At Minimumweight we get a really brilliant fight as the unbeaten pairing of Masataka Taniguchi (6-0, 4) [谷口 将隆] and Reiya Konishi (12-0, 5) [小西 伶弥] fight for the vacant title. The bout will take place on April 3rd in Kobe, giving Konishi the home advantage but Taniguchi does look liek the more proven fighter, despite being less experienced.
At Light Flyweight we'll see Ken Shiro (9-0, 5) [拳 四朗] defending his title against veteran Tetsuya Hisada (27-9-2, 17) [久田 哲也]. The bout hasn't yet gota set date but willtake place in Osaka, and is likely to be Ken Shiro's final defence before going after a world title later in the year. For Hisada this will be his first shot at a title.
The Flyweight division will see Masayuki Kuroda (25-7-3, 15) [黒田 雅之] battle against Yuta Matsuo (12-2-1, 6) [ユータ松尾] for the interim title. The interim title has been made available here as current champion Takuya Kogawa (28-4, 13) [粉川 拓也] is recovering from an injury he suffered last year, and he will be mandated to face the winner of this bout. For Matsuo it's a first title bout whilst Kuroda will be looking to claim a Japanese Flyweight title at his third attempt.
Super Flyweight champion Kenta Nakagawa (13-2-1, 9) [中川 健太] will make his first defence as he takes on Ryuichi Funai (26-7, 18) [船井 龍一]. This bout is pencilled in for the Korakuen Hall on March 22nd and will see Funai getting his third shot at a title, his second for the Japanese crown.
The vacant Bantamweight title will be up for grabs in a bout between Ryo Akaho (29-2-2, 19) [赤穂 亮] and Yushi Tanaka (19-1-3, 13) [田中 裕士]. Akaho, a former world title challenger, is fighting in his second Japanese title fight following a draw in a 2009 fight with Daigo Nakahiro for the Japanese Super Flyweight title. For Tanaka it's a second shot at the Bantamweight crown following a defeat last year to Kentaro Masuda. These two will face off on March 10th at the Korakuen Hall.
We've long known about the Super Bantamweight title bout which will take place on February 4th and see Yasutaka Ishimoto (29-8, 8) [石本 康隆] facing the heavy handed Yusaku Kuga (13-2-1, 9) [久我 勇作]. This is a rematch between these two men who had a great fight in 2015, with Ishimoto claiming a narrow but thrilling decision win.
At Featherweight we'll see Shota Hayashi (28-5-1, 17) [林 翔太] make his secon defence as he battles against the hard hitting Kosuke Saka (15-3, 12) [坂晃典]. For Hayashi this bout will be a chance to build on a big 2016 but he's up against a real dangerman in Saka, who has stopped his last 7 opponents including Ryuto Kyoguchi, Tetsuya Nishinaga, Burning Ishii and Takafumi Nakajima. This bout is set to take place in either March or May in Nagaoya and could well come with the next bout of Kosei Tanaka.
In the Super Featherweight division we get a rematch as reigning chanmpion Kenichi Ogawa (20-1, 16) [尾川 堅一] battles against Satoru Sugita (12-3-4, 7) [杉田 聖], in a rematch of a bout from last year's Charmpion Carnival. The bout will be Ogawa's 4th defence and he will be looking for a better performance than he had last time against Sugita, whilst the challenger will be seeking an upset here. This bout is expected to take place in March at the Korakune Hall.
As reported yesterday Lightweight champion Shuhei Tsuchiya (22-4, 18) [土屋 修平] will be defending his title against Kazuhiro Nishitani (16-4-1, 8) [西谷 和宏] on March 4th. The bout will be Tsuchiya's first defence whilst Nishitani will be getting his second shot at a title following a 2015 bout with Kota Tokunaga.
Another bout we've known about for sometime is the Light Welterweight clash between Koichi Aso (20-7-1, 13) [麻生 興一] and Kazuki Matsuyama (13-7-1, 7) [松山 和樹], who will face off on February 9th at the Korakuen Hall. The bout will see Aso getting a third shot at the title, following two losses to Hiroki Okada, whilst Matsuyama will get his first title fight.
At Welterweight we'll see heavy handed champion Toshio Arikawa (14-4, 12) [有川 稔男] battle against Daisuke Sakamoto (13-8-3, 8), who actually holds a win over the champion. Arikawa will be seeking his second defence here and looking to continue a destructive run but Sakamoto will feel confident of repeating his previous win over the champion. This bout is pencilled in for April 17th at the Korakuen Hall.
The Light Middleweight title bout will see defending champion Yuki Nonaka (31-8-3, 10) [野中 悠樹] defending his title in Osaka against fellow veteran Koshinmaru Saito (23-8-2, 13) [斉藤 幸伸丸]. The bout will take place in March or April and see Nonaka seek a 7th defence whilst Saito will be looking to claim a title in his 8th title shot!
The Middleweight bout sees a unification taking place as Hikaru Nishida (15-8-1, 7) [西田 光] returns from injury to defend his "regular" title against "interim" champion Tomohiro Ebisu (17-4, 17) [胡 朋宏]. Ebisu won the interim title back on December 24th as he stopped Makoto Fuchigami in a late Japanese FOTY contender, when Nishida was out of action due to injury. For Nishida the bout is a tough ask on his return but should be a thriller with two men who have styles that should gel brilliantly. This bout will take place May 1st at the Korakuen Hall.
As well the fact there are 13 Japanese titles up for grabs their will also be financial rewards. The MVP will earn a bonus of ¥300,000 whilst the winner of the Skills and Fighting awards will net themselves ¥100,000 each.
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)