Last week we looked at some little known facts of Japanese boxing, and today we're going to follow that up with a similar article, this time focusing on the often overlooked women of Japanese boxing, who also have some interesting records of their own!
1-Momo Koseki holds the Japanese record for most world title defenses, with 17. That's not just a female record but a Japanese record, with Koseki defending the WBC Atomweight title 17 times from August 2008, when she won the belt, to her final defense in November 2016. During her reign she also won the WBA Atomweight title beating Ayaka Miyao. The run included 1 wins and a draw and included victories over almost every notable Atomweight of the time, including Nao Ikeyama, Saemi Hanagata and Miyao. She eventually gave up the belt and in 2017, in what was her final bout, she became a 2-weight champion.
2-The oldest Japanese world champion was Nao Ikeyama, who lost the WBO Atomweight title on July 29th 2018, 48 years, 10 months and 9 days. She not only holds the record for the oldest Japanese world champion when she lost the title, but also when she won it, winning the belt at 44 years 7 months and 29 days, and she has the trifecta as she also holds the record for being the oldest for a successful world title defense, coming when she was 47 years, 9 months and 23 days.
3-The Japanese record for the fewest fights to a female world title is a disputed record with 3 different claimants depending on definition.
The fewest fights, as recognised by the JBC, sees Momo Koseki holding the record with 3 sanctioned bouts, however she had fought several times in Thailand prior to that in bouts not recognised by the JBC. Similarly Naomi Togashi the "interim" WBC female Light Flyweight title in her third bout recognised by the JBC, though of course that's an interim title. Togashi would however receive the full version of the title before her 6th professional bout.
The record, as seen on boxrec, is actually held by Kasumi Saeki, who won the WBO female Minimumweight title in her 4th professional bout earlier this year. All of her bouts came after the JBC officially recognised female boxing and there is no confusion over the legitimacy of her bouts or title win.
4-The shortest recorded height of a Japanese female fighter is Yuri Kobayashi, who was 4′ 10½″, or 149cm. She fought from 2006 to 2017 and racked up a 4-4-4 record. Interestingly she is taller than Kazunori Tenryu, who was the shortest Japanese male to fight in a professional bout.
5-The Japanese fighter to win world titles in the most divisions is Naoko Fujioka, who is Japan's only 5 weight world champion. The talented Fujioka began her career at Minimumweight, winning the WBC female Minimumweight title in 2011, when she stopped Anabel Ortiz. She would skip all the way up to Super Flyweight for her second title, dethroning Naoko Yamaguchi in 2013 for the WBA female Super Flyweigth title. Her third title came at Bantamweight, when she captured the WBO female Bantamweight title. Her 5th title saw her dropping to Flyweight, to claim the WBA title in 2017 against Isabel Milan, before dropping down to Light Flyweight for the WBO towards the end of 2017.
Interestingly Fujioka didn't take a Flyweight title until her third shot, losing to both Susi Kentikian and Jessica Chavez in bouts for titles at 112lbs.
Over the last few years we've seen a growing number of fighters being put on the fast track to the top, and they've genuinely come from across the globe. We've had Japanese fighters like Naoya Inoue and Kosei Tanaka, Thai's like Knockout CP Freshmart, Ukrainians like Vasyl Lomachenko and Oleksandr Usyk as well as Russian based fighter Dmitry Bivol. Whilst not all fast tracked fighters get the success they are looking for, with Lu Bin and Mark Anthony Barriga both coming up short recently, it's been an exciting period to see prospects raced to success.
As well as those who have had chances straight away we've also seen a number of fighters having to wait, though looking like they could be hot shotted straight into the title picture, the likes of Israil Madrimov seemed like they could compete best in the world straight away. Win or lose it's hard to imagine someone like Madrimov wouldn't at least be competitive with someone like Tony Harrison, and that's not us trying to be disrespectful to "Super Bad".
It got us thinking, who has fought for a world title on debut? And how have they done? And if we're being honest our research showed more fighters than expected had actually gotten a shot, with one notable success having done better than just fight for a title but also win it!
Surprisingly from 8 examples we found 5 were from Asia, with the other 3 coming from across America.
The most notable example, and the first we found, was US Heavyweight Pete Radamacher, who made his professional debut in 1957.
The then 28 year old Rademacher had won an Olympic gold medal in 1956 and had amassed a reported amateur record of 72-7. His route to an Olympic gold medal had seen him stop all 3 of his opponents, and do so in a combined 6 rounds before he headed to the professional ranks. On debut, on August 22nd 1957, he faced off with the then 32-1 Floyd Patterson, the Heavyweight champion of the world!
The bout was widely seen as a mismatch, though Rademacher did have success and dropped Patterson in the second round. Sadly however Rademacher was unable to build on that and Patterson roared back, dropping the challenger a total of 7 times before scoring a KO towards the end of round 6.
Despite losing on debut Rademacher would go on to have a pretty good career, going 15-7-1 (8). Those numbers however don't do credit to what he did, with wins over LaMar Clark, a real fraud, George Chuvalo and Bobo Olson, whilst being matched insanely tough through his career. His losses came not only to Patterson but also Zora Folley, Brian London, Doug Jones, Archie Moore and Karl Mildenberger.
The Controversial Lovera
It would be 18 years until we had another debutant challenger, with Paraguayan Rafael Lovera fighting for the WBC Light Flyweight title against Luis Estaba on September 13 1975.
The title had been stripped from Italian Franco Udella, who refused to fight Lovera. Udella had become the inaugural champion in April 1975, beating Valentin Martinez for the title. For some reason the WBC allowed Lovera to fight for the belt, though he was stopped in 4 rounds by Estaba. Estaba himself would go on to hold the belt until 1978, when he was stopped by Freddy Castillo, having had 11 defenses of the belt. Lovera would never return to the ring, retiring 0-1.
1984 see the IBF do a double
Interestingly 1984 saw two different debutant challengers, at least we think so.
We say that because the first of those was Indonesian fighter Joko Arter, and it's impossible to be 100% about Indonesian records. What is known is that Arter was the second Indonesian to fight for a world title, following Thomas Americo, and didn't fair very well in what is thought to be his only professional bout.
The debuting Arter took on Korean fighter Min Keun Oh on March 4th 1984 in a bout for the newly created IBF Featherweight title, and he was stopped in 2 rounds by the Korean. We've not been able to find any other bouts featuring Arter afterwards, though we do know that Keun's reign was regarded as a very disappointing one, and he lost in his third defense.
Interestingly Joko's brother, Dobrak Arter, would go on to have significantly longer career, though his record, like that of Joko is pretty unclear, with reports being that he fought over 80 times, whilst Boxrec have only 23 of his bouts in their database.
Exactly 5 months after Arter lost we have the year's other debutant challenger, Filipino Joves De La Puz. The Filipino took on Japan's influential Satoshi Shingaki in a bout for the IBF Bantamweight title, in what was Shingaki's first defense, and came close to shocking the boxing world, losing a narrow split decision to Shingaki over 15 rounds.
