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 (5-0-1, 5)
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.
Earlier this month we saw WBA "regular" Bantamweight champion Naoya Inoue (16-0, 14) [井上 尚弥] take part in the WBSS draft for the upcoming Bantamweight tournament. At the draft he selected former WBA "Super" champion Juan Carlos Payano (20-1, 9) as his first round bout, having seen preferred choice Nonito Donaire (38-5, 24), being selected by the #1 seed Ryan Burnett (19-0, 9).
Today Inoue, along with younger brother Takuma Inoue (11-0, 3) [井上 拓真] and cousin Koki Inoue (11-0, 10) [浩樹井上], began a physical training camp together in Atami.
The camp has began with the 3 men running around 8KM, doing large stair dashes and various other work outs, with the camp expected to intensify over the next few days.
Of course it's not just Naoya's bout with Payano that will be on the mind of the Inoue family but also Takuma's upcoming WBC eliminator with Mark John Yap (29-12, 14), a bout set to take place on September 11th at the Korakuen Hall.
Sadly news of Koki's next bout does seem to be scarce, though he is said to be chasing a title fight before the end of 2018 and will likely have his next bout announced shortly.
(Image courtesy of Sponichi)
Earlier today Japanese fight fans at the Korakuen Hall had the chance to see former 3-weight world champion Akira Yaegashi (26-6, 14) [八重樫 東] return to the ring for the first time since last May, when he lost the IBF Light Flyweight title to Milan Melindo.
The Ohashi gym warrior was stepping up in weight, as he began his pursuit for a Super Flyweight title, and faced off with limited Indonesian foe Frans Damur Palue (15-19-2, 10), who looked totally out of his depth from the opening moments The opening round saw a cautious looking Yaegashi using his feet well to keep the distance in the first round, before picking up the pace in round 2 and dropping the visitor with a series of body shots. Palue, to his credit, got up from the first knockdown but it was the start of the end and he would only last a few more moments as Yaegahsi chased the stoppage, and got it at 2 minutes 24 into the second round.
Following the win Yaegashi spoke positively of his performance and spoke about devoting himself to becoming a fully fledged Super Flyweight.
Other men to pick up wins on this undercard included Koki Inoue (11-0, 10) [浩樹井上], who stopped a Thai visitor at 1 minute 4 seconds into round 2, and Kazuki Nakajima (4-0, 3) [中嶋一輝], who needed just 84 seconds to take out his Thai opponent.
For fans interested in these bouts we are expecting some footage to be shown this coming weekend on a tape delay basis on Fuji TV.
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
Earlier this month we saw Ohashi gym announce their next Phoenix Battleshow, set for March 26th.
That original announcement featured only two bouts being confirmed. They were an OPBF Featherweight title bout, between defending champion Satoshi Shimizu (5-0, 5) [清水 聡] and Korean challenger Kyung Min Kwon (6-3, 3) and a bout between former 3-weight world champion Akira Yaegashi (25-6, 13) [八重樫 東] and Indonesian visitor Frans Damur Palue (15-18-2, 10).
Since that original announcement we have since had the card revealed to us, and the announcement has seen two notable fighters added to the under-card.
One of those fighters is the unbeaten Koki Inoue (10-0, 9) [浩樹井上], who will be looking to record his 7th straight stoppage and take yet another small step towards a title fight, which is expected to take place later this year. The other notable man is Ohashi stablemate Kazuki Nakajima (3-0, 2) [中嶋一輝], who will be fighting in his first 8 rounder.
Whilst it's great to see the two talented young Ohashi fighters in action, it's disppointing to know that both men will be matched with weak Thai opponents, who won't be expected to really test the two Japanese fighters, who both need bigger and better tests. Whilst we all know that Inoue is chasing a title fight it seems like this is a big step backwards for Nakajima, who should really be sticking with domestic opponents, rather than weak imports who will do nothing to develop his skill or experience.
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