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)
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.
At the Korakuen Hall today Mugicha Nakagawa (24-5-1, 14) [武田勇太] battled against Naoya Okamoto (13-7-1, 6) [岡本直也]. The bout turned out to be one of the most enthralling of 6 Japanese title challenger decider bouts to take place at the holy land of Japanese boxing.
The fight saw Nakagawa take the early lead, landing his stiff jab and controlling the distance to being with. Okamoto upped the pace in round 3, especially with his body shots, and got a foot hold in the bout.
The fight back from Okamoto saw the crowd really get into the bout and both began to hold their feet more, until Okamoto was forced to back off as Nakagawa's accuracy and consistency took a toll on the less experienced man.
Sadly clashes of heads in round 7 saw Okamoto suffer a cut, a cut that would worsen from another clash off heads and eventually cause the bout to be stopped after 2 mins 26 seconds of round 7. The stoppage saw us go to the score-cards with Nakagawa taking a narrow majority decision with scores of 67-65, 67-66 and 67-67.
The win for Nakagawa sets up a potential bout with Shingo Wake in 2019 and despite losing Okamoto proved he was a better fighter than many had realised and he will certainly bounce back as a better fighter from this defeat.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Earlier this year we saw former amateur standout Seiya Tsutsumi (3-0, 3) [堤聖也] score a sensational and action packed win over the touted Junpei Inamoto [稲元 純平] to claim a B Class Tournament win. Following that bout Tsutsumi stated that he wanted to fight a Japanese ranked opponent before the end of 2018.
At the time it seemed plausible, but still very ambitious from the Watanabe gym fighter.
Today however it was confirmed that he's a man of his word and his next bout has been announced for December 1st and will see him taking on Japanese ranked Bantamweight Matcha Nakagawa (13-1-1, 5) [武田航], a former Japanese Youth Bantamweight champion and 2015 Bantamweight Rookie of the Year.
Tsutsumi, pictured above, is an exciting pressure fighter who looks to get in an opponent quickly and is very heavy handed, applying smart pressure to get inside. Although he's untested at this level as a professional it's hard not to imagine him making a mark on the higher echelons of the domestic, at the very least, and we regard him as one of Japan's brightest prospects.
Nakagawa began his career with 9 straight wins, before losing a competitive decision loss to Ryohei Takahashi in October 2016. Since then he has impressed claiming the Japanese Youth crown last year and recording 4 straight wins. The most recent of those was against Filipino foe Marzon Cabillo on G+ in Japan.
The styles of the men should gel well and give us a brilliant match up.
For those interested in watching this bout, it's going to be shown on G+ alongside the return of Yukinori Oguni (19-2-1, 7) [小國 以載] and the Japanese Light Welterweight title bout between Valentine Hosokawa (23-6-3, 10) [細川バレンタイン] and Takashi Inagaki (20-17-2, 9) [稲垣孝].
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Fans in Osaka who were hoping to see a Japanese Youth Bantamweight title fight between Yuki Iriguchi (9-2-1, 4) [入口裕貴] and Matcha Nakagawa (12-1-1, 5) [武田航] on Saturday will sadly be disappointed to learn that that fight has been cancelled as Iriguchi has become the latest Japanese fighter to fail to make weight, following a growing trend. Unlike the recent bout between Daigo Higa and Cristofer Rosales this bout won't take place, and instead has been cancelled.
The talented 20 year old Iriguchi had fought his last few bouts, including a Japanese Youth title bout in December, at Super Bantamweight and hadn't actually fought at Bantamweight since a December 2016 win.
On the scales Iriguchi was originally 500g, just over 1lbs, over the Bantamweight limit. After 45 minutes he was still over the Bantamweight limit and his gym, the Kadoebi gym, cancelled the bout on the grounds of health, with the promotional team behind the show agreeing it was the right thing to do.
Sadly for the Kadoebi gym this is the second notable time one of their fighters has failed to make weight in recent weeks, with Coach Hiroto (13-2-2, 4) [小内義人] failing to make weight for a bout back in March.
As a result of this bout being cancelled Nakagawa, who was supposed to be defending the title, will be fighting in an exhibition with his older brother Mugicha Nakagawa (22-5-1, 13) [武田勇太], who is expected to return fight in mid May in the Philippines.
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