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 today Takashi Edagawa, the head of the Mutoh Gym, held a press conference along side former amateur stand out Ryo Kuwabata [桑畑凛生], to announce that Kuwabata was signing with the Mutoh gym.
The press conference combined both playfulness with some seriousness.
The fighter stated that he was wanting suggestions for his ring name, stating that he wanted something recognisable like Jumbo Oda Nobunaga Shoten Petagine. In fact Edagawa has allowed fans to send suggestions to him via a blog entry made after the press conference.
On a more serious note the 22 year old will have his pro-test later this month and is looking to debut before the end of 2018. As an amateur he went 25-11 (4) but was fighting on the ultra-competitive Japanese University scene, becoming the captain of his both his university and high school teams.
Given his long links to the Mutoh gym it's going to be interesting to see how they guide the youngster, but it's expected for him to actually debut in China in the very near future, if he passes his B class pro-test, in what should be a formality.
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
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