Earlier today the Muto Gym, the Japanese partner of MTK Global in their "MTK Japan" expansion, held a press conference in Osaka to announce five bouts.
From the bouts two were already known about, but the other three weren't, and were completely new announcements.
The most notable of the bouts mentioned today was actually one that was revealed yesterday.
That was the Japanese Middleweight title bout between Kazuto Takesako (12-0-1, 11) [竹迫司登] and mandatory challenger Riku Kunimoto (4-0, 2) [国本陸]. Kunimoto, a Muto Gym fighter, will be getting his shot at the Japanese title on May 2nd as part of a Dynamic Glove card at Korakuen Hall, but he will be up against it as he takes on a dominant and heavy handed champion and it's clear he will be the under-dog.
Another bout that was known about before this press conference was a bout between Muto fighter Yusuke Mine (3-0, 1) [峯 佑輔] and former world title challenger Masayuki Kuroda (30-8-3, 16) [黒田 雅之], which was announced earlier in the day. This bout will take place on March 30th at Korakuen Hall, and again it's the Muto fighter who will be regarded as the under-dog.
One of the bouts are set to take place on April 12th, and will see Tulio Kuwabata (3-1, 2) [桑畑凜生], also known as Dekanarudo Torio, look to bounce back from a December loss to Filipino puncher Ken Jordan (9-1-2, 8) as he takes on Japanese ranked fighter Kazuki Tanaka (11-3, 8) [田中一樹], who is looking to bounce back from a loss to Kyosuke Sawada (14-2-1, 6) [澤田京介] in a Japanese title eliminator. This looks like a ridiculous match up, at this point, for Kuwabata, who is talented but deserves an easy win after being blown out by Jordan. This is yet another case of the Muto fighter being the under-dog.
The two remaining bouts are both set for April 19th, and both look more competitive than the other three.
One of those will see Akio Furutani (8-4, 3) [古谷 昭男] take on Chikato Sumida (9-3, 1) [住田愛斗], in what is set to be an 8 round bout at Super Flyweight on "You Will Be the Champion 11". This looked really even on paper and Furutani, the Mutoh fighter, is probably the slight favourite.
The other bout, on the same card, will see Ryosuke Nishida (2-0, 1) [西田凌佑] taking a massive step up in class as he is set to take on Matcha Nakagawa (13-2-1, 5) [武田航], in another 8 rounder, in what looks like a mouth watering match up. Although taking a huge step up Nishida does look like a special fighter and he maybe has the best chance of notching an upset.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
We've known for a while that former world title challenger Masayuki Kuroda (30-8-3, 16) [黒田 雅之] would be back in the ring on March 30th, in what will be his first bout since his loss last May to Moruti Mthalane.
Whilst we've know that Kuroda would be in action we weren't aware of his opponent, until today.
Earlier this morning it was announced that Kuroda's opponent would be Yusuke Mine (3-0, 1) [峯 佑輔], a touted prospect who is looking to be fast tracked.
For the 33 year old Kuroda the bout will be his 42nd since his debut way back in 2005. It will, as mentioned, be his first bout since May when he lost to Mthalane. On paper he will be the favourite, with his experience expected to be key, along with fighting "at home" at the Korakuen Hall where he has fought 31 times during his career. He is however a veteran, and the naturally smaller man, having fought at Light Flyweight for a good portion of his career before moving up for his first world title fight, in 2013 against Juan Carlos Reveco.
Mine on the other hand is 23 years old and regarded as one of the brightest hopes at the Muto Gym in Osaka. The former amateur standout has been tipped for big things, but he was exposed some what last time out when he was dropped twice by Ardin Diale, back in December. On one hand that bout left question marks about his chin, though on the other hand it showed his mental toughness to battle back after a horror start.
