On May 10th we'll see an A-Sign Bee card, headlined by a Japanese Light Middleweight title bout, which will see defending champion Nobuyuki Shindo (20-4-2, 8) [新藤寛之] facing mandatory challenger Hironobu Matsunaga (14-1, 8) [松永 宏信].
Earlier today the A-Sign twitter account announced the under-card bouts for the show, and there was one that really stood out.
The stand out supporting bout is a Bantamweight bout between Matcha Nakagawa (13-1-1, 5) [武田航] and Kai Chiba (10-1, 7) [千葉開]. This has the potential too out-shine the main event and should be a very competitive fight between two men each looking to make their mark and move towards a title bout.
Another intriguing fight confirmed for the card is an 8 round bout between the popular Joe Tanooka (15-6-4, 1) [田之岡条] and Naoto Mizutani (5-6-1, 2) [水谷直人]. On paper this doesn't have the same feel as the previously mentioned bout, but Tanooka has lost 3 of his last 4 and will have to work for the win here against the under-rated Mizutani.
One more bout announced will see former Japanese title challenger Masaki Saito (15-13-6, 5) [斉藤正樹] battle against former OPBF title challenger Ryuto Araya (12-7-1, 4) [荒谷龍人] in what looks like a competitive bout on paper.
Earlier today Japanese fight fans at the Korakuen Hall had the chance to see a Japanese Lightweight title fight, though it was a bit of a "blink and you miss it" fight.
The contest saw unbeaten champion Shuichiro Yoshino (7-0, 5) [吉野修一郎] make his first defense, as he faced off with mandatory challenger Masaki Saito (14-13-6, 5) [斉藤正樹]. On paper the bout was a mismatch, though as a first defense it was na interesting bout on paper, especially given that Saito hadn't been stopped in over a decade and had been very competitive with decent fighters, like Daisuke Sakamoto, Tsuyoshi Tojo, Dai Iwai, Yuichiro Kasuya and Masashi Noguchi.
Although Saito had the edge in experience, and began the bout looking confident, it wasn't long until the talented Yoshino had had settled, and dropped Saito with a hard right hand. To his credit Saito got to his feet, but was never really able to get himself back into the fight, with Yoshino applying pressure and attacking the challenger. With Saito on the ropes, taking shots, the referee finally stepped in, saving the challenger after just 156 seconds.
After the bout Yoshino revealed he was wanting to fight for either the WBO Asia Pacific or OPBF title, which Saito looked broken and he really didn't look like a man who had much left to offer the boxing world. At the age of 32 he can bounce back and continue to fight, but it's unclear whether he'll be wanting to or not.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Tomorrow fight fans in Tokyo will get the chance to see a Japanese Lightweight title fight, as unbeaten champion Shuichiro Yoshino (6-0, 4) [吉野修一郎] takes on mandatory challenger Masaki Saito (14-12-6, 5) [斉藤正樹] at the Korakuen Hall.
Today the two men weighed in for the bout, and both made weigh for the contest, with both making weight.
On the scales Yoshino looked comfortable, a little fleshy but comfortable. He stated he had done 100 rounds of sparring for this bout and it did seem like he was really relaxed for what will be his first defense of the title. The popular view is that he will fall back on the amateur experience that allowed him to be fast tracked to the title, and will realy be given a platform to shine here, in a bout which is expected to be televised on tape delay.
The taller Saito looked a little bit drained, though given he has often fought at Super Featherweight he certainly didn't look too bad on the scales, in fact he still had a litle wiggle room. He seemed confident and is expecting a sizeable fan base of friends and family to be at the bout cheering him on.
Yoshino defends crown against Saito at the Champion Carnival!
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
One of the key parts of the Japanese boxing calendar is the Champion Carnival, which takes place over the first 6 months of the year and sees the national champions defending their titles against their mandatory challengers.
Today we saw the bouts being announced for the 2018 Champion Carnival at a huge press confeence, and as with every year, there were some brilliant bouts being announced.
At Minimumweight we'll see Ryoki Hirai (10-4-1, 4) [平井亮輝] and Shin Ono (21-9-3, 5) [小野 心] battle for the vacant title, which was given up by Reiya Konishi (15-0, 5) [小西伶弥] a few days ago. The bout will be Hirai's first title bout, whilst the experienced Ono will be getting his 4th shot at a Japanese title, having previously won an OPBF title and having several world title bouts. This bout will take place in Kobe on April 22nd and should be a very, very good match up.
