Yesterday the Mutoh Gym in Osaka held a press conference announcing that Keita Kurihara (12-5, 11) [栗原 慶太] would be facing Yuki Strong Kobayashi (14-7, 8) [小林佑樹] on returning to the ring on December 24th to face off with for the vacant OPBF Bantamweight title at the EDION Arena Osaka. The head of the Mutoh Gym had told the press that the title had become vacant after Mark John Yap (29-13, 14) decided to retire.
Mr Edagawa went on to say that Yap had "quit due to neck pains" and had returned home to the Philippines.
After this news was shared the fighter himself commented stating his stance in Filipino:
The statement roughly translates as:
That not true, false news yan! I have returned to Cagayan de oro city because my contract with my former Japanese manager has expired. I went home because my parents were sick thanks, for the memories and support.
Now that's a lot different to the comments made by Mr Edagawa, who seemed surprised at Yap leaving for the Philippines, so it seems like there is some miscommunication between the two sides, and we really hope that can be cleared up. Unfortunately in boxing we see legals between promoters and fighters derail careers far too often, and if that happens again here it would be a huge shame for Yap who looked set to remain a top Bantamweight contender, despite his loss earlier this year to Takuma Inoue (12-0, 3) [井上 拓真] in a WBC Bantamweight world title eliminator.
We'll wait to see where this story does go, as it does appear to be one with at least chapter in the future, though did feel it fair to share Yap's statement and update the original article from yesterday's press conference to include a mention of Yap's statement.
(Unfortunately after this was posted the comment was deleted from Facebook)
Earlier this month we reported that Keita Kurihara (12-5, 11) [栗原 慶太] would be returning to the ring on December 24th to face off with Yuki Strong Kobayashi (14-7, 8) [小林佑樹] in a bout for the vacant OPBF Bantamweight title at the EDION Arena Osaka.
Today that bout was officially confirmed, with the Mutoh Boxing gym not just announcing the bout but also the rest of their show for Christmas Eve, a show that will feature bouts involving two hotly tipped prospects as well as the OPBF title bout.
The OPBF title became vacant recently when Mark John Yap (29-13, 14) decided to retire, following a close loss to Takuma Inoue (12-0, 3) [井上 拓真] in a WBC Bantamweight world title eliminator.
According to Takashi Edagawa, the head of the Mutoh gym, Yap retired after the loss and went back to the Philippines, hence vacating the title, in what a really surprising move from the Filipino given that he had seemingly secured his status as a top contender. We suspect that Yap will return from retirement down the line, but if not it's a shame his career ended so abruptly after such a close loss and it appears that even Mr Edagawa was surprised by the decision.
Update - On Social Media Yap himself has stated that he's not retired but that his contract with Mutoh gym has expired and that he has returned to the Philippines for the next chapter of his career. His parents are ill and he will be in Cagayan de oro City. It would seem like there is some miscommunication between the two, as the Japanese promoter doesn't seem to be aware that the contract has expired and stated that Yap had complained about neck pain, told he he was returning to the Philippines and retiring.
At the press conference along with Kobayashi and Mr Edagawa was Rio Kuwabata (1-0, 1) [桑畑凜生], who has sent a request to change his ring name to a rather unique one. Kuwabata, who debuted in China back in September, will be up against 34 year old Yosuke Taniguchi (7-5-1, 2) [谷口陽祐] in an interesting 6 round contest.
One other highly regarded prospect on this card is Middleweight hopeful Riku Kunimoto (2-0) [国本陸], who is stepping up to 8 round bouts to face off with Toshihiro Kai (6-10-2, 2) [甲斐斗志広].
The card, dubbed "You will be the Champion 9", seems almost certain to be the final Japanese card before Christmas.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Earlier this week fight fans at the Korakuen Hall saw unbeaten Japanese youngster Takuma Inoue (12-0, 3) [井上 拓真] score his most significant win to date, taking a decision over Mark John Yap (29-13, 14) to become one of two mandatory challengers for the next WBC Bantamweight champion.
Despite the contest with Yap only taking place on Tuesday Inoue has already returned to the gym with the intention of getting prepared to face southpaw opponents.
The reason for Inoue wanting to prepare to face southpaws is that now matter who he faces for the WBC Bantamweight title next year, it's almost certainly going to be a southpaw.
The WBC Bantamweight title will be fought for in October between Frenchman Nordine Oubaali (14-0, 11) and American Rau'shee Warren (16-2-0-1, 4). The winner of that bout will then be mandated to defend the title against unbeaten Thai Petch Sor Chitpattana (47-0, 32) [เพชร ซีพีเฟรชมาร์ท] in the first mandatory defense. The winner of that little 3 man series will then have to defend the title against Inoue.
