According to Chunichi Sports the future of former WBC Flyweight champion Daigo Higa (16-1, 16) [比嘉 大吾] has been decided and surprisingly he will not be signing with the Ohashi Gym, as many had expected!
Instead Chunichi Sports have reported that Higa will be heading to the gym that Kazuto Ioka (25-2, 14) [井岡一翔] will be opening later this year.
The gym, which will taking over the license of the Ozaki Boxing Gym, will have Takuya Kiya acting as the chairman and is expected to open in the near future. The gym was announced earlier in the year with reports explaining that Ioka wanted more control over his career than he was getting with Dangan, now Dangan Aoki.
Higa, who left the Shirai Gushiken Sports Gym earlier this year, had been expected to sign with Ohashi and continue his strong relationship with broadcaster Fuji TV though this association with Ioka will likely see him joining forces with rival TV channel TBS. TBS not only work with Ioka but also the Watanabe Gym fighters, including WBA Light Flyweight "Super" champion Hiroto Kyoguchi (14-0, 9) [京口 紘人], and work in close association with CBC, who are the TV channel linked to Kosei Tanaka (15-0, 9) [田中恒成].
Although the gym that Ioka, and now Higa, will be part of is currently the Ozaki gym it is expected to receive a name change when it opens. What is known is that it will be in Tokyo.
So far both men have been training independently of the gym, in question though it's expected that both men will be continue to have members in their team that they've worked with in the past. For example Joji Nogi is expected to continue working with Higa.
The report also states that Higa's next bout is likely to be in September, whilst Ioka is still planning to defend his WBO Super Flyweight title against Kosei Tanaka.
Back on May 11th we brought you the news that the Watanabe Gym had set up a crowd funding campaign , titled "Save the Watanabe Boxing Gym" with real fears that the long established gym was going to potential need to close down, permanently. When we reported that the gym had hit 79% of it's target, of 6,000,000JPY.
Today the campaign has managed to hit the target, with the help of more than 400 fans.
Although the gym will remain closed for now the plan seems to be for Watanabe to promote a show in August. At the moment details o that card haven't been planned, but there is light at the end of the tunnel for the Gym.
Originally, before the global situation became what it has been, the plan had been for WBA Light Flyweight "Super" champion Hiroto Kyoguchi (14-0, 9) [京口 紘人] to defend his title against Indonesian challenger Andika Sabu (17-0, 8) in May. It's unclear if that bout will now occur in August but it is great to see that the gym has hit it's target and fighters have been given some money out of the pledges, to tide them over for the short term.
Back in January WBA Light Flyweight "super" champion Hiroto Kyoguchi (14-0, 9) [京口 紘人] announced that he was planning to fight again in April or May. Following that there hadn't been any follow up announcements as to when, where or who against...until today.
Earlier today it was confirmed, by the Watanabe gym, that the plans were for Kyoguchi to defend his title on May 9th at the Ohama Gymnasium in Sakai City against WBA's #2 ranked contender Andika Sabu (17-0, 8). Sadly that bout has now officially been postponed, despite never being officially announced.
The bout would have been Kyoguchi's third defense of the title, which he won at the end of 2018, when he stopped Hekkie Budler. Since winning the title Kyoguchi has defended it against Satanmuanglek CP Freshmart and Tetsuya Hisada, with the Hisada bout coming back in October.
Sabu, dubbed "D'Golden Boy", would have been getting his first world title fight, and the 24 year old Indonesian fighter would have been taking a huge step up in class and fighting outside of Indonesia for the first time. Although ranked #2 by the WBA Sabu had done little to deserve that ranking, and wouldn't be expected to put up much of a challenge for the talented Kyoguchi. Saying that however the bout has only been postponed, officially, and not cancelled, leaving the door open to the bout being rescheduled after the suspension of boxing in Japan is lifted.
Whilst Sabu wouldn't be expected to over-come Kyoguchi it is worth noting that Indonesian boxing does need a shot in the arm, and a big fight for Sabu might be what the country needs. On the other hand the bout coming this year might well be too much too soon for Sabu, who really hasn't fought anyone near world so far into his career.
