Earlier this year the reigning Japanese Bantamweight champion Yusuke Suzuki (11-3, 7) [鈴木悠介] announced his retirement, citing issues with his eyes. This saw him vacating the title that he had, in theory, been supposed to defend against mandatory challenger Kyosuke Sawada (14-2-1, 6) [澤田京介] as part of the Champion Carnival, in fact the men were supposed to fight last year before the Covid19 pandemic.
With Suzuki out of the sport, there was questions over who Sawada would be facing for the vacant title, and those questions were answered earlier today when it was announced that he would be facing off with youngster Ikuro Sadatsune (11-4-3, 4) [定常 育郎], who is ranked #2 by the JBC, for the title.
Not only was the question of "who" Sawada will face next answered, but so to were the questions of "when" and "where", as the bout was announced to take place at Sumida City Gymnasium, on May 23rd as part of Dangan 241.
Sawada has been a professional since 2013 and suffered two early career losses, losing to Suzuki on his debut then losing to Hiroaki Teshigwara in his second professional bout. Since those two losses he has gone 14-0-1 (6) and notched notable wins against the likes of Yuta Horiike, Kinshiro Usui, Yosuke Fujihara and Kazuki Tanaka, with the win over Tanaka making him the mandatory challenger for this title. Prior to turning professional he had been a solid amateur and there was a lot of expectation on him to make a mark on the professional scene, though this will be his first title bout.
Sadatsune on the other hand is a 23 year old who turned professional with no real expectations on his shoulders. He had a debut on debut but rebuild well and reached the East Japan Rookie of the Year final in 2016. He went through a bad run in 2016/2017, going 1-2-2, but since then has rebuilt well going 5-2, with both of those losses being razor thin ones to Kenshin Oshima and Sho Ishida. Since those losses he has beaten Filipino fighter Robin Langres and Naoto Fujimoto, wins that have helped him climb to #2 in the JBC rankings.
At the moment no others bouts have been confirmed for this show, though announcements are expected to be made in the coming weeks.
Back in November we reported that the delayed Champion Carnival bout between Japanese Super Bantamweight champion Yusaku Kuga (19-4-1, 13) [久我勇作] and his mandatory challenger Gakuya Furuhashi (26-8-1, 14) [古橋大輔] had been scheduled for January 22nd as part of a Dangan card next year.
The bout might not be a major one, but it is one that promises to be a fun one to watch, with the styles of the two men expected to gel well, with Kuga's power going up against the pressure and output of Furuhashi.
Today, ahead of that bout, Furuhashi took part in a press conference, along with "Fron-Ta", the mascot of the Kawasaki Frontale football team, and spoke about his preparation for the bout and his eagerness to take on Kuga.
At the event Fron-ta wrote a message of support to Furuhashi, asking for fans to cheer Furuhashi, who was born in Kawasaki. Interestingly being born in the region was part of Furuhashi's desire to claim a title, and become the first fighter born, raised and at a gym in Kawasaki to become a national champion.
Whilst it might seem like a bit of a gimmick it is worth noting that the Kawasaki Nitta Gym, which Furuhashi fights out of, has long had a friendly relationship with the local soccer team, and the two have regularly worked together on events, event getting Front-ta in to the ring a few times. Furuhashi was actually at a recent Frontale match, in November, as they went on to win the league for the first time in 2 years.
In regards to the bout Furuhashi sounded incredibly respectful, explaining that Kuga was "A fighter who has a high KO rate and plays an interesting fight." But he also sounded like he had plenty of self belief, explaining "I am confident that I will play an interesting game. I hope. KO will be settled in a match where the strengths of each other collide. "
For those who want a giggle we've included one of Fron-ta's fights
(Image credit - Kawasaki Nitta Gym)
It's fair to say that 2020 has been a rather unique year in the world of professional boxing, and even by typical standards we have seen more bouts being delayed, posted and cancelled than ever before. Obviously we all under-stand why but it does need stating that a lot of bouts that had been announced are currently in a state of flux. They haven't officially been cancelled or rescheduled yet. Instead they seem to be sitting in a state of weird boxing purgatory.
Today we saw one of those bouts removed from purgatory and being given a date.
