Over the last few weeks technical issues has prevented us from reporting as much news as we usually. Despite that there is obvious still a lot going on in the world of Asian boxing. With that in mind we've decided to put a few stories together here rather than battling too much with the technological issues thwarting us.
The first two small stories concern heavy handed youngster Jin Sasaki (11-1, 10) [佐々木尽], who failed to make weight for his recent bout with Andy Hiraoka (18-0, 13) [平岡アンディ]. Firstly Sasaki has vacated the Japanese Youth title at 140lbs, something he did following his loss to Hiraoka, and second he has been handed a 6 month suspension, for failing to make weight for his bout with Hiraoka, which he lost in 11 rounds. As a result he will be out of the ring until Spring 2022.
Former Japanese title challenger Satoru Sugita (15-6-2, 10) [杉田聖] has announced his retirement, and has handed in his retirement notice to the JBC, with that retirement dated October 20th. His retirement is not a huge surprise, given he hasn't fought since December 2019, but it was interesting to learn that he has also had a problem with his leg and began to start a family. We want to wish Sugita all the best in his post boxing career.
The final snippet of news for this report concerns two of the biggest names in Japanese boxing, with WBA and IBF Bantamweight champion Naoya Inoue (21-0, 18) [井上 尚弥] and former 3 weight world champion Kosei Tanaka (15-1, 9) [田中恒成] both concerned. It was reported today that the two men have been sparring with each other at the Ohashi gym in Yokohama, ahead of big December bouts for both men.
Regarding that spar Inoue was very impressed by the speed of Tanaka, suggesting that Tanaka is the fastest fighter he has ever shared the ring with. He even went on to explain that Tanaka's speed has limited his own success in their sparring. Tanaka, likewise, was impressed and explained that Inoue's technical ability was amazing, and he seemed impressed by the ring craft and distance control of "The Monster".
This was, reportedly, the first time the two men have sparred together.
Earlier today former 3 weight world champion Kosei Tanaka (15-1, 9) [田中恒成] announced his long awaited return to the ring, and instead of taking an easy fight following his first loss, he's set to take on a former world title challenger in a very interesting and tough contest.
Tanaka, who was last seen losing to WBO Super Flyweight champion Kazuto Ioka (27-2, 15) [井岡一翔] at the very end of 2020, will be returning on December 11th to take on Sho Ishida (29-2, 15) [石田 匠] in a bout set to take place in Nagoya.
The full details of the event haven't yet been confirmed, but Tanaka did announce all the details regarding this bout. It will be a 10 round bout, fought at a contracted 52.5KG's (115.7lbs), held at the Nagoya Congress Center, and will be aired by CBC in Japan from 4PM local time. At the moment it's unclear on whether the bout is going to be shown through out Japan, with CBC just airing in the Chukyo region, though sources are suggesting the bout will be streamed across Japan and picked by some international TV channels.
Tanaka's promoter Kiyoshi Hatanaka announced that at the moment no decision has been made regarding spectators. Instead he explained that a decision will be made a month before the bout, with it being dependent on the coronavirus situation in November.
Regarding the bout and his ability, Tanaka spoke about how he has learned more about boxing, focusing on his offense and defense and really developing since the loss to Ioka. He also spoke about his brother, Ryomei Tanaka, and how Ryomei did at the Olympics, winning bronze, and about how he intends to become a 4 weight world champion, after this bout with Ishida.
As for Ishida, who gave comments through the Ioka Gym, he thanks Kazunori Ioka for the opportunity, and explained this was his third chance. He explained that he will be preparing for this like he would a world title fight and feels it could be his last chance. His game plan will be aiming for a KO.
Interestingly Ishida and Kazuto Ioka used to be stablemates, and Ishida's promoted is Kazuto's father, they'll be looking to follow in Kazuto's footsteps and beat Tanaka here.
Earlier today WBO Super Flyweight champion Kazuto Ioka (26-2, 15) [井岡一翔] and JBC chairman Yuhei Nagata took part in a press conference regarding the alleged doping violations which have hung over Ioka for several months, despite Ioka being cleared of all wrong doing.