The bout, which was held in Japan, really is an oddity in lots of ways, not just the debut challenge but it was also the first time a Japanese fighter had defended an IBF title on Japanese soil, under the auspices of the renegade IBF Japan outfit. Sadly it appears Puz, like many others on this list, never actually returned to the ring, and he needs to go down as a real "what could have been?" given that a close loss to Shingaki, over 15 rounds, shows there was something about him.
More IBF mess, this time Minimumweight
We stay with the IBF and the IBF Japan for the next debutant title challenger, Masaharu Kawakami. On June 14th 1987 Kawakami fought Kyung Yung Lee in the inaugural IBF Miniumweight title bout, losing in 2 rounds to Lee.
Unlike a number of fighters on this list Kawakami would actually go on to fight further bouts, losing by stoppage 6 months later to Romero Opriasa and then in 1990 to Joe Constantino. However their is a huge asterix to his name when it comes to this, for several reasons. Firstly the graphic on the screen for the bout suggests Kawakami has an 88% stoppage rate and secondly Kawakami had been scheduled to fight in a professional bout prior to face Lee, though that bout was turned into to an exhibition with details regarding the bout being very sketchy. Sadly we've not been able to find in depth details on that contest, but it certainly appears there was something very odd about Kawakami's entire career.
We stick with the IBF for the next debutant challenger, Domingus Siwalette, who fought for the IBF Minimumweight title against Ratanapol Sor Vorapin on September 26th 1993. Siwalette, like Joko Arter, was an Indonesian fighter so we're not totally sure on his professional record, though the suggestion is that this was his professional debut, with their being a struggle for qualified fighters at the weight at the time.
Siwalette was stopped in the 4th round by the Thai world champion and began what was a disappointing career. Like Kawakami he did continue to fighter after his loss, and like Kawakami there is no record, at the time of writing, of him ever scoring a win. Instead Siwalette went 0-10 in his career, losing 3 of his 10 bouts by stoppage. That sounds amazingly bad, though his competition is actually pretty scary. Not only was he beat by Ratanapol, but also Fahlan Sakkreerin Jr, Pichitnoi Sithbanprachan and Muhammad Rachman. In just 10 recorded bouts he fought 4 fighters who would hold world titles!
The last man
Only a few months after Siwalette's shot we saw the most recent male debutant world title challenger, Arturo Mayan. Mayan, a Mexican fighter, would get his world title shot on January 7th 1994, when he challenged Puerto Rican Alex Sanchez, and was stopped in 90 seconds in Spain. Sanchez, the then WBO Minimumweight champion was making his first defense, just weeks after winning the title, and would actually go on to make quite a few defenses before coming undone in 5 rounds against the legendary Ricardo Lopez.
Mayan's 90 second loss to Sanchez was the Mexican's only bout, and in fact his career is the shortest of any world title challenger, by quite some margin in fact.
The Solitary Success Story
The most recent world title debutant, that we could find, came in 2008 and was actually female fighter Hyun Mi Choi, a North Korean refugee who is now based in South Korea. Choi did what none of the men could, and ended actually winning the WBA female Featherweight title on her debut, as she defeated Chunyan Xu by unanimous decision on October 11th 2008. Impressively she did this at the age of 17!
Choi no only won her world title debut but then went on to defend it. In fact she made 7 defenses before moving up to to become a 2-weight world champion, adding the WBA female Super Featherweight title to her collection.
Notably Choi has run up wins over a number of good fighters, including Claudia Andrea Lopez, Sandy Tsagouris, Fujin Raika, Diana Ayala and Mayra Alejandra Gomez. At the moment her record stands at 16-0-1 (4), and is set to make her next defense on June 29th, against Japanese challenger Wakako Fujiwara.
Given we are more than 20 years removed from the last male debutant world title challenger it's unlikely we're set to see another any time soon, if ever, though with the rise in female boxing we really wonder if we will, some day soon, see someone match Choi's incredible debut achievement.
(Image courtesy of Ohashi Gym, boxrec and the KBA)
One thing we've discovered from our time on the internet is that everyone likes a good list, so here's one looking at some unique and interesting facts from Japanese boxing. For this list we've tried to stay away from the ultra-obvious for the most part. So with that said, hopefully something on this list will be something you've not heard or read before!
1- Tsuneo "Piston" Horiguchi has the record for the most fights and most wins in Japanese boxing history. His career, which began in 1933 and ended in 1950, just 6 months before his death, saw him rack up an incredible 142 wins from 183 fights!
To put his activity into some perspective, it would have be almost 11 fights a year had those years been normal years. Of course, they weren't normal years, with World War 2 coming right in middle of his career, leading to him fight just twice in 1944 and not at all in 1945. Meaning on average, he fought way more than 11 times a year, with his busiest year being 1946, where he fought 20 times...with the first of those fights coming on May 1st of that year!*
If you're interested in learning more about Horiguchi we did actually stumble on a documentary on him, in Japanese, which can be seen here The story of Piston Horiguchi
2-Jiro Sawada is thought to be the youngest Japanese fighter to score a professional victory, in Japan. The youngster was assumed to be 15 years, 10 months and 5 days old when he beat Jiro Kumagai in May 1954. There is some dispute over this, due to his birth records being lost in the war, though his reported date of birth is July 23rd 1938.
Although this record appears to stand for Japanese fighters on Japanese soil, it's actually been broken by fighters fighting outside of Japan. For example, Ryuto Maekawa was 15 years, 3 months and 19 days old when he won his debut in Thailand in 2011. Given how many fighters fight outside of Japan it's hard to really be sure of the youngest age for those who score a win away from home, though it's hard to believe many have done so younger than Maekawa.
If Sawada's birth date is right, he is also the youngest Japanese fighter to win an OPBF title, winning the Lightweight title before his 18th birthday.
3-The shortest recorded bout in Japanese boxing history was an all debutant affair that saw Daiki Saito take out Yasuyuki Hoshino in just 8 seconds back in 2005. This goes down as one of the shortest ever fights in boxing history, never mind Japanese boxing history, and can be seen in full underneath this article.
Bizarrely Saito would fight just once more, 4 months later when he fought to a draw, whilst Yoshino would compile a 5-5-1 (4) record, before ending his career in 2013.
4-Kazunori Tenryu, also known as Kazunori Denju, is reported to be the shortest Japanese male boxer, standing at 4'9", or just 145cm. He is a man of a few interesting historical footnotes, including being the first ever Japanese Light Flyweight champion, winning the belt in 1975 and essentially monopolising the title from 1975 to 1980, before losing to future world champion Tadashi Tomori.
Whilst Tenryu would dominate the domestic scene he sadly came up short in world and OPBF title fights, and would really only leave a mark on the Japanese scene during an 8 year career that saw him run up a 29-7-3 record. That doesn't look great though his losses were mostly to world class fighters, including Tomori, Shigeo Nakajima, Jaime Rios, and Sung Jun Kim.
