The 28 year old champion claimed the title last September, when he scored a career defining victory against Yukinori Oguni whgo he stopped in 6 rounds. Since then he has only fought once, and under-whelming but clear win over Filipino challenger Saulong back in March. After that defense Iwasa stated he was going to return in his mandatory, against Doheny. Though at the time there was no date or location set for the fight. Other than the win over Oguni Iwasa is best known for his losses to Shinsuke Yamanaka and Lee Haskins, though has rebuilt well and is a very powerful southpaw, who is a bit raw but very heavy handed.
Doheny was born in Ireland but has never actually fought there, basing himself out of Australia fighting 15 of his 19 bouts "Down Under", with the others being in the US, where he has fought 3 times, and Thailand. Like Iwasa he's a big hitting southpaw, and holds several notable wins, including one over Tawatchai as well as another over Denkaosan Kaovichit and a decision over Marco Demecillo. This is however a notable step up for Doheny given his competition so far.
Interestingly Iwasa's title win, and first defense, have taken place on week-day double headers, and there is a real chance that this card could also be a double header, with several rumours already circling in regards to the under-card.
Over the last couple of years we have had some great match ups at 105lbs and right now the division is genuinely red hot, with talented champions like Hiroto Kyoguchi, Knockout CP Freshmart, Ryuya Yamanaka and the now 50-0 Wanehng Menayothin. The division also has a wealth of talented contenders, including the ultra-talented Mark Anthony Barriga and the prodigious Vince Paras.
Another name of note is former WBO world champion Tatsuya Fukuhara (20-6-6, 7) [福原 辰弥], the man who lost the WBO title to the aforementioned Yamanaka last year.
Given Fukuhara has come up short in ultra-competitive bouts to Yamanaka and Wanheng he is rightfully still regarded as a top contender and today we learned that he was plannign to have a "world title prelude", essentially a tune up for a world title fight, on July 29th when his promoter, Honda Fitness, hold the next in their line of Fire Country Fighting shows in Kumamoto.
At the moment little is known about the actual show, other than that Fukuhara will be fighting his second bout since his 2017 loss to Wanheng. Though a Japanese ticket website has revealed that tickets for the card will be made available from 10am, local time, on Thursday, so we're expecting more details to be released very soon.
Although no opponent has been named, and we're not expecting anyone too testing, it seems like Honda Fitness, the team behind Fukuhara, have got big plans for the end of this year. We can immediately rule out a world title bout with Kyoguchi, who is expected to face Barriga in a mandatory title fight, though with Fukuhara being ranked by the WBC a rematch with Wanheng is a possiblity, as is a rematch with Yamanaka, who has a scheduled defense on July 13th but would likely be able to fit in another defense before the end of 2018.
Whilst we expect Fukuhara to claim a straight forward win over a hand picked opponent next time out, his follow up bout does seem like it will be worth making a note of, and could well be announced immediately after his bout on July 29tth.
Through the first half of 2018 the Japanese domestic scene has seen the Champion Carnival take place, with the champions defending against their mandatory challengers, and where a title was vacant the top two fioghters have competed for the belt.
Today saw the annual award winners for the Champion Carnival being announced.
The MVP award, the most meaningful of the awards, was won by Japanese Middleweight champion Kazuto Takesako (8-0, 8) [竹迫司登], who earned the honour thanks to an opening round victory over Hikaru Nishida (17-9-1, 8) [西田 光], in a bout that saw Takesako claim the title in very impressive fashion. Takesako will now return to the ring this coming weekend to take on a Thai foe in a stay busy bout and sadly it does look like none of the domestic fighters will put up much of a fight for the destructive champion.
The Skill award was won by Japanese Super Bantamweight champion Yusaka Kuga (16-2-1, 11) [久我勇作], following his successful defense against Ryo Kosaka (15-4-1, 7) [小坂遼]. As with Takesako's win this was an opening round blow out, though unlike Takesako Kuga went into the bout as the champion. Notably Kuga will return on July 27th to defend his Japanese title against Shingo Wake (24-5-2, 16) [和氣 慎吾] in a mouth watering match up which will double as a world title eliminator, as well as a domestic title clash.
