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 fight fans saw a new OPBF Welterweight champion being crowned, as Riku Nagahama (12-2-1, 4) [長濱 陸] scored the biggest win of his career, and out pointed the previously unbeaten Kudura Kaneko (11-1, 8) [クドゥラ 金子].
From the early going it seemed like Nagahama was simply too sharp, too smart, and too good for the slower, clumsier but more powerful Kaneko. Kaneko was trying to come forward, but he was unable to land with authority on any kind of regular basis.
After 4 rounds Nagahama was in a clear lead, up 40-36 on all 3 cards when they were announced for the first time.
In the middle rounds Kaneko managed to get some success, at least in round 5, but it wasn't enough to really work his way into the bout as Nagahama began to work away on the body of Kaneko, and took control again without too many worries. It was as if he let Kaneko feel confident and then took it away, showing he was in total control.
After 8 rounds, when we went to the scorecards for the second time and Nagahama had extended his lead to 79-73 across the board. All he had to do was stay up for the final 4 rounds, and that turned out to be no problem at all, despite Kaneko managing to have some of his best moments in final 4 rounds.
With Nagahama staying up right it was always obvious he had done enough in the first 8 rounds to take the win, and we saw that with scores of 118-110 and 117-111, twice.
For fans wanting to watch this it will be made available on Boxing Raise shortly.
(Image courtesy of boxmpob.jp)
Tomorrow we'll see the last Japanese show for over a month, with the JBC suspending all professional boxing through out the month of March due to coronavirus.
Despite the upcoming break the main event tomorrow is an excellent looking bout, as Riku Nagahama (11-2-1, 4) [長濱 陸] and Kudura Kaneko (11-0, 8) [クドゥラ 金子] clash for the OPBF Welterweight title.
Today, ahead of their bout, the two men took part in their weigh in.
At the weigh in Kaneko came in comfortably under the 147lb limit, hitting the scales at 146.5lb, and looked really good on the scales. He sounded confident and spoke about stopping Nagahama within 5 rounds to take the title, and become the first champion from the Honda Gym.
Nagahama also weight in at 145.5lbs, and like Kaneko he looked in great shape. He was complimentary of Kaneko, and it's clear he has studied the unbeaten Afghan-Japanese fighter, but he did also mention that Kaneko has got holes, and he'll be looking to exploit those.
For fans wanting to watch the bout it will be aired live on Boxing Raise, and will be the final bout in Japan until April, at the earliest.
Related - Kaneko and Nagahama clash for OPBF crown!
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
At the end of February we'll see a new OPBF Welterweight champion being crowned as Riku Nagahama (11-2-1, 4) [長濱 陸] and Kudura Kaneko (11-0, 8) [クドゥラ 金子] clash in a bout for the vacant title.
Today an interview was posted on Boxmob with Kaneko, who revealed that he has big plans for this coming year, in fact he has very big hopes for 2020.
We won't post the full interview, but there are some really interesting things he mentioned in it, summing up how he feels and what he wants form 2020.
The talented Afghan-Japanese fighter stated that he was "glad the title fight had been made", and that he was unhappy to miss out on a Japanese title eliminator last year, "dropping in the rankings just before" the title eliminator was decided on. In theory had he been part of an eliminator there's a chance he could have fought for as the challenger the Japanese Welterweight title in the Champion Carnival, something Keita Obara did earlier this month.
If Kaneko beats Nagahama he would be the first title holder from the Honda Gym, which was been around for 52 years. He admitted than his plans are bigger than just this OPBF title though, explaining "I want to win here and also win the Japan and WBO Asian titles later this year".
In regards to Nagahama it was revealed that Kaneko has sparred with him, explaining "I there were 3 or 4 times. He was tough and strong".
To prepare to face Nagahama, Kaneko revealed he had been sparring with Japanese ranked Middleweight 22 year old Nath Nwachukwu (6-0-2, 3) [ワチュク・ナァツ], who should be decent preparation for facing Nagahama given their size and style.
(All quotes taken from Kaneko's interview with Boxmob, and translated and anglicanised for context where needed).
Earlier today online subscription service Boxing Raise revealed their schedule for February and sadly it's rather lacking with only 3 shows in total, and only 1 live one. That is however a sign of a quiet February in Japan more than anything, with only 7 shows scheduled for the entire month, including the February 1st card which was shown on G+.
The first of the Boxing Raise cards is actually available already and took place today at Korakuen Hall. The card was a rather small and low key one, featuring only 4 round bouts. Whilst the show didn't get much attention it is good to see the service uploading the bouts on the same day which hasn't always been the case.
The next show to be including on the service this month is the February 14th Kadoebi card. This will be headlined by Froilan Saludar (31-3-1, 22) defending the WBO Asia Pacific Super Flyweight title against Ryoji Fukunaga (11-4, 11) [福永亮次] in what looks likely to be an explosive match up. Other bouts of note on this card will include Ryota Yamauchi (5-1, 4) [山内涼太] facing off with Filipino MJ Bo (8-3-2, 4) and a brilliant match up between Yuki Nakajima (3-1, 3) [中嶋憂輝] and Shisui Kawabata (2-1, 2) [川畑嗣穂].
The only live card for the month will take place on February 27th and is an excellent looking card, headlined by an OPBF Welterweight title bout between Riku Nagahama (11-2-1, 4) [長濱 陸] and Kudura Kaneko (11-0, 8) [クドゥラ 金子] and also featuring the Hajime No Ippo 30th anniversary tournament semi finals. Those semi-finals will see Jae Woo Lee (7-2, 6) [이재우] taking on Shingo Kusano (12-8-1, 5) [草野慎悟] and Richard Pumicpic (21-10-2, 6) clashing with Daisuke Watanabe (9-4-2, 6) [渡部大介].
Whilst it's a shame there's so little content this month, it is impressive that Boxing Raise do have 3 of the 7 Japanese cards from the entire month.
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