Earlier today it was revealed that IBF Atomweight champion Saemi Hanagata (15-7-4, 7) [田中冴美] would be returning to the ring on September 12th to defend her belt against veteran nemesis Nao Ikeyama (18-5-4, 5) [森脇恵子], in what will be their third bout following 2 previous draws.
The 34 year old champion will be making her first defense of the title she won last September, when she beat Yuko Kuroki in a thrilling 10 round war, ending a trilogy with Kuroki in the process. That win saw Hanagata finally win the big one after the two draws with Ikeyama, and losing other world title fights to Naoko Shibata and Momo Koseki.
Whilst Hanagata is no spring chicken, at 34, she's a boxing baby compared to the 49 year old Ikeyama, who turns 50 just days after this bout. Ikeyama has set all sorts of records for being the oldest world champion, oldest first time champion and similar types of records, following a reign as the WBO Atomweight queen, but more than 2 years removed from her last win, and is 1-2-3 in her last 6, with the one win being a freak one against Ayaka Miyao who suffered an horrific injury to her leg and was forced to retire from the bout in round 6, though later got revenge with a decision win in 2018.
At the moment no other bouts have been announced for this card, but it will be fought on a "Victoriva" branded card at the Korakuen Hall. The previous Victoriva cards have been all female cars, so it's fair to assume this one will also be an all female one.
One of the best things in Asian boxing right now is the development of streaming service Boxingraise, which have given fighters a bigger window to show their talent to a wider audience. In the past if a fight wasn't televised we had to hope that fan cam footage would be released, whilst we now have Boxingraise to show fights.
Sadly Boxingraise does keep many of it's fights behind a paywall, including the 2018 Asian Boxing female fight of the Year.
The bout in question was the third meeting between Saemi Hanagata and Yuko Kuroki, which was a bout for the IBF Atomweight title. It was an exceptional 10 round, high tempo and exciting war, with Hanagata narrowly out working and out punching the more technical Kuroki, who was hurt badly before fighting back. It was an amazingly competitive bout, and although it was fought at a lower skill level to Sho Kimura's FOTY with Kosei Tanaka it had a similar back and forth, with neither managing to establish themselves as the dominant fighter for long.
If you have boxingraise we suggest you give this one a watch.
A close contender in this category was the December 1st bout between Kayoko Ebata and Etsuko Tada for the WBO Female Minimumweight title. That bout is also available on boxingraise.
Tomorrow fight fans will be able to see a new IBF Atomweight champion being crowned, as former world champion Yuko Kuroki (17-5-1, 8) [黒木優子] faced Saemi Hanagata (14-7-4, 7) [田中冴美] for the currently vacant title.
Today the two women took part in their weigh in for the bout and both fighters made weight with no issues.
On the scales Hanagata was the heavier fighter, coming in at 101.6lbs. Despite being heavier she was comfortably under the divisional limit of 102lbs and looked strong and powerful.
Kuroki was slightly lighter, at 101.4lbs. Although easily under the Atomweight limit it is worth noting that she is a former female Minimumweight world champion, having held the WBC title from 2014 to 2017 whilst making 5 successful defenses.
It's worth noting this will be the third bout between these two fighters, with Hanagata having won the first bout and the fighters drawing in their second. This contest gives Kuroki a chance to avenge her defeat and become a 2-time champion whilst Hanagata will be looking to become a world champion for the first time after a number of set backs at world level.
Related - Kuroki looks to settle the score with third bout against Hanagata! (Preview)
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Earlier today Boxingraise added a new slide to their homepage to reveal some rather exciting news...and that is that they will be live streaming Dangan 216 for their subscribers.
The card isn't a massive card stacked with world title fights, but it's an amazingly interesting one with a number of fantastic match ups that really does make it one worth tuning in for.
The card is a double championship show. The nominal main event is an IBF Atomweight title fight as Yuko Kuroki (17-5-1, 8) [黒木優子] and Saemi Hanagata (14-7-4, 7) [田中冴美] face off for the third time in their careers. These two ladies fought in June 2016, with Hanagata taking a decision win, then rematched in December that year, fighting to a draw. Since then both have established themselves as world class fighters. Kuroki had a 3 and a half year reign as the WBC female Minimumweight champion, recording 5 defenses before losing the title last December to Momo Koseki. Hanagata on the other hand would go 0-1-2 in her 3 world title bouts since that loss, twice drawing with Nao Ikeyama.
