Earlier today our sources in Japan reported that 4-weight world champion Naoko Fujioka (16-2, 7) [藤岡 奈穂子] would move down in weight in an attempt to become a 5-weight world champion, the first in Japanese boxing history!
The story suggests that the Fujioka, who is a former WBC female Minimumweight, WBA female Super Flyweight, WBO female Bantamweight and is the current WBA female Flyweight champion, is set to fight for the WBO female Light Flyweight title.
From what we understand the bout will take place in Puerto Rico on September 9th and see Fujioka face off with unbeaten Costa Rican Yokasta Valle (13-0, 6), the current IBF female Minimumweight champion, who will be hoping to become a 2-weight champion herself.
Fujioka took to her blog to announce that the fight was in the pipeline a couple of days ago, though admitted that it wasn't yet a done deal and that she was still awaiting the contract for the fight, and details of her departure from Japan.
Give that the fight date is just over a week away we suspect that it will be officially announced shortly and we will get the chance to see Fujioka record yet another Japanese record.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
A lot can happen in a few weeks in the crazy world of professional boxing, and that has certainly been seen when it's come to the now former Japanese Super Featherweight champion Kenichi Ogawa (22-1, 17) [尾川 堅一].
Just over two weeks ago we saw the heavy handed king Teiken man announce that he would be making his 6th defense of the title on October 7th at the Korakuen Hall against veteran Tsuyoshi Tojo (13-15-5, 2) [東上剛司]. Today, just over 2 weeks later, that bout has been scrapped, with Ogawa vacating the title and stating that he was now going to concentrate on winning a world title.
Ogawa, who had been the champion since dethroning Rikki Naito back in December 2015, is ranked by all 4 world title bodies. Those rankings include a #4 ranking with the IBF, who currently have vacant positions at #1 and #2 as well as a vacant title, which was recently stripped from American Gervonta Davis who failed to make weight this past weekend. On paper this would mean that a bout between Ogawa and the #3 ranked Billy Dib (42-4-0-2, 24) would make sense and would be the top two fighters facing off for the vacant title, something we suspect Teiken would be very happy to help make. And something we suspect Dib would be fine with, given he has previous fought in Japan, losing to Ogawa's former stablemate Takashi Miura.
Although it's not yet been confirmed, it does seem like talks between the two camps will begin shortly and that a deal will be agreed between the two camps in the weeks to come.
Where this leaves Tojo is interesting and we wouldn't be surprised to see him getting a shot at the vacant Japanese title in 2018, though that is yet to be confirmed, what we do know is he won't be getting a shot on this card.
(Image courtesy of Teiken)
Tomorrow Japanese fight fans will get the chance to see former Japanese Super Featherweight champion Rikki Naito (16-2, 5) [内藤 律樹] return to the ring, and begin the next stage if his career, fighting at 140lbs.
The talented and speedy Naito stated that he has moved up to 140lbs to help open doors if, and when, he fighters abroad and despite fighting well above the weight that he has fought much of his career at he looked brilliant. He was bang on the limit and looked ripped, strong and powerful.
His opponent, a Thai fighter who's name we don't have, came in at just under 139lbs and looked rather fleshy. From what we understand the Thai is 21 years old and boasts a 10-5 (3) record, though it's hard to confirm this record as it is with many Thai's.
For fans hoping to see the show it will be featured on Boxingraise and should be a great chance to see whether Naito carries his speed up at his new weight, and whether or not he has managed to add some durability and power with his move up, with those traits looking limited at 130lbs.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
This coming Sunday we'll be able to see Shun Kubo (12-0, 9) [久保隼] make his first defense of the title, with the talented Japanese fighter taking on American challenger Daniel Roman (22-2-1, 8).
Today, ahead of their bout, the two men under-went their medical examinations, and had various measurements taken.
The measurements proved what we already knew, and that was that the champion was naturally much bigger than the challenger, and towered over him by a full 10cm, around 4", whilst boasting the same advantage in terms of his reach. Those will be advantages that he will look to make the most of on Sunday as he takes part in one of the biggest fights of his career.
Although the naturally bigger man, by quite some margin, it does need noting that Roman is the more experienced fighter. He's had more than twice as many rounds as the champion and twice as many fights. Those advantages will be two things that he looks to make the most of here, in what will be his first world title challenge.
Shun Kubo hunts for first defence, takes on Daniel Roman!
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Earlier this month we saw the sensationally talented Terence Crawford (32-0, 23) prove his class as he unified the WBA, WBC, WBO and IBF Light Welterweight titles. Sadly his reign with all 4 titles has been a short one, with the fighter vacating the IBF title, rather than have rushed negotiations with mandatory challenger Sergey Lipinets (12-0, 10), and stating the he has plans to move up to the Welterweight division.
For those whohaven't seen Lipinets he wouldn't be favoured against Crawford, but he is an aggressive nightmare and a handful with heavy hands, an aggressive mentality and good boxing skills. Those skills have seen him defeat the likes of Cosme Rivera, Kendal Mena, Haskell Rhodes, Leven Ghvamichava, Walter Castillo and Leonard Zappavigna during his short, and destrutice career.
With Crawford stepping aside we now know that Kazakh born Lipinets will be getting a shot at the now vacant title. The question however is "who will he face?"
The next highest ranked contender behind the Kazakh is Japan's Akihiro Kondo (29-6-1, 16) [近藤 明広]. He's a veteran of the Japanese scene who has been a professional since 2006, has won the Japanese Lightweight title and is the current WBO Asia Pacific Light Weltweight champion. Although unknown outside of Asia he has scored notable wins over the likes of former Oriental champions Ryuji Migaki, and Jimrex Jaca, former Japanese and OPBF champion Yoshitaka Kato and Thai veteran Patomsuk Pathompothong.
If Kondo doesn't fight Lipinets the Kazakh could potentially face Maurice Hooker (23-0-3, 16), in what would be a fun bout between unbeatens, though it is fair to say that Kondo and his team would like to take a world title fight if he's offered it, even against someone as formidable as Lipinets.
(Image courtesy of Ichi Riki promotions)
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