Earlier today we were informed that Japanese Featherweight champion Ryo Sagawa (8-1, 4) [佐川遼] will make his first defense on December 12th, in what is expected to be the final Diamond Glove card of the year.
The champion, who won the title in September with an excellent win against Reiya Abe (19-3-1, 9) [阿部 麗也], will be taking on the once beaten Ryo Hino (13-1-2, 8) [日野僚].
For Sagawa this will be his first defense and his third bout this year, following wins over Al Toyogon and Abe. He has rebuilt his career excellently following a loss in his second pro-bout, back in May 2017, and looks to be in some of the best for of any fighter in Japan. His 7 fight winning run has included not only his wins from this year but also notable victories over Ryo Matsumoto, Junki Sasaki and Shingo Kawamura.
In the ring the champion is an excellent fighter, able to box or brawl and looks to have corrected the issues that lead to him getting stopped in his second bout, against Retsu Kosaka.
Hino is unbeaten since 2015, when he lost to Reiya Abe, and has reeled off 8 wins and a draw since then. Sadly his competition hasn't been great, with the most notable results during that 9 fight unbeaten run being a win over Sho Nakazawa and a draw with Coach Hiroto. On paper he's taking a huge step up but the 29 year old will like it's his time to shine.
The winner of this bout will be expected to defend the title next year at the Champion Carnival, against either former champion Takenori Ohashi (17-5-2, 11) [大橋健典] or the highly touted Hinata Maruta (9-1-1, 7) [丸田陽七太], who clash on October 26th in a title eliminator.
Earlier today Japanese fight fans filled up the Korakuen Hall for the latest A-Sign Bee card, and it was a truly brilliant one, packed with great bouts.
Among those great bouts was a contest for the vacant Japanese Featherweight title, as Reiya Abe (19-3-1, 9) [阿部 麗也] and Ryo Sagawa (8-1, 4) [佐川遼] battled for the belt.
On paper this looked like a great bout but it turned out be even better than expected, and just as competitive!
From the opening round it was hard the two men as both jostled for ring position. Abe was looking to create distance for his southpaw shots whilst Sagawa applied pressure, and the dynamic just worked from the off, with both having moments in the early going. From then on it was never really clear who was in control, with Abe landing his clean, accurate straights at range and Sagawa getting his work off up close. As soon as one man seemed to create some momentum the other took it away.
After 5 rounds the judges had really struggled to split them. The open scoring after 5 rounds had Sagawa leading 48-47, twice, whilst the third judge had Abe up 48-47.
Abe began to change tactics following the scoring, but that seemed to give Sagawa more chances to land his shots, and saw him build momentum, despite the increased effort from Abe. Although Sagawa seemed to be doing just a touch more clean work than Abe, there was little to split them, in what was a very evenly fought back and forth. That was until the final round, as Abe began to have some of his best success of the fight. The sustained attack from Abe seemed to suggest that even he felt he was down, but it was too little too late.
After 10 rounds the judges all had the bout to Sagawa, with scores of 96-94, twice, and 96-95.
For Sagawa this continues a sensational run of form, which has also included wins against Junki Sasaki, Ryo Matsumoto, Shingo Kawamura and Al Toyogon. As for Abe this was his second set back in a Japanese title fight, following a draw with Taiki Minamoto earlier in the year.
The champion is now expected to defend his title later this year, against Ryo Hino (13-1-2, 8) [日野僚], before the winner of that competes in the Champion Carnival, against either Hinata Maruta (9-1-1, 7) [丸田陽七太] against Takenori Ohashi (17-5-2, 11) [大橋健典].
Despite the set back Abe will remain in the title mix and will likely find himself getting another title fight, of some kind in 2020.
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
Tomorrow at the Korakuen Hall Japanese fight fans will get the chance to see a mouth water Japanese Featherweight title bout, as Reiya Abe (19-2-1, 9) [阿部 麗也] and Ryo Sagawa (7-1, 4) [佐川遼] clash for the vacant title.
Just moments ago the two men took part in their weigh in, and both fighters made the 126lbs limit.
The title became vacant earlier this year, after Taiki Minamoto (16-5-1, 13) [源大輝] vacated the belt to move up in weight following a draw with Abe. That has lead us to this brilliant match up between two rising hopefuls of the Japanese scene.
On the scales today both men made weight on their first attempt, and did with little splitting them, though Sagawa is the slightly heavier man having come in bang on the limit whilst Abe was around 125.75lbs.
