Over the last few days we've seen a lot of Japanese title bouts being revealed as part of the Champion Carnival. Earlier today those bouts were set in stone as the Champion Carnival presentation took place, confirming the contests we'd reported and getting all the champions and challengers in one event.
The first of the bouts will take place on February 1st at the Dynamic Glove show, and will see Japanese Welterweight champion Yuki Nagano (17-2, 13) [永野祐樹] defending his title against mandatory challenger Keita Obara (22-4-1, 20) [小原 佳太]. This bout has been known about for weeks and is an exciting, and potentially very explosive, way to kick off the Champion Vs Challenger series. This bout will be at Korakuen Hall, where most of the title bouts will actually take place.
The second bout will take on February 13th, when Lightweight champion Shuichiro Yoshino (11-0, 9) [吉野 修一郎] defends his belt against Izuki Tomioka (7-2-1, 2) [富岡樹]. This is expected to bee a match up showing a lot of skills, from both men, though the power and physical edges with the champion does make him the favourite. This is another bout at Korakuen Hall.
It's then almost a month later until we get the next bout in the series. That'll be on March 7th, on the March Dynamic Glove, when Light Middleweight champion Hironobu Matsunaga (16-1, 10) [松永 宏信] defends his belt against Yuto Shimizu (14-4-2, 5) [清水優人] in a potentially enthralling bout. The champion will be seeking his second defense whilst Shimizu will be getting his first title fight. This will be the third successive bout at Tokyo's Korakuen Hall.
Just one day later, March 8th, we get the Flyweight bout with the heavy handed Seigo Yuri Akui (14-2-1, 10) [阿久井政悟] defending his title against Seiya Fujikita (13-4, 6) [藤北誠也]. Given Akui's style this should be an explosive bout, and one to look forward to. This was announced way back at the start of the year and will take place at the Aeon Mall mall in Okayama City, the first of the bouts outside of Tokyo.
Just a week later, March 15th, action turns to the Aioi Hall in Kariya as Light Flyweight champion Yuto Takahashi (11-4, 5) [高橋悠斗] defends against hard hitting challenger Masamichi Yabuki (10-3, 10) [佐藤政道]. This will be the first title defnense for Takahashi, and will see him entering enemy territory.
The following day, March 16th, Light Welterweight champion Koki Inoue (15-0, 12) [浩樹井上] will take on Daishi Nagata (15-2-1, 5) [永田大士] in the main event of a card at Korakuen Hall from Ohashi. This is one of the few shows where under-card details have been revealed, and it makes for a very decent looking card overall.
After a slew of fights in March we then have a bit of a break before returning on April 9th for a double header at Korakuen Hall. One of the bouts here will see Bantamweight champion Yusuke Suzuki (11-3, 7) [鈴木悠介] make his first defense, as he goes up against Kyosuke Sawada (14-2-1, 6) [澤田京介] in a rematch of a bout both men had back in 2013. The other bout on this card will see Featherweight champion Ryo Sagawa (9-1, 4) [佐川遼] make his second defense as he takes on Hinata Maruta (10-1-1, 8) [丸田陽七太], in what we feel is the standout bout from this year's Carnival.
On April 28th Super Bantamweight champion Yusaku Kuga (19-4-1, 13) [久我勇作] will defend his title against Gakuya Furuhashi (26-8-1, 14) [古橋大輔]. This bout will be Kuga's first defense since reclaiming the title last year and will be Furuhashi's third shot, at a third different champion. This bout is also set to be at Korakuen Hall.
Interestingly the Super Featherweight bout between hard hitting champion Kosuke Saka (20-5, 17) [坂晃典] and teak tough challenger Takuya Watanabe (37-9-1, 21) [渡邉卓也] is pencilled in for April in Osaka, though no date or specific venue was confirmed at today's event.
On May 16th we'll see the Super Flyweight title bout as defending champion Kenta Nakagawa (18-3-1, 12) [中川 健太] takes on Yuta Matsuo (15-4-2, 8) [松尾雄太] at the Sumida City Gymnasium in Tokyo.
