Back in March we saw the exciting Kenta Nakagawa (13-3-1, 9) [中川 健太] lose the Japanese Super Featherweight title against Watanabe Gym's Ryuichi Funai (27-7, 19) [船井 龍一], a good personal friend.
Following that loss it was unclear what Nakagawa was going to do with his career, but now it seems clear that retirement is out of his head, and instead he will return to action on September 21st at the Korakuen Hall, in the main event of Overheat Boxer's Night 82.
At the moment Nakagawa doesn't have an opponent lined up, but it is nice to see him back in the ring, as he does have a fun and aggressive style and is a good solid competitor on the Japanese and Oriental scene. At 31 he still has time to work himself towards another title fight, and in fact he has the time to become a multi-time champion.
Although Nakagawa's opponent for the bout hasn't been named for the show we do know that Yuya Okazaki (12-10-2, 4) [岡崎 祐也] will be up against Takashi Inagaki (19-15-2, 9) [稲垣孝] in what should be a really fan friendly and exciting battle against two fun but limited fighters.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Earlier today Japanese fans in Tokyo, and subscribers to the Boxingraise service, had the chance to see a Japanese Super Flyweight title fight, it resulted in yet another win for the Watanabe gym, who have had a sensational year so far.
The bout pitted old high school friends against each other, with Kenta Nakagawa (13-3-1, 9) [中川 健太] looking to defend his title against Watanabe's Ryuichi Funai (27-7, 19) [船井 龍一]. For Nakagawa it was the first time he had entered the ring as a champion, following a thrilling win over Hayato Kimura last year. Sadly for Nakagawa he was unable to retain the title as Funai had a career defining performance.
Funai impressed from the off and took the first 2 rounds on all three cards, before Nakagawa managed to find a foot hold in the bout, winning round 3. The success of Nakagawa was short lived though with Funai taking round 4 and 5 to be in comfortable lead at the mid-way point of the contest.
After 5 rounds the scores were 49-46, twice in favour of Funai, and 47-47 in favour of Nakagawa.
Nakagawa fought like a man who knew he had to change his tactics and in round 6 brought the fight to Funai in a more aggressive manner, taking more risks and looking to turn things around. Funai was equal to it though and in round 7 the defending champion found out that Funai was heavier handed than his record suggested. Although Nakagawa had a good start to the round Funai ended up hurting him, bullying him and then eventually took down a tired looking Nakagawa in the final seconds of the round. As the referee counted it was clear that Nakagawa was gone and his corner threw in the towel as the referee closed in on the 10 count.
After having put on a thrilling and exciting contest the two men showed their friendship and respect once again, congratulating each other on their performane.
For Nakagawa the future is unclear, for Funai however a defense later this year does look to be the most likely think. Interestingly he has followed in the footsteps of Nihito Arakawa, Hiroto Kyoguchi and Yusaku Kuga, who have all claimed new titles this year for a really on fire Watanabe gym. They say success breeds success and that looks to be clear here.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Tomorrow Japanese fight fans will see former school buddies Kenta Nakagawa (13-2-1, 9) [中川 健太] and Ryuichi Funai (26-7, 18) [船井 龍一] trading blows for the Japanese Super Flyweight title. The bout, streamed live on boxingraise.com, is high anticipated and sees Nakagawa seeking his first defense whilst Funai will be looking to become a champion at the third time of asking.
Today the two men took part in their weigh in, and both men made the weight for the contest.
Although there looked to be a clear size difference between the two men they were both bang on the limit, and both looked in great condition for the bout, showing that whilst they are good friends they are also coming here to win the bout.
Both men showed their repsect for the other through the weigh in, and it's clear that they do still get on well, though it's also clear that for the fight that friendship will be put on ice and both men will seeking the victory. After the fight their friendship will resume.
Kenta Nakagawa looks for first defense as he takes on Funai
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
We'll admit that we have been a little bit frustrated at the Boxingraise service in recent weeks, feeling they could have done more particularly in February, in regards to their content. We know it's a typically quiet part of the year but the service could have shown what is on the horizon and featured more "old" footage of shows from the past.
Today however they took a big step up to announce the next 3 shows that will be made available on their service, and there is speculation that March could see a flurry of activity on their service.
Their next card will be "Dangan Ladies Vol 4", a show headlined by Ayumi Goto (5-0, 4) [後藤あゆみ] battling with Kim Actub (4-6-1, 3) for the OPBF female Super Bantamweight title. This show was a "given" for the service as it's part of the Dangan promoted cards, and all of the Dangan shows are on the service as the same parent company run them. For those interested this card, which takes place on March 15th will be on tape delay, and should be online within 24 hours of taking place.
The service will then feature tape delay coverage of the March 19th "Big Fight Boxing 49" card, on 24 hour delay. The main event here will see Tenta Kiyose (11-2-1, 4) [清瀬 天太] battle Taisei Higashi (7-9-1, 5) [東 泰誠] and although far from a good card on paper it should have a fair bit of lower tier excitement and action.
The crown in the jewel of the 3 shows announced today was "Overheat Boxer's Night 80", which will be aired live on March 22nd. The main event here will see Japanese Super Flyweight champion Kenta Nakagawa (13-2-1, 9) [中川 健太] making a mandatory defense of his title against Ryuichi Funai (26-7, 18) [船井 龍一]. The under-card is a bit weak but the main event is set to be a treat.
Rumours are that the service will give us at least one more tape delay card before the month is out, with "Art of Boxing 4" headlined by Hinata Maruta (4-0, 3) [丸田 陽七太] against Hamson Tiger Lamandau (8-0, 5) expected to be added.
Earlier today saw a notable event take place in Japan as the 13 Champion Carnival boutsfor 2017 were announced, with each division from Minimumweight to Middleweight having had bouts ordered.
