On June 19th we'll see unified Bantamweight champion Naoya Inoue (20-0, 17) [井上 尚弥] defending his WBA "Super" and IBF Bantamweight titles against Filipino fighter Michael Dasmarinas (30-2-1, 20), who enters as the IBF's mandatory challenger. Today, ahead of that bout, Inoue and promoter Hideyuki Ohashi attended a virtual press conference to talk about that contest, the future and Nonito Donaire.
It was revealed at the press conference that sparring for the bout finished on May 29th, with the focus now being on preparing final adjustments and shadow boxing. The sparring was high quality sparring with Japanese talent, such as Reiya Abe (21-3-1, 9) [阿部麗也], Ikuro Sadatsune (11-4-3, 4) [定常 育郎], Rentaro Kimura (3-0, 3) [木村蓮太朗], Jin Minamide (4-1, 3) [南出仁] and OPBF Bantamweight champion Kazuki Nakajima (10-0-1, 8) [中嶋一輝]. It should be noted that he sparred more for this bout than he usually does, and that was put down to the fact he was in better shape than usual.
It should be noted that the sparring partners, on the whole, are southpaws who are taller than Inoue, and naturally bigger. That was obviously the focus of the sparring to try and prepare directly for Dasmarinas.
The travel plan is to leave Japan for the bout on Wednesday, along with a rather sizable team, a reported 10 people in total. This should give him over a week to shake whatever jetlag he might have upon landing in the US.
Regarding weight issues, Inoue stated that he suffered from somecramps ahead of his last bout, against Jason Moloney, and will be looking to avoid them here. Though it appears there is no issues at all in making the 118lb Bantamweight limit, and that his weight loss is very much "as usual" and that he feels the same way he usually does 2 weeks before a bout.
In regards to Dasmarinas, it appears a careful, cautious gameplan has been set up for Inoue. They seem wary about Dasmarinas's size and reach, but will look to break him down slowly.
The longer term plan, after he gets past Dasmarinas, is for Inoue to attempt to unify all 4 Bantamweight world titles. He spoke aboue wanting to face recently WBC champion Nonito Donaire, and it was clear that's a bout Inoue has his eye on for the future. It was also a bout that Hideyuki Ohashi also spoke about wanting, whilst also praising Donaire's recent win over Nordine Oubaali.
One other thing that was mentioned here was that Inoue's purse for the fight was $1,000,000.
Earlier today Japanese Flyweight champion Seigo Yuri Akui (15-2-1, 10) [阿久井政悟] took to social media to announce his second defense of the national title he won in October 2019, and it's a mouth watering clash as part of a brilliant Ohashi promoted card at Koraken Hall on July 21st.
The match up in question will see Akui defending his belt against Japanese prospect Taku Kuwahara (8-0, 4) [桑原拓], who gets his first title fight after making his debut in 2018. The touted Ohashi hopeful has long been tipped for the top but this is a legitimate step up for him against a super dangerous puncher.
Coming in the bout is a genuine toss up, the perfect 50/50 type of fight that more shows need. Akui is the more proven and the heavier handed fighter, but the skills and amateur background of Kuwhara will certainly see plenty feeling he has the tools to detrhone Akui.
As well as the brilliant main event the show will also have several other match watering match ups. One of those will see Japanese Youth Bantamweight champion Toshiya Ishii (3-1, 2) [石井渡士也] battle against the heavy handed Jin Minamide (4-1, 3) [南出仁], in what should be a brutal war.
The talented Ishii really impressed in his first 3 bouts, but was out pointed last year by Sho Ishida [石田 匠] in a razor close bout. He was supposed to face Kaito Takeshima [竹嶋海刀] in March but that bout was scrapped when Takeshima's health forced him to pull out. As for Minamide he looked like a brutal puncher early on, but ran into Kazuki Nakajima [中嶋一輝] in the God's Left Bantamweight tournament in 2019, and has been inactive since then. Both men are coming in on a loss but both are exciting fighters and will be looking to get back to winning ways in a potential barn burner here.
Another supporting bout will see Yoshiki Minato (9-4, 4) [湊義生] battle against Masayoshi Hashizume (17-0-2, 10) [橋詰将義] in a bout between two former All Japan Rookie of the Year winners. This one is likely to be a high tempo war, between two men with a point to prove. Minato has lost 3 of his last 4, including losses to Kuwahara and Akui, but has shown a lot of ability and shouldn't be written off, despite his recent losses. Hashizume once seemed to be an emerging star in Osaka, but recent transferred to a gym in Tokyo, and will be looking to kick start his career after some recent setbacks and inactivity.
One other fighter worth noting on this card is once beaten teenager Kosuke Tomioka (4-1, 3) [富岡 浩介], who is in action for the first time since losing in a Rookie of the Year bout last year to Shunpei Kubo [久保 春平]. The talented charismatic and exciting Tomioka is scheduled for a 6 rounder, though his opponent has yet to be named. Interestingly Tomioka was originally supposed to be facing Kotoji Irita (0-0) [入田琴治] this coming weekend as part of a stacked weekend of boxing from Dangan, though the bout was cancelled last week due to issues with the venue. Fingers crossed Irita will be offered this new date for a bout with Tomioka.