The press conference began with Mr Nagata apologising on behalf of the JBC to Ioka, and Ioka's family. Mr Nagata explained that the drug testing that took place for Ioka's 2020 bout with Kosei Tanaka (15-1, 9) [田中恒成] was sloppy and the way the JBC approached the police, who visited Ioka at home, was wrong. Mr Nagata also apologised for the way details regarding to the case were leaked to the media and explained that the JBC were now going to bring in better doping tests, and strengthen the governance in regards to leaks to the media.
At the event Ioka stated:
"Today I received a direct apology from JBC for a series of alleged doping violations. I have been asking for a direct apology with the utmost importance. It's not, but I'd like to accept it as an apology. I've talked about the anguish I've experienced in a series of turmoil in many places. I don't want the boxer to show up again. I'm the only one who has such a hard time.
JBC acknowledged and adopted all the mistakes I pointed out. We would like to thank all those involved for their efforts to accept such an apology. Now that I've got one point, I'd like to focus on the defense battle, the effort to win, and the training, just like a sportsman. I hope all the fans will look forward to my next defense. "
Nagata went on to explain that there has now been a new committee set up to prevent leaks, involving 3 external lawyers, and there is a report on the position of Mr Nagata, with that report being expected in late August.
In regards to drug testing in Japan, there is set to be major changes. The JBC will be moving away from the simple, out dated tests that they currently use, to carrying out modern day testing and cryopreserving samples. The JBC will also be training their staff to carry out inspections, and work alongside the Japan Anti Doping Agency (JADA).
Back on June 2nd "The Gondol" reported that the purse bids for the WBO Flyweight world title bout, between champion Junto Nakatani (21-0, 16) [中谷 潤人] and mandatory challenger Angel Acosta (22-2, 21), had been cancelled with the two teams agreeing that Teiken would take control of sorting the bout out.
Today it was reported by a leading Japanese boxing site that Teiken have indeed sorted the details of the bout out, along with close American allies Top Rank, with Akihiko Honda revealing the bout will take place on a Top Rank card in Arizona on Friday September 10th!
It was revealed that the original plan had been to hold the bout on May 29th, something that was widely reported, at the Ryogoku Kokugikan, however those planned were scrapped before they were ever officially announced due to an uptick in Covid19 cases in Japan. That up tick resulted in a number of regions going into a state of emergency, including the region where the fight was being planned.
For Nakatani the bout a huge one, especially on the back of his title win against Giemel Magramo last year. It will not only be his first defense of the WBO title, but it will also be his international debut, and his first chance to show a global audience what he can really do. It will also be a fantastic chance to build a fan base, and link a potential longer term deal with Top Rank, who are one of the biggest promoters in the world and have long been allies of Teiken.
As for Acosta this will be a chance for him to become a 2-weight world champion, having previously held the WBO Light Flyweight title, and get chance to take a win over a Japanese fighter after Kosei Tanaka (15-1, 9) [田中恒成] gave him his first loss, back in 2017.
One of the big stories hanging over the head of Japanese boxing was the news, in April, that WBO Super Flyweight champion Kazuto Ioka (26-2, 15) [井岡一翔] had failed a doping test around the time of his bout with Kosei Tanaka (15-1, 9) [田中恒成], at the very end of 2020. The news broke from a Weekly magazine in Japan, rather than an official statement from the Japan Boxing Commission (JBC) and it seemed badly mishandled from the off, with the police being involved and Ioka himself not being informed of an adverse finding.
Things got even stranger when reports circulated that the test on the A sample had discovered an element of marijuana, hence the police involvement, but that the B sample had found 3 elements of banned substances.
At the time of the news Ioka proclaimed his innocence, his lawyer seemed to clear things up with the police, and charges were seemingly dropped rather quickly, how the JBC themselves were going to investigate what happened. They were going to take control and look at how we came to the situation of a Weekly magazine reporting the news, and whether there were other issues with the whole testing process.
And amazingly the JBC have done the right thing here. They have, unlike many boxing commissions, take full responsibility to the fact that they messed up. Big time. As they held a press conference, and shared a report, to explain what happened and what will happen going forward. And lets just start by saying this is an incredibly embarrassing moment for the JBC which featured a catalogue of errors.
We'll start with the outcome for Ioka. The JBC investigation ruled that there was no doping violation by the fighter. Instead JBC president Yuhei Nagata stated that he apologises to Ioka in full for the situation and will personally meet Ioka and Tanaka, to apologise for the situation.
