Earlier today the Japanese Boxing Commission (JBC) and the Japan Professional Boxing Association (JPBA) held their latest liaison council in regards to the current on going situations and came with some relatively notable changes.
Before we discuss the changes it is worth noting that at the meeting today it was revealed that Jorge Linares (47-5, 29) has been released from hospital, after his positive PCR test on August 6th. From what we under-stand he was there as precaution and on the basis of quarantine, as the fighter himself was reportedly asymptomatic.
The main change in regards to the rules is that fighters will be allowed to train at a different gym to their own, only if they have a match schedule and complete a number of forms and tests.
Since the cases in Osaka back in July the request had been made for fighters to only train at their own gym. This limits things like sparring to fighters within a specific gym. For example if you needed a tall southpaw to spar with and your gym didn't have one, tough luck.
Another change is that steeper punishments will be given where a fighter breathes rules in regards to leaving hotels and violating other restrictions. This can now include include bouts being cancelled, even if a fighter doesn't have a positive test.
From September 21st the plan is to add another layer into the testing procedure, with a test being given the day before bouts.
Arguably, at least for fans, the biggest news is that the Sports Agency have began to ease the restrictions on international fighters and trainers into Japan. This should open the door to international bouts returning to Japanese soil in the near future. This could mean a new date will be announced shortly for the multi-time postponed WBO Flyweight title bout between Junto Nakatani (20-0, 15) [中谷 潤人] and Giemel Magramo (24-1, 20).
Last week we reported that former 3-weight world champion Jorge Linares (47-5, 29) had a positive result show up on a PCR test. As a result of Linares's test result the Teiken Gym was forced to close temporarily. Since then all of the Teiken fighters, and trainers, have been tested and shown negative results in PCR tests, however the gym is still not open, and hasn't been given permission to reopen from the public health centre.
Had the gym only been closed for a few days, as some hoped, the knock on from the closure would have been very limited. It would seen a bout that was supposed to take today place being cancelled, which it was last week, and Linares bout set for August 28th being cancelled. That would pretty much have been it.
Sadly though with the gym still being closed it has now had wider knock on issues. The most obvious of those relate to the fighters who had been preparing for a September 5th date, for a show at Korakuen Hall which was set to be televised live on G+. With fighters unable to train at the gym at the moment, the September 5th date has officially been scrapped today. Instead the show will be delayed until October 2nd, which may have other knock on issues relating to TV.
The original date for the fight sat on a TV slow reserved for a live boxing broadcast with G+ as part of their monthly Dynamic Glove series. That series shows a live boxing event on the first Saturday of every month, typically from Korakuen Hall. The new days falls on a Friday which may mean that the event misses out on live TV, though this yet to be confirmed. If live TV is lacking the best we can hope for is a tape delay broadcast.
The reason the event can't take the set aside October TV slot, on the first Saturday of the month, is that there is already a show set for that date, with Japanese Light Middleweight champion Hironobu Matsunaga (16-1, 10) [松永 宏信] defending his belt against Yuto Shimizu (14-4-2, 5) [清水優人] on October 3rd.
In a perfect world both events would get live TV coverage, though we suspect that that's unlikely to happen. It should be noted that the event is still being marketed as a Dynamic Glove show, suggesting that the event will still get TV exposure, though it's unclear if it will be tape delay or live broadcast.
What makes this even bigger news is that the September 5th date was set to be the first live televised event in Japan since boxing restarted there. They have had some tape delay broadcasts and have had some live streamed events, but no live televised boxing has taken place in the country since February.
We do, fully understand the reason for the delay, and I think everyone else does as well. But it's certainly been a few frustrating months for some of the fighters on this show. That includes Kenichi Ogawa (24-1-1-1, 18) [尾川 堅一], who has now had 3 different dates fall apart this year.
From what we under-stand, though again it's yet to be confirmed, the 6 bouts that were scheduled for September 5th will all still take place on the new date. However we do know that the card, for definite, still includes Ogawa's bout with the world ranked foe Kazuhiro Nishitani (21-4-1, 12) [西谷和宏] and Shokichi Iwata's (4-0, 3) [岩田翔吉] bout with Ryo Narizuka (9-9-1) [成塚亮].
Once we know more about the bout line up and the TV situation we'll report that.
Last week Teiken announced that former 3-weight world champion Jorge Linares (47-5, 29) had a positive result show up on a PCR test. There was worries that the situation could end similar to the Osakan Gym cluster, which saw more than 15 individual testing positive including fighters, trainers and gym owner.
Today Teiken announced that everyone at the gym has been tested yesterday, including all the fighters and all the trainers, with everyone returning a negative result earlier today.
This is great news for the gym, but things still aren't perfect and the gym still hasn't been given permission to re-open, with the Public Health Center still not allowing them to open the doors, yet.
The hope is, obviously, for the gym to be given permission to be open shortly so fighters can continue their preparation for upcoming bouts, including the bouts set for a September 5th "Dynamic Glove" show.
Among those who tested negative were Kenichi Ogawa (24-1-1-1, 18) [尾川 堅一], who announced his negative test on social media. His name is particularly notable as he will be main eventing the September show and will be facing world ranked foe Kazuhiro Nishitani (21-4-1, 12) [西谷和宏].
