Late last night the WBA announced a Featherweight world title eliminator between Japan's Hiroshige Osawa (36-5-4, 21) [大沢宏晋] and Dominican fighter Hector Luis Garcia (12-0-0-2, 9).
The two men are ranked #1 and #2 by the WBA and have been given 30 days, from March 10th, to negotiate an agreement for the bout, or else a purse bid will be ordered. The two men also need to tell the WBA that they intend to pursue the bout in the next 5 days. If a fighter doesn't respond within that that time the WBA will follow their rules to decide what to do next.
Neither of the two men is that well known away from their local fans but both are worthy of discussing, at least a tiny bit.
Osawa is best known for his 2016 loss to Oscar Valdez in a WBA world title fight. Since then he has gone 6-1 and has maintained a high WBA ranking. The 28 year old Garcia on the other hand is best known for this 2019 win over Anvar Yunusov, but will be regarded as the man stepping up in class here. Prior to turning professional he had been a notable amateur winning silver medals at a number of regional competitions and fighting at the 2016 Olympics.
The winner of this would become the mandatory for popular Chinese world champion Can Xu (18-2, 3) [徐灿].
One of the many Japanese fighters currently chasing gold is Hiroshige Osawa (36-5-4, 21) [大沢宏晋], who is currently ranked #1 by the WBA at Featherweight.
Today, in Osaka, fans had the chance to Osawa in a stay busy fight against Indonesian journeyman Jason Butar Butar (29-27-1, 19) in an 8 round bout.
On paper this looked like a total mismatch in favour of Osawa but ended up being rather competitive.
Osawa began the fight behind his jab, but the Indonesian visitor wasn't there to just accept a loss, and fought back bravely, looking to match the jab of Osawa. Even when Osawa turned up the heat, and pressed with more intensity, he continued to struggle to have real success or land anything of note in the first half of the bout. That didn't change until the second half of the fight, when he amped up his aggression and put the bout beyond doubt. It was a good thing he did as the judges, or at least 2 of them, had it very close.
After 8 rounds the bout was scored 77-75, 78-74 and 79-73 in favour of Osawa. Although he got the win he will need a much, much better performance if he ever gets a second world title fight. It seems likely he's chasing a bout with Chinese fighter Can Xu (17-2, 3) [徐灿], but on today's performance he stands no chance against the "Monster".
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Back in August we reported that the team behind Chinese "Monster" Can Xu (17-2, 3) [徐灿], the current WBA Featherweight champion, had travelled to the US to arrange Xu's next defense. At that point the plan was to try and secure a bout in October, with the original aim being to fight on October 26th in Las Vegas as part of a card being headlined by Saul Alvarez.
Of course those plans have had to change, though details have now been fully confirmed for Xu's next bout, which also marks his second defense.
The Chinese world champion is now pencilled in to fight on November 23rd in Indio, California, where he'll defend his title against unbeaten American Manny Robles (18-0, 8), as part of a really solid Golden Boy Promotions.
For Xu the bout will be both his second defense and his third bout in the US, as he returns to the country for the fist time since his career defining victory against Jesus M Rojas. A win here would mean his next bout would likely be a mandatory title defense, and it's worth noting the current #1 ranked challenger is Hiroshige Osawa (35-5-4, 21) [大沢宏晋] who fights on October 1st.
Robles on the other hand is ranked #4 by the WBA, but has been on a good run, though this is still a clear step up from the likes of Rigoberto Hermosillo and Edgar Valerio. This will be Robles' first bout against a clear world class fighter, but as an unbeaten fighter he will be full of confidence coming into the contest.
Although relatively unknown a year ago a win here would have completed a remarkable year for Xu, seeing him win the title defeat a former world champion in his first defense then take Robles's unbeaten record. This bout however, is not a gimme for the Chinese action fight.
We've known for a while that WBA "super" and Ring Magazine Light Flyweight champion Hiroto Kyoguchi (13-0, 9) [京口 紘人] would be back in the ring on October 1st to defense his titles against Tetsuya Hisada (34-9-2, 20) [久田 哲也] in Osaka.
What wasn't known until much more recently was who would be featuring on the supporting card, which we can now report!
The chief support bout will see former world title challenger Hiroshige Osawa (35-5-4, 21) [大沢宏晋] fighting in what looks like a stay busy bout. The WBA #1 ranked Featherweight will be up against Indonesian Jason Butar Butar (29-26-1, 19), in an 8 round bout being fought at a contracted 58KG's, just a touch over the Featherweight limit.
Whilst the chief support is a mismatch there is some decent bouts in supporting line up. Among those is a 6 rounder between Kaiki Yuba (5-0-2, 3) [湯場海樹] and Mikado Konishi (6-2, 4), with the two Lightweights expected to have a bit of a war given the styles of the men involved. Another 6 rounder will see Atsushi Matsui (4-3, 4) [松井敦史] and Ryuji Kanza (7-2-1, 5) [寛座隆司], in what again promises to be an explosive clash.
The other 3 bouts announced for the card are all 4 rounders featuring novices at the embryonic stage of their careers.
Back on May 1st we saw a thrilling Japanese Featherweight title bout, as defending champion Taiki Minamoto (16-5-1, 13) [源大輝] just retained his title, fighting to a draw with Reiya Abe (19-2-1, 9) [阿部 麗也]. After the bout their was talk about a rematch, and talk about Minamoto potentially moving up. We'll be honest and admit we wanted to see a rematch, the first really was that good, though today the hope of a rematch was ended.
The decision has been made by Minamoto to abandon the division and begin campaigning at Super Featherweight, due to issues making the 126lb weight limit. Whilst that does ruin hope of a rematch it's not a bad thing for fans who are now set to get another hard hitting in the already stacked Japanese Super Featherweight picture and a number of potentially interesting bouts to fill the title void at Featherweight.
For the vacant title we would expect to see Abe fighting for the belt again next, with likely opponent being highly ranked by the JBC. The #2 ranked fighter, behind Abe, is former world title challenger Genesis Servania (32-2, 15) and we would certainly expect that to be an amazing match up. Others ranked highly by the JBC include Ryo Hino (13-1-2, 8) [日野僚], who would look to avenge a 2015 loss to Abe, the in form Ryo Sagawa (7-1, 4) [佐川遼], former world title challenger Hiroshige Osawa (35-5-4, 21) [大沢宏晋] and super talented youngster Hinata Maruta (9-1-1, 7) [丸田陽七太]. Any of those 5 possible foes against Abe would be great.
With Minamoto moving up he will find himself linked to fights against the likes of Japanese champion Masaru Sueyoshi (19-1-1, 11) [末吉 大] and former world champion Masayuki Ito (25-2-1, 13) [伊藤 雅雪], among others. Though, for now,m he'd be unable to challenge for the OPBF title held by Watanabe gym stablemate Hironori Mishiro (7-0-1, 2) [三代大訓], who defends that title in July.
Whilst it's obviously a shame we won't see Abe and Minamoto run it back with a rematch, the move up in weight for Minamoto is better for his health, and really changes the dynamic on the Japanese scene at both Featherweight and Super Featherweight.
News! We try and give you the most interesting news stories from the Asian boxing world!