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.
Earlier today the JBC released their latest rankings. The update featured the most significant changes of the year as they brought in a massive change removing a number of fighters who have indicated that they have no intention of fighting for the Japanese title. Those fighters, regarded as "pending fighters list", have stated that they are focused on fighting for a world title and as a result they are not interested, at the moment, in fighting for a domestic title.
As a result of those pending players, who are listed below, we've seen the likes of Tatsuya Fukuhara (#1 at Minimumweight), Ken Shiro (#3 at Light Flyweight), Ryuchai Funai (#1 at Super Flyweight) and Rikiya Fukuhara (#1 at Featherweight) all climb towards a title fight.
As well as the changes related to the "Pending players"we've also seen new fighters move into the rankings. These have included Hiroyuki Hisataka (#12 at Super Flyweight), Naoto Uebayashi (#13 at Bantamweight), Mark John Yap (#14 at Bantamweight), Ryuji Miyazaki (#14 at Super Bantamweight), Ryuto Araya (#9 at Featherweight), Tsuyoshi Tameda (#13 at Featherweight) and Accel Sumiyoshi (#13 at Lightweight).
The 15 fighters on on the "Pending Fighters List" are-
Ryuji Hara (Minimumweight/Ohashi)
Akira Yaegashi (Light Flyweight/Ohashi)
Ryo Miyazaki (Light Flyweight/Ioka)
Yu Kimura (Light Flyweight/Teiken)
Teiru Kinoshita (Super Flyweight/Senrima Kobe)
Toshiyuki Igarashi (Super Flyweight/Teiken)
Ryo Matasumoto (Bantamweight/Ohashi)
Ryo Akaho (Bantamweight/Yokohama Hikari)
Ryosuke Iwasa (Bantamweight/Celes)
Hozumi Hasegawa (Featherweight/Shinsei)
Hisashi Amagasa (Featherweight/Amagasaki)
Takahiro Ao (Lightweight/Teiken)
Yoshitaka Kato (Lightweight/Kadoebihoseki),
Yoshihiro Kamegai (Welterweight/Teiken)
Ryota Murata (Middleweight/Teiken)
Note-Of course along with the "pending" list there is also no Japanese ranking for any OPBF champion, as a result the likes of Koki Eto (Flyweight/SGS), Takuma Inoue (Super Flyweight/Ohashi) and Shingo Wake (Super Bantamweight/Koguchi) are not ranked.
For those wanting to see the rankings in full they can been found, in PDF format, by clicking belwo.
Earlier this month the Japanese rankings were released for March. The rankings have seen numerous changes and rather than going through all of them we will only be looking at the most notable changes. For fans wanting to see them all we have included links to the rankings released in both February and March.
The first change is at Minimumweight where we have seen Yutaka Sowano (#4) fall following his loss to defending champion Go Odaira on March 26th. Sowano's drop has seen Ryuji Hara (#1) become the top contender for his old title and, if we're being honest, a fight between Odaira and Hara certainly wouldn't be a bad fight.
In the Light Flyweight division we've seen Ken Shiro (listed as “Shiro Ken”) placed into the rankings at #7. It seems clear that the talented youngster won't be heading to Minimumweight and his highly impressive victory over Katsunori Nagamine has seen him being given a solid ranking at 108lbs. We wouldn't be shocked to see BMB push the youngster towards a national title fight later in the year and if this is the weight that suits him it may not be a bad idea to chase a title, especially given that Akira Yaegashi (#3) and Ryo Miyazaki (#4) have no intention of going after a Japanese Light Flyweight title and current champion Yu Kimura seems likely to move onto a world title fight later in the year.
In the Flyweight division the most notable change is the fact Jo Tanooka (#15) is now in the rankings. This is the second time Tanooka has found himself in the rankings and we're hoping to see more from the talented youngster this time around.
At Super Flyweight we've lost former world champion Malcolm Tunacao (previously #2), likely due to inactivity. The removal of Tuancao has seen Teiru Kinoshita (#2) and Takuma Inoue (#3) both move up a place and it seems likely that one of those two will get a shot shortly, if the two don't collide for a vacant title later in the year.
Takuma Inoue's stablemate Ryo Matsumoto (#5) has found himself on the verge of a Japanese title fight, if he wishes to focus on the domestic scene. The general view is that Matsumoto won't be looking at the winner of the upcoming title fight between Kentaro Masuda (reigning champion) and Shohei Omori (#1) though he's certainly in the mix if he chooses to be.
At Super Bantamweight we've seen no change among the top 4 contenders though we have seen Jonathan Baat (#5) boosted up the rankings following his recent victory over Kenta Onjo. Notably we've seen Nobuhisa Coronita Doi (previously #5) drop out of the rankings following his loss to Filipino prospect Alie Laurel.
