We've known for a little over a month that former WBO Super Featherweight champion Masayuki Ito (25-2-1, 13) [伊藤 雅雪] would be returning to the ring on September 13th. Sadly what we didn't know was who he would be fighting.
Today we finally saw his opponent for the being announced, and unfortunately it's not someone worth getting excited about.
The bout, which is a home coming for Ito following his title loss to Jamel Herring, will see the Japanese fighter take on Indonesian foe Ruben Manakane (25-18-1, 14).
The 26 year old Manakane turned professional in 2011 and has been a regional journeyman, padding his record in Indonesia and losing on the road to the likes of Billy Dib, Luke Jackson, Marlon Tapales and AJ Banal. It's almost a given he will pick up another loss here to the world class Ito.
Whilst the main event is disappointing the rest of the card is worth getting excited about, with a great Japanese Featherweight title bout between between Reiya Abe (19-2-1, 9) [阿部 麗也] and Ryo Sagawa (7-1, 4) [佐川遼], a Japanese Super Bantamweight title eliminator between Ryoichi Tamura (12-4-1, 6) [田村 亮一] and Gakuya Furuhashi (25-8-1, 14) [古橋大輔] and a Japanese youth Light Flyweight title bout, as Rikito Shiba (3-0, 2) [芝力人] faces Shisui Kawabata (2-0, 2) [川端嗣穂].
Earlier this month we saw a press conference to announce that former WBO Super Featherweight champion Masayuki Ito (25-2-1, 13) [伊藤 雅雪] would be in action on September 13th as part of an A-Sign card. Ito's bout was announced as the main event of the with a great a supporting bout between Reiya Abe (19-2-1, 9) [阿部 麗也] and Ryo Sagawa (7-1, 4) [佐川遼] for the Japanese Featherweight title also confirmed for the show.
Other than those two bouts there was very little known about the show, though today it appears that changed with two bouts being announced by the A-sign blog.
The less interesting of the two, if we can say that, is a Japanese title eliminator at 122lbs between former champion Ryoichi Tamura (12-4-1, 6) [田村 亮一] and the always entertaining Gakuya Furuhashi (25-8-1, 14) [古橋大輔]. Despite being the "lesser" of the two bouts announced today this should be a really good bout between two men who enjoy a tear up, lack a little but of thunder on their punches, but set aggressive work rate and look to make wars.
For Tamura the bout will be his first since losing the belt in his second bout with Yusaku Kuga, in what was one of the best Japanese bouts of 2019. Tamura, who is promoted by Hajime No Ippo creator George Morikawa, will be looking to end his year on a high after winning, and losing, the Japanese title this year. For Furuhashi on the other hand the bout will see him looking to earn his third shot at the title, following a draw with Yukinori Oguni in 2014 and a TKO10 loss to Yasutaka Ishimoto in 2016.
Earlier this months Tsuyoshi Sato (9-1-1, 5) [佐藤剛] was forced to pull out of a Japanese Youth Light Flyweight title bout against Rikito Shiba (3-0, 2) [芝力人], in what was really unfortunate news and scuppered what had looked like a genuinely amazing bout. Thankfully things have fallen into place for Shiba to now be matched with Shisui Kawabata (2-0, 2) [川端嗣穂], in an excellent match up, even if we did prefer the Sato one.
For both Shiba and Kawabata this is a huge risk, especially this early in their careers, but for the two former amateur standouts this is a fantastic fight to put one on the fast track, and to allow the other a chance to gather themselves and build going forward. Neither man can be written off with a loss this earlier, especially not to the other guy, and this is the sort of amazing match up the Youth titles can give us, and further shows how Japan is so much different to many countries in terms of how they bring young fighters through. We would never see two notable young amateurs with the pedigree these two have facing off this early in their careers.
We're expecting Ito's opponent to be announced in the coming weeks and whilst we don't expect someone too tough it's still going to be great to see Ito back in action in Tokyo, and we expect he will get a really warm welcome back at Korakuen Hall in his first bout since losing the WBO world title to Jamel Herring.
(Image courtesy of A-Sign Boxing)
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