The Light Flyweight bout will see defending champion Tetsuya Hisada (30-9-2, 19) [久田 哲也] make his 3rd defense of the title, as he takes on Koji Itagaki (18-11-3, 7) [板垣幸司]. This looks like a mismatch on paper, but it will be Itagaki's first, and likely last, shot at a domestic title and he sounded determined and confident at today's event. This contest has been pencilled in for April 19th and will take place in Osaka.
Although a number of bouts were announced today, some were already known about. One such bout was the Flyweight contest, which will see Masayuki Kuroda (28-7-3, 16) [黒田 雅之] defending his title against the exciting Katsunori Nagamine (14-1-1, 10) [長嶺克則. This will be Kuroda's third defense of the title, whilst Nagamine will be having his first challenge, and the bout really does have the potential to be a real thriller. As mentioned this bout was already known about, and will take place on March 3rd, as previously reported.
At Super Flyweight we'll be getting a rematch between Hiroyuki Kudaka (25-17-2, 11) [久高寛之] and Go Onaga (28-3-4, 19) [翁長 吾央], who face off following a technical draw in December. The two men will be fighting for the currently vacant title, which was given up by Ryuichi Funai (29-7, 20) [船井 龍一] earlier this week. Sadly at the time of writing this bout has no venue, or set date, but seems likely to be fought in Tokyo on either a Dangan show or an Ohashi one, potentially in April or May.
Interestingly the first Champion Carnival bout comes in just over a week's time, as Ryo Akaho (31-2-2, 20) [赤穂 亮] defends his Bantamweight title against Yusuke Suzuki (9-3, 6) [鈴木悠介] at the Korakuen Hall on January 20th, in a bout set to be televised on G+. For Akaho the bout willbe his second defense, whilst Suzuki gets his first title fight, in what looks like a really exciting way to kick off the 2018 Champion Carnival, and should be a very brutal bout.
At Super Bantamweight we'll see Ryo Kosaka (15-3-1, 7) [小坂遼] challenging champion Yusaka Kuga (15-2-1, 10) [久我勇作], with Kosaka essentially filling in for the injured Yasutaka Ishimoto (31-9, 9) [石本康隆]. The bout is a decent looking one, but it's hard to not expect a win for the champion, who has looked fantastic in a number of recent contests, and could well find himself in the world title mix later this year. This bout is scheduled for March 27th at the Korakuen Hall.
Featherweight champion Takenori Ohashi (15-4-2, 10) [大橋健典] will look to build from his dramatic 2017 win over Kosuke Saka (16-4, 13) [坂晃典] as he defends his title against fellow puncher Taiki Minamoto (14-5, 11) [源大輝]. This bout promises to be explosive, even if both are a bit crude, and Ohashi will be hoping to avoid a similar finish to his title win, where Saka turned away thinking he had heard the bell, and got iced by Ohashi in the final seconds of the round. These two will meet on April 7th at the Korakuen Hall.
In early February we'll see Ken Osato (13-1-1, 4) [大里拳] challenge Super Featherweight champion Masaru Sueyoshi (16-1, 10) [末吉 大]. For Sueyoshi this will be his first defense whilst Osato looks to build on his big 2017 win over Satoru Sugita (13-5-1, 8) [杉田聖]. The talented Sueyoshi has frustrated at times, but does look class when he gets going and should be favoured here for the February 3rd bout, but Osato is in good form and could easily spring the upset, if Sueyoshi is anything less than his best.
At Lightweight we'll see the very talented Shuichiro Yoshino (6-0, 4) [吉野修一郎] defending his title, for the first time, against Masaki Saito (14-12-6, 5) [斉藤正樹]. Yoshino has really shined so far in his short career and looks to be a star of the future for Japanese boxing, though will obviously need to get his first defense under his belt before becoming a star. Saito looks like a limited challenger, though is a very experienced fighter and should be able to give Yoshino some questions. This bout will be taking place on February 8th at the Korakuen Hall.
The Light Welterweight contests looks set to be one of the most exciting, as Valentine Hosokawa (22-6-3, 9) [細川バレンタイン] makes his first defense, and takes on the heavy handed Vladimir Baez (24-3-2-22). This bout looks likely to be a war, and whilst Baez will be the favourite, despite being the challenger, we can't rule out the champion, who hs long been under-rated. Like many this contest will take place at the Korakuen Hall and is set for May 7th.