It should be noted that Takuma's older brother Naoya Inoue (16-0, 14) [井上 尚弥] is also preparing to face a southpaw at the moment, as he's set to face Juan Carlos Payano (20-1, 9) in October. It would seem logical for two Inoue's to both the same fighters that come over to prepare for southpaws, which may also explain why Takuma has already returned to the gym. Staying in shape ahead of sparring with the people the Ohashi gym were bringing over for Naoya's bout.
(Image courtesy of Nikkan Sports)
Earlier today fight fans in Tokyo had the chance to see the unbeaten Japanese Takuma Inoue (12-0, 3) [井上 拓真] score his most significant win to date, coming out with a victory over Mark John Yap (29-13, 14) in a WBC Bantamweight world title eliminator.
That win doesn't mean Inoue is next for the WBC title. In fact the next bout for the vacant title will see Nordine Oubaali (14-0, 11) face off with Rau'shee Warren (16-2-0-1, 4) in October.
Inoue isn't even the mandatory for the winner of that bout. Instead the winner of the title will have to make a mandatory defense against unbeaten Thai Petch Sor Chitpattana (47-0, 32) [เพชร ซีพีเฟรชมาร์ท] before Inoue gets his crack. Essentially the fight today was to set up the second mandatory for the new champion.
On paper that doesn't seem great for Inoue, who will have to wait for a shot, however it seems his promoter Hideyuki Ohashi has got big plans and has worked that delay into his plans.
After Inoue's win today Mr Ohashi told the press that he wanted to have a monopoly on the Bantamweight titles. In fact he wanted that monopoly to be between Takuma and his older brother Naoya Inoue (16-0, 14) [井上 尚弥] who is taking part in the World Boxing Super Series (WBSS). That tournament could see Naoya unifying the WBA, WBO and IBF titles and Ohashi suggested that ideally Naoya's WBSS final could be held on the same show Takuma's eventual world title shot. After all both will take place in 2019.
It is obviously an "ideal situation" to get both those bouts on the same show and to hold a super event for the Inoue brothers. It is however a long way off, and seems to be more of a rough plan for Ohashi rather than something set in stone. If it does come off however it would be something very special for Japanese boxing, and the Bantamweight division. Though sadly it would mean that we probably wouldn't be set for an undisputed champion as the two Inoue's wouldn't fight each other, unlike the Eguchi brothers, Katsuaki Eguchi and Kusuo Eguchi, who battled for the Japanese Minimumweight title in 1993.
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
Earlier today at the Korakuen Hall fight fans had the chance to see a WBC Bantamweight world title eliminator, setting the second mandatory challenged for the currently vacant green and gold belt. More about that later.
The bout in question saw unbeaten Japanese fighter Takuma Inoue (12-0, 3) [井上 拓真] face off with the in form OPBF Bantamweight champion Mark John Yap (29-13, 14) in what looked like a mismatch on paper, but promised a lot for fans aware of Yap's ability.
Inoue, the younger brother of Japanese sensation Naoya Inoue [井上 尚弥], got off to a good start by winning by taking the early lead in the first 2 rounds. Despite winning those they weren't clear cut and Yap was certainly having moments in them, with one judge giving him round 1. The moments for Yap grew in rounds 3 and 4 with the judges scoring his work highly, and making things interesting when the open scoring kicked in after round 4. By then the judges had the bout 38-38, twice, and 39-37 in favour of Inoue.
The younger man struck hard in round 5, when he dropped Yap with a left hook. It was only a flash knockdown, but it was enough to secure a 10-8 round for Inoue, who built on that success during the middle rounds to be in a relative comfortably lead when the open scoring was announced after 8 rounds, leading 78-73, twice, and 77-74.
Yap knew he was going to need a big finish to the fight. He managed to start fast, clearly winning round 9, in what was his best round of the fight. From then though Inoue was his equal, using his foot work and left hook brilliantly. Yap brought the heat, but couldn't quite manage to keep up with the smart boxing of Inoue, or his foot speed.
The final rounds saw 2 judges actually scoring the last 3 to the Ohashi man whilst the other judge, Cathy Leonard, scored all 3 final rounds to Yap, making her scored incredibly close at the end of the bout.
The final scored were 117-110, 116-111 and 114-113.
As mentioned above Inoue is now the second mandatory to the WBC Bantamweight title. The full situation, according to Inoue's promoter Hideyuki Ohashi, is that Nordine Oubaali (14-0, 11) will face off with Rau'shee Warren (16-2-0-1, 4) for the vacant title in October. The winner of that will then be mandated to make their first defense against unbeaten Thai Petch Sor Chitpattana (47-0, 32) [เพชร ซีพีเฟรชมาร์ท]. The winner of that bout will then face Takuma in a mandatory defense next year.
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
News! We try and give you the most interesting news stories from the Asian boxing world!