Back in December 2020 we saw Ryoji Fukunaga (13-4, 13) [福永亮次] score a 10th round TKO win over Kenta Nakagawa (19-4-1, 12) [中川 健太] to unify the WBO Asia Pacific, Japanese and OPBF Super Flyweight titles, in what was a sensational fight. After that it was unclear whether we would ever see Nakagawa back in the ring, given he was 35 years old at the time, and had taken a lot of punishment in that December loss. That loss was the second time he had lost the Japanese Super Flyweight title, and it seemed likely to be the end.
Today however a report came out on Japanese site stating that Nakagawa's career wasn't over and that he would be returning to the ring, and has already returned to the gym having been doing gym work since mid-February.
Nakagawa is quoted as saying "I have no reason to quit", making it clear that despite the loss and his age, he's not taken too much punishment and he doesn't feel too old for the sport.
Interestingly it was also revealed that he doesn't like watching his own fights back, and has only seen a digest version of the fight recently, though did explain it was the most emotional match of his career before paying his respects to Fukunaga, who he described as a "strong fighter".
Rather notably Nakagawa revealed that he felt there was still room to grow and develop and that he thinks he can be a better boxer. That sort of drive, at the age of 35, is impressive and something we're looking forward to see happen.
Sadly whilst Nakagawa will continue his career, there was no date set for his comeback bout.
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]
Earlier today at Korakuen Hall we got a sensational triple title unification bout at Super Flyweight as the OPBF, WBO Asia Pacific and Japanese titles were unified in an instant Classic! And not only were fans in the Hall treat to it, but saw was a wider audience as the bout was shown live on the brilliant Boxing Raise.
The match up in question saw the hard hitting Ryoji Fukunaga (13-4, 13) [福永亮次], who entered as the WBO Asia Pacific champion, taking on defending Japanese champion Kenta Nakagawa (19-4-1, 12) [中川 健太]. Not only were their titles on the line but so too was the vacant OPBF title.
With 3 titles on the line, the bout had a big fight feel, at least a big domestic fight feel, and it quickly delivered as we got a real fun opening round that set the tone for the early going. Fukunaga, the bigger puncher with the more durable chin, took the center of the ring and managed to land some solid shots whilst Nakagawa looked to take outside of the ring, using his speed and movement. For almost the first 3 rounds we saw Fukunaga pressing, and Nakagawa trying to box and move, with both men having moments. Then we got to the end of round 3 that saw both men land some huge head shots, giving us a taster of what was to come later in the bout.
In round 4 Fukunaga's power proved it's self, as he landed a hard right hook that dropped Nakagawa. Following the knockdown the tempo rose again, with Fukunaga going all out for the stoppage, then seemingly punching himself out as Nakagawa ended the round strong. It was a huge round, but it came at a cost to Fukunaga who seemed sluggish in the following few rounds as Nakagawa managed his best run of success, using his footwork well, and landed some really clean head shots whilst Fukunaga seemed to be visibly tiring.
Despite the success of Nakagawa after after being dropped his inability to really hurt Fukunaga was an an issue and and by round 8 it seemed like Fukunaga was getting his second wind and the round was something else, with both men unloading through out the round. Nakagawa was in trouble early in the round, and took some massive headshots as Fukunaga hunted a finish, and again ended up exhausting himself in an attempt to score a KO. Nakagawa then roared back, unloading himself, before the two just let huge shots go, with Nakagawa luck to see out the round, an amazing round.
After 4 rounds the scores were 39-36, twice, and 40-35, all in favour of Fukunaga, after 8 rounds Nakagawa had fought his was back into the fight. Despite that Fukunaga was still in the lead with scores of 77-74 across the board,
Sadly for Nakagawa any hope at edging closer in round 9 was destroyed as he was rocked and staggered numerous times by the heavy hands of Fukunaga. Even though Nakagawa had real success of his own, it was clear he simply couldn't rock his foe, whilst Fukunaga rocked him repeatedly through a tense, brutal and damaging round. By the end of the round it was clear that Nakagawa was running on fumes, and his shots, which had been crisp though the bout, were looking slow and tired. He still had hunger, but his body was letting him down and he was taking real punishment.
After two tough, brutal and hard rounds it seemed impossible to think this bout could go much longer. Both men were looking tired, but Fukunaga's heavy hands still looked damaging and they proved it in round 10 when he rocked Nakagawa to his core, forcing him to stumble. The referee knew it was time, and quickly stepped in, saving him from further harm.
