It's fair to say that 2020 has been a rather unique year in the world of professional boxing, and even by typical standards we have seen more bouts being delayed, posted and cancelled than ever before. Obviously we all under-stand why but it does need stating that a lot of bouts that had been announced are currently in a state of flux. They haven't officially been cancelled or rescheduled yet. Instead they seem to be sitting in a state of weird boxing purgatory.
Today we saw one of those bouts removed from purgatory and being given a date.
The bout in question is the Champion Carnival bout between Japanese Super Bantamweight champion Yusaku Kuga (19-4-1, 13) [久我勇作] and his mandatory challenger Gakuya Furuhashi (26-8-1, 14) [古橋大輔].
Originally the bout was set for April 28th at Korakuen Hall. That was before boxing was paused in Japan to deal with the on going global situation, and try to prevent infections ripping through the Japanese boxing scene.
Today that bout got given a new date, January 22nd 2021, and will be held as part of Dangan 238. Sadly that is almost 9 months after it was originally supposed to be held.
For Kuga the bout will be Kuga's second defense since reclaiming the title in May 2019, winning an all out war with Ryoichi Tamura at the Sumida City Gymnasium, and will be his bout since being blasted in 84 seconds by Jhunriel Ramonal at the end of 2019.
As for Furuhashi the bout will be his first since a September 2019 win over Ryoichi Tamura, with that win securing him a title fight as part of the Champion Carnival.
If all goes ahead as planned the bout will make for an excellent double header along with a Japanese Super Featherweight title bout between defending champion Kosuke Saka (20-5, 17) [坂晃典] and teak tough challenger Takuya Watanabe (37-9-1, 21) [渡邉卓也].
Although yet to be confirmed we're hoping this show will get the live stream treatment from Boxing Raise as it already looks like a sensational show, even with no under-card announced.
Over the last few days we've seen a lot of Japanese title bouts being revealed as part of the Champion Carnival. Earlier today those bouts were set in stone as the Champion Carnival presentation took place, confirming the contests we'd reported and getting all the champions and challengers in one event.
The first of the bouts will take place on February 1st at the Dynamic Glove show, and will see Japanese Welterweight champion Yuki Nagano (17-2, 13) [永野祐樹] defending his title against mandatory challenger Keita Obara (22-4-1, 20) [小原 佳太]. This bout has been known about for weeks and is an exciting, and potentially very explosive, way to kick off the Champion Vs Challenger series. This bout will be at Korakuen Hall, where most of the title bouts will actually take place.
The second bout will take on February 13th, when Lightweight champion Shuichiro Yoshino (11-0, 9) [吉野 修一郎] defends his belt against Izuki Tomioka (7-2-1, 2) [富岡樹]. This is expected to bee a match up showing a lot of skills, from both men, though the power and physical edges with the champion does make him the favourite. This is another bout at Korakuen Hall.
It's then almost a month later until we get the next bout in the series. That'll be on March 7th, on the March Dynamic Glove, when Light Middleweight champion Hironobu Matsunaga (16-1, 10) [松永 宏信] defends his belt against Yuto Shimizu (14-4-2, 5) [清水優人] in a potentially enthralling bout. The champion will be seeking his second defense whilst Shimizu will be getting his first title fight. This will be the third successive bout at Tokyo's Korakuen Hall.
Just one day later, March 8th, we get the Flyweight bout with the heavy handed Seigo Yuri Akui (14-2-1, 10) [阿久井政悟] defending his title against Seiya Fujikita (13-4, 6) [藤北誠也]. Given Akui's style this should be an explosive bout, and one to look forward to. This was announced way back at the start of the year and will take place at the Aeon Mall mall in Okayama City, the first of the bouts outside of Tokyo.
Just a week later, March 15th, action turns to the Aioi Hall in Kariya as Light Flyweight champion Yuto Takahashi (11-4, 5) [高橋悠斗] defends against hard hitting challenger Masamichi Yabuki (10-3, 10) [佐藤政道]. This will be the first title defnense for Takahashi, and will see him entering enemy territory.
The following day, March 16th, Light Welterweight champion Koki Inoue (15-0, 12) [浩樹井上] will take on Daishi Nagata (14-2-1, 5) [永田大士] in the main event of a card at Korakuen Hall from Ohashi. This is one of the few shows where under-card details have been revealed, and it makes for a very decent looking card overall.
After a slew of fights in March we then have a bit of a break before returning on April 9th for a double header at Korakuen Hall. One of the bouts here will see Bantamweight champion Yusuke Suzuki (11-3, 7) [鈴木悠介] make his first defense, as he goes up against Kyosuke Sawada (14-2-1, 6) [澤田京介] in a rematch of a bout both men had back in 2013. The other bout on this card will see Featherweight champion Ryo Sagawa (9-1, 4) [佐川遼] make his second defense as he takes on Hinata Maruta (10-1-1, 8) [丸田陽七太], in what we feel is the standout bout from this year's Carnival.
On April 28th Super Bantamweight champion Yusaku Kuga (19-4-1, 13) [久我勇作] will defend his title against Gakuya Furuhashi (26-8-1, 14) [古橋大輔]. This bout will be Kuga's first defense since reclaiming the title last year and will be Furuhashi's third shot, at a third different champion. This bout is also set to be at Korakuen Hall.
