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)
News regarding bouts in Japan have been really slow this year, even slower than we typically see in January. Thankfully however our sources have began to send us more and more information and today we were informed of the plan for the April Diamond Glove show.
The card, which will take place at Korakuen Hall, is planned to be a Japanese title double header, and a significant part of the 2020 Champion Carnival.
One of the bouts will see Japanese Bantamweight champion Yusuke Suzuki (11-3, 7) [鈴木悠介] defending his title against mandatory challenger Kyosuke Sawada (14-2-1, 6) [澤田京介]. Interestingly this will be the second time these two men have faced off, having actually fought in 2013. Their first bout saw Suzuki defeat a then debuting Sawada, in what was Suzuki's second professional bout.
For Suzuki this will be his first defense, following his title win last July over Yuta Saito, in what was a truly brutal bout. As for Sawada the bout will be his first title bout.
The other part of the double header is a Japanese Featherweight title bout, and will see 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 is one of the standout bouts of the Champion Carnival.
Sagawa is currently riding an 8 fight winning streak, including excellent wins over Ryo Matsumoto and Reiya Abe, and is looking to build on his first defense, against Ryo Hino. As for Maruta he's looking to claim the national title in his first shot at the belt, having previously come up short in an OPBF Super Bantamweight title bout against Hidenori Otake.
At the moment no under-card details have been revealed, but given how exciting the double header is we wouldn't expect too much quality on the under-card.
Earlier today Japanese fight fans at the Korakuen Hall saw Japanese Featherweight champion Ryo Sagawa (9-1, 4) [佐川遼] make his first defense, as he scored a clear decision win over mandatory challenger Ryo Hino (13-2-2, 8) [日野僚].
On paper this looked a really good match up, with both men having similar looking records and similar, technique based, styles. In the end though it was a pretty comfortable win for the talented champion, who has been in great form recently and extended his run here.
The early part of the bout was ultra-competitive, with both man looking to control the distance and make their most of their jabs. Through the first 5 rounds it was hard for the judges to split the two men, and when the scores were announced at the mid way point the judges were split. One judge had Hino leading 48-47, whilst the other judges had the bout 48-47 and 49-46 in favour of Sagawa.
From the mid way point however Sagawa took over. Hino tried to set the pace but it was Sagawa who rose above, increasing his work rate and landing the harder shots, particularly in round 8 when his straight right hand landed hard and forced Hino to rethink his tactics. Sadly for Hino his stamina then began to falter and rounds 9 and 10 allowed Sagawa to further increase his control of the bout.
After 10 rounds we went to the scorecards which were 97-93, twice, and 98-92, all in favour of Sagawa.
Sagawa will enter 2020 knowing that his next defense is another mandatory, as he is now set to battle Hinata Maruta (10-1-1, 8) [丸田陽七太] during the 2020 Champion Carnival, whilst Hino will go into the new year with knowledge that he has to improve significantly if he's to win a Japanese title any time soon.
(Image courtesy of A.McGovern)
Back in October we reported that OPBF Super Bantamweight champion Hiroaki Teshigawara (20-2-2, 13) [勅使河原 弘晶] would be defending his title on December 12th at the Korakuen Hall, as he looks to end the year on a high.
At the time of that report there was no opponent announced for Teshigawara, though we were expecting someone of some name value for the still often under-rated slugger.
Today we saw Teshigawara's opponent for that December 12th bout being announced as Shohei Kawashima (18-3-2, 4) [川島翔平], in what is a really good bout between the hard hitting and aggressive champion and skilled challenger.
For Teshigawara the bout will be his third defense, following wins earlier this year against Yuki Iriguchi and Shohei Omori, and he's likely to want to move towards a potential world title fight in 2020.
As for Kawashima the bout will be his third title bout, and comes after close decisions losses on the road to Cristian Mijares, in 2016, and Juan Miguel Elorde, in the Philippines in 2019. Although the under-dog, he is very much a live opponent here.
It's worth noting that this bout will be the headline bout of December's Diamond Glove show, which is a double header, with this OPBF title fight being doubled up with a Japanese Featherweight title bout between Ryo Sagawa (8-1, 4) [佐川遼] and Ryo Hino (13-1-2, 8) [日野僚]. The winner of this Japanese title fight will be mandate to defend the Japanese title in 2020 against Hinata Maruta (10-1-1, 8) [丸田陽七太] during the Champion Carnival.
Just moments ago at the Korakuen Hall fans learned who would be the challenger for the Japanese Featherweight title at the 2020 Champion Carnival. The not only learned who the challenger would be, but they were also left very impressed by the future challenger who put on one of the best performances of his fledgling career.
The bout saw the very highly touted Hinata Maruta (10-1-1, 8) [丸田陽七太] take out former champion Takenori Ohashi (17-6-2, 11) [大橋健典] in just 3 rounds!
From the opening seconds it was clear Maruta had the edge in speed, movement and given his significantly longer frame he was able to quickly establish his jab. That played a vital role through the fight, but it was his ability to mix in the right hand that proved even more potent, dropping Ohashi inside the first round with a clean, single right hand.
Ohashi got up from the knockdown and tried to be aggressive in round 2, knowing that if he sat off Maruta would have a field day with him from range. That had momentary success, but saw Maruta pinging his clean and sharp jab straight on to the face of Ohashi, busting his nose open. The pressure of Ohashi was neutralised, and he struggled to land anything of note whilst taking consistent punishment.
In round 3, with Ohashi's face covered in blood and things looking hopeless for him, the doctor took a look and stopped the bout, saving a bloodied Ohashi from more punishment at the 2:00 mark of the round.
With this win Maruta has secured himself at the Japanese Featherweight title in 2020, where he will face either Ryo Sagawa (8-1, 4) [佐川遼] or Ryo Hino (13-1-2, 8) [日野僚], who clash on December 12th, for the belt.
For Maruta this was impressive. Yes, sure, Ohashi was made to order but less than 2 yeas he was the Japanese Featherweight champion and he survived until round 7 when taking a beating from Taiki Minamoto last year. This was a more aggressive performance from Maruta than we'd seen at times and it was really impressive how easily he took apart the dangerous Ohashi.
As for Ohashi the 30 year old may need to consider his next step. He's still dangerous but his lack of speed is an issue which will only get worse now he's the wrong side of 30.
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