Earlier today the East Japan Boxing Association announced their award winners for the Month of December, which was a surprisingly busy month for Japanese boxing given the increasing number of Covid19 cases in the country.
The MVP for the month was named as Ryoji Fukunaga (13-4, 13) [福永亮次], who unified the WBO Asia Pacific, Japanese and OPBF Super Flyweight titles with an excellent 10th round TKO win over Kenta Nakagawa (19-4-1, 12) [中川 健太] on December 14th. The bout, an hellacious war, was one of the best fights in Japan during the year and Fukunaga's performance and victory really did leaving deserving of this award,
The Fighting Spirit award was won by new crowned Japanese Minimumweight champion Masataka Taniguchi (13-3, 8) [谷口将隆], who claimed the title on December 3rd when he stopped Hizuki Saso (12-7-2, 4) [佐宗 緋月]. The plan now seems to be for Taniguchi to defend his title during 2021 and move towards a second world title fight in the future.
The Newcomer award was won by Kento Yabusaki (8-4-1, 5) [薮﨑賢人] for his shock upset win over 2-time Minimumweight world title challenger Shin Ono (24-11-3, 6) [小野心] on December 8th. This win was a real surprise and help put Yabusaki on the map, though likely was just as much a case of Ono being very much past his prime.
Earlier today it was announced that Japanese fighter Ryan Joshua Yamamoto (4-3, 1) [山本ライアン ジュシュア] had been given a 1 year suspension after missing weight for his East Japan Rookie of the Year final.
The fighter came in 300g's (about 0.6lbs) over the limit, causing the cancellation of his Lightweight bout with Hiromasa Urakawa (6-1, 4) [浦川 大将].
The JBC have given him this punishment and explained that missing weight was "an act that seriously damages the authority and credibility of boxing as a competition". It seems particularly damaging as it was the Rookie of the Year, and had followed a previous telling off for Yamamoto earlier in the year.
Notably Yamamoto isn't the only man being punished here but so too is his manager, Hirotsugu Yamamoto, who Sports Hochi state has been "dismissed".
This is sadly the latest in a long line of issues at the Watanabe Gym, who have had shows cancelled this year, and have seen their chairman, Hitoshi Watanabe, given a large fine for breaking Covid19 rules. The long established gym has, in recent months, looked somewhat lost, despite recent in ring success for Masataka Taniguchi (13-3, 8) [谷口将隆].
Earlier today at Korakuen Hall fight fans saw a new Japanese Minimumweight champion being crowned as Masataka Taniguchi (13-3, 8) [谷口将隆] scored a 10th round TKO victory over the over-matched Hizuki Saso (12-7-2, 4) [佐宗 緋月].
Taniguchi got off to the perfect start, dropping Saso with a straight left hand to the body very early on. To his credit Saso got back to is feet, but was wary of Taniguchi's power following the knockdown. Saso would then become aware of Taniguchi's skill and timing with the Watanabe gym fighter controlling the rest of the round behind his footwork, jab and excellent counter punching.
Taniguchi continued to show his class in round 2, putting his foot on the gas and getting Saso's respect with some very solid straight shots, and some wonderfully well picked uppercuts to the body. At one point Saso was caught on the ropes, though respect to him for fighting off them and not taking too much damage.
Round after round Taniguchi would look like the boss, whilst boxing well within himself. This saw him racking up rounds and when the open scoring kicked in, after 5 rounds, he was leading 50-44 on all 3 cards. It was almost impossible to make a case for giving Saso anything. Every moment of success Saso had was quickly forgotten and neutralises by the more skilled Taniguchi.
Knowing he was well behind Saso began to dig deep, then deeper, and he gave all he could in the, but he repeatedly got picked off at range and offered no real competition. In fact in round 9 Saso pressed forward, but ended up merely taking punishment for his bravery and effort. He tried, and god loves a trier, but he was easily out worked, out landed, out boxed and out classed.
In round 10 the bout came to an end when Taniguchi began to open up on Saso and the referee jumped in to wave it off. It was a soft stoppage, but in many ways it was hard to complain. Saso had been second best in every round and had eaten 4 or 5 solid shots earlier in the round.