Interestingly the Super Featherweight bout between hard hitting champion Kosuke Saka (20-5, 17) [坂晃典] and teak tough challenger Takuya Watanabe (37-9-1, 21) [渡邉卓也] is pencilled in for April in Osaka, though no date or specific venue was confirmed at today's event.
On May 16th we'll see the Super Flyweight title bout as defending champion Kenta Nakagawa (18-3-1, 12) [中川 健太] takes on Yuta Matsuo (15-4-2, 8) [松尾雄太] at the Sumida City Gymnasium in Tokyo.
No those who are eagle eyed will be aware there were some division's missing.
Firstly the Minimumweight bout hasn't yet been decided. The title is currently vacant, after Norihito Tanaka (19-7, 10) [田中教仁] returned the belt earlier this year. What we do know is that Masataka Taniguchi (12-3, 7) [谷口 将隆] will be involved in the title bout, though there is currently no opponent, date or venue for the bout.
The Middleweight title bout will see the hard hitting Kazuto Takesako (11-0-1, 11) [竹迫司登] defending his belt against Riku Kunimoto (4-0, 2) [国本陸] but this bout has no date or location set. This bout is likely to be scheduled following Takesako's bout this coming weekend against OPBF champion Shinobu Charlie Hosokawa (12-4-1, 11) [細川チャーリー忍].
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
At the end of 2019 we saw WBO Asia Pacific Super Bantamweight title bout between Yusaku Kuga (19-4-1, 13) [久我勇作] and Jhunriel Ramonal (17-8-6, 10). The result of that bout was an opening round win for Ramonal, who denied Kuga a chance of becoming a double champion.
Despite that loss Kuga remained the Japanese Super Bantamweight champion and today we were informed his next defense was for April 28th as part of this year's Champion Carnival.
The heavy handed Kuga will be making his second defense of the title, which he now holds for the second time, as he takes on mandatory challenger Gakuya Furuhashi (26-8-1, 14) [古橋大輔], with the bout pencilled to take place at Korakuen Hall.
Kuga, from the Watanabe Gym, became a 2-time champion last May, when he beat Ryoichi Tamura in a 10 round barn burner to reclaim the title. He made his first defense in September, when he took out Yosuke Fujihara in just 95 seconds. Then he ended the year with the loss to Ramonal.
As for Furuhashi he is riding an 8 fight winning streak since a 2016 loss in a Japanese title fight to Yasutaka Ishimoto. He earned this title shot with a win in September over Ryoichi Tamura to secure his third shot at the title.
At the moment there are no other bouts for this show have been reported, though it seems likely that there would be at least 1 other notable bout on the show, as well as the typical Japanese under-card of novices and prospects.
Every so often we get a bout that we just know will be something special, due to the men involved, their styles and their mentality.
Today we had one such bout, as former Japanese Super Bantamweight champion Ryoichi Tamura (12-5-1, 6) [田村 亮一] battled against experienced veteran Gakuya Furuhashi (26-8-1, 14) [古橋大輔] in a Japanese title eliminator.
On paper the bout wasn't anything special, but hardcore fans of the Japanese scene knew this would be something sensational, and that's exactly what we got, over 8 incredible rounds.
From the opening round this was just a violent war with both men standing their ground and letting their shots fly up close. Both men essentially ignored their jabs as they traded hooks and uppercuts up close. This was the style that suited Tamura.
Despite being the more physically imposing fighter Tamura seemed to falter in terms of variations, whilst Furuhashi managed to land some booming straight right hands on his way in, and as the fight went on Furuhashi started to move a little more, using his feet smartly to neutralise some of the pressure of Tamura and lure him onto shots.
Furuhashi would end up being dragged back into a toe-to-toe war again in the later stages as Tamura's pressure began to have the desired effect. By then however it was too little too late for Tamura in the eyes of the judges.
After 8 rounds the scorecards from all 3 judges favoured Furuhashi, with scores of 78-75, twice, and 77-76, as he secured his third Japanese title shot.
After the bout Furuhashi seemed incredibly excited about getting a third shot at the title. He will be the under-dog when he fights for the title, but he'll be a live under-dog. Tamura, on the other hand, stated that he thought he deserved the win and it's clear that despite the loss he will continue on and keep chasing his dreams of regaining the title that he lost to Yusaku Kuga earlier this year.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Tomorrow the Korakuen Hall plays host to a Japanese Super Bantamweight title eliminator, as former champion Ryoichi Tamura (12-4-1, 6) [田村 亮一] take on experienced veteran Gakuya Furuhashi (25-8-1, 14) [古橋大輔]. On paper this might not look like a great bout, but for those who have seen the men in action they'll know they are in for a treat. Both men have great styles and this should be an all action bout.
Just moments ago the two me took part in their weigh in for the bout and both men managed to make the 122lb weight limit, in fact both men came in on the divisional limit.
For Tamura this will be his first bout since losing the Japanese title earlier this year, in a fight of the year contender against Yusaku Kuga. As for Furuhashi the bout will see him seeking an 8th win following a loss in a Japanese title fight to Yasutaka Ishimoto back in 2016.
Interestingly Furuhashi is pencilled in to fight again later this year, with a fight pencilled in for November in Taiwan. That bout is expected to take place win or lose tomorrow. Notably the winner of this bout will get a Japanese title fight early next year at the Champion Carnival.
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