After a bit of waiting we're now starting to see the end of Japanese cards being put together, and today we had a huge announcement from a press conference to confirm Fuji TV's December 30th card, which was announced as a world title triple header.
As had long been rumoured Masayuki Ito (24-1-1, 12) [伊藤 雅雪] will indeed be defending his title against mandatory challenger Evgeny Chuprakov (20-0, 10), in what will be Ito's first defense since winning the title in the US against Christopher Diaz.
It was actually Ito who revealed the press conference to some fans yesterday and increase anticipation or today's event. His bout with Chuprakov is a good first defense, but one that he should win, given how much Chuprakov struggled with Filipino foe Ernie Sanchez last time out, a man that Ito easily beat back in 2016.
Another world champion defending his title on the show will be the Kenshiro (14-0, 8) [拳四朗], as he defends the WBC Light Flyweight title against Saul Juarez (24-8-2, 13). The "Smiling Assassin" has had a great 2018 , which already includes stoppage wins over Ganigan Lopez and Milan Melindo, and this bout really pushes him towards the Japanese Fighter of the Year. It will be his 5th defense of the title and see him keeping up one of the busier scheduled in Japan. For Juarez the bout is a bit of an unexpected chance. Since losing to Wanheng Menayothin in August 2016 he hasn't really done much to deserve a world title shot, going 1-3-1 with losses to Leroy Estrada and Gilbero Pedroza, but few question his ability, and he should be a decent test in the ring for the excellent champion.
The least surprising was the announcement was that Takuma Inoue (12-0, 3) [井上 拓真] would be facing off with Thai Petch Sor Chitpattana (48-0, 33) [เพชร ซีพีเฟรชมาร์ท], a bout that had essentially been confirmed back at the WBC Convention earlier this year. It now appears that their bout will be for the WBC "interim" Bantamweight title, as the WBC continue to tidy up a real mess in the division. The mess has been caused by repeated failures to meet deadlines between Nordine Oubaali (14-0, 11) and American Rau'shee Warren (16-2-0-1, 4). There is still some speculation that the interim title may become the regular title if a deal still cannot be sorted between Oubaali and Warren.
Takuma, the younger brother of Naoya Inoue (17-0, 15) [井上 尚弥] is looking to move out of the shadows of the monster, a win here would certainly help him stand out in his own right, but he still has some way to go to over-take the "Monster".
This tripled header is expected to be shown full and live on Fuji TV, giving them a huge platform to kick off their end of year events early and promote RIZIN 14 for the following day, headlined by Tenshin Nasukawa [那須川天心] facing boxing superstar Floyd Mayweather Jr (50-0, 27).
This card will take place at the Ota City General Gymnasium and is expected to have a strong supporting card, though no bouts have yet been announced for it.
(Image courtesy of Sports Hochi)
Back in October we reported that WBC Minimumweight champion Wanheng Menayothin (51-0, 18) [วันเฮง ไก่ย่างห้าดาวยิม] was looking to have a stay busy bout in November, ahead of a strongly rumoured world title defense against Japan's Shin Ono (23-9-3, 6) [小野 心]. Apparently a deal to fight Ono still hasn't been signed and sealed, though is expected to be closed in the very near future.
Today we were informed that Wanheng will indeed have his stay busy bout, on November 16th against Indonesian fighter Tyson Lahagu (2-9-1, 2), who is listed on boxrec under his birth name of Mektison Marganti.
The bout with the Indonesia will be Wanheng's third bout of 2018, a year that has seen him tie Floyd Mayweather at 50-0 and then take the leader over the American, at 51-0. With this bout set to take place when it is it will move him to 52-0 before Maywather can take part in his bout with Japan's Tenshin Nasukawa [那須川天心] which may clash with the the potential Wanheng Vs Ono bout on December 31st.
Our understanding is that Panya Pradabsri (24-1, 13) will be fighting on the same card, against Dexter Alimento (13-4, 9), though we may have mistranslated that, with the hope being for Pradabsri to target a move to Light Flyweight for a bout with Kenshiro (14-0, 8) [拳四朗] in the future.
