Last year we saw Akio Shibata (27-9-1, 13) [柴田 明雄] announce his retirement from boxing, after he lost the unifed Japanese and OPBF Middleweight titles to Hikaru Nishida. Although retired as a fighter Shibata was never going to be far away from the sport and today he hosted a special event to announce the opening of his new gym.
The former Watanabe gym fighter helda ceremony with a numberof notable faced from the Watanabe gym, announcing that the gym officially opens on September 5th in Matsudo City, Chiba.
The former fighter had been acting as a trainer since retiring and seems to feel that opening his own gym was the next logical step for a man who really did have a fantastic career in the ring himself.
For those interested in the gym, it's called the Boxing & Fitness gym Soete, and it has it's own website set up here - http://soete.sub.jp/.
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
Earlier today Japanese boxing fans woke up the news of a retirement.
The retirement in question was that of Watanabe's veteran fighter Akio Shibata (27-9-1, 13) [柴田 明雄] who has retired from the sport at the age of 34, having fought 37 times since 2003, when he made his debut.
He began his career in a faltering manner, falling to 5-2-1 (4) after just over 2 years in the professional ranks and was later 9-5-1 (5), after 5 years in boxing. He was however a genuine "later bloomer" and subsequently went 18-4 (8) whilst becoming a unified, JBC and OPBF champion, at both Light Middleweight and Middleweight.
During his career he scored notable wins over the likes of Takehiro Shimokawara, Yuki Nonaka Daisuke Nakagawa, Takayuki Hosokawa, Makoto Fuchigami and Hikaru Nishida. Sadly however he will be best remembered as the man who Ryota Murata beat on his debut back in 2013.
Although best known for that loss to the Olympic champion Shibata bounced back excellently and went Daisuke Nakagawa, Takayuki Hosokawa, Makoto Fuchigami and Hikaru Nishida 6-0 (4), unifying the OPBF and Japanese Middleweight titles, until running into an inspired Hikaru Nishida this past March, with Nishida stopping him in 3 rounds.
As well as losses to Murata and Nishida we also saw Shibata suffer defeats to Charlie Ota, Kazuhiko Hidaka and Motoki Sasaki.
From what we understand Shibata fought the last few years with retirement in his mind if he lost, and the loss to Nishida seemed to be the logical time to retire, having passed on the proverbial torch.
In retirement Shibata will continue in his day jobs, as a gym instructor and a nursery teacher.
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
It's fair to say that 2016 has gotten off to a whimper instead of a bang, however we have been seeing a number of upsets in recent weeks. The most recent of those came earlier today at the Korakuen Hall as the determined Hikaru Nishida (15-7-1, 7) [西田 光] stunned veteran Akio Shibata (27-9-1, 13) [柴田 明雄].
Shibata, who was defending the OPBF and JBC Middleweight titles, was regarded as the favourite though was in against a live under-dog. He had defeated Nishida back in 2014 and had been on a great run in recent years, with wins against Daisuke Nakagawa, Makoto Fuchigami and Koki Tyson Maebara, now known as just Koki Tyson.
Despite Shibata's great run he wasn't able to keep the momentum going here.
He started well, boxing and moving, using his reach, but before long the younger, fresher, and naturally stronger, Nishida had managed to cut the distance. Up close there was only one winner with Nishida's blows taking a swift effect on Shibata,
Nishida's blows dropped Shibata twice in round two before finish the fight in round 3, to record his biggest win, by far.
Following the bout Shibata seemed to hint at retirement, whilst Nishida looked on top of the world, and may well find himself gaining a world ranking, given that Shibata was world ranked coming in to this one.
(Image courtesy of daily.co.uk
Tomorrow Japanese fans at the Korakuen Hall will get the chance to see Akio Shibata (27-8-1, 13) [柴田 明雄] risking his unified OPBF and JBC Middleweight titles against determined challenger Hikaru Nishida (14-7-1, 6) [西田 光].
The two men, who face off for the second time both made weight earlier today for their clash.
On the scales the champion was under 159½lbs, one of his lightest weights in recent years. Despite it being one of his lowest recent weights he's not close to a career low as he actually began his career at Welterweight back in 2003, he has however filled out his frame to become a solid Middleweight, even if he's not ripped.
The very solid looking Nishida was just under the limit of 160lbs, and sees him continuing to be on, or very close to, the limit. He's been around 160lbs, to the nearest ¼lb, for his last 6 bouts and looks like a very strong and powerful fighter.
Sadly these two men don't appear to be having their bout aired on TV, a real shame, though we do suspect a very competitive bout for the two men who fought in a close one back in 2014.
Shibata and Nishida meet in rematch!
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
We've known for a while that "reason" would be putting on a notable Dangan card on March 11th featuring the likes of former Japanese champion Daiki Kaneko and the always fun to watch Tomohiro Ebisu. Today however we learned of the main event for the card, and it really is a cracking match up, despite being a rematch of a bout from 2014.
The bout in question will see current Japanese and OPBF Middleweight champion Akio Shibata (27-8-1, 13) risking his titles, for the second time, against Hikaru Nishida (14-7-1, 6) in a "Champions Carnival" bout.
As mentioned these two met in 2014 in what was the toughest bout since Shibata's unified the titles, just a fight prior to facing Nishida.
The 34 year old champion, a product of the popular Watanabe gym, will be seeking the 5th defense of his title and comes into the bout on a 4 bout stoppage run, including victories over former world champion Makoto Fuchigami and the heavy handed Koki Tyson Maebara. Although not a puncher Shibata has been mentally breaking opponents down with his sharp jab and looks to be a much improved fighter to the one who was stopped, back in 2013, by a then debuting Ryota Murata. Interestingly his 4 bout stoppage run began in the bout that followed his tough win over Nishida and he'll be looking to continue the run against a man who has never been stopped.
The under-rated Nishida really has turned his career around after a forgettable start. The 28 year old challenger was 4-5-1 (1) after 10 bouts though has since gone 10-2 (5) with one of those loss to Shibata in 2014 and the other to 154lb domestic contender Yuto Shimizu. Whilst it'd be easy to assume he's been matched easily during that 12 fight run the truth is that he really hasn't and he has scored wins over the likes of former OPBF and JBC title challenger Fukutaro Ujiie, former 2-weight OPBF champion Kazuhiko Hidaka, former Japanese title challenger Go Nakahori, and a couple of wins over former OPBF and JBC champion Makoto Fuchigami.
Given that Nishida gave Shibata a really tough time back in '14 we're thinking this could well be his time to shine, however Shibata has proven time and time again that he should never be written off.
Below we have included both men in their rematches with Fuchigami, who is best known for coming up short against Gennady Golovkin.
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