5-Eijiro Kuruma really loved the Japanese Featherweight title! We often seen fighters jumping through the weight classes to claim a second or third title, for Eijiro Kuruma however there was seemingly only one title he ever wanted. The Japanese Featherweight title. He is the only man in Japanese boxing history to win the same national title 4 times. Yes he is a 4-time National Featherweight champion!
Kuruma would win the belt for the first time in January 1983, would start his second reign in March 1984, his third reign in August 1985 and his final reign in August 1986. His only bout for any other title came in a loss to OPBF Featherweight champion Sung Yun Kim in November 1986, in what was Kuruma's final bout.
Please let us know if these types of articles are something you're interested in as we're happy to provide more of this time of thing in the future and shine a little light on more small fact of boxing history!
*There is some dispute about Horiguchi's record, and the official Japanese records suggest that the most fights in a year record is held by Iwao Hakamada at 19. Hakamada's record should be noted as the JBC record though, with Horiguchi's record pre-dating the JBC which was created in 1952.
Over the last few years Teiken's dominance of the Japanese scene has really under threat and as we right this they currently have no world champions at the gym and only a pair of domestic champions. It wasn't that long ago that fighters like Shinsuke Yamanaka, Roman Gonzalez, Jorge Linares, Takashi Miura, and Carlos Cuadras all holding, or in the mix for, world titles. Now their hopes at the top level essentially lie with Ryota Murata, who will know a loss in July ends his career, the beyond their best trio of Gonzalez, Linares and Cuadras, who are all still in the mix, but not the fighters they once were, and Kenichi Ogawa.
Worryingly all of the names so far mentioned are 30 or above, and most of them are seen as being on the slide.
It would be easy to suggest the Teiken gym is now longer a leading gym in Japan. The likes of the Watanabe Gym and the Ohashi Gym seem to have over-taken it in recent years, and the gym hasn't replaced their faded stars. That however would be partially wrong. The gym isn't done as a top gym, what has happened however is that their transitional stage to the next generation of top fighters, has been delayed some what.
What we mean by that is that instead of having ready made replacements for their faded stars the gym really missed out on a generation of talent. They failed to secure the youngsters who were part of the current generation of stars. The likes of Naoya Inoue and Kenshiro and Hiroto Kyoguchi and Kosei Tanaka took other options, and didn't ink deals with the Teiken gym. Sometimes the reason was obvious, such as location or gym owner, and other times it wasn't, but what is clear is that the top Japanese fighters of today saw other avenues, and went their own way.
That left Teiken needing to chase the next wave of fighters, and that's exactly what they've done, signing 3 top Japanese amateurs in the last 18 or so months, and developing some lesser talents as well. They have essentially had to play catch up with the rival gyms since Yamanaka retired, and they have done so in a manner that could end up having them back on top of the Japanese scene in the coming years.
Before we look at their top prospects it's worth looking at both of their current national champions. They are Super Featherweight Masaru Sueyoshi (19-1-1, 11) and Welterweight Yuki Nagano (16-2, 12). Interestingly neither of these were amateur standouts, Sueyoshi managed to go 21-8 in the amateurs before competing in the 2012 Rookie of the Year, losing to Masayuki Ito. Nagano on the other hand won the 2015 Rookie of the Year. Both have developed from Rookies to national champions, and that leads us to one of the top Teiken prospects, one who doesn't have a strong amateur backing but has excited fans.
Super Flyweight hopeful Hayate Kaji (12-0, 9), like Sueyoshi and Nagano, came through the Rookie of the Year. In fact Kaji won the Super Flyweight competition on the same day that Nagano won the Welterweight competition, in 2015, winning the final in just his 4th professional bout. Sadly since that Rookie triumph Kaji hasn't shone like many suspected, and despite maintaining his unbeaten record the 21 year old has shown signs of ill discipline, and disappointing performances, especially his 2017 clash with Jun Blazo. Those poor performances, added to blow outs against some horribly over-matched competition, has seen Kaji essentially put on the back burner, with his team clearly focused on getting him experience before getting him a title fight. That's a risky approach for the youngster, who needs to be tested, but he is a big hope for the gym, with an exciting style and vicious power, and time well and truly on his side.
Whilst Kaji is clearly a prospect to keep an eye on the more interesting thing about the Teiken gym is a trio of former amateur standouts, who are just beginning their professional careers but all 3 are marked, already, for something huge.
They are Mikito Nakano (2-0, 2), Kuntae Lee (1-0, 1) and Shokichi Iwata (2-0, 1) who only 5 pro fights between but can already be regarded as 3 of the brightest hopes in Japanese boxing, and at the time of writing all 3 are 23 years old.
The oldest of the 3, by a few months, is Nakano a southpaw competing in the Featherweight division. He ran up a tremendous 68-9 (48) record in the amateur ranks before turning professional last year and debuting in October. Despite being a fantastic talent his first two bouts were little more than show cases against Thai novices however we now know that his third bout, scheduled for July 6th, will come against Filipino Arvin Yurong (12-2, 3).
Yurong is a really test for Nakano, and he showed a lot of desire and hunger in his January loss to Xiang Li. If Yurong can show that same hunger here he could give Nakano real issues and ask very serious questions of the Teiken man. If Nakano slices through him we can already mark Nakano as someone who should be mixing for titles by the end of 2020.
On the same card as Nakano's bout with Yurong we'll see Lee have his second bout. Like Nakano Lee is a southpaw, and had a stellar amateur career, running up a reported 102-10 amateur record. He fights at 140lbs, a division which Japan hasn't had much international success at in recent years, and looks like a real natural. On his debut he hardly broke sweat, beating a Thai novice inside a round, but looked like every punch he threw was crisp, natural and sharp. He's someone with a lot of potential, strong amateur background, and a rather rare backstory, with North Korean blood in his veins. As an amateur he competed for North Korea in international competitions and clear has the ability to make a mark well above domestic level.
At the moment Lee's opponent for his July 6th bout hasn't been announced, though the bout will be scheduled for 6 rounds and we'd expected a limited opponent, before a stiffer test at the end of the year.
Nakano and Lee are both fighting on the same card leaving Iwata as the odd one out, however he will actually be in the ring on July 12th, as part of the under-card for Ryota Murata rematch with Rob Brant. Iwata made his professional debut in the US last year, after running up a 59-12 (16) amateur record, and then made his Japanese debut earlier this year against Rookie of the Year winner Daiki Kameyama. Unlike the other two he does spend plenty of time in the west and clearly is happy to fight on international soil early in his career, despite the fact he's a Light Flyweight and the best competition there is in Asia right now. On paper the's the least experienced in terms of amateur bouts, but his win over Kameyama is the best that the trio have and he seems the ost likley to be fast tracked.
We've not yet been told who Iwata will be debuting against but we're expecting it to be an international opponent, hopefully some one who will ask Iwata something new, and allow the speedy youngster to show more of what he can do.
