Earlier today the annual Japanese boxing awards took place at the Tokyo Dome Hotel.
As previously reported unified Bantamweight champion Naoya Inoue (19-0, 16) [井上 尚弥] won the Best fighter award and the Best Fight at event, but was unable to attend due to illness. That however leaves the question "who else won awards?"
The Best Skill award was won by WBO Super Flyweight champion Kazuto Ioka (25-2, 14) [井岡一翔], who became the first Japanese male 4-weight champion in the summer, stopping Aston Palicte. He then defended the title at the end of the year against Jeyvier Cintron, putting in a very different type of performance against Puerto Rican challenger.
Like Inoue, Ioka also didn't attend the event.
The special award saw Ryota Murata (16-2, 13) [村田 諒太] pick up the honours, after reclaiming the WBA Middleweight title and then defending it just before Christmas. He explained his next bout isn't yet decided, though reports are suggesting a May or June date is likely. Murata also picked up the KO award for the year.
The Effort award was won by Yuki Nagano (17-3, 13) [永野祐樹], who won the award for what he did in 2019 despite recently losing the Japanese Welterweight title.
The Newcomer award was win by Junto Nakatani (20-0, 15) [中谷 潤人], who is now reportedly set to fight for the WBO Flyweight title in Spring.
As previously mentioned Naoya Inoue won the best fight in a world title fight, for his sensational bout with Nonito Donaire in the WBSS final. As for none-world title bout, that award, unsurprisingly, went to the brilliant war between Yuki Beppu [別府優樹] and Ryota Yada [矢田良太] for the WBO Asia Pacific Welterweight title. For fans who haven't seen that one, we genuinely implore you to give a watch!
There was a double award for female fighter Tenkai Tsunami (27-12-1, 16) [天海 ツナミ] who not only took the women's MVP award, for the second year running, but also the women's fight of the year for her bout with Naoko Fujioka [藤岡 奈穂子].
The excellent player award, which is given to every Japanese fighter who holds a world title at some point during the year, saw Inoue, Ioka and Murata receive the honour along with:
Kosei Tanaka (15-0, 9) [田中恒成]
Kenshiro Teraji (17-0, 10) [寺地 拳四朗]
Ryosuke Iwasa (27-3, 17) [岩佐 亮佑]
Hiroto Kyoguchi (14-0, 9) [京口 紘人].
The trainer award was given to Mr Kato from the Misako gym, who has been responsible for training Kenjiro Teraji.
There was also a number of special awards given out. These went to:
Kohei Kono (33-12-1, 14) [河野 公平]
Ryoichi Taguchi (27-4-2, 12) [田口良一]
Tatsuya Fukuhara (21-7-6, 7) [福原 辰弥]
And Hitoshi Misako
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
Earlier today the Japanese boxing world had the chance to say goodbye to former 2-time WBA Super Flyweight champion Kohei Kono (33-12-1, 14) [河野 公平], who took part in an emotional retirement ceremony at the Korakuen Hall.
The popular Kono spoke to the fans and admitted that not everything went perfectly through his career, but that he was happy to become a world champion twice, stated that it was best boxing life and thanked everyone who supported him. It was clear in his walk to the ring that he was shocked by how much fans loved him, and he did look like he was holding back tears.
Following his short speech he got 10 rings of the bell to before having photos taken with his family and team.
At the moment it's not clear what Kono tends to do in his post boxing career but we'd like to send out best wishes to Kono, no matter what he does next. He has given us so many great memories that it's hard not to have a lot of respect for the Watanabe gym fighter.
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
Earlier today at the Korakuen Hall, before a punch was through, the first annual event of the Japanese boxing calendar took pace, as officials from the Japan Professional Boxing Association (JPBA) took part in the cleansing ceremony, with prayers for safety of the fighters and the development of the sport, as well as cleansing of the venue.
After the prayers and officials greeted visitors at the entrance of the Korakuen Hall with a custom made Sake as they welcomed people in to watch Dangan 220, which included 2 Japanese title fights and the retirement ceremony of former 2-time world champion Kohei Kono (33-12-1, 14) [河野 公平].
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Earlier today the Watanabe gym held a press conference with Kohei Kono (33-12-1, 14) [河野 公平], to announce Kono's retirement at the age of 37.
The former 2-time WBA Super Flyweight champion last fought on May 19th, when he lost by TKO to Jason Moloney, and although still showing signs of his trademark aggression there was a clear decline in his energy and punch resistance in that bout, compared to what he had been a few years earlier.
The "Tough Boy" had been one of the longest active professionals in Japan, having debuted in 2000. Since the he has a remarkable career, full of thrilling fights and great memories, including his FOTY contenders with Liborio Solis and Rex Tso, his sensational win in the US over Koki Kameda, his upset win over Tepparith Kokietgym and his second title win, stopping Denkaosan Kaovichit.
Between September 2008, when Kono fought in his first world title fight against Nobuhiro Nashiro, and his final bout against Moloney he took on a bit of a who's who's who including not only the men mentioned already but also Tomas Rojas, Yota Sato, Luis Concepcion and Naoya Inoue, and consistently delivered action fights. Sadly however he would 4 of his last 5, and would be stopped in 2 of his last 3 bouts.
It's worth noting that he played a key part in helping the Watanabe gym establish it's self as a leading gym in Japan, along with Takashi Uchiyama and Ryoichi Taguchi, who all held world titles together as the gym put it's self on the map and began to use those 3 fighters to attract the young talent that the gym is now building around, such as Hiroto Kyoguchi and Ginjiro Shigeoka.
Kono's retirement ceremony will take place on January 12th 2018 at the Korakuen Hall, with more details on his future plans expected to be released during that ceremony.
(Image courtesy of Boxmob.jp)
Earlier today we had the chance to catch an Australian show thanks to FITE TV, who broadcast the show on a PPV basis. The card was an interesting one for us as it featured a number of notable Asian fighters.
The first of those was former world title challenger Richard Claveras (18-4-2, 15), who took on Andrew Moloney (17-0, 10) in a bout for the WBA Oceania Super Flyweight title. Claveras went out aggressively but the more technically skilled Moloney proved to be too smart and too quick on the whole, and even fought southpaw at one point as he racked up the rounds. The Filipino was always dangerous, and showed that by dropping Moloney in round 7, sadly though the Australian was pretty much able to avoid Claveras's power in the final 3 rounds to take home a clear and wide decision.
The second bout saw former 2-time WBA Super Flyweight champion Kohei Kono (33-12-1, 14) [河野 公平] move up to Bantamweight to face off with unbeaten Australian prospect Jason Moloney (17-0, 14). Kono fought like he always does, looking to force a high tempo war, and to begin with Moloney tried to avoid a fire fight, using his better boxing skills to land at range. Both men landed some great though remarkable Kono was dropped by a jab in round 3. Kono suffered a cut in round 4 that worsened through the fight and in round 6 it was a mess, covering the ring and Moloney in claret. Kono managed to get past a doctor's inspection in round 6 but was stopped at the very start of the following round, with the cut ruled to have come from a punch.
With the win Moloney is thought to have secured his spot in the Bantamweight World Boxing Super Series (WBSS) whilst Kono will be expected to think hard and long about his future. This is only the second stoppage loss of Kono's careeer, but it does seem like he's looking his age now.
Before either Claveras or Kono fought there was also a loss for Korean fighter Dong Young Kang (3-5-2), who was dropped in round 2 before losing a decision to Tim Hateley (4-4-1)
News! We try and give you the most interesting news stories from the Asian boxing world!