Earlier today Dan Rafael, writing for Boxingscene.com, reported the latest update in regards to the long running saga between WBC Bantamweight champion Nodine Oubaali (17-0, 12) and his mandatory challenger Nonito Donaire (40-6, 26).
According to Dan Rafael's report (which can be read here) the new plan is for the bout to take place on May 29th on Showtime, though a venue hasn't yet been sorted for the show.
The whole saga in regards to this bout goes back December 2019, when the WBC ordered the bout, instilling Donaire as the mandatory for Oubaali. That was after an eliminator between Luis Nery and Emmanuel Rodriguez fell apart with Nery unable to make weight. We then had the purse bids in January with TGB Promotions winning the right to hold the fight with a bid of $401,000.
Since then there has been a huge number of twists and turns. The most notable of those was the covid19 pandemic which pretty much put boxing on ice for a good portion of 2020. When boxing did return to the US the bout was planned for December 12th, as part of a brilliant showtime line up. And a line that, for the most part, went to plan which was a huge surprise given the Covid pandemic.
Sadly however there were some bouts that didn't end up happening from that Showtime line up, the most notable of which was the Oubaali Vs Donaire bout, which was cancelled in November when Oubaali tested positive for the virus, he would later be named "Champion in Recess".
As a result the WBC set up a bout between Donaire and Emmanuel Rodriguez for the title. Those plans were scuppered in December when Donaire tested positive, in what seems to have been a false positive.
Due to Donaire testing positive Rodriguez then faced, and controversially lost to, Reymart Gaballo for the WBC "interim" title. A result that lead the WBC to ordering a rematch. Whilst we awaited the rematch the plan was to begin work on re-arranging the Oubaali Vs Donaire bout, though Oubaali was originally granted permission to make a voluntary defense.
That voluntary defense would have seen Oubaali battle Nawaphon Nakornloung Promotion, aka Nawaphon Por Chokchai or Nawaphon Kaikanha, on March 13th in Paris. Before the fight fell through due Covid restrictions in France and the TV broadcaster also pulled out of the bout.
Rather shockingly both men will have been out of the ring since November 2019, when both men fought on the same show. That was was back on November 7th 2019 when Donaire lost a 12 round decision to Naoya Inoue [井上 尚弥] in the WBSS final and Oubaali took a decision over Naoya's younger brother Takuma Inoue [井上拓真], to unify the WBC regular and interim titles. If the bout does take place in May, then it'll be almost 19 months since either man last fought!
Earlier today we reported that Zhankosh Turarov (24-0, 17) [Жанкош Тураров] has had to pull out of his bout against Tyrone McKenna (21-2-1, 6) due to a positive Covid19 test (see Zhankosh Turarov withdraws from bout with Tyrone McKenna).
Sadly Turarov's not the only fighter who has had to pull out of a bout this weekend due to positive test, with Japanese veteran Shun Ishibashi (10-24-1, 4) [橋口俊] having to be pulled from his scheduled bout with Toshiya Yokogawa (11-12-2, 10) [横川聡也], which was supposed to take place on Sunday in Sakai City.
Thankfully Ishibashi appears to be asymptomatic and is awaiting instructions from the heal center.
The bout was supposed to be streamed live as part the second show being shown on Boxing Real tomorrow, the afternoon card if you will, and was scheduled as one of the main support bouts.
Sadly whilst the world is slowly getting back to normal there are still fighters testing positive and bouts still being cancelled. Thankfully however they are becoming less and less common and it's clear that the world of boxing is taking strides in the right direction.
Earlier today promotional outfit D4G Boxing promotions announced that the scheduled bout between unbeaten Kazakh Zhankosh Turarov (24-0, 17) [Жанкош Тураров] and Northern Irishman Tyrone McKenna (21-2-1, 6), which was set to take place later today, had been cancelled at short notice, as can be seen below.
Whilst the promoter announced the bout was off from the show they didn't give any further details, leading to widespread talk that Turarov had bailed from the bout due to issues making weight. After all he had requested extra time to weigh in yesterday, giving more evidence to issues in him making weight. And we had widely seen people suggest that the Kazakh fighter was in for a tougher bout than he perhaps anticipated. Especially given the recent birth of a child.
It quickly emerged however that the reason Turarov withdrew wasn't due to weight, but was a medical issue.
Taking to instagram Turarov explained the situation:
"I will not be able to participate in the tournament due to the coronavirus ... upon arrival in Dubai, I started experiencing symptoms of withdrawal, fever and shortness of breath. After the obligatory PCR for the tournament on April 1, I got a positive result, I was isolated in a hotel room, this was the reason for my absence from the weigh-in. However, despite this, I trained and ran inside the hotel room all these days, I kept in shape even though I was sick, and carried out the weighing in isolated conditions, showing the allowed weight. After that, I insisted on taking a second test. Unfortunately, he also showed a positive result and I, realizing my responsibility to others, and also due to the forced isolation, was excluded from the tournament."
