Earlier this week we reported that triple crown champion Ryoji Fukunaga (13-4, 13) [福永亮次], would be defending his WBO Asia Pacific, OPBF and Japanese Super Flyweight titles on May 22nd against Takahiro Fujii (12-6-1, 3) [藤井貴博]. It's now been announced that that bout will be one off two title bouts on the show, with the other being a Japanese female title bout.
That second title bout will see Kanako Taniyama (3-1-1, 1) [谷山佳菜子] and Yuko Henzan (8-10-4, 2) [平安山裕子] battle for the Japanese female Bantamweight title.
Entering the bout Taniyama, a 34 year old fighter from the Watanabe gym, will be the #1 ranked contender for the belt whilst Henzan, who is slightly younger at 33, will enter as the #3 ranked contender.
Taniyama turned professional in 2018, following a career in Karate and Kickboxing, and the expectations were high for her. So high in fact that she fought for the Japanese and OPBF female titles in just her third fight, battling to a draw with Tomoko Okuda. A rematch with Okuda soon afterward resulted in a narrow technical decision loss for Taniyama. On paper her 3-1-1 (1) record is underwhelming, but given Okuda has since gone on to win the WBO female Super Flyweight title the sets are nothing to be ashamed by. In fact it was Okuda vacating the title that has left it open for this bout to take place.
Henzan on the other hand has been a professional since 2010. She failed to win any of her first 4 bouts, going 0-3-1, and was 1-5-2 after 8 bouts. Since then she has managed to turn things around somewhat, going 7-5-2, but she has also lost her last 3 bouts.
Whilst not the greatest match up out there it's not a terrible bout to add to a card that already features Jukiya Iimura (1-0, 1) [飯村 樹輝弥] against Tomoki Kawasaki (0-0) [川崎 智輝] and Mikio Sakai (3-0) [酒井 幹生] taking on veteran Koshinmaru Saito (24-10-2, 13) [斉藤伸介].
A week or so ago it was revealed that DANGAN would be promoting 3 events over 2 days in May, with the dates of May 22nd and May 23rd being set for the events. Other than those minor details little was know about the 3 shows.
Today DANGAN went on to announce the details of the first of those 3 shows, which will take place on May 22nd at the Sumida City Gymnasium, will heavily feature Kadoebi promoted fighters and will be promoted as "Dangan 239 & Slugfest".
The show will be headlined by triple crown champion Ryoji Fukunaga (13-4, 13) [福永亮次], who will be defending his WBO Asia Pacific, OPBF and Japanese Super Flyweight titles against the unheralded Takahiro Fujii (12-6-1, 3) [藤井貴博], who has won hid last 3 and over the likes of Tatsuya Terada and Sonin Nihei during his current run.
Fukunaga had a brilliant 2020, a career defining year in fact. He began the year with a brilliant win over Froilan Saludar, in February, to claim the WBO Asia Pacific title, then beat down Kenta Nakagawa in December to win the Japanese and OPBF titles, to become a triple crown winner. Given those two bouts, which were tough, damaging and punishing battles, we can hardly complain about him having an easier one here against Fujii. As for Fujii this is a massive step up in class, however he may well be getting a shot at Fukunaga at the right time, given the incredible punishment Fukunaga has gone through in his last few bouts.
On the under-card for this show will be a bout between talented 27 year old hopeful Mikio Sakai (3-0) [酒井 幹生] and veteran Koshinmaru Saito (24-10-2, 13) [斉藤伸介], in a big step up bout for Saito. A win for Saito will likely result in him moving into the Japanese rankings, but Saito is true veteran and will not be there to roll over for the skilled Sakai, despite a staggering 15 year age difference between the two men.
Another under-card bout will be a 6 rounders between Jukiya Iimura (1-0, 1) [飯村 樹輝弥] and Tomoki Kawasaki (0-0) [川崎 智輝], which was originally planned for later this month but appears to have been delayed for 2 months to fit on this show instead. Despite the delay we're really looking forward to this one, and we were really impressed by Iimura's debut earlier this year.
A final under-card bout for this show will be a 6 rounder between 23 year old puncher Hiroto Hoshi (4-2-2, 3) [星大翔] and 32 year old Kojiro Nishikawa (5-2-1, 2) [西川宏次郎] in what should a pretty competitive show opener.
Although yet to be officially confirmed, it is expected that this will be available on Boxing Raise, potentially as a live show, as DANGAN look to fill up the scheduled for the service, which has been lacking to begin this year.
Earlier today Japanese fight fans got a Japanese title eliminator at 154lbs. The bout saw veteran Koshinmaru Saito (24-10-2, 13) [斉藤伸介] likely ending his career, as he was stopped by Hironobu Matsunaga (14-1, 8) [松永 宏信] in what was a surprisingly 1-sided affair.
