The curse of the Japanese Bantamweight title has been on going saga this year, with 3 fights for the bout cancelled before Yuta Saito (11-9-3, 8) [齊藤裕太] defeated Eita Kikuchi [菊地永太] for the belt back in September.
Saito was pencilled in to defend the belt in a mandatory title fight before the year was over, with Yusuke Suzuki (9-3, 6) [鈴木悠介] his supposed opponent. Sadly that bout has been cancelled before it was even officially announced. Sadly the reason for the cancellation is a pretty serious one.
Saito, who's bout with Suzuki was expected to take place on December 20th, has been diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, a serious chronic condition that could keep him out of the ring for a prolonged time, and prevent him really building on the win over Kikuchi.
As a result of Saito's illness we will instead see Hayato Kimura (27-10, 18) [木村隼人] facing off with Seizo Kono (19-10-1, 12) [高野誠三] for the interim title on December. This bout was originally ordered as a Japanese title decider, but due to the health issues of Saito the JBC have taken the decision to put the interim title on the line.
Suzuki doesn't totally miss out. Instead the long term plan is for him to fight the eventual unified champion. Saito will need to face the interim champion within 4 months of the Kimura Vs Kono bout, to unify the titles, and the winner of the unification bout will need to face Suzuki within 3 months.
Whilst it does lead to an exciting year ahead for the Japanese Bantamweight title we do need to wonder quite why so many health issues have effected people, including Suzuki, linked to the belt since the start of this year. And we also need to wish Saito the best with his medical problem, which can have a significant effect on day to day life for sufferers.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
An important part of the Japanese boxing calendar is the Champion Carnival, which takes place in the first half of the year. The fighters who compete in the Champion Carnival are the national champions and the leading domestic contenders.
In August we a number of bouts to decide the top contenders being announced, with 6 such bouts being set for October 12, on a stacked card at the Korakuen Hall.
For those missed that report those bouts on October 12th will be:
Light Flyweight - Kenichi Horikawa (37-15-1, 11) [堀川 謙一] Vs Koji Itagaki (18-12-3, 7) [板垣幸司]
The Super Flyweight - Yuta Matsuo (14-3-1, 7) [松尾雄太] Vs Rey Orais (20-17-2, 5)
Super Bantamweight - Mugicha Nakagawa (23-5-1, 14) [武田勇太] Vs Naoya Okamoto (13-6-1, 6) [岡本直也].
Super Featherweight - Ken Osato (14-2-1, 4) [大里拳] Vs Satoru Sugita (14-5-1, 9) [杉田聖]
Light Welterweight - Koki Inoue (11-0, 10) [浩樹井上] Vs Marcus Smith (6-0-1, 6)
Light Middleweight Koshinmaru Saito (24-9-2, 13) [斉藤伸介] vs Hironobu Matsunaga (13-1, 7) [松永 宏信]
As well as the October 12th card we also, recently, saw the confirmation that the Flyweight bout would see Junto Nakatani (16-0, 12) [中谷 潤人] battle against Shun Kosaka (15-4, 4) [小坂駿], which that bout now set for October 6th as part of notable Japanese domestic card which is set to be televised on G+.
Today saw the rest of the bouts being announced.
On October 21st we'll have two of them take place in Fukuoka. One of those is the Minimumweight bout, which will see Takumi Sakae (19-2-1, 13) [榮拓海] take on Norihito Tanaka (16-7, 9) [田中教仁], in what could end up being one of the surprise contests from these eliminator style contests. On the same card will be the Welterweight clash between Yuki Beppu (18-0-1, 18) [別府優樹] and Yuki Nagano (14-2, 11) [永野祐樹], in what we are expecting to be a very explosive and exciting encounter between two fighters with very solid power at this level.
A week later, October 28th, we'll get the Lightweight bout, which will see Accel Sumiyoshi (11-4-2, 3) [アクセル住吉] face off with Tatsuya Yanagi (15-5-1, 6) [柳達也]. This bout will take place in Shimonoseki, Yamaguchi prefecture, which should favour Sumiyoshi but given the styles of the two men this has the potential to be very exciting.
On November 7th we'll get the Middleweight bout as former champion Hikaru Nishida (17-9-1, 8) [西田光] takes on Shuji Kato (9-1-1, 6) [加藤収二], with this bout taking place at the Korakuen Hall.
The only bout with out a set date so far is the Bantamweight bout. Despite no set date we do know that Hayato Kimura (27-10, 18) [木村隼人] facing off with Seizo Kono (19-10-1, 12) [高野誠三], in what is a bit of an under-whelming contest given some of the Japanese domestic talent in the division. This bout is expected to have it's date and venue announced in the coming weeks.
Earlier today in Osaka fight fans saw OPBF Bantamweight champion Mark John Yap (28-12, 14) record his second defense, as he over-came Seizo Kono (19-9-1, 12) [高野誠三] with a 10th round KO.
The bout saw Kono trying to fight behind a high guard and going to the body early on. It was a gameplan that seemed to be based on coming on styrong late on, whilst making Yap work hard. It failed to win the judges over early on, with two judges having Yap in the lead after 4 rounds, whilst the third judge had the bout even.
