Earlier today the East Japan Boxing Association took part in their latest regular board meeting, doing so online, and there was various news stories broken from the meeting.
Firstly the Cheyenne Oshima Jim has been adjourned, due to an inability to secure a venue.
The Imaoka Gym had withdrawn from the association, essentially taking it from a professional boxing gym to just a general gym. This was put down to "operational problems", and the 5 professionals at Gym have now all been transferred to other gyms to continue their careers.
One final bit of gym news being mentioned at the meeting was that of the Punchout Gym, which will now have Takaki Someya as the new chairman.
Although the talk about the gyms was important the real focus of today's meeting was actually the upcoming Rookie of the Year events.
As previously reported the final of the 2020 Rookie of the Year will take place on February 21st without fans, thankfully however G+ will be showing the event live.
Going forward we also know that the 2021 Rookie of the Year will also be delayed, though the full timings and details for the tournament are unclear. It appears likely decisions will be made on that after the 2020 final.
One other thing to note is that the East Japan Boxing Association will be doing away with the subsidies put aside for shows cancelled due to the pandemic. Reportedly these were used 3 times in total, but were a safety net for promoters if they needed them.
Earlier today the Japan Professional Boxing Association (JPBA) held their first board meeting of the new year, doing so online. It was there that several things were discussed including this year's Rookie of the Year tournament, the final to last years Rookie of the Year, cancellation subsidies and the formation of a new liaison council.
In regards to the 2020 All Japan Rookie of the Year final, which we know will be held on February 21st, the plan is to not allow spectators at the venue, due to Covid19. For fans wanting to watch however the event will be shown live on G+.
In regards to the 2021 version of the tournament, there will be a delay to the start of the tournament, and like last year's tournament the All Japan finals are now expected to take place in February, albeit February 2022.
Both of those are obviously due to Covid19 and we suspect the plan is to try and rest the schedule in 2022 to try and end that tournament in December, as we've seen the past few years.
At the moment the JPBA provide a maximum of ¥150,000 as a cancellation fee, to cover the costs of promoters who have booked venues before an event is cancelled. This is a subsidy to help subsidise promoters during the Covid19 crisis. Going forward the local distract associations will be responsible for the subsidies, with the East Japan Association announcing that they have decided to continue providing the payment for the foreseeable future.
The JPBA also announced that they would establish a gang exclusion liaison council, which will work with the police to try and keep gangs away from boxing. At the moment it's undecided when this council will be officially launched, but it is expected to come in the near future.
Earlier today at the EDION Arena Osaka we had the penultimate set of fights from this year Rookie of the Year, with the show deciding the West Japan representatives for the All Japan final. In total there were 12 bouts, with bouts taking place at every where from Minimumweight to Middleweight, except for 154lbs.
The show kicked off with the Minimumweight bout, which saw teenager Ren Kojima (5-1-2) [小島 蓮] take a 4 round shut out win over Yosshah Matsumoto (1-2-1) [ヨッシャー松本]. Kojima was just the better man through out, he was busier, more accurate, used the ring better and even when Matsumoto had some success the play was taken away from him rather quickly.
The action was much more competitive at 108lbs, as Hyogo Kimura (6-1-1, 1) [木村 彪吾] fought to a majority draw with Nozomu Wakiyama (2-1-1) [脇山 望]. This was close through out, with the two men matching up very well. In round 2 it seemed like Kimura was getting the upper hand, but Wakiyama turned on the gas himself in round 3 before the two went to war in round 4. After the final bell two judges turned in cards of 38-38, whilst the third judge has it 40-36, giving Kimura the nod. Due to the tie breaker rules of Rookie of the Year this mean Kimura progressed to the All Japan final.
At Flyweight we had competitive action, with Yasuhiro Kanzaki (6-1, 2) [神崎 靖浩] taking a narrow unanimous decision over Takatora Suzuki (2-1-1) [鈴木 尊虎]. Suzuki seemed the more aggressive in the opening round, but Kanzaki used his jab well and began to control the ring, particularly in round 2. After that Suzuki always looked in the bout, and pressed well, but it was the clean punching and movement of Kanzaki that proved to be the difference.
