Earlier this month the list of nominees for the Japanese annual boxing awards were announced, with the Japanese Boxing Commission working alongside the JBC and Tokyo Athletic Press Club Boxing Subcommittee, to decide the shortlists for the various awards. Today the winners of those awards were all announced.
The MVP for the year was unified WBA "super" and IBF Bantamweight champion Naoya Inoue (20-0, 17) [井上 尚弥], who now taken the award 5 times during his career, in fact he's taken the award 4 years in a row now showing just how much he has dominated Japanese boxing in recent years.
The Skill Award was won by WBO Super Flyweight champion Kazuto Ioka (25-2, 14) [井岡一翔], who won the award for the second year running. Inoue also won the KO award.
The Special Merit award went to WBO Flyweight champion Junto Nakatani (21-0, 16) [中谷 潤人]
The Effort/Fighting award was a share award, won by Ryoji Fukunaga (13-4, 13) [福永亮次] and Kenichi Horikawa (41-16-1, 14) [堀川 謙一]. Fukunaga had a great year, unifying the JBC, OPBF and WBO Asia Pacific Super Flyweight titles, whilst Horikawa claimed the OPBF Light Flyweight title in an excellent performance in July.
The Newcomer Award was won by OPBF Super Featherweight champion Hironori Mishiro (10-0-1, 3) [三代大訓]
The best world title bout bout of the year was the brilliant WBO Super Flyweight title bout between Kazuto Ioka and Kosei Tanaka (15-1, 9) [田中恒成], which took place on New Year's Eve and delivered a truly brilliant battle.
The best non-world title bout was the dramatic clash between Masayoshi Nakatani (19-1, 13) [中谷正義] and Felix Verdejo, who fought for the WBO Intercontinental Lightweight title.
The female MVP for the year was WBO female Minimumweight champion Etsuko Tada (20-3-3, 7) [多田悦子], who actually had a clean sweep as her bout with Ayaka Miyao [宮尾 綾香] also won the female fight of the year.
There was also Special awards for former world champions Takahiro Ao [粟生 隆寛] and Akira Yaegashi [八重樫 東].
Sadly there wasn't a ceremony like usual for the awards, given the on going pandemic.
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 Lightweight 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 (10-5-1, 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]
Boxing is slowly returning around the globe and whilst it may not be anywhere close to what it was in 2019 the sport is certainly providing some intriguing match ups and exciting action. That was shown earlier today when we got an OPBF Light Flyweight title bout between Kenichi Horikawa (41-16-1, 14) [堀川 謙一] and Daiki Tomita (14-2, 5) [冨田 大樹].
On paper this may not have looked a great bout to those who judge fighters based on their records. However those who knew the two men going in knew that this could be one of the better Japanese bouts since the country restarted professional boxing around 2 weeks ago.
In one corner was a 40 year old, battled hardened veteran with a chip on his shoulder whilst the other corner played host to a youngster tipped for big things.
It seemed likely to be a very appealing, competitive and compelling bout, though ended up being surprisingly more one-sided than expected.
The first round proved to be competitive. Horikawa was pressing from the off and the younger Tomita was on the move, picking some fine shots and keeping Horikawa at bay, for the most part. The veteran had moments with counter shots, but was struggling to get into his range. From then on however Horikawa began to find success, he began cutting the distance, getting inside and getting his body shots off.
Whilst Horikawa was having success, Tomita was doing enough to make things competitive in the early rounds. It seemed Horikawa was doing that bit more, especially with his body work, but Tomita was having some real moments, despite having a bloodied nose and was certainly not getting smashed around, as he would later on.
After 4 rounds the scores were 39-37, twice, and 40-36, all to Horikawa.
In round 5 and 6 we saw Tomita show some great touches but he seemed unable to fail in an attempt to find that extra gear. It seemed like he was trying hard to have success, but it wasn't really arriving for him. It was like he was trying super hard, but having limited moments and taking just as good as he got, despite trying so much harder than the veteran. Whenever Tomita stepped it up, Horikawa managed to counter.
