Back in early January Hatanaka held a press conference to announce that 3-weight champion Kosei Tanaka (12-0, 7) [田中恒成] would be defending the WBO Flyweight title against Ryoichi Taguchi (27-3-2, 12) [田口良一]. At the time no real details of the under-card were available, though that changed today.
We now know that youngster Kento Hatanaka (7-0, 7) [畑中 建人], who was featured on the poster, will be defending the WBC Youth Flyweight title against Thai visitor Songsaeng Phoyaem (6-1, 1). The Thai is 6-0 at home but he lost in his only other visit to Japan, being stopped in 4 rounds by Dynamic Kenji back in 2017. If we're being honest this should be a straight forward defense for the exciting Hatanaka.
Also confirmed for the card is 2-time Japanese title challenger Yushi Tanaka (21-2-3, 14) [田中裕士], who will be facing a Chinese visitor in an 8 round bout. Although the name wasn't confirmed we believe it will be Yougu Yu (5-1-2, 2). We were also informed that the once beaten Takuya Mizuno (15-1-1, 13) [水野拓哉] will be going up against Thai journeyman Chatpayak Sithkopon (22-25, 20), aka Artid Bamrungauea, and that former amateur standout Koshin Takeshima (2-0, 2) [竹嶋宏心] will be facing off with Chinese visitor Jian Wang (7-1-1, 2), in a very exciting step up in class.
Last week saw the announcement that current WBO Flyweight champion Kosei Tanaka (12-0, 7) [田中恒成] would face off with former unified Light Flyweight champion Ryoichi Taguchi (27-3-2, 12) [田口良一] on March 16th.
This week Tanaka ramped up his training for that bout as he began a training camp in Thailand, following in the footsteps of former foe Sho Kimura [木村翔].
Today saw a report, from sponsor's RSC Products, that Tanaka has been in Thailand training with the likes of former WBC Super Flyweight champion Suriyan Sor Rungvisai (49-7-1, 25) and doing 4 minutes rounds with 16oz gloves.
The training camp has been designed to improve Tanaka's stamina, and physical strength whilst also working in a high temperature, which should not only help with stamina but also with weight loss.
From what we understand this is just a short camp for the champion, but these Thai training camps are intensive and it's clear that the focus is on doing things the hard way for Tanaka during his time in Thailand.
(Image courtesy of RSC Products)
It feels like we've been waiting quite a while for something big to be announced, even though we've only just began the new year. That wait however is over, and this morning we saw the official news break of a WBO Flyweight title bout thanks to a press conference in Nagaoya
The contest that was announced will pit unbeaten 3-weight champion Kosei Tanaka (12-0, 7) [田中恒成], and current WBO Flyweight king, against former IBF and WBA Light Flyweight "super" champion Ryoichi Taguchi (27-3-2, 12) [田口良一]. The bout had had long been in the works in the past, but this time it's on!
Originally the two men had been wanting to fight when both held world titles at 108lbs, but injuries to Tanaka's eyes forced plans to change and he would move up in weight, with Taguchi beating Milan Melindo to unify WBA and IBF titles.
Last year Taguchi would the unified Light titles to Hekkie Budler whilst Tanaka would go on to claim the WBO Flyweight title, becoming a 3 weight world champion in just his 12th bout, beating Sho Kimura [木村翔] in what was the Fight of the Year for many. Following his Flyweight triumph Tanaka stated he wanted to face Taguchi, revealing as much in publicly in November, and the two teams have now come to agreement on date and venue.
Today the two men held a press conference to announce the bout, and revealed that it will take place at the Gifu Memorial Center on March 16th, making it the first announced world title fight in Japan this year, though rumours suggest we may have at least 1 world title fight in February that hasn't yet been publicly announced.
At the press conference both spoke excitedly about the match up, with Tanaka in particular explaining that he "was really happy" and that Taguchi was "definitely a strong fighter".
For Tanaka this will be his first defense of the WBO Flyweight title, and will see him looking to over-come a second successive Japanese opponent, after beating Kimura last time out for the belt. As for Taguchi this will be his first world title bout at Flyweight as he looks to become a 2-weight world champion, though it's a division that his body seems made for and moving up 4lbs should actually allow his body to fill out, potentially making him a better fighter.
From what we understand this bout won't just be aired on CBC, like Tanaka's last bout, but also in Tokyo on TBS, which was oped due to the profile of the two men, though reports suggest that the broadcast will have a 4PM start time, which is is incredible early.
At the time of writing the under-card hasn't been revealed but we do expect to see the exciting Kento Hatanaka (7-0, 7) [畑中 建人] in action on the show.
It's fair to say that after a bit of an Hiatus in boxing, things are now starting to awaken and this is a sensational match up to be announced and one that we suspect fans of the lower weights are going to be looking forward to over the next 2 months!
