Back in April WBO Minimumweight champion Masataka Taniguchi (16-3, 11) [谷口将隆] successfully defended his title for the first time, as he stopped Kai Ishizawa (10-2, 9) [石澤開]. Prior to the bout Ishizawa had failed to make weight, coming in well over the limit at 110.4lbs at the official weigh in, and only losing 0.4lbs when he reweighed later on the same day.
Yesterday it was announced that the hard hitting Ishizawa would be given a 6 months ban, backed dated to April 22nd, with the MT Gym manager also being given a strict caution.
The Japanese rules for missing weight came in to effect a few years back, though in this particular case don't really seem to be very effective with the suspension being handed out 3 months after the bout, essentially only banning Ishizawa for 3 months. What makes this even stranger is that Ishizawa got a 90 day suspension for the TKO loss to Taniguchi, meaning half of his 6 month suspension was already served.
Despite the suspension it's assumed Ishizawa will return to the ring, potentially before the year is over.
Throughout this past week Japanese fight fans have been getting excited about the scheduled WBO Minimumweight title bout, putting champion Masataka Taniguchi (15-3, 10) [谷口将隆] against hard hitting challenger Kai Ishizawa (10-1, 9) [石澤開] in what was set to be Taniguchi’s first defense since he winning the title late last year, stopping Wilfredo Mendez. The bout was a much anticipated one, and wasn’t just set to be Taniguchi’s maiden defense, but also a great chance to Ishizawa to avenge his first, and so far only, professional defeat.
Sadly however today saw a massive wrench thrown into the bout that hasn’t cancelled it, yet, but does leave the bout hanging by a thread after a massive mishap on the scales this morning.
The champion had no issues at all making the 105lb limit, coming in bang the divisional limit and looking strong in the process. The same could not be said for Ishizawa.
On the scales the challenger came in at a ridiculous 110.4lbs, well over not just the Minimumweight limit but also the Light Flyweight limit. He was then given 2 hours to shift the weight, and could only manage to lose a small amount, coming in at 110lbs on his second attempt at the weight. Missing by so much could have seen the bout cancelled, but instead the bout is still on, albeit on certain conditions, and certainly not for the title.
The bout will be cancelled all together if Ishizawa weighs more than 111.5lbs tomorrow in a weigh in at the JBC’s office in Tokyo at 17:30. If he comes in on or under the limit the bout will go ahead as a non-title bout, which would be better than the bout being scrapped. If however he misses weight the bout will be cancelled.
Interestingly Taniguchi’s team revealed that their man had originally been threatening to walk away from the bout if Ishizawa failed to lose 1KG today, with Ishizawa then only able to lose 200G, the new weight limit was set for tomorrow.
It’s been reported that Ishizawa struggled to make weight due to illness, stating "I got sick yesterday morning and couldn't move. I tried to do training again at night, but I couldn't do much and the result was like this." Given that there’s also a chance that Ishizawa flat out pulls out of the bout over-night. Rather astonishingly he becomes the first Japanese world title challenger to fail to make weight, and this is only the second time a Japanese fighter has ever missed weight for a world title fight, with the other being Daigo Higa (17-2-1, 17) [比 嘉 大吾] in 2018.
Notably if the bout does go ahead and Ishizawa wins, the WBO rules dictate that the title will become vacant.
Related - Taniguchi seeks first WBO title defense in rematch against Ishizawa!
Last month we reported that WBO Minimumweight champion Masataka Taniguchi (15-3, 10) [谷口将隆] would make his first defense in April, with a scheduled but against Kai Ishizawa (10-1, 9) [石澤開]. Today it was confirmed that, ahead of that bout, Ishizawa had vacated the Japanese Minimumweight title.
The hard hitting Ishizawa had won the title in January, when he defeated Katsuki Mori (9-1, 2) [森 且貴], and explained that coming into the bout with Ishizawa "By returning the title, if I win, I will have a belt in the world, and if I lose, I will not have anything left."