Given the punishment both men took here, they should both be looking at a lengthy break from the ring. We wouldn't be surprised if Nakagawa, following this loss, calls time on his career. He's currently 35, and has taken a lot of damage in recent years. As for Fukunaga he'll likely look to either defend all 3 titles next year or potentially look to move towards a world title fight, allowing him a chance at the top before calling time on his short, but dramatic, and entertaining, career.
Tomorrow at Korakuen Hall we'll get the latest show from Kadoebi and it's a really, really solid one with several bouts worthy of attention. Despite there being a number of bouts of intrigue there is one that stands out, and that's the main event which will see 3 Super Flyweight titles being unified as Japanese champion Kenta Nakagawa (19-3-1, 12) [中川 健太] battles WBO Asia Pacific champion Ryoji Fukunaga (12-4, 12) [福永亮次], unifying not just their titles but also the vacant OPBF title.
Today, ahead of their bout, the two men took part in their weigh in, and both men managed to make the 115lb weight limit whilst looking in amazing condition.
On the scales Nakagawa, who is looking to make his second successive defense of the Japanese title, came in marginally under the limit, at 114.8lbs, and showed a steely determination in his eyes. Fukunaga on the other hand came in bang on the divisional limit for what will be his first defense of the WBO Asia Pacific title.
Interestingly this is an all southpaw bout and both men have seemingly been open in admitting they aren't good against lefties. Fukunaga has however been preparing for this bout by sparring exclusively with lefties since winning the title with a TKO victory over Froilan Saludar, with it seeming almost like he was aiming for Nakagawa for some time.
Nakagawa on the other hand stated the bout was a high risk one, and it seemed very much like he had the feeling that this was high risk-high reward, with the winner potentially being on the verge of a world title fight, and the loser looking down the barrel.
For fans wanting to watch this, it will be shown globally on subscription Boxing Raise, who will be streaming the entire show live on their brilliant service.
Related - Fukunaga and Nakagawa battle for the triple at Super Flyweight!
(Photo credit - Kadoebi Gym)
Earlier today Boxing Raise released their line up for December and have announced that they will be including 4 shows during the month, with one live. Despite the fact there's only a single live show the 4 show line up is a brilliant one, with two female world title fights, two Japanese title bouts and a triple title unification contest.
The first of those shows will be the December 3rd Dangan promoted card. This will be headlined by a Japanese Minimumweight title bout featuring Masataka Taniguchi (12-3, 7) [谷口将隆] and Hizuki Saso (12-6-2, 4) [佐宗 緋月], who battle for the vacant title. The same show will also feature a WBO female Minimumweight title bout between Ayaka Miyao (23-8-2, 6) [宮尾 綾香] and Etsuko Tada (19-3-3, 6) [多田悦子].
The second show will be on December 13th and will be headlined by WBO female Super Flyweight champion Miyo Yoshida (14-1) [吉田 実代] defending her title against Tomoko Okuda (6-2-2, 1) [奥田朋子].
The only live show for the month will be on December 14th, and it's a genuinely great show from Kadoebi. The main event here will see Japanese Super Flyweight champion Kenta Nakagawa (19-3-1, 12) [中川 健太] battle WBO Asia Pacific champion Ryoji Fukunaga (12-4, 12) [福永亮次] with the two men unifying their belts, and also fighting for the vacant OPBF title in a triple title unification bout. Other bouts on this card include a brilliant match up between Hiroki Okada (19-2, 13) [岡田 博喜] and Izuki Tomioka (7-3-1, 2) [富岡樹], as well as a bout between Masahiro Suzuki (4-0, 2) [鈴木雅弘] and Jumbo Oda Nobunaga Shoten Petagine (10-5, 8) [ジャンボおだ信長本屋ペタジーニ] and one between Matcha Nakagawa (13-2-1, 5) [中川 抹茶] and Ryo Suwa (11-3, 2) [諏訪 亮].
The final show takes place on December 26th in and will be headlined by Japanese Light Flyweight champion Masamichi Yabuki (11-3, 11) [佐藤政道] defending his title against Toshimasa Ouchi (22-9-3, 8) [大内 淳雅], in what will be Yabuki's first defense.
For subscribers to Boxing Raise we'll admit December might not have a lot of shows, but what it has are fantastic, and each of these 4 shows is worth watching. We have a good month ahead for Boxing Raise users!
(Image courtesy of boxingraise.com)
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