Last week saw the announcement that current WBO Flyweight champion Kosei Tanaka (12-0, 7) [田中恒成] would face off with former unified Light Flyweight champion Ryoichi Taguchi (27-3-2, 12) [田口良一] on March 16th.
This week Tanaka ramped up his training for that bout as he began a training camp in Thailand, following in the footsteps of former foe Sho Kimura [木村翔].
Today saw a report, from sponsor's RSC Products, that Tanaka has been in Thailand training with the likes of former WBC Super Flyweight champion Suriyan Sor Rungvisai (49-7-1, 25) and doing 4 minutes rounds with 16oz gloves.
The training camp has been designed to improve Tanaka's stamina, and physical strength whilst also working in a high temperature, which should not only help with stamina but also with weight loss.
From what we understand this is just a short camp for the champion, but these Thai training camps are intensive and it's clear that the focus is on doing things the hard way for Tanaka during his time in Thailand.
(Image courtesy of RSC Products)
On January 10th the JBC, along with members of the Tokyo Boxing Press, announced the nominations for the 2018 Japanese boxing awards.
The highest award is the Best Fighter, or MVP, award. The nominations for this award are:
Naoya Inoue (17-0, 15) [井上 尚弥] - The current WBA "regular" Bantamweight champion
Kosei Tanaka (12-0, 7) [田中恒成] - The current WBO Flyweight champion
Kenshiro (15-0, 8) [拳四朗] - The current WBC Flyweight champion
and Masayuki Ito (25-1-1, 13) [伊藤 雅雪] - The current WBO Super Featherweight champion
The Skills Award again includes Kenshiro and Tanaka but also:
Tomoki Kameda (36-2, 20) [亀田和毅] - The current WBC "interim" Super Bantamweight champion
Hiroto Kyoguchi (12-0, 9) [京口 紘人] - The current WBC Light Flyweight champion
and Jorge Linares (45-4, 28)
The Special award sees Ito and Tanaka being nominated
The KO award see's Naoya Inoue being joined by:
Satoshi Shimizu (8-0, 8) [清水 聡] - The current OPBF Featherweight champion
and Kazuto Takesako (10-0, 10) [竹迫司登] - The current Japanese Middleweight champion
The Newcomer award has seen a nice number of candidates, the nominees here are, Takesako along with:
Tsubasa Koura (14-0, 9) [小浦 翼] - The current OPBF Minimumweight champion
Hiroaki Teshigawara (18-2-2, 11) [勅使河原 弘晶] - The current OPBF Super Bantamweight champion
Shuichiro Yoshino (9-0, 7) [吉野 修一郎] - The current Japanese Lightweight champion
Ryota Yada (18-4, 15) [矢田良太] - The current Japanese Welterweight champion
The "strive", which appears to be an achievement type of award, has seen the following nominations:
Masayoshi Nakatani (18-0, 12) [中谷正義] - The current OPBF Lightweight champion
Valentine Hosokawa (24-6-3, 11) [細川バレンタイン] - The current Japanese Light Welterweight champion
Masayuki Kuroda (30-7-3, 16) [黒田 雅之] - The former Japanese Flyweight champion
and Tetsuya Hisada (33-9-2, 19) [久田 哲也] - The former Japanese Light Flyweight champion
The best fight, at world level has seen 3 bouts being nominated:
Sho Kimura [木村翔] Vs Kosei Tanaka [田中恒成] - WBO Flyweight title fight
Jorge Linares Vs Vasyl Lomachneko - WBA "super" Lightweight title fight
and Naoya Inoue [井上 尚弥] Vs Juan Carlos Payano - WBA "Regular" Bantamweight title fight
The best fight that wasn't at world level has 4 nominations:
Yusaku Kuga [久我勇作] Vs Shingo Wake [和氣 慎吾] - Japanese Super Bantamweight title fight
Valentine Hosokawa [細川バレンタイン] Vs Vladimir Baez - Japanese Light Welterweight title fight
Hironori Mishiro [三代大訓] Vs Masaru Sueyoshi [末吉 大] - OPBF / JBA Super Featherweight unification bout
Hikaru Nishida [西田 光] vs Kazuto Takesako [竹迫司登] - Japanese Middleweight title fight
The female Fighter of the Year nominations are:
Tenkai Tsunami (26-12, 15) [天海 ツナミ] - The current WBO female Light Welterweight champion
Etsuko Tada (18-3-2, 5) [多田悦子] - The current WBO female Minimumweight champion
Naoko Fujioka (18-2, 7) [藤岡 奈穂子] - The current WBA female Flyweight champion
The female Fight of the Year nominations were:
Tenkai Tsunami [天海 ツナミ] Vs Chaoz Minowa [チャオズ箕輪]- WBO female Light Flyweight title fight
Nao Ikeyama [池山直] Vs Mika Iwakawa [岩川美花] - WBO Atomweight title fight
Naoko Fujioka [藤岡 奈穂子] Vs Irma Sanchez - WBA female Flyweight title fight
Kayoko Ebata [江畑佳代子] Vs Etsuko Tada [多田悦子] - WBO female Minimumweight title fight
Voting will take place in January with the winners being awarded at a ceremony on February 8th.
