Earlier today it was revealed that Masayuki Kuroda (30-7-3, 16) [黒田 雅之] had vacated the Japanese Flyweight title, with the intention to fight for the IBF Flyweight world title in 2019.
It seems like Kuroda is expecting to face the winner of the upcoming bout between Moruti Mthalane (36-2, 24) and Masahiro Sakamoto (13-1, 9) [坂本真宏] within 90 days of their bout, which takes place on December 31st. From what we understand however there is yet to be an official decision made by the IBF in regards to Kuroda's shot.
Due to Kuroda vacating we're now unsure on who will be fighting for the title in the new year. What we do know is that Junto Nakatani (17-0, 12) [中谷 潤人] will fight for the vacant title, though it's unclear who he will be up against. It is worth noting that the #2 ranked Japanese fighter at the weight is Katsunori Nagamine (15-2-1, 11) [長嶺克則] and a bout between Nakatani and Nagamine would certainly be a very attractive proposition for fight fans.
(Image courtesy of boxmob)
Back in mid November South African website www.sowetanlive.co.za reported that IBF Flyweight champion Moruti Mthalane (36-2, 24) would be defending his title against Japan's Masahiro Sakamoto (13-1, 9) [坂本真宏] on New Year's Eve in Macau. After that report the news went eerily quiet on the bout, whilst other bouts for the show were confirmed.
Today however that Mthalane Vs Sakamoto bout was finally confirmed from the Japanese side, with Green Tsuda along with Sakamoto taking part in a press conference.
The press conference, which took place at the Osaka City University, began with promoter Takashi Edagawa spoke about the university, it's boxing team and the history Sakamoto has with it. It also saw the president of the university speak about the support that he wants to offer students.
Sakamoto revealed that when he started boxing he never thought about becoming a world champion, and that dream didn't really start until he became a professional.
Sakamoto's trainer also attended and seemed to admit that he was apprehensive about the bout when it was first mentioned, due to the experience of Mthalane, but but now appears to be more confident, after having had time to think about the bout and plan a strategy.
Sadly this bout doesn't look like it will be televised live on TBS, though may end up being shown at a later date on a "Guts Fighting" broadcast. The bout however will be on a card featuring Hiroto Kyoguchi (11-0, 8) [京口 紘人] challenging WBA Light Flyweight champion Hekkie Budler (32-3, 10) an the brilliant match up between Kazuto Ioka's (23-1, 13) [井岡一翔] and Donnie Nietes (41-1-5, 23), for the WBO Super Flyweight title.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Several weeks ago we reported that Hiroto Kyoguchi (11-0, 8) [京口 紘人] would return to the ring on New Year's Eve to challenge WBA Light Flyweight champion Hekkie Budler (32-3, 10). Despite that being confirmed by several sources the official announcement by Kyoguchi's team at the Watanabe gym was never actually made....until earlier today.
The bout, one of the worst kept secrets in boxing, will see Kyoguchi moving up in weight in an attempt to become a 2-weight champion whilst also giving him a chance to avenge Budler's win over stablemate Ryoichi Taguchi (27-3-2, 12) [田口良一], which happened this past May. It will also give Budler a chance to score a second big win over a Japanese fighter this year.
The bout wasn't just the bout being announced today, but it was also confirmed as being shown live on TBS in Kanto, from 5PM local time. This means the bout will be shown along with Kazuto Ioka's (23-1, 13) [井岡一翔] WBO Super Flyweight title bout with Donnie Nietes (41-1-5, 23).
Kyoguchi sounded confident and it appears the move up to Light Flyweight has been a good one for his body, allowing him to be quicker and more powerful than he had been at 105lbs, where he was a destructive force. That was something that was echoed by Hitoshi Watanabe, who also seemed confident that his fighter had grown, and not just in terms of size.
At the moment we are still awaiting one more bout to be announced for this card, with much rumoured the IBF Flyweight title fight, between defending champion Moruti Mthalane (36-2, 24) and Masahiro Sakamoto (13-1, 9) [坂本真宏] yet to be officially announced, though is expected to be confirmed in the coming days.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Earlier today the South African website www.sowetanlive.co.za revealed that two word bouts had organised between South African world champions and Japanese challengers. Not only that but that the bouts were taking place on New Years Eve, as the card finally seems to come together.
One of the bouts was a bit of a mild surprise, with IBF Flyweight champion Moruti Mthalane (36-2, 24) set to make his first defense against the relatively unknown Masahiro Sakamoto (13-1, 9) [坂本真宏].
