Earlier today we were informed that Japanese Featherweight champion Ryo Sagawa (8-1, 4) [佐川遼] will make his first defense on December 12th, in what is expected to be the final Diamond Glove card of the year.
The champion, who won the title in September with an excellent win against Reiya Abe (19-3-1, 9) [阿部 麗也], will be taking on the once beaten Ryo Hino (13-1-2, 8) [日野僚].
For Sagawa this will be his first defense and his third bout this year, following wins over Al Toyogon and Abe. He has rebuilt his career excellently following a loss in his second pro-bout, back in May 2017, and looks to be in some of the best for of any fighter in Japan. His 7 fight winning run has included not only his wins from this year but also notable victories over Ryo Matsumoto, Junki Sasaki and Shingo Kawamura.
In the ring the champion is an excellent fighter, able to box or brawl and looks to have corrected the issues that lead to him getting stopped in his second bout, against Retsu Kosaka.
Hino is unbeaten since 2015, when he lost to Reiya Abe, and has reeled off 8 wins and a draw since then. Sadly his competition hasn't been great, with the most notable results during that 9 fight unbeaten run being a win over Sho Nakazawa and a draw with Coach Hiroto. On paper he's taking a huge step up but the 29 year old will like it's his time to shine.
The winner of this bout will be expected to defend the title next year at the Champion Carnival, against either former champion Takenori Ohashi (17-5-2, 11) [大橋健典] or the highly touted Hinata Maruta (9-1-1, 7) [丸田陽七太], who clash on October 26th in a title eliminator.
Earlier today Japanese fight fans filled up the Korakuen Hall for the latest A-Sign Bee card, and it was a truly brilliant one, packed with great bouts.
Among those great bouts was a contest for the vacant Japanese Featherweight title, as Reiya Abe (19-3-1, 9) [阿部 麗也] and Ryo Sagawa (8-1, 4) [佐川遼] battled for the belt.
On paper this looked like a great bout but it turned out be even better than expected, and just as competitive!
From the opening round it was hard the two men as both jostled for ring position. Abe was looking to create distance for his southpaw shots whilst Sagawa applied pressure, and the dynamic just worked from the off, with both having moments in the early going. From then on it was never really clear who was in control, with Abe landing his clean, accurate straights at range and Sagawa getting his work off up close. As soon as one man seemed to create some momentum the other took it away.
After 5 rounds the judges had really struggled to split them. The open scoring after 5 rounds had Sagawa leading 48-47, twice, whilst the third judge had Abe up 48-47.
Abe began to change tactics following the scoring, but that seemed to give Sagawa more chances to land his shots, and saw him build momentum, despite the increased effort from Abe. Although Sagawa seemed to be doing just a touch more clean work than Abe, there was little to split them, in what was a very evenly fought back and forth. That was until the final round, as Abe began to have some of his best success of the fight. The sustained attack from Abe seemed to suggest that even he felt he was down, but it was too little too late.
After 10 rounds the judges all had the bout to Sagawa, with scores of 96-94, twice, and 96-95.
For Sagawa this continues a sensational run of form, which has also included wins against Junki Sasaki, Ryo Matsumoto, Shingo Kawamura and Al Toyogon. As for Abe this was his second set back in a Japanese title fight, following a draw with Taiki Minamoto earlier in the year.
The champion is now expected to defend his title later this year, against Ryo Hino (13-1-2, 8) [日野僚], before the winner of that competes in the Champion Carnival, against either Hinata Maruta (9-1-1, 7) [丸田陽七太] against Takenori Ohashi (17-5-2, 11) [大橋健典].
Despite the set back Abe will remain in the title mix and will likely find himself getting another title fight, of some kind in 2020.
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
Back on May 1st we saw a thrilling Japanese Featherweight title bout, as defending champion Taiki Minamoto (16-5-1, 13) [源大輝] just retained his title, fighting to a draw with Reiya Abe (19-2-1, 9) [阿部 麗也]. After the bout their was talk about a rematch, and talk about Minamoto potentially moving up. We'll be honest and admit we wanted to see a rematch, the first really was that good, though today the hope of a rematch was ended.
The decision has been made by Minamoto to abandon the division and begin campaigning at Super Featherweight, due to issues making the 126lb weight limit. Whilst that does ruin hope of a rematch it's not a bad thing for fans who are now set to get another hard hitting in the already stacked Japanese Super Featherweight picture and a number of potentially interesting bouts to fill the title void at Featherweight.
For the vacant title we would expect to see Abe fighting for the belt again next, with likely opponent being highly ranked by the JBC. The #2 ranked fighter, behind Abe, is former world title challenger Genesis Servania (32-2, 15) and we would certainly expect that to be an amazing match up. Others ranked highly by the JBC include Ryo Hino (13-1-2, 8) [日野僚], who would look to avenge a 2015 loss to Abe, the in form Ryo Sagawa (7-1, 4) [佐川遼], former world title challenger Hiroshige Osawa (35-5-4, 21) [大沢宏晋] and super talented youngster Hinata Maruta (9-1-1, 7) [丸田陽七太]. Any of those 5 possible foes against Abe would be great.
With Minamoto moving up he will find himself linked to fights against the likes of Japanese champion Masaru Sueyoshi (19-1-1, 11) [末吉 大] and former world champion Masayuki Ito (25-2-1, 13) [伊藤 雅雪], among others. Though, for now,m he'd be unable to challenge for the OPBF title held by Watanabe gym stablemate Hironori Mishiro (7-0-1, 2) [三代大訓], who defends that title in July.
Whilst it's obviously a shame we won't see Abe and Minamoto run it back with a rematch, the move up in weight for Minamoto is better for his health, and really changes the dynamic on the Japanese scene at both Featherweight and Super Featherweight.
Earlier today Japanese fight fans saw the once touted Sho Nakazawa (10-2, 4) [中澤奨] suffer his second defeat, as he was upset by the unheralded Ryo Hino (11-1-1, 6) [日野僚].
On paper the bout looked really interesting, with the the records being very even, however it was assumed that Nakazawa would come out on top given his pedigree as a very good amateur fighter. That pedigree wasn't able to shine however as Hino used his southpaw stance and reach to keep Nakazawa at range, before landing right hands.
Nakazawa's issues were compounded by a controversial knockdown ruled against him in round 2, when he took a shot to the back of the head whilst off balance.
Going in to the 8th and final round Nakazawa knew he was behind and he tried to turn it around, as he went out ultra-aggressive, but unfortunately for him he was unable to stop Hino.
With the bout going the distance we went to the judges, and there was no surprise when Hino's arm was raised with cards of 79-73, 78-74 and 78-73 all in his favour.
The win for Hino is potentially one that will put him in the mix for a Japanese title fight, especially given that Nakazawa was ranking in to this bout. Sadly for Nakazawa it leaves his career with a lot of rebuilding to do, and it's hard to imagine him being able to rebuild following a performance like this one.
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
News! We try and give you the most interesting news stories from the Asian boxing world!