Earlier this week we reported that a number of major bouts set for later this year in Japan were in doubt due to the rise of the Omicron variant of Covid19, and Japan's reaction to it, which included essentially closing the boards. At the time there was 3 world title bouts, including two massive unification bouts, all at threat of being cancelled or postponed due to the new restrictions.
Sadly today we saw announcements being made to confirm what none of us wanted to hear, and that the shows for December 28th and 31st were both off, at least for now.
The official lines from Japan regarding the show are a little bit different, even though neither will go ahead as planned.
The first major bout was the planned Middleweight unification bout between IBF Middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin (41-1-1, 36) [Геннадий Геннадьевич Головкин] and WBA "Super" Middleweight champion Ryota Murata (16-2, 13) [村田 諒太]. That bout, which was set to be shown on DAZN around the globe and Amazon Prime in Japan, has officially been postponed. Not cancelled, as some have reported, but postponed.
Teiken released a statement about the contest, and the show as a whole, on their website, explaining:
"We apologize for the inconvenience caused to customers who have already applied for the spectator ticket lottery and those who have been looking forward to the event. We apologize for any inconvenience this time. We will cancel it and will contact you as soon as the postponement schedule is decided. Thank you for your patience."
The plan for the bout is to re-arrange it for the Spring time, after the current restrictions are lifted. The current restrictions are to run until late December, would could mean a February or March date for the bout.
With the Middleweight being postponed, it also means that the WBO Flyweight title bout, between unbeaten champion Junto Nakatani (22-0, 17) [中谷 潤人] and Mexican challenger Cristian Gonzalez (14-1, 4), is also postponed, and Teiken are looking to again put on the show as a double header.
The othe rmajor bout is less clear in what is to happen to it.
That was the planned New Year's Eve Super Flyweight world title unification bout between WBO champion Kazuto Ioka (27-2, 15) [井岡一翔] and IBF champion Jerwin Ancajas (33-1-2, 22). This bout is currently in an unclear situation, with the only thing known is that it will not take place at the end of 2021 as planned.
Shisei Boxing Gym have announced that the bout is currently cancelled, and that the teams may sit down and re-arrange it for the new year, however it's less clear than the Murata Vs Golovkin bout, and reports in Japan are that no decision has been made as to whether to cancel it all together, postpone it, or postpone it and change the location of it, potentially taking it to the US for 2022. A decision regarding what will come of this bout will be made in the future.
For those curious, the December 14th card, headlined by Naoya Inoue (21-0, 18) [井上 尚弥] defending his Bantamweight world title against Thai challenger Aran Dipaen (12-2, 11) [แก่นนคร ศักดิ์กรีรินทร์] and also featuring WBO Minimumweight champion Wilfredo Mendez (16-1, 6) defending against Masataka Taniguchi (14-3, 9) [谷口将隆], will go ahead as planned.
Sadly there is one other bout that has fallen through due to the new restrictions, and that was a scheduled December 16th bout between Masanori Rikiishi (9-1, 5) [力石 政法] and Filipino Roldan Aldea (16-8-1, 9). Aldea has been unable to travel, and as a result the promoter of the event has issues what is essentially an open challenger to fighters in Japan. The promoter, Koki Kameda, has offered 1 million yen (around £7,000 or $9,000) to a fighter willing to take on Rikiishi at short notice, in an attempt to keep the show on.
As we're sure everyone reading this will be aware, last week saw a discovery of a new mutation of Covid19, with the mutation now being called Omicron. After that news Japan has changed it's policy in regards to international travel, now essentially heading towards closing it's borders once again.
With big international fights pencilled in to take place in Japan in December this could be a major problem, and force several bouts to be cancelled. At the moment it's not completely clear which bouts may be off, though announcements are expected in the coming week or so.
Despite the full impact of Japanese changes not being known there are some things we do know regarding upcoming bouts.
