Earlier today the nominations for the JBC and Tokyo Athletic Press Club Boxing Subcommittee annual awards were announced, with the media being able to vote on the winners, who will be announced later this month. Unlike usual there will not be a big event ceremony, due to the ongoing Covid19 situation.
Sadly Covid19 really did destroy the boxing calendar in Japan and only a handful of top Japanese fighters managed to squeeze a fight into the year. In fact only 3 of the 7 current male world champions managed to fight, and that include a man who won his world title late year.
The fighters nominated for the "Best Fighter" award were those 3 champions that manage to fight last year:
They were WBO Super Flyweight champion Kazuto Ioka (25-2, 14) [井岡一翔]
WBO Flyweight champion Junto Nakatani (21-0, 16) [中谷 潤人]
And unified WBA "super" and IBF Bantamweight champion Naoya Inoue (20-0, 17) [井上 尚弥]
Those 3 champions are also up in the running for the "Skill Award".
The "Special Merit" award sees Junto Nakatani in the running alongside:
Masayoshi Nakatani (19-1, 13) [中谷正義]
and Hironori Mishiro (10-0-1, 3) [三代大訓]
The Effort/Fighting Award short list is
Ryoji Fukunaga (13-4, 13) [福永亮次]
and Kenichi Horikawa (41-16-1, 14) [堀川 謙一]
The KO award has 4 nominees, with Inoue, Ioka, and both Junto and Masayoshi Nakatani.
The newcomer award sees Mishiro up against:
Daishi Nagata (15-2-2, 6) [永田大士]
and Masamichi Yabuki (12-3, 11) [佐藤政道]
The best bout of the year has been split into two categories, as it has been for a while.
The world title bouts up for the award are:
Kazuto Ioka Vs Kosei Tanaka (15-1, 9) [田中恒成]
Naoya Inoue Vs Jason Moloney
Junto Nakatani Vs Giemel Magramo
As for the none world title bouts, the fights nominated here are:
Riku Nagahama [長濱 陸] Vs Kudura Kaneko [クドゥラ 金子]- For the OPBF Welterweight title
Kenichi Ogawa [尾川 堅一] Vs Kazuhiro Nishitani [西谷和宏] - Non title bout
Masayoshi Nakatani Vs Felix Verdejo - WBO Intercontinental Lighweight title
Ryoji Fukunaga Vs Kenta Nakagawa [中川 健太] - WBO Asia Pacific, JBC and OPBF triple title bout
and Hironori Mishiro Vs Masayuki Ito [伊藤 雅雪] - Non title bout
As for the female awards, the MVP nominess are:
WBO Atomweight champion Mika Iwakawa (9-5-1, 3) [岩川 美花]
WBO female Minimumweight champion Etsuko Tada (20-3-3, 7) [多田悦子]
and WBO female Super Flyweight champion Tomoko Okuda (7-2-2, 1) [奥田朋子]
The best bouts for female boxing are:
Mika Iwakawa Vs Nanae Suzuki [鈴木菜々江]
Etsuko Tada Vs Ayaka Miyao [宮尾 綾香]
and Tomoko Okuda Vs Miyo Yoshida [吉田 実代]
Tomorrow is a hectic day for boxing fans with big shows in the UK, Germany and the USA. Those countries will all host world title fights, as will Japan, which hosts the most obscure of the weekend's world title bouts.
The bout in Japan will see WBO Atomweight champion Mika Iwakawa (9-5-1, 3) [岩川 美花] defending her title, for the first time, as she takes on Nanae Suzuki (10-3-1, 1) [鈴木菜々江] in Kobe.
Although the Atomweight division is an obscure one, only featuring female fighters and has a limit of 102lbs, the division is an interesting one that tends to deliver high tempo fights. With that in mind title bouts at this weight do tend to be exciting with non-stop punching.
Today the two women took part in their weigh in and both fighters easily made weight. Like surprisingly easily.
The talented 37 year old champion, who has held the title since July 2018 despite not defending it yet, came in at 101.4lbs and looked in great shape.
At the weigh in the champion explained that she had hoped to defend her title earlier, and actually was pencilled in to defend against Suzuki much earlier in the year. She sounded very confident and seemed to have assessed Suzuki well and is hungry to not just win, but win well and get back into the ring sooner, rather than later.