Mthalane won the title in Malaysia, when he narrowly defeated Muhammad Waseem back in July to become a 2-time champion. That was Mthalane's 13th straight win since a 2008 loss to Nonito Donaire and showed that even in his mid 30's still a top Flyweight.
During his long career Mthalane has beaten the likes of Hussein Hussein, Julio Cesar Miranda, Zolani Tete, John Riel Casimero and Ricardo Nunez and proven to be a real boogeyman of the Flyweight division.
Sakamoto, from the Mutoh gym in Osaka, is genuinely a fighter that you'd have had to follow the Japanese scene to much about. The 27 year old won the All Japan Rookie of the Year in 2015 before losing in a WBO Asia Pacific title fight against a then unknown Sho Kimura (17-2-2, 10) [木村翔] in November 2016. He had wanted to have a rematch with Kimura when he won a world title and has reeled off 5 stoppage wins since that defeat. Despite not being a buig name Sakamoto does hold stoppage wins over both Kwanthai Sithmorseng and Pigmy Kokietgym. He's technically solid, but this is a serious step up in class for him.
The second bout is a bout we already knew about, and will see Hiroto Kyoguchi (11-0, 8) [京口 紘人] challenge WBA Light Flyweight champion Hekkie Budler (32-3, 10). Budler had been targeted by both Kyoguchi and stablemate Ryoichi Taguchi (27-3-2, 12) [田口良一], who Budler beat for the belt earlier this year. It now seems almost certain that Taguchi is moving up in weight to pursue the long awaited showdown with Kosei Tanaka (12-0, 7) [田中恒成].
At the moment Kyoguchi, along with a number of Watanabe gym fighters, is in Thailand and this bout is expected to be officially announced next week with Watanabe holding a press conference after their man returns back to Japan. He will be looking to become a 2-weight champion and avenge Taguchi's loss to Budler from earlier this year.
For Budler this bout is a tough first defense, but one we suspect he is being paid well for and one he has a really good chance of winning, in what could a late contender for Fight of the Year. His style should give Taguchi fits, and could make for a real all action war.
The South African report does seem to confuse a few fact mentioning Hong Kong, Japan and Macau as the venue. Our understanding is that the bouts will both be in Macau as part of the under-card for Kazuto Ioka's (23-1, 13) [井岡一翔] WBO Super Flyweight title bout with Donnie Nietes (41-1-5, 23).
It's worth noting that South African Colin Nathan is quoted in the South article seemingly confirming that the bouts will all take place in Macau, "I am very excited about this opportunity which is not only great for my camp but also for local boxing. Macau has become a hot bed for boxing." Not Japan or Hong Kong.
From what we understand talks are taking place this week to try and secure a fourth world title fight for this Macau show, though it may slip to early 2019.
(Image courtesy of 610gym and Watanabe Gym, a big thanks to Bongani Magasela for the article on Sowetanlive)
Earlier today Japanese fight fans in Osaka had the chance to see the debut of promising former amateur stand out Riku Kunimoto (1-0) [国本 陸], as he took on a Korean visitor, we believe to have been Kyung Wook Kwon (4-6-1).
The Japanese fighter had the perfect start to his professional career, as he dropped Kwon in the opening round. The Korean however showed his toughness to get back to his feet, but never really looked like he could get himself into the 6 round bout with Kunimoto being too sharp, too accurate and too good through out.
Kwon's chin served him well, but after 6 rounds Kunimoto had take a shut out over the visitor, winning with scores of 60-54 and 60-53, twice.
On the same card OPBF and JBC ranked Kota Fujimoto (8-2-2, 2) [藤本耕太] fought to a split decision draw with Tatsuya Terada (6-3-2, 1) [寺田達弥] over 8 rounds, Yosuke Taniguchi (7-5-1, 2) [谷口陽祐] scored a notable upset against OPBF ranked Shachihoko Dragons Keita (8-6-4, 1), stopping him inside the opening round.
The main event of the show saw WBO Asia Pacific Flyweight champion Masahiro Sakamoto (13-1, 9) [坂本真宏] score a 5th round TKO win over Korean visitor Ki Chang Go (6-3, 2) in a non-title bout. This was Sakamoto's 5th stoppage win since a 2016 decision loss to Sho Kimura and it's pretty clear that he's hunting a rematch with Kimura for the future.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
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