In the past we have seen unranked fighters random pop into the rankings when a bout has been mooted and there is a chance the WBO will do that here, though Valcárcel's comments suggest they haven't got that intention. If they don't it will force plans from Top Rank to change.
Although plans changing wouldn't be a surprise it could actually make the bout a bigger one down the line, with Ito's profile potentially growing in the US with a win over a different opponent Stateside in May and with Herring appearing on the same card against a ranked opponent. This could lead to Ito maybe defending his title against Jason Sosa (22-3-4, 15), who is ranked #6 by the WBO, or Jonathan Oquendo (30-5, 19), who is ranked #5 by the WBO.
Interesting the current WBO rankings also feature two of Ito's fellow Japanese fighters, Masaru Sueyoshi (18-1-1, 11) [末吉 大], #4 and, Masao Nakamura (25-3, 24) [仲村正男], #14. Ito holds wins over both of these men, who may well be looking for revenge at some point in 2019.
On January 10th the JBC, along with members of the Tokyo Boxing Press, announced the nominations for the 2018 Japanese boxing awards.
The highest award is the Best Fighter, or MVP, award. The nominations for this award are:
Naoya Inoue (17-0, 15) [井上 尚弥] - The current WBA "regular" Bantamweight champion
Kosei Tanaka (12-0, 7) [田中恒成] - The current WBO Flyweight champion
Kenshiro (15-0, 8) [拳四朗] - The current WBC Flyweight champion
and Masayuki Ito (25-1-1, 13) [伊藤 雅雪] - The current WBO Super Featherweight champion
The Skills Award again includes Kenshiro and Tanaka but also:
Tomoki Kameda (36-2, 20) [亀田和毅] - The current WBC "interim" Super Bantamweight champion
Hiroto Kyoguchi (12-0, 9) [京口 紘人] - The current WBC Light Flyweight champion
and Jorge Linares (45-4, 28)
The Special award sees Ito and Tanaka being nominated
The KO award see's Naoya Inoue being joined by:
Satoshi Shimizu (8-0, 8) [清水 聡] - The current OPBF Featherweight champion
and Kazuto Takesako (10-0, 10) [竹迫司登] - The current Japanese Middleweight champion
The Newcomer award has seen a nice number of candidates, the nominees here are, Takesako along with:
Tsubasa Koura (14-0, 9) [小浦 翼] - The current OPBF Minimumweight champion
Hiroaki Teshigawara (18-2-2, 11) [勅使河原 弘晶] - The current OPBF Super Bantamweight champion
Shuichiro Yoshino (9-0, 7) [吉野 修一郎] - The current Japanese Lightweight champion
Ryota Yada (18-4, 15) [矢田良太] - The current Japanese Welterweight champion
The "strive", which appears to be an achievement type of award, has seen the following nominations:
Masayoshi Nakatani (18-0, 12) [中谷正義] - The current OPBF Lightweight champion
Valentine Hosokawa (24-6-3, 11) [細川バレンタイン] - The current Japanese Light Welterweight champion
Masayuki Kuroda (30-7-3, 16) [黒田 雅之] - The former Japanese Flyweight champion
and Tetsuya Hisada (33-9-2, 19) [久田 哲也] - The former Japanese Light Flyweight champion
The best fight, at world level has seen 3 bouts being nominated:
Sho Kimura [木村翔] Vs Kosei Tanaka [田中恒成] - WBO Flyweight title fight
Jorge Linares Vs Vasyl Lomachneko - WBA "super" Lightweight title fight
and Naoya Inoue [井上 尚弥] Vs Juan Carlos Payano - WBA "Regular" Bantamweight title fight
The best fight that wasn't at world level has 4 nominations:
Yusaku Kuga [久我勇作] Vs Shingo Wake [和氣 慎吾] - Japanese Super Bantamweight title fight
Valentine Hosokawa [細川バレンタイン] Vs Vladimir Baez - Japanese Light Welterweight title fight
Hironori Mishiro [三代大訓] Vs Masaru Sueyoshi [末吉 大] - OPBF / JBA Super Featherweight unification bout
Hikaru Nishida [西田 光] vs Kazuto Takesako [竹迫司登] - Japanese Middleweight title fight
The female Fighter of the Year nominations are:
Tenkai Tsunami (26-12, 15) [天海 ツナミ] - The current WBO female Light Welterweight champion
Etsuko Tada (18-3-2, 5) [多田悦子] - The current WBO female Minimumweight champion
Naoko Fujioka (18-2, 7) [藤岡 奈穂子] - The current WBA female Flyweight champion
The female Fight of the Year nominations were:
Tenkai Tsunami [天海 ツナミ] Vs Chaoz Minowa [チャオズ箕輪]- WBO female Light Flyweight title fight
Nao Ikeyama [池山直] Vs Mika Iwakawa [岩川美花] - WBO Atomweight title fight
Naoko Fujioka [藤岡 奈穂子] Vs Irma Sanchez - WBA female Flyweight title fight
Kayoko Ebata [江畑佳代子] Vs Etsuko Tada [多田悦子] - WBO female Minimumweight title fight
Voting will take place in January with the winners being awarded at a ceremony on February 8th.