Yesterday we, finally, saw the official announcement that unified Super Bantamweight champion Murodjon Akhmadaliev (8-0, 6) [Муроджон Ахмадалиев] would be facing off with mandatory challenger Ryosuke Iwasa (27-3, 17) [岩佐 亮佑] on April 3rd at the Humo Arena in Tashkent.
Today, following that announcement, Iwasa and promoter Celes Kobayashi held an online press conference to talk about the contest and their plans.
Iwasa explained that he managed to endure the wait, and made it clear that waiting well over a year to fight was frustrating and that he had lost motivation during some of the wait. That was notable when a scheduled date in November vanished. Since February however he has found his hunger and been sparring at the Teiken Gym against the likes of Yamato Hata (11-1, 10) [波田 大和], Mikito Nakano (5-0, 4) [中野幹士], Kenji Fujita [藤田健児] and Subaru Murata [村田昴]. He explained the reason for sparring those 3 in particular was their speed and their styles. When sparring stops he will be training alongside Celes gym stablemate Jin Minamide (4-1, 3) [南出仁], with the two focusing on weight loss and staying sharp.
Talking about the contest Iwasa openly stated "I have a special feeling. It will be the biggest match in my boxing life so far." He also explained that he has no anxiety about fighting away from home, something he's done several times now, with bouts in the UK and the US.
In regards to his approach to the bout, Iwasa stated "I won't let my opponent get into the rhythm." Kobayashi added that the key was to start fast and not lose the early rounds against Akhmadaliev, who they seem to see as a momentum fighter, and they need to stop the momentum from forming early on in the bout.
If he wins Iwasa has his "Eagle Eye" on one man, and that's a bout with WBC Super Bantamweight champion Luis Nery, who he wants to face due to Nery's two wins over Shinsuke Yamanaka. He added that Nery had to be "blown away".
Interesting more TV details regarding the fight became available. It was known that DAZN would be airing the bout, and will be in Japan as well, but for those in Japan without DAZN the bout will be shown on Tape Delay on BS NTV, though the date of that replaying airing wasn't announced.
Back in the summer of 2017 former Japanese Lightweight champion Shuhei Tsuchiya (23-5, 18) [土屋 修平] announced his retirement, following a poor performance against Shota Suito [水藤 翔太]. Tsuchiya won the bout but was unhappy with his performance and suggested that he wasn't able to perform to the standard that he had in the past.
It now appears that that retirement is over, and last night Dangan announced that Tsuchiya would be back in action on January 12th in Tokyo, in a 5 round bout as part of their Knock Out Dynamite Tournament final show.
At the moment the details are unclear on who Tsuchiya will be up against, though it has been confirmed that he will be promoted by the people behind the Dangan shows, Reason, and has officially left former promotional outfit Kadoebi.
With the announcement we now know the dates of two Dangan cards for January. There's this Knock Out Dynamite Tournament show on January 12th and we also know that the God's Left Tournament final will be held just 12 days later, on January 24th, where we will see Seiya Tsutsumi (5-0, 4) take on Kazuki Nakajima (8-0, 7) [中嶋一輝].
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Earlier today fight fans in Tokyo, as well as subscribers to the Boxing Raise service, got the chance see the lone semi-final for the God's Left Bantamweight tournament, and learn about who the second finalist would be.
We were left with one semi-final, after Seiya Tsutsumi (5-0, 4) [堤聖也] was given a bye. That happened because Kenya Yamashita (14-5, 11) [山下賢哉] was forced to abstain from the bout and was taken to hospital due to poor health, likely related to trying to make weight.
Although Tsutsumi was given a bye he was still on the show, taking part in a 3 round spar with OPBF Super Bantamweight champion Hiroaki Teshigawara (20-2-2, 13) [勅使河原 弘晶], who really dwarfed Tsutsumi.
After the public spar we then got the semi-final bout between unbeaten punchers Kazuki Nakajima (8-0, 7) [中嶋一輝] and Jin Minamide (4-1, 3) [南出仁]. This had the recipe to be something special, with both able to land dynamite blows, and both being confident and aggressive fighters.
The bout started slowly, with both looking for position, but then it ramped up from neutral to 5th gear and saw both men trading bombs. Unfortunately for Minamide it was his big shots that were his own downfall as Nakajima began to land big counters, dropping Minamide hard with one of those counters. To his credit Minamide got back to his feet and continued on but was dropped again only moments later, forcing Biney Martin, the referee, to step in and call off the bout.
We now know that Tsutsumi and Nakajima will meet in the final next year. In total the two men have fought just 2 rounds to reach the final, with Tsutsumi having byes at both the quarter-final and semi-final stages and whilst Nakajima has blitzed both of his opponents.
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