At the weigh in Abe seemed to accept lesson's had to be learned from his draw with Minamoto and that he would have to focus more on distance his opponents movement. Sagawa on the other hand stated that he would be focusing on dictating the pace, and it seems likely that he will be looking fight behind a pressure style with a high tempo.
Interesting these two had been mooted to fight much earlier in their careers, but for whatever reason it didn't happen, and now it's occurring as a much bigger and better fight than it would have been originally.
Related - Abe and Sagawa battle to crown new Japanese Featherweight champion!
(Image courtesy of Sponichi)
We've known for a little over a month that former WBO Super Featherweight champion Masayuki Ito (25-2-1, 13) [伊藤 雅雪] would be returning to the ring on September 13th. Sadly what we didn't know was who he would be fighting.
Today we finally saw his opponent for the being announced, and unfortunately it's not someone worth getting excited about.
The bout, which is a home coming for Ito following his title loss to Jamel Herring, will see the Japanese fighter take on Indonesian foe Ruben Manakane (25-18-1, 14).
The 26 year old Manakane turned professional in 2011 and has been a regional journeyman, padding his record in Indonesia and losing on the road to the likes of Billy Dib, Luke Jackson, Marlon Tapales and AJ Banal. It's almost a given he will pick up another loss here to the world class Ito.
Whilst the main event is disappointing the rest of the card is worth getting excited about, with a great Japanese Featherweight title bout between Reiya Abe (19-2-1, 9) [阿部 麗也] and Ryo Sagawa (7-1, 4) [佐川遼], a Japanese Super Bantamweight title eliminator between Ryoichi Tamura (12-4-1, 6) [田村 亮一] and Gakuya Furuhashi (25-8-1, 14) [古橋大輔] and a Japanese youth Light Flyweight title bout, as Rikito Shiba (3-0, 2) [芝力人] faces Shisui Kawabata (2-0, 2) [川端嗣穂].
Earlier this month we saw a press conference to announce that former WBO Super Featherweight champion Masayuki Ito (25-2-1, 13) [伊藤 雅雪] would be in action on September 13th as part of an A-Sign card. Ito's bout was announced as the main event of the with a great a supporting bout between Reiya Abe (19-2-1, 9) [阿部 麗也] and Ryo Sagawa (7-1, 4) [佐川遼] for the Japanese Featherweight title also confirmed for the show.
Other than those two bouts there was very little known about the show, though today it appears that changed with two bouts being announced by the A-sign blog.
The less interesting of the two, if we can say that, is a Japanese title eliminator at 122lbs between former champion Ryoichi Tamura (12-4-1, 6) [田村 亮一] and the always entertaining Gakuya Furuhashi (25-8-1, 14) [古橋大輔]. Despite being the "lesser" of the two bouts announced today this should be a really good bout between two men who enjoy a tear up, lack a little but of thunder on their punches, but set aggressive work rate and look to make wars.
For Tamura the bout will be his first since losing the belt in his second bout with Yusaku Kuga, in what was one of the best Japanese bouts of 2019. Tamura, who is promoted by Hajime No Ippo creator George Morikawa, will be looking to end his year on a high after winning, and losing, the Japanese title this year. For Furuhashi on the other hand the bout will see him looking to earn his third shot at the title, following a draw with Yukinori Oguni in 2014 and a TKO10 loss to Yasutaka Ishimoto in 2016.
Earlier this months Tsuyoshi Sato (9-1-1, 5) [佐藤剛] was forced to pull out of a Japanese Youth Light Flyweight title bout against Rikito Shiba (3-0, 2) [芝力人], in what was really unfortunate news and scuppered what had looked like a genuinely amazing bout. Thankfully things have fallen into place for Shiba to now be matched with Shisui Kawabata (2-0, 2) [川端嗣穂], in an excellent match up, even if we did prefer the Sato one.
For both Shiba and Kawabata this is a huge risk, especially this early in their careers, but for the two former amateur standouts this is a fantastic fight to put one on the fast track, and to allow the other a chance to gather themselves and build going forward. Neither man can be written off with a loss this earlier, especially not to the other guy, and this is the sort of amazing match up the Youth titles can give us, and further shows how Japan is so much different to many countries in terms of how they bring young fighters through. We would never see two notable young amateurs with the pedigree these two have facing off this early in their careers.
We're expecting Ito's opponent to be announced in the coming weeks and whilst we don't expect someone too tough it's still going to be great to see Ito back in action in Tokyo, and we expect he will get a really warm welcome back at Korakuen Hall in his first bout since losing the WBO world title to Jamel Herring.
(Image courtesy of A-Sign Boxing)
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