Earlier today at the Tokyo Dome Hotel the media were able to attend the press conference to announce the 2019 Champion Carnival bouts, with 13 contests being officially announced.
As previously reported the Minimumweight bout will see defending champion Shin Ono (23-9-3, 6) [小野 心] defending his title against Norihito Tanaka (17-7, 9) [田中教仁] on January 12th at the Korakuen Hall.
The Light Flyweight bout, to fill the recent vacancy left by Tetsuya Hisada (33-9-2, 19) [久田 哲也], will see Kenichi Horikawa (38-15-1, 12) [堀川 謙一] battle against Satoru Todaka (9-2-4, 3) [戸髙達], with this bout set to take place on February 14th, also at the Korakuen Hall.
The Flyweight bout, like the Minimumweight bout, had already been announced and will see Junto Nakatani (17-0, 12) [中谷 潤人] and Naoki Mochizuki (15-3, 8) [望月直樹] fight on February 2nd at the Korakuen Hall. This bout is to fill the vacancy left by Masayuki Kuroda (30-7-3, 16) [黒田 雅之], who like Hisada has stated he intends to fight for a world title in 2019.
The Super Flyweight champion Takayuki Okumoto (21-8-4, 10) [奥本 貴之] will defend his title on April 21st in Osaka, and will see Okumoto battle against Yuta Matsuo (15-3-1, 8) [松尾雄太], in what will be Okumoto's second defense of the title.
The Bantamweight bout will be a unification bout as regular champion Yuta Saito (11-9-3, 8) [齊藤裕太], who has been suffering from illness recently, battling against recently crowned interim champion Hayato Kimura (28-10, 19) [木村隼人]. There is no set date on this bout, but it's expected to take place in Tokyo, with the Korakuen Hall the most likely venue.
The Super Bantamweight title will have it's vacancy filled on January 12th, on the same show as the Ono Vs Tanaka card. Fighting for the title will be Mugicha Nakagawa (24-5-1, 14) [武田勇太] and Ryoichi Tamura (11-3-1, 6) [田村 亮一], who will be looking to follow in the footsteps of former champion Shingo Wake (25-5-2, 17) [和氣 慎吾] who looks to be heading towards a world title fight, like Hisada and Kuroda.
Arguably the best match up for the Champion Carnival is the Featherweight bout, which will pit Taiki Minamoto (16-5, 13) [源大輝] against Reiya Abe (18-2, 9) [阿部 麗也], who will be battling former amateur stand out Daisuke Sugita (4-0, 3) [杉田大祐] in January before facing Minamoto on May 1st at the Korakuen Hall. This is, to us, the stand out bout of the Champion Carnival and is genuinely a mouth watering clash.
The Japanese Super Featherweight champion Masaru Sueyoshi (18-1-1, 11) [末吉 大] will take on Ken Osato (15-2-1, 4) [大里拳], in a rematch of the bout the two men had during the 2018 Champion Carnival. This contest will take place on May 4th at the Korakuen Hall and will see Osato looking to avenge his loss and Sueyoshi looking to repeat his win over Osato.
The unbeaten Shuichiro Yoshino (9-0, 7) [吉野 修一郎] will be making his 4th defense of the Japanese Lightweight title, as he takes on the challenge of Accel Sumiyoshi (11-4-3, 3) [アクセル住吉]. This bout is set to take place on April 11th at the Korakuen Hall.
Another bout that really whets the appetite is the Japanese Light Welterweight title bout. That contest will see champion Valentine Hosokawa (24-6-3, 11) [細川バレンタイン] defending his belt on April 6th at the Korakuen Hall against Koki Inoue (12-0, 10) [浩樹井上] in a mouth watering step up for the challenger.
We'll see attention turn to Osaka for the Welterweight title bout, as Ryota Yada (18-4, 15) [矢田良太] defends his belt against Yuki Nagano (15-2, 11) [永野祐樹]. This bout is set to take place on April 21st, though the specific venue wasn't announced.
The Light Middleweight title bout will see Nobuyuki Shindo (20-4-2, 8) [新藤寛之] defending the title against Hironobu Matsunaga (14-1, 8) [松永 宏信] in what should be a thrilling contest between a very hungry challenger and an under-rated champion. These two will clash at the Korakuen Hall on May 1st, as a double header with the Minamoto Vs Abe bout.
On March 2nd we'll see Japanese Middleweight champion Kazuto Takesako (10-0, 10) [竹迫司登] defending his belt against Shuji Kato (10-1-1, 6) [加藤収二], in what will be Takesako's second defense. This will also be at the Korakuen Hall.
At the moment the full details of who will be showing what bouts is unclear, but we're glad to now have most of the matches set, with dates and venues.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Earlier today Japanese fight fans at the Korakuen Hall saw Ken Osato (15-2-1, 4) [大里拳] take on Satoru Sugita (14-6-1, 9) [杉田聖] in a Japanese title challenger decider bout.
