Earlier today the WBO released a statement recognising Kosei Tanaka (15-0, 9) [田中恒成] as the WBO Flyweight "super" champion. They did so at the request of the Tanaka's promoter Hatanaka Gym, lead by Kiyoshi Hatanaka., and listed the reason why they had given him the status.
The WBO "Super" champion status isn't another belt, like the WBA belt, but is more a recognition which gives the champion extra benefits.
It does actually take a bit searching to find out what the WBO "Super" champions actually get as benefits, or privileges as the WBO suggest, but they are listed in section 14 of their regulations:
(1) EXTENSION OF MANDATORY TITLE DEFENSE.
It would seem likely that Tanaka, who been rumoured to be heading up in weight to challenge fellow Japanese world champion Kazuto Ioka (25-2, 14) [井岡一翔], who holds the WBO Super Flyweight title.
However it could also have been requested to delay a mandatory title fight, with Tanaka's last mandatory coming back in August against Jonathan Gonzalez, and the WBO rules on compulsory defenses state a mandatory must be made every 9 months. Giving Tanaka until May to defend his title. This could help set up a potential unification bout instead, something that Tanaka and his team have also sp0ken about.
Interestingly the WBO's regulations do also explain that the privileges of a Super Champion can be lost:
(f) LOSS OF PRIVILEGES
It's going to be interesting to see what Tanaka does with his "Super" championship status, and whether it's staying at 112lbs and unifying or pursuing the much mooted super fight with Ioka, it seems hard to question Tanaka's desire to prove himself as a fighter wanting challenges.
Today saw the shortlists being released from the Japanese Boxing Commission and the Tokyo Sports Press Club for the annual Japanese boxing awards, celebrating the best of Japanese boxing in 2019.
Unsurprisingly Ryota Murata, Kazuto Ioka, Kosei Tanaka, Kenshiro Teraji and Naoya Inoue were in multiple categories following a solid for all 5 men.
Below are the short lists for this years awards, ahead of the annual ceremony, which will take place on February 7th in Tokyo.
Naoya Inoue (19-0, 16) [井上 尚弥]
Kazuto Ioka (25-2, 14) [井岡一翔]
Ryota Murata (16-2, 13) [村田 諒太]
Kosei Tanaka (15-0, 9) [田中恒成]
Kenshiro Teraji (17-0, 10) [寺地 拳四朗]
Ryosuke Iwasa (27-3, 17) [岩佐 亮佑]
Keita Kurihara (15-5, 13) [栗原 慶太]
Shuichiro Yoshino (11-0, 9) [吉野 修一郎]
Hiroaki Teshigawara (21-2-2, 14) [勅使河原 弘晶]
Ginjiro Shigeoka (5-0, 4) [重岡銀次朗]
Koki Inoue (15-0, 12) [浩樹井上]
Junto Nakatani (20-0, 15) [中谷 潤人]
Yuki Nonaka (33-11-3, 10) [野中 悠樹]
Akinori Watanabe (39-7-1, 33) [渡部あきのり]
Yuki Nagano (17-2, 13) [永野祐樹]
Norihito Tanaka (19-7, 10) [田中教仁]
Best Fight of the Year (World title Bout)
Naoya Inoue Vs Nonito Donaire
Naoya Inoue Vs Emanuel Rodriguez
Kazuto Ioka Vs Aston Palicte
Ryota Murata Vs Rob Brant II
Best Fight of the Year (Non-world title)
Kazuto Takesako Vs Shuji Kato 加藤収二]
Yuki Beppu [別府優樹] Vs Ryota Yada [矢田良太]
Toshiya Ishii [石井渡士也] Vs Haruki Ishikawa [石川春樹]
Tenkai Tsunami (27-12-1, 16) [天海 ツナミ]
Kasumi Saeki (3-0, 2) [佐伯霞]
Miyo Yoshida (14-1) [吉田 実代]
Female Fight of the Year
Naoko Fujioka [藤岡 奈穂子] Vs Tenkai Tsunami
Kasumi Saeki Vs Elizabeth Lopez
Monseratt Alcaron Vs Ayaka Miyao [宮尾 綾香]
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
On New Year's Eve we got the annual Year ending show, featuring WBO Super Flyweight champion Kazuto Ioka (25-2, 14) [井岡一翔], who defended his title in a mandatory defense against Jeyvier Cintron (11-1-0-1, 5).