Matsunaga looked the sharper fighter from the off and backed up Saito with smart foot work. Saito began to circle a lot around the ring, something his 39 year old legs probably shouldn't have been doing so early in the fight. Matsunaga didn't let his hands go a lot, but always looked to be trying to line up a powerful left hand whilst backing the veteran up.
In round 3 Matsunaga began to really pick up his output and put Saito on to his backside towards the end of the round. Saito wasn't hurt but was beginning to look his age.
The exhaustion and age of Saito showed again in round 4, as he tried to come forward but lacked any sense of sharpness, and everything he did looked slow and clumsy. An big onslaught from Matsunaga dropped Saito and this time he would be hurt, getting stopped as he rose.
This will almost certainly be the final bout of Saito's career whilst Matsunaga has secured himself a Japanese title fight at the 2019 Champion Carnival.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Tomorrow we'll see the next mandatory title challenger for the Japanese Light Middleweight title being decided. The bout to decide on the challenger will see veteran Koshinmaru Saito (24-9-2, 13) [斉藤伸介] battle against Hironobu Matsunaga (13-1, 7) [松永 宏信].
Today the two men took part in their weigh in and both fighters looked in great shape for what could be one of the most important bouts either man takes part in, with the winner being assured of a shot during the 2019 Champion Carnival.
On the scales Saito was around 153.8lbs whilst Matsunaga was just slightly heavier, though still under the 154lbs allowed.
Saito will turn 40 in February and will know that anything but a win here will likely end his career, after having come up short in a number of title bouts already. Matsunaga on the other hand is in his early 30's and will be hoping to get his first shot at a Japanese title, after having previously won a WBO Asia Pacific title in Korea.
Related-Veteran Saito takes on Matsunaga for Japanese title shot!
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
An important part of the Japanese boxing calendar is the Champion Carnival, which takes place in the first half of the year. The fighters who compete in the Champion Carnival are the national champions and the leading domestic contenders.
In August we a number of bouts to decide the top contenders being announced, with 6 such bouts being set for October 12, on a stacked card at the Korakuen Hall.
For those missed that report those bouts on October 12th will be:
Light Flyweight - Kenichi Horikawa (37-15-1, 11) [堀川 謙一] Vs Koji Itagaki (18-12-3, 7) [板垣幸司]
The Super Flyweight - Yuta Matsuo (14-3-1, 7) [松尾雄太] Vs Rey Orais (20-17-2, 5)
Super Bantamweight - Mugicha Nakagawa (23-5-1, 14) [武田勇太] Vs Naoya Okamoto (13-6-1, 6) [岡本直也].
Super Featherweight - Ken Osato (14-2-1, 4) [大里拳] Vs Satoru Sugita (14-5-1, 9) [杉田聖]
Light Welterweight - Koki Inoue (11-0, 10) [浩樹井上] Vs Marcus Smith (6-0-1, 6)
Light Middleweight Koshinmaru Saito (24-9-2, 13) [斉藤伸介] vs Hironobu Matsunaga (13-1, 7) [松永 宏信]
As well as the October 12th card we also, recently, saw the confirmation that the Flyweight bout would see Junto Nakatani (16-0, 12) [中谷 潤人] battle against Shun Kosaka (15-4, 4) [小坂駿], which that bout now set for October 6th as part of notable Japanese domestic card which is set to be televised on G+.
Today saw the rest of the bouts being announced.
On October 21st we'll have two of them take place in Fukuoka. One of those is the Minimumweight bout, which will see Takumi Sakae (19-2-1, 13) [榮拓海] take on Norihito Tanaka (16-7, 9) [田中教仁], in what could end up being one of the surprise contests from these eliminator style contests. On the same card will be the Welterweight clash between Yuki Beppu (18-0-1, 18) [別府優樹] and Yuki Nagano (14-2, 11) [永野祐樹], in what we are expecting to be a very explosive and exciting encounter between two fighters with very solid power at this level.
A week later, October 28th, we'll get the Lightweight bout, which will see Accel Sumiyoshi (11-4-2, 3) [アクセル住吉] face off with Tatsuya Yanagi (15-5-1, 6) [柳達也]. This bout will take place in Shimonoseki, Yamaguchi prefecture, which should favour Sumiyoshi but given the styles of the two men this has the potential to be very exciting.
On November 7th we'll get the Middleweight bout as former champion Hikaru Nishida (17-9-1, 8) [西田光] takes on Shuji Kato (9-1-1, 6) [加藤収二], with this bout taking place at the Korakuen Hall.
The only bout with out a set date so far is the Bantamweight bout. Despite no set date we do know that Hayato Kimura (27-10, 18) [木村隼人] facing off with Seizo Kono (19-10-1, 12) [高野誠三], in what is a bit of an under-whelming contest given some of the Japanese domestic talent in the division. This bout is expected to have it's date and venue announced in the coming weeks.
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