On December 23rd we'll see a Light Flyweight unification bout, as WBC Light Flyweight champion Kenshiro (16-0, 9) [拳四朗] takes IBF champion Felix Alvarado (35-2, 30) at the Yokohama Arena.
Today Kenshiro was in the news in Japan for signing his newest contract a management contract with Commons 2, Inc.
Although this means little to those outside of Japan Kenshiro is only the second fighter to sign with the agency that helped guide former WBC Bantamweight champion Shinsuke Yamanaka to becoming a star in Japan.
The contract isn't expected to effect Kenshiro's in ring career but will instead look into securing him more appearances on TV shows, more sponsorship deals and look after his out of the ring activity. His boxing career on the other hand will continue to be guided by his team and the BMB gym, which is headed by his father.
With this deal now signed expect to see Kenshiro's face and likeness on adverts and stuff over the next year or two as his new team look to build his profile outside of the sport.
Related - 10 facts you probably didn't know about...Kenshiro
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
The most interesting of 3 world title bouts announced in Japan this morning was a Light Flyweight unification bout between WBC Light Flyweight champion Kenshiro (16-0, 9) [拳四朗] and IBF champion Felix Alvarado (35-2, 30), who are set to meet in what looks likely to be a late contender for Fight of the Year.
The bout a much demanded Light Flyweight unification bout, with the division having a lot of talent, and a lot of great fights, but no unification bouts since December 2017, when Ryoichi Taguchi and Milan Melindo unified the WBA and IBF titles, which were quickly split less than a year later due to mandatory obligations. It may not be the unification most fans had top of their list, but is still a unification between two well regarded champions in the division, and takes us a step closer to knowing who really is the division's #1 fighter.
The unbeaten Japanese fighter, dubbed "the amazing boy" is a 27 year old who has been a professional for less than 6 years but has been a world champion since May 2017. So far he has racked up 6 defenses of his WBC title, including wins over Pedro Guevara, Ganigan Lopez, Milan Melindo and Jonathan Taconing. Although not regarded as a puncher he has scored 4 stoppage in his 6 world title bouts, including stoppages over Melindo and Taconing, who had never previously been stopped.
Kenshiro had been in the running to face fellow Japanese world champion Hiroto Kyoguchi, the WBA "super" champion, though with that failing to materialise this really is as good a second choice as we could have had.
At today's press conference Kenshiro stated “I can finally aim for a different belt. I hope I can show a new Ken Shiro. I want the other belts, so I think it will be an important game as the first step of my dream.” (loose translation from Japanese) and added “If I keep my distance, there willl be no problem.” (also loosely translated from Japanese)
The very under-rated and under-talked about Alvarado is a beast. He's the sort of fighter who is rightly avoided and he has one of the the strongest arguments of any active world class fighter to say he is an avoided man. He's been the IBF champion since since October 2018, when he stopped Randy Petalcorin in the Philippines, and has only been able to secure a single defense, against Reiya Konishi this past May. Although he has two losses on his record he is unbeaten in over 5 years, with those defeats coming in 2013 to Kazuto Ioka and 204 to Juan Carlos Reveco.
Since his back to back losses Alvarado has been on a scary run, going 17-0 (15), and looks to be one of the most dangerous men in the sport. It's worth noting that the Light Flyweight division is packed with feared fighters right now, including Carlos Canizales, Elwin Soto and Angel Acosta, but Alvarado is the one who seems to be given the widest berth, with few really mentioning his name in interviews or chasing bouts with him.
Whilst it might not be the Light Flyweight bout that fans in Japan most wanted, few will complain at what is one of the best bouts that could be made in any division.
After weeks of rumour and speculation we finally got the announcement of Fuji's huge end of year card today. And it was much bigger and more exciting than any of us had anticipated.
As had been previously reported the card will take place on December 23rd in Japan will not only feature one world title bout, but 3! Including an amazing world title eliminator and a chance for a modern legend to get one final big win, before potentially ending his career. It also leaves the door open to a notable under-card return.
The one bout that was well known about before hand was the WBA "regular" Middleweight championship bout between Ryota Murata (15-2, 12) [村田 諒太] to and once beaten Canadian Steven Butler (28-1-1, 24). This was announced as the show's main event and will see Murata make his first defense of his second reign in what looks like an excellent match up on paper. Butler might not be a huge name, but as a match up on paper this should sell it's self.
The legend in action is former 3-weight world champion Akira Yaegashi (28-6, 16) [八重樫 東]. The hugely popular Yaegashi had been public about hoping to get a Super Flyweight world title bout. He's failed to do that, but he has managed to land a different world title bout, as he shares the ring with IBF Flyweight champion Moruti Mthalane (38-2, 25), in an attempt to become a 2-time Flyweight champion. For Mthalane this will be his third successive bout against a Japanese opponent following wins over Masahiro Sakamoto, on December 31st last year, and Masayuki Kuroda, earlier this year.
