March 8th we were supposed to a Japanese Flyweight title bout with the heavy handed Seigo Yuri Akui (14-2-1, 10) [阿久井政悟] defending his title against Seiya Fujikita (13-4, 6) [藤北誠也] as part of the Champion Carnival. Obvious boxing in Japan was completely stopped as we entered March, postponing that bout which was then pushed back to July on a tentative basis.
The bout has been pushed back even further, with an October 18th date now being pencilled in for the contest, which is expected to take place at the Amakusa Park Gymnasium in Okayama.
The announcement of a date and venue has also seen the promoters state that tickets purchased for the March date will now be refunded by the place of purchase, and will not be able to be used for the October date.
The bout will be Akui's first defense of the title, which he won last year with a scintillating performance against Shun Kosaka. He admitted that he had doubt over whether it was possible for the bout to be held in July, but was training where possible.
As for Fujikita this will actually be his first title bout, and comes more than 7 years after his professional debut.
As of writing it's unclear what will happen in regards to the under-card, but we suspect as we get closer to the show details will begin to emerge on what under-card bouts will take place and what sort of fan measures will be enforced for safety.
Earlier today news broke of two planned Japanese shows which have been pencilled in for July, though still need to be given the green light by the Japanese boxing authorities. Not only are two shows planned but the will both be featuring Japanese title fights.
The first of those is planned for July 22nd and will be headlined by Japanese Super Flyweight title bout between Kenta Nakagawa (18-3-1, 12) [中川 健太] and Yuta Matsuo (15-4-2, 8) [松尾雄太], who will be meeting in one of the delayed Champion Carnival bouts.
Originally Nakagawa and Matsuo were supposed to be facing off on May 16th, before boxing in Japan was put on an hiatus due to the ongoing global issues. For Nakagawa the bout will be his first defense of his second reign, following his title win back in December against Takayuki Okumoto. As for Matsuo this will be his third crack at a Japanese title, following losses to Masayuki Kuroda and Takayuki Okumoto.
The plan for the card is to feature 3 under-card bouts alongside the main event.
The second show is planned to take place 5 days later, on July 27th and will see Kazuto Takesako (11-0-1, 11) [竹迫司登] defending his Japanese Middleweight title against Riku Kunimoto (4-0, 2) [国本陸], in a bout that was originally supposed to take place back on May 2nd.
For Takesako the bout will be his 4th defense of the title whilst Kunimoto will be fighting in his first title fight. At the moment there are no details regarding an under-card.
Again it needs to be said that both shows have got to be given the green light, along with the previously reported Ohashi gym card which will feature OPBF Featherweight champion Satoshi Shimizu (8-1, 8) [清水 聡] defending his title against Kyohei Tonomoto (9-2-1, 4) [殿本恭平] and Japanese Light Welterweight champion Koki Inoue (15-0, 12) [浩樹井上] defending his belt against Daishi Nagata (14-2-1, 5) [永田大士].
The shows will all be discussed at an upcoming meeting in Japan, where the three shows will be looked at to make sure they are possible and don't carry too much risk.
There is also a card set for July 30th, which will be be run by the East Japan Boxing Association.
A few days ago Yuto Takahashi (11-4, 5) [高橋悠斗] announced his retirement from the sport, despite being the reigning Japanese Light Flyweight champion. Prior to his decision to retire he had been scheduled to make a mandatory defense of the title against the big punching Masamichi Yabuki (10-3, 10) [佐藤政道], as part of the 2020 Champion Carnival. That bout had, sadly, been re-arranged a couple of times due to the on going global situation and it appears that the uncertainty had been part of Takahashi's decision to retire.
Today it was announced that Yabuki will still be fighting for the title, with his new opponent being named as Tsuyoshi Sato (10-1-1, 5) [佐藤剛], with the two clashing for the vacant title on July 26th at the Aioi Hall.
The hard hitting Yabuki earned his title shot last year, when he topped Rikito Shiba in a Japanese eliminator, scoring his third win of 2019. Although that was his first bout as a fully fledged Light Flyweight, he looked very impressive and carried his brutal power down.
Sato on the other hand has won 9 in a row after starting his career 1-1-1. He's an aggressive little warrior who marches forward, lets his hands go and makes for fun fights, but this is a big step up for him and the first time he will be facing a legitimate puncher.
At the moment the bout is still subject to change, but given the July date it does seem likely this will be taking place when scheduled, as long as Japan can get on top of the growing situation affecting th country.
Over the last few days we've seen a lot of Japanese title bouts being revealed as part of the Champion Carnival. Earlier today those bouts were set in stone as the Champion Carnival presentation took place, confirming the contests we'd reported and getting all the champions and challengers in one event.
The first of the bouts will take place on February 1st at the Dynamic Glove show, and will see Japanese Welterweight champion Yuki Nagano (17-2, 13) [永野祐樹] defending his title against mandatory challenger Keita Obara (22-4-1, 20) [小原 佳太]. This bout has been known about for weeks and is an exciting, and potentially very explosive, way to kick off the Champion Vs Challenger series. This bout will be at Korakuen Hall, where most of the title bouts will actually take place.
The second bout will take on February 13th, when Lightweight champion Shuichiro Yoshino (11-0, 9) [吉野 修一郎] defends his belt against Izuki Tomioka (7-2-1, 2) [富岡樹]. This is expected to bee a match up showing a lot of skills, from both men, though the power and physical edges with the champion does make him the favourite. This is another bout at Korakuen Hall.
