Date set for Hajime No Ippo 30th Anniversary tournament final! Rookie of the Year schedule coming together!
It seems like a very very long time ago that we had the Hajime No Ippo 30th anniversary tournament semi-finals. Those bouts took place way back in February with the final, between Shingo Kusano (13-8-1, 5) [草野慎悟] and Daisuke Watanabe (10-4-2, 6) [渡部大介], pencilled in for May.
Of course boxing hasn't exactly been ticking over and the May date was then cancelled with the bout indefinitely postponed due to the on going situation.
Today saw the bout between Kusano and Watanabe finally getting a new date for their tournament final.
We now know that the two men will clash on August 22nd at Korakuen Hall with the tournament coming to a conclusion more than 3 months after the originally planned date.
The 7 man tournament began back in November and although we've seen the lengthy delay the announcement of it's new date really does feel like a huge step towards boxing restarting properly in Japan.
Also announced today were the dates for various Rookie of the Year events.
It now appears the Central Japan Rookie of the Year card set for July 12th will be the first event upon boxing's return to Japan. The East Japan Rookie of the Year will begin on July 30th, with 3 more East Japan shows set for August and 3 more for September, before the semi-finals in late October and and early November before the final in December.
Yesterday members of the Japan Professional Boxing Association (JPBA) and Japan Boxing Commission (JBC) met as part of the new Coronavirus Countermeasures Liaison Council, and they have set a partial schedule for the Rookie of the qualifying bouts.
The hope now is that the Central Japan region will have a Rookie show on July 5th, West Japan on July 26th and East Japan on July 29th. As of writing their has been no decision on Western Japan, though it's expected that it will be in August.
As well as the Rookie of the Year event their has also been news coming out in regards to Champion Carnival bouts, which sound like they could, potentially, slide to 2021. That could mean that champions, and challengers, get to fight an interim fight this year before the Champion Carnival bouts take place. If they do have an interim bout it would mean that champions will have to have back to back mandatory defenses next year.
Sadly there is talk that some gyms are in financial problems, and it's unclear how many of the 282 gyms may end up closing due to the on going conditions.
On May 7th there will be another meeting and we expect to hear more in regards to any support gyms may be getting.
Earlier today the Japan Boxing Commission (JBC) and Japan Boxing Association held a meeting to discuss the on going global issue. Sadly the discussion ended any hope of boxing returning to Japan in April, as had been hoped previously.
The meeting today saw the April 5th East Japan Rookie of the Year card being postponed, a show that was set to be streamed on YouTube next weekend, and the April 26th West Japan Rookie of the Year, which was set to be at the Green Tsuda gym.
The plan isn't to cancel the Rookie of the Year event, or any other traditional events, but to chance their time table for them. This means that the qualification events will not be pencilled to be in July or August with the regional finals being pencilled in for December and the All Japan final for February or March, next year.
The meeting also saw an agreement that fighters who turned 37 before being able to compete in Rookie of the Year will be allowed to compete, bending the retirement rules for fighters.
What is currently unclear is whether that change will apply to other fighters, notable former world champion Katsunari Takayama (31-8-0-1, 12) [高山 勝成], who was scheduled to fight on May 10th, 2 days before his 37th birthday, but now won't be able to.
Takayama's issue isn't related to the Rookie of the Year events, but is still a related issue, as the proposed May 2nd date for boxing to begin returning to Japan on a normal scheduled has now been pushed back to May 15th, 3 days after Takayama's 37th birthday.
The first show, now, set for the return will be Slugfest 14 on May 19th.
As is always the case with these updates, they are subject to change based on the ever developing situation in regards to an ever changing global event.
Earlier today the East Japan Boxing Association began a campaign dubbed "Save Japan Boxing", to help protect the sport in the country from the sweeping global issue that is now effecting pretty much everyone in one way or another.
The campaign will be pushed heavily as part of the April 5th East Japan Rookie of the Year show in Tokyo, which as previously reported will be shown on YouTube for free through the A-sign boxing channel, to make up for the fact it will not have spectators in the venue.
Those that follow us on twitter will see us retweeting the live link for that event when it becomes available. This show will begin at mid-day local time, and will feature what is essentially 2 events, with each event featuring 8 bouts. Giving us 16 fights during the day.
As well as the YouTube show on April 5th there will also be a t-shirt made available, as seen above, to help raise funds. From what we understand these will be offered to fans who "tip" or "fund" the event, and will be signed by Japanese world champions.
There will also be a video released to "Save Japan Boxing" lead by some of the biggest names in Japanese boxing.
All of that will obviously be pushed with the hashtag "#SaveJapanBoxing" which is being tagged in English, and is being run with the English phrase through the entire campaign.
As well as the April 5th show there is also a scheduled April 26th show, for the West Japan Rookie of the Year. Again there is no spectators, and at the moment it's unclear if this will be streamed live or not.
We ask, all of our readers, to do what they can to tune in to the April 5th card and do what they can to enjoy some boxing. Whilst it might not be elite level action the Rookie of the Year shows are great fun and given the absolute lack of boxing world wide at the moment this is one of the rare times the boxing world can get behind a single event. Given none of the fighters are well known it's a great opportunity for fans to go in "blind" and not have their personal opinions dictating things and instead just enjoy the sport for what it is.
As this is a changing story please see April's Rookie of the Year events postponed, boxing's Japanese return delayed for an update
Earlier this week we happily reported that the A-Sign YouTube channel would be live streaming the East Japan Rookie of the Year show on 5th show from Korakuen Hall, showing the 16 fights on the card. Yesterday we saw the West Japan answer to that with their own Rookie of the Year card now set for April.
The West Japan Rookie of the Year card will, like the April 5th show, be a show behind closed doors and will take place on April 26th at the Green Tsuda Gym, rather than at a more notable venue.
The reason the gym was picked was due to the track record of the gym, the ability to have electrolyzed water, it's size and the general anti-virus policies of the company.
Notably the bout order is expected to be changed from the usual Rookie running order, of going up the weight classes as the show goes on. Instead the schedule will be run in an order to make things easier on the fighters and gym members, so expect a full gym's participants to fight, then another gyms.
Interestingly there are 17 bouts set for this show, with a 8 fight part an a 9 fight part. At the time of writing it has yet to be confirmed if this will be streamed, though the hope is likely that it will be shown, some how.
Of course other than the two Rookie of the Year shows there won't be any boxing in Japan in April due to coronavirus.
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