Just over a week ago we reported that Tsubasa Koura (14-0, 9) [小浦 翼] would be making his next defense of the OPBF Minimumweight title against Filipino challenger Lito Dante (15-10-4, 7) on March 31st in Kanagawa. At the time details on specifics weren't available though now we have seen more information come out about the show.
The bout will indeed be held on a Dangan card, but it's a Dangan and E&J Cassius Gym joint promoted show, with the event being held to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the E&J Cassius Gym, run by Cassius Naito. The venue of the show in Yokohama has also been selected due to it being an historical place of for Japanese boxing, with one of the first gyms being there and other events being held in and around Yokohama back then.
As well Koura's bout it has also been announced that Mirai Naito (6-1, 2) [内藤 未来] will feature in the main supporting bout whilst his older brother Rikki Naito (23-2, 7) [内藤 律樹] will participate in a sparring session. Both Naito and Rikki are son's of promoter Cassius.
A more complete look at the show is expected in the coming weeks, with Mirai Naito's opponent being named and Rikki Naito's sparring partner.
Earlier today the OPBF twitter account revealed that Tsubasa Koura (14-0, 9) [小浦 翼] would be making his next defense of the OPBF Minimumweight title on March 31st in Kanagawa, against Filipino challenger Lito Dante (15-10-4, 7).
On paper this looks like an horrific mismatch, an unbeaten and destructive youngster taking on someone who looks to be little more than a journeyman. The reality however is that, at the very least, Koura should be able to get some good rounds under his belt.
The unbeaten champion, 24, hasn't been in the ring since beating Daiki Tomita last September and fought just 17 rounds last year. He also only fought 18 rounds in 2017 and clearly needs some more ring time.
Dante, 28, has lost a significant number of bouts but has never been stopped, and has shown real durability. He has lost decisions to the likes of Vic Saludar, twice, Simpiwe Koncko and Jesse Espinas. Although often a clear loser he is a handful.
For fans interesting this bout will take place at the Osanbashi Hall, Yokohama, Kanagawa, with an under-card expected to be announced shortly. At the moment however the promoter hasn't been announced, though we suspect it could be a Dangan card, which will likely mean it'll be available on the Boxingraise service.
Back in November we saw WBA Minimumweight champion Knockout CP Freshmart (19-0, 7) [น็อคเอาท์ ซีพีเฟรชมาร์ท] make his latest defense, over-coming mandatory challenger Byron Rojas in what was a tiresome, frustrating and forgettable bout. It wasn't exciting, but it did show how good Knockout was at shutting down an aggressive, world level, and naturally bigger opponent.
Today news have broke from Thailand stating the that Thai will be back in the ring in late March to make his next defense of the title.
At the moment the details are scarce, with no opponent being announce and no explicit date being set, though the options are the 28th and 29th of March. Though it was revealed that the bout would be in Chachoengsao Province and would be his 7th defense of the title.
We're expecting an announcement on opponent to come in the next few weeks, though sadly the WBA rankings, on the whole, are less than amazing. The best option would be Tsubasa Koura (14-0, 9) [小浦 翼] though we don't imagine that being the option that Knockout's team take.
Despite gong 3-0 last year the Thai world champion did lose a lot of momentum, with poor bouts against both Rojas and Xiong Zhao Zhong. It feels like he will need a good performance in the near future if he's wanting to get fans back onside, though of course as an unbeaten world champion it's possible that just keeping the title is more important than anything in regards to fan enjoyment of his bouts.
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.
Earlier today WBC Minimumweight champion Wanheng Menayothin (52-0, 18) [วันเฮง ไก่ย่างห้าดาวยิม] recorded a stay busy win against Indonesian visitor Tyson Lahagu (2-10-1, 2). Following that bout Wanheng's team have revealed that their man is expected to return to the ring in spring next year to make his 11th defense of the title.
According to Wanheng's team the their man will defend his belt against OPBF Minimumweight champion Tsubasa Koura (14-0, 9) [小浦 翼] and will take place in Japan, in April, with a deal expected to be fully in place by the end of January.
Originally it was assumed that Koura would fight in a world title eliminator with South African Simphiwe Khonco (19-5, 7), but it now appears that Koura's team have pursued a direct title fight instead.
For those who haven't seen Koura's he is, on paper, one of the best challenger's Wanheng will have faced, and he's still a maturing, developing fighter, not someone who peaked and slipped by the time Wanheng faced them. Despite being 52-0 Wanheng may not actually the favourite, with Koura being a live contender, and with home advantages Koura really could announce himself on the world stage.
Sadly we've heard Wanheng fighting abroad before, so we do take this with a pinch of salt, but it does seem clear that the fighter and his team are wanting to travel outside of Thailand for big fights, and a fight with Koura in Japan would be a very good international debut for the unbeaten world champion.
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