More tellingly however was the announcement that there would be a new doping committee and governance committee set up to avoid similar issues in the future.
They also explained what happened, and this is where things get laughably bad for the JBC.
The A and B samples from both fighters were taken and stored. Rather than taking them straight to a hospital or lab the samples were taken to the home of a JBC staff member and put in the home fridge for several days. They were then taken, by public transport, to the hospital on January 5th. When transported they were moved at room temperature, being taken from the testing venue to the staff members home, and from the staff members home to the hospital without being stored properly. They were never frozen at any point. Essentially this alone invalidated any testing protocol.
When Ioka's A sample was finally tested on January 6th, a week after the sample was taken, THC was found, a prohibited substance on WADA's list and with it being cannabis an illegal drug in Japan. A third party then tested the B sample and found 3 prohibited substances, other than cannabis, including ephedrine, a blood pressure medication and a drug banned as a stimulant by WADA, on January 29th. Almost a full month after the original samples were taken.
On March 5th, again more than a month after the B samples were taken, there was a JBC meeting to discuss whether or not to consult the police. No agreement was made at the meeting however information was shared with the police force on the advice of a lawyer who was at the meeting. The police then began their investigation, taking the B sample on March 9th. More than 2 months after the sample was originally taken. The police requested that the JBClet them investigate the matter before holding their own ethics committee meeting regarding the situation.
On April 9th the police reportedly finished their investigation on the B sample, and used it all in the process.
It was later revealed that the original test, on the A sample, was a simple screening test, not an in depth analysis. This gives a provisional result, but can't be used to confirm anything. It was essentially a cheap commercial kit that should have acted as a platform to do a proper, full scale test. Something that wasn't done. Even if it had, however, it would have been useless as the sample was never frozen. In fact by not having frozen the sample it potentially lead to the screening test giving a false positive. Simply, the JBC failed to store the sample properly. As a result the test was essentially ruined, and useless.
The three chemicals found in the B sample were revealed to be ephedrine, as already mentioned, phenethylamine, a stimulant, and tyramine. These were not, as originally reported, 3 more metabolites of cannabis but are typically used for blood pressure and as a stimulant. Of course the B sample, like the A sample, had been rendered void by the mishandling of the samples, which again weren't frozen and were completely mismanaged. The view here was that the samples had decomposed in a way to produce a false positive of these three chemicals.
Kentaro Sadahiro, a lawyer of the Ethics Committee who participated in the press conference, explained "There is a strong suspicion that the cannabis produced in the first test is a false positive...it's possible that poor storage has created a result for something that wasn't originally there. "
They also included some very clear issues with the way the B sample was used, not just stored but used, explaining that they should have informed Ioka of the positive outcome to give him the chance to request a retest, and the opportunity to explain why a substance may have been in his sample. They admitted there was a "serious procedural defect" and it seems very clear that this really is inexcusable. At the very least an athlete deserves to be informed of a positive test, so they can be there when a B sample is opened.
Mr Nagata explained that there are no current provisions for storage of samples of their movements, and even explained "I thought it would be okay to store them in a refrigerator." He also explained that the B sample was never returned by the police, stating "I asked the police to return the sample, but I was told that they used all of it because the amount was small."
It was also, and again this does not reflect well on the JBC, that there are many issues with the doping tests they use to begin with and they only detect a small number of the prohibited substances and that they are still using simple tests, one that were apparently used in the 1990's and not up to today's standards. Mr Nagata made it clear that this was set to change and that full scale tests from the JBC would be brought in for A samples in the future.
All in all this seemingly completely clears Ioka, and seems genuinely embarrassing for the JBC who are usually held as being among the very best commissions in the sport. It's great that they have taken responsibility and said that they failed here, unlike some commissions thats blame the fans and bury their heads in the sand as things they need to sort out, but it's inexplicable as to how we ended up in this situation and just how bad the JBC come across here.
They should have known that samples need to be frozen, they should have been aware that the provisional tests needed to be followed up on, and that the athlete needs to be informed of a positive test, and that the athlete has a right to attend the B sample testing, and that the sample should have been analysed properly, rather than just handed over to the police, and that the sample needs to be frozen before transit. Likewise for them to take almost a month to test the B sample is just inexplicable.
All in all a series of confusing mistakes that are indefensible and really cannot be done again.
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