(Image courtesy of daily.co.jp)
Several weeks ago we reported that Hiroto Kyoguchi (11-0, 8) [京口 紘人] would return to the ring on New Year's Eve to challenge WBA Light Flyweight champion Hekkie Budler (32-3, 10). Despite that being confirmed by several sources the official announcement by Kyoguchi's team at the Watanabe gym was never actually made....until earlier today.
The bout, one of the worst kept secrets in boxing, will see Kyoguchi moving up in weight in an attempt to become a 2-weight champion whilst also giving him a chance to avenge Budler's win over stablemate Ryoichi Taguchi (27-3-2, 12) [田口良一], which happened this past May. It will also give Budler a chance to score a second big win over a Japanese fighter this year.
The bout wasn't just the bout being announced today, but it was also confirmed as being shown live on TBS in Kanto, from 5PM local time. This means the bout will be shown along with Kazuto Ioka's (23-1, 13) [井岡一翔] WBO Super Flyweight title bout with Donnie Nietes (41-1-5, 23).
Kyoguchi sounded confident and it appears the move up to Light Flyweight has been a good one for his body, allowing him to be quicker and more powerful than he had been at 105lbs, where he was a destructive force. That was something that was echoed by Hitoshi Watanabe, who also seemed confident that his fighter had grown, and not just in terms of size.
At the moment we are still awaiting one more bout to be announced for this card, with much rumoured the IBF Flyweight title fight, between defending champion Moruti Mthalane (36-2, 24) and Masahiro Sakamoto (13-1, 9) [坂本真宏] yet to be officially announced, though is expected to be confirmed in the coming days.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Earlier today the South African website www.sowetanlive.co.za revealed that two word bouts had organised between South African world champions and Japanese challengers. Not only that but that the bouts were taking place on New Years Eve, as the card finally seems to come together.
One of the bouts was a bit of a mild surprise, with IBF Flyweight champion Moruti Mthalane (36-2, 24) set to make his first defense against the relatively unknown Masahiro Sakamoto (13-1, 9) [坂本真宏].
Mthalane won the title in Malaysia, when he narrowly defeated Muhammad Waseem back in July to become a 2-time champion. That was Mthalane's 13th straight win since a 2008 loss to Nonito Donaire and showed that even in his mid 30's still a top Flyweight.
During his long career Mthalane has beaten the likes of Hussein Hussein, Julio Cesar Miranda, Zolani Tete, John Riel Casimero and Ricardo Nunez and proven to be a real boogeyman of the Flyweight division.
Sakamoto, from the Mutoh gym in Osaka, is genuinely a fighter that you'd have had to follow the Japanese scene to much about. The 27 year old won the All Japan Rookie of the Year in 2015 before losing in a WBO Asia Pacific title fight against a then unknown Sho Kimura (17-2-2, 10) [木村翔] in November 2016. He had wanted to have a rematch with Kimura when he won a world title and has reeled off 5 stoppage wins since that defeat. Despite not being a buig name Sakamoto does hold stoppage wins over both Kwanthai Sithmorseng and Pigmy Kokietgym. He's technically solid, but this is a serious step up in class for him.
The second bout is a bout we already knew about, and will see Hiroto Kyoguchi (11-0, 8) [京口 紘人] challenge WBA Light Flyweight champion Hekkie Budler (32-3, 10). Budler had been targeted by both Kyoguchi and stablemate Ryoichi Taguchi (27-3-2, 12) [田口良一], who Budler beat for the belt earlier this year. It now seems almost certain that Taguchi is moving up in weight to pursue the long awaited showdown with Kosei Tanaka (12-0, 7) [田中恒成].
At the moment Kyoguchi, along with a number of Watanabe gym fighters, is in Thailand and this bout is expected to be officially announced next week with Watanabe holding a press conference after their man returns back to Japan. He will be looking to become a 2-weight champion and avenge Taguchi's loss to Budler from earlier this year.
For Budler this bout is a tough first defense, but one we suspect he is being paid well for and one he has a really good chance of winning, in what could a late contender for Fight of the Year. His style should give Taguchi fits, and could make for a real all action war.
The South African report does seem to confuse a few fact mentioning Hong Kong, Japan and Macau as the venue. Our understanding is that the bouts will both be in Macau as part of the under-card for Kazuto Ioka's (23-1, 13) [井岡一翔] WBO Super Flyweight title bout with Donnie Nietes (41-1-5, 23).
It's worth noting that South African Colin Nathan is quoted in the South article seemingly confirming that the bouts will all take place in Macau, "I am very excited about this opportunity which is not only great for my camp but also for local boxing. Macau has become a hot bed for boxing." Not Japan or Hong Kong.
From what we understand talks are taking place this week to try and secure a fourth world title fight for this Macau show, though it may slip to early 2019.
(Image courtesy of 610gym and Watanabe Gym, a big thanks to Bongani Magasela for the article on Sowetanlive)
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