Earlier today we got good new that the WBO Super Flyweight title fight between defending champion Kazuto Ioka (26-2, 15) [井岡一翔] and mandatory challenger Francisco Rodriguez Jr (33-4-1, 24) will go ahead, with both fighters returning negative PCR tests earlier today.
The two men were following the Japanese procedure for the sport, in which tests for world title fights are taken a few days before the event, to stop late cancellations, something we saw in several high profile Japanese bouts in 2020.
The two men will not meet again for their weigh in on Tuesday before facing off in on Wednesday in an empty venue, as fans have been prohibited from attending due to a recent rise in Covid19 cases in Japan.
For fans wanting to watch this the bout will be aired live on TBS form 9PM Japanese on Wednesday, with the under-card being streamed on a PPV basis live on the Shisei Boxing Gym website, at a cost of 500yen.
Related - Ioka faces third straight mandatory as he battles Rodriguez!
It's fair to say that whilst some had hoped 2020 would end in a more normal way to how it's been through the rest of the year, sadly things are still not great. It's fantastic that we do have boxing, but it's a real shame that we still aren't close to having normality back in our lives. Even those of us who are trying to live as normally as possible are still finding things we can't do in the way we could 12 months ago.
Thankfully in Japan the spread of Covid19 has been somewhat more limited than it has been in a number of other countries. Sadly even with the limited spread it has still been affecting boxing in a major way, and just last week it forced the cancellation of the WBA Light Flyweight "super" title bout between champion Hiroto Kyoguchi (14-0, 9) [京口 紘人] has had his bout with unbeaten Thai Thanongsak Simsri (14-0, 12).
On Saturday it was reported there had been several more cases at a boxing gym in Tokyo, though the gym went un-named.
The JBC announced that a female professional in her 40's received a positive PCR test, and is being quarantined at hospital, a female boxer in her 20's, that had sparred with the other lady, is asymptomatic, and is waiting at home and a male trainee, also in his 20's, it being quarantined at a hotel, due to issues with his taste and smell.
From the details released it's probably fair to have a guess on which gym, and possibly even which fighters, were affected here, though as is typically the case names haven't been published by the JBC due to privacy concerns.
The JBC General Secretary Tsuyoshi Yasukochi made a comment on the situation, which we've translated below:
"Although the infection situation is spreading nationwide, it is extremely regrettable that boxing officials have been reporting infections recently. If nothing is done, the guidelines for running the gym and resuming the boxing I have to make a major review. I would like to reaffirm the competitiveness of boxing, which is contact sports, and call for thorough prevention of infection, especially in the gym."
It seems clear that whilst boxing has, for the most, avoided cases they picked up at times and the JBC are worried about an uptick that may result in changes needing to be made to how things are done in the coming weeks, and even months, to prevent wide spread through out the Japanese gym system.
Earlier today Ring Magazine and WBA Light Flyweight "Super" champion Hiroto Kyoguchi (14-0, 9) [京口 紘人] and unbeaten Thai Thanongsak Simsri (14-0, 12) took part in their weigh in ahead of their scheduled world title fight, which was to take place in Osaka tomorrow.
The two men managed to make weight with absolutely no issues at all.
On the scales Kyoguchi was 107.8lbs and Simsri was 107.6lbs. Both very, very comfortably under the 108lbs limit. Both men had also attended their signing ceremony, essentially the last joint event before their bout.
At the signing ceremony both spoke confidently of winning. Kyoguchi spoke about having an exciting fight, that he was hoping would be seen by a lot of fans. Simsri stated he would definitely win, and thanks those who had supported him.
They also picked their gloves, with Kyoguchi picking orange and Simsri going with black, and both selecting Winnings.
Then we got the news no one was wanting, and no one was expecting, with officials from Japan holding an emergency press conference at 4PM local time to announce it.
The news was that Kyoguchi and his trainer had both had their PCR tests, taken today, come back positive, forcing tomorrow's world title bout, which was set to be the first male world title bout in Japan since boxing restarted there, to be cancelled.
Both men are said to be asymptomatic, but obviously the bout has been stopped and tracing has began of who the two men have been in contact with.
In the last few minutes we have been informed that the whole show has now been scrapped due to this news, which will be a double whammy for all the fighters scheduled to compete on the under-card.
It's not yet totally clear where the line of transmission began and this is under investigation.
Although Kyoguchi isn't the first fighter to get a positive PCR test and be named in Japan, he is the first to fail a test the day before a fight in such a high profile contest.
To many this was seen as the re-opening of Japanese boxing to the world. It was the first time we had seen an international fighter in Japan since the start of these on going situation, and Siumsri had had to self isolate for 2 weeks in Japan, arriving in Japan on October 7th and not leaving his condo room in Osaka until the 21st.
The closest we've had to this in regards to Japan was when Jorge Linares also got a positive test come back several months ago, cancelling his scheduled bout with Javier Fortuna in the US, with his test happening in Japan. That test caused the Teiken Gym to close and pushed back a Japanese show, forced several bouts to cancel and ended up cancelling the US card he was scheduled for.
After the news broke Kyoguchi did publicly say sorry, and we can't imagine how he's feeling right now after this news. As for Simsri he was said to have been weeping after the news broke to him, that his world title fight had been cancelled at the 11th hour. An understandable reaction for the 20 year old.
We are hoping, although it is likely against all hope, that the bout will be rescheduled for the near future, though at the moment that's not something being mentioned by anyone in the Japanese press.
Was has intensified this news is that this was supposed to be a model event and a reference for the Tokyo Olympics, with Simsri, an international competitors, needing to isolate for 2 weeks, and with a crowd of 2,000 allowed. Today's news is certainly a hit to those expecting a smooth Olympics next year.
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