Today, after around a week of waiting, the ratings for that were announced, and once again we saw strong evidence that Ioka is among the most popular fighters in Japan, with very impressive numbers for the 4-weight world champion.
The figures, which we've only got for the Kanto region, saw an average audience rating of 9.4% with a peak audience of 11.6%.
As a raw figure that gives an estimated average audience of 3,900,000 and a peak figure of over 4,750,000.
Another notable figure was that of WBO Flyweight champion Kosei Tanaka (15-0, 9) [田中恒成], who stopped Chinese challenger Wulan Tuolehazi (13-4-1, 6) [乌兰] in 3 rounds in their bout. This fight pulled an average of 6.1%, which gives a figure of around 2,500,000 viewers.
Although Ioka and Tanaka weren't in with the most well known of opponents those numbers surely will please TBS, who essentially smashed the figures that RIZIN got on rival channel Fuji TV on the same day, showing how much of a draw Ioka still is.
The raw audience are estimated numbers based on the audience rating, they aren't confirmed figures but are a ball park number, in this case for the Kanto region only.
(Image courtesy of A.McGovern)
According to a report on "The Page" in Japan earlier today WBO Super Flyweight champion Kazuto Ioka (25-2, 14) [井岡一翔] will be looking to set up his own gym in 2020 and begin to fight under the gyms license.
Ioka once fought under the gym run by his father, before retiring in 2017, after a public falling out with his father. He then had to secure a gym deal before returning to a Japanese ring in 2019, which he did by signing up with the Reason Daiki Gym, who run the DANGAN shows. Unlike most fighters at the Reason Daiki gym however he rarely used the gym, and was more associated with it for licensing purposes, doing much of his training in the US and working along with Takashi Uchiyama at the KOD Fitness Gym when in Japan.
Although DANGAN are an excellent promotional outfit they do lack the money needed to get big fights, and Ioka's last two bouts have both been promoted under a Watanabe license, with Japanese business SANKYO being involved.
For Ioka to land the fights he wants he obviously needs more financial backing and it appears that setting up his independent gym would be his way to do that.
Officials have however reported that the big bouts aren't the only reason for the gym, but also to cultivate the next generation of fighters, meaning Ioka won't be the be all and end all of the gym.
The Page have reported that the hope would be to sign up medal winners after the 2020 Olympics.
From the report on The Page a lot of work has already gone into play here to get up and running, with the Ioka team set to take over a former gym, and they already have their future chairman signed up along with a potential interim chairman. The plan seems to be to take over the Ozaki Boxing Gym with Takuya Kiya working as the chairman.
The same report also suggests that Ioka is looking to fight not only WBC Super Flyweight champion Juan Francisco Estrada, but is also open to a bout with Roman Gonzalez in 2020.
It's going to be interesting to follow this story that could develop quickly, if Ioka wants to be in charge of the promotional work for his next bout, which is expected in the summer.
Earlier today in Tokyo there was a press conference held by WBO Super Flyweight champion Kazuto Ioka (25-2, 14) [井岡一翔] following his mandatory defense yesterday against Jeyvier Cintron (11-1-0-1, 5).
The champion, Japan's only 4-weight male world champion, sported sunglasses through out to hide up the significant bruising and swelling around his eyes, but seemed very happy about the bout and result.
Having become a fixture on the boxing calendar the end of year shows are one of the many things boxing fans look forward to. Ioka stated at the press conference that he wants to be on one again this year, if possible. He explained he didn't want to be disappointed, as he was a year earlier following a close loss to Donnie Neites.
Ioka spoke highly of Cintron at the press conference, but followed the orders from his team and made it clear it was a team victory. Before adding that 2019 was one of the strongest years of his career.
In regards to the facial damage Ioka did explain that it's best to finish a fight without getting punched, but that he he was up against one of the best opponents in the world and had to press because he didn't want to lose his title.
The plan for 2020 is to fight twice. Ioka dropped the name of WBC Super Flyweight champion Juan Francisco Estrada as the man he wanted to face the most, and this is a possibility for the year, though would obviously take Ioka's team working with Estrada's team to reach a deal. That may be easier said than done in this current world of boxing.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
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