In the Super Flyweight bout it was Taichi Sugimoto (6-0-1, 1) [杉本 太一] who came out on top in a battle of unbeaten men, out pointing Sora Sunohara (2-1-2) [春原 青空]. To begin with Sunohara looked to keep the bout cautions, but Sugimoto looked to press the action in rounds 2. This meant Sunohara was chasing the bout in the second half, which allowed Sugimoto the chance to land some solid shots and put his foot on the gas to put the decision beyond doubt at the end of 4 rounds.
We had the second shut out of the day at Bantamweight, as Fuya Tomita (5-2, 2) [冨田 風弥] popped the cherry of Ren Kobayashi (3-1, 1) [小林 廉]. Tomita used his height and reach well to begin the bout, and although Kobayashi had some success with counters it really wasn't enough to make the round seem competitive. From there on Tomita always seemed to have the last word in exchanges, mixing up his attacks well and was worthy of the decision after 4 rounds.
We got the first stoppage of the day at Super Bantamweight, as Sora Fukunaga (8-0, 4) [福永 宇宙] stopped Ren Anzai (4-4-1, 2) [安西 蓮] in round 3. This was an exciting one for 2 rounds, but in round 3 Fukunaga dropped his man. Anzai recovered to his feet but a follow up forced the referee to intervene, giving Fukunaga the stoppage victory.
We had another stoppage at Featherweight, as Hikaru Fukunaga (8-1, 5) [福永 輝] defeated Kakeru Mio (5-3, 3) [三尾 翔], thanks to a 5th round TKO win. Fukunaga dropped Mio in round 1, but was deducted a point as the shot came in the break, and Mio was giving a break to recover. From there on Mio was a trier, but Fukunaga looked too big and too strong, and in round 5 he dropped hi man for the second time. Mio beat the count but the referee waved the bout off with Mio standing.
The unbeaten Seika Fukuda (5-0, 1)[福田 星河] succeeded at Super Featherweight, as he defeated Kazuki Higuchi (5-2, 2) [樋口 和輝] in a competitive 5 rounder. This was competitive through out, with a nice mix of styles, though Fukuda got off to some notable success early, dropping Higuchi in round 2. Higuchi battled back well, but Fukuda just did enough to keep his nose in front, taking the decision with scores of 48-46 from all 3 judges.
The second stoppage of the show came at Lightweight, where Eiji Togawa (6-3, 3) [戸川 叡二] stopped Hayato Fukagawa (2-3, 1) [深川 隼人], in round 3. Togawa was aggressive early on and scored a knockdown in the opening round. Fukugawa recovered well but was hurt again in round 3 and the referee needed to save him from further punishment.
At 140lbs Aito Takabatake (5-1-1, 1) [高畠 愛大] took a razor thin majority decision over Yoshiki Takahashi (3-5, 3) [高橋 良季]. This was hotly competitive, though maybe not the most exciting of fights, with the styles not really meshing in rounds 2 and 3. After 4 rounds 1 of the judges had the two men level, but the other two gave Takabatake the win with scores of 39-37.
At Welterweight Hiroya Nojima (5-1, 2) [能嶋 宏弥] took a clear decision over Bigbaby Okamoto (2-1, 1) [ビッグベイビー岡本], thanks in part to a knockdown at the end of round 3. Okamoto tried to turn it all around in round 4, but was unable to take out Nojima, who had done enough to earn the decision.
The final bout came at Middleweight and saw Katsuhiro Nakata (5-0, 4) [中田 勝浩] score a 3rd round TKO win over Norifumi Hayakawa (2-1, 2) [早川 教文]. Hayakwawa came out offensively and seemed to been in control early on, but in round 3 a body shot from Nakata hurt Hayakawa and form there on Nakata let shots go until the referee stepped in and saved the previously unbeaten Hayakawa.
After the event the there was 3 awards given out. The MVP when to Sora Fukunaga, for his victory over Ren Anzai at Super Bantamweight. The skill award was given to Middleweight Katsuhiro Nakata, for his victory over Norifumi Hayakawa and the fighting spirit award went to Fuya Tomita, for his win over Ren Kobayashi.