Earlier today TBS updated their website with an announcement confirming that they would, as widely assumed, be showing the yet to be officially announced WBO Super Flyweight world title fight between Kazuto Ioka (23-1, 13) [井岡一翔] and Donnie Nietes (41-1-5, 23).
TBS confirmed they would be showing a special Ninja Warrior style event from 6PM to 11:55PM with the bout between Ioka and Neites fitting into that broadcast, likely a sign they are either changing their usual year ending television event in some form from their usual year ending broadcast.
Although the bout is yet to be announced sources are hinting it will be towards the end of the broadcast.
It's worth noting that this special from TBS will be up against the recently announced RIZIN 14 event, headlined by Japanese sensation Tenshin Nasukawa [那須川天心] facing boxing superstar Floyd Mayweather Jr (50-0, 27). Given the high profile of that bout TBS may try to avoid putting Ioka head to head with the RIZIN main event.
At the moment no other bouts have been confirmed for this TBS card but there are rumours that it could be one of the most stacked cards of the year with speculation that Vic Saludar (18-3, 10) will defend the WBO Minimumweight title against Masataka Taniguchi (10-2, 7) [谷口 将隆], Hiroto Kyoguchi (11-0, 8) [京口 紘人] will fight for a Light Flyweight title, against either Angel Acosta (19-1, 19) or Hekkie Budler (32-3, 10), and that Wanheng Menayothin (51-0, 18) [วันเฮง ไก่ย่างห้าดาวยิม] may clash with Shin Ono (23-9-3, 6) [小野 心].
A full announcement is expected in the coming days of the show, and what TBS will be showing live and what will be on delay.
New Year's Eve is a day when attention turns to Japan for combat sports thanks to their traditional big end of year shows, with boxing not being the only sport to get attention over there.
Today RIZIN FF, a Japanese Mixed Martials arts company, held a press conference to announce their next show, RIZIN 14, for December 31st, and it's announced a main event which will turn heads and generate huge attention on the global scene.
The main event will be a super bout between Japanese kick boxing sensation Tenshin Nasukawa [那須川天心] and boxing superstar Floyd Mayweather Jr (50-0, 27).
The announcement wasn't just a strange one in terms of the match up but also the lack of clarity for the rules. It's unclear what rules they would be fighting under, whether they would be boxing, kickboxing, MMA or some form of mixed martial arts bout. It was also very unclear what weight the contest would be at, with Mayweather boxing at 147lbs for many of the final few years of his career whilst Nasukawa is usually fighting at 126lbs or 130lbs, meaning a big gulf in natural size between the two men.
The bout has been compared to the Muhammad Ali Vs Antonio Inoki contest, which saw the two men fight in a farcical contest when rules kept changing. We suspect that won't be the same case here, but it's certainly an odd one, and will go up against other major combat events. It is worth noting that Tenshin has been in Thailand recently sparring with professional boxers, including Nawaphon Por Chokchai (42-1, 33) [นวพล นครหลวงโปรโมชั่น].
The bout will take place at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama and so far this is the only bout announced for the card, though other fighters, including Tenshin's recent opponent Kyoji Horiguchi [堀口 恭司].
(Image courtesy of daily.co.jp)
It's fair to suggest that Tenshin Nasukawa [那須川天心] is one of the most recognisable faces in kick boxing, and is the rising kick boxing megastar, with comparisons to boxing sensation Naoya Inoue [井上 尚弥].
At the moment AbemaTV are showing a mini-series on Nasukawa and his development as a fighter. That show had a recent episode that shows the kick boxer training in Thailand.
It was revealed during the show that Nasukawa had recently been training with professional boxer Nawaphon Por Chokchai (42-1, 33) [นวพล นครหลวงโปรโมชั่น], who is currently ranked #9 by the WBC at Bantamweight. Not only that, but that he had also held his own against the experienced Thai in a sparring session at the Nakornluang gym.
This comes in the wake of Nasukawa telling the Japanese press that there is a chance he turns his hand to professional boxing in the future. Given how well her performed against Nawaphon there is perhaps some signs that he may be making the move sooner rather than later, even if it was just a training exercise at the time.
(Image courtesy of AbemaTimes)
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