The bout in question is the Champion Carnival bout between Japanese Super Bantamweight champion Yusaku Kuga (19-4-1, 13) [久我勇作] and his mandatory challenger Gakuya Furuhashi (26-8-1, 14) [古橋大輔].
Originally the bout was set for April 28th at Korakuen Hall. That was before boxing was paused in Japan to deal with the on going global situation, and try to prevent infections ripping through the Japanese boxing scene.
Today that bout got given a new date, January 22nd 2021, and will be held as part of Dangan 238. Sadly that is almost 9 months after it was originally supposed to be held.
For Kuga the bout will be Kuga's second defense since reclaiming the title in May 2019, winning an all out war with Ryoichi Tamura at the Sumida City Gymnasium, and will be his bout since being blasted in 84 seconds by Jhunriel Ramonal at the end of 2019.
As for Furuhashi the bout will be his first since a September 2019 win over Ryoichi Tamura, with that win securing him a title fight as part of the Champion Carnival.
If all goes ahead as planned the bout will make for an excellent double header along with a Japanese Super Featherweight title bout between defending champion Kosuke Saka (20-5, 17) [坂晃典] and teak tough challenger Takuya Watanabe (37-9-1, 21) [渡邉卓也].
Although yet to be confirmed we're hoping this show will get the live stream treatment from Boxing Raise as it already looks like a sensational show, even with no under-card announced.
It's fair to say that 2020 has been a write off for a number of fighters, who have been unable to fight due to the on going global situation, and issues related to it.
Among those fighters who were unable to fight this year are Japanese Super Featherweight champion Kosuke Saka (20-5, 17) [坂晃典] and teak tough mandatory challenger challenger Takuya Watanabe (37-9-1, 21) [渡邉卓也], who were supposed to fight in a Champion Carnival bout earlier this year.
Originally the bout had had been scheduled to take place in Osaka in April, though no specific date was ever set down for the bout. Sadly though that plan was scuppered when boxing was essentially stopped in Japan in February and March, meaning the two men never got to fight their mandated bout.
Today it was announced that the now, very, delayed bout between Saka and Watanabe has got a date at last. Sadly however it won't be in 2020. Instead it will be January 22nd 2021, at Korakuen Hall as part of DANGAN 238.
For Saka this will be his first defense of the title that he won last year, when he beat Masaru Sueyoshi into submission in December, to become a 2-weight Japanese national champion. It's a real shame the hard hitting 28 year old has been out of the ring since then but he has still time on his side, and a win in January will allow him to kick on.
As for Watanabe this will be his third shot at a national title, after losing decision to Hisashi Amagasa, back in 2012, and Satoshi Hosono, in 2015. He's earned this shot following a win in 2019 over Taiki Minamoto, in what was a genuinely thrilling action bout. A loss here and it's unlikely the teak tough 31 year old will be getting another shot at a national title.
At the moment no other bouts have been announced for the show, but in reality this is good enough to be a solid headliner. It will have the aggression and power of Saka against the toughness and determination of Watanabe, who is well known for his bloody 2014 bout with Jae Sung Lee. That combination should give us something genuinely spectacular and it's a great one to excited about for the new year.
Earlier today news broke from Japan that the scheduled November 7th bout between Japanese Middleweight champion Kazuto Takesako (11-0-1, 11) [竹迫司登] and mandatory challenger Riku Kunimoto (4-0, 2) [国本陸] has had to be cancelled.
The bout has been cancelled due to Takesako suffering an issue with his left shoulder after sparring this past week. Originally the issue arose on October 27th, he then iced it, went to a medical facility on the 28th and advised to rest for 2 months.
The injury, which has occurred to his left subscapularis, is one that would essentially left him a one handed fighter had the bout gone ahead so it's hard to complain about his decision. Sadly though it does push this bout back to 2021, if it takes place at all.
This is the third time the bout has been scheduled and then cancelled. It was originally set as part of the Champion Carnival and pencilled in for May 2nd, was rescheduled due to the on going global situation. It was then pushed back back to July 27th, before Kunimoto pulled out, citing training issues, and now we've had this cancellation.
At the time of writing the plan is for the show to still take place, with former world title challenger Takeshi Inoue (16-1-1, 10) [井上 岳志] battling unbeaten fighter Nath Nwachukwu (6-0-2, 3) [ワチュク・ナァツ] in the show's main event.
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