The winner will back in action in the All Japan finals on February 21st, where they will clash with the East Japan winners, who were decided a week ago, with that event expected to be shown live on G+.
Earlier today at Korakuen Hall we had the East Japan Rookie of the Year finals, which decide not just the East Japan Rookie of the Year winner but also the East Japan participant in the All Japan final, which will take place next year. In total there was supposed to be 12 bouts, though in the end two of the ended up cancelled giving us a total of 10 bouts in total.
Sadly the bouts haven't yet been televised, with G+ set to air them on December 27th, so for fans wanting to watch them, you want to look away now. Incidentally we will also have the West Japanese representatives decided on December 27th at a show in Osaka.
Before we talk about the bouts we got we'll quickly talk about the two we didn't get.
One of those was at Light Flyweight, where 35 year old Hayato Aoki (4-0, 3) [青木 勇人] abstained, giving 25 year old Ryota Karimata (5-0, 3) [狩俣 綾汰] a bye to the All Japan final. This bout was cancelled weeks ago, and had been listed as off since early January. The second was the Lightweight bout, which seemed to be cancelled this week and saw Ryan Joshua Yamamoto (4-3, 1) [山本ライアン ジュシュア] pull out of a bout against Hiromasa Urakawa (6-1, 4) [浦川 大将], with Urakawa getting a bye to the All Japan final.
The first bout of the show came at Minimumweight and saw Ryo Sasaki (5-2, 2) [佐々木 凌] score a 4th round TKO win over Yuji Hirai (4-1-1, 2) [平井 雄士]. The tall, rangy Sasaki towered over Hirai who struggled to get close and was dropped in round 2. A gutsy Hirai tried to fight back but was stopped on the bell to end round 4. Interestingly this was the third time Sasaki had entered Rookie of the Year, losing in qualifying bouts in 2018 and 2019, and will feel like a real relief for him after the last 2 years.
At Flyweight we saw a minor upset as Akira Hoshuyama (4-0, 2) [宝珠山 晃] defeated the hard hitting Shugo Namura (4-1, 4) [苗村 修悟]. The hard hitting Namura, who is managed by Hiroyuki Sakamoto, had endeared himself to fight fans with his story, which was very similar to that of his boxing mentor, but sadly it wasn't to be for him as Hoshuyama dropped him in the first round and went on to win the following 3, en route to a clear decision. After 4 rounds all 3 judges had this 40-35 to Hoshuyama.
We got a big surprised at Super Flyweight as the much fancied Kosuke Tomioka (4-1, 3) [富岡 浩介] came up short against Shunpei Kubo (6-1-1, 4) [久保 春平]. Tomioka got off to a good start, and dropped Kubo with a hard straight left hand, and looked to be on the verge of a win in round 2. Kubo however gritted it out and landed a huge right hand in round 3, sending Tomioka down. Tomioka beat the count but was unsteady on his legs, and the referee waved the bout off. This is a big set back for Tomioka, but at just 18 years old we suspect he will bounce back, as for Kubo this was a great win and he will be buoyed big time going into the All-Japan final.
We got another upset of sorts at Bantamweight, as Ryuki Sudo (2-0, 1) [須藤 龍揮], fighting for just the second time, stopped Norichika Kozu (6-2, 1) [神津 徳臣] in the opening round. The fight started with Kozu pressing forward and he seemed to have Sudo under plenty of pressure before Sudo landed a peach of a left hook, dropping Kozu hard. As with Tomioka we saw Sudo get to his feet but he was gone and the referee wisely stopped this from continuing.
At Super Bantamweight we saw Yuki Yazan (7-2, 4) [矢斬 佑季] take a 5 round decision win over Ryuya Nihei (5-1-1, 1) [二瓶 竜弥]. Yazan looked too set the pace early, and boxed well at range with his straight shots. Nihei, to his credit, looked to slowly build some momentum with his pressure and had moments, particularly in rounds 2 and 3, before Yazan used his speed and impressed in the final 2 rounds. This was never a result in doubt and Yazan won with scores of 49-46 from all 3 judges.