No those who are eagle eyed will be aware there were some division's missing.
Firstly the Minimumweight bout hasn't yet been decided. The title is currently vacant, after Norihito Tanaka (19-7, 10) [田中教仁] returned the belt earlier this year. What we do know is that Masataka Taniguchi (12-3, 7) [谷口 将隆] will be involved in the title bout, though there is currently no opponent, date or venue for the bout.
The Middleweight title bout will see the hard hitting Kazuto Takesako (11-0-1, 11) [竹迫司登] defending his belt against Riku Kunimoto (4-0, 2) [国本陸] but this bout has no date or location set. This bout is likely to be scheduled following Takesako's bout this coming weekend against OPBF champion Shinobu Charlie Hosokawa (12-4-1, 11) [細川チャーリー忍].
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
News regarding bouts in Japan have been really slow this year, even slower than we typically see in January. Thankfully however our sources have began to send us more and more information and today we were informed of the plan for the April Diamond Glove show.
The card, which will take place at Korakuen Hall, is planned to be a Japanese title double header, and a significant part of the 2020 Champion Carnival.
One of the bouts will see Japanese Bantamweight champion Yusuke Suzuki (11-3, 7) [鈴木悠介] defending his title against mandatory challenger Kyosuke Sawada (14-2-1, 6) [澤田京介]. Interestingly this will be the second time these two men have faced off, having actually fought in 2013. Their first bout saw Suzuki defeat a then debuting Sawada, in what was Suzuki's second professional bout.
For Suzuki this will be his first defense, following his title win last July over Yuta Saito, in what was a truly brutal bout. As for Sawada the bout will be his first title bout.
The other part of the double header is a Japanese Featherweight title bout, and will see Ryo Sagawa (9-1, 4) [佐川遼] make his second defense as he takes on Hinata Maruta (10-1-1, 8) [丸田陽七太] in what is one of the standout bouts of the Champion Carnival.
Sagawa is currently riding an 8 fight winning streak, including excellent wins over Ryo Matsumoto and Reiya Abe, and is looking to build on his first defense, against Ryo Hino. As for Maruta he's looking to claim the national title in his first shot at the belt, having previously come up short in an OPBF Super Bantamweight title bout against Hidenori Otake.
At the moment no under-card details have been revealed, but given how exciting the double header is we wouldn't expect too much quality on the under-card.
Earlier today at the Korakuen Hall the East Japanese Boxing Assocation award winners for the month of July were given a chance to collect awards and speak to the crowd, who were there primarily to see the East Japan Rookie of the Year semi-finals.
The MVP for the month was OPBF Super Featherweight champion Hironori Mishiro (8-0-1, 3) [三代大訓], who retained his title with a win over the now retired Ryo Takenaka (18-5-1, 11) [竹中 良]. Mishiro retained his title by stopping Takenaka in the 8th round of their clash.
At today's ceremony Mishiro said he was pleased to have won the MVP award following successive fights and that his next bout would be in December, with more details being revealed over social media in the near future.
The Fighting Spirit award was won by Japanese Bantamweight champion Yusuke Suzuki (11-3, 7) [鈴木悠介] following his violent war with the heavy handed Yuta Saito (12-10-3, 9) [齊藤裕太]. Thankfully Saito's face, which was a mess after the bout, has healed up well. He didn't say much but did say that next time out he'll be doing his best to win the MVP award.
For those who missed the Suzuki Vs Saito bout we've included it below.
The Newcomer award won by the fact rising Light Welterweight hopeful Andy Hiraoka (14-0, 9) [平岡アンディ], who took a decision win over former world title challenger Akihiro Kondo (31-9-1, 18) [近藤 明広]. Hiraoka mentioned going overseas in the future and that he was honoured to recieve his first award. At the moment there is no future plans set in stone, but he will be announcing things in the near future through social media.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Earlier today the East Japan Boxing Assocation announced their latest monthly award winners, the winners for the month of July. It was an interesting month on the Japanese scene and every award really did have multiple fighters were in the running, for one of the best months of the year.
