Japan's hotly tipped youngster Naoya Inoue (3-0, 3) appears to have signed a deal to face Japanese Light Flyweight champion Ryoichi Taguchi (18-1-1, 8). Taguchi, ranked by #3 by the WBA and #11 by the WBO will be putting his world rankings on the line as well as his national title.
For Inoue this is a step up but after his 10 round domination of Yuki Sano no one is doubting the youngsters ability to reach the top in double quick fashion.
The two men will meet on August 25th at the Sky Arena, Zama, Kanagawa.
This is just one of a number of highly promising Japanese national title fights that are scheduled for the rest of the year.
In July we have a Bantamweight title defense by Kohei Oba (33-2-1, 12) who won the title in March. Oba will be facing Satoshi Niwa (15-15-2, 3) who brings a 5 fight winning streak to the ring but looks hopeless over-matched here.
July also gives us the historic Heavyweight title bout between the once beaten Kyotaro Fujimoto (6-1, 4) and Okello Peter (21-6, 19). This will be the first Japanese Heavyweight title bout in a generation and only the second in history.
We also get a Super Flyweight title bout in July as the unbeaten Teiru Kinoshita (17-0-1, 3) makes the 4th defense of his title and takes on former world title challenger Junichi Ebisuoka (23-15-5, 10). Like the Oba/Niwa match this looks to be a mismatch.
August appears to be a busy month. Not only do we get the Flyweight bout between Inoue and Taguchi but 4 other Japanese titles bouts.
On August 3rd the Korakuen Hall hosts a Japanese title double header as Daiki Kaneko (18-2-3, 11) defends his Super Featherweight title against Mitsuya Omura (16-7-1, 12) and the hard hitting Tomohiro Ebisu (11-2, 11) defends his Middleweight title against former 2-weight champion Daisuke Nakagawa (21-3-2, 16).
Just 6 days after the Kaneko and Ebisu double header title action returns to "The Hall" as Hidenori Otake (20-1-3, 9) defends his Super Bantamweight title against Yukinori Hisanaga (15-4-2, 9). A win here may see Otake moving towards a fight for the OPBF title against the talented Shingo Wake.
Only a few days after the Otake/Hisanaga bout Keita Obara (8-1, 7) will defend his Light Welterweight title against So Takenaka (18-6-2, 8). This looks likely to be the final Japanese title fight before the Inoue/Taguchi bout that we expect will be televised on Fuji TV.
A story coming from the East is that former WBC Super Flyweight champion Yota Sato has retired following his loss to Srisaket Sor Rungvisai. Aged just 29 we had been hoping to see Sato return to the ring but it appears that weight issues have forced his retirement.
A major all-Japanese unification bout between WBA champion Takashi Uchiyama and WBC champion Takashi Miura looks to have been scuppered. The bout, which had looked likely is in doubt as WBC #1 ranked contender Sergio Thompson pushes for a bout with Miura.
If we do get Thompson v Miura it's likely that the bout will take place in Thompson's native Mexico.
Former 2 weight champion Daiki Kameda has been ordered by the IBF to face Rodrigo Guerrero for the IBF Super Flyweight title, a belt recently stripped from Mexican Juan Carlos Sanchez Jr who failed to make weight for his recent bout. Kameda, ranked #3 and Guerrero #4 are the two highest ranked fighters (other than Roberto Domingo Sosa who recently lost to Sanchez) by the IBF.
Kameda also has the option of going the WBA route. Ranked #2 by the WBA he is their highest ranked contender for Liborio Solis, who recently dethroned Kohei Kono in Japan. A bout with either man would likely be fought in Japan be televised on TBS.
Some rumours are doing the rounds that former Bantamweight and Featherweight world champion Hozumi Hasegawa may be facing current WBC Super Bantamweight champion Victor Terrazas. Although this rumour is doing the rounds we'd have to strongly doubt it as Golden Boy Promotions recently won purse bids for Terrazas to face rising phenom Leo Santa Cruz.
And some solid news. As as we reported a little while back Yuzo Kiyota will fight Robert Stieglitz for the WBO Super Middleweight title. Originally we thought this bout would be taking place on June 29th though it seems likely now that it will be happening on July 13th at the Energie Verbund-Arena in Dresden.
A victory for Kiyota would see him becoming the first Japanese fighter to claim a world title above Middleweight though he will admittedly be a massive under-dog. The bout could also see Kiyota becoming the first Japanese fighter to claim a WBO title (Tomoki Kameda fights for one just a few weeks later in the Philippines).
