Earlier today we were informed that WBA Asia Bantamweight champion Jun Zhao (13-2-1, 10) [赵君] would be making his next defense on March 13th in Liaoning Province, China. We were also informed that the man he will be defending the title against is Japanese and OPBF ranked puncher Kai Chiba (12-1, 8) [千葉開], in what looks like a brilliant match up at this level.
For the 27 year old Zhao we believe this will be his second defense of the title, and will see him continue a solid level of activity, with Zhao looking to fit in a fourth fight since last May. Although not a big name, yet, Zhao is making waves and has scored solid wins over the likes of Zafar Papiev, Sonin Nihei and Jay Francis Buray in the last 2 years.
Whilst not a major name, Zhao is someone who will be looking to make a big break through in 2020 and we wouldn't be surprised by him climbing rapidly up the WBA rankings. He's currently in the lower end of the top 15, but is clearly expected to make the most of his WBA title to climb up the rankings.
As for Chiba the 26 year old, who turns 27 in March, was once regarded as a very bright hopeful in Japan. In 2017 he scored back to back wins over Ikuro Sadatsune and Ryo Matsubara, and seemed on the verge of a big break out in 2018 before being stopped by Filipino Brian Lobetania. Since that loss China has rebuilt with 5 wins. including two on the road, and has got his career back on track thanks to a solid win over Matcha Nakagawa.
Despite having fought twice on the road this will be Chiba's Chinese debut, and will also be his first title bout. A win here will give his career a shot in the arm, and help put him in the mix for bigger and better fights.
At the moment no other details of the card have been sent to us, but this is still a very solid regional level bout, and one we anticipate being very explosive.
On May 10th we'll see an A-Sign Bee card, headlined by a Japanese Light Middleweight title bout, which will see defending champion Nobuyuki Shindo (20-4-2, 8) [新藤寛之] facing mandatory challenger Hironobu Matsunaga (14-1, 8) [松永 宏信].
Earlier today the A-Sign twitter account announced the under-card bouts for the show, and there was one that really stood out.
The stand out supporting bout is a Bantamweight bout between Matcha Nakagawa (13-1-1, 5) [武田航] and Kai Chiba (10-1, 7) [千葉開]. This has the potential too out-shine the main event and should be a very competitive fight between two men each looking to make their mark and move towards a title bout.
Another intriguing fight confirmed for the card is an 8 round bout between the popular Joe Tanooka (15-6-4, 1) [田之岡条] and Naoto Mizutani (5-6-1, 2) [水谷直人]. On paper this doesn't have the same feel as the previously mentioned bout, but Tanooka has lost 3 of his last 4 and will have to work for the win here against the under-rated Mizutani.
One more bout announced will see former Japanese title challenger Masaki Saito (15-13-6, 5) [斉藤正樹] battle against former OPBF title challenger Ryuto Araya (12-7-1, 4) [荒谷龍人] in what looks like a competitive bout on paper.
Earlier today in Korea fans were able to see a small Korea Vs Japan card, featuring 5 contests that pitted the two countries against each other. Surprisingly it was Korea who ran out the overall winners, winning 3 of the 5 bouts.
Early on the card Jang Ki Kim (2-2, 1) took a decision victory over Japanese novice Goki Chiba (0-2) [千葉豪] to get the home team off to a good start. Things went from good to better for Korea as teenager Kyung Min Hwang (2-0, 2) took an an opening round KO win against Yasuhiro Okada (3-1, 1) [岡田靖弘].
Japan got off the mark in the third fight, as Tatsumasa Abe (2-0, 2) [阿部 龍征] stopped Seung Yoon Shin (3-2-3, 1) in the second round, with Abe scoring his second straight win on the road. Japan then leveled the scores with Kai Chiba (10-1, 7) [千葉開] defeating Jong Min Jung (9-9, 3) with a unanimous decision.
With the scores at 2-2 it all came down to a bout between Ro Joon Suh (6-0, 2) and Ken Koibuchi (4-3, 3) [鯉淵健], which Suh won by majority decision to take Korea over the line 3-2.
Last October we saw Japan's Kai Chiba (7-1, 6) [千葉開] put in a career best performance to score a 5th round TKO win over Ryo Matsubara [松原陵]. It was an eye catching performance from Chiba who had real momentum heading into 2018. Sadly though that momentum came crashing to a halt earlier today as he was upset by Filipino puncher Brian Lobetania (13-4-3, 11) in what was a thrilling 4 round shoot out.
The fight started well for Chiba, who seemed to hurt Lobetania at the end of the round. The Japanese local looked the naturally better fighter, the smoother operator and the man who knew his way around the ring whilst the visitor looked like a raw slugger looking to land a bomb. The skills of Chiba again seemed to dominate in round 2, as he began to time Lobetania's wild and unconventional right hand to land counter uppercutts and it seemed only a matter of time before Lobetania would see his chin crack.
The skills of Chiba the key early in round 3, with Chiba landing a number of eye catching body shots, picking his place and landing clean and powerful blows. Towards the end of the round however the bout seemed to suddenly change, with Lobetania landing a solid right hand that hurt Chiba then another that left him wobbling around and struggling to stay on his feet. The one saving grace for Chiba was that the round was about over and the bell came before Lobetania could finish him off. It was however only a temporary respite for Chiba.
At the start of round 4 Chiba had clearly not recovered fully and Lobetania went for him straight away, dropping him within seconds. Chiba rose to his feet, but was staggering around as the referee stepped in and waved off the contest.
The win for Lobetania is second straight win since a TKO loss of his own to Jon Jon Estrada, and despite going 4-3 in his last 7 he has proven he's a real danger man at this level. For Chiba the bout will serve as a clear wake up call to concentrate more on defense. For much of the fight he was in charge, but it only took 2 right hands at the end of round 3 to begin his problems, and he never managed to recover from them.
On Monday the East Japan Boxing Association announced their award winners for the month of October.
The MVP for the month was the newly crowned OPBF Featherweight champion Satoshi Shimizu (4-0, 4) [清水 聡], who shone as he ripped the title from Korean fighter Sa Myung Noh (11-4, 4) [노사명] in 5 one-sided rounds. The win for Shimizu saw him claim his first title, and move a long way towards getting a world title fght.
The Fighting Spirit Award was won by veteran Hidenori Otake (30-2-3, 13) [大竹 秀典], who retained his OPBF Super Bantamweight title with a victory over the very highly regarded youngster Hinata Maruta (5-1, 4) [丸田 陽七太]. Otake is now eying up a potential second world title fight, and could well build on the win over Maruta in the very near future.
The new comer award was won by 24 year old puncher Kai Chiba (7-0, 6) [千葉開], who scored a 5th round TKO win over Ryo Matsubara (7-2, 7) [松原陵], and really put himself on the map domestically.
The fighters will recieve their awards on December 14th as part of the Diamond Glove show at the Korakuen Hall.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
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