The MVP for the month was OPBF Super Featherweight champion Hironori Mishiro (8-0-1, 3) [三代大訓] with an 8 round win over former OPBF Featherweight champion Ryo Takenaka (18-5-1, 11) [竹中 良]. The talented Mishiro was forced to work hard early on, but turned it on in the middle rounds before breaking down his challenger and notching one of his career best wins. This was his second MVP award of the year, following his win in March, and it's clear that he is being given the right bouts to prepare for big contests down the line.
The Fighting Spirit award was won by the newly crowned Japanese Bantamweight champion Yusuke Suzuki (11-3, 7) [鈴木悠介], pictured, who was forced to wait for his shot, but made the most of it, beating Yuta Saito (12-10-3, 9) [齊藤裕太] in a violent, barn burner. Suzuki, who was badly swollen at the final bell, deserved the win, and sadly Saito would go on to confirm he was retiring, ending an incredibly fun and under-rated career. This was a huge win for Suzuki and the performance showed real fighting spirit, fighting through some severe facial damage.
The Newcomer award was claimed by Ohashi Gym's rising Light Welterweight hopeful Andy Hiraoka (14-0, 9) [平岡アンディ], who stepped up and beat former world title challenger Akihiro Kondo (31-9-1, 18) [近藤 明広] with a wide 10 round decision. This was a real test for the athletically gifted Hiraoka, who showed poise, calmness and skills in what was a statement win. Although Hiraoka can't currently face stablemate Koki Inoue for the Japanese title it does seem likely that he will get a title shot, perhaps at regional level, relatively soon and this was great preparation for the longer distances, and for adapting when he can't blow an opponent away.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Earlier today at Korakuen Hall fight fans got a treat as Yuta Saito (12-10-3, 9) [齊藤裕太] and Yusuke Suzuki (11-3, 7) [鈴木悠介] had an enthralling, hard hitting 10 round war for the Japanese Bantamweight title.
Entering the bout Saito was the champion, hunting his second defense and taking on the mandatory challenger. He had looked great in both his title win and his first defense, and despite looking drained on the scales seemed confident that his power and physical style would come out on top.
Straight from off the two men looked to land big shots. Saito was the more aggressive, but also the clumsier man, whilst Suzuki looked to use his feet, box and move and when he returned fire they were huge blows with bad intent. When Saito got inside Suzuki had to return fire and in round 4 that lead to Saito being cut from a fun to his left eye. It was a nasty cut, but the bout continued with Saito looking to get back at Suzuki for the damage.
After 5 rounds Suzuki found himself up, 48-47, on all 3 cards and fighting a man who was cut and looking like he starting to struggle with the tempo. An accidental headclash in round 6 left Saito with another cut, as Suzuki began to raise his tempo, matching Saito in a fierce up, close battle. It was becoming the type of fight Saito would have wanted, but by then Saito had lost something, just a touch, and it was Suzuki who was landing the cleaner, harder, crisper shots. He extending his lead, but taking damaging punishment himself.
After 10 rounds it was clear Suzuki, by then looking a swollen mess with a badly damaged right cheek, had done enough to win. Saito landed the more damaging shots but he was out landed, out boxed, out fought and the facial damage of Suzuki wasn't going to cost him. That was a viewed by all 3 judges who had the bout 97-93 to Suzuki.
After the bout both men seemed to suggest they couldn't put their gameplan into action, with Suzuki wanting to box more but being dragged into a way and Saito struggling with the southpaw stance of Suzuki, and Suzuki's strength and power.
Also following the contest Saito seemed to make it clear he was indeed retiring. He no complaints about the fight or result, though had previously stated his intention to retire if he lost, and that intention was echoed in post fight comments. Hopefully if he does retire he manages to have a great life outside of the sport, and following how he's fought through his career few can criticise him for what what he has given every time he has stepped in the ring.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
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