Juts over 3 weeks ago, in the final meaningful bout of 2020, we saw WBO Super Flyweight champion Kazuto Ioka (26-2, 15) [井岡一翔] score an excellent 8th round TKO win over fellow Japanese fighter Kosei Tanaka (15-1, 9) [田中恒成] to retain his world title.
Following that win there was some furor in Japan about Ioka breaking a JBC rule in having his tattoo visible, which now covers his entire left arm. This breaches a rule that states "a person with a tattoo or other style that makes the audience feel uncomfortable" is unable to compete in a bout.
Yesterday the JBC Ethics Committee met to decide on what was going to be done in regards to Ioka's punishment for breaching the rule, and whether the rule itself needed changing to meet more modern and liberal stands when it comes to tattoos and body art. The decision from that Committee meeting was announced today.
In regards to the punishment there was 6 different potential penalties ranging from a Strict Caution right through to revoking his license, and his ability to fight in Japan.
Thankfully common sense won out, at least partially, and Ioka was merely given a "strict caution", a proverbial "don't do that again, you bad boy".
The explanation for the punishment was "the coating that hides the tattoo was peeled off and the player continued the match with the tattoo on his left arm exposed. This violates Article 95, Item 2 of the JBC Rule, and the Commission will take Kazuto Ioka with strict caution."
A similar punishment was also given to Takuya Kitani, the owner of the Ambition Gym. The explanation here was "The Foundation has determined that Takuya Kitani must be responsible for overseeing the facts mentioned above as a club owner."
JBC general secretary Tsuyoshi Yasukochi sent comments regarding the matter to the media and explained why the punishment was what it was, and potential alterations to the way the rule is applied:
"Given that JBC should have thoroughly managed it, in the future, in similar cases, we will consider measures such as using a coating agent designated by JBC or having a designated contractor perform coating treatment. want to go."
Notably however the rule itself is not set to be changed, with Mr Yasukochi explaining:
"We received various opinions about tattoos this time, but we are not thinking about changing the JBC rules at this time."
Essentially it seems like the JBC have given Ioka and his teams the lightest punishment they could, for breaking the rules, but have accepted they should have enforced it better, and will be focusing on doing that in the future.
However the decision not to change the rule is a big one. It seems that the rule will change, one day, and this was a chance to "get with the times" so to speak. It feels like a bit of a missed opportunity, though it likely a decision made with the likes of TV channels and the older fans in mind.
Earlier today the nominations for the JBC and Tokyo Athletic Press Club Boxing Subcommittee annual awards were announced, with the media being able to vote on the winners, who will be announced later this month. Unlike usual there will not be a big event ceremony, due to the ongoing Covid19 situation.
Sadly Covid19 really did destroy the boxing calendar in Japan and only a handful of top Japanese fighters managed to squeeze a fight into the year. In fact only 3 of the 7 current male world champions managed to fight, and that include a man who won his world title late year.
The fighters nominated for the "Best Fighter" award were those 3 champions that manage to fight last year:
They were WBO Super Flyweight champion Kazuto Ioka (25-2, 14) [井岡一翔]
WBO Flyweight champion Junto Nakatani (21-0, 16) [中谷 潤人]
And unified WBA "super" and IBF Bantamweight champion Naoya Inoue (20-0, 17) [井上 尚弥]
Those 3 champions are also up in the running for the "Skill Award".
The "Special Merit" award sees Junto Nakatani in the running alongside:
Masayoshi Nakatani (19-1, 13) [中谷正義]
and Hironori Mishiro (10-0-1, 3) [三代大訓]
The Effort/Fighting Award short list is
Ryoji Fukunaga (13-4, 13) [福永亮次]
and Kenichi Horikawa (41-16-1, 14) [堀川 謙一]
The KO award has 4 nominees, with Inoue, Ioka, and both Junto and Masayoshi Nakatani.
The newcomer award sees Mishiro up against:
Daishi Nagata (15-2-2, 6) [永田大士]
and Masamichi Yabuki (12-3, 11) [佐藤政道]
The best bout of the year has been split into two categories, as it has been for a while.
The world title bouts up for the award are:
Kazuto Ioka Vs Kosei Tanaka (15-1, 9) [田中恒成]
Naoya Inoue Vs Jason Moloney
Junto Nakatani Vs Giemel Magramo
As for the none world title bouts, the fights nominated here are:
Riku Nagahama [長濱 陸] Vs Kudura Kaneko [クドゥラ 金子]- For the OPBF Welterweight title
Kenichi Ogawa [尾川 堅一] Vs Kazuhiro Nishitani [西谷和宏] - Non title bout
Masayoshi Nakatani Vs Felix Verdejo - WBO Intercontinental Lighweight title
Ryoji Fukunaga Vs Kenta Nakagawa [中川 健太] - WBO Asia Pacific, JBC and OPBF triple title bout
and Hironori Mishiro Vs Masayuki Ito [伊藤 雅雪] - Non title bout
As for the female awards, the MVP nominess are:
WBO Atomweight champion Mika Iwakawa (9-5-1, 3) [岩川 美花]
WBO female Minimumweight champion Etsuko Tada (20-3-3, 7) [多田悦子]
and WBO female Super Flyweight champion Tomoko Okuda (7-2-2, 1) [奥田朋子]
The best bouts for female boxing are:
Mika Iwakawa Vs Nanae Suzuki [鈴木菜々江]
Etsuko Tada Vs Ayaka Miyao [宮尾 綾香]
and Tomoko Okuda Vs Miyo Yoshida [吉田 実代]
One New Year's Eve we saw WBO Super Flyweight champion Kazuto Ioka (26-2, 15) [井岡一翔] retain his title with an 8th round TKO win over fellow Japanese fighter Kosei Tanaka (15-1, 9) [田中恒成], in what was a fantastic bout to end 2020.