At Minimumweight we get a really brilliant fight as the unbeaten pairing of Masataka Taniguchi (6-0, 4) [谷口 将隆] and Reiya Konishi (12-0, 5) [小西 伶弥] fight for the vacant title. The bout will take place on April 3rd in Kobe, giving Konishi the home advantage but Taniguchi does look liek the more proven fighter, despite being less experienced.
At Light Flyweight we'll see Ken Shiro (9-0, 5) [拳 四朗] defending his title against veteran Tetsuya Hisada (27-9-2, 17) [久田 哲也]. The bout hasn't yet gota set date but willtake place in Osaka, and is likely to be Ken Shiro's final defence before going after a world title later in the year. For Hisada this will be his first shot at a title.
The Flyweight division will see Masayuki Kuroda (25-7-3, 15) [黒田 雅之] battle against Yuta Matsuo (12-2-1, 6) [ユータ松尾] for the interim title. The interim title has been made available here as current champion Takuya Kogawa (28-4, 13) [粉川 拓也] is recovering from an injury he suffered last year, and he will be mandated to face the winner of this bout. For Matsuo it's a first title bout whilst Kuroda will be looking to claim a Japanese Flyweight title at his third attempt.
Super Flyweight champion Kenta Nakagawa (13-2-1, 9) [中川 健太] will make his first defence as he takes on Ryuichi Funai (26-7, 18) [船井 龍一]. This bout is pencilled in for the Korakuen Hall on March 22nd and will see Funai getting his third shot at a title, his second for the Japanese crown.
The vacant Bantamweight title will be up for grabs in a bout between Ryo Akaho (29-2-2, 19) [赤穂 亮] and Yushi Tanaka (19-1-3, 13) [田中 裕士]. Akaho, a former world title challenger, is fighting in his second Japanese title fight following a draw in a 2009 fight with Daigo Nakahiro for the Japanese Super Flyweight title. For Tanaka it's a second shot at the Bantamweight crown following a defeat last year to Kentaro Masuda. These two will face off on March 10th at the Korakuen Hall.
We've long known about the Super Bantamweight title bout which will take place on February 4th and see Yasutaka Ishimoto (29-8, 8) [石本 康隆] facing the heavy handed Yusaku Kuga (13-2-1, 9) [久我 勇作]. This is a rematch between these two men who had a great fight in 2015, with Ishimoto claiming a narrow but thrilling decision win.
At Featherweight we'll see Shota Hayashi (28-5-1, 17) [林 翔太] make his secon defence as he battles against the hard hitting Kosuke Saka (15-3, 12) [坂晃典]. For Hayashi this bout will be a chance to build on a big 2016 but he's up against a real dangerman in Saka, who has stopped his last 7 opponents including Ryuto Kyoguchi, Tetsuya Nishinaga, Burning Ishii and Takafumi Nakajima. This bout is set to take place in either March or May in Nagaoya and could well come with the next bout of Kosei Tanaka.
In the Super Featherweight division we get a rematch as reigning chanmpion Kenichi Ogawa (20-1, 16) [尾川 堅一] battles against Satoru Sugita (12-3-4, 7) [杉田 聖], in a rematch of a bout from last year's Charmpion Carnival. The bout will be Ogawa's 4th defence and he will be looking for a better performance than he had last time against Sugita, whilst the challenger will be seeking an upset here. This bout is expected to take place in March at the Korakune Hall.
As reported yesterday Lightweight champion Shuhei Tsuchiya (22-4, 18) [土屋 修平] will be defending his title against Kazuhiro Nishitani (16-4-1, 8) [西谷 和宏] on March 4th. The bout will be Tsuchiya's first defence whilst Nishitani will be getting his second shot at a title following a 2015 bout with Kota Tokunaga.
Another bout we've known about for sometime is the Light Welterweight clash between Koichi Aso (20-7-1, 13) [麻生 興一] and Kazuki Matsuyama (13-7-1, 7) [松山 和樹], who will face off on February 9th at the Korakuen Hall. The bout will see Aso getting a third shot at the title, following two losses to Hiroki Okada, whilst Matsuyama will get his first title fight.
At Welterweight we'll see heavy handed champion Toshio Arikawa (14-4, 12) [有川 稔男] battle against Daisuke Sakamoto (13-8-3, 8), who actually holds a win over the champion. Arikawa will be seeking his second defence here and looking to continue a destructive run but Sakamoto will feel confident of repeating his previous win over the champion. This bout is pencilled in for April 17th at the Korakuen Hall.
The Light Middleweight title bout will see defending champion Yuki Nonaka (31-8-3, 10) [野中 悠樹] defending his title in Osaka against fellow veteran Koshinmaru Saito (23-8-2, 13) [斉藤 幸伸丸]. The bout will take place in March or April and see Nonaka seek a 7th defence whilst Saito will be looking to claim a title in his 8th title shot!
The Middleweight bout sees a unification taking place as Hikaru Nishida (15-8-1, 7) [西田 光] returns from injury to defend his "regular" title against "interim" champion Tomohiro Ebisu (17-4, 17) [胡 朋宏]. Ebisu won the interim title back on December 24th as he stopped Makoto Fuchigami in a late Japanese FOTY contender, when Nishida was out of action due to injury. For Nishida the bout is a tough ask on his return but should be a thriller with two men who have styles that should gel brilliantly. This bout will take place May 1st at the Korakuen Hall.
As well the fact there are 13 Japanese titles up for grabs their will also be financial rewards. The MVP will earn a bonus of ¥300,000 whilst the winner of the Skills and Fighting awards will net themselves ¥100,000 each.
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
News! We try and give you the most interesting news stories from the Asian boxing world!