Throughout this past week Japanese fight fans have been getting excited about the scheduled WBO Minimumweight title bout, putting champion Masataka Taniguchi (15-3, 10) [谷口将隆] against hard hitting challenger Kai Ishizawa (10-1, 9) [石澤開] in what was set to be Taniguchi’s first defense since he winning the title late last year, stopping Wilfredo Mendez. The bout was a much anticipated one, and wasn’t just set to be Taniguchi’s maiden defense, but also a great chance to Ishizawa to avenge his first, and so far only, professional defeat.
Sadly however today saw a massive wrench thrown into the bout that hasn’t cancelled it, yet, but does leave the bout hanging by a thread after a massive mishap on the scales this morning.
The champion had no issues at all making the 105lb limit, coming in bang the divisional limit and looking strong in the process. The same could not be said for Ishizawa.
On the scales the challenger came in at a ridiculous 110.4lbs, well over not just the Minimumweight limit but also the Light Flyweight limit. He was then given 2 hours to shift the weight, and could only manage to lose a small amount, coming in at 110lbs on his second attempt at the weight. Missing by so much could have seen the bout cancelled, but instead the bout is still on, albeit on certain conditions, and certainly not for the title.
The bout will be cancelled all together if Ishizawa weighs more than 111.5lbs tomorrow in a weigh in at the JBC’s office in Tokyo at 17:30. If he comes in on or under the limit the bout will go ahead as a non-title bout, which would be better than the bout being scrapped. If however he misses weight the bout will be cancelled.
Interestingly Taniguchi’s team revealed that their man had originally been threatening to walk away from the bout if Ishizawa failed to lose 1KG today, with Ishizawa then only able to lose 200G, the new weight limit was set for tomorrow.
It’s been reported that Ishizawa struggled to make weight due to illness, stating "I got sick yesterday morning and couldn't move. I tried to do training again at night, but I couldn't do much and the result was like this." Given that there’s also a chance that Ishizawa flat out pulls out of the bout over-night. Rather astonishingly he becomes the first Japanese world title challenger to fail to make weight, and this is only the second time a Japanese fighter has ever missed weight for a world title fight, with the other being Daigo Higa (17-2-1, 17) [比 嘉 大吾] in 2018.
Notably if the bout does go ahead and Ishizawa wins, the WBO rules dictate that the title will become vacant.
Related - Taniguchi seeks first WBO title defense in rematch against Ishizawa!
Earlier today it was announced that former Japanese amateur stand out Hayato Tsutsumi [堤駿斗] had made his decision to hang up the vest, and head from being a star of amateur boxing to beginning his professional boxing journey.
The 22 year old held a press conference today to announced that he had signed professional papers with the Shisie Boxing Gym, the same gym that promotes WBO Super Flyweight champion Kazuto Ioka (28-2, 15) [井岡一翔], along with Featherweight contender Musashi Mori (12-1, 7) [森 武蔵] and former world champion Daigo Higa (17-2-1, 17) [比 嘉 大吾].
At the press conference the talented Tsutsumi explained that "I wanted to miss the Olympics and go to the pros sooner, but before that I decided to go to the world championships. I entrusted my dream of participating in the Paris Olympics (2024) to my brother Reito (19). I can go to the professionals refreshingly."
Notable whilst still an amateur he was regularly a sparring partner of Japanese sensation Naoya Inoue (22-0, 19) [井上 尚弥]. That led many to believe he was going to be the next notable name to join the Ohashi Gym, however Tsutsumi explained that he went to the Shisei gym due to it being "a good environment for fighting the world". He also added that "I would like advice if there is an opportunity", in regards to learning from Ioka.
There was also a third reason why he didn't sign with the Ohashi Gym, with Tsutsumi revealing that he wants to fight Inoue one day, and that's not something that happens when fighters are promoted by the same gym in Japan.
Regarding his aims in the sport, Tsutsumi explained "I want to be a world champion as soon as possible. I want to grab the world's belt and inspire my brother before he participates in the Paris Olympics". His journey to world titles will begin later this month, when he takes part in his B class pro-test, in late April. The next step after that will be his debut, which is being planned for either June or August, and could potentially take place on a Kazuto Ioka under-card.
