Earlier today the Award winners for the latest Champion Carnival event was named, with 4 winners for the Champion Carnival that spanned from early 2020 to mid 2021, due to the issues of Covid19 that really prolonged the usual 6 month event.
For those unaware the Champion Carnival is the series of fights that see Japanese champion face their mandatory challengers, which is historically done in the first half of the year. Over the last 2 years however things have been muddied some what by the delays, cancellations and other issues caused by the on going pandemic. Despite that not too many of the planned bouts did get scrapped, and we got a lot of really good fights during the Champion Carnival.
The MVP for the Champion Carnival was named as Hinata Maruta (11-1-1, 9) [丸田陽七太], who stopped Ryo Sagawa in 7 rounds to become the Japanese Featherweight champion back in February. The 24 year old Maruta has long been regarded as a sensational talent, but hasn't always shown what he's capable of. Against Sagawa he really shone, stopping Sagawa in a brilliant performance well deserving of this award, a lot of praise. It's just a shame that 6 months on he's not built on his title win with a defense of the belt...yet!
The Skill Award was won by Japanese Flyweight champion Seigo Yuri Akui (16-2-1, 11) [阿久井政悟], who won the award for retaining his title and recording his first defense with a decision win over the tough Seiya Fujikita, in what was Akui's first 10 round decision win over his career. Since that win he has built on his reign with a tremendous win against Taku Kuwahara a few months ago, and he's now charging up the ranks towards a potential world title fight, with talk being that he will actively pursue one in 2022.
The Fighting Spirit Award was, unsurprisingly, won by Gakuya Furuhashi (28-8-1, 16) [古橋大輔] for his win over Yusaku Kuga (19-5-1, 13) [久我勇作], to claim the Japanese Super Bantamweight title. For those who haven't seen this bout it is one of the bouts that needs to be hunted down, and was an all out war on the inside that saw Furuhashi break down the tough Kuga in 9 rounds at Korakuen Hall. The performance from Furuhashi was the definition of Fighting Spirit, and it's amazing that he only got 5 of a maximum 8 votes here. He simply deserved all 8 here for one of the most bloody minded performance in recent years.
The Special Award was a unanimous decision, with all 8 votes going to Daishi Nagata (15-3-2, 6) [永田大士] for his massive upset win against Koki Inoue (15-1, 12) [浩樹井上] in 2020. Sadly for Nagata, who won the Japanese title at 140lbs with that win, his reign has now come to an end, and it seems his title winning performance is probably going to be the highlight of his career. Also sadly following that win Inoue retired, citing he was wanting to get involved in Anime, which is a huge love of his.
The award for Maruta nets him a 300,000 yen, whilst the other award winners take home 100,000 yen each.
Earlier today we learned that the East Japan Boxing Association Monthly Award Selection Committee had announced their award winners for the month of June, naming winners for the 3 awards.
The MVP for the month was the excellent Masahiro Suzuki (6-0, 4) [鈴木 雅弘], who impressively stopped Daishi Nagata (15-3-2, 6) [永田大士] on June 10th to become the Japanese national champion at 140lbs. Whilst his reign was a short one, vacating the title less than a week after winning it, there was no doubting that his performance was a brilliant one and he was very deserving of this award on the back of it. It's going to be really exciting to see what he does next, given he's stated his intention is to move back down and fight at his more natural weight of 135lbs.
The Fighting Sprit award was won by the hard hitting Ryoji Fukunaga (14-4, 14) [福永亮次], who retained his WBO Asia Pacific and JBC Super Flyweight titles by stopping Takahiro Fujii (12-7-1, 3) [藤井貴博] on June 21st. This was really a disappointingly easy fight for Fukunaga, though he had gone through wars in his previous two bouts, and we expect he will have another war in the near future, so it's hard to complain about him winning this award.