Yesterday in Japan news broke that despite the win Ioka may be in trouble with the JBC for breaking one of their rules.
The JBC rule in question states "a person with a tattoo or other style that makes the audience feel uncomfortable" is unable to compete in a bout.
Typically a fighter with a tattoo is allowed to fight in Japan, the Western interpretation of the rule banning tattoos altogether, though the tattoo must be concealed. Usually this is done with sporting tape, concealing and various inoffensive powders, used to mask the colour and shape of the tattoo. The rule is also, only really, applicable to Japanese fighters and doesn't apply to international fighters, making it a very inconsistent rule at the best of times.
Reportedly Ioka did make effort to conceal the tattoo, a rather large tattoo on his left arm and left side, though those efforts appear to have failed and his tattoos were fully on show during the fight, which drew a very large audience figure and some complaints.
It was reported that Ioka had used foundation to cover the offending tattoo, and that he had been instructed the day before to hide it and follow the rules. It's also been reported that in the in the changing room before the bout, when he had his gloves checked, the tattoo was hidden, though by the time he was in the ring the tattoo was visible. A JBC official is quoted in some of the Japanese press as stating "Maybe the paint was lighter than before. I wondered if he was already sweating at the up stage or before the start of the game, but when the game started, it became clearer and clearer. The tattoo was visible,"
After the bout JBC officials were questioned about it and as a result a meeting will take place to discuss possible punishments for Ioka at an ethics committee meeting. There they could do one of 6 things, ranging from a Strict Caution right through to cancelling his license. Though if we're being honest we suspect it'll be a relatively light punishment. In fact if anything we suspect the ethics committee to give him a punishment similar to the one recently given to Kenshiro Teraji for his drunken misbehaviour out of the ring.
Although Ioka is a big name, it's been made clear he hasn't been given special permission with the JBC Secretary General, Tsuyoshi Yasukochi, has been quoted in the Japanese press as saying "I have never given special permission because he is him. The rule violation is clear and we are currently considering how to deal with it."
Interestingly a number of Japanese sites are beginning to question the rule, asking whether it's an outdated rule or unfair on local fighters, as it doesn't apply to visiting fighters. The rule is due to the links to organised crime members in Japan, and specifically things like the Yakuza. Historically fighters like Tatsuki Kawasaki, who came from a criminal background, had to remove his tattoos.
In recent years tattoos have become more of a fashion statement globally, but the rule is still in effect and is one that is still rooted in Japanese culture. Though as we move forward Japanese culture is probably going to join the rest of the world and begin to disassociate body art with the criminal underworld in the coming years.
On New Year's Eve we were lucky enough to see an instant classic to end the year, with WBO Super Flyweight champion Kazuto Ioka (26-2, 15) [井岡一翔] scoring an 8th round TKO over fellow Japanese fighter Kosei Tanaka (15-1, 9) [田中恒成].
The bout was a spectacular one and was shown across Japan via TBS and affiliates, as well as Paravi, as well as being shown across the world on services like Boxnation, Fox Sports Australia and ESPN in Latin America.
Today the Japanese TV viewing rate for the show, on TBS and MBS, was released. Those are the figures for the Kanto region, which includes Tokyo, Kanagawa and Saitama, as well as the Kansai region, which includes Osaka, Kyoto, Hyogo.
The average viewers for the Kanto region was 10.3% whilst the number in Kansai was 10.4%.
Sadly the peak figures for the two regions haven't been reported as of yet. Neither have the other regions the bout was shown in, such as Chubu and Tohoku.
Whilst it's not accurate to turn that viewing figure into a raw number, we do need to add that seems likely that these numbers do translate in to a multi-million viewership. The numbers don't correlate directly to the local population but the Kanto region, back in 2010, had more than 42,000,000 people living there, whilst Kansai had 22,000,000 according to the 2010 census.
For comparison RIZIN, which aired on the same day on Fuji TV, had it's best part averaging 7.3%.
Whilst many in the West assumed that Tanaka was the star, it does need to be noted that in Japan Ioka is the bigger name, and was before this fight. That can be seen quite clearly if we go back to the end of 2019 where Ioka Vs Cintron drew an average of 9.4% in Kanto whilst Tanaka's bout against Wulan Tuolehazi drew 6.1%.
For those curious Japan uses the Video Research Ltd for it's TV audience measurement, like BARB in the UK and Nielsen in Japan. This is a company partially owned by advertising giant Dentsu.
Yesterday we saw WBO Super Flyweight champion Kazuto Ioka (26-2, 15) [井岡一翔] put on one of his best career performances and retained his title with an 8th round TKO win over the previously unbeaten Kosei Tanaka (15-1, 9) [田中恒成]. The performance was a masterclass of counter punching, distance control, and of a fighter using experience to neutralise a quicker, younger opponent.
Today, following that win, Ioka attended an online press conference where he spoke about the bout and his in ring future.
Regarding the bout he spoke highly of Tanaka "He was strong. He was a good player. He had speed and punching power as he was reputed"
"I felt growth because I was able to show what I was doing in the game rather than winning Tanaka-kun,"
Despite only fighting once in 2020, due to Covid19, Ioka did sat it wasn't a wasted year, though his plans for 2021 seem much bigger. "This year's goal is a unified match with champions from other organizations," "I hope to face the winner of Juan Francisco Estrada and Roman Gonzalez..." and even went as far as to suggest that only he can beat them both"I can win. I'm the only one, "
Interestingly he's predicted a Gonzalez win for the bout against Estrada, suggesting that Estrada is getting hit more in recent bouts than he used to.
Although there are big plans for later in the year the shorter term plan is to have a holiday with his family, and have a short break to begin the year.
(Image courtesy of Ambition Gym)
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