It's now expected that Ginjiro Shigeoka's (6-0, 5) [重岡銀次朗] upcoming bout against Tatsuro Nakashima (11-2-1, 7) [仲島辰郎], which is set to take place on March 27th at the City Gym, in Okinawa, will be for the title that Ishizawa has vacated.
Earlier today Hideyuki Ohashi held a press conference to announce the April edition of Phoenix Battle, and it's a brilliant one, with an all Japanese world title fight headlining the show, and several notable Japanese prospects taking steps up in class on the under-card.
The main event will see WBO Minimumweight champion Masataka Taniguchi (15-3, 10) [谷口将隆] make his first defense, following his title win late last year. The talented champion will be taking on former foe Kai Ishizawa (10-1, 9) [石澤開] in a much anticipated rematch between the two men.
These two first fought back in September 2019, when Taniguchi recovered from a knockdown to defeat Ishizawa, becoming the mandatory challenger for the Japanese title as a result. Since then Tanuguchi has gone 3-0 (3), winning the Japanese title in 2020 and the WBO title in 2021, living up to the potential many in Japan knew he had. Ishizawa himself bounced back from the loss to Taniguchi, the only loss of his career, by defending the Japanese Youth title, before claiming the Japanese senior title in January. It was clear when Ishizawa won the title title that he would be targeting Taniguchi, and this bout was seemingly an obvious one to make.
At the press conference today the two men involved in the world title fight both spoke confidently, with Ishizawa stating he wanted to "humiliate" Taniguchi here, and that seemed to be more of his focus than actually becoming a world champion.
The chief support bout for the show will see the unbeaten Yoshiki Takei (3-0, 3) [武居由樹] take on JBC ranked Shingo Kawamura (15-8-4, 8) [河村真吾], in a real step up for Takei. Despite this being a step up Takei and his team are confident of not just winning, but doing so in spectacular fashion, with Mr Ohashi giving Takei a target of an opening round win. Despite the hope for a blow out victory, it should be noted this is scheduled as a 10 rounder.
In another support bout we'll see the hard hitting the Jin Sasaki (11-1, 10) [佐々木尽] officially begin his campaign as a Welterweight, as he takes on Japanese based American Marcus Smith (7-1-1, 7) [マーカス・スミス], in what will be Sasaki's first bout since losing to Andy Hiraoka (18-0, 13) [平岡アンディ] last year.
Another supporting bout will see youngster Keisuke Matsumoto (3-0, 3) [松本圭佑] step up to take on Morihisa Iju (11-5, 9) [伊集盛尚], in a scheduled 8 rounder. Notably this bout was schediled for February 28th, but has now been rescheduled to April 22nd.
Earlier today the East Japan Boxing Association announced the award winners for the month of January, and announced 3 winners for the month, with an MVP, the Fighting Spirit Award Winner and the Newcomer award.
The MVP for the month was, somewhat unsurprisingly, Kai Ishizawa (10-1, 9) [石澤開] for his Japanese title win on January 11th against Katsuki Mori (9-1, 2) [森 且貴], stopping the previously unbeaten Mori to claim the previously vacant title. This is, by far, the biggest win of Ishizawa's career so far, and helps move him towards a world title fight later in the year.
The Fighting Spirit Award was won by Japanese Super Bantamweight champion Gakuya Furuhashi (28-8-2, 16) [古橋大輔] who won the award, and retained his title, following a draw with former champion Yusaku Kuga (20-5-2, 13) [久我勇作] on January 25th. The bout between the two men, much like their first bout in 2021, was a thrilling action brawl and one that deserved a bigger audience than it got, as it was sadly hidden behind a Japan only service rather than made available on something like G+ or Boxing Raise which would have made it available for international fans.
The final award, which was also won for a bout that took place on January 25th, was the Newcomer award. That was won by Taison Mukaiyama (7-2, 4) [向山太尊] who recorded a shock scored win over the well regarded Toru Kiyota (11-5, 8) [清田亨], with Mukaiyama taking out Kiyota in 2 rounds. The win will likely see Mukaiyama being included in rankings from the OPBF, WBO Asia Pacific and JBC in the coming days.
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