Yesterday we reported that WBO Super Flyweight champion Kazuto Ioka (25-2, 14) [井岡一翔] held a press conference to announce his next bout would see him take on Kosei Tanaka (15-0, 9) [田中恒成] on New Year's Eve, at the Ota-City General Gymnasium. Today it was the term of Tanaka to talk about the contest as he took part in a virtual press conference himself.
A confident Tanaka didn't have any doubts about what was going to come, and stated:
"I want to play a contest that is suitable for ending this year. It's the biggest bout of my career, but I'll definitely seize this opportunity. I can't complain, I want to settle with KO and impress the generation change here. I will lead the boxing world. "
Despite being confident in himself he was also respectful of his future foe, explaining that Ioka was "a leader in the Japanese boxing world for the past 10 years," however it does seem with that in mind he is seeing this as a generational bout, and a passing of the torch.
Of course Ioka isn't the only big name at 115lbs and Tanaka is also aware of that, stating "The super flyweight is a class with many strong players, including Ioka, so it will be a match that will be a gateway to fighting such players,", potentially leaving the door open to bouts between Tanaka and the likes of Roman Gonzalez, Juan Francisco Estrada, Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, Donnie Nietes, or Jerwin Ancajas. Interestingly he did also add that he "wanted to fight overseas", following in the footsteps of Naoya Inoue who recently fought in the US.
Despite being out of the ring since the start of the year Tanaka hasn't been lazy. Instead he has been working on his flaws and his issues, adding "In the past year when there was no match, the technical level has improved considerably." Although he's always been lightning quick and sharp, it has sometimes been his defense and technical skills that have been his issue and to see him working on those areas is something that has been needed for a while.
Earlier today WBO Super Flyweight champion Kazuto Ioka (25-2, 14) [井岡一翔] put to bed months of rumour and speculation as he held an online press conference and announced, at least, his plans for New Year's Eve.
Unsurprisingly those plans consist of him defending his world title in a mandatory defense against fellow Japanese fighter Kosei Tanaka (15-0, 9) [田中恒成], at the Ota-City General Gymnasium, as had long been rumoured.
Amazingly this will be the first time Ioka has faced a fellow Japanese fighter since June 2012, when he fought in his historic Minimumweight clash against Akira Yaegashi, in a WBA/WBC unification bout. Since then he has become a real huge star, winning world titles at Light Flyweight, Flyweight and Super Flyweight, but never managing to clash with a countryman.
As for Tanaka he actually has faced Japanese fighters in some of his biggest bouts, including his 2018 win over Sho Kimura and his 2019 win over Ryoichi Taguchi.
At the press conference Ioka, stated "I hope the Japanese confrontation will be exciting in Japan after a long time. I want to stick to the content and results. I want to show the difference in level." [Translated]
He spoke incredibly confidently about the contest and almost seemed to suggest it was a formality. He stated he had absolute confidence in victory and was expecting to retain here before big bouts overseas.
Interestingly this will be his 9th bout on New Year's Eve, and he currently sports a 7-1 record when fighting on that day, with his his only loss coming in 2018 when he lost a razor thin split decision to Donnie Nietes. Rather sadly though he will have been out of the ring for a year coming in to this bout, with his last contest being against Jeyvier Cintron last New Year's Eve.
Interesting Tanaka also fought last New Year's Eve, in what was his third bout on the day. He's also not fought since, with him scoring a KO win over Wulan Tuolehazi last year then deciding to move up in weight this year.
A win for Tanaka would see him set a new record as the man to win titles in 4 weights in the fewest fights. However in the early polling on Boxmob he is viewed as a clear under-dog, and some do seem to feel that the 25 year old from Gifu is biting off more than he can chew in his Super Flyweight debut.
Unsurprisingly the bout is now confirmed as a TBS broadcast however at the time of writing it's unclear who will be featuring on the under-card. We are expecting at least 1 other major bout but nothing like that has been announced as of yet.
Earlier today one of the Japanese newspapers reported details regarding Kazuto Ioka (25-2, 14) [井岡一翔] Vs Kosei Tanaka (15-0, 9) [田中恒成], suggesting the bout has finally been sorted out behind the scenes.
The bout has long been in the works with Tanaka being announced Ioka's mandatory for the WBO Super Flyweight title earlier this year, when Tanaka decided to move up in weight.
The hope for both teams had been to fit in a fight earlier this year, a warm up at Super Flyweight for Tanaka and a straight forward defense for Ioka. This year, however, has seen nothing go to plan and both men have cancelled their plans due to the on going situation. That has left us where we are now, with both men having been out of the ring since New Year's Eve, where they shared a card at the Ota-City General Gymnasium.
