Last week we saw WBC Minimumweight champion Wanheng Menayothin (53-0, 18) [วันเฮง ไก่ย่างห้าดาวยิม] score his 11th defense, as he took a technical decision win over former WBO king Tatsuya Fukuhara (21-7-6, 7) [福原 辰弥].
That bout was supposed to be Wanheng's final defense before making a mandatory defense against South African challenger Simpiwe Konkco (19-5-0-1, 7), though Thai sources are now reporting that a deal may be in the works for the mandatory defense to be pushed back.
The sources, including SiamSport, have reported that a member of the Watanabe Gym was at ringside for the Menayothin Vs Fukuhara bout last week, and looking at getting Wanheng to fight in Japan in October in a voluntary defense, pushing back the mandatory. It also appears that Konkco's team are likely to allow the bout, for a step aside fee.
Whilst Wanehng fighting outside of Thailand would be big, it does leave to two different lines of thought. Firstly who would he be fighting? And secondly haven't we heard this before?
The Watanabe gym does have a number of Minimumweights, including world title challenger Masataka Taniguchi (11-3, 7) [谷口 将隆], former multi-time world title challenger Shin Ono (23-11-3, 6) [小野 心] and fast rising youngster Ginjiro Shigeoka (3-0, 2) [重岡銀次朗], none of whom would be suitable for an October bout with Wanheng. In theory the gym could be looking to work on behalf of another promoter, and perhaps looking to secure a shot for someone like Norihito Tanaka (18-7, 10) [田中教仁] or Tsubasa Koura (14-1, 9) [小浦 翼], but it would be a rather strange plan from the gym.
What needs to be remembered is that Wanheng was repeatedly linked to a fight in Japan last year, and nothing ever came of it. This could be the same as that, where plans don't come to fruition, or it could be a sign that Watanabe gym have some huge plans between now and October, and we may hear more about the in the coming weeks.
It should also be noted that Watanabe gym's Hiroto Kyoguchi (12-0, 9) [京口 紘人], the current WBA "super" Light Flyweight champion, will be defending his title against unbeaten Thai fighter Satanmuanglek CP Freshmart (11-0, 5), aka Tanawat Nakoon, on June 19th and we may hear more about these plans around there.
The first Japanese title fight of 2019 was a Minimumweight title bout pitting defending champion Shin Ono (23-10-3, 6) [小野 心] against mandatory challenger Norihito Tanaka (18-7, 10) [田中教仁] at the Korakuen Hall as part of the 2019 Champion Carnival. It also saw the first title change in Japan for the year, with Tanaka breaking down the veteran to become the new champion.
In the opening round the champion used his speed, southpaw jab and reach to keep Tanaka at bay, and the fight seemed rather like it could be easy for the experienced champion, if he could maintain the control of the action like he was doing. In round 2 Tanaka began to come alive, landing clean counter shots and rocking Ono at the end of the round, it was clear that Tanaka saw the opening round as scouting mission and was looking to up the tempo as the bout went on, clearing doing just that in the final 30 seconds of round 2.
Tanaka's success from round 2 rolled into a huge round 3, as his confidence began to grow, and he found more and more holes in Ono's defense, dropping the defending champion on to the seat of his pants early in the round. The knockdown clearly hurt Ono who began to hold and looked like he was trying to survive, more than win. It lead to some messy action, but action that Tanaka was getting the better of.
to his credit Ono made round 4 very competitive, gritting his teeth and battling back at times, though his competitive grit did see him being caught by some very clean shots as he began to take risks. It was short lived competitiveness with Tanaka clearly winning round 5, swelling Ono's right eye in the process.
At the end of round 5 the scores were announced, with Tanaka holding a 49-45 lead on all 3 cards. It was now down to Ono to change the fight and in he looked to do just that as he began to ramp up his aggressiveness, taking the fight to Tanaka. It was a foolish gameplan, full of risks, and one that he began to pay for as Tanaka began to find more and more openings up close, landing clean shots to the head and body. On one hand Ono did land more shots of his own, which he needed to do, but he took a significant amount of harder shots as a result of his aggression.