The September 5th show is a major one for Japanese boxing as it will be the first live televised card since the sport resumed in the country in July. In fact it will be the first nationally televised card in the country since February 1st! The show will have heightened focus as G+ have had several other shows fall through for recent months, including the planned August 21st WBO Flyweight title bout between Junto Nakatani (20-0, 15) [中谷 潤人] and Giemel Magramo (24-1, 20), which was indefinitely postponed when Magramo was unable to travel to Japan, due to the on-going situation.
Earlier today Teiken announced that Venezuelan fighter Jorge Linares (47-5, 29) has tested positive in regards to the "on going global situation".
The fighter, who is scheduled to fight on August 28th, had a PCR test yesterday with the result coming back today. He wasn't showing any symptoms, and doctors have advised that he takes the next 10 days to rest, before being given another test.
This is huge news for Linares, and for his upcoming bout with Javier Fortuna (35-2-1-2, 24) which was one of the big bouts for boxing's return to DAZN. But also much, much bigger news for Japanese boxing.
The positive test is the first in Japan where a boxer has had their name made public, it's the first case in a boxing gym in Tokyo, and it's caused the Teiken gym to be closed until it's been cleared to re-open by the local public health center.
This could, essentially, see Teiken fighters having their bouts cancelled due to an inability to train. This could mean the September 5th show at Korakuen Hall, which was set to be the first live televised Japanese show since the sports return, could, potentially, end up being cancelled. This is speculation at the moment, but if is the gym is closed for a week or two, it likely becomes a genuine reality.
We want to wish Linares a speedy and safe recovery.
After this went live a bout planned for August 13th featuring Teiken fighter Muentaka Kihara (3-2-1, 1) [木原宗孝] was cancelled. He's the only Teiken fighter scheduled to fight in Japan in August.
After more than a decade away from the Korakuen Hall Venezuelan icon Jorge Linares (46-5, 28) returned to the Holy Land of Japanese boxing to take on Filipino foe Al Toyogon (10-5-1, 6) in a scheduled 10 round bout.
In the eyes of many in the west this was a mismatch, a waste of time for Linares against a naturally smaller, less experience young Filipino. For a domestic Japanese audience however this was a special occasion, and a chance to see Jorge return to his boxing "home"
From the off Toyogon didn't seem like a man who was respecting Linares's reputation, and instead he took the fight to Linares, getting on the front foot as often as possible. It was likely a game plan based on Linares's loss to Pablo Cesar Cano, who jumped on Linares, hurt him and never let him recover. Despite the game plan from the Filipino it was the skills of Linares that were catching the eye, with his variety, hand speed and combinations impressing and neutralising the pressure of Toyogon and digging shots to his ribcage.
The pressure from Toyogon has some legitimate success and in round 4 he seemed to hurt Linares who backed off and needed a few moments to clear his head. Toyogon tried to follow up but Linares managed to see off the storm, and the moment for the Filipino slipped. Later that same round the Toyogon seemed to be shaken for a moment.
After a thrilling 4th round the pace did slow down in round 5, something that suited Linares who had more time to pick his spots and let his blazing combinations go before getting away. The 5th also saw Toyogon being deducted a point for use of the head, making it a 10-8 to Linares.
By round 6 the aggression and pressure of Toyogon had dropped off, likely a result of Linares whipping in vicious body shots. As Toyogon slowed things became progressively easier for Linares, who controlled the tempo much easier. There was however moments where Toyogon did get close, and caught Linares with wild hooks in exchanges, likely knowing that was his best chance. Those exchanges were, however, rather rare and the more common thing was Linares landing a combination and getting away before a counter could land.
In round 8 Toyogon seemed to realise trading in combinations wasn't the best idea and instead tried to time Linares when he let his shots go, and that worked really early in the round with a huge counter left hook that seemed to momentarily bother Linares. That was about the only highlight in the round for Toyogon, who was on the receiving end for most of the round.
The 9th round was one of Toyogon's better ones, as Linares went into his shell a bit and Toyogon was able to press the action more than he had in the previous few rounds. His success was limited, but he seemed to be the man out working Linares. The round did however see Linares land a vicious body shot, that would have caught the eye with just seconds of the round left, a shot that could easily have swayed the judges if they were unsure.
Knowing he was behind, by a mile, Toyogon really needed to go for it in the final round. He had however taken a lot through the previous 9 and and given a lot. He tried to up the ante but Linares responded with some sensational stuff of his own, including a gorgeous uppercut that landed clean.
After 10 rounds Linares knew he'd been in a fight, but was the clear winner with scores of 100-89, 100-90 and 99-90. Those scores make it look like it was easy for Linares but it really wasn't, and credit to Toyogon for making Linares work for the win. This was a third straight loss for the Filipino but he is certainly going to stay in demand on the regional scene as a test for prospect, and we wouldn't be surprised to see him back in Japan in the near future.
For Linares surely retirement looms. He showed touches of what he can do, but seemed very much like a fighter who had lost his top gear and seemed to worry every time Toyogon landed a clean counter shot. He's still a better boxer than most on the planet, but he's not close to the fighter he once was and as he ages we're getting closer and closer to the point where his speed and reactions will falter.
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