The third of the world title bouts, and the one we are the most excited about, will see WBC Light Flyweight champion Kenshiro (16-0, 9) [拳四朗] defending his title in a unification bout with IBF champion Felix Alvarado (35-2, 30). Through the year we have seen Kenshiro and WBA "super" champion Hiroto Kyoguchi both speak about unification bouts, to see one of the two men landing a bout at this level is great, even better when it features a high risk and power punching fighter like Alvarado. This bout really will strengthen the winner's claim the be #1 in the division and will be Alvarado's second successive bout against a Japanese fighter following a win earlier this year against Reiya Konishi.
Although not announced this is also expected to be the show where we will see the return of former WBC Flyweight champion Daigo Higa (15-1, 15) [比嘉 大吾], with an announcement about that set to come later this year!
For those wanting to attend the event it will take place at the Yokohama Arena.
Fuji are ending the year big, and by big we mean huge with this amazing show, and without a doubt a contender for card of the year.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Ryota Murata to defend WBA "regular" title against Steven Butler in December, Fuji to stack the show
According to multiple reputable sources a deal is now close to being done for WBA "regular" Middleweight champion Ryota Murata (15-2, 12) [村田 諒太] to defend his belt against once beaten Canadian Steven Butler (28-1-1, 24).
The story has been doing the rounds for a week or two now, and now appears to have moved from talks to being pretty much complete, in what will be the headline bout for Fuji TV's final card of 2019.
At the moment it appears the date will be much earlier in the year than previous Fuji year enders, with a pre-Christmas date being rumoured for the bout, though official announcements will be made in the near future confirming the date and venue.
Murata, a 2-time champion, won this belt back when he beat Rob Bran by TKO in the summer. He looked like he had found a new gear in his pressure in that win after looking 1-paced and fundamentally slow in his loss to Brant in 2018. The 2012 Olympic gold medal winner is clearly eyeing up bigger fights in 2020 and the ling rumoured fight with Kazakh star Gennady Golovkin's (40-1-1, 35) [Геннадий Геннадьевич Головкин] is again doing the rounds in the Japanese press, for next year. Sadly we've long heard about Murata's chase for Golovkin and nothing has materialised so if that bout doesn't take place we would be disappointed but not surprised.
The 24 year old Butler was a solid amateur with a 50-5 record, of course that doesn't compare to Murata and his Olympic gold medal but still solid. He turned professional in 2014 and like many prospects he was super active early on with 9 bouts in his first 9 months as a professional. By the end of 2016 he was 18-0-1 (15) but would lose in January 2017 to Brandon Cook, who is best known for losses to Jaime Munguia and Kanat Islam. Since that loss he has bounced back with 12 wins and was tipped to to be Demetrius Andrade's next opponent.
At the moment the deal is being finalised though it's expected that Teiken will hold a press conference in the next 10 days to announce the bout. The shame show is also expected to featured WBC Light Flyweight champion Kenshiro (16-0, 9) [拳四朗] and the return to the ring for former WBC Flyweight champion Daigo Higa (15-1, 15) [比嘉 大吾] and could feature 1 other noteworthy bout as Fuji look to end the year in style.
We know we've been a bit slow on this one!
Earlier today Hiroto Kyoguchi (14-0, 9) [京口 紘人] held a press conference to talk about yesterday's win over Tetsuya Hisada (34-10-2, 20) [久田 哲也], which saw him retaining his WBA "super" and Ring Magazine Light Flyweight titles.
The champion, sporting a still swollen and bruised left eye, seemed in good spirits but looked like he had indeed been in a hell of a fight.
At today's press conference it was revealed that the MBS website had received around 500,000 accesses for the video of the fight. That's a pretty solid number, given that youtube showed a live figure around 5,00 at the first bell, though it's unclear whether that includes the 160,000 views the official youtube video currently has as well. If not then it's an impressive figure for a mid-week fight that didn't really get the promotional attention it deserved.
Kyoguchi told the press that he was a little bit uncomfortable through the fight, and it was no wonder given the effort and success Hisada was having. He explained that it was a tough fight, something that was clear watching it, though added that it was a good experience to beat someone like Hisada.
One thing that seemed a surprise to Kyoguchi, and in fairness to use too, was how pro-Hisada everyone was. Kyoguchi admitted it felt more like an away fight than expected and admitted that he thought it was Hisada who had attracted the fans. That shouldn't have been much of a surprise, given it was Hisada's 11th fight at the EDION Arena, but it was still a shock to us at least to not see more fans there for the champion.
Kyoguchi was joined by gym chairman Hitoshi Watanabe who stated that he was hoping his charge would fight in a unification bout next year with WBC champion Kenshiro (16-0, 9) [拳四朗]. Whilst that's a fight we would all obvious love to see it should be noted that we had heard the same earlier this year and the bout doesn't appear to be any closer than it was 10 months ago. Both fighters clearly want the bout, but boxing keeps proving things aren't ever that simple.
Originally it seemed like Hisada wasn't going to be back in the ring, with Hisada revealing to the press after the fact that he was 90% sure he would be retiring. A follow up social media post however saw him admit he wasn't sure if he was going to retire or not, and it seems like he may well continue after having received so many messages about his performance. Given how well he against Kyoguchi it really wouldn't be a surprise if the Harada gym managed to talk him into having 1 more big fight before hanging them up.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
News! We try and give you the most interesting news stories from the Asian boxing world!