After the bout Taniguchi admitted that the Japanese title was one he had always wanted and stated that it was heavy, he also revealed that it had helped to have his close friend and stable-mate WBA Light Flyweight "Super" champion Hiroto Kyoguchi (14-0, 9) [京口 紘人] working his corner for the bout.
The win for Taniguchi sees him adding the Japanese title to a trophy cabinet that also includes a WBO Asia Pacific title. As for Saso he will come out of this proving his heart, but he really did look out of his depth.
For those wanting to watch this is now available on Boxing Raise.
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
Tomorrow at Korakuen Hall we'll see a new Japanese Minimumweight champion being crowned as Masataka Taniguchi (12-3, 7) [谷口将隆] and Hizuki Saso (12-6-2, 4) [佐宗 緋月] trade blows for the title that was vacated earlier this year by Norihito Tanaka [田中教仁].
Today the two men took part in their weigh in and both men made the 105lb limit with no issues at all.
On the scales Taniguchi, who enters as the leading contender, was 104.8lbs and looked in fantastic condition. He spoke really confidently about being excited about the fight and despite having been unable to train for some of November, with the Watanabe being closed due to positive Covid19 tests within the gym, he seemed very much like a man who has trained hard and is focused on picking up a win, and the title.
Saso came in even lighter at 104.6lbs, and arguably looked even better than Taniguchi. He showed a lot of respect to Taniguchi, and spoke about Taniguchi's amateur experience as well as his world title experience. Despite speaking highly of his opponent he seemed to suggest that he had the right style, tenacity and hunger to over-come Taniguchi and become the first fighter from the T & T Gym to win a belt.
Unfortunately this bout won't be available to watch live, though it will be shown on demand on Boxing Raise, and should be available with in a day or two of the event.
Related - Taniguchi and Saso battle for vacant Japanese title
(Image credit - Watanabe Gym)
Earlier today Boxing Raise released their line up for December and have announced that they will be including 4 shows during the month, with one live. Despite the fact there's only a single live show the 4 show line up is a brilliant one, with two female world title fights, two Japanese title bouts and a triple title unification contest.
The first of those shows will be the December 3rd Dangan promoted card. This will be headlined by a Japanese Minimumweight title bout featuring Masataka Taniguchi (12-3, 7) [谷口将隆] and Hizuki Saso (12-6-2, 4) [佐宗 緋月], who battle for the vacant title. The same show will also feature a WBO female Minimumweight title bout between Ayaka Miyao (23-8-2, 6) [宮尾 綾香] and Etsuko Tada (19-3-3, 6) [多田悦子].
The second show will be on December 13th and will be headlined by WBO female Super Flyweight champion Miyo Yoshida (14-1) [吉田 実代] defending her title against Tomoko Okuda (6-2-2, 1) [奥田朋子].
The only live show for the month will be on December 14th, and it's a genuinely great show from Kadoebi. The main event here will see Japanese Super Flyweight champion Kenta Nakagawa (19-3-1, 12) [中川 健太] battle WBO Asia Pacific champion Ryoji Fukunaga (12-4, 12) [福永亮次] with the two men unifying their belts, and also fighting for the vacant OPBF title in a triple title unification bout. Other bouts on this card include a brilliant match up between Hiroki Okada (19-2, 13) [岡田 博喜] and Izuki Tomioka (7-3-1, 2) [富岡樹], as well as a bout between Masahiro Suzuki (4-0, 2) [鈴木雅弘] and Jumbo Oda Nobunaga Shoten Petagine (10-5, 8) [ジャンボおだ信長本屋ペタジーニ] and one between Matcha Nakagawa (13-2-1, 5) [中川 抹茶] and Ryo Suwa (11-3, 2) [諏訪 亮].
The final show takes place on December 26th in and will be headlined by Japanese Light Flyweight champion Masamichi Yabuki (11-3, 11) [佐藤政道] defending his title against Toshimasa Ouchi (22-9-3, 8) [大内 淳雅], in what will be Yabuki's first defense.
For subscribers to Boxing Raise we'll admit December might not have a lot of shows, but what it has are fantastic, and each of these 4 shows is worth watching. We have a good month ahead for Boxing Raise users!
(Image courtesy of boxingraise.com)
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