We wouldn't be exaggerating to say that 2018 was a year that delivered amazing round, after amazing round, after amazing round. Be it round 6 of Akira Yaegashi's brilliant bour with Hirofumi Mukai, round 12 of Rikki Naito's narrow decision win over Daishi Nagata, or round 1 of Satoshi Shimizu's win over Shingo Kawamura. Really this year delivered consistently amazing rounds.
It was a hard to pick a single round for the 2018 Round of the year, but we chose Round 12 of Sho Kimura's [木村翔] bout against Kosei Tanaka [田中恒成] as the best round.
It wasn't a round with knockdowns, it didn't even have either man massively rocked. But it was one where two men were biting hard on their gum shields, going to war know the final round could well decide the bout. Both were swollen, both carrying clear damage to their face and both really wanting to win the round. From the opening seconds to the very final moments we had action, we had a brilliant sequence where both threw single right hands, we had speed and skill, desire and hunger.
We know it wasn't the dramatic up and down round that usually sticks in the memory, but it was a round that decided the fight of the year. It had followed 11 previous rounds of action and was two class fighters fighting for the biggest win of their career. It was sensational.
With 2018 now, finally, over we'll be going through our end of year awards, starting with the 2018 Fight of the Year.
This was an easy one, it was the WBO Flyweight title bout between Sho Kimura [木村翔] and Kosei Tanaka [田中恒成]. This fantastic fight, which took place on September 24th and was a pretty rare Japan Vs Japan world title fight. The thing about all-Japanese world title fights is that they typically deliver amazing action, and that's what we got.
The teak tough Kimura, seeking his third defense, relied on his toughness and energy to try to combat the skill and speed advantages of Tanaka, who was looking to become a 3 weight world champion in just his 12th bout. What both men had in common was an intense desire to win and that gave us something amazing to watch, with neither man happy to even give up a round.
This wasn't a brawl, but was a high intensity fight, fought a lot of skill, heart and technique. It was a fight that started fast and got better round by round. It was a fight that never once felt like it was dragging, and instead it was a fight that ticked every box a fight fan could want.
If you missed it, or want to rewatch it, we've included the full fight video below. Enjoy yourself and kick off the new year with an outstanding fight!
Back in September we saw a FOTY contender between Kosei Tanaka (12-0, 7) [田中恒成] and Sho Kimura (17-2-2, 10) [木村翔], with Tanaka taking a razor thin decision win over Kimura to claim the WBO Flyweight title. Following the loss Kimura hinted that he may walk away from the sport, and was suffering burn out from what had been a very active schedule.
In the space of just over 16 months Kimura had fought 5 bouts, including 4 world title bouts in 14 months. He hadn't just been active with fights but had also seen a huge increase in his media work, and his intense training had clearly left him needing a break from the ring. He had never out and out stated he was retiring but did suggest that it was on his mind, in the wake of the Tanaka fight.
Today however we have been informed, from multiple sources, that he has now returned to the gym to prepare for his return to the sport, with his plans expected to be publically announced in the near future at a press conference.
We suspect the plan will either be to chase another Flyweight title, possibly a rematch with Kosei Tanaka in the future or pursuing a WBC title shot, or even a potential move to Super Flyweight, which is a division that has gotten a lot of attention in recent years thanks to the "Superfly" series. A move up could get Kimura some big international fights against the likes of Juan Francisco Estrada, Kazuto Ioka's or Donnie Nietes, though we do feel like he would lose some of his strengths if he did add on the 3 extra lbs.
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