Ono continued to be the aggressor in round 7, but he really was taking a lot more than he was giving, with Tanaka returning everything with interest. Things went from bad to worse when Ono was deducted a point for holding, something he had been doing numerous times through the fight. He was also looking exhausted, with his 36 year old body, the tempo and the body shots all catching up to him, seemingly at once.
With his body failing him, and the scorecards now well against him, Ono came out for round 8 fast, but Tanaka quickly responded putting him on the back foot. Only moments later Ono's legs went and a follow up sent him down into the corner where the referee waved the bout off, giving Tanaka the TKO win.
For Tanaka this is his career defining win, in what was his third title fight, after losses to Akira Yaegashi and Tsubasa Koura in previous title bouts. He finally won the big one, and looked like a man who could be tricky to dethrone. Sadly for Ono this is probably the end. He has had a hard, long and draining career, and punishment has seemingly caught up with him.
It's fair to say that 2019 has started slowly but we are starting to see more and more things being added to the schedule.
Sadly it wasn't until earlier today that Boxingraise announced their line up for January, which we knew wouldn't be great,
The Japanese streaming and VOD service will only have 2 new cards this month, unless things change, however their card today, January 12th, will be live.
That live card will see Japanese Minimumweight champion Shin Ono (23-9-3, 6) [小野 心] defending his title against mandatory challenger Norihito Tanaka (17-7, 9) [田中教仁] and Mugicha Nakagawa (24-5-1, 14) [武田勇太] battling Ryoichi Tamura (11-3-1, 6) [田村 亮一] for the vacant Japanese Super Bantamweight title, which had been vacated late last year by Shingo Wake (25-5-2, 17) [和氣 慎吾]. The card is expected to start at 18:00 local time and will be the first Japanese show of the new year.
As well as that show Boxingraise will also add the January 31st card from the Koraluen Hall, which is a a card featuring 4 round bouts between novices.
The bigger selling point this month, in some ways, is the fact 4 cards from the Dangan Archive, Dangan 144,145,147 and 149, will be added to the Video on Demand section. Those shows took place in November and December 2015 and feature a good number of notable fights that weren't available in the past, giving subscribers something to look forward to during this quiet month.
(Image courtesy of boxingraise.com)
Tomorrow we see the Champion Carnival kick off with 2 Japanese title bouts at the Korakuen Hall.
One of those will veterans colliding with Shin Ono (23-9-3, 6) [小野 心] defending the Japanese Minimumweight title against Norihito Tanaka (17-7, 9) [田中教仁]. Despite both being veterans, with a combined age of 69, both are still top domestic fighters and both have clearly taken this fight seriously, knowing it could be their last title bout if they come up short.
Today both men took part in their weigh in for the bout, and both men came in right on the limit of 105lbs. Neither of the looked like physical freaks, but both looked in good shape for what is anticipated to be a very competitive contest.
Ono, who turned 36 last month, looked relaxed and spoke about how he had previously sparred with Tanaka and had prepared well for this bout, with an eye clearly on getting another world title fight in the future, after coming up short at world level twice.
Tanaka, who is fighting in his third title bout, appeared strongly motivated by the opportunity. He turns 34 in February and appears to feel he's stronger than ever before.
Related - Ono and Tanaka clash for Japanese title!
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Earlier today at the Tokyo Dome Hotel the media were able to attend the press conference to announce the 2019 Champion Carnival bouts, with 13 contests being officially announced.
As previously reported the Minimumweight bout will see defending champion Shin Ono (23-9-3, 6) [小野 心] defending his title against Norihito Tanaka (17-7, 9) [田中教仁] on January 12th at the Korakuen Hall.
The Light Flyweight bout, to fill the recent vacancy left by Tetsuya Hisada (33-9-2, 19) [久田 哲也], will see Kenichi Horikawa (38-15-1, 12) [堀川 謙一] battle against Satoru Todaka (9-2-4, 3) [戸髙達], with this bout set to take place on February 14th, also at the Korakuen Hall.
