One thing we've come to rely on in recent weeks to see what is coming up is the Watanabe Gym schedule, which had a major bout added to it today.
The bout in question a Japanese Minimumweight title bout between #1 ranked Masataka Taniguchi (12-3, 7) [谷口将隆] and the #3 ranked contender Hizuki Saso (12-6-2, 4) [佐宗 緋月], with the two men set to vie for the vacant title on December 3rd at Korakuen Hall.
Originally we were supposed to see the vacancy filled with a bout between Taniguchi and OPBF Minimumweight champion Lito Dante (16-11-4, 8), way back on March 17th. That bout would have not only seen a new Japanese champion being crowned, but also seen the Japanese and OPBF titles being unified. Sadly that bout was scrapped in February when boxing was put on hiatus in Japan due to the on going global situation, and ever since we have been waiting to know what the plan was to crown a new champion.
Whilst the March bout between Taniguchi and Dante was cancelled in March the title has actually been vacant a little bit longer than that, with Norihito Tanaka (19-8, 10) [田中教仁] vacating the title in January, prior to his bout with WBA champion Knockout CP Freshmart (21-0, 7) [น็อคเอาท์ ซีพีเฟรชมาร์ท].
At the moment no details regarding the under-card have been revealed, though it is known a lot of Watanabe Gym fighters haven't got any bouts officially scheduled for the rest of the year, and there's a real chance a number of those, including WBO Asia Pacific Minimumweight champion Ginjiro Shigeoka (5-0, 4) [重岡銀次朗] and his older brother Yudai Shigeoka (2-0, 1) [重岡優大], could be involved here. Interestingly both of the Shigeoka brothers were set for the card in March as Taniguchi, so fingers crossed they will be added here, and get a run out before the end of the year.
On March 17th we're set for a bit of a boxing oddity as OPBF Minimumweight champion Lito Dante (16-11-4, 8) battles against Masataka Taniguchi (12-3, 7) [谷口将隆]. The bout will bot only see Dante defending his OPBF crown but will also also be for the vacant Japanese Minimumweight title.
With the show being fought under the "Guts Fighting" banner we know the show wouldn't be getting a live TV broadcast, however TBS have revealed the delay in their broadcast will not be a long one.
TBS, the channel will will air the fight, have scheduled the bout to be shown on the same week, with an image on their website stating March 18th at 2:05am. Given how Japanese TV schedules work, we suspect it will technically be March 19th 2:05am local time, but that still isn't much of a delay.
Sadly most Guts Fighting broadcasts do only show case the main event, which is a shame, but still this is one of the quickest turn arounds for a tape delay broadcast in recent years in Japan.
If there is one set of emerging brother's that really excite us it's the Shigeoka brothers, Ginjiro Shigeoka (5-0, 4) [重岡銀次朗] and his older brother Yudai Shigeoka (2-0, 1) [重岡優大].
We've known for some time that the older of the two men, 22 year old Yudai, would be fighting again on March 17th at Korakuen Hall. Today we found out more details of the bout, and if we're totally honest we're really disappointed.
The bout has been confirmed as an 8 round contest at Minimumweight with Shigeoka facing Sanchai Yotboon (6-4, 6), the fighter Ginjiro stopped in 3 rounds in 2018, in what was Ginjiro's debut. Since then Sanchai has returned to Japan for 3 fights and been stopped in all 3, making this match up a huge step backwards for the 22 year old who was last seen beating Lito Dante in a 6 rounder.
If we're being honest we would be very surprised if Sanchai lasted more than 3 rounds here, and we suspect Yudai would be disappointed if Sanchai even lasted that long.
On the same card Japanese Youth Super Flyweight champion Suzumi Takayama (3-0, 3) [高山 涼深] has had his opponent named as Sophon Klachun (5-4-1, 1), who had lost in 4 previous visits to Japan, including a stoppage defeat last September to Daiki Funayama. On paper this is a better test for Takayama than Sanchai is for Shigeoka, but not significantly better.
Thankfully the card does have an excellent main event, as OPBF Minimumweight champion Lito Dante (16-11-4, 8) battles against Masataka Taniguchi (12-3, 7) [谷口将隆], in an OPBF and Japanese Minimumweight title fight, and WBO Atomweight champion Mika Iwakawa (9-5-1, 3) [岩川 美花] defends her title against Nanae Suzuki (10-3-1, 1) [鈴木菜々江],
Earlier today in Japan Mika Iwakawa (9-5-1, 3) [岩川 美花] announced her first defense of the WBO Atomweight title, which will take place on March 17th at Korakuen Hall. This will see Iwakawa defending her title for the first time since winning it in July 2018, when she beat Nao Ikeyama.
In the opposite corner to Iwakawa will be former Japanese national champion Nanae Suzuki (10-3-1, 1) [鈴木菜々江], who gets her first world title fight.
The press conference today was a pretty interesting one.
It was revealed that Iwakawa team had been desperate to secure a unification bout, and had hoped to unify with the IBF champion, who happens to be fellow Japanese fighter Saemi Hanagata (16-7-4, 7) [田中冴美]. As a result of not being able to secure a unification fight Iwakawa has taken this bout instead, though it was clear she didn't really want to defend in a lower level match up like this, but was "sure to keep the belt".
This bout comes as the second title bout on an already interesting card headlined by OPBF Minimumweight champion Lito Dante (16-11-4, 8) battling against Masataka Taniguchi (12-3, 7) [谷口将隆], for both the OPBF and Japanese titles Minimumweight titles, and also features Yudai Shigeoka (2-0, 1) [重岡優大] and Suzumi Takayama (3-0, 3) [高山 涼深].
(Image courtesy of Daily.co.jp)
Back in mid-December Japanese youngster Yudai Shigeoka (2-0, 1) [重岡優大] shone, when he beat OPBF Minimumweight champion Lito Dante (16-11-4, 8). Since then we've come to learn that Dante will actually return to Japan on March 17th to defend his Oriental title against Masataka Taniguchi (12-3, 7) [谷口将隆], in a bout that will also be for the Japanese Minimumweight title.
Whilst the "irregular" double title bout will be the main event, and is the only bout which has been formerly announced for the show, we can now report that Shigeoka will be on the card, in fact he is one of 3 other fighters now confirmed for the event.
At the moment details regarding Shigioka's opponent are yet to be confirmed, but what is known is that he will be fighting over 8 rounds for the first time, and the bout will be at Minimumweight. Given his win over Dante, how dominant it was, we would expect a solid rival here in what could be his final bout before he fights for a title, of some kind, later in the year.
Given how Shigeoka's younger brother, Ginjiro Shigeoka (5-0, 4) [重岡銀次朗], won his first title in his 4th bout then beat Rey Loreto (25-15, 17) in his 5th bout, we are expecting something big from Yudai Shigeoka in his next few bouts.
Another fighter now set for this show, also in 8 round action, is Japanese Youth Super Flyweight champion Suzumi Takayama (3-0, 3) [高山 涼深], who also hasn't had his opponent for the event confirmed. As well as his opponent not being named it's currently unclear whether he will be defending his title or note on this event.
The only other fighter listed for the show, at the moment, is Daiju Hamaguchi (4-4, 2) [濱口 大樹], who is fighting in a 6 round bout at Super Bantamweight. He's 1-4 in his last 5, so we don't expect to see him being tested here. As with Shigeoka and Takayama his opponent hasn't yet been confirmed.
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