Earlier today, Tuesday, the East Japan Boxing Association announced their 3 award winners for the month of November.
The MVP for the month was Watanabe Gym's Ryuichi Funai (31-7, 22) [船井 龍一] who became the IBF Super Flyweight mandatory challenger due to his win over Mexican fighter Victor Olivo (15-3-1, 7). That win netter Funai the MVP award as well as the IBF title shot.
The Fighting Spirit award went to 20 year old Japanese-Afghan fighter Kudura Kaneko (9-0, 6) [クドゥラ金子] who looked fantastic, as he stopped former Japanese Welterweight champion Toshio Arikawa (15-6, 13) [有川 稔男] in a real break out win. That win has immediately put him in the mix for a title fight and we're expecting a huge 2019 for him.
The New Comer award, or State of the Art award, was won by Shuji Kato (10-1-1, 6) [加藤収二] who became the mandatory challenger for the Japanese Middleweight title, following his win over Hikaru Nishida (17-10-1, 8) [西田光].
The award ceremony for the 3 winners will be held at the Korakuen Hall on January 12th.
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
Earlier today at the Korakuen Hall fight fans saw a Japanese Middleweight title eliminator, between former champion Hikaru Nishida (17-10-1, 8) [西田光] and 2017 Middleweight Rookie of the Year winner Shuji Kato (10-1-1, 6) [加藤収二] .
The bout was Was a competitive one, and one that was really hard to split the two men overall, though it did have some very clear rounds. The first two rounds went to Kato, who used good movement and a sharp jab to control the earlier action. Nishida began to up his pressure the following round and this ended up dragging Kato into Nishida's type of fight. That pressure paid off in round 5 when Nishida dropped Kato with a right hook towards the end of the round.
Despite being dropped Kato recovered well and the final 3 rounds were hotly contest, with both men knowing the bout was finely balanced. In the end however Kato just did enough, taking the split decision with scores of 76-75, twice, in his favour whilst the third judge had it 76-75 in favour of Nishida.
After the bout Kato went face to face with Japanese Middleweight champion Kazuto Takesako (10-0, 10) [竹迫司登], with the two men now set to fight in 2019 as part of the Champion Carnival.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
This past weekend we saw Kazuto Takesako (10-0, 10) [竹迫司登] make his his first defense of the Japanese Middleweight title, stopping former champion Sanosuke Sasaki (12-7, 6) [佐々木左之介] in 2 rounds.
Tomorrow we will find out who Takesako's next challenger will be, as former champion Hikaru Nishida (17-9-1, 8) [西田光] takes on Rookie of the Year winner Shuji Kato (9-1-1, 6) [加藤収二] to determine the mandatory challenger for Takesako, at the 2019 Champion Carnival.
Today the two men took part in their weigh in, and both fighters made weight.
On the scales Nishida was bang on the 160lbs limit, and like always looked strong and powerful. He spoke highly of Kato, with the two men having sparred a lot before and with Takesako stating that Kato is strong.
Kato, who looked bigger at the weigh in, was actually the lighter man. He weighed in at 159.4lbs and looked in great condition. He admitted he got this chance earlier than he expected and describing describing Nishida as being like a "rock" he wanted to destroy him.
Related - Former champion Nishida takes on Rookie winner Kato! (Fight preview)
(Image courtesy of Sponichi)
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.
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