In round 7 Tomita's effort began to fade and Horikawa turned the screw, with his pressure building further. For the first time it looked like the wheels were coming off the youngster, who couldn't match Horikawa when he moved up through the gears. From here on the bout became more one sided. Horikawa rocked Tomita on the bell in round 8, really beat him up in round 9, with a lot more body shots, and then closed the show in round 10, in what was a horribly 1-sided round that saw Horikawa pinning Tomita on the ropes for long stretches whilst unloading flurries.
To his credit Tomita tried to stay in the bout, he tried to fight his way off the ropes, but his resilience broke. With around 1 minute 40 of the round gone the referee stepped in, stopping the punishment, just moments before Tomita crashed to the canvas.
Thankfully Tomita seemed fine a few minutes after the bout.
With the win Horikawa has now the Japanese, WBO Asia Pacific and OPBF titles during his long career. At the age of 40 it's hard to know what he has left but on the back of this performance there's no need for him to think about retiring any time soon. The success he's having late in his career, and the growing momentum at the Misako Gym, is great to see and Horikawa looks like his success could continue for another year or two.
As for Tomita this wasn't a great performance. He was game early on, but appeared to fight the wrong fight. He never found his rhythm and he never managed to use his speed very well. He broke under pressure and his in ring inexperience was showed up here. He can certainly rebuild from this loss, but he took a lot of punishment late, and it will take a lot of work for him to get back on track. Admittedly his training won't have great, given what's going, but this is still going to be a huge set back.
For those interested the scores after 8 rounds were 78-74, twice, and 80-72, all in favour of Horikawa.
Laster today we'll see a OPBF Light Flyweight title bout between Kenichi Horikawa (40-16-1, 13) [堀川 謙一] and Daiki Tomita (14-1, 5) [冨田 大樹]. The bout was originally set to have some fans in attendance but plans changed this week, and instead the bout will be aired live on youtube.
We're not here to talk about how to watch the bout here however, but instead talk about the odds for the bout.
Surprisingly the bout has been one of the latest Japanese bouts to have odds offered by Polish betting website STSBet.
We'll admit we consider the bout a close one, with Tomita certainly taking on one of his better opponents so far, and Horikawa still being a very hungry fighter, despite being 40 years old.
The bookies on the other hand see it as a mismatch. Tomita is the very clear betting favourite, priced at 2/13 to win, whilst Horikawa is a huge 7/2 under-dog.
We do agree that Tomita should be the favourite, and is a young man with a very bright future ahead of him, but these odds do seem rather wide given the tricks and tools that Horikawa has in the locker.
For those who do want to watch the bout live it will be aired on this youtube channel.
Related - Tomita clashes with veteran Horikawa for OPBF title!
Tomorrow in Kobe we'll see the much delayed OPBF Light Flyweight title bout between Kenichi Horikawa (40-16-1, 13) [堀川 謙一] and Daiki Tomita (14-1, 5) [冨田 大樹]. Originally the bout had been scheduled to take place in March, before boxing was put on hiatus to help deal with the current on going global situation and was then postponed until July.
Despite the delays both men took part in their weigh in this morning and neither man had any issue making the 108lbs limit.
On the scales both men came in bang on the limit, and both looked in good shape.
The 22 year old Tomita stated that he didn't feel stressed and seemed really grateful to Shinsei Promotions for putting the bout on, even if the event will no longer have fans, as originally planned. More about that in a moment. He also talked a little about sparring Horikawa in the past, and seemed to suggest that he's a different fighter now.
The 40 year old Horikawa admitted that it's always difficult to lose weight but it is worth noting he's a true veteran and has more bouts and more wins than any active professional in Japan. He might be coming to the end of his career but he's certainly not the typical 40 year old and he has been having some of his best success in recent years.
Originally there was supposed to be some fans in attendance for this event, albeit a very limited number. The decision was made this week to change those plans due to the on going situation. Thankfully however Shinsei Gym have made the decision to live stream the main event on their Youtube channel, meaning that although the venue will be empty fans won't need to miss out on the bout. The stream will be free and will not only this bout, the main event, but also the co-feature, a Japanese Atomweight title bout.
Related - Tomita clashes with veteran Horikawa for OPBF title!
(Image - Boxmob.jp)
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