For us the real main event is the other part of the double championship banner, and will see OPBF Minimumweight champion Tsubasa Koura (13-0, 9) [小浦 翼] defending his belt against unbeaten challenger Daiki Tomita (12-0, 4) [冨田大樹]. This is a truly mouth watering clash between two top young talents in a division that is often over-looked. For the heavy handed Koura the bout will serve as his third defense, and he has made it clear that he's wanting to fight in world title bouts sooner rather than later. For Tomita 20 year old Tomita the bout is a big step up from his recent competition, including Desierto Nagaike, but he was the 2016 All Japan Rookie of the Year, and has shown impressive talent. This could be something special.
It would be easy to just be excited about the two main events but the reality is that the card is deep. One of the under-card bouts will see former OPBF Featherweight champion Ryo Takenaka (16-3-1, 9) [竹中 良] battle against the always testing tough Filipino Vergil Puton (17-10-1, 8) whilst the all action Kenya Yamashita (12-4, 9) [山下賢哉] will face off with former world title challenger John Mark Apolinario (20-11-3, 5). These are two really solid match ups, given that Takenaka has been out of the ring since losing the OPBF title and that Yamashita is a never in a bad fight, even if that does come to his detriment at times.
Potentially the most attractive of the supporting bouts is the chief support bout, which is a mouth watering clash between Japanese puncher Masamichi Yabuki (7-2, 7) [佐藤政道] and the world ranked Light Flyweight Daniel Matellon (7-0-2, 4). This will be a serious test of Yabuki's boxing ability and Matellon's chin. Neither of these are big names, even domestically, but that shouldn't take away from what looks an interesting contest, and allows Yabuki to build on his recent win over former world title challenger Gilberto Pedroza.
The remaining bout on this card will see 39 year old Ribo Takahata (13-8-1, 5) [高畑里望] battle against Sho Nagata (9-4, 2) [永田翔] in a 6 round Super Featherweight bout.
Given that a lot of shows this month in Japan will be on tape delay this looks like an amazing way for Dangan to finish the month, and the card really is set to be something fantastic for subscribers of Boxingraise
It's fair to say we've been drip fed the match ups for Dangan 216, on September 29th. First came an interesting contest between Japanese puncher Masamichi Yabuki (7-2, 7) [佐藤政道] and the world ranked Light Flyweight Daniel Matellon (7-0-2, 4), in what looked like a really good match up a solid test for the hard hitting Yabuki. A week or so after that announcement we saw two title bouts being added to the card, with Yuko Kuroki (17-5-1, 8) [黒木優子] taking on Saemi Hanagata (14-7-4, 7) [田中冴美] for the vacant IBF Atomweight title and OPBF Minimumweight champion Tsubasa Koura (13-0, 9) [小浦 翼] defending his belt against unbeaten challenger Daiki Tomita (12-0, 4) [冨田大樹].
At the time of the title bout announcements we saw Dangan confirm that the under-card would also feature former OPBF Featherweight champion Ryo Takenaka (16-3-1, 9) [竹中 良] and the all action Kenya Yamashita (12-4, 9) [山下賢哉]. Despite the confirmation neither man had their opponents announced.
Now however we have seen both of those men having their opponents named.
Takenaka, who will be fighting for the first time since suffering a gruesome facial injury in his title loss to Sa Myung Noh [노사명], will now be matched against the always tough Filipino Vergil Puton (17-10-1, 8), who will be fighting in Japan for the third successive time, following a TKO loss to Masayuki Ito in March and an opening round technical draw to Shuma Nakazato in June. Despite his record Puton is always a good test and should give Takenaka a genuine fight here, especially given that Takenaka hasn't fought since June 2017.
As for Yamashita he will be stepping up in class to face off with former world title challenger John Mark Apolinario (20-11-3, 5), who the likes of Drian Francisco, Hernan Marquez, Roberto Vasquez and Koki Kameda. The experienced Filipino debuted back in December 2006 and is certainly experienced at a higher level than Yamashita, but will certainly be the under-dog against the incredibly aggressive and hard hitting Yamashita.
One other under-card bout on this card will see 39 year old Ribo Takahata (13-8-1, 5) [高畑里望] battle against Sho Nagata (9-4, 2) [永田翔] in a 6 round Super Featherweight bout.
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