Whilst the Teiken gym hasn't got any world champions, it appears they have 3, or 4 if we include Kaji, top prospects and the foundation is there for the next wave of Teiken success. It might be a few years away, and we may see Watanabe and Ohashi move further ahead in that time, but Teiken is not dead, it's merely transitioning to the next generation of fighters, and they are very exciting.
One more thing to add is the fact Teiken will be scouting the 2020 Olympics and will be expecting to pick up several of the top prospects from those games, so the next wave of Teiken fighters won't just be Kaji, Nakano, Lee and Iwata, but also some of the fighters who may well medal at Tokyo games. The gym has the money, the connections and the know how to secure big signatures, and we're really excited to see where those Olympians end up at the end of next year, along with those top amateurs who fail to qualify for the games. They are likely to have promoters, including Teiken, trying to get their signatures, and strengthen the stables for the future.
Teiken isn't dead, it's just a sleeping giant.
(All Images courtesy of Teiken.com)
The month of May promised a lot for Japanese fighters, with a staggering 8 world title fights featuring Japanese fighters during the first month of the new Reiwa period of Japanese history. Sadly what could have been a huge month for Japanese fighters was a nightmare, with their fighters going 1-7 for the month at the top level. Whilst history was made in Europe, Japanese fighters suffered losses on Japanese, Chinese and American soil, and some defeats were horribly one sided.
The first of the Japanese fighters to fall short was Ryuichi Funai (31-8, 22) who was stopped in the 7th round by Jerwin Ancajas (31-1-2, 21) on May 4th, in an IBF Super Flyweight title bout. Ancajas was a big under-dog, but his performance saw him being totally out classed, and used as a punch bag by Ancajas, who had one of his best performances. Whilst Fuani showed his toughness his lack of defense, speed and movement really cost him hard here and allowed Ancajas one of his best performances so far.
Just over a week later, on May 13th, we saw Masayuki Kuroda (30-8-3, 16) put up a brave effort as he lost to Moruti Mthalane (38-2, 25), in an IBF Flyweight title bout. To credit Kuroda he was always seen as the under-dog and was really competitive in the first half, though ended the bout as the clear loser, suffering awful facial swelling in the process. Kuroda's effort deserves so many plaudits, but at the end of the day Mthalane was too good, too sharp and too skilled.
The third man to lose again put up a brave effort, with Reiya Konishi (17-2, 7) coming up short in an IBF Light Flyweight title fight with Felix Alvarado (35-2, 30) on May 19th. Again the Japanese challenger put up a great effort, and was competitive at times, but was unable to match the champion overall, and was rocked hard late on as Alvarado came close to dropping the Shinsei man. All credit to Konishi for his effort, but he was clearly second best here to the excellent champion
The weekend of May 25th and 26th was a nightmare for Japanese fighters, a real nightmare, with a 0-3 run over the weekend. The first of those to lose was Masayuki Ito (25-2-1, 13), who lost the WBO Super Featherweight title to Jamel Herring (20-2, 10), in what was regarded as a 50-50 bout. Herring really boxed to a fantastic gameplan to out point Ito, who failed to ever get a read on the southpaw stance of Herring.
Just a day later we saw back to back losses for Shun Kubo (13-2, 9) and Sho Kimura (18-3-2, 11).
Kubo put in a fan friendly performance, though was stopped by Chinese fighter Can Xu (17-2, 3) in a WBA "regular" Featherweight title fight. Kubo came to win, and gave a good account of himself, but was worn down by Xu, who made his first defense.
Kimura on the other hand was lacklustre, and very disappointed in himself, as he lost to WBA "regular" Light Flyweight champion Carlos Canizales (22-0-1, 17). Kimura, who dropped down in weight, looked like he had lost 25% of his usual hunger, desire and energy and was rarely a threat to Canizales.
The final set back came on May 31st when former WBO Minimumweight champion Tatsuya Fukuhara (21-7-6, 7) lost a technical decision to WBC champion Wanheng Menayothin (53-0, 18). This rematch was expected to be hotly contested, but Fukuhara was just doing enough to lose competitive rounds to Wanheng, who extended his unbeaten record.
The only shining light for Japanese boxing at the world level this past month was the sensational Naoya Inoue (18-0, 16), who created history in Glasgow by stopping Emmanuel Rodriguez (19-1,12) in 2 rounds to add the IBF Bantamweight title to his WBA regular belt. This bout, on May 18th, saw a Japanese fighter win a world title bout on European soil for the first time, after 20 losses, and proved to be their only success at world level this past May.
Whilst many of those who lost were clear under-dogs, such as Funai, Mthalane and Kubo, others weren't. Kimura was the betting favourite and Ito was a 50-50 shot. To see such a band month is a real worry and one that will linger in the mind of Japanese fans for the foreseeable future, as all the countries other top fighters, several of which have big fights in June and July.
Whilst the month promised a lot, it was a disaster for Japanese fighters, and hopefully not a sign that the Reiwa era will be a bad one for the Land of the Rising Sun.
On May 18th we'll see Japanese star Naoya Inoue (17-0, 15) attempt to progress to the WBSS Final, as he takes on Emmanuel Rodriguez (19-0, 12). The bout, for the IBF, WBA "regular" and the Ring Magazine Bantamweight title is really highly anticipated though is strangely regarded as a mismatch with the bookies.
At the time of writing the book makers in the UK have Inoue priced at 1/7 to win with Rodriguez priced as high as 25/4.
This isn't going to be one of our looks into the odds however, and is instead a bit of a history piece, suggesting that those odds really are remarkable, and that a win for Inoue would actually be an historic milestone for Japanese boxing. In fact it would end a 51 year barren run for Japanese fighters travelling to Europe in world title fights. It would be a first in a number of ways and could be a real turning point in the way Japanese fighters figure in Europe.
It's long been accepted that Japanese fighters don't do well on their travels. They have had notoriously bad form in nearby Thailand, as well as the US and Mexico. What is often over looked however is that they are 0-20 in world title fights in Europe. A figure that is incredible given the talent Japan has given us. Worryingly it's not just been lesser challengers who have come up short when they have travelled continent but some really good fighters as well. And their misfortune runs across Europe, from Russia to the UK.
So lets roll back the clock. The first loss by a Japanese fighter in a world title fight in Europe came way back in 1968, when Mitsunori Seki fought Howard Winstone for the WBC Featherweight title. Both men had been leading contenders, essentially unable to over-come the legendary Vincente Saldivar, who beat Winstone 3 times and beat Seki twice. When Saldivar retired the two fought for the title he vacated with Winstone stopping Seki in the 9th round, retiring the Japanese fighter.
The difference between then and now is huge. Back then there was only 2 titles, the WBC and WBA titles. Despite both fighters being top contenders they were both in their mid 20's, with Seki being the younger man at 26 and Winstone being 28. Despite that Winstone was figthing for the 65th time whilst Seki was in his 73rd bout. We don't often see careers like that any more. Interestingly neither man would fight beyond the year, with Seki retiring after this loss and Winstone retiring following his title loss 6 months later.