Earlier today at the Tokyo Dome Hotel the media were able to attend the press conference to announce the 2019 Champion Carnival bouts, with 13 contests being officially announced.
As previously reported the Minimumweight bout will see defending champion Shin Ono (23-9-3, 6) [小野 心] defending his title against Norihito Tanaka (17-7, 9) [田中教仁] on January 12th at the Korakuen Hall.
The Light Flyweight bout, to fill the recent vacancy left by Tetsuya Hisada (33-9-2, 19) [久田 哲也], will see Kenichi Horikawa (38-15-1, 12) [堀川 謙一] battle against Satoru Todaka (9-2-4, 3) [戸髙達], with this bout set to take place on February 14th, also at the Korakuen Hall.
The Flyweight bout, like the Minimumweight bout, had already been announced and will see Junto Nakatani (17-0, 12) [中谷 潤人] and Naoki Mochizuki (15-3, 8) [望月直樹] fight on February 2nd at the Korakuen Hall. This bout is to fill the vacancy left by Masayuki Kuroda (30-7-3, 16) [黒田 雅之], who like Hisada has stated he intends to fight for a world title in 2019.
The Super Flyweight champion Takayuki Okumoto (21-8-4, 10) [奥本 貴之] will defend his title on April 21st in Osaka, and will see Okumoto battle against Yuta Matsuo (15-3-1, 8) [松尾雄太], in what will be Okumoto's second defense of the title.
The Bantamweight bout will be a unification bout as regular champion Yuta Saito (11-9-3, 8) [齊藤裕太], who has been suffering from illness recently, battling against recently crowned interim champion Hayato Kimura (28-10, 19) [木村隼人]. There is no set date on this bout, but it's expected to take place in Tokyo, with the Korakuen Hall the most likely venue.
The Super Bantamweight title will have it's vacancy filled on January 12th, on the same show as the Ono Vs Tanaka card. Fighting for the title will be Mugicha Nakagawa (24-5-1, 14) [武田勇太] and Ryoichi Tamura (11-3-1, 6) [田村 亮一], who will be looking to follow in the footsteps of former champion Shingo Wake (25-5-2, 17) [和氣 慎吾] who looks to be heading towards a world title fight, like Hisada and Kuroda.
Arguably the best match up for the Champion Carnival is the Featherweight bout, which will pit Taiki Minamoto (16-5, 13) [源大輝] against Reiya Abe (18-2, 9) [阿部 麗也], who will be battling former amateur stand out Daisuke Sugita (4-0, 3) [杉田大祐] in January before facing Minamoto on May 1st at the Korakuen Hall. This is, to us, the stand out bout of the Champion Carnival and is genuinely a mouth watering clash.
The Japanese Super Featherweight champion Masaru Sueyoshi (18-1-1, 11) [末吉 大] will take on Ken Osato (15-2-1, 4) [大里拳], in a rematch of the bout the two men had during the 2018 Champion Carnival. This contest will take place on May 4th at the Korakuen Hall and will see Osato looking to avenge his loss and Sueyoshi looking to repeat his win over Osato.
The unbeaten Shuichiro Yoshino (9-0, 7) [吉野 修一郎] will be making his 4th defense of the Japanese Lightweight title, as he takes on the challenge of Accel Sumiyoshi (11-4-3, 3) [アクセル住吉]. This bout is set to take place on April 11th at the Korakuen Hall.