Early today Top Rank Promotions held a press conference with Japanese Olympic gold medal winner Ryota Murata.
The details that Top Rank boss Bob Arum shared with us were highly interesting.
Firstly Murata will promoted in Japan by Japanese promotional powerhouse Teiken. His fights will televised on Fuji TV and his debut is expected in August (though a date and opponent is yet to be confirmed).
Murata's bouts outside of Japan will be co-promoted with Top Rank with both Macau and Singapore mentioned by Arum as well as Las Vegas. It would appear that Arum's push into Macau is going to become a major thing for Top Rank who already push Zou Shiming as a future star there and will be hosing Manny Pacquiao's fight with Brandon Rios there.
Murata's trainers will be Ismael Salas (best known for work with Guillermo Rigondeaux, Kazuto Ioka, Yuriorkis Gamboa and the Thailand National Amateur Team) and hall of famer Miguel Diaz (who has worked with a veritable who's who). Both of whom were selected by Teiken president Akihiko Honda.
The training of Murata's will be spent between Las Vegas at the Top Rank Gym and in Tokyo at the Teiken gym. He will be alternating between the two when needed.
Arguably the most interesting thing about the conference however was Arum's belief that Murata could be fast tracked to the top stating "...in 3 years we will have a new Middleweight champion of the world". A brave claim indeed with the current batch of Middleweights.
We've recently head news of several promising world title fights featuring Asian fighters.
In Japan the action seems pretty thin in regards to world title bouts but on July 23rd Koki Kameda (30-1, 17) will defend his WBA Bantamweight title as he takes on the highly ranked Filipino John Mark Apolinario (17-2-3, 4). Kameda, a 3 weight world champion, will be facing a man who has twice drawn in bouts for the "interim" version of his title.
On the same card as the Kameda/Apolinario bout female Minimumweight champion Etsuko Tada (12-0-2, 2) defends against Anabel Ortiz (11-3, 2). This bout will be Ortiz's 3rd bout in Japan and should be an absolute barn burner between two highly regarded fighters.
Although scheduled action in Japan at the world level is limited the Philippines seems to be the place to go at the moment.
On July 13th WBO Minimumweight champion Merlito Sabillo (21-0, 11) will make the first defense of his belt as he takes on Colombian challenger Jorle Estrada (17-6, 6).
Just over a week later (July 21st) Filipino road warrior John Riel Casimero (18-2, 10) will defend his IBF Light Flyweight title as he takes on Mauricio Fuentes (16-2, 10). This will be Casimero's first fight at home since October 2011 and just his second in 8 bouts having traveled to Nicaragua, South Africa, Mexico, Argentina and Panama in recent bouts.
In early August Japan's Tomoki Kameda (27-0, 18) faces WBO Bantamweight champion Paulus Ambunda (20-0, 10). This bout is also in the Philippines which was selected as a neutral venue.
We're also expecting a title defense by WBO Light Flyweight champion Donnie Nietes (31-1-14, 17) in August, though his opponent is yet to be named.
Much avoided Filipino Denver Cuello (33-4-6, 21) looks likely to finally get his chance as he's now scheduled to face China's Xiong Zhao Zhong (20-4-1, 11), the current WBC Minimumweight champion. This bout is expected to take place in Dubai though we do have our doubts about it all at the moment.
In July Nihito Arakawa (24-2-1, 16) travels to Texas to take on the unbeaten and fun to watch Omar Figueroa (21-0-1, 17) in a bout for the WBC "interim" Lightweight title. This will only be Arakawa's second fight away from home (suffering a technical decision loss to Daniel Estrada last November) but it's a bout that he has a real chance to win.
The same month sees Milan Melindo (29-0, 12) attempt to claim the WBA "super" and WBO Flyweight titles as he takes on Juan Francisco Estrada (24-2, 18) in Macau.
It was no secret that Japanese Olympic gold medal winner Ryota Murata was the hottest free agent in the Eastern boxing world (and arguably the world at large).
That changed yesterday however as the talented fighter inked a major deal with Top Rank, the promotional company of Bob Arum, who has guided Manny Pacquiao. Some, especially those In Japan, may feel a little unhappy at the idea of an American promoter taking a potential Japanese superstar to America though it appears that Murata will be fighting in Japan. At least he'll debut in Japan. The expected debut will likely by in August though a time, date, venue and even TV coverage are yet to be announced.
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