It's now looking like those two bouts could serve as part of a world title triple header along with a WBC Minimumweight title bout between Wanheng Menayothin (51-0, 18) [วันเฮง ไก่ย่างห้าดาวยิม] and Shin Ono (23-9-3, 6) [小野 心], with that bout having been rumoured as being signed and sealed since Wanheng's recent title defense against Pedro Taduran.
The long established thought pattern was that this would be on December 31st on TBS, however a spanner has been through into those plans by the recent return of Kazuto Ioka (23-1, 13) [井岡一翔], following his excellent win over McWilliams Arroyo. If Ioka plans to take the December 31st date, as many suspect he will, then there is a chance TBS will have to alter the date of the Watanabe triple header. Lets not forget that Ioka's rumoured to be pursuing a WBO Super Flyweight title bout against Filipino Donnie Nietes (41-1-5, 23), a bout that would outshine any of the proposed Watanabe bouts.
This all looks like it will leave the winner of Monday's WBO Flyweight title bout, between Sho Kimura (17-1-2, 10) [木村翔] and Kosei Tanaka (11-0, 7) [田中恒成], as the proverbial loser.
The original rumour was that Taguchi's move up in weight would potentially see him face the winner of their bout, giving us the long awaited Tanaka Vs Taguchi bout, but with Taguchi fighting at 108lbs the winner of the Flyweight bout is unlikely to be featured on "TBS's Kyokugen". That is unless TBS and CBC do a split site broadcast, as they have done once in the past.
There is also the possibility that Kyoguchi misses out on the Kyokugen card to fight in January instead, as Acosta is planning to defend his WBO title in mid October, potentially leading to more boxing on TBS.
Whatever we get out of TBS to end 2018 looks likely to be something very special and we can't wait for the rumours to stop and concrete match ups, dates and venues to begin being announced!
For those who would like to read a recent interview with Taguchi about his return in English he recently spoke to the excellent Nick Skok, who interviewed him for Ring Magazine.That interview can be read here.
This past weekend we saw Japan's Kazuto Ioka (23-1, 13) [井岡一翔] end his retirement, and return to the ring with a stellar victory over McWilliams Arroyo (17-4, 14) to claim the WBC Silver Super Flyweight title.
On the same card we also saw Donnie Nietes (41-1-5, 23) fight to a draw with Aston Palicte (24-2-1, 20) in a bout for the WBO Super Flyweight world title. As a result of that draw the title remains vacant, which it has been since Naoya Inoue moved to Bantamweight,
Early today Japanese sources have started to report that the plan for Ioka is to return at the end of this year and to face off with Nietes for the vacant WBO Super Flyweight world title. A title both men are chasing to become a 4-weight world champion. The bout seems to be something that Ioka's team are working on, and his win over Arroyo should assure him of a very high WBO ranking. Inoue is looking to become the first ever male fighter to become a 4-weight champion from Japan whilst Nietes wants to become the third 4-weight champion from the Philippines.
From what we have been told the bout could take place in either the Philippines or Japan, likely depending on whether Ioka would have a struggle to get a Japanese license, though would be held in conjunction with a Japanese TV channel, likely TBS.
It's unclear if this would be part of a Kyokugen show on New Year's Eve, though if it is it seems like TBS may end up having a lot of fighters all looking for a place on their broadcast with a triple header already being rumoured for the date. If Ioka is added it could well end up being the first ever Japanese quadruple would title show!
According to the sources the Japanese fighter is then pencilled in to return to fighting Stateside in 2019 on Superfly 4, which is expected to take place in Spring next year. That card is likely to feature the anticipated rematch between WBC Super Flyweight champion Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (46-4-1, 41) [ศรีสะเกษ นครหลวงโปรโมชั่น] and Mexican challenger Juan Francisco Estrada (37-3, 25) , who won in the main event of this weekend's Superfly card. If Ioka and Nietes do fight in December then the winner of that would probably face Palicte in a WBO title defense on Superfly 4.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
We often hear that Japanese fighters don't travel well. We've often argued they don't prepare well when they travel, but when they fight on foreign soil and prepare properly they do shine, as we saw earlier this year with Masayuki Ito who had spent several weeks in the US before taking on Cristopher Diaz. That was shown again today when Kazuto Ioka (23-1, 13) [井岡一翔] returned from a 16 month break from the ring to dominate talented Puerto Rican McWilliams Arroyo (17-4, 14) and claim the WBC Silver Super Flyweight title. Prior to the bout Ioka had spent a considerable time training in the US and adapting to life over there.
