Earlier today saw the announcement of the next A-Sign Bee show, which we now know will take place on November 19th.
The specific details of the card are scarce, but we have seen the first 3 fighters on the card being confirmed, though sadly none of them are yet to have their opponents named.
The highest profile fighter announced for the card will be former OPBF and JBC champion Ryo Akaho (32-2-2, 21) [赤穂亮]. The 2-time world title challenger is expected to have a step up from his last bout, against Robert Udtohan, but it's unclear whether he will be up against a domestic foe or a visitor.
Akaho will be joined by the always fun to watch Keita Kurihara (12-5, 11) [栗原 慶太], who will be looking to extend his current 3 fight winning run. We do believe that Kurihara is chasing titles, but would be surprised if he got a title shot here, however a shot for a belt will not be far off following notable recent wins over Ryan Lumacad, Tetsuya Watanabe and Kazuki Tanaka.
The third fighter confirmed for this card is Niboshi Yujiro (2-0, 1) [大曽根悠二郎], with his bout expected to be either a 4 or 6 rounder.
More details of this card are expected to be released in the weeks to come, though it's good to already see the promoters piecing the card together 2 months out.
Good things come to those who wait, and we've had to wait to wait over a year for a Japanese title fight, due to injuries and weigh in issues. As fans we deserved something good for the long wait, and we got something better than good as Yuta Saito (11-9-3, 8) [齊藤裕太] and Eita Kikuchi (21-6-4, 8) [菊地永太] put on a 2 round shoot out for the title, in one of the best bouts on Japanese soil this year.
There was no feeling out stage at all. Kikuchi set off at a high pace behind his busy jab, it took Saito a minute or so to adapt but when he did he instantly found success with his right hands, slamming them into the face of the taller, faster Kikuchi.
Kikuchi tried to respond by upping his work rate, letting shots go in the trenches but reverted back to trying to create space and pop out his jab. It was a tactic that seemed wise but couldn't halt the marauding Saito who continued to press forward to the end of the opening round.
In the second round Saito immediately went on the offensive, quickly forcing Kikuchi to give ground, and even wobbled the taller man with the heavy shots up top. It wasn't long until Kikuchi found his back against the rounds and Saito throwing heavy leather in his direction. Knowing he had to fight back to survive Kikuchi began to throw heavy artillery Saito's way but was shut down by Saito's relentlessness and accuracy who refused to back off. The pressure told and with head shots landing clean the referee finally stepped in and saved Kikuchi, who simply couldn't handle the power of Saito.
With the win the title finally has a new owner, almost 8 months after it was vacated by Ryo Akaho due to weight loss related health issues. After 3 cancelled title bouts bouts the belt has a new owner, and Yuta Saito has some gold around his waist.
Sadly for Saito his impressive performance today will leave him with a target on his back for fighters like Keita Kurihara (12-5, 11) [栗原 慶太], Yusuke Suzuki (9-3, 6) [鈴木悠介] and Kyosuke Sawada (12-2-1, 6) [澤田京介], who will all be chasing for a Japanese title fight. Saito against Kurihara or Suzuki has Japanese FOTY potential, whilst Sawada's style would be an interesting match up for Saito.
For Kikuchi this is probably the end of his career. He gave his all today but it sadly wasn't enough against the hard hitting Saito.
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
In 2018 we've not seen a single bout for the Japanese Bantamweight title. Instead we've seen a string of cancellations, bouts falling apart at really late notice. We've had two contests pulled due to a fighter being unable to safely make weight and another cancelled due to an injury. It's a shame that the domestic crown has been left on ice almost all year, but thankfully that will change tomorrow.
It will change as fans get the chance to see Yuta Saito (10-9-3, 7) [齊藤裕太] face off with Eita Kikuchi (21-5-4, 8) [菊地永太] to crown a new champion. This bout comes more than a year after Ryo Akaho successfully defended the belt against Saito, in the last bout for the title.
Today Saito and Kikuchi took part in their weigh in, and to the relief of the everyone, both men made weight!
On the scales both men came in on the limit and both in pretty good shape. Of the two Saito probably looked the stronger man, having a more filled out frame, but Kikuchi certainly has the edge in height and reach and will potentially be the heavier man when they meet in the ring tomorrow.
The vacancy of the title, which has been vacant since January, is longest the title has ever gone without a champion and it's clear that both men have been given a huge opportunity to claim gold tomorrow when they face off.
Sadly neither man is a standout. Coming in to this Saito has lost his last 2 bouts and is without a win in almost 29 months whilst Kikuchi lost in a Japanese eliminator in his last bout, last October. But the title does need a champion and the winner will have a host of people wanting to challenge for the title, such as Keita Kurihara (12-5, 11) [栗原 慶太], Yusuke Suzuki (9-3, 6) [鈴木悠介], who actually beat Kikuchi last year in an eliminator before suffering an injury this year, and Kyosuke Sawada (12-2-1, 6) [澤田京介] who will all be chasing the belt in 2019.
For fans wanting to watch this bout but can't make their way to the brilliant Korakuen Hall it will be televised live on G+.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Earlier today at the City Sogo gym fight fans had the chance to see a brilliant match up as former amateur stand out Kazuki Tanaka (9-2, 6) [田中 一樹] took on the hard hitting Keita Kurihara (12-5, 11) [栗原 慶太] in a mouth watering match up.
The bout lived up to the expectations of being something special as the two went to war part way through the opening round. The power edge of Kurihara showed as he dropped Tanaka in the opening round and left the former amateur star fully aware of the danger Kurihara brought to the ring.
Tanaka, to his credit, recovered well from the knockdown and rebuilt in round 2 behind his jab. The jab was a key for Tanaka to avoid the power of Kurihara, though his inability to keep Kurihara at range proved to be a problem again in round 3 when the hard hitter cut the distance and and dropped him again. Tanaka again recovered to his feet but a follow up attack forced the referee to save Tanaka, who has now been stopped twice.
Whilst this is a massive set back for Tanaka, who had been touted for huge things, the win continues a fantastic run for Kurihara, who has now stopped 3 foes in a row since his 2017 loss to Hiroaki Teshigawara.
After the fight the two fighters were photographed together and Kurihara showed his respect on social media stated that the bout was his most enjoyable.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Earlier today the Green Tsuda gym held a press conference to announce the next show in their "Crash Boxing" series of cards.
The main event of the card will see Japanese Welterweight champion Ryota Yada (15-4, 12) [矢田良太] made his first defense of the title that he won a few weeks ago aat the Champion Carnival. The hard hitting champion will take on Kazuyasu Okamoto (14-5, 4) [岡本和泰] in what looks like a relatively straight forward first defense for the champion. The champion looked fantastic in his title win and really put himself on the map and will be looking to enhance his reputation here. As for the challenger, who has fought much of his career at Light Welterweight, this is his first major about at 147lbs.
The title bout was just one of two great fights announced for the card. The other was a Super Bantamweight bout between Yada's stablemate Kazuki Tanaka (9-1, 6) [田中 一樹] and the hard hitting Keita Kurihara (11-5, 10) [栗原 慶太], in what could be one of the Japanese fights of the year. Tanaka, a former amateur standout, comes into this fight on the back of big wins over Hikaru Marugame and Seizo Kono but will surely be well aware of Kurihara's much vaunted power. As for Kurihara he has scored back to back stoppages over Ryan Lumacad and Tetsuya Watanabe, and has bounced back excellently since his June 2017 loss to Hiroaki Teshigawara, in what was a sensational bout.
For those interested in attending the show, it will take place on August 11th at the Hirakata City Gym in Osaka.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
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