We'll start by wishing Turarov a speedy recovery, though this does lead to more questions than answers. Such as whether or not McKenna or the officials at the weigh in knew he had tested positive for Covid19? If he tested positive on April 1st why did it take until this morning for that to come to light? Was the promoter even aware of the first test? Will McKenna get paid part of his purse? Will Turarov get paid part of his purse?
The situation does however highlight something we've mentioned in the past. The need for a confirmatory test. It's great that it was done, even if the process here doesn't appear to have been done particularly well. Given the short time between the first positive and the fight there really wasn't the time to do a confirmatory test and get the result back in a workable manner. Fingers crossed this is a learning experience for those promoting shows during this current climate.
Earlier today saw the latest meeting of the "New Coronavirus Countermeasures Liaison Council", which was set up last year by the Japan Boxing Commission (JBC) and the Japanese Professional Boxing Association (JPBA). Following the meeting it seemed like there was a lot of positive news coming out in regards to the future of Japanese boxing.
One of the biggest stories coming out of the event is the later finishing time of shows. Over the last few months boxing events have had to finish no later than 8PM in a number of regions. Now however the finishing time has been pushed back to 1 hours after the state of emergency was lifted in various parts of the nation. It's not a huge change on the outside looking in, but it's a step towards normalcy in the sport.
Another step towards normality will be the fact ring girls will be back in the ring from April! The ring girls haven't been allowed in the ring since boxing returned last year, though they have been allowed to do their work outside of the ring. Before being to get back in to the ring they will be required to have a PCR test.
On the subject of PCR tests the decision was made to allow them to be done the day before a fight, for most fighters, rather than 2 days before. This however will not apply to world title fights where they will take place 2 days before a bout.
Another positive sign from today's meeting came from a comment given by Tsuyoshi Yasukochi in regards to foreign fighters competing in Japan. He stated "I don't think there is a problem with entering the country, but the isolation period will be a problem in the boxing".
Although not a definitive statement on the future of international fighters fighting in Japan, it certainly seems like the door is set to be opened to fighters from abroad. Albeit it with a lengthy isolation periodas we saw last year.
Back in January news broke that Japanese boxing would be holding a special charity event on February 11th, dubbed "LEGEND".
The event, being held at the Yoyogi National Gymnasium, will be a charity event held to raise money for medical workers in Japan. When the news broke the event had 5 fighters announced for the show, with speculation on who else would feature.
The only other things known at the time was that fans would be attending, with all fans being given PCR tests, and the fighters would be taking part in exhibition bouts, disregarding weight classes and obviously not being put on fighters records.
Today a press conference was held and the line up for much of the show was formally announced, with 6 bouts being set for the show.
One of the most attractive bouts confirmed for the event will see current world champion take on former world champion, with WBA "Super" and Ring Magazine Light Flyweight champion Hiroto Kyoguchi (14-0, 9) [京口 紘人] battling the retired Akira Yaegashi (28-7, 16) [八重樫 東]. On paper this is probably going to be one of the most fun bouts given the styles of the two men, and their fan pleasing mentalities.
Another former world champion involved is Takashi Uchiyama (24-2-1, 20) [内山 高志] who will be in the ring with current Japanese national champion Kosuke Saka (21-5, 18) [坂晃典]. Although he's been retired for a few years now Uchiyama is fantastic shape and we suspect he'll surprise people here in how he looks.
A third former world champion on the show is former WBO Flyweight champion Sho Kimura (19-3-2, 12) [木村翔], who is still active. He will be sharing the ring with Yoshiki Takei (0-0) [武居由樹], who will be making his professional debut in March following a successful run in Kickboxing outfit K-1.
In one of 3 bouts pitting professional fighters against amateurs we'll see former world title challenger Takeshi Inoue (17-1-1, 10) [井上 岳志] take on Yuito Moriwaki [森脇唯人], who is a Japanese Olympic representative fighting out of the Self Defense Forces.
Another professional Vs Amateur bout will see world ranked 140lb hopeful Andy Hiraoka (16-0, 11) [平岡アンディ] share the ring with Japanese Olympian Daisuke Narimatsu [成松大介], in what could be the over-looked contest. Narimatsu has always had a professional style and could make for some really fun action with Hiraoka.
The remaining bout announced for the event will see Japanese Youth Light Welterweight champion Jin Sasaki (10-0, 9) [佐々木尽] face off with the very highly regarded Seon Okazawa [岡澤セオン], another amateur who has been getting rave reviews in recent years.
Despite having 6 bouts announced there was one man left without an opponent. That was WBA "super" and IBF Bantamweight champion Naoya Inoue (20-0, 17) [井上 尚弥], who will have his opponent announced at a later date, with some rumours suggesting it will be someone very, very well known by combat sport fans.
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