Earlier today at Korakuen Hall was an awards ceremony for the East Japan Boxing Association award winners for November.
The MVP for the month was Japanese 154lb champion Hironobu Matsunaga (16-1, 10) [松永 宏信], who made his first defense in November. The exciting Matsunaga will be back in the ring on March 7th, when he defends his belt against mandatory challenger Yuto Shimizu (14-4-2, 5) [清水優人] at the Champion Carnival. He explained he was honoured to win the MVP award, and stated that his bout with Shimizu will be an interesting fight.
The fighting Spirit Award winner was OPBF Bantamweight champion Keita Kurihara (15-5, 13) [栗原 慶太]. He revealed that he would be back in the ring in March, though didn't have many other details and admitted than an opponent hasn't been decided on as of yet. We suspect, although it's yet to be confirmed, that he will be on the Mach 7th card, along with Matsunaga.
Interestingly the winner of the Newcomer award, Kyonosuke Kameda (5-2-1, 4) [亀田京之介], wasn't at today's event. Instead his trainer attended the event, receiving the commemorative prize on behalf of Kameda.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
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)
Back on November 2nd 2019 we saw Japanese Light Middleweight champion Hironobu Matsunaga (16-1, 10) [松永 宏信] record his first defense, as he beat Koki Koshikawa [越川孝紀] in 4 rounds. It was an impressive performance from Matsunaga, who had to deal with a young and aggressive champion.
On the very same show Yuto Shimizu (14-4-2, 5) [清水優人] defeated former 2-weight Japanese champion Nobuyuki Shindo [新藤寛之] to book himself a title fight at the 2020 Champion Carnival.
Today we were finally informed that a date had been set for the Matsunaga Vs Shindo bout, with it taking place on the March 7th, as the main event of March's Dynamic Glove.
The bout will be fought under a card that carries not only the Dynamic Glove banner but also the A Sign one, meaning that it will likely be made available both on TV and officially on youtube through the A-sign channel, albeit on some form of delay.
Sadly at the time of writing no other bouts have been confirmed for this card, though given the quality of Asign shows we would expect at least 1 other solid match up, as they do tend to double up well on shows.
Earlier today the East Japan Boxing Association announced their award winners for the month of the month of November, with 3 fighters being recognised for what they did during the month.
The MVP for the month was Japanese Light Middleweight champion Hironobu Matsunaga (16-1, 10) [松永 宏信], who successfully made his first defense at the start of the month. The exciting Matsunaga stopped former Japanese amateur standout Koki Koshikawa [越川孝紀] in 4 rounds to retain the title and earn this monthly award.
The fighting Spirit Award was won by OPBF Bantamweight champion Keita Kurihara (15-5, 13) [栗原 慶太], who didn't defend his title but did impressively stop world ranked Thai Sukpraserd Ponpitak, to take a huge step towards a potential future world title shot. The win for Kurihara might not have got much international attention but was huge for his career and we expect to see him in some big bouts in 2020.
The third award was the Newcomer award, which was won by Featherweight hopeful Kyonosuke Kameda (5-1-1, 4) [亀田京之介] stopped the previously unbeaten Daiki Imanari [今成太希] in the East Japan Rookie of the Year final. With his win Kameda not only won this award but also booked himself a place in the All Japan Rookie of the Year final, just days before Christmas.
The trio of award winners will be able to attend an award ceremony on January 18th at the Korakuen Hall, as part of the Dynamic Glove show.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Although today's Dynamic Glove show was a rather poor one, if we're being totally honest, it did end on a high with a fantastic Japanese Light Middleweight title fight between Hironobu Matsunaga (16-1, 10) [松永 宏信], making his first defense, and former Japanese amateur standout Koki Koshikawa (9-2, 6) [越川孝紀], who was having his first title fight.
On paper this looked great. A rising contender with strong fundamentals, against a champion who had been in great form since a loss almost 5 years ago in the Rookie of the Year. What we got exceeded all expectations however and was a real highlight, making up for what had been a less than great show.
From the opening seconds Koshikawa was on the offensive, almost catching Matsunaga cold. He rocked champion and swarmed all over him, forcing Matsunaga to hold, regain his composure and recover. Koshikawa wasn't done though and kept the pressure on, until Matsunaga pressed back, giving us a round that swung one way then the other. It was a genuinely fantastic,action packed round to start the fight.
If the first round was good then the second was great. This one started in the opposite fashion to the first, with Matsunaga getting off to the hot start before Koshikawa turned it around, then Matsunaga took control again, using his speed and combinations, Koshikawa caught the champion with a brutal uppercut and seemed about to take control before Matsunaga attacked again forcing a violent exchange. That exchange seemed to lean towards Koshikawa, but a late flurry from Matsunaga saw him do enough to take the round, and leave Koshikawa cut around the right eye. This was one of the best rounds we've seen in a Japanese title fight this year, and was brilliant back and forth over the 3 minutes.
Sadly for Koshikawa his efforts in the first 2 rounds had seemingly just forced Matsunaga through the gears. Matsunaga came out for round 3 looking to make a statement, regularly finding a home for his straight left hands, worsening the cut around Koshikawa eye to the point where the doctor needed a look. Although the bout wasn't stopped Koshikawa did take a beat through the round, with the referee taking a look at one point, before Koshikawa responded off the ropes. By the end of the round Koshikawa wasn't just cut but also had facial bruising and was beginning to look like a beaten man, despite the fans being behind him.
Koshikawa's bravery and desire to be the champion saw him come out aggressive in round 4, in what was pretty much a last roll of the dice, but it didn't help, as Matsunaga continued picking his shots well, making Koshikawa pay for his aggression and landing straight left hands to the bloodied face of Koshikawa. The challenger's defenses were failing him massively and whilst his desire was there he was taking a lot of punishment before the referee stepped in to stop him part way through round 4.
With this win Matsunaga retains his title and sets up a bout with Yuto Shimizu in the 2020 Champion Carnival, with Shimizu earning his shot in the show's main support bout. Given how Shimizu and Matsunaga looked it's hard to see how the challenge will over-come the champion here. Matsunaga's not unbeatable, but he looks to be on a different level to Shimizu, who we suspect will be too slow and clumsy against the aggressive and sharp Matsunaga.
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