It would take 6 years before another Japanese fighter travelled over for a shot at glory, with that being Lion Furuyama in 1974. The Japanese fighter had a win some-lose some record but would come close to upsetting Perico Fernandez in a bout for the then vacant WBC Light Welterweight title. The bout took place on neutral soil, in Italy, and was decided by Ronald Dakin's card of 148-147 to Fernandez. Yes the bout was decided by a single round of the scoring referee's card. This is as close as a Japanese fighter has come to clinching a world title in Europe.
Interestingly both Furuyama and Fernandez would go on to suffer 2 losses to Thai legend Saensak Muangsurin, with Fernandez being the man Muangsurin beat for the title in his third bout, and Furuyama being the man he beat in his second bout.
The third occasion, at least the third one we could find, was 13 years later, taking place in 1987 in the UK and comes from a peculiar time in Japanese boxing history. This bout saw Akio Kameda travel to face Terry Marsh for the IBF Light Welterweight. At the time the JBC didn't recognise the IBF at all, holding that stance until very recently. As a result Japanese fighters who wanted to fight for IBF titles fought under the alternative IBF Japan. A number of fighters did this, including Satoshi Shingaki. Kameda became the first, and only, IBF Japan fighter to travel to the UK to fight for a world title.
Marsh broke down Kameda until the Japanese visitor's team stopped the bout between rounds 6 and 7 in what was the final bout for both men.
Despite the long break between Furuyama and Kameda getting shots there wasn't a long wait for the next one, with Akinobu Hiranaka travelling to Italy to face Argentinian Juan Martin Coggi for the WBA Light Welterweight title. Although Coggi was an Argentinian the Italian had adopted him following his 1987 title win over Patrizio Oliva, and this was his 4th bout in the country.
Hiranaka knew he would need a KO to win and did all he could to get it, dropping Coggi hard in round 3 and having him in all sorts of trouble. Coggi would grit it out though, dropping Hiranaka later in the bout to help secure a wide decision on the cards. Hiranaka would later claim the title, ripping it from Edwin Rosario in 1992, in just 92 seconds.
Bizarrely there wasn't a single Japanese title challenger travelling to Europe in the 1990's, from what we found, but since 2004 there has been 16, more than 1 a year. They've all come up short, but they have had mixed performances with some certainly putting up better effort than others.
In 2004 we saw both Nobuaki Naka and Yoshinori Nishizawa come up short in firsts. Naka was the first to fight in Denmark, losing in a WBA Super Bantamweight title fight to Johnny Bredahl via a wide decision. Just 9 months after Naka's loss Nishizawa travelled to Germany to challenge WBA Super Middleweight champion Markus Beyer, becoming the first Japanese fighter to challenger for a Super Middleweight title and the first to challenge in Germany. Surprisingly Nishizawa, then aged 38, dropped Beyer before losing a wide decision to the German.
The following year Shigeru Nakazato travelled to France, marking the first time a Japanese fighter had challenged in the country, where he was stopped in 6 rounds by the exciting Mahyar Monshipour. Interestingly this card did feature a notable win for Japan, as Toshiaki Nishioka picked up a win against Mustapha Abahraouhi, which was the only win we stumbled on in a none-title fight during our research.
It was a return to France in 2006 when Takefumi Sakata battled Robert Vasquez for the WBA "interim" Flyweight title. This was the lowest we found and was another where the Japanese fighter gave a great account, losing a split decision to Vasquez in the first meeting between the two. Despite the loss Sakata would get a shot at the regular title just 3 months later, beating Lorenzo Parra in a third bout between the two men. In his first defense Sakata avenged his loss to Vasquez, winning a decision in Tokyo over the Panamanian.
Although there was a rise in activity of Japanese challengers in Europe there wasn't one in 2007. Instead we had to wait until 2008 when Norio Kimura challenged Andriy Kotelnik in Ukraine for the WBA Light Welterweight title. Kimura had come into the bout with a lot of momentum, but was no match for the skills and craft of Kotelnik, who took a wide and clear win over Kimura to make his first defense.
In 2009 we were back in Europe twice. The first of those bouts saw hard hitting Middleweight Koji Sato take on WBA Middleweight king Felix Sturm. The dangerous Sato was nullified by Sturms excellent jab and stopped in round 7, suffering the first loss of his career. Sato, who recently revealed that he wanted to competed in the 2020 Olympics, would suffer only 1 other defeat, losing to Makoto Fuchigami in 2011 and we'll speak about him a little bit later.
The second bout was another in Ukraine as Motoki Sasaki challenged the then WBA Welterweight champion Vyacheslav Senchenko. Sasaki's technical limitations were a massive obsctable here against the technically sound, though rather uninspiring, Senchenko. The Ukrainian was cut but a clear winner, with Sasaki being deducted points for a headclash in round 6.
After a few years where Japanese fighters stayed at home there was a pair of bouts in 2012, and strangely both were at Middleweight and took place within a matter of days. The first of those was in Russia, where Nobuhiro Ishida challenged Dmitry Pirog for the WBO Middleweight title. Despite putting up a solid effort Ishida would lose a wide decision to the excellent Russian, in what would turn out to be his last fight before injury forced him out of the ring. Just days later Makoto Fuchigami, who ended the career of Koji Sato, would face Gennady Golovkin in Ukraine. Sadly for Fuchigami he was totally out of his depth and was stopped in 3 rounds by the Kazakh great, who retained his WBA title.
An aside, is that Pirog and Golovkin were meant to meet in the US after this bout, but plans were scuppered by Pirog's injury, meaning Golovkin made his US debut against Grzegorz Proksa, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Ishida marked an historic first in 2013 when he challenged Golovkin himself, and like Fuchigami he was stopped in 3 rounds. This bout, in Monaco, saw Ishida become the first Japanese fighter to challenge for a world title in Europe twice, and the first to lose twice. He would however remain a popular figure and twice fight for the Japanese Heavyweight title afterwards.
The bout between Ishida and Golovkin wasn't the only time a Japanese fighter world travel in 2013. The other saw Yuzo Kiyota challenge Robert Stieglitz for the WBO Super Middleweight title, Kiyota was a deducted a point early against the German champion and later stopped on cuts. Originally the result was announced as a technical decision win for Stieglitz, himself a very poor champion, though was later reviewed and changed to a TKO win.
At the time of writing Boxrec incorrectly lists, in the wikipedia for the fight, that this was the first time a Japanese fighter had challenged for a world title at 168lbs or higher. That was, however, Yoshinori Nishizawa back in 2004 who did it twice, first against Anthony Mundine in Australia then again against Markus Beyer in Germany.