It's then almost a month later until we get the next bout in the series. That'll be on March 7th, on the March Dynamic Glove, when Light Middleweight champion Hironobu Matsunaga (16-1, 10) [松永 宏信] defends his belt against Yuto Shimizu (14-4-2, 5) [清水優人] in a potentially enthralling bout. The champion will be seeking his second defense whilst Shimizu will be getting his first title fight. This will be the third successive bout at Tokyo's Korakuen Hall.
Just one day later, March 8th, we get the Flyweight bout with the heavy handed Seigo Yuri Akui (14-2-1, 10) [阿久井政悟] defending his title against Seiya Fujikita (13-4, 6) [藤北誠也]. Given Akui's style this should be an explosive bout, and one to look forward to. This was announced way back at the start of the year and will take place at the Aeon Mall mall in Okayama City, the first of the bouts outside of Tokyo.
Just a week later, March 15th, action turns to the Aioi Hall in Kariya as Light Flyweight champion Yuto Takahashi (11-4, 5) [高橋悠斗] defends against hard hitting challenger Masamichi Yabuki (10-3, 10) [佐藤政道]. This will be the first title defnense for Takahashi, and will see him entering enemy territory.
The following day, March 16th, Light Welterweight champion Koki Inoue (15-0, 12) [浩樹井上] will take on Daishi Nagata (14-2-1, 5) [永田大士] in the main event of a card at Korakuen Hall from Ohashi. This is one of the few shows where under-card details have been revealed, and it makes for a very decent looking card overall.
After a slew of fights in March we then have a bit of a break before returning on April 9th for a double header at Korakuen Hall. One of the bouts here will see Bantamweight champion Yusuke Suzuki (11-3, 7) [鈴木悠介] make his first defense, as he goes up against Kyosuke Sawada (14-2-1, 6) [澤田京介] in a rematch of a bout both men had back in 2013. The other bout on this card will see Featherweight champion Ryo Sagawa (9-1, 4) [佐川遼] make his second defense as he takes on Hinata Maruta (10-1-1, 8) [丸田陽七太], in what we feel is the standout bout from this year's Carnival.
On April 28th Super Bantamweight champion Yusaku Kuga (19-4-1, 13) [久我勇作] will defend his title against Gakuya Furuhashi (26-8-1, 14) [古橋大輔]. This bout will be Kuga's first defense since reclaiming the title last year and will be Furuhashi's third shot, at a third different champion. This bout is also set to be at Korakuen Hall.
Interestingly the Super Featherweight bout between hard hitting champion Kosuke Saka (20-5, 17) [坂晃典] and teak tough challenger Takuya Watanabe (37-9-1, 21) [渡邉卓也] is pencilled in for April in Osaka, though no date or specific venue was confirmed at today's event.
On May 16th we'll see the Super Flyweight title bout as defending champion Kenta Nakagawa (18-3-1, 12) [中川 健太] takes on Yuta Matsuo (15-4-2, 8) [松尾雄太] at the Sumida City Gymnasium in Tokyo.
No those who are eagle eyed will be aware there were some division's missing.
Firstly the Minimumweight bout hasn't yet been decided. The title is currently vacant, after Norihito Tanaka (19-7, 10) [田中教仁] returned the belt earlier this year. What we do know is that Masataka Taniguchi (12-3, 7) [谷口 将隆] will be involved in the title bout, though there is currently no opponent, date or venue for the bout.
The Middleweight title bout will see the hard hitting Kazuto Takesako (11-0-1, 11) [竹迫司登] defending his belt against Riku Kunimoto (4-0, 2) [国本陸] but this bout has no date or location set. This bout is likely to be scheduled following Takesako's bout this coming weekend against OPBF champion Shinobu Charlie Hosokawa (12-4-1, 11) [細川チャーリー忍].
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
Earlier today news broke of the next Ohashi promoted show, "Phoenix Battle 71", which will take place on March 16th at Korakuen Hall and will feature not only a Champion Carnival bout but also a number notable Japanese hopefuls.
The main event will see Japanese Light Welterweight champion Koki Inoue (15-0, 12) [浩樹井上] defending his title against mandatory challenger Daishi Nagata (14-2-1, 5) [永田大士]. The unbeaten champion will be looking to make his second defense, after winning the belt last April, and if he wins the expectation is that he will likely vacated in pursuit of a world title fight down the line. As for Nagata he's gotten this shot following a decision win over Cristiano Aoqui back in October.
The chief support bout will see fast rising Japanese prospect Taku Kuwahara (7-0, 4) [桑原拓] take a a really good step up in class to take on rugged Filipino foe Jaysever Abcede (20-9, 12). This will be the third straight Filipino fighter that Kuwahara will be up against and is a good quality of opponent form the youngster. As for Abcede this will be his third visit to Japan in 5 fights, after a win over Seigo Yuri Akui in October 2018 and a very competitive loss to Kento Hatanaka last August. A win here should put Kuwahara in line for a big fight later in the year, but a win is certainly not a given.
Another supporting bout will see former world title challenger Ryo Matsumoto (23-3, 21) [松本亮] take on unbeaten Japanese fighter Koshin Takeshima (4-0-1, 3) [竹嶋宏心]. On paper this is a mismatch, but Matsumoto is still rebuilding after a disastrous 2018 and a bout like this will certainly be a step up from his recent bouts.
One other fighter announced for this card is 2019 All Japan Rookie of the Year winner Katsuki Mori (6-0,1) [森且貴], who looks to kick off his 2020 campaign and build on an excellent year. The 19 year old shined through out the Rookie of the Year and looks like the skilled type of fighter who could go a very, very long way with Ohashi's guidance and backing. A genuine one to watch.
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