Back in June we saw a Japanese Bantamweight title bout between Suguru Muranaka (26-3-1, 8) [村中 優] and Yuta Saito [齊藤裕太] falling apart at the 11th hour with Muranaka being taken to hospital due to issues making weight. Sadly Muranaka this wasn't a one off, and his issues with making weight had really plagued his career in recent years, forcing him to be stripped of the Japanese Flyweight title, then having issues making weight in subsequent bouts.
With the inability to weigh in against Saito it appears the Japanese Boxing Commission (JBC) have had enough of Muranaka's issues and today, following a meeting related to the JBC rankings, they announced that they were indefinitely suspending Muranaka.
The JBC have made it clear this year they will not accept fighters missing weight any more. Muranaka is the third fighter, this year, to be given an indefinite suspension, following Daigo Higa [比嘉 大吾] and Luis Nery, who both failed to make weight earlier this year.
Unfortunately for Muranaka, who is best known internationally for losing in a WBA Super Flyweight bout to Kal Yafai, he is now 33 years old. He's not a youngster like Higa and Nery who can take their punishment and come back with most of their career ahead of them. Instead Muranaka's career is possibly now over. He will have to regain the JBC's trust, and hope that they end the suspension sooner rather than later. Sadly however it's likely that the JBC will want to make an example of Muranaka due to the multiple time that he's missed weight already.
The Japanese Bantamweight title has been held by some national boxing icons, though this year it has been dragged through the mud and has seemingly been cursed with 3 title bouts now being cancelled this year! With the most recent, which was set to take place tomorrow, being cancelled due to Suguru Muranaka (26-3-1, 8) [村中 優] being taken to hospital, before he was supposed to weigh in to face Yuta Saito (10-9-3, 7) [齊藤裕太].
The title had been vacated back in January when Ryo Akaho (31-2-2, 20) [赤穂 亮] was forced to pull out of a bout against Yusuke Suzuki (9-3, 6) [鈴木悠介], in a similar though not identical circumstances. Suzuki was himself injured before a scheduled fight with Muranaka in April.
Now logically, though when does boxing use logic, a match up between Suzuki and Saito would make sense though it's unclear if that's now the option the JBC have in mind.
Sadly for Muranaka this could essentially end his career. He has had weight issues in the past, failing to make weight several times including failing to make the Flyweight limit for a defense of the Japanese Flyweight title. Failing to make weight for that bout really was the start of Muranaka's problems and since then he has suffered two suspensions. It's now hard to see the JBC giving him any more chances, especially given their crack down on fighters failing to make weight this year.
(Image of Saito courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Back in January Ryo Akaho (31-2-2, 20) [赤穂 亮] vacated the Japanese Bantamweight belt due to health reasons, cancelling a scheduled defense of the title. Originally the vacancy was set to be filled on April 12th with a scheduled bout between Yusuke Suzuki (9-3, 6) [鈴木悠介], who was supposed to originally face Akaho in January, and former world title challenger Suguru Muranaka (26-3-1, 8) [村中 優]. Sadly that bout was cancelled when Suzuki suffered an injury in trainer, and the title has remained vacant since.
Today it was announce that the title would have it's vacancy filled on June 22nd, with Muranaka facing off with Yuta Saito (10-9-3, 7) [齊藤裕太] for the title at the Korakuen Hall.
For Muranaka, a former Japanese Flyweight champion, this bout gives him a chance to become a 2-weight national champion. His reign as the Flyweight champion ended in 2015, when Muranaka was stripped for being unable to make the weight, and since then he has bounced between Super Flyweight and Bantamweight with his world title fight coming last year against WBA Super Flyweight champion Kal Yafai. The loss to Yafai is Muranaka's only defeat since a 2006 loss to Tomoya Kaneshiro and he has since bounced back from the Yafai fight with a victory over domestic foe Ken Achiwa.
Coming into this fight Saito is ranked #4 by the JBC but has notably lost his last 2 and is win-less since April 2016, when he defeated Corrales Kawashimo. In his last 3 bouts Saito has fought to a draw with Tatsuya Takahashi, been stopped by the aforementioned Akaho in a title fight and lost at Super Bantamweight to Naoya Okamoto. Against Akaho he put up an excellent fight, but was eventually stopped in the 9th round, whilst level on two of the score cards. It was a performance that kept him in consideration for another title fight.
Despite his form Saito has managed to get a title fight due to the bizarre situation with Akaho and Suzuki, and the fact that the originally rumoured opponent for Muranaka, Seizo Kono (19-10-1, 12) [高野誠三] lost earlier this month to Kazuki Tanaka (9-1, 6) [田中一樹],and would need some time to recovering the hard bout with Tanaka.
The Japanese Bantamweight title has been vacant since January, when Ryo Akaho (31-2-2, 20) [赤穂 亮] vacated the belt due to health reasons.
Originally Akaho was supposed to defend the belt against Yusuke Suzuki (9-3, 6) [鈴木悠介] but due to the health issues Akaho was forced to pull out of the bout. That pull out lead to Suzuki being scheduled to face former world title challenger Suguru Muranaka (26-3-1, 8) [村中 優] for the vacant belt on April 12th.
Sadly it appears the title will remain vacant for a continued amount of time as Suzuki has now had to pull out of the April 12th date as he has suffered an injury in training.
The details of the injury aren't yet widely reported, and it's unclear whether the bout will be rescheduled or whether Muranaka will end up fighting someone else for the title further down the line. What is known however is that this injury is a big hit so Suzuki's career, and sees him further stall on getting his hands on the Japanese title.
We do however know that the show will continue, and fans will get a title double header, with WBO Asia Pacific Featherweight champion Richard Pumicpic (20-8-2, 6) defending his title against against Yoshimitsu Kimura (9-0, 6) [木村吉光] and WBO Asia Pacific Welterweight champion Keita Obara (19-2-1, 17) [小原 佳太] defending his title against Filipino challenger Alvin Lagumbay (9-2, 8).
Last month we reported that Yusuke Suzuki (9-3, 6) [鈴木悠介] would be facing off with former world title challenger Suguru Muranaka (26-3-1, 8) [村中 優] for the vacant Japanese Bantamweight title in April. Ysterday saw alot more details about that bout being revealed, and we now know that it will be part of a very interesting triple header.
It was revealed that the bout would take place on April 12th, at the Korakuen Hall and would be joined by two WBO Asia Pacific title bouts.
One of those regional title contests will see Richard Pumicpic (20-8-2, 6) defending the Featherweight title against Yoshimitsu Kimura (9-0, 6) [木村吉光], with Kimura taking a massive step up in class to face "The Beast". Although the bout is likely made to be a coming out fight for Kimura the reality is that Pumicpic is a total nightmare for anyone.
The third title bout will see former world title challenger Keita Obara (19-2-1, 17) [小原 佳太] defending his WBO Asia Pacific Welterweight title for the second titme. At the moment Obara's opponent hasn't been named, but the bout is expected to help Obara move towards his second world title fight, potentially later this year.
The show is being held under the "Diamond Glove" banner, so should have some delayed television coverage on Fuji TV.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
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