In the middle rounds the pace picked up, with Yap landing some big right hands whilst Kono pressed more aggressively, and it was clear the bout was warming up with both men moving through the gears. Despite the changes in both mens out put there was no real change in the judges, which had Yap leading on two cards after 8 rounds, and a draw on the third card.
The fight continued to be competitive until round 10, when a left hook to the body from Yap crumpled Kono to the canvas. The challenger go up but was clearly in pain and a follow up from Yap sent him down again, this time for the count.
For Kono the loss is his third stoppage defeat and ends a 4 fight winning run. For Yap the win is a 4th straight stoppage and a 9th straight win, as he continues working his way towards a potential world title fight.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Earlier today the Muto gym announced their next big card, which will take place on December 3rd at the EDION Arena Osaka, and feature 4 title bouts, includng a title unification bout.
One of those bouts will see Masahiro Sakamoto (10-1, 6) [坂本 真宏] attempt to claim the WBO Asia Pacific Flyweight title, in his second shot at the belt, as he takes on former world champion Kwanthai Sithmorseng (50-4-1, 27) [ขวัญไทย ศิษย์หมอเส็ง]. For Sakamoto this will be his second title fight, having lost a bout for this very title last November against current WBO world chamoion Sho Kimura. Interestingly Kwanthai was preparing to face Sakamoto earlier this year for the WBO Asia Pacific title, before Kimura got the call to fight the then WBO world champion Zou Shiming.
Another of the bouts will see Hirofumi Mukai (14-5-3, 4) [向井 寛史] battle against Inthanon Sithchamuang (31-9-1, 19) [อินทนนท์ ศิษย์ชะมวง] for the WBO Asia Pacific title, which has previously been held by Mukai. The bout, between former world title challengers, is really a must win for both fighters with neither really able to take another loss if they are to remain relevant. For Mukai the bout will be his second since being stopped by Rex Tso earlier this year whilst Inthanon will be seeking to avenge his 2016 loss to Mukai, who stopped him last year. Tha Thai is 0-2 in Japan and will be hoping to make it third time lucky in the Land of the Rising Sun.
In another bout we'll see Mark John Yap (27-12, 13) defend his OPBF Bantamweight title on against Japan's Seizo Kono (19-8-1, 12) [高野誠三], in what will be Yap's second defense of the title and comes on the back of his incredible cone-back against Kentaro Masuda. For Kono the bout will be his his second title, with his only other one being a battle with Rey Vargas for the WBC Youth Intercontinental Super Bantamweight title back in 2013. The bout should be a really interesting one, and much better than the records of the two men suggest. A win for Yap would almost certainly improve his world rankings and help him get a long pursued world title fight, though he will likely need another win or two given the depth at Bantamweight right now.
The final bout, and technically the main event of the show, will see the heavy handed Koki Tyson (13-2-2, 11) [太尊 康輝] take on Yasuyuki Akiyama (11-7-1, 8) [秋山 泰幸] in a bout which not only be for Tyson's OPBF Middleweight title, but also the vacant WBO Asia Pacific title, with the winner unifying the two titles. For Tyson this bout will be his second defense whilst Akiyama will be getting his will be getting his second title fight, after having challenged Akio Shibata for the Japanese and OPBF titles back in 2015. The winner here may find themselves sneaking into WBO world rankings, and potentially beginning moving towards a world title fight.
Whilst it's yet to be confirmed it's expected that we'll be able to see this card on boxingraise, with many other Mutoh shows also on the service. Hopefully this will be confirmed either later ths month or in November and then we'll get the chance to see all 4 title bouts.
(Image at the top courtesy iof boxmob.jp)
In September we saw Japan's Masayuki Ito (21-1-1, 10) [伊藤 雅雪] score a stoppage win over Filipino visitor Glenn Enterina (11-3-1, 8) in a card televised by G+. Going into that bout Ito was the OPBF Super Featherweight champion however since then he has vacated the title, and seems set on moving towards a world title fight.
As a result of vacating the title Ito has been replaced at the top of the Oriental tree by Filipino Carlo Magali (22-9-3, 11), who has been upgraded from "interim" champion, which he became in July thanks to a win over Sandeep Balhara.
At the moment it's unclear what's next for Ito, but he does have top 15 rankings with the the WBO (#3),WBC (#11) and IBF (#13) and could well find himself in line for either a title shot, or a world title eliminator.
For Magali his first defense of the title will next, though it's unclear who he wll be up against and when. It should however be noted that his #1 contender is fellow Filipino Romero Duno (15-1, 13), and that would be an attractive bout on paper, whilst Japan's Takuya Mizuno (12-1-1, 11) [水野拓哉] may also see a possible fight with Magali as a mouth watering encounter.
On the subject of OPBF title fights, our good friend Ian Bautista Melodillar has informed us that Mark John Yap (27-12, 13) is in talks to defend his OPBF Bantamweight title on December 3rd against Japan's Seizo Kono (19-8-1, 12) [高野誠三] in a really good looking match.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
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