In recent years the UK has seen Japanese challengers coming over on a pretty regular basis, about 1 a year. The first of those was in 2014 when Hidenori Otake travelled to challenger Scott Quigg, the then WBA Super Bantamweight champion. Otake put up a brave effort, and showed incredible toughness, but struggled to have any great success against the much sharper Quigg. The following year Ryosuke Iwasa travelled to face Lee Haskins for the vacant IBF Bantamweight title. This was regarded as a 50-50 match up, though unfortunately Iwasa was stopped in round 5, following a peach a shot from Haskins.
Iwasa, like Hiranaka, would later go on to win a world title, moving up in weight to take the IBF Super Bantamweight title.
In 2016 Keita Obara travelled to Russia to challenge the then IBF Light Welterweight champion Eduard Troyanovsky. Obara had moments in this bout, and seemed to wobble Troyanovsky at one point, but was knocked out of the ring in round 2 before later being stopped the same round. At the time of writing this is the last time a Japanese fighter challenged in Europe, but not in the UK.
We saw two Japanese fighters travel to the UK challenge for world titles in 2017, both challenging WBA Super Flyweight champion Kal Yafai. The first of those was Suguru Muranaka, who proved to be incredibly tough and gutsy, but lost a clear decision to Yafai in Birmingham. Following Muranaka was the more skilled Sho Ishida, who asked questions of Yafai but fought far too tamely to take the decision. Despite the wins over the Japanese pairing Yafai did little to enhance his reputation with the wins and has failed to shine since.
With a 20 fight losing streak in world title bouts in Europe Japanese supporters may need to be a little cautious of Inoue ahead of the fight with Rodriguez. It's not a gimme for Inoue, as the betting suggests, and although he's, easily, the best Japanese fighter to have fought in Europe he is going to be well aware that history is not on his side.
Recently I probably pissed off some followers, especially British ones, with my recent retweets towards the #RevokeArticle50Now petition. I was asked by one American whether we were Asian boxing or Asian Boxing Politics, thank's John. What we are is are is about globalism, something that many aren't.
If you're reading this now you're reading an Englishman, writing for an a boxing website where we take regular contributions from from people from Britain, Greece and the Philippines. We get paid thanks to readers all over the globe.
I'm currently using a a German laptop, drinking Polish beer and listening to an Australian-British band. It's rare I go into my personal life, but here we are.
We are, as much as this will piss people off, effected by politics. Since "Brexit" our advertising revenue from the UK has dropped by more than 50% (from £0.99 to £0.49 RPM), as a result we are, financially inclined to revoking Article 50. We aren't political in this opinion, but business orientated. Imagine someone took 17% of your pay for the last 2 years. That's what the whole Brexit thing appears to have done to us.
So this leads us to a few interesting points.
Are we political? Yes. We put the survival of this site first. If someone that can harm us comes up, we will do out best to campaign against it. Again we don't have big money sponsors, we don't ask our readers to pay, and we are often looking to provide free options to our readers. In the entire time this site has been running we have NEVER asked for payments, we have NEVER taken anything we do and made it a pay option, and we NEVER want to.
We do however need to be funded and losing a good chunk of our revenue due to political decisions can sting. And lets not act like we're in our own bubble here. Sports an politics do mix, they always will and they really should. I know I'll annoy people by saying that but it's true.
From Jack Johnson, Muhammad Ali, Tommie Smith, John Carlos, Antonio Inoki, Imran Khan, Manny Pacquiao, Alexis Arguello and so many others we've seen sports people being involved in politics. These are people who were standard bearers for their countries, they were hero from their sporting accomplishments playing a part in the political process, and helping force changes. They are are the true hero.
For us sport is a platform as much as anything. Yes we are boxing fans, much like we are ACDC and L'arc En Ciel fans, or fans of the James Bond movies, hey don't judge us on that one!, but all those platforms give people a chance to be political.
We're not trying to rub people up the wrong way, we understand that Brexit has some great potential (shame Theresa May has got a deal that is embarrassingly bad), but at the end of the day it has cost us, and we can come out and suggest it's a bad idea for us. We are fans of globalism, we are fans of boxing, we are vocal about spreading Asian boxing across the globe, and we will never give up trying to expand the name and attention the top Asian fighters get in the west.
If you don't agree that's fine, we're about as inclusive as we can be, but if you question us about globalism, maybe query why you're on a site designed to increase the global exposure of fighters from Asian.
This past week hasn't been the busiest in terms of fights, but there has been a fair bit of news scattered through the week, from opponents and bouts being announced, to an agreement being announced for the streaming of a world title fight.
CBC proudly announces the streaming of the bout - Kosei Tanaka Vs Ryoichi Taguchi
Lets start with the best bit of news, confirmation that we will indeed be working with CBC to bring you, our readers, the chance to watch the upcoming WBO Flyweight title bout between Kosei Tanaka and Ryoichi Taguchi. This streaming agreement had been in the works for a while, but the agreement was signed this week, offering international fans the chance to watch the bout for free. The only restriction is that it won't be available in Japan, where the TBS affiliates will career it for free.
Kanat Islam's return "delayed indefinitely"
From some great news to some less than great news, as Kanat Islam's return has now been changed again, this time to "delayed indefinitely". There had been hopes he would be in the ring in March and then April but the dates kept sliding as his recovery from injury has turned out to be less effective than hoped. There is now a real chance that the unbeaten Kazakh will not return to the ring.
The bulk of the news from this week has been announcements of bouts and returns to the ring.
Vijender Singh's US debut set for April 12th!
Unbeaten Indian hopeful Vijender Singh's long awaited return to the ring is now set for April 12th, in what will be his US debut. The Indian hasn't fought in well over a year, though the hope is that he will get back in the ring and reclimb the world rankings, moving towards a potential world title fighter sooner, rather than later.
Fazliddin Gaibnazarov to return on May 11th
Another return is that of 2016 Olympic Gold medal winner Fazliddin Gaibnazarov, who revealed on instagram that he will fight again on May 11th. There is no opponent announced, and details are scarce, though it's always good to see someone with the talent of Gaibnazarov in action. He's not been away from the ring for long, having fought earlier this year, but the hope is that he will take on a notable foe.
Former world title challenger Osawa in action on April 7th!
Also announced this week was the next bout of former world title challenger Hiroshige Osawa, who will fight in Sakai City on April 7th. His opponent is a weak one, but it does seem like he will have a big bout set later in the year and this fight here is more about shaking ring rust than moving to a second world title fight.
Sadriddin Akhmedov set to fight in March!
Unbeaten Kazakh prospect Sadriddin Akhmedov had his next fight revealed as taking place later this month. His opponent wasn't revealed at the time of the announcement, but it will be for a regional WBC title and will give the Canadian based fighter his first professional bout in his the land of his birth.
Akira Yaegashi and Koki Koshikawa have next opponents named!
It was also this week that Akira Yaegashi and Koki Koshikawa had their next opponents named. Neither will be facing anyone too testing, though it is good to put a name to their opponents. Yaegashi is clearly in a stay busy fight, ahead of a potentially huge bout later in the year, whilst Koshikawa is primed for a domestic title fight, and both will be ticking over.
Title bout announcements also came through the week, with several notable bouts being announced, one way or another.
