As we're sure everyone reading this will be aware, last week saw a discovery of a new mutation of Covid19, with the mutation now being called Omicron. After that news Japan has changed it's policy in regards to international travel, now essentially heading towards closing it's borders once again.
With big international fights pencilled in to take place in Japan in December this could be a major problem, and force several bouts to be cancelled. At the moment it's not completely clear which bouts may be off, though announcements are expected in the coming week or so.
Despite the full impact of Japanese changes not being known there are some things we do know regarding upcoming bouts.
Firstly the December 14th card, headlined by WBA "Super" and IBF Bantamweight champion Naoya Inoue (21-0, 18) [井上 尚弥] defending his titles against Thai challenger Aran Dipaen (12-2, 11) [แก่นนคร ศักดิ์กรีรินทร์] will go ahead as previously planned. That card not only features Dipaen as an international visitor but also WBO Minimumweight champion Wilfredo Mendez (16-1, 6), who will defend against mandatory challenger Masataka Taniguchi (14-3, 9) [谷口将隆].
At the time of writing it's known that both Dipean and Mendez, from Puerto Rico, are in Japan, with both men arriving in Japan on November 28th, before the rule changes were announced.
Now on to what we don't know.
The first bout to be in doubt at the time of writing is the December 16th contest between Masanori Rikiishi (9-1, 5) [力石 政法] and Filipino Roldan Aldea (16-8-1, 9), which was planned to be the first non-world title bout with an international fighter in Japan since they first closed the borders in 2020. This bout is still listed on one of the Japanese schedules, but others list Rikiishi as now being set to face an opponent "to be decided".
Of course the Rikiishi Vs Aldea bout isn't a massive one, and there are three much bigger bouts set to take place later in the year.
The most notable of those is set for December 28th and will see IBF Middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin (41-1-1, 36) [Геннадий Геннадьевич Головкин] battle WBA "Super" Middleweight champion Ryota Murata (16-2, 13) [村田 諒太]. This bout is the one of most concern, due to how big of a bout it is. Sadly it's very unclear on whether it will take place or not, though Akihiuro Honda has told Japanese press that they are seeking to get Golovkin's entrance into Japan any way they can, including requesting permission with Golovkin as a special case. On the same card WBO Flyweight champion Junto Nakatani (22-0, 17) [中谷 潤人] has his second defense scheduled against 22 year old Mexican challenger Cristian Gonzalez (14-1, 4). It would seem a lot less likely for Gonzalez to special permission than Golovkin, and we wouldn't be surprised to see that bout as being called off, if any of the scheduled world title bouts were to be cancelled.
The other major bout planned is the December 31st clash between WBO Super Flyweight champion, Kazuto Ioka (27-2, 15) [井岡一翔] and IBF champion Jerwin Ancajas (33-1-2, 22). At the moment no comments to the media have been released about this contest, which was only announced last week. Like the Golovkin bout this is a huge bout for Japan, and the promoters are likely to seek special considerations for the contest to go ahead. We suspect news will break about this contest later in the week, which could include it being moved to 2022, being move from Japan, or taking place as planned, with special permission.
Whilst a lot of focus on Japanese boxing tomorrow will be on Kyoto, there is actually a smaller card in Tokyo, thanks to Dangan. The scheduled main event for the card was supposed to be a bout between former Japanese Featherweight champion Taiki Minamoto (16-7-1, 13) [源大輝] and the under-rated Shingo Kusano (13-9-1, 5) [草野慎悟], in what looked like a mouth watering match up.
Sadly that match up was cancelled earlier today, when Shingo Kusano tested positive for Covid19 with a PCR test taken around the time of the weigh in.
Thankfully this bout is being rescheduled, and has been pencilled in for December 2nd, with Minamoto taking part in a public sparring session tomorrow at Korakuen Hall due to Kusano's test.
Sadly this wasn't the only issue with this show, and wasn't originally scheduled in as the main event. That was a planned bout between Hironori Mishiro (10-0-1, 3) [三代大訓] and Kazuhiro Nishitani (21-5-1, 12) [西谷和宏], which was cancelled when it was clear Mishiro wouldn't be fit for the contest, several weeks ago. As result of two notable bouts being cancelled for his show, we are now left with a main event between Ayaka Miyao (23-9-2, 6) [宮尾綾香] and Kaori Nagai (6-2-3, 2) [長井香織].
Tomorrow there's a big show in Kyoto, headlined by WBC Light Flyweight champion Kenshiro Teraji (17-0, 10) [寺地 拳四朗] defending his title against Japanese fighter Masamichi Yabuki (12-3, 11) [佐藤政道]. That card was set to feature a second title fight, with Aoba Mori (7-2-1, 1) [森青葉] scheduled to face Yuga Inoue (11-2-1, 2) [井上夕雅] for the Japanese Youth Flyweight title.
Sadly the Mori Vs Inoue bout has now been scrapped, on the day of the weigh in, with Mori testing positive for Covid19 in a PCR test.
At the time of writing it's unclear how ill the 21 year old is, though obviously the bout has had to be cancelled due to the positive PCR test. Prior to that test result coming back bot Mori and Inoue had made weight for the contest, with no issues. Mori had come in spot on the limit of 112lbs whilst Inoue had come in at 111.7lbs.
Back in August we reported that former WBA Minimumweight champion Ryo Miyazaki (24-2-3, 15) [宮崎 亮] was set to return to the ring on September 25th, his first fight in years, as he looked to restart his career under the guidance of Koki Kameda. That bout was supposed to see Miyazaki, who was last seen losing to Ryoichi Taguchi in 2016, take on Taigi Higashi (6-5, 2) [東 大河] in a bout that promises to be an exciting one, as most Miyazaki bouts were.
Sadly however the news out today is that that bout has been postponed indefinitely due to Covid19 cases in Osaka and the surrounding region.
The show was set to be the second promoted by Koki Kameda and his new 3150 Gym, though with Covid cases being as high as they are in Japan it seems unlikely that fans would have been allowed in the venue. It seems that Kameda realised this and has cancelled the show for now, rather than running a second event with out fans, as his first was also held in empty arena.
At the moment it seems likely that this event is postponed and not cancelled however, with Kameda expected to re-arrange it for later in the year, after the current Covid19 wave dies down and when Osaka will be safe to hold events with fans.
Earlier today we got good new that the WBO Super Flyweight title fight between defending champion Kazuto Ioka (26-2, 15) [井岡一翔] and mandatory challenger Francisco Rodriguez Jr (33-4-1, 24) will go ahead, with both fighters returning negative PCR tests earlier today.
The two men were following the Japanese procedure for the sport, in which tests for world title fights are taken a few days before the event, to stop late cancellations, something we saw in several high profile Japanese bouts in 2020.
The two men will not meet again for their weigh in on Tuesday before facing off in on Wednesday in an empty venue, as fans have been prohibited from attending due to a recent rise in Covid19 cases in Japan.
For fans wanting to watch this the bout will be aired live on TBS form 9PM Japanese on Wednesday, with the under-card being streamed on a PPV basis live on the Shisei Boxing Gym website, at a cost of 500yen.
Related - Ioka faces third straight mandatory as he battles Rodriguez!
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