Last Friday saw the annual Japanese Boxing Awards. The awards, handed out to both professionals and amateurs, is a huge deal in Japanese boxing and it showed with many of the top Japanese fighters turning up to the event to see their fellow fighters and, in some cases, pick up their awards.
The key award, the MVP, was won by WBC Bantamweight champion Shinsuke Yamanaka who managed to pip Kazuto Ioka to the award. Both men defended their titles 3 times in 2013 though Yamanaka's victories were all by stoppage and mostly against better challengers. In fact it was the KO power of Yamanaka that also saw him claim the "KO award" as well.
Although Ioka missed out on the MVP award he did manage to share the "Fighting Spirit" award with former rival Akira Yaegashi. Yaegashi had previously won this award in 2011 and was a deserving co-winner this year.
The "Distinguished Service" award was won by Takashi Miura who had an outstanding year. The hard hitting Super Featherweight not only claimed the WBC world title but also defended it twice including an amazing performance in Mexico against Sergio Thompson.
Miura's likely next opponent Takashi Uchiyama was also in on the awards. Uchiyama claimed the "Skills" award and was also in the "Best Fight" alongside Daiki Kaneko. With Uchiyama and Miura looking on a 2014 collision course we'd not be shocked by another potential "Best Fight" award fro Uchiyama.
The brilliant Katsunari Takayama had his work pay off as he claimed the "Effort" award, amazingly his first award at one of these ceremonies.
Unsurprisingly Ryota Murata won the "State of the Art" (or Rookie) award as he made an impressive impact on the professional ranks. Likewise it was unsurprising to hear that Naoko Fujioka won the female MVP and best female fight due to her battle with Naoko Yamaguchi. Unfortunately however Murata was unable to attend the ceremony as he was in the US preparing for his upcoming bout.
There was also an award for Yota Sato, who claimed the "Special" award whilst having now retired.
Awards for the amateurs saw no MVP but did see various other awards handed out.
Although there was no MVP in the amateurs the "Excellent Fighter" award was shared between female fighter Kugimiya Tomoko, who won the All-Japanese female Bantamweight title in December, and Kenji Fujita, who claimed his 3rd national title.
The "Skills" award was a 3 way draw between Narimatsu Daisuke, who claimed his 4th successive title, Sada Rai Aoki and Ayako Minowa who has continued to dominate female boxing in Japan.
Narimatsu Daisuke was not only one of the winners of the "Skills" award but also a co-winner of the "Distinguished Service" award alongside female fighter Kasumi Saeki. Interestingly these two both took home this award last year as well.
The fighting spirit award was shared by Yasuhiro Suzuki and actress-turned-boxer Yamazaki Shizuyo who is currently hoping to make it to the Rio Olympics in 2016.
In the "Effort" award we again saw co-winners with Asian Championship bronze medal winner Tosho Kashiwazaki and Japanese female Light Flyweight champion Wada Madoka sharing the awards.
For the amateur rookie there was little argument about Light Welterweight Okijima Teru.
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