Rikiya Fukuhara's (#3) recent loss to Satoshi Hosono (champion) has seen him dropping a couple of places down the Featherweight rankings. The new top contender is Daisuke Yokoyama (#1) whilst former champion Hisashi Amagasa (#2) is close behind. Whilst both Hosono and Amagasa have eyes on world honours a fight between the two would be mouth watering, and possibly even act as a world title eliminator. We know that's unlikely but we would love to see the two get it on in what would make for a great fight. Lower down the rankings Hiroshige Osawa (#11) has climbed above Mark Gil Melligen (#12) following the latter's loss in an OPBF title fight.
In the Super Featherweight division there have been no changes, at all, in the top 15.
At Lightweight the most notable changes have come a long way down the rankings. The first has been the rise up the ranks of the exciting Shuhei Tsuchiya (#10) who climbed 2 places whilst Kenta Onjo (#14) has fallen 3 places following his loss to Jonathan Baat.
The Light Welterweight division saw it's title being successfully defended on March 4th by Hiroki Okada. Okada's victory over mandatory challenger Hayato Hokazono (now retired we believe) has allowed Aso Koichi (#1), AKA “Shamgar Koichi”, to become the top contender whilst the exciting Shinya Iwabuchi (#2) sits in the wings. A bout between Koichi and Iwabuchi for the mandatory position would be brilliant though we have actually seen the two meet in a Strongest Korakuen bout already, back in 2011, with Iwabuchi blowing away Koichi.
We also saw the Japanese title at Welterweight being defended on March 4th as Suyon Takayama managed to keep a hold of his belt once again. His foe in that defense, Nobuyuki Shindo (#4), has fallen from the top spot following the loss and the new top contender is Yasuhiro Okawa (#1) whilst Akinori Watanabe (#3) would both make for a very interesting bouts with the champion.
At Light Middleweight the only major change is the removal from the rankings of Kengo Nagashima (previously #4) after having been inactive since last October. Nagashima's removal from the rankings has seen everyone below being moved up a single place.
The Middleweight rankings have seen Sogabe Marcos (previously #8) and Hisao Narita (#9) both being dropped from the rankings.
There have been no changes in the heavier weights with no rankings being provided from Super Middleweight to Cruiserweight whilst the Heavyweight rankings have, unsurprisingly, remained as they were a month ago.
For those interested in the full rankings the March ones are here whilst the February rankings can be found here.
De ja vu as WBA issue demand for Kohei Kono to defend belt against Koki Kameda; potentially bad news for Rex Tso
Earlier today the WBA issued a demand to the camps of WBA Super Flyweight champion Kohei Kono (30-8-1, 13) and #2 ranked challenger Koki Kameda (33-1, 18). The demand was that the fighters would have 30 days to negotiate an agreement to fight or else purse bids would be enforced on the two Japanese fighters.
This will, for many, seem like a case of de ja vu with the WBA make the same demands last year before the JBC effectively put the WBA in their place, at least temporarily.
The issue with the bout is that JBC have refused to license Kameda brothers domestically unless the Kameda follow the Japanese rules, which include signing up with a licensed gym. The JBC have refused to recognise the Kameda's as active fighters and have essentially used the idea that Koki is banned to prevent the fight last year.
What has changed in the last year is that Kameda, along with his brothers, has inked a deal with powerful American Al Haymon. Haymon will back Kameda financially and it could be a case that Haymon wins the purse and gets the bout over on US TV as part of his PBC series.
This news will be a damaging hit to Watanabe gym, the promoters of Kono, who were hoping to show case all 3 of their world champions, Kono, Takashi Uchiyama and Ryoichi Taguchi, in May in Tokyo. It is still possible for them to do that but they'd need Koki to get a Japanese license and agree to the fight in Tokyo or for the WBA to the Kono Vs Kameda bout to be delayed.
This will also be bad news for China's Rex Tso who was chasing a summer fight with Kono in Macau. Whilst we won't pretend Kameda is unbeatable it's unlikely that a Kameda Vs Tso bout will be easy to make with Tso's new co-promoter Bob Arum having personal issues with Al Haymon.
Whilst we're unsure how this will end but the story is likely to again lead to friction between the WBA and the JBC with the JBC already refusing to sanction "WBA interim" title fights and apparently unhappy about the "Super" champion status that was effectively forced on to Takashi Uchiyama. It may be that we essentially see the JBC waving good bye to the WBA sooner rather than later.
Clarification on the situation regarding Kohei Kono and Koki Kameda [posted last September]
The JBC and WBA at loggerheads [also posted last September]
Rex Tso secures 2 year deal with Top Rank
(Image courtesy of http://www.wbanews.com)
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