Etsuko to defend WBO title against Thai challenger
The highest profile bout revealed this week was the WBO female Minimumweight title bout, which Thai sources revealed would see Etsuko Tada defending her belt against a 20 year old Thai challenger on April 27th. The bout is expected to be one of a number of world title fights on the card. It should be a straight forward win for the talented champion, but will at least keep her ticking over whilst awaiting a shot at the WBC title.
Elorde Vs Kawashima set for WBO Asia Pacific title!
Filipino fighter Juan Miguel Elorde will defend his WBO Asia Pacific Super Bantamweight against talented Japanese title challenger Shohei Kawashima, on March 25th. This is a pretty interesting bout, and one that Elorde can ill afford to lose, given he has a #2 WBO world ranking, and a loss here would end any dreams he has of getting a world title shot
Saka and Noynay to battle for WBO Asia Pacific title
A second WBO Asia Pacific title fight to be announced this week was a Super Featherweight title bout between Kosuke Saka and Joe Noynay, which will take place on April 20th. This is an interesting fight, and one we are really looking forward to, with our fingers crossed that it will be featured on Boxing Raise.
Saito and Kimura to unify titles on April 18th
On the Japanese level we now know that Yuta Saito and Hayato Kimura will battle on April 18th to unify the Japanese Bantamweight regular and interim titles. Saito was supposed to defend the belt in December before falling ill, leading to Kimura winning the interim belt. This should be a very fan friendly contest, and the winner could find themselves moving into a regional title fight later in 2019.
This past hasn't been a busy one for Asian boxing news, it has had some interesting news stories over the past few days.
Donnie Nietes vacates, Ioka Vs Palicte to be ordered?
It was revealed that Filipino great Donnie Nietes (42-1-5, 23) would be honoured for his career in December, during the next WBO Convention, and that he had vacated the WBO Super Flyweight title, rather than face mandatory challenger and fellow Filipino Aston Palicte (25-2-1, 21). Interestingly the next highest ranked available contender with the WBO is Kazuto Ioka (23-2, 13) [井岡一翔], so that could give us a really good fight to crown a new champion.
Nietes' reason for vacating is that he wants to pursue career defining fights, so the suggestion is that his next contest will be something very big and very exciting.
Srisaket Vs Estrada II set for April 26th!
Nietes' vacating was one of two big Super Flyweight stories this past week, with the other being the news that Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (47-4-1, 41) [ศรีสะเกษ นครหลวงโปรโมชั่น] and Juan Francisco Estrada (38-3, 26) have a date and venue for their highly anticipated rematch. We now know that this bout will take place on April 26th at the Forum in Los Angeles.
The two fought a brilliant bout in early 2018
Ancajas Vs Funai heading to the US!
More Super Flyweight news!
Although there's not been a date or venue set for the IBF Super Flyweight mandatory title bout between defending champion Jerwin Ancajas (30-1-2, 20) mandatory challenger Ryuichi Funai (31-7, 22) [船井 龍一], it has all but been confirmed that the bout will be taking place Stateside. Ancajas, who works with Top Rank, were always expected to get the fight in the US for ESPN but this weeks news also revealed that the contest was being pencilled in for April.
MP Promotions March 23rd card full released!
Filipino promotional outfit MP Promotions, run by Manny Pacquiao, revealed the full show details for their March 23rd card and it's a bit of a doozy with two world title eliminators, one at Bantamweight and one at Minimumweight, an interesting match up between Ronnie Baldonado (13-1-1, 9) battle Elias Joaquino (12-3-2, 6) and the international debut of Chinese hopeful Lei Wang (2-0, 1). The card is well worth making a note of, though looks like it will be a tricky one to watch if you're not inside the Philippines.
The world title eliminators for this show will be an IBF Bantamweight world title eliminator, as Michael Dasmarinas (28-2-1, 19) and Kenny Demecillo (14-4-2, 8) and a Samuel Salva (16-0, 10) taking on Rene Mark Cuarto (16-1-1, 9), both of which should be very competitive.
Sharipova turns down rival countries for Olympic place
The weekly Firuza Sharipova (9-1, 4) [фируза шарипова] stories continued to come from her press department, who this week told the Central Asian boxing press that Sharipova had turned down a $1,000,000 offer to compete at the 2020 Olympics for a team from Asia. The way Sharipova stories have come out this year we're expecting to see something believable at some point, until then however we'll enjoy these stories which are significantly more entertaining than her in ring career has been recently. It's a shame that we keep see these stories, because she's a good fighter, but it appears that these stories mean more to her and her team than actually fighting!
This past week has been an insanely news heavy week, with more news stories that we'd usually get for this review. Some were huge stories, others were much smaller, but the variation of them was massive. So lets have a look at them!
Inoue Vs Rodriguez confirmed for May 18th in Glasgow!
After weeks of frustrating stalling from the WBSS we now, finally, know for sure that the WBSS Bantamweight Semi Final between "WBA" regular Bantamweight Naoya Inoue (17-0, 15) [井上 尚弥] and IBF champion Emmanuel Rodriguez (19-0, 12) will take place on May 18th in Glasgow Scotland. The bout is a first in lots of ways, and given the size of the bout we do wonder if it would have made more sense to have allowed the fighter's promoters to sort a deal rather than the WBSS putting it on a show they had already set up. We know it'sa cost saving measure, but it's still odd to have stars from Japan and Puerto Rico fighting in Scotland. Still the bout is now only 3 months away and we're looking forward to it!
Shumenov Vs Goulamiriam purse bids see Don King winning!
The purse bid for the WBA Cruiserweight title bout between Beibut Shumenov (18-2, 12) [Бейбут Амирханович Шуменов] and Arsen Goulamirian (24-0, 16) finally took place, and was won by veteran promoter Don King,with a bid of $821,000 which will be split 55%-45% in favour of Shumenov. The bid was well over the amount offered by Goulamiriam's promoter, and King has given 3 possible dates and venues. They are April 15th in Monaco, the second possibility is just over 2 weeks later, April 30th Kazakhstan whilst the other possibility is May 13th in New York, with the Monaco option being doubted by Goulamiriam's team.
Juiki Tatsuyoshi's next bout set for April 5th!
Popular second generation fighter Juiki Tatsuyoshi (10-0, 7) [辰吉寿以輝] announced that he would be back in action on April 5th at the EDION Arena, against Daichi Matsuura (6-3-2, 2) [松浦 大地]. This isn't an amazing match up but is a step up for Tatsuyoshi, who is slowly developing into a pretty solid prospect. Notably this announcement also saw announcements of a bout between Kyosuke Tsutsumimoto (9-1, 8) [堤本京介] and Tae Il Atusmi (15-2, 7) [テイル渥美] in what could be a very exciting match up.
Can Xu signs with Golden Boy Promotions!
