Last week we reported that former WBC Flyweight champion Daigo Higa (15-1, 15) [比嘉 大吾] had requested that the Japanese Boxing Commission (JBC) consider lifting his suspension, after close to 18 months. Before it could be lifted however there had to be a hearing and official decisions made regarding any decision.
Today that hearing took place, and as widely assumed, the suspension of Higa's JBC licenses has been lifted, leaving the door open to the aggressive and exciting former world champion to return to the ring.
Higa was hit with an indefinite suspension to his license following his his bout with Cristofer Rosales, which had seen Higa fail to make weight and lose the world title on the scales. It was the first time a Japanese fighter had ever lost a world title in such a manner, and the JBC, who had seen a spate of weight failures on the domestic scene, had seemingly had enough making an example of Higa as a way to try and prevent other fighters from missing weight going forward.
At the hearing today Higa revealed he had been training for the last 6 months, and had typically been doing so for 6 days a week, to get in and remain in fighting shape.
Going forward, at least in the immediate future, Higa will not be allowed to fight at a lower weight than Bantamweight due to the issues he had at Flyweight, but is welcome to return to the ring, and is eyeing a bout before the end of the year.
At the moment it's unclear on the when, where and who against, but it's likely he will continue his affiliation with Fuji TV, and if, or when, he returns to world level it's almost certain that Fuji TV will be showing his world title bouts. With that in mind there's a good chance his return may be tucked away on the non-televised part of their yet to be announced late December card.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Earlier today we were informed that the Japanese Boxing Commissions (JBC) had changed their licensing rules, when it comes to an agreement between fighters and their gyms, changing to what is being term a "Unified contract".
The contracts in the past have allowed a gym to sign a fighter for up to 3 years, and at the end of that 3 year term a fighter was then able, in theory, to transfer to an other gym if they wanted. The issue however is that things weren't usually that simple, with the gyms not wanting to give up the promotional rights they had to fighters, causing some strained relationships. The fighters would then either find themselves stuck in limbo, or going back to their former gyms in what was a messy situation that could hold back a fighters career.
The new rules, which had been decided back in February at a board meeting but only came in to effect from today, changes things quite significantly.
Now if a fighter wishes to leave their current gym they are to give 2 months notice before their contract expires. That will then begin a negotiation period, and if no agreement is made it will be resolved by arbitration, with the JBC arbitration committee making a ruling.
The JBC have gym chairman across Japan to understand the change, which seems to favour the fighters, and not the gyms, as it has in the past.
According to sources in Japan the JBC may be set to throw in the towel on throwing in the towel.
Our sources have got through a recent rule from the JBC which is set on removing the act of throwing in the towel by the corner, and instead to have the seconds get the attention of the referee if, and when, they wish to stop the fight.
The new roughly translates as "The second will display their intention to stop the bout by getting on the apron and signalling the referee".
The rule was explained as being for several reasons, including towels slowly losing their purpose in other parts of the world, the towels getting stuck in ring ropes, towels failing to actually get into the ring and the confusion caused in the unlikely event of a crowd member throwing one.
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.
News! We try and give you the most interesting news stories from the Asian boxing world!