The Flyweight bout, like the Minimumweight bout, had already been announced and will see Junto Nakatani (17-0, 12) [中谷 潤人] and Naoki Mochizuki (15-3, 8) [望月直樹] fight on February 2nd at the Korakuen Hall. This bout is to fill the vacancy left by Masayuki Kuroda (30-7-3, 16) [黒田 雅之], who like Hisada has stated he intends to fight for a world title in 2019.
The Super Flyweight champion Takayuki Okumoto (21-8-4, 10) [奥本 貴之] will defend his title on April 21st in Osaka, and will see Okumoto battle against Yuta Matsuo (15-3-1, 8) [松尾雄太], in what will be Okumoto's second defense of the title.
The Bantamweight bout will be a unification bout as regular champion Yuta Saito (11-9-3, 8) [齊藤裕太], who has been suffering from illness recently, battling against recently crowned interim champion Hayato Kimura (28-10, 19) [木村隼人]. There is no set date on this bout, but it's expected to take place in Tokyo, with the Korakuen Hall the most likely venue.
The Super Bantamweight title will have it's vacancy filled on January 12th, on the same show as the Ono Vs Tanaka card. Fighting for the title will be Mugicha Nakagawa (24-5-1, 14) [武田勇太] and Ryoichi Tamura (11-3-1, 6) [田村 亮一], who will be looking to follow in the footsteps of former champion Shingo Wake (25-5-2, 17) [和氣 慎吾] who looks to be heading towards a world title fight, like Hisada and Kuroda.
Arguably the best match up for the Champion Carnival is the Featherweight bout, which will pit Taiki Minamoto (16-5, 13) [源大輝] against Reiya Abe (18-2, 9) [阿部 麗也], who will be battling former amateur stand out Daisuke Sugita (4-0, 3) [杉田大祐] in January before facing Minamoto on May 1st at the Korakuen Hall. This is, to us, the stand out bout of the Champion Carnival and is genuinely a mouth watering clash.
The Japanese Super Featherweight champion Masaru Sueyoshi (18-1-1, 11) [末吉 大] will take on Ken Osato (15-2-1, 4) [大里拳], in a rematch of the bout the two men had during the 2018 Champion Carnival. This contest will take place on May 4th at the Korakuen Hall and will see Osato looking to avenge his loss and Sueyoshi looking to repeat his win over Osato.
The unbeaten Shuichiro Yoshino (9-0, 7) [吉野 修一郎] will be making his 4th defense of the Japanese Lightweight title, as he takes on the challenge of Accel Sumiyoshi (11-4-3, 3) [アクセル住吉]. This bout is set to take place on April 11th at the Korakuen Hall.
Another bout that really whets the appetite is the Japanese Light Welterweight title bout. That contest will see champion Valentine Hosokawa (24-6-3, 11) [細川バレンタイン] defending his belt on April 6th at the Korakuen Hall against Koki Inoue (12-0, 10) [浩樹井上] in a mouth watering step up for the challenger.
We'll see attention turn to Osaka for the Welterweight title bout, as Ryota Yada (18-4, 15) [矢田良太] defends his belt against Yuki Nagano (15-2, 11) [永野祐樹]. This bout is set to take place on April 21st, though the specific venue wasn't announced.
The Light Middleweight title bout will see Nobuyuki Shindo (20-4-2, 8) [新藤寛之] defending the title against Hironobu Matsunaga (14-1, 8) [松永 宏信] in what should be a thrilling contest between a very hungry challenger and an under-rated champion. These two will clash at the Korakuen Hall on May 1st, as a double header with the Minamoto Vs Abe bout.
On March 2nd we'll see Japanese Middleweight champion Kazuto Takesako (10-0, 10) [竹迫司登] defending his belt against Shuji Kato (10-1-1, 6) [加藤収二], in what will be Takesako's second defense. This will also be at the Korakuen Hall.
At the moment the full details of who will be showing what bouts is unclear, but we're glad to now have most of the matches set, with dates and venues.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
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