Earlier this year we reported that Katsunari Takayama [高山 勝成] had tried to make his way to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, but had fallen short and had actually failed to even qualify for the Japanese championships.
There was however another former professional who was trying something similar, former Middleweight title challenger Koji Sato [佐藤 幸治]. Unlike Takayama we saw Sato progress beyond the regional qualifiers for the All Japan championships, which begin in November 21st. It's now been confirmed that he will indeed take his place in the tournament and will look to take his next step towards an Olympic place.
Sato is known for having a short, but exciting, professional career going 20-2 (18), winning the OPBF title and losing to Felix Sturm, in 2009, and Makoto Fuchigami in 2011. Prior to turning professional he had had a strong amateur career winning 5 All Japan amateur titles, from 1999 to 2003, and will be returning to competition for the first time in 16 years.
A win here would open the door for Sato to compete at the Asia-Oceania qualifying event in January and take a massive step towards an Olympic place and a truly remarkable career comeback at the age of 38!
(Image courtesy of Sponichi)
Unbeaten Kazakh Daniyar Yeleussinov (8-0, 4) [Данияр Маратұлы Елеусінов], a 2016 Olympic gold medal winner, is now set to return on December 20th.
The talented, yet at times frustrating Kazakh, has been matched with American based Mexican born fighter Alan Sanchez (20-4-1, 10), who hasn't fought since being stopped in September 2018 by Alexander Besputin.
According to sources in Kazakhstan the bout still needs to get clearance from the local commission in Arizona, though it did appear that Yeleussinov's team were confident of getting that clearance despite Sanchez being out of the ring for over a year.
This will be Yeleussinov's 4th bout of the year, and on paper is a step up from the likes of Luis Norambuena and Reshard Hicks, though he is still a very long way from the big fights that his team were maybe expecting he'd be close to by now. On the other hand this is a good step forward and Hicks is no push over, with wins over the likes of Jorge Silva, Ed Paredas and Pablo Cesar Cano.
The bout will be on the same card as the controversial Daniel Jacobs v Julio Cesar Chavez Jr bout and the mouth watering WBC Flyweight title bout between Julio Cesar Martinez Aguilar and Cristofer Rosales.
(Image courtesy of http://instagram.com/yeleussinovdaniyar)
Earlier today WBO Flyweight champion Kosei Tanaka (14-0, 8) [田中恒成] held a special press conference to announce that he would fight again this year, making another defense of his WBO world title in December.
The talented and well regarded youngster, who has already beaten Ryoichi Taguchi and Jonathan Gonzalez in 2019, announced that he would be up against in form Chinese fighter Wulan Tuolehazi (13-3-1, 6) [乌兰] on New Year's Eve at the Ota City Gymnasium. And would be sharing a card with Kazuto Ioka (24-2, 14) [井岡一翔], who defends the WBO Super Flyweight against mandatory challenger Jeyvier Cintron (10-1-0-1, 5) on the same show.
The talented Japanese youngster, who is already a 3 weight world champion, stated that he wanted to win by KO, though it was clear his team were wary about Tuolehazi, who has been a thorn in the side of Japanese boxers recently.
The Chinese challenger has been on a tear since a 2-3 start to his professional career and is 3-0-1 (2) against Japanese fighters, with wins against Takeshi Kaneko, Ryota Yamauchi and Satoshi Tanaka. He's not the most skilled of fighters out there, but he's awkward, strong and tough, and also holds a notable win over Jayr Raquinel.
Whilst Tuolehazi has been on a roll this is will be only his second fight outside of China. Interestingly it will also be Tanaka's first world title bout in Tokyo, and sees him fight in the Kanto region for the first time in more than 5 years, having previously won the OPBF title in Tokyo in 2014 against Ryuji Hara.
One other interesting sub story here is the fact Tanaka has previously spoke about facing Ioka in the future, and this show could serve as a launchpad for that potential showdown in 2020, or whenever Tanaka moves up in weight, which is expected to be sooner rather than later.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
The exciting looking Hajime No Ippo 30th anniversary tournament kicks off tomorrow at Korakuen Hall, and one of the 3 bouts there will see Korean fighter Jae Woo Lee (6-2, 5) [이재우] battle against Japanese puncher Tsuyoshi Tameda (21-4-2, 19) [溜田剛士]. On paper this seen as being a bit of a mismatch in favour of the more experienced Tameda, but in reality Lee can bang and we suspect this could be a very, very explosive match up.
Today the two fighters took part in the weigh in for their bout, and both men made the Featherweight limit with no issues at all.
On the scales Tameda was 125.66lbs and looked in great shape, as he always does. The Ohashi gym slugger is regarded as one of the tournament favourites, and Lee is really seen as a major outsider, given inactivity due to injury and this tournament being fought outside of his homeland.
Lee also made weight very easily, coming in at 125lbs. He, like Tameda, looked in great shape and seemed to be inspired by the link to Hajime No Ippo and had been impressed by footage of Tameda.
For fans unable to make it to Korakuen Hall tomorrow the show will be aired live on Boxing Raise.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
This coming Tuesday fight fans in Tokyo, and users of the Boxing Raise service, get a mid-week show of note thanks to the Hajime No Ippo tournament, which kicks off tomorrow at Korakuen Hall.
The 7 man tournament will begin in earnest tomorrow with 3 quarter-final bouts, one of which will see Shingo Kusano (11-8-1, 4) [草野慎悟] battle Chinese visitor Qiang Ma (5-1-2, 3) [马强]. Ahead of their bout the two men took part in their weigh in and both men made the Featherweight limit today.
On the scales Ma was 125.22lbs whilst Kusano was bang on the Featherweight limit.
Ma spoke confidently of of his chances, saying he would be aggressive and and was very confident in his left hook. Kusano also sounded confident and, like Ma, suggested his aggression was going to be the key.
Whilst this bout is probably the least highly anticipated of the 3 quarter-finals, it is potentially the most evenly matched and the most exciting of them, with their styles expected to gel and make for an all action war.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
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