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)
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