In recent years we have seen the definition of "professional boxing" come under some scrutiny as to what it actually is. For example were there WSB (World Series Boxing) and APB (AIBA Professional Boxing) actually amateur competitions or professional leagues within the world of professional boxing. We have also seen the growth of the White Collar Scene and even amateurs being paid in some areas.
We're not here to define professional boxing, but instead speak about the return of boxing to Japan, as the controversial Akira Yamane will actually be over-seeing the first Japanese boxing card since February, thanks to his WYBC (World Yamane Boxing Championship).
The WYBC is a bit of an oddity in the world of boxing. It's not professional boxing as overseen by the Japan Boxing Commission (JBC) in fact it's essentially a renegade league in it's own right. It was launched last year, after Yamane's departure from the Japan Amateur Boxing Federation (JABF), and was one final shot from Yamane to remain relevant, despite the controversies that had forced him to leave the amateur boxing scene.
So why are we talking about Yamane and the definition of professional boxing?
Well it turns out that Yamane's renegade league will be putting on the first "professional" Japanese boxing card since the lockdown was put in force in Japan with a show set for May 31st at the Kyoto KBS Hall.
The event will have no audience but will be broadcast for free and will be headlined by Tomoya Takahashi [高橋知哉], the defending WYBC Heavyweight champion, defending his title.
Interestingly the WYBC stages fights in a much smaller ring than a typical boxing event, but the level of fighters is also massively reduces from those we typically see as well.
Whether you consider this professional boxing or not, it's still a notable stage towards boxing beginning in the East and is clearly something that could be of interest to fight fans wanting a fix this coming Sunday. At least if they make it clear how to watch the event, which still doesn't seem to be that clear at the moment.
Earlier today KBM announced that their June 27th show, which will feature the first round of this year's Battle Royal tournament, will also feature a KBM title bout.
Originally the plans had been for the unbeaten Sung Min Yuh (4-0) [유성민] to take on Do Ha Kim (7-1) [김도하] for the KBM Light Middleweight title, with both men winning eliminators back in January.
That bout however isn't going to be the one taking place in late June. Instead Yuh will be taking on Soo Lee (3-4-2, 3) [이 수] for the vacant title.
The reason Kim isn't getting his title shot in June is due to an injury suffered earlier this year, that is still giving him issues. He will, however, be expected to take on the winner of the Yuh Vs Lee bout somewhere down the line.
Whilst this bout has been reported, along with the details that the Battle Royal show will take place on June 27th, there are no details yet on the venue, or on the match ups for the Battle Royal tournament. They are both expected to be announced later in the week but it does seem odd that a venue hasn't been set in stone just a month away from the show. KBM have previously admitted that they are struggling for a venue but it does seem like a venue will need to be confirmed very soon.
Earlier today Japanese news websites reported that a deal is close to be signed and sealed for a WBO Super Flyweight title bout between current champion Kazuto Ioka (25-2, 14) [井岡一翔] and fellow Japanese fighter Kosei Tanaka (15-0, 9) [田中恒成].
Originally the hope from Tanaka's team had been to have a single bout at Super Flyweight to accommodate the move up from Flyweight. That is something we have seen from him in the past when he's moved up in weight. Today however it was revealed that the plan had changed, with Tanaka's promoter Kiyoshi Hatanaka explaining that it was now going to be impossible for Tanaka to fight twice this year. That scuppered their plans to fight in a tune up as well as the world title bout.
The focus, of course, is the world title contest, so as a result that has taken priority and Hatanaka revealed that the plan is now to challenge for the belt when Tanaka returns.
Originally they actually had a date set for Tanaka's tune up. That was going to be May 17th in Nagoya, a date that has now passed.
A deal is close to be reached between Tanaka's team and that of Ioka, with the only thing yet to be agreed being the when and where. However the "When" is likely to be the very end of the year, with both men having a track record of fighting on December 31st. That would mean both men would be away from the ring for a year, a massive disappointment but something that would give their bout an even bigger "big fight feel".
Tanaka himself has been quoted in the Japanese press as wanting to have an audience for the bout, "Boxing must be seen by fans. I want people to get excited. I'm an audience. I can't do my best by myself,""Boxing must be seen by fans. I want people to get excited. I'm an audience. I can't do my best by myself," and it seems likely that that will be a factor in the when and where for this highly anticipated clash.
Had all gone according to plan, Japanese world champion Naoya (The Monster) Inoue would have defended his WBA/IBF bantamweight title belts at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas against WBO world champion John Riel Casimero on April 25. But that bout was canceled due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Instead, Inoue, (19-0, 16 KO), who celebrated his 27th birthday last month, finds himself back home in Japan, waiting and wondering when he’ll fight next, where that fight will take place, and who will be his opponent in the ring.
“I was going to have my 27-year-old birthday in Las Vegas doing physical preparations for my fight against John Riel Casimero," Inoue said in a prepared statement released to BoxingScene.com.
"But, because of what is happening today with the danger in this world due to a coronavirus pandemic, I am now in Japan and thanks to which I can spend my life surrounded by my family in peace and tranquility. My fight in Las Vegas was suspended because of coronavirus. I am still training at 60% intensity so I don't lose my physical form for whatever comes.
“Presumably my fight with John Riel Casimero would be possible to take place in Japan, provided that Japan is the safest location and a more reliable country than the U.S., as long as COVID-19 ends in Japan faster than the U.S.