The Fighting Spirit award has gone to Japanese Light Welterweight champion Valentine Hosokawa (23-6-3, 10) [細川バレンタイン] following his excellent win over mandatory challenger Vladimir Baez (24-5-2-22). The champion, who is certainly a late bloomer in terms of professional boxing, had to pull himself off the canvas before stopping Baez, who fights as "Destino Japan", in the 7th round of a nail biter.
The final award was a Special Award, which was claimed by Ryota Yada (15-4, 12) [矢田良太], who won the Japanese Welterweight title with a stoppage win against Toshio Arikawa (15-5, 13) [有川 稔男]. The win put Yada on the proverbial map after some prior set backs, and he's now plannign to return to the ring in August to make his first defense.
At the moment there is no set date or venue for the award ceremony, but an announcement is expected shortly.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
*It should be noted that due to two different cancellations the Bantamweight title wasn't competed for during the Champion Carnival and there was no Heavyweight title bout either, due to a lack of suitable challengers.
Earlier today fight fans at the Korakuen Hall saw Japanese Super Featherweight champion Masaru Sueyoshi (18-1, 11) [末吉 大] sucessfully retain his title, and record his second defense, as he over-came veteran foe Tsuyoshi Tojo (14-16-5, 2) [東上剛司].
The talented champion got off to a great start as he landed a powerful right hand that dropped Tojo, who had looked aggressive in the very early going. The knockdown showed that Sueyoshi had the power to hurt the challenger. The challenger would have a solid second round but it wasn't long until the champion round he found his rhythm. With Sueoyshi lookign his relaxed self in the ring he tightened his grip on the bout whilst landing some very sharp shots to the body of the challenger. Those shots helped him establish a lead of 50-44 and 49-45, twice, when the cards were announced after 5 rounds.
Having fallen well behidn Tojo tried to turn the bout around, and he did have some success in round 6, but was struggling to cope with the speed and sharpness of the champion. Sueyoshi looked in total control, and even managed to cruise through the 10th and final round, the only one he lost on all 3 cards, too record a decision win with scores of 98-91 from all 3 judges.
After the bout he spoke positively and seemed to suggest moving towards a world title fight. Tojo on the other hand stated that he wasn't going to make a decision on his future yet, but at 37 retirement does seem to be looming.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Earlier this month was an announcement of a bout between former world title challenger Jetro Pabustan (29-5-6, 9) and former WBC Bantamweight champion Luis Nery (26-0, 20), with the bout scheduled to take place on June 9th in Mexico. The announcement of that bout seemed to annoy the WBC, who had suspended Nery following his inability to make weight for his second bout against Shinsuke Yamanaka [山中慎介], a bout that saw Nery stop Yamanaka in 2 rounds and essentially retire the Japanese fighter.
The WBC raised their issues with Nery and his team, and the bout has now been cancelled, with Nery choosing to work with the WBC and take his punishment from them.
The WBC had offered Nery two options. One was to work with them, to avoid a similar issue in the future, and to be punished for his inability to make weight, whilst the other was to essentially ignore the WBC's order and not work along side the WBC at all. Essentially cutting off his future options to fight for the WBC titles, and the prestige of the Mexican based world title.
After being given an ultimatum he has decided to cancel the fight and try to get back into the WBC's good books.
Sadly for Pabustan this does mean he misses out on a potential pay day, though given he was stopped last time out by Japanese slugger Hiroaki Teshigawara [勅使河原 弘晶] in a WBO Asia Pacific Bantamweight title bout it may be best for him to avoid a dangerous fighter like Nery at this point in time. He took a solid beating to Teshigawara are really would be better off with a simple comeback fight before taking on someone of Nery's ability.
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