Another bout that really whets the appetite is the Japanese Light Welterweight title bout. That contest will see champion Valentine Hosokawa (24-6-3, 11) [細川バレンタイン] defending his belt on April 6th at the Korakuen Hall against Koki Inoue (12-0, 10) [浩樹井上] in a mouth watering step up for the challenger.
We'll see attention turn to Osaka for the Welterweight title bout, as Ryota Yada (18-4, 15) [矢田良太] defends his belt against Yuki Nagano (15-2, 11) [永野祐樹]. This bout is set to take place on April 21st, though the specific venue wasn't announced.
The Light Middleweight title bout will see Nobuyuki Shindo (20-4-2, 8) [新藤寛之] defending the title against Hironobu Matsunaga (14-1, 8) [松永 宏信] in what should be a thrilling contest between a very hungry challenger and an under-rated champion. These two will clash at the Korakuen Hall on May 1st, as a double header with the Minamoto Vs Abe bout.
On March 2nd we'll see Japanese Middleweight champion Kazuto Takesako (10-0, 10) [竹迫司登] defending his belt against Shuji Kato (10-1-1, 6) [加藤収二], in what will be Takesako's second defense. This will also be at the Korakuen Hall.
At the moment the full details of who will be showing what bouts is unclear, but we're glad to now have most of the matches set, with dates and venues.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Earlier today Japanese fight fans at the Korakuen Hall, and those tuning in on G+, had the chance to see a memorable OPBF/JBC Super Featherweight unification bout between Hironori Mishiro (6-0-1, 2) [三代大訓] and Masaru Sueyoshi (18-1-1, 11) [末吉 大]. Not only was the bout memorable but it exceeded any expectations we had and turned out to be a very entertaining scrap between two championship level fighters who both dug deep.
The fight started perfectly for Sueyoshi who actually looked the much better fighter to begin with. He looked too crisp, too sharp and too fast for Mishiro, who struggled to land anything of any note in the first 3 rounds. From then on however Mishiro seemed to change his tactics and began to actually press Sueyoshi, making him work harder for space and openings. When he did this he began to have success.
After 4 rounds the open scoring confirmed what we could all see. Sueyoshi was winning. The scores at the time were 40-36 and 39-37, twice. From round 5 onwards however Mishiro began to force his fight with more consistency and through the middle rounds he certainly pulled the fight back, landing eye catching hooks, his own stiff jab and a solid right hands. The pressure of Mishiro dragged him back into the fight and by the end of round 8, when the public scoring was announced again, the scores had closed up. One judge had the bout even at 76-76, another had it 77-75 to Sueyoshi and the third also favoured Sueyoshi, 78-74.
Mishiro knew he was still behind going into the final 4 rounds and continued with what had worked through the middle rounds, with his hard hooks and stiff jab closing the eye of Sueyoshi, who also ended up with a bloodied nose. It wasn't that Mishiro was doing anything spectacular but he was consistent, his pressure lead him to openings and he took them, even winning the battle of the jabs.
After 12 rounds it really was too close to call, and the judges struggled to split them with cards of 115-113 each way and a 114-114 leading to a split draw. Sadly this means that the titles remain separate but the bout delivered a lot more than expected. We anticipated a messy fight but got a real 12 round treat with a huge momentum shift and both men needing to show their grit. And we would love a rematch in 2019!
On Saturday we'll see OPBF Super Featherweight champion Hironori Mishiro (6-0, 2) [三代大訓] face off with Japanese champion Masaru Sueyoshi (18-1, 11) [末吉 大] in a very interesting looking all Japanese title unification bout.
Whilst most bookies aren't interested in this bout it is worth noting that our Polish friends at STS have priced the bout up, and have struggled to split the two men in what appears to be a very hard to predict contest between two very talented men.
The bookies have narrowly favoured Mishiro, pricing him at 1.7, or 7/10, whilst Sueyoshi is 1.9, or 9/10.
Sadly there is only one other market available for the contest, the over/under which has been set at 8.5 rounds. The under has been set at 3.2, or 11/5, whilst the over is available at 1.25, or 1/4.
Related - Mishiro and Sueyoshi battle to unify crowns!
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
News! We try and give you the most interesting news stories from the Asian boxing world!