The challenger was even lighter on the scales, weighing in at around 100.5lbs, well under the 102lb limit. She seemed respectful of the champion but spoke about how she was going to attack, force her style and sounded confident of making the most of her opportunity.
For fans wanting to watch this bout it will be shown on the Boxing Real YouTube channel for free.
Related - Iwakawa defends WBO title against Suzuki (Preview)
We've known for a few weeks now that WBO Atomweight champion Mika Iwakawa (9-5-1, 3) [岩川 美花] was going to make her first defense in September, as she battles Nanae Suzuki (10-3-1, 1) [鈴木菜々江]. That bout had been confirmed earlier this month and we were also informed it would be held in Kobe. At the time however little else was known.
The only real details confirmed were Mika Iwakawa would face Nanae Suzuki on September 26th at the Central Gym, Kobe.
Now we've seen the full card being announced by Shinsei, along with the poster and details regarding the show being broadcast online for free. We also know that the WBO Atomweight title bout will not be the main event!
The main event honours actually go to former WBA Super Bantamweight champion Shun Kubo (13-2, 9) [久保隼], who is fighting for the first time since a loss to Can Xu in May 2019. The former world champion will be facing Takashi Igarashi (13-4, 5) [五十嵐嵩視] in an 8 round bout being fought above the Featherweight limit.
On paper this should be an easy win for Kubo, especially given Igarashi hasn't fought in almost 2 years, but with stoppage losses in 2 of his last 3 there are question marks about his durability and ring miles. Saying that however Igarashi has been stopped 3 times, including his last bout, a notable upset loss to Toshiya Yokogawa.
Another bout now confirmed for this card was the long rumoured return of Kohei Oba (36-3-1, 14) [大場浩平], who will face Yoshiki Minato (8-3, 3) [湊義生].
This bout had been rumoured since Oba, also known as the "Mayweather of Nagoya", stated he was going to make a come back at the age of 35. He had retired citing issues with his eyes, but he's had treatment and rest from the sport, which has seemingly allowed his eyes to recover along with his fire for boxing. This will be his first bout in more than 6 years and he's more than a decade older than Minato. As for Minato he has lost his last 2 and will be the naturally smaller man here, though of course is the younger, fresher fighter.
We mentioned that their had been details released regarding the broadcasting of the show. The main bouts will be streamed live on the Boxing Real youtube channel, whilst the rest of the show will be made available afterwards.
Boxing Real, which only started a few months ago, has quickly become a brilliant addition to the boxing world. They have already had 2 streams similar to this and they were both flawless, so we are expecting another quality stream for this event.
The channel appears to be making a mark on the sport, and hopefully it continues to deliver these shows in the way it does as it really does give fans more of a chance to catch fights that typically we wouldn't see.
Way back in February we reported that WBO Atomweight champion Mika Iwakawa (9-5-1, 3) [岩川 美花] was set to defend her title, for the first time, against Nanae Suzuki (10-3-1, 1) [鈴木菜々江]. That bout was originally announced to take place on March 17th at Korakuen Hall as part of a stacked card from Watanabe.
Sadly that entire show had to be scrapped when Japanese boxing was put on hiatus due to the on going global situation. That means bouts involving Yudai Shigeoka (2-0, 1) [重岡優大] and Suzumi Takayama (3-0, 3) [高山 涼深] were cancelled as well as a Japanese and OPBF Minimumweigth title bout between Lito Dante (16-11-4, 8) and Masataka Taniguchi (12-3, 7) [谷口将隆].
Today we finally saw a new date being set for that female world title bout, with announce stating the bout would now be taking place on September 26th at the Central Gym, in Kobe.
For Iwakawa this will be her first defense, despite the fact she has held the title since July 2018, when she dethroned Nao Ikeyama. The 37 year old has fought since winning the title, though she has only fought once in a non-title bout against Momoko Kanda last December, whilst struggling to get a suitable opponent to challenger for her title.
As for Suzuki this will be her first world title bout, though she is a former Japanese Atomweight champion. The 28 year old challenger has won her last 2 bouts, though did lose in a JBC and OPBF unification bout back in 2019 to Eri Matsuda and this is her first real step up in class since that loss.
At the moment no other bouts for this card have been officially announced, though we are expecting bouts to be announced in the coming weeks as Japanese continues to slowly get back to normal.
Notably none of the other fighters for the card which was meant to have this bout, have had their next bout announced yet. Though we would be surprised if they were to be added to this show.
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],
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