Firstly the December 14th card, headlined by WBA "Super" and IBF Bantamweight champion Naoya Inoue (21-0, 18) [井上 尚弥] defending his titles against Thai challenger Aran Dipaen (12-2, 11) [แก่นนคร ศักดิ์กรีรินทร์] will go ahead as previously planned. That card not only features Dipaen as an international visitor but also WBO Minimumweight champion Wilfredo Mendez (16-1, 6), who will defend against mandatory challenger Masataka Taniguchi (14-3, 9) [谷口将隆].
At the time of writing it's known that both Dipean and Mendez, from Puerto Rico, are in Japan, with both men arriving in Japan on November 28th, before the rule changes were announced.
Now on to what we don't know.
The first bout to be in doubt at the time of writing is the December 16th contest between Masanori Rikiishi (9-1, 5) [力石 政法] and Filipino Roldan Aldea (16-8-1, 9), which was planned to be the first non-world title bout with an international fighter in Japan since they first closed the borders in 2020. This bout is still listed on one of the Japanese schedules, but others list Rikiishi as now being set to face an opponent "to be decided".
Of course the Rikiishi Vs Aldea bout isn't a massive one, and there are three much bigger bouts set to take place later in the year.
The most notable of those is set for December 28th and will see IBF Middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin (41-1-1, 36) [Геннадий Геннадьевич Головкин] battle WBA "Super" Middleweight champion Ryota Murata (16-2, 13) [村田 諒太]. This bout is the one of most concern, due to how big of a bout it is. Sadly it's very unclear on whether it will take place or not, though Akihiuro Honda has told Japanese press that they are seeking to get Golovkin's entrance into Japan any way they can, including requesting permission with Golovkin as a special case. On the same card WBO Flyweight champion Junto Nakatani (22-0, 17) [中谷 潤人] has his second defense scheduled against 22 year old Mexican challenger Cristian Gonzalez (14-1, 4). It would seem a lot less likely for Gonzalez to special permission than Golovkin, and we wouldn't be surprised to see that bout as being called off, if any of the scheduled world title bouts were to be cancelled.
The other major bout planned is the December 31st clash between WBO Super Flyweight champion, Kazuto Ioka (27-2, 15) [井岡一翔] and IBF champion Jerwin Ancajas (33-1-2, 22). At the moment no comments to the media have been released about this contest, which was only announced last week. Like the Golovkin bout this is a huge bout for Japan, and the promoters are likely to seek special considerations for the contest to go ahead. We suspect news will break about this contest later in the week, which could include it being moved to 2022, being move from Japan, or taking place as planned, with special permission.
Earlier today at The Flash Grand Ballroom of the Elorde Sports Complex, Paranaque City fight fans had an interesting double header.
The first of the two notable shows turned out to be the better of the fights, and was a very hotly contested and interesting one at Flyweight, as Alphoe Dagayloan (14-3-6, 5) and Carlo Caesar Penalosa (14-2-1, 7) battled for 12 rounds. The fight was hotly contested early on as Dagayloan looked to dictate the tempo whilst Penalosa looked to land the cleaner, more accurate and eye catching shots.
As we entered the middle rounds it seemed like Dagayloan's pace was getting to Penalosa, who seemed to be slowing down, but he bounced back well, getting his second wind as the pace from both dropped. Despite Penalosa getting some success, and keeping himself in the bout, he seemed to be very much on the wrong end in the final rounds as Dagayloan started to take control again, racking up the later rounds with his work rate and physicality. Penalosa dug in deep in the final round, but it felt like too little too late.
After 12 rounds we felt Dagayloan had done enough, but the judges struggled to split the two men, with two judges having the bout even 114-114, and the third judge having a clear win for Penalosa, 116-1112. Resulting in a majority draw.
The other bout on the show was much less interesting, with Roldan Aldea (15-8-1, 9) scoring an early win over Monico Laurente (30-17, 7). Laurente was dropped in the first round then pulled out after round 2 in what was a bit of a farce. Although Laurente was once a solid regional level fighter at Super Bantamweight, but this is his 4th loss in 12 months and he's fighting at Lightweight now a days. The reality is that it's probably time he thinks about hanging them up. As for Aldea there's little he can take from such a hollow win.
News! We try and give you the most interesting news stories from the Asian boxing world!