a fighter is more than 3% heavier than the limit they ate trying to make the bout will be cancelled, there will be no secondary weigh in and the fighter will then be given a punishment for missing weight. If a fighter originally weighs in less than 3% of the limit they will continue to get a 2 hour grace period to make weight. If a fighter cannot make weight they will either see the bout being cancelled, or be forced to take part in a same day weigh in, with the same day limit set at the original contract weight limit +8%. If a fight cannot make weight for the same day weigh in, the contest will be cancelled..
They they also spoke about the punishments
When a fighter has a bout cancelled they will be fined and made to pay a penalty to the scheduled opponent and will be suspended with 1 year with mandatory requirement to move up in weight, with the manager of the fighter also being reprimanded. If a bout isn't cancelled, yet a fighter still fails to make the original weight, they will be fined 20% of the purse, with a 6 month suspension to follow the bout.
It's going to be interesting to see the rules in effect, and see if it does cut the amount of bouts cancelled due to fighters failing to make weight. Potentially it will stop fighters trying to cheat on the scales, and if it works we suspect others may copy the JBC's concept, though may set their own limit and punishments, in the future.
Back in June we saw a Japanese Bantamweight title bout between Suguru Muranaka (26-3-1, 8) [村中 優] and Yuta Saito [齊藤裕太] falling apart at the 11th hour with Muranaka being taken to hospital due to issues making weight. Sadly Muranaka this wasn't a one off, and his issues with making weight had really plagued his career in recent years, forcing him to be stripped of the Japanese Flyweight title, then having issues making weight in subsequent bouts.
With the inability to weigh in against Saito it appears the Japanese Boxing Commission (JBC) have had enough of Muranaka's issues and today, following a meeting related to the JBC rankings, they announced that they were indefinitely suspending Muranaka.
The JBC have made it clear this year they will not accept fighters missing weight any more. Muranaka is the third fighter, this year, to be given an indefinite suspension, following Daigo Higa [比嘉 大吾] and Luis Nery, who both failed to make weight earlier this year.
Unfortunately for Muranaka, who is best known internationally for losing in a WBA Super Flyweight bout to Kal Yafai, he is now 33 years old. He's not a youngster like Higa and Nery who can take their punishment and come back with most of their career ahead of them. Instead Muranaka's career is possibly now over. He will have to regain the JBC's trust, and hope that they end the suspension sooner rather than later. Sadly however it's likely that the JBC will want to make an example of Muranaka due to the multiple time that he's missed weight already.
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