Earlier this month the list of nominees for the Japanese annual boxing awards were announced, with the Japanese Boxing Commission working alongside the JBC and Tokyo Athletic Press Club Boxing Subcommittee, to decide the shortlists for the various awards. Today the winners of those awards were all announced.
The MVP for the year was unified WBA "super" and IBF Bantamweight champion Naoya Inoue (20-0, 17) [井上 尚弥], who now taken the award 5 times during his career, in fact he's taken the award 4 years in a row now showing just how much he has dominated Japanese boxing in recent years.
The Skill Award was won by WBO Super Flyweight champion Kazuto Ioka (25-2, 14) [井岡一翔], who won the award for the second year running. Inoue also won the KO award.
The Special Merit award went to WBO Flyweight champion Junto Nakatani (21-0, 16) [中谷 潤人]
The Effort/Fighting award was a share award, won by Ryoji Fukunaga (13-4, 13) [福永亮次] and Kenichi Horikawa (41-16-1, 14) [堀川 謙一]. Fukunaga had a great year, unifying the JBC, OPBF and WBO Asia Pacific Super Flyweight titles, whilst Horikawa claimed the OPBF Light Flyweight title in an excellent performance in July.
The Newcomer Award was won by OPBF Super Featherweight champion Hironori Mishiro (10-0-1, 3) [三代大訓]
The best world title bout bout of the year was the brilliant WBO Super Flyweight title bout between Kazuto Ioka and Kosei Tanaka (15-1, 9) [田中恒成], which took place on New Year's Eve and delivered a truly brilliant battle.
The best non-world title bout was the dramatic clash between Masayoshi Nakatani (19-1, 13) [中谷正義] and Felix Verdejo, who fought for the WBO Intercontinental Lightweight title.
The female MVP for the year was WBO female Minimumweight champion Etsuko Tada (20-3-3, 7) [多田悦子], who actually had a clean sweep as her bout with Ayaka Miyao [宮尾 綾香] also won the female fight of the year.
There was also Special awards for former world champions Takahiro Ao [粟生 隆寛] and Akira Yaegashi [八重樫 東].
Sadly there wasn't a ceremony like usual for the awards, given the on going pandemic.
Earlier this week a letter from the WBO explained that a planned bout between WBO female Minimumweight champion Etsuko Tada (20-3-3, 7) [多田悦子] and Vietnamese fighter Thi Thu Nhi Nguyen (4-0, 1), set for February 27th, has had to be postponed.
The bout, which was agreed to take place in Vietnam on a Cocky Buffalo promoted show, has been nixed due to issues with Japanese fighters leaving the country.
At the moment the JBC (Japan Boxing Commission) will not be certified to compete away from home due to the travel restrictions caused by the on going pandemic. As a result the bout has been postponed for the foreseeable future.
The bout is now expected to be taking in place in April, though there is still no guarantee that an April date will be possible given the on going developments of Covid19.
Originally Nguyen was supposed to face Ayaka Miyao [宮尾 綾香] for the then vacant title in September. Covid19 scuppered that bout, with Miyao facing Tada for the title, and Tada stopping Miyao with one of the best female KO's we've ever seen, to claim the belt. That bout took place with the understanding that the winner was expected to defend against Nguyen. As seen by the WBO letter the unbeaten Vietnamese fighter is waiting in the wings, and will be expecting her shot sooner rather than later.
Earlier today the nominations for the JBC and Tokyo Athletic Press Club Boxing Subcommittee annual awards were announced, with the media being able to vote on the winners, who will be announced later this month. Unlike usual there will not be a big event ceremony, due to the ongoing Covid19 situation.
Sadly Covid19 really did destroy the boxing calendar in Japan and only a handful of top Japanese fighters managed to squeeze a fight into the year. In fact only 3 of the 7 current male world champions managed to fight, and that include a man who won his world title late year.
The fighters nominated for the "Best Fighter" award were those 3 champions that manage to fight last year:
They were WBO Super Flyweight champion Kazuto Ioka (25-2, 14) [井岡一翔]
WBO Flyweight champion Junto Nakatani (21-0, 16) [中谷 潤人]
And unified WBA "super" and IBF Bantamweight champion Naoya Inoue (20-0, 17) [井上 尚弥]
Those 3 champions are also up in the running for the "Skill Award".
The "Special Merit" award sees Junto Nakatani in the running alongside:
Masayoshi Nakatani (19-1, 13) [中谷正義]
and Hironori Mishiro (10-0-1, 3) [三代大訓]
The Effort/Fighting Award short list is
Ryoji Fukunaga (13-4, 13) [福永亮次]
and Kenichi Horikawa (41-16-1, 14) [堀川 謙一]
The KO award has 4 nominees, with Inoue, Ioka, and both Junto and Masayoshi Nakatani.
The newcomer award sees Mishiro up against:
Daishi Nagata (15-2-2, 6) [永田大士]
and Masamichi Yabuki (12-3, 11) [佐藤政道]
The best bout of the year has been split into two categories, as it has been for a while.