WBA "regular" Featherweight champion Can Xu (16-2, 2) [徐灿] has officially signed a deal with Gold Boy Promotions, to continue the relationship that began when he won the title with a shock win over Jesus M Rojas. The full details of the agreement are unclear, but it is great that Xu will get more opportunities to shine in the US and hopefully he can build on the win over Rojas to become a big star, and someone that Chinese boxing can build around. Although it seems unlikely he will fight regularly in China there is no stopping his success from driving a generation of fighters, like Gennady Golovkin has done with Kazakhstan,
Sultan Zaurbek confirms that he will fight in February and March
Unbeaten Kazakh Sultan Zaurbek (3-0, 2) [Заурбек Султан] confirmed that he would be fighting in both February and March, in what is clearly going to be a very busy year for the youngster. He's incredibly talented and it seems like he is wanting to take a grip over his career, something that many fighters early on won't do. His opponents for the two bouts aren't expected to be anything amazing, with his February opponent named as Lyuben Todorov, but his drive to be active is similar to that of fellow Kazakh Sadriddin Akhmedov, who fought 7 times in just over 9 months showing that a fighter can create a buzz very quickly.
Main under-card bouts for Tanaka Vs Taguchi revealed!
The under-card bouts for the WBO Flyweight title bout between Kosei Tanaka (12-0, 7) [田中恒成] and Ryoichi Taguchi (27-3-2, 12) [田口良一] were announced this week, and whilst they weren't amazing they did feature a number of interesting names. Among those confirmed for the card are Kento Hatanaka (7-0, 7) [畑中 建人], Yushi Tanaka (21-2-3, 14) [田中裕士], Takuya Mizuno (15-1-1, 13) [水野拓哉] and Koshin Takeshima (2-0, 2) [竹嶋宏心]. The bouts aren't the toughest but there is a very nice selection of talent for fans who can make their way to Gifu for the show.
Takahashi and Suzuki have opponents named for March 2nd!
Talking about under-cards, we've now seen the under-card for the March 2nd card at the Korakuen Hall being completed, with Takuma Takahashi (2-0, 2) [高橋拓磨] and Masahiro Suzuki (1-0, 1) [鈴木雅弘] having their opponents for the show named. Suzuki will be up against Kelvin Tenorio (4-4, 2) whilst Takahashi will be up against Jonel Dapidran (10-3, 6).
Ginjiro Shigeoka's next opponent named!
One more fighter having their opponent for an under-card announced was Ginjiro Shigeoka (1-0, 1) [重岡銀次朗], who will be up against Thai youngster Gerttipong Kumsahwat (3-1, 3) on February 26th. This was never expected to be a tough bout for Shigeoka, given he will be fighting against in April, but it is nice to see an opponent being named for the show more than a week in advance.
Regional and Domestic title News
Ogata and Salvador to battle for OPBF title!
The OPBF had a busy week Shione Ogata (10-6, 2) [緒方汐音] would be facing off with Filipino foe Charimae Salvador (4-1, 1) for the vacant OPBF female Light Flyweight title on April 14th. This looks like an interesting match up, but it must be said that Ogata has been in great form recently and has to be favoured to claim her third regional title. Interestingly this will be the first OPBF female Light Flyweight title bout in over 2 years!
Second OPBF title added to February 22nd show!
The OPBF also announced that Thai Kanyarat Yoohanngoh (4-2, 2) will battle against Japan's Umi Ishikawa (7-2, 5) [石川海] for the OPBF silver Female Minimumweight title. This is a pretty interesting bout, even though neither is an amazing fighter, and the winner will likely find themselves in the mix for bigger fights later in the year.
Second title bout added to March 13th card
Staying with title news, there was the confirmation that Miyo Yoshida (11-1) [吉田 実代] would be defending her Japanese female Bantamweight title against Yoshie Wakasa (6-0, 2) [若狭与志枝], the #1 ranked contender. This bout has been added to a show that will be headlined by Eri Matsuda (2-0) [松田恵里] and Nanae Suzuki (8-2-1, 1) [鈴木 菜々江] battling to unify the OPBF and JBC Atomweight titles.
Male and Female Asian Championships to be held at the same time!
The ASBC announced this week that the Male and Female Asian Championships will take place at the same time, in Bangkok in April. Amazingly 10 divisions will be covered, for each gender, in what is seemingly a stupid decision, given that the competition was originally being viewed as a gate way to the 2020 Olympics, which won't have 10 male, or 10 female divisions. The decision appears to be a cost cutting one, but also one that is really questionable, and we wouldn't be surprised to see all sorts of issues plaguing what appears to bee an over-stuff competition.
Japanese Amateur Selection competition cancelled
Interestingly the Japanese Amateur selection tournament, for the Asian Championships, has been cancelled, due in part to the weight class situation of the Asian Championships. This selection competition was notable for several reasons, including the fact it would include former world champion Katsunari Takayama [高山 勝成], who was set to make his return to the amateurs at this tournament. The political mess of Amateur boxing appears to be continuing here and it's hard to see a solution any time soon.
Former Indonesian amateur star Willem Papilaya passes
Indonesian fighter Willem Papilaya will not be a name on the mind of many, but this past week he passed away, at the age of 44. The former fighter won a Silver medal at the 1998 Asian Games in Bangkok, and competed in multiple notable competitions. His passing, at such a young age, is genuinely tragic and was huge news in Indonesian boxing circles.
Susumu Hanagata to become president of the East Japan Boxing Association
Nikkan Sports reported that former WBC Flyweight champion Susumu Hanagata[花形進] would be the next President of the East Japan Boxing Association. This story hasn't been reported by many other sources, though it does appear to have been passed and will be announced officially in the weeks to come, with Hanagata expected to take his seat in a few months time. Hanagata is best known for scoring wins over Efren Torres, Masao Oba and Chartchai Chionoi, and does run a gym, so is very well respected in the Japanese boxing scene, despite not being a big name in the West.
Split Decision issue 1 released
The first issue of Manga series "Split Decision", which is being released to raise awareness of Iwao Hakamada, was released on the JPBA website. The Manga hasn't yet been translated into English, but is expected to be put into different languages in the near future. This is a really interesting idea and we hope it's a huge success.
March issue of Boxing Beat goes on sale tomorrow!
Talking about releases this week also saw the release of March's issue Boxing Beat. We won't go into to much detail here, but for fans who are really intrigued by the Japanese scene the magazine is fantastic, though sadly unavailable in languages other than Japanese.
TBS reveal broadcast date and time of Saludar Vs Taniguchi
Finally, we now have the date and time of the television broadcast of the WBO Minimumweight title bout between Vic Saludar (18-3, 10) and Masataka Taniguchi (11-2, 7) [谷口 将隆]. The bout will be teelvised on a few days tape delay, as part of a Guts Fighting show on TBS. It's a shame the bout isn't being shown live, but at least it's only a few days of delay and not weeks, as we have seen for some bouts.
Thinking Out East
With this site being pretty successful so far we've decided to open up about our own views and start what could be considered effectively an editorial style opinion column dubbed "Thinking Out East" (T.O.E).