We've known since early in the year that WBO Super Flyweight champion Kazuto Ioka (25-2, 14) [井岡一翔] was set to run his own gym, leaving the DANGAN set up to take more control over his career and put together a stable of his own. Today Ioka's transfer to gym was made official and with the fighter himself announce the change.
Ioka, through his team, announced that he had transferred to what will now be known as the Ambition Gym.
The gym was previously known as the Ozaki Boxing Gym, and had Takuya Kiya as the Chairman. Kiya will continue to chair the gym going forward with Ioka as it's biggest star.
According to a number of Japanese reports the gym is also set to announce the signing of former WBC Flyweight champion Daigo Higa (16-1, 16) [比嘉 大吾] in the coming days with both men expected to be training their and linking the gym with Japanese broadcaster TBS.
Reportedly Higa will make his return with the Gym at some point in September, against a yet to be named opponents, whilst Ioka is expected to return in a mandatory title defense against Kosei Tanaka (15-0, 9) [田中恒成], though it's not totally clear when that bout will be held with September and December both being seen as possibilities.
According to Chunichi Sports the future of former WBC Flyweight champion Daigo Higa (16-1, 16) [比嘉 大吾] has been decided and surprisingly he will not be signing with the Ohashi Gym, as many had expected!
Instead Chunichi Sports have reported that Higa will be heading to the gym that Kazuto Ioka (25-2, 14) [井岡一翔] will be opening later this year.
The gym, which will taking over the license of the Ozaki Boxing Gym, will have Takuya Kiya acting as the chairman and is expected to open in the near future. The gym was announced earlier in the year with reports explaining that Ioka wanted more control over his career than he was getting with Dangan, now Dangan Aoki.
Higa, who left the Shirai Gushiken Sports Gym earlier this year, had been expected to sign with Ohashi and continue his strong relationship with broadcaster Fuji TV though this association with Ioka will likely see him joining forces with rival TV channel TBS. TBS not only work with Ioka but also the Watanabe Gym fighters, including WBA Light Flyweight "Super" champion Hiroto Kyoguchi (14-0, 9) [京口 紘人], and work in close association with CBC, who are the TV channel linked to Kosei Tanaka (15-0, 9) [田中恒成].
Although the gym that Ioka, and now Higa, will be part of is currently the Ozaki gym it is expected to receive a name change when it opens. What is known is that it will be in Tokyo.
So far both men have been training independently of the gym, in question though it's expected that both men will be continue to have members in their team that they've worked with in the past. For example Joji Nogi is expected to continue working with Higa.
The report also states that Higa's next bout is likely to be in September, whilst Ioka is still planning to defend his WBO Super Flyweight title against Kosei Tanaka.
Earlier today Japanese news websites reported that a deal is close to be signed and sealed for a WBO Super Flyweight title bout between current champion Kazuto Ioka (25-2, 14) [井岡一翔] and fellow Japanese fighter Kosei Tanaka (15-0, 9) [田中恒成].
Originally the hope from Tanaka's team had been to have a single bout at Super Flyweight to accommodate the move up from Flyweight. That is something we have seen from him in the past when he's moved up in weight. Today however it was revealed that the plan had changed, with Tanaka's promoter Kiyoshi Hatanaka explaining that it was now going to be impossible for Tanaka to fight twice this year. That scuppered their plans to fight in a tune up as well as the world title bout.
The focus, of course, is the world title contest, so as a result that has taken priority and Hatanaka revealed that the plan is now to challenge for the belt when Tanaka returns.
Originally they actually had a date set for Tanaka's tune up. That was going to be May 17th in Nagoya, a date that has now passed.
A deal is close to be reached between Tanaka's team and that of Ioka, with the only thing yet to be agreed being the when and where. However the "When" is likely to be the very end of the year, with both men having a track record of fighting on December 31st. That would mean both men would be away from the ring for a year, a massive disappointment but something that would give their bout an even bigger "big fight feel".
Tanaka himself has been quoted in the Japanese press as wanting to have an audience for the bout, "Boxing must be seen by fans. I want people to get excited. I'm an audience. I can't do my best by myself,""Boxing must be seen by fans. I want people to get excited. I'm an audience. I can't do my best by myself," and it seems likely that that will be a factor in the when and where for this highly anticipated clash.
Last week there was talk about the now postponed WBO Flyweight title bout between Junto Nakatani (20-0, 15) [中谷 潤人] and Giemel Magramo (24-1, 20) potentially taking place on July 4th at Korakuen Hall. Now however it appears that date has slipped, but a new date is looking like it is now essentially set in stone.
The date, now being reported for the bout, is August 1st with the bout taking place at Korakuen Hall with no fans in attendance.
Issues with securing visa for both Magramo and his trainer Rudy Hernandez, as well as inconsistent international flights, were part of the reason given for the July date not coming to fruition, though it should be noted that the July date wasn't really mentioned at any of the recent council events from the JBC and JPBA.
It's not just been Magramo with training that has been effected by the current situation but also Nakatani who had been planning a long training camp in the US earlier this year, but had to return to Japan due to the current outbreak.
Given the August 1st date matches up with what we would expect for a televised Dynamic Glove card it seems that whilst no fans will be in attendance the bout would be expected to be shown on G+, likely live. If this does happen it's looking likely to be the first Japanese card to be given live TV coverage since the whole global situation put boxing on hold in the country.
It's worth remembering that the WBO Flyweight title is vacant after Kosei Tanaka (15-0, 9) [田中恒成] gave it up to begin the pursuit of a Super Flyweight title. At the moment there is no details on when Tanaka will be back in the ring.
Earlier today Japanese fighters were honoured at an annual award ceremony in Tokyo. Whilst certain fighters were unable to attend, such as Naoya Inoue (19-0, 16) [井上 尚弥] and Kazuto Ioka (25-2, 14) [井岡一翔], others however were able to attend and took their chance to talk to the press.
Please note all quotes are translated.
Among those who spoke to the press were Kosei Tanaka (15-0, 9) [田中恒成], who summed up last year:
"I was able to defend three times last year and that was the best. I have a good performance and I want to continue this year."
He also explained that this year he does want to face Ioka:
"I want to do it this year (win the 4th weight class) but I'm not impatient."
Another was IBF "interim" Super Bantamweight champion Ryosuke Iwasa (27-3, 17) [岩佐 亮佑]:
"I was delighted to think that I could continue boxing (by winning the provisional championship match). I thought it was the last chance,"
He also spoke about his plans, and how he watched the recent Super Bantamweight world title bout between Murodjon Akhmadaliev [Ахмадалиев, Муроджон Кахарович] and Daniel Roman, with Akhmadaliev expected to be next for Iwasa:
"Ahmadaliev is powerful, fast, competes in the Olympics, and has a good level of skills. As soon as possible, I imagined a match against the new champion."
Unbeaten Flyweight contender Junto Nakatani (20-0, 15) [中谷 潤人], who is now expected to get a world title fight in Spring, stated:
"I was confident because people around me said that I could win the newcome prize. I would like to compete in the world early this year."
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
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