Earlier today the annual Japanese boxing awards took place at the Tokyo Dome Hotel.
As previously reported unified Bantamweight champion Naoya Inoue (19-0, 16) [井上 尚弥] won the Best fighter award and the Best Fight at event, but was unable to attend due to illness. That however leaves the question "who else won awards?"
The Best Skill award was won by WBO Super Flyweight champion Kazuto Ioka (25-2, 14) [井岡一翔], who became the first Japanese male 4-weight champion in the summer, stopping Aston Palicte. He then defended the title at the end of the year against Jeyvier Cintron, putting in a very different type of performance against Puerto Rican challenger.
Like Inoue, Ioka also didn't attend the event.
The special award saw Ryota Murata (16-2, 13) [村田 諒太] pick up the honours, after reclaiming the WBA Middleweight title and then defending it just before Christmas. He explained his next bout isn't yet decided, though reports are suggesting a May or June date is likely. Murata also picked up the KO award for the year.
The Effort award was won by Yuki Nagano (17-3, 13) [永野祐樹], who won the award for what he did in 2019 despite recently losing the Japanese Welterweight title.
The Newcomer award was win by Junto Nakatani (20-0, 15) [中谷 潤人], who is now reportedly set to fight for the WBO Flyweight title in Spring.
As previously mentioned Naoya Inoue won the best fight in a world title fight, for his sensational bout with Nonito Donaire in the WBSS final. As for none-world title bout, that award, unsurprisingly, went to the brilliant war between Yuki Beppu [別府優樹] and Ryota Yada [矢田良太] for the WBO Asia Pacific Welterweight title. For fans who haven't seen that one, we genuinely implore you to give a watch!
There was a double award for female fighter Tenkai Tsunami (27-12-1, 16) [天海 ツナミ] who not only took the women's MVP award, for the second year running, but also the women's fight of the year for her bout with Naoko Fujioka [藤岡 奈穂子].
The excellent player award, which is given to every Japanese fighter who holds a world title at some point during the year, saw Inoue, Ioka and Murata receive the honour along with:
Kosei Tanaka (15-0, 9) [田中恒成]
Kenshiro Teraji (17-0, 10) [寺地 拳四朗]
Ryosuke Iwasa (27-3, 17) [岩佐 亮佑]
Hiroto Kyoguchi (14-0, 9) [京口 紘人].
The trainer award was given to Mr Kato from the Misako gym, who has been responsible for training Kenjiro Teraji.
There was also a number of special awards given out. These went to:
Kohei Kono (33-12-1, 14) [河野 公平]
Ryoichi Taguchi (27-4-2, 12) [田口良一]
Tatsuya Fukuhara (21-7-6, 7) [福原 辰弥]
And Hitoshi Misako
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
Yesterday at Korakuen Hall there was a notable card, featuring the "God's Left Bantamweight Tournament Final" and a trio of title bouts.
One small story that was over-looked due to the in ring action was an announcement made by WBA Light Flyweight "super" champion Hiroto Kyoguchi (14-0, 9) [京口 紘人].
The unbeaten 2-weight world champion gave us the clearest indication so far of when he is expecting to be back in the ring.
The talented fighter from the Watanabe Gym told the fans in the venue that his next bout is likely to be in April or May. This could potentially fall in line with the Golden Week, at the end of April and start of May, or alternatively come later in the month.
Notably this will not be a mandatory title defense for Kyoguchi, who made his mandatory in October when he beat fellow Japanese fighter Tetsuya Hisada (34-10-2, 20) [久田 哲也].
Whilst no opponent has been suggested it is rather interesting to note that the WBA's #2 ranked contender for the weight is Indonesian fighter Andika Sabu (17-0, 8). Dubbed "D'Golden Boy", the Indonesian may well be the man who gets the call to challenge Kyoguchi. This is even more likely given that the #1 ranked contender Daniel Matellon and #3 ranked contender Eik Omar Lopez are facing off in February for the "interim" title.
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
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