Union Boxing Promotions recently revealed that they were talking to teams from Japan, Thailand and the Dominican republic in regards to challenging their man Artem Dalakian (17-0, 12).
Dalakian, an Azeri-born Ukrainian, is the current WBA Flyweight champion and is planning to make a voluntary defense of his title in December.
We have long seen Thai fighter Dennapa Kiatniwat(20-1, 15) [เด่นนภา ตราใบห่อ], aka Sarawut Thawornkham, being linked to a bout with champion, with Thai sources suggesting he was close to a deal. His compatriot Noknoi Sitthiprasert (68-5, 42) [นกน้อย ซีพีเฟรชมาร์ท] is also thought to be in the running for a shot.
The Dominican fighter is almost certainly Gregorio Lebron (21-4, 16), who twice fought Stamp Kiatniwat for the interim title.
Things are a little less clear when it comes to the Japanese fighter, as there are no Japanese fighters currently ranked by the WBA at Flyweight. This could mean that a fighter is considering moving up, or down, in weight too face Dalakian, or that someone is set to find themselves in the next round of WBA rankings, such as recent WBO champion Sho Kimura (17-2-2, 10) [木村翔] .
With the bout planned for December we're expecting to see an announcement made in the coming weeks, and it's going to be interesting to speculate on which fighter may be next to face off with the unbeaten champion.
(Image courtesy of Union Boxing)
It's been a long and frustrating year for fight fans who follow 3-weight world champion Kazuto Ioka (22-1, 13) [井岡一翔].
He began the year on the high of a great fight with Stamp Kiatniwat, who he stopped on December 31st 2016. Going into the New Year he looked like the de facto #1 Flyweight, and a man who looked set to have big fights. In April he went on to end the long winning run of Noknoi Sitthiprasert [นกน้อย ซีพีเฟรชมาร์ท] and their was serious talk about travelling to China to challenge the then WBO champion Zou Shiming [邹市明], in what would have been a huge fight for Asian boxing.
Whilst all looked good for Ioka in the world of boxing issues were arising outside of the ring as his father, Kazunori Ioka - pictured, critcised Ioka for his relationship with pop singer Nana Tanimura. Later in the year Ioka and Tanimura got married. The fighter would begin to show frustration with the relationship with his father, and promter, who seemed to be continually promising big fights, but not delivering on them.
Shiming would later lose the WBO title to the little known Sho Kimura [木村翔] and it seemed as if the loss of the title by Shiming was another issue that had frustrated Ioka,as he saw a massive fight fall through as a result of Shiming's defeat.
With tensions in the Ioka camp rising we began to see rumours emerge from Osaka in September suggesting that Kazuto Ioka, one of the biggest stars in Japanese boxing, was set to vacate the WBA Flyweight title, and potentially retire. That was happening whilst the WBA were ordering Ioka to takeon Ukrainian Artem Dalakian (15-0, 11) in a mandatory title defense.
In October it seemed like a deal was done, and Dalakian's promoter reported that a bout between their man and Ioka had been agreed for December 31st in Osaka. That however doesn't seem like it was ever actually agreed, and today Kazunori Ioka held a press conference, announcing that Kazuto had vacated the WBA title, citing a lack of preparation time.
At today's press conference Kazunori Ioka stated that his son had taken some personal time after the marriage in May. He saw Kazuto abouit 6 weeks ago and stated that as a parent and as a gym chairman he was decided that Kazuto wasn't going to be fit to fight. That extend as far as stating that Kazuto's future as a boxer is in oubt and that it down to Kazuto to decide whether or not he has the motivation to return or will be retiring, and if he choses to retire they will do a proper retirement ceremony for him.
Interestingly it was also revealed that Kazuto has moved to Tokyo, perhaps further distancing himself from his father. According to Kazunori his son would need 3 months to get into fighting shape.
Notably today's press conference was the first one form Japan to officially give any indication about the end of year bouts that will be taking place in the country. It confirms that Ioka will not be in action on December 31st, ending a run that began way back in 2011, and although other bouts are said to have been made it does leave the end of year run for Japanese boxing looking very different to recent years, which also featured former WBA Super Featherweight world champion Takashi Uchiyama (24-2-1, 20) [内山 高志].
The Flyweight scene, which has really been put on notice by the rise of Daigo Higa (14-0, 14) [比嘉 大吾], is obvious set for a big shake up and it seems likely that Dalakian will now have to face Thai Yodmongkol Vor Saengthep (47-3, 32) [ยอดมงคล ซีพีเฟรชมาร์ท] for the vacant title in the new year.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Yesterday Japanese fight fans saw WBA Flyweight champion Kazuto Ioka (22-1, 13) [井岡一翔] record his 5th defense of the title as he widely out pointed tough Thai Noknoi Sitthiprasert (62-5, 38) [นกน้อย ซีพีเฟรชมาร์ท]. Today Ioka, along with his father, took part in a press conference to talk about the contest and his future plans.
Ioka admitted that he felt good after the bout, but was tired following the 12 round contest. It was clear that he had suffered very little damage, and showed no facial damage at all, a testament to his defense and movement yesterday.
He and his father both seemed to suggest that the hope is to get a unification bout later in the year. It seems unclear which champion they would be aiming for, though WBO champion Zou Shiming (9-1, 2) [邹市明] has long been linked to a possible bout with Ioka. There is also the possibility that Daigo Higa (12-0, 12) [比嘉 大吾] could be a foe for a future unification bout, if he wins the WBC title in May.
Sadly whilst they do want to unify the division a unification bout will take a champion also wanting to face Ioka and at the moment, given the state of the division, that might not be the easiest thing to find.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Yesterday Japanese fight fans had the chance to watch a world title double header, and it a lot of those fans took their opportunity to watch with the show being a major TV ratings success.
The main event of the show saw WBA Flyweight champion Kazuto Ioka (22-1, 13) [井岡一翔] record his 5th defense of the title as he out pointed the tough Noknoi Sitthiprasert (62-5, 38) [นกน้อย ซีพีเฟรชมาร์ท]. The ratings in Japan were genuinely huge, with an average rating of 12.9% in the Kanto region, watching on TBS, and 15.6% watching in Kansai, on MBS. Those averages look great, with other figures reporting a high of 19.2% in Kansai and an average of 17% in Hokkaido alone.
In terms of raw numbers that was about 8,000,000 on average!
The chief support bout, which saw Marlon Tapales (30-2, 13) score an 11th round TKO against Shohei Omori (18-2, 13) [大森 将平], also got impressive numbers, with 7.1% of the audience from Kanto and 9.6% from Kansai. Those numbers mean more than 5,000,000 viewers tuned in to the bout.
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
Tomorrow we'll be able to see WBA Flyweight champion Kazuto Ioka (21-1, 13) [井岡一翔] attempt to record his 14th win in a world title fight and make the 5th defense of the WBA Flyweight title, as he takes on Thai challenger Noknoi Sitthiprasert (62-4, 38) [นกน้อย ซีพีเฟรชมาร์ท].
Today the two men took part in their official weigh in and both made weight.
At the weigh in Ioka towered over the Thai, and it looked like they were in different weight classes, with the Thai being dwarfed by the champioon. Despite the visual difference between the two men both seemed confident at the weigh in and both showed that confidence in words to the media.
Ioka, who will be wearing black gloves, stated that he would win by KO whilst Noknoi, who will be wearing blue gloves, stated that Ioka will regret having selecting him as his opponent. It's fair to say however that this is a massive step up in class for the challenger and he will certainly be the under-dog here.
Kazuto Ioka looks to end Noknoi's 61 fight winning run!
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
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