The bout will be an 8 round contest at Super Flyweight, giving Mine an advantage in terms of weight, with the younger man being a natural Super Flyweight, but the bout is still a huge ask for the young professional novice.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Back in May 2019 Masayuki Kuroda (30-8-3, 16) [黒田 雅之] put up a spirited effort in a loss to IBF Flyweight champion Moruti Mthalane. That was his second loss at world level, and despite putting up a solid effort he was made to look a clear level below that of Mthalane.
Following that loss the popular fighter from Kawasaki vanished, with many assuming he was going to quietly retire following a solid career...at least they did until earlier today, when Kuroda and his ream held a press conference.
Today's press conference saw Kuroda announce that he would be continuing his career, and still had his eye on winning a world title, despite having come up short in two world title bouts so far in his career.
Kuroda, dubbed "The last Samurai", had been unsure himself about his future until recently though after attending a few bouts in December seemed to realise he still had more to give the sport, informing the Nitta Gym Chairman that he wanted to continue his career on New Year's Day.
Today Kuroda, and the higher ups from the Nitta Gym, held a press conference, where Kuroda explained that not only was he was coming back to win a world title but that his next bout was now set to take place on March 30th.
At the moment Kuroda has no opponent named for his March bout, but his foe is expected to be named in the coming weeks, in what will likely be an easy comeback bout, before tougher bouts later in the year. What we do know, at least for now, is that Kuroda will headline the show, which will take place at Korakuen Hall and the card will also feature Japanese Female Featherweight champion Kimika Miyoshi (15-12-1, 6) [三好喜美佳].
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
In a few hours time we'll see Masayuki Kuroda (30-7-3, 16) [黒田 雅之] attempt to become the first new Japanese world champion of the Reiwa era as he challenges the criminally under-rated Moruti Mthalane (37-2, 25) for the IBF Flyweight title.
As per the IBF rules the two men under-went a second weigh in this morning and both men made the allowed limit for that, as well as having had to make weight for yesterday's official weigh in. Today's limit was the divisional limit, of 112lbs, as well as an additional 10lbs.
On this scales this morning Mthalane was just under the maximum allowed, just sneaking under the 122lb limit for the bout. He managed to put on over 10lbs since yesterday's official weigh in, where he was 111.5lbs, and despite increasing his weight by 9% over night we're expecting him to remain sharp and keep the brilliant timing that he's had through his career.
Kuroda, who was heavier than Mthalane yesterday when he hit the scales at 111.7lbs, came in at 1118.4lbs this morning. He was well under the allowed limit and not much over the Bantamweight divisional limit.
Whilst there is clear difference in weight it is worth noting that both men will have added on a bit more weight before fight time. It's still interesting to see that a fighter as light and diminutive as Mthalane can add so much over night, and you do wonder what a Heavyweight fighter puts on between the official weigh in and fight night.
Related - Kuroda goes up against IBF champ Mthalane!
Moruti Mthalane Vs Masayuki Kuroda to be live streamed!
Tomorrow in Japan Masayuki Kuroda (30-7-3, 16) [黒田 雅之] will challenge IBF Flyweight champion Moruti Mthalane (37-2, 25) at Korakuen Hall. The bout will be Kuroda's second world title challenger and will mark Mthalane's second defense of his second reign.
For fans wanting to watch on TV in Japan there may be some problems, with the bout only being aired on TVK, TV Kanagawa a small regional channel in Japan. However there is some good news and the broadcaster have finally confirmed that the bout will indeed have a live, legal stream for fans unable to get the channel.
The stream, which can be seen below, is set to show the bout in full live, and from what we understand it a world wide feed of the TV channel. It's not like the recent ones where we've worked with CBC, which were only for an international audience, but this is their stand alone stream which seems to be a fully global one.
The show will air from 7:55PM local time and will feature commentary from Katsushige Kawashima and Akira Yaegashi.
Whether you're in Japan, South Africa, the UK, US or any where else, we implore you to enjoy what could be a little bit of an action packed gem from the Flyweight division tomorrow!
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