Ioka didn't look like a man who had retired in December. Instead he looked like a fighter who had been working in the gym for months, hungry for success and with a new found focus on rebuilding a career that had seemingly ended with a wimper on New Year's Eve, when he announced his shock retirement. From the opening round he was sharp, with every punch looking crisp and his movement looking on point. His body shots were sensational from the start and there little Arroyo could do to make Ioka respect him.
In round 3 Ioka's power showed, as he dropped Arroyo just moments before the bell with one of the sweetest right hands we've seen this year. Arroyo was rather fortunate it was at the end of the round, though it had been one of his best rounds before taking the shot.
The middle rounds saw Ioka show a bit of everything. He showed he could counter, he could press the action, he could box, he could brawl, and it seemed like every time Arroyo changed what he was doing Ioka was equal to it.
Arroyo was often competitive, but failed to ever establish himself for a full round. He had moments, particular in the second half, but consistently got fed nasty body body shots. His best round was arguably the 8th, and even then Ioka had some really good moments.
Ioka turned it on in round 9, when he hurt Arroyo in the final minute or so, but the Puerto Rican wasn't going to be stopped and in round 9 the two put on a show for the fans, standing and engaging several times in the most exciting round of the fight. It showed how relaxed and confident Ioak was to trade shots in the final round of bout he was well up on, but he obviously wanted to leave an impression on his US debut. Which he did.
With the rounds racked up there no doubting the winner and all 3 judges got it right, scoring the bout 97-92, twice, and 99-90 to Ioka, who well deserved the win and took his chance to shine in front of the HBO audience.
Yesterday we saw the British bookies open their betting line on the highly anticipated match up between Kazuto Ioka (22-1, 13) [井岡一翔] and McWillaims Arroyo (17-3, 14).
When the line opened Ioka was the slight betting favourite, at 10/11. Now however he's the under-dog, with money going on Arroyo who has moved from 11/10 to events as of this morning.
With the shift in odds Ioka has gone from the slight favourite to the slight under-dog, and he's now available at 11/10 with a number of bookies.
Interestingly most bookies have also cut their price on the draw, which many now list at 16/1, though it is best priced at 25/1 at the moment.
Unfortunately at the time of writing there are no odds available on the method of victory, but we did think the change in favourite was really interesting. The bout is still widely viewed as nearly a 50/50 bout, which shows just how well matched the fighters are and it's almost impossible to clearly pick the winner. A fantastic credit to the two fighters, the match makers and all the people involved in setting this bout up.
(Image courtesy of Sumio Yamada)
Tomorrow we'll see 3-weight champion Kazuto Ioka (22-1, 13) [井岡一翔] begin his pursuit of a Super Flyweight world title, as he gets in the ring with McWillaims Arroyo (17-3, 14), the WBC "silver" champion.
The bout between Ioka and Arroyo is widely regarded as the best matched contest on "Superfly 3" and promises a lot between two proven world class fighters, one being a multi-time champion and the other being a 2-time title challenger, having challenged Amnat Ruenroeng and Roman Gonzalez.
On Friday the two men took part in their weigh in for the contest, and both men made the permitted 115lbs with no issue.
On the scales we saw Ioka hit 114.6lbs, for what will be his US and Super Flyweight debut. He looked in great shape for a man who hasn't fought in well over a year and like he had actually grown into a Super Flyweight since his last bout, which was a WBA Flyweight title defense against Noknoi Sitthiprasert back in April 2017.
Whilst Ioka was comfortably under the limit he was actually the heavier man, with Arroyo coming in at 114.4lbs, well under the limit. Despite being under the limit he has not taken this bout lightly and looked in amazing shape as he looked to build over a career defining decision victory over Carlos Cuadras earlier this year.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
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