Earlier today Japanese star, and current WBO Super Flyweight champion, Kazuto Ioka (27-2, 15) [井岡一翔] held a press conference to announce his next bout. To no ones surprise he confirmed what we all already knew, and that he had reached a deal for the unification bout between himself and IBF champion Jerwin Ancajas (33-1-2, 22), which was confirmed for December 31st and will take place at the Ota-City General Gymnasium in Tokyo, with TBS broadcasting the bout in Japan.
The bout had been one both men had spoken about wanting for most of the year, and is a perfect bout to end 2021 with, and it's little surprise to see the bout getting done after both men had been so open about wanting to unify this year year. Especially given the whole situation with the WBC and WBA titles, both held by Juan Francisco Estrada who will face Roman Gonzalez in the new year.
At the press conference today Ioka stated that he wanted to fight the best opponents, and that unification bouts were something special to him.
Whilst Ioka attended the press conference in person Ancajas sent a video stating, "I'm glad that the unification of the throne will be realized. Ioka is one of the best boxers in this class." That was followed by Ioka complimenting Ancajas, and explaining that Ancajas was a top notch and that there was no holes in the way he fights.
Ioka also added that he is wanting to unify all the titles next year. For that to happen he would have to face the winner of the planned third bout between Estrada and Gonzalez.
For Ioka, a 4-weight world champion and the first man from Japan to achieve that feat, the bout will be his second unification bout, having previously unified the WBA and WBC Minimumweight titles way back in 2012. It will also serve as his 4th defense of the WBO Super Flyweight title, and his first of those not to be against a mandatory challenger, and will mark the 10th time he has fought on New Year's Eve.
As for Ancajas the bout will be his first bout in Japan, his first unification bout and his 10th defense of the IBF title, which he has held since September 2016.
At the moment no under-card bouts for this show have been announced, though suspicion is that the show will feature at least one other notable name on it, potentially featuring either a world title bout, or Ioka's Shisei Boxing Gym stablemates Musashi Mori (12-1, 7) [森 武蔵] and Daigo Higa (17-2-1, 17) [比 嘉 大吾].
Back in May we saw talented youngster Musashi Mori (12-1, 7) [森 武蔵] lose the WBO Asia Pacific Featherweight title, losing in a unification bout with OPBF champion Satoshi Shimizu (10-1, 9) [清水 聡]. Following that loss, news went quiet on what was next for Mori, though it now appears he is set to shake things up going forward and it's now been confirmed that he has changed gyms.
Mori, who was with former WBC Bantamweight champion Yasuei Yakushiji and his gym since starting his professional career, has officially transferred to the Shisei Gym, which is the same gym as WBO Super Flyweight champion Kazuto Ioka (26-2, 15) [井岡一翔] and former WBC Flyweight champion Daigo Higa (17-2-1, 17) [比 嘉 大吾].
Although the Shisei Gym isn't a big name one at the moment, the quality there is really impressive and adding Mori to the stable will further strengthen it's standing, whilst allowing the gym to focus on not just it's current stars but also the future, something Mori is certainly going to be part of given he's only 21 at the moment.
Talking about the transfer Mori stated that he respects Ioka, who is the key figure head of the gym, that he will become a world a champion one day and and will resurrect his career at the Shisei Boxing gym.
At the time of writing it's unclear when Mori will return to the ring, though we suspect it will be sooner rather than later, and could happen on the under-card of Kazuto Ioka's next title defense.
Yesterday the board of directors of the East Japan Boxing Association held a meeting and announced a number of things.
One of those announcements was that the Ambition GYM, which promotes WBO Super Flyweight champion Kazuto Ioka (26-2, 15) [井岡一翔] and former WBC Flyweight champion Daigo Higa (17-2-1, 17) [比 嘉 大吾]. The Gym will now be known as the Shisei Boxing Gym, with the name change coming in to effect from July 15th. The gym will also relocate to Shimomeguro, Meguro-ku.
A second announcement was that the Noda Star Boxing Gym has withdrawn from the East Japan Boxing Association.
A more notable announcement was that a ¥20,000 subsidy would be paid to the promoter for each fighter, and that charges shouldn't be made to the Gym or Fighter for the PCR tests and the hotel for isolation. This is clearly to help promoters and gyms during the on going situation, which has still seen reduced crowds attended Japanese events.
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