That means Ioka has been out of action since beating Jeyvier Cintron, in a mandatory defense, and Tanaka has been inactive since beating Wulan Tuolehazi in an easy year ending defense.
At the moment the full details haven't been made open though the paper does suggest that it will be on News Year's Eve. To be fair, that's probably something we would all have assumed, given it's a date TBS have long pencilled in for boxing, and have a growing tradition for holding events on. Of course we would also assume the bout will be aired on TBS, and affiliates, including MBS and CBC.
One of the biggest questions remaining completely unanswered is the "where" with a variety of places being suggested by fans online. These include Saudi Arabia, Macau, Nagoya and Tokyo.
It appears the full details on the event will be revealed potentially in November, or very late October. It's expected that former WBC Flyweight champion Daigo Higa (16-1, 16) [比嘉 大吾] will also be on the show, if he gets through his October 26th bout with Seiya Tsutsumi (5-0-1, 4) [堤聖也], with out any issues.
The front page from the paper, the Yukan Fuji, can be seen below, with the names of Ioka and Tanaka clearly visible on the side. As can the tweet from the company which states "大晦日、井岡と田中恒成", which translates as "New Year's Eve, Ioka and Kosei Tanaka"
At the end of December Japanese fans get a treat with an incredible card feature a staggering 6 title bouts!
Today there was a small competition to get on that card, with 10 girls each trying to book their place on the show as one of the ring card girls.
Prior to today there was a screening process to a much bigger entry pool down to 10. Those 10 finalists were then whittled down to two by a panel of judges at today's event.
The event today saw the 10 posing in swimsuits for the judges, which included former world champion Ryoichi Taguchi (27-4-2, 12) [田口良一] and current female world champion Miyo Yoshida (13-1) [吉田 実代], who will feature on the card herself in a world title defense.
The two winners, who are both said to be boxing fans, will not only do the ring cards, but will also feature in a number of the build up events including the signing ceremony, the face and the weigh in.
Whilst the use of ring card girls have had a mixed response in the west in recent years, with some promoters doing away with them and some feminist groups complaining, events to select ring card girls do happen somewhat regularly in Japan. They usually aren't as high profile as they were for this particular show, but there isn't the same calls to ban ring girls are there are in the west.
The girls will get a huge chance to boost their modelling careers here with them appearing on a show that features Kosei Tanaka (14-0, 8) [田中恒成] and Kazuto Ioka (24-2, 14) [井岡一翔], as well as Yoshida, defending world titles and talented youngster Ginjiro Shigeoka (4-0, 3) [重岡銀次朗] also on the card.
(Images courtesy of Boxmob.jp)
December 31st 2019 will, of course, be the end of the year...in fact it will be the end of a decade, and it appears that the fight fans in Japan will be going out with one of the most stacked cards of the year.
We've known that New Year's Eve show was a world title triple header for a while. The most recent of the world title fights being announced for the card saw Miyo Yoshida (13-1) [吉田 実代] announce she would be risking her WBO female Super Flyweight title against China's Li Ping Shi (5-2, 2). That bout rounded off a triple header that also featured WBO Flyweight champion Kosei Tanaka (14-0, 8) [田中恒成] defending his title against awkward Chinese challenger Wulan Tuolehazi (13-3-1, 6) [乌兰] and WBO Super Flyweight champion Kazuto Ioka (24-2, 14) [井岡一翔] taking on mandatory challenger Jeyvier Cintron (11-0-0-1, 5).
As well as the world title bouts we also knew that WBO Asia Pacific Minimumweight champion Ginjiro Shigeoka (4-0, 3) [重岡銀次朗] would be defending his belt against former world title challenger Rey Loreto (25-14, 17). We also knew that unbeaten youngster Yume Hirayama (4-0) [平山 夢] would be facing Marina Sayama (4-1-1, 2) [佐山万里菜], for the Japanese Female Flyweight title.
Today we learned that yet another title bout had been squeezed on to the card, some how, with Japanese Super Bantamweight champion Yusaku Kuga (19-3-1, 13) [久我勇作] announcing he would be fighting for the WBO Asia Pacific Super Bantamweight title. Kuga not only revealed he was on the card, but that he would be clashing with Filipino fighter Jhunriel Ramonal (16-8-6, 9), who has seemingly got this opportunity following his huge upset win in October against former world title challenger Shingo Wake.
With 6 title bouts now on the card it's hard to imagine how the decade could end in a better fashion for fight fans who can get to the Ota City General Gym in Tokyo.
(Image courtesy of Watanabe Gym)
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