“Eight calendar years have passed since my professional boxing debut. I was able to consummate greater and more glorious achievements than I imagined by making the leap to being a professional, but, I can tell you, my holy ambition as a boxer is still half-finished.
"Now, my project is to continue my triumphant march, but it is momentarily interrupted by COVID-19. In spite of which, I harbor an immense feeling of desire and improvement so that I am capable of throwing myself strongly into an important fight to fulfill my great goal in boxing. I understand that I cannot waste time and I want to continue my professional boxing career as long as possible.”
Casimero Still Wants Inoue
According to his promoter, Sean Gibbons of MP Promotions, Casimero (29-4, 20 KO) wants no part of a tune-up fight prior to stepping into the ring with Inoue. The 31-year-old Filipino remains anxious to get it on with the unbeaten Japanese star.
If something were to happen, if Inoue couldn't get in (to America), we would re-evaluate the situation," Gibbons told ESPN. "If 'the Monster's’ coming - we're fighting 'the Monster’''.
In his last fight, Casimero scored a TKO over Zolani Tete at 2:14 of the third round of their bout in Birmingham, England to win the WBO title. It was the third world title for Casimero, who’d previously earned belts at 108 and 112 pounds. It was also his fifth straight win.
When their bout was originally carded, oddsmakers at online sportsbooks pegged Inoue as the 11-2 favorite and Casimero as a 7-2 underdog.
There’s been speculation that Casimero would fight Joshua Greer next instead of Inoue but he insisted in a conversation with told topclassboxing.co.uk that he’d definitely be getting in the ring next to face Inoue.
“I want the Inoue fight,” Casimero said. “Sean (Gibbons) told me we will be fighting in July. Don’t believe the video blogs saying that I will be fighting someone else. They’re just gimmicks.”
Arum A Fan Of Inoue
The bout with Casimero was to be Inoue’s first with Top Rank Boxing. Despite the cancelation of the bout, Bob Arum, founder and CEO of the Las Vegas-based Top Rank, figures it’s only a matter of time until Inoue, with his devastating punching power, becomes a major star of the squared circle in America.
“I think he is gonna be a huge star, both in the United States and around the world,” Arum told BoxingScene.com.
Already a superstar in Japan, Inoue has fought just twice outside of his homeland since turning pro in 2012 - once in Carson, Calif., and once in Glasgow, Scotland. As he becomes familiar to North American boxing fans, Arum is certain that Inoue will be a major drawing card.
“He comes to fight,” Arum said. “He’s crowd-pleasing. You’ve got some guys out there who are great fighters, but they’re not very crowd-pleasing. This kid, a 118-pounder, with the power that he has, is really unusual. And you saw in the (Nonito) Donaire fight, even when he can’t utilize the power because he’s in with a terrific boxer, like Donaire is, he has a way to press, to come through and to win the fight.”
Appetite for Inoue-Donaire Rematch
Nonito Donaire. Photo by: Arvee Eco (Flickr).
The November 2019 bout between Inoue and Donaire (40-6, 26 KO), won by Inoue via unanimous decision, was voted fight of the year by the American Boxing Press Association.
Naturally, people would love to see a rematch. Suppose the Inoue-Casimero can’t be put together. For example, there could be COVID-19 travel restrictions that would prohibit Inoue from getting to the USA.
If that’s the case, a second Inoue-Donaire bout would be a more than acceptable consolation prize.
Donaire’s promoter Richard Schaefer thinks his fighter has earned another crack at Inoue. When I went to Japan, everyone thought that Nonito had no chance to win,” Schaefer told Yahoo! Japan. “The Inoue match was a mismatch, and even some voices were worried about serious injury.
“It became a close match and was selected as the best match of the year.”
Donaire is supposed to fight WBC titleholder Nordine Oubaali in his next bout. If he were to win that, and Inoue beat Casimero, the two could meet in a rematch with four world title belts on the line.
Last week there was talk about the now postponed WBO Flyweight title bout between Junto Nakatani (20-0, 15) [中谷 潤人] and Giemel Magramo (24-1, 20) potentially taking place on July 4th at Korakuen Hall. Now however it appears that date has slipped, but a new date is looking like it is now essentially set in stone.
The date, now being reported for the bout, is August 1st with the bout taking place at Korakuen Hall with no fans in attendance.
Issues with securing visa for both Magramo and his trainer Rudy Hernandez, as well as inconsistent international flights, were part of the reason given for the July date not coming to fruition, though it should be noted that the July date wasn't really mentioned at any of the recent council events from the JBC and JPBA.
It's not just been Magramo with training that has been effected by the current situation but also Nakatani who had been planning a long training camp in the US earlier this year, but had to return to Japan due to the current outbreak.
Given the August 1st date matches up with what we would expect for a televised Dynamic Glove card it seems that whilst no fans will be in attendance the bout would be expected to be shown on G+, likely live. If this does happen it's looking likely to be the first Japanese card to be given live TV coverage since the whole global situation put boxing on hold in the country.
It's worth remembering that the WBO Flyweight title is vacant after Kosei Tanaka (15-0, 9) [田中恒成] gave it up to begin the pursuit of a Super Flyweight title. At the moment there is no details on when Tanaka will be back in the ring.
News! We try and give you the most interesting news stories from the Asian boxing world!