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)
Earlier today WBO Flyweight champion Kosei Tanaka (12-0, 7) [田中恒成] returned to the gym and spoke to the press, talking his future plans and his time at the WBO Convention in Puerto Rico. It during this session with the media that he revealed some interesting details.
Sadly Tanaka will not be fighting on New Year's Eve as originally expected, it seems like a combination of damage, out of the ring activity and other bouts has prevented him from getting on a major end of year show. That however doesn't mean he's thinking small, and his manager Kiyoshi Hatanaka stated that he was in talks for his man to make his first defense of the WBO title in Spring next year against former IBF and WBA Light Flyweight king Ryoichi Taguchi (27-3-2, 12) [田口良一], a man he has been linked too for quite a while.
Originally the two men were supposed to fight last year, on December 31st, but Tanaka had to pull out form that bout due to significant facial injuries. The two fighters however seemed to keep the hope of fighting in the future, and it seems like a deal is almost sorted for the men to face off in Spring next year.
As well as revealing he was targeting that bout Tanaka also revealed that he wanted to defend the belt multiple times next year, suggesting a busier schedule than he's had so far, before moving up down the line to become a 4 weight champion.
Interestingly it doesn't rule Taguchi out of an end of year bout, and the suspicion now is that the Watanabe Gym fighter will fight in a tune up before facing Tanaka, giving him a chance to adapt to the new weight and gain a world ranking on merit. At the moment however nothing involving Taguchi's immediate future has been confirmed.
After the interview he spent about an hour working out, shadowing boxing and hitting the mitts before leaving the Hatanaka gym.
On Monday Kosei Tanaka (12-0, 7) [田中恒成] claimed the WBO Flyweight title to become a 3-weight champion in just 12 fights. On Tuesday morning he took part in a press conference to talk about the fight and his future.
The youngster repeated the previous comments he had made about wanting to move up in weight in the future and claim more titles in the years to come. Though he did state that the plan is to defend the Flyweight title, at least for the time being.
When it came to his immediate future Tanaka revealed that as he fought on Monday he wasn't thinking too much about the immediate future, but did admit that he wants to fight with former unified Light Flyweight champion Ryoichi Taguchi (27-3-2, 12) [田口良一]. It's worth noting that Tanaka had planned to fight Taguchi at the end of last year before needing to cancel those plans due to suffering fractured orbitals in what was supposed to be a straight forward title defense against Palangpol CP Freshmart.
Tanaka's promoter Kiyoshi Hatanaka revealed that the hope was for Tanaka to return on New Year's Eve, though that does appear to depend on whether or not Tanaka will be medically cleared to fight before the year is over.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Earlier today former IBF Minimumweight world champion Hiroto Kyoguchi (11-0, 8) [京口 紘人] got the chance to kick off his Light Flyweight campaign, as he faced off against Indonesian foe Tibo Monabesa (18-1-2, 8).
On paper it was a good test for Kyoguchi at Light Flyweight, but proved to be a mismatch as the former world champion easily over-came the visitor.
The Japanese fight applied his trademark pressure from the off and got to work on the inside. Monabesa tried to fight him off, but struggled to get through the guard of the local favourite.
The Indonesian knew he had to fight back, but was punished for it in round 3 when he suffered the first knockdown of the fight, late in the round. The Indonesian got back to his feet and fought back hard at the start of round 4, but was dropped again. Monabesa showed how brave he was by trying to continue to fight back, but a vicious uppercut wobbled him hard before he dropped for the third time, and caused the referee to halt the bout. The official time was 2 minutes 20 seconds of round 4.
Following the bout Kyoguchi's promoter Hitoshi Watanabe let it be known that his was looking to face the winner of the upcoming IBF title fight between Nicaraguan puncher Felix Alvarado (33-2, 29) and slick Filipino Randy Petalcorin (29-2-1, 22), who fight on October 21st in Manila. That appears to be a decision that will allow Kyoguchi's stablemate Ryoichi Taguchi (27-3-2, 12) [田口良一] a chance to rematch WBA champion Hekkie Budler (32-3, 10).
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
News! We try and give you the most interesting news stories from the Asian boxing world!