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.
Earlier today at the Amakusa Park Gymnasium in Okayama fans had the chance to see local star Seigo Yuri Akui (15-2-1, 10) [阿久井政悟] make his first defense of the Japanese Flyweight title, as he defeated mandatory challenger Seiya Fujikita (13-5, 6) [藤北誠也].
The bout, which was staged as part of this year's Champion Carnival, had originally been scheduled for March though was delaye for obvious reasons. Despite the delay fans in Okayama got a treat as the bout had some good back and forth at times, but resulted in a win for the star that fans had waited months to see.
Despite Akui's well known fast starts and danger in the opening round, where he has secured 9 stoppages, we actually got Fujikita coming forward early on and looking to crush the distance, preventing Akui from getting full extension on his shots. Despite some success from the challenger it was a round that went to champion.
Akui then found his real groove and seemed to make a strong claim to winning round 2 and again in round 3. He was proving to be up for this and willing to walk into the fire to get to Akui. By then it was clear Akui was going to have to go rounds, something we've not become accustomed to seeing from him. He seemed to realise it was well and began boxing more, using his heavy shots to dictate the range and tempo.
After 5 rounds the scorecards were all over the place. One judge had it a shut out for Akui, 50-45, another had it a little closer, at 49-46 whilst the third had Fujikita leading, 48-47.
Sadly for Fujikita he was unable to keep it up. He continued his toughness and tenacity, but was unable to match the power, boxing, movement and output of Akui, who began to really turn the screw behind his jab, and bust out a few combinations in round 8 as he looked to break down the desire of the challenger, who continued to bustle forward. To his credit Fujiikita wasn't going to fold, but couldn't do enough to turn things around, often landing on the arms of Akui with his shots, and taking counter shots pretty clean. Then fans got an explosive end as round 10 saw both men landing plenty of leather, looking to leave their mark, though both men took the other had to offer.
After the 10th round there was no real debating the decision, with scores of 98-92, 97-93 and 99-91, which was really harsh but had the right winner.
Fujikita admitted that Akui was better, though did mention his gameplan was the right one or pressing but he did expect Akui to be dragged into a war easier than he did, with that not happening until it was too late. Despite the loss he seemed to take positive from the loss and said that he hadn't trained enough yet.
As for Akui he spoke about wanting to progress to a world title fight one day, and it seems clear he has his hopes on becoming Okayama's first world champion.
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
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