This was the second time the two men had faced off, and they had actually clashed in a challenger deciding bout last year, with Osato taking a split decision last time. Once again it was Osato coming out on top, but this time he did so clearly.
The opening round was close, as the two fighters felt each other out. The competitiveness continued in round 2, as there was again little to split the men.
From round 3 on wards however Osato took control, complete control, sweeping the final 6 rounds on all 3 cards.
Osato controlled the bout with quick straight shots, smart footwork and great control of the ring, making Sugita miss regularly. Whilst Sugita was never really hurt he was rarely competitive and Osato impressed as he outboxed and cut his man, not only dominating much of the bout but also looking like the stronger man at the end.
When the score cards were announced Sugita looked exhausted and like he knew he had clearly been beaten. The judges also thought so, scoring the contest 79-74, twice, and 79-73 all in favour of Osato.
After the bout Sugita revealed he couldn't remember much of the contest, and although it's unclear at the moment we do wonder about his long term health as he has taken a lot of shots in recent bouts. Osato on the other hand heads into his second title bout, likely a second meeting with Masaru Sueyoshi.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp
One of two rematches at the Korakuen Hall tomorrow, in Japanese title challenger decider bouts, will see Ken Osato (14-2-1, 4) [大里拳] face off with Satoru Sugita (14-5-1, 9) [杉田聖], with the winner getting a Japanese Super Featherweight title bout next year.
The two men fought last year, in what was also a bout to decide a Japanese title challenger, with Osato coming out on top by a narrow margin. This time Sugita will be looking for revenge as well as his as his third title shot, whilst Osato will be wanting his second fight for a title.
Today the two men took part in their weigh in and both men came in under the 130lb limit.
Osato was the heavier man, coming in around 129.6lbs and looking in great shape. Sugita looked even better at the weigh in and was slightly lighter at 129.4lbs.
The two fighters sounded like they had prepared hard, though Sugita sounded particularly confident, saying he was aiming for the KO.
Related - Osato and Sugita go again, in title eliminator!
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
An important part of the Japanese boxing calendar is the Champion Carnival, which takes place in the first half of the year. The fighters who compete in the Champion Carnival are the national champions and the leading domestic contenders.
In August we a number of bouts to decide the top contenders being announced, with 6 such bouts being set for October 12, on a stacked card at the Korakuen Hall.
For those missed that report those bouts on October 12th will be:
Light Flyweight - Kenichi Horikawa (37-15-1, 11) [堀川 謙一] Vs Koji Itagaki (18-12-3, 7) [板垣幸司]
The Super Flyweight - Yuta Matsuo (14-3-1, 7) [松尾雄太] Vs Rey Orais (20-17-2, 5)
Super Bantamweight - Mugicha Nakagawa (23-5-1, 14) [武田勇太] Vs Naoya Okamoto (13-6-1, 6) [岡本直也].
Super Featherweight - Ken Osato (14-2-1, 4) [大里拳] Vs Satoru Sugita (14-5-1, 9) [杉田聖]
Light Welterweight - Koki Inoue (11-0, 10) [浩樹井上] Vs Marcus Smith (6-0-1, 6)
Light Middleweight Koshinmaru Saito (24-9-2, 13) [斉藤伸介] vs Hironobu Matsunaga (13-1, 7) [松永 宏信]
As well as the October 12th card we also, recently, saw the confirmation that the Flyweight bout would see Junto Nakatani (16-0, 12) [中谷 潤人] battle against Shun Kosaka (15-4, 4) [小坂駿], which that bout now set for October 6th as part of notable Japanese domestic card which is set to be televised on G+.
Today saw the rest of the bouts being announced.
On October 21st we'll have two of them take place in Fukuoka. One of those is the Minimumweight bout, which will see Takumi Sakae (19-2-1, 13) [榮拓海] take on Norihito Tanaka (16-7, 9) [田中教仁], in what could end up being one of the surprise contests from these eliminator style contests. On the same card will be the Welterweight clash between Yuki Beppu (18-0-1, 18) [別府優樹] and Yuki Nagano (14-2, 11) [永野祐樹], in what we are expecting to be a very explosive and exciting encounter between two fighters with very solid power at this level.
A week later, October 28th, we'll get the Lightweight bout, which will see Accel Sumiyoshi (11-4-2, 3) [アクセル住吉] face off with Tatsuya Yanagi (15-5-1, 6) [柳達也]. This bout will take place in Shimonoseki, Yamaguchi prefecture, which should favour Sumiyoshi but given the styles of the two men this has the potential to be very exciting.
On November 7th we'll get the Middleweight bout as former champion Hikaru Nishida (17-9-1, 8) [西田光] takes on Shuji Kato (9-1-1, 6) [加藤収二], with this bout taking place at the Korakuen Hall.