We got another short bout at Featherweight as Kazunori Hirano (4-0, 4) [平野 和憲] simply hit too hard for Ryo Yoshida (3-1, 1) [吉田 諒]. Yoshida was down early, left with a bloodied nose and repeatedly hurt until the referee stepped in and saved him from further punishment at just over 2 minutes into the opening round. This was basic stuff from Hirano, but his rock hands really were just too much for Yoshida.
Unbeaten 21 year old puncher Tsubasa Narai (6-0, 5) [奈良井 翼] extended his excellent start as he stopped American born Japanese based fighter Dominique Kenshin (5-2, 2) [ドミニク謙心] at Super Featherweight. Narai pressed this from the off and looked like a man with a point to prove as he dropped Keshin in the first round. Kenshin managed to be saved by the bell in the opening round but was still looking hurt as we entered round 2, and Narai wasn't going to let him off the hook again, dropping him after about a minute of the round. This time the referee waved off the bout, giving the impressive Narai his third straight early win.
At 140lbs 21 year old novice Reiji Kodama (2-0, 1) [兒玉 麗司] impressed, stopping Takuro Narumi (3-2, 2) [鳴海 拓郎] in 4 rounds. Just seconds into the bout Kodama dropped Narumi with a 1-2. Although Narumi beat the count he didn't look comfortable through the round. To his credit in round 2 Narumi did start to find some success of his own, but in round 4 Kodama began to hammer his body and forced the referee to save Narumi, who was pinned on the ropes and being broken up by body shots.
At Welterweight Kaichi Yamazaki (2-2, 2) [山﨑 海知] scored a 3rd round TKO win against Yudai Saito (0-2) [齊藤 裕大]. Saito started well, using his jab, but it wasn't long until Yamazaki got into the pocket and began working up close, scoring a knockdown with a right hand. The second round was a battle up close before Yamazaki scored a second knockdown right at the end of round 3, forcing the referee to stop the bout. After the bout images of Saito sat on his stool showed him with a badly swollen right eye, and potential fracture as a result of Yamazaki's power.
The final bout on the show was at Middleweight and saw Kenji Yoshino (1-2-1, 2) [吉野 健二] and Eiki Kani (2-1-2) [可兒 栄樹] face off for the second time in their career. In 2019 the two men clashed, with Yoshino stopping Kani, this time however we saw the two men going the distance in a very, close, competitive and punishing 4 round war that saw neither man get much of an upperhand over the other. This was a thrilling action bout and saw the two men match each other all the way, resulting in a 4 round majority draw. Due to the tie breaker rules however it was Kani who progressed to the All-Japan final, in a result which will go some way to avenge his 2019 loss.
After the even there was 3 award winners named. Kubo was the MVP, following his win over Tomioka at Super Flyweight, Sudo won the Skill award following his win over Kozu at Bantamweight and Hirano won the Fighting Spirit Award following his win over Yoshida at Featherweight.
One of the best things about the Japanese boxing is the way the country sets out it's boxing in a somewhat predictable manner. It's not set in stone, and there is some flexibility, as we've seen this year, but fans who follow Japanese boxing will see predictability relatively often.
For example we all know that there will be a big show on New Year's Eve, and those with eager eyes will also be aware that there is pretty much a televised card on G+ that takes place on the first Saturday of the month under the Dynamic Glove banner, and that Diamond Glove shows regularly take place on a Thursday early in the month.
Another of those predictable events is the Rookie of the Year, which takes up a big chunk of the year, and typically has it's penultimate bouts in November before the all-Japan final in December. Of course this year that has changed but that is usually the way things are done. The event is one of the highlights of the Japan calendar and is a brilliant annual tournament that helps novices develop their talents, and natures some wonderfully skilled young fighters, like recently crowned WBO Flyweight champion Junto Nakatani (21-0, 16) [中谷 潤人].
Today the East Japan Boxing Association announced a change to the rules of the East Japan Rookie of the Year for next year.
In the past a fighter needed to have had "one of more professional bouts" to qualify for the tournament. That rule will be abolished for next year and as a result a fighter can now make their debut in an East Japan Rookie of the Year bout. As a result of this change we see the East Japan Rookie of the Year falling in line with the West, Central and Western Japan Rookie of the Year tournaments, which do not use the rule.
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