One of the most explosive bouts on paper will see Welterweight champion Toshio Arikawa (15-4, 13) [有川 稔男] taking on fellow puncher Ryota Yada (14-4, 11) [矢田良太]. The contest might not have a future world champion or potential star in it, but given the power of both men this should be a shoot out, and could be something fvery, very special for the fans, who will be in the Korakuen Hall on April 16th.
At Light Middleweight we'll see triple crown winner Takeshi Inoue (12-0-1, 7) [井上 岳志] take on former Welterweight champion Nobuyuki Shindo (19-4-1, 8) [新藤寛之] in what should be a really good test for Inoue, who will be lookibg at bigger and better things in 2018. Shindo's reign at Welterweight was a short one, and whilst he will be hoping to become a 2-weight champion he is really up against it here against the fantastic Inoue. This bout is set to take place on April 26th at the Korakuen Hall.
The heaviest weight being contested at this year's Champion Carnival is Middleweight, and it may well end up being the best of the bouts, as March 3rd plays host to a contest between defending champion Hikaru Nishida (17-8-1, 8) [西田 光] and the heavy handed Kazuto Takesako (7-0, 7) [竹迫司登]. Nishida is a freakishly strong fighter who brings a lot of pressure, and whilst he can be out boxed he is a tough and aggressive nightmare,. Takesako on the other hand is a really brutish puncher and this will be something very special.
The winners of the bouts will of course be the defending champion, and will also be in the running for a number of prizes, including a notable award for being crowned the MVP of the Champion Carnival, or winning either the Skill or Battle awards.
(Photographs courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Earlier today we had the chance to see Japanese Flyweight champion Takuya Kogawa (28-4, 13) [粉川 拓也] successfully defend his title as he over-came Yudai Arai (8-4-3, 4) [新井 雄大] in a less than spectacular bout that saw both men struggle with balance, distance and timing. Although the bout wasn't a spectacular war it did headline an otherwise entertaining and interesting card.
The chief support bout was a genuine thriller as Japanese #1 ranked Flyweight contender Yuta Matsuo (12-2-1, 6) [ユータ松尾] and Ryuto Oho (9-3-1, 2) [大保 龍斗] had an all out 8 round war. The bout started fast and barely slowed as the two men just spent the fight unloading on each other in a contest that would have have scribes raving about it had it been on American TV. We'll admit we thought Oho just nicked it but the judges all favoured Matsuo who will get a Japanese title fight in 2017.
Another really entertaining under-card bout saw Masaru Sueyoshi (13-1, 8) [末吉 大] score an 8th round TKO win over the aggressive Kazuma Sanpei (12-4, 4) [三瓶 数馬]. Sanpei set a hectic pace from the off, and hurt Sueyoshi several times in the early stages, but failed to see off his man, who established his jab and fought excellently off it, neutralising Sanpei's aggressiveness. Sueyoshi was dropped in the middle of the bout was in no danger and came back, eventually forcing Sanpei's corner to throw in the towel and save their man.
A less memorable 8 rounder from the card saw Yuichiro Kusaya (9-0-1, 1) [粕谷 雄一郎] fight to a draw with veteran Masaki Saito (13-11-6, 4) [斉藤 正樹]. Th bout was lacking in drama but was thoroughly competitive with a high level of skills being shown by both fighters, sadly with just a combined 5 stoppages in 38 combined bouts it always seemed like this one was going the distance, and their was no surprise to see the scorecards play a factor in the contest. Coming in both men had Japanese rankings, which they will likely keep due to the draw.
The first of the show's 8 rounders saw Dai Iwai (19-4-1, 7) [岩井 大] take a decision win against the heavy handed Takehiro Shinohara (7-5-2, 7) [篠原 武大]. Iwai's more rounded skills and superior speed were his keys, but he did get tagged repeatedly and the first 5 rounds were very competitive, before Iwai's experience took hold and he out boxed a tired Shinohara. Despite the loss Shinohara certainly didn't embarrass himself and could find himself getting other notable match ups in the future.
Before the 8 rounders the card kicked off with a few 4 rounders, these saw wins for Taichi Ueno (4-1, 2) [上野 太一], Ryosuke Ota (1-1) [太田 椋介] and Shogo Sakai (6-5-1, 4) [坂井 祥吾],all of whom impressed and we can't wait to see Ota as he had a really fan friendly style.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
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