The world title bouts up for the award are:
Kazuto Ioka Vs Kosei Tanaka (15-1, 9) [田中恒成]
Naoya Inoue Vs Jason Moloney
Junto Nakatani Vs Giemel Magramo
As for the none world title bouts, the fights nominated here are:
Riku Nagahama [長濱 陸] Vs Kudura Kaneko [クドゥラ 金子]- For the OPBF Welterweight title
Kenichi Ogawa [尾川 堅一] Vs Kazuhiro Nishitani [西谷和宏] - Non title bout
Masayoshi Nakatani Vs Felix Verdejo - WBO Intercontinental Lightweight title
Ryoji Fukunaga Vs Kenta Nakagawa [中川 健太] - WBO Asia Pacific, JBC and OPBF triple title bout
and Hironori Mishiro Vs Masayuki Ito [伊藤 雅雪] - Non title bout
As for the female awards, the MVP nominess are:
WBO Atomweight champion Mika Iwakawa (10-5-1, 3) [岩川 美花]
WBO female Minimumweight champion Etsuko Tada (20-3-3, 7) [多田悦子]
and WBO female Super Flyweight champion Tomoko Okuda (7-2-2, 1) [奥田朋子]
The best bouts for female boxing are:
Mika Iwakawa Vs Nanae Suzuki [鈴木菜々江]
Etsuko Tada Vs Ayaka Miyao [宮尾 綾香]
and Tomoko Okuda Vs Miyo Yoshida [吉田 実代]
According to a highly reliable source a deal has been reached for WBO female Minimumweight champion Etsuko Tada (20-3-3, 7) [多田悦子] to defend her title on February 13th in the US, in bout against unbeaten American challenger Seniesa Estrada (19-0, 8).
The bout will be Tada's first defense of the title since reclaiming the title in December, when she stopped Ayaka Miyao in the 9th round, with a brutal single left hand.
At the age of 39 Tada has seen better days, and she seemed very much on the slide in early 2020 when she fought to a draw with Miyao. She also seemed to be slowing and aging in 2017, when she lost a decision in Macau to Cai Zong Ju, though has strung together some good wins since that loss, including the win over Miyao and wins over Naoko Shibata and Kayaoko Ebata.
Notably this will be Tada's first bout in the US, and her 4th bout outside of Japan, and she is currently 0-2-1 when she has fought away from home.
The 28 year old Estrada is one of the rising stars of female boxing in the US and is an exciting, explosive, talented fighter who has created a real buzz for herself in recent bouts. "Super Bad" claimed the WBA "interim" Flyweight title in 2019, when she upset Olympian Marlen Esparza, and scored a 7 second blow out win over Miranda Adkins in 2020, in one of the most explosive KO's seen in female boxing in recent memory.
On paper this is the toughest fight Estrada has had since turning professional, as she takes on a multi-time world champion, but she is likely to enter as the clear favourite. Despite that this is not a gimme for the talented American.
The bout is said to have been scheduled as part of the under-card to the highly anticipated IBF Super Featherweight title bout between defending champion champion Joseph "Jojo" Diaz (31-1, 15) and mandatory challenger Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov (15-0, 12) [Шавкатджон Рахимов], and will be held at The Avalon, in Hollywood California. DAZN are expected to show the bout live, in what looks set to be a fantastic show from Golden Boy promotions.
Tomorrow at Korakuen Hall we'll see the rematch between former world champions Ayaka Miyao (23-8-2, 6) [宮尾 綾香] and Etsuko Tada (19-3-3, 6) [多田悦子], who battle for the vacant WBO female Minimumweight title.
Today, ahead of tomorrow's bout, the two women took part in their weigh in and both fighters came in at an identical 104.8lbs for the bout, comfortably under the divisional limit. And both looked in solid condition at the weigh in.
The two ladies fought earlier this year, back in January 28th, and fought to an enthralling draw where both women had moments, and both landed solid shots, but neither could convince the officials they had done enough for victory.
Following their draw Miyao had planned a bout to take place in Vietnam in September, though that was cancelled due to the on going global situation. As a result two women have agree too their rematch and it's one we are really looking forward to. Especially given the competitive and exciting nature of their first bout.
In regards to this match Miyao has revealed that she has been working on the power and accuracy of her punches and has devised a gameplan to over-come Tada. That's despite not being able to spar properly for the bout, and not having any one to replicate Tada's style and physical traits. Despite that she did come across as hungry and confident of picking up the win and becoming a world champion once again.
Tada on the other hand suggested this was going to be the final chapter of her boxing career and admitted she didn't seem like herself in the first Miyao bout. She has however been in the gym since September, changed her training methods and is seemingly aware of over-training. Like Miyao she sounded confident and it sounds like both are expecting a real thriller here.
Sadly the bout won't be shown live anywhere, though it will be made available on demand via the excellent Boxing Raise service.
Related - Miyao and Tada battle again for WBO world title!
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