The only bout with out a set date so far is the Bantamweight bout. Despite no set date we do know that Hayato Kimura (27-10, 18) [木村隼人] facing off with Seizo Kono (19-10-1, 12) [高野誠三], in what is a bit of an under-whelming contest given some of the Japanese domestic talent in the division. This bout is expected to have it's date and venue announced in the coming weeks.
The Champion Carnival is one of the many long traditions in Japanese boxing, and sees the Japanese champions defending their belts against the top contenders to begin the new year. The challengers are often decided by winning a challenger decision bout, or an eliminator for our Western fans, and we now have 6 such bouts set for an October 12th show at the Korakuen Hall, with those bouts taking place from Light Flyweight to Light Middleweight.
The Light Flyweight bout will see former champion Kenichi Horikawa (37-15-1, 11) [堀川 謙一] battle against former foe Koji Itagaki (18-12-3, 7) [板垣幸司]. Horikawa is 2-1 against current Japanese champion Tetsuya Hisada [久田 哲也] and will be looking to get one more bout with Hisada in 2019, unless Hisada finally lands a world title fight. Horikawa holds a notable win over Itagaki from a WBO Asia Pacific title bout back in 2017, but that will only serve as for Itagaki who himself lost in a competitive bout with Hisada earlier this year. With Horikawa now 38 and Itagaki 35 both men are coming to the end of their careers so this really is a must win for both men.
The Super Flyweight bout will see Yuta Matsuo (14-3-1, 7) [松尾雄太] battle against Japanese based Filipino veteran Rey Orais (20-17-2, 5). Coming into this Matsuo is on a good run, following a 2017 loss to Masayuki Kuroda, with recent wins over Kazuto Nakane and Ryoji Fukunaga, and certainly has moment on his side coming into this bout. Orais on the other hand has fought just once in the last 10 years, beating Ken Achiwa this past May, those has mixed with good company including Denkaosan Kaovichit and Oleydong Sithsamerchai. Orais has next to no momentum but has got significantly more experience than the Japanese local.
At Super Bantamweight we'll see Mugicha Nakagawa (23-5-1, 14) [武田勇太] face off with Naoya Okamoto (13-6-1, 6) [岡本直也]. The 29 year old Nakagawa fought in the Champion Carnival challenger decision bout last year, losing a very competitive bout to the popular Yasutaka Ishimoto, and since then has stopped Markquil Slvana and Ricky Manufoe to rebuild some momentum. Nakagawa is a real talent and although he's not in among the very elite in Japan, like Ryosuke Iwasa and Shingo Wake, he's a very good domestic fighter. Okamoto Okamoto on the other hand is currently on a nice run, with recent wins over Gaku Aikawa, Daisuke Watanabe and Yuta Saito, who fights for the Japanese Bantamweight title in September. The winner of this will a have a bout with Wake lined up, but the reality seems to be that Wake will vacate, to chase a world title fight, and the winner of this bout will get a shot at a vacant title.
The Super Featherweight bout will be a rematch between Ken Osato (14-2-1, 4) [大里拳] and Satoru Sugita (14-5-1, 9) [杉田聖], who fight in a similar challenger bout last year, with Osato narrowly defeating Sugita. Osato's win lead to a fight with Masaru Sueyoshi earlier this year, which he lost, and he is clearly hunting a rematch with Sueyoshi. Sugita on the other hand has twice challenged for the Japanese title, losing to Kenichi Ogawa twice, and will be looking to make it third time lucky. Given the Japanese talent at 130lbs, it's a bit of a shame that we're getting a rematch here, but it's hard to argue with the quality of the men in the bout, and given how competitive their first bout was this could be very interesting.
Arguably the pick of the bouts, at least on paper, comes at 140lbs as Koki Inoue (11-0, 10) [浩樹井上], the cousin of Naoya Inoue [井上 尚弥] and Takuma Inoue (11-0, 3) [井上 拓真], takes on Rookie of the Year winner Marcus Smith (5-0-1, 5). Inoue has genuinely destructive since making his debut and has looked more than ready for a title fight, though doesn't seem to have found a champion willing to fight him, a win here however will force their hand and guarantee him a shot at the belt next year. Smith, a Japanese based American fighter, will be stepping up massively for this bout, but a win will give his career a huge shot in the arm and not only get him the title shot, but also the biggest win of his career, by far.
The final bout confirmed for this show will be at 154lbs and see 39 year old veteran Koshinmaru Saito (24-9-2, 13) [斉藤伸介] battle against the in form Hironobu Matsunaga (13-1, 7) [松永 宏信]. Saito, who has come up short regularly in title fights will likely know that a win here will open up one more shot, almost certainly a final shot, following losses in title bouts against the likes of Takeshi Inoue, Yuki Nonaka, Suyon Takayama and Akinori Watanabe. A win however is not assured for Saito and Matsunaga has proven his quality in recent wins against the likes of Hisao Narita, Sanosuke Sasaki, Je Ni Ma and Patomsuk Pathompothong.
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