The Newcomer award was won by 26 year old Toru Kiyota (11-4, 8) [清田亨] following his huge upset win over Tatsuya Yanagi (17-7-2, 7) [柳達也] on June 11th. Going in to that bout Yanagi was ranked in the top 5 by the JBC who are likely to put Kiyota into the rankings following his TKO victory.
June was a funny old month for the Japanese title at 140lbs! Early in the month we saw Masahiro Suzuki (6-0, 4) [鈴木 雅弘] score a TKO win over Daishi Nagata (15-3-2, 6) [永田大士] to claim the title, and soon afterwards it was announced that fellow unbeaten Andy Hiraoka (17-0, 12) [平岡アンディ] would get a shot at the title as the mandatory challenger. Rather than planning that fight however Suzuki and his team stated what was pretty obvious, Suzuki wasn't a Light Welterweight and instead of staying at 140lbs he announced he was going to vacate the title and compete at his natural weight class, 135lbs.
That left us with a vacant title and a mandatory contender for the title, in Hiraoka, but no opponent for the unbeaten Ohashi and Top Rank promoted youngster.
Today we found out who Hiraoka would be fighting for in that eventual title fight. Or rather we found out he would be up against one of two men!
That's because it was announced today that Hiraoka's Japanese title fight will come against the winner of the July 17th Youth title bout between Jin Sasaki (10-0, 9) [佐々木尽] and Kaiki Yuba (7-0-2, 5) [湯場海樹], who clash at the Fujimori Gymnasium in just over 2 weeks time. The winner is then expected to face Hiraoka in the fall, with a September date seeming the most likely for the bout.
It was also confirmed today that the Sasaki Vs Yuba bout would be streamed live on A-Sign Boxing's YouTube channel, and it appears likely that the eventual Japanese title bout will be shown live on pay TV service Hikari TV, which is sadly only available in Japan.
Whilst Suzuki's reign was disappointing it's great to see both Sasaki Vs Yuba, and the winner of that against Hiraoka, and that's the type of excitement the Japanese scene at 140lbs really deserves, especially given that all 3 are exciting, hard hitting youngsters, wanting to boost their careers in a big way.
Last week talented Japanese fighter Masahiro Suzuki (6-0, 4) [鈴木 雅弘] scored a career best win as he stopped Daishi Nagata (15-3-2, 6) [永田大士] and claimed the Japanese Light Welterweight title by the unbeaten. Today it's been announced that his reign is already over, with Suzuki vacating the title less than a week after winning it!
Suzuki is vacating the title to return to his natural Lightweight division, the division that he was ranked in at the start of the year, and the division that better suits his rather small frame. It seems like the plan is for Suzuki to begin pursuing a shot at triple crown Lightweight champion Shuichiro Yoshino (13-0, 10) [吉野 修一郎], who will be defending his Japanese title on August 12th.
Due to Suzuki's decision we now expect to see Andy Hiraoka (17-0, 12) [平岡アンディ] fight for the vacant title later in the year, against a yet to be announced opponent.
Yesterday Hideyuki Ohashi, the head of the Ohashi Gym, announced that his unbeaten charge Andy Hiraoka (17-0, 12) [å¹³å²¡ã¢ã³ãã£] would be getting a shot at newly crowned Japanese 140lb champion Masahiro Suzuki (6-0, 4) [é´æ¨ é å¼], who defeated Daishi Nagata (15-3-2, 6) [æ°¸ç°å¤§å£«] yesterday to win the title.
In the instagram post, above, Mr Ohashi states:
"Andy Hiraoka, 8th in the IBF World Super Light Weight, who was scheduled for the match on September 9, will be nominated by Masahiro Suzuki (Kadoebi), who became the new champion yesterday, within 4 months according to the JBC rules. Please note that the match schedule may change."
Given this post it seems likely that Hiraoka's scheduled September bout will be cancelled, with him instead focusing on facing Suzuki at the earliest opportunity, and within the next 4 months. With that in mind it seems likely that we'll see the men collide in October, though no date has yet been set for the bout
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