Yesterday (March 27th) saw the JBC release an updated version of their national rankings. This new update featured some very interesting movements across the divisions.
Firstly Kosei Tanaka (2-0) has been moved from #7 to #3 in the Minimumweight division. This move has almost certainly been a nod towards the idea that Tanaka will be looking to win a national title in his 3rd professional bout and in turn set a national record. This has also seen Tanaka leap frog Takuma Inoue who has dropped from #6 to #7.
At Light Flyweight it's interesting to note that former WBA Minimumweight champion Ryo Miyazaki has been given a #4 ranking. He had been kept out of the rankings following his loss to Fahlan Sakkreerin Jr in December, though it now appears that the JBC have been assured that he can make 108lbs. Strangely Toshimasa Ouchi has also been included in the rankings at #14 despite losing to the unranked Atsushi Aburada less than a week ago.
At Flyweight the big change is that former 2 weight world champion Kazuto Ioka has been given a #2 national ranking. Although Ioka could challenge for the national title we already know that he's chasing a world title, and a fight for the IBF world title fight has been set for May with Thailand's Amnat Ruenroeng.
The Super Flyweight division sees some interesting movement with Kohei Kono removed from the rankings following his recent world title victory whilst Daiki Kameda, yes the unlicensed Daiki Kameda, has been moved in to the #4 place ahead of his brother Koki Kameda #5. The sadists in our team think that that would make for a perfect Japanese title eliminator.
In the Bantamweight division we've seen both Masahiro Ishida, #5, and Yushi Tanaka, #6, move up whist former OPBF champion Hiroki Shiino has dropped two places to #7.
Super Bantamweight has seen recent national title challenger Takafumi Nakajima drop down from #1 to #5 following his loss to reigning champion Hidenori Otake. This has allowed Hozumi Hasegawa to become the #1 ranked fighter whilst Yasutaka Ishimoto is now #2. Of course neither of those men seem interested in the Japanese title with both focusing on the IBF belt.
The big change at Featherweight saw Shinji Takayama drop a couple of places to #12 allowing Shota Hayashi, #10, and Akihiko Katagiri, #11, to each move up a place.
In the Super Featherweight division Tsuyoshi Tojo has been dropped from #1 to #8 following his loss to veteran Koji Umetsu who is now #8. The demotion for Tojo has seen former champion Daiki Kaneko moved back to #1 and, with out trying to sound presumptuous, we do think that Kaneko is the best Super Featherweight in Japan other than Takashi Uchiyama and Takashi Miura. For what it's worth we think Kaneko is around their level anyway so Rikki Naito better hope that Kaneko doesn't want his belt back.
At Lightweight we have a few changes lower down the rankings though can't see anything too notable.
The first new champion to be crowned was in the Light Welterweight division as Hiroki Okada managed to over-come Masayoshi Kotake. As Okada and Kotake were the #1 and #2 fighters previously we've seen a shake up at the top with former champion Shinya Iwabuchi being promoted to #1 from #3, we don't think however that Iwabuchi will to try and reclaim his title, instead he's likely to focus on the OPBF belt or a world ranking.
In the Super Welterweight division fans got to see Suyon Takayama defend his belt against Tetsuya Suzuki who has dropped from #1 to #6. This has seen Akinori Watanabe moved to the #1 position and we'd genuinely love to see Takayama fight Watanabe, though it would be dangerous fight for the champion.
Our second new champion was crowned at Light Middleweight where Tadashi Yuba was dethroned by Takayuki Hosokawa. Yuba's loss saw him dropping all the way down to #6 in the rankings and promoted Charlie Ota to #1. At #2 is Koji Numata who we believe has announced that he's retired from active boxing following his draw with Takehiro Shimokawara, #3.
A third new champion was crowned at Middleweight as Akio Shibata unified his OPBF title with the Japanese title courtesy of a decision victory over Daisuke Nakagawa. The Middleweight rankings also saw the removal of Yuki Nonaka who hasn't been particularly active recently. Other than Nonaka's removal little has changed in the actual rankings with Ryota Murata continuing to be the #1 ranked fighter.
Super Middleweight sees no change at all with Shintaro Matsumoto being the only ranked fighter. Despite their only being a single fighter at Super Middleweight it is significantly better than both Light Heavyweight and Cruiserweight which have no ranked fighters at all.
At Heavyweight there are no changes with Takehara Kotatsu holding the #1 ranking and Okello Peter the #2 ranking behind champion Kyotaro Fujimoto.
The recent rankings, in full, can be seen here on the JBC website.
The Japanese Boxing Commission (JBC) have announced an overhaul of their domestic rankings.
The most notable change visibly will be that the rankings will be extended from 12 to 15. This will be joined by another notable change that will see world ranked fighters now become eligible for Japanese rankings.
This second part appears to be a controversial move which would see fighters like Hozumi Hasegawa and Takahiro Ao eligible for a domestic ranking and presumably a Japanese title fight.
Whilst we do see some genuine issues with this it could help fill out some of the lesser populated divisions and help establish a higher level of competition amongst some of the tougher divisions.
The move, which will likely be spoken about a lot in Japan is interesting and whilst we can see the positives we can also see the negatives and can understand why some people may not like this change.
Japan's hotly tipped youngster Naoya Inoue (3-0, 3) appears to have signed a deal to face Japanese Light Flyweight champion Ryoichi Taguchi (18-1-1, 8). Taguchi, ranked by #3 by the WBA and #11 by the WBO will be putting his world rankings on the line as well as his national title.
For Inoue this is a step up but after his 10 round domination of Yuki Sano no one is doubting the youngsters ability to reach the top in double quick fashion.
The two men will meet on August 25th at the Sky Arena, Zama, Kanagawa.
This is just one of a number of highly promising Japanese national title fights that are scheduled for the rest of the year.
In July we have a Bantamweight title defense by Kohei Oba (33-2-1, 12) who won the title in March. Oba will be facing Satoshi Niwa (15-15-2, 3) who brings a 5 fight winning streak to the ring but looks hopeless over-matched here.
July also gives us the historic Heavyweight title bout between the once beaten Kyotaro Fujimoto (6-1, 4) and Okello Peter (21-6, 19). This will be the first Japanese Heavyweight title bout in a generation and only the second in history.
We also get a Super Flyweight title bout in July as the unbeaten Teiru Kinoshita (17-0-1, 3) makes the 4th defense of his title and takes on former world title challenger Junichi Ebisuoka (23-15-5, 10). Like the Oba/Niwa match this looks to be a mismatch.
August appears to be a busy month. Not only do we get the Flyweight bout between Inoue and Taguchi but 4 other Japanese titles bouts.
On August 3rd the Korakuen Hall hosts a Japanese title double header as Daiki Kaneko (18-2-3, 11) defends his Super Featherweight title against Mitsuya Omura (16-7-1, 12) and the hard hitting Tomohiro Ebisu (11-2, 11) defends his Middleweight title against former 2-weight champion Daisuke Nakagawa (21-3-2, 16).
Just 6 days after the Kaneko and Ebisu double header title action returns to "The Hall" as Hidenori Otake (20-1-3, 9) defends his Super Bantamweight title against Yukinori Hisanaga (15-4-2, 9). A win here may see Otake moving towards a fight for the OPBF title against the talented Shingo Wake.
Only a few days after the Otake/Hisanaga bout Keita Obara (8-1, 7) will defend his Light Welterweight title against So Takenaka (18-6-2, 8). This looks likely to be the final Japanese title fight before the Inoue/Taguchi bout that we expect will be televised on Fuji TV.
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