Earlier today the annual Japanese boxing awards took place at the Tokyo Dome Hotel.
As previously reported unified Bantamweight champion Naoya Inoue (19-0, 16) [井上 尚弥] won the Best fighter award and the Best Fight at event, but was unable to attend due to illness. That however leaves the question "who else won awards?"
The Best Skill award was won by WBO Super Flyweight champion Kazuto Ioka (25-2, 14) [井岡一翔], who became the first Japanese male 4-weight champion in the summer, stopping Aston Palicte. He then defended the title at the end of the year against Jeyvier Cintron, putting in a very different type of performance against Puerto Rican challenger.
Like Inoue, Ioka also didn't attend the event.
The special award saw Ryota Murata (16-2, 13) [村田 諒太] pick up the honours, after reclaiming the WBA Middleweight title and then defending it just before Christmas. He explained his next bout isn't yet decided, though reports are suggesting a May or June date is likely. Murata also picked up the KO award for the year.
The Effort award was won by Yuki Nagano (17-3, 13) [永野祐樹], who won the award for what he did in 2019 despite recently losing the Japanese Welterweight title.
The Newcomer award was win by Junto Nakatani (20-0, 15) [中谷 潤人], who is now reportedly set to fight for the WBO Flyweight title in Spring.
As previously mentioned Naoya Inoue won the best fight in a world title fight, for his sensational bout with Nonito Donaire in the WBSS final. As for none-world title bout, that award, unsurprisingly, went to the brilliant war between Yuki Beppu [別府優樹] and Ryota Yada [矢田良太] for the WBO Asia Pacific Welterweight title. For fans who haven't seen that one, we genuinely implore you to give a watch!
There was a double award for female fighter Tenkai Tsunami (27-12-1, 16) [天海 ツナミ] who not only took the women's MVP award, for the second year running, but also the women's fight of the year for her bout with Naoko Fujioka [藤岡 奈穂子].
The excellent player award, which is given to every Japanese fighter who holds a world title at some point during the year, saw Inoue, Ioka and Murata receive the honour along with:
Kosei Tanaka (15-0, 9) [田中恒成]
Kenshiro Teraji (17-0, 10) [寺地 拳四朗]
Ryosuke Iwasa (27-3, 17) [岩佐 亮佑]
Hiroto Kyoguchi (14-0, 9) [京口 紘人].
The trainer award was given to Mr Kato from the Misako gym, who has been responsible for training Kenjiro Teraji.
There was also a number of special awards given out. These went to:
Kohei Kono (33-12-1, 14) [河野 公平]
Ryoichi Taguchi (27-4-2, 12) [田口良一]
Tatsuya Fukuhara (21-7-6, 7) [福原 辰弥]
And Hitoshi Misako
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
Earlier today fans saw former unified Light Flyweight champion Ryoichi Taguchi (27-4-2, 12) [田口良一] take part in his retirement ceremony, as he called time on his career at the age of 33.
The popular former world champion took part in a 3 round exhibition with former WBA Super Featherweight champion Takashi Uchiyama [内山 高志] as part of the ceremony, with the two close friends, who have been described as being like brothers in the past.
The first two rounds saw the two sparring with head gear, before removing it for the final round and giving the fans a show, with Taguchi attempting to earn a financial reward that was offered by the show's sponsor if he could knockout Uchiyama, adding a bit of extra spice to their exhibition.
Afterwards the two men had a bit of a joke, before Uchiyama encouraged the fans in the venue to support Taguchi in whatever he does now he's retired.
After Uchiyama's words it was the turn of Hitoshi Watanabe, who stated that when Taguchi won the WBA world title at the end of 2014 was his best memory.
Taguchi then had a chance to speak to the fans himself, an explained that he started boxing at the age of 18 with the dream of becoming a world champion, before saying thanks, revealing he planned to stay in boxing in some form, with the speculation now being that he, like Uchiyama, will open a gym.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Back in November we reported that Ryoichi Taguchi (27-4-2, 12) [田口良一] would be taking part in his retirement ceremony on December 10th as part of the Dangan and Guts Fighting card. Today we learned that part of that ceremony will see Taguchi take part in an exhibition with former WBA Super Featherweight champion Takashi Uchiyama [内山 高志].
The two men were the two previous faces of the Watanabe gym, and Uchiyama was often seen as an older brother type to Taguchi, so to see the two taking part in this sparring event is rather symbolic, as the end of era for the gym, which is now bringing through a new generation of fighter, thanks to success of Taguchi and Uchiyama.
The exhibition will come before the show's main event, which will see OPBF Super Featherweight champion Hironori Mishiro (8-0-1, 3) [三代大訓] defending his title against Yoshimitsu Kimura (12-1, 7) [木村吉光].
At the end of December Japanese fans get a treat with an incredible card feature a staggering 6 title bouts!
Today there was a small competition to get on that card, with 10 girls each trying to book their place on the show as one of the ring card girls.
Prior to today there was a screening process to a much bigger entry pool down to 10. Those 10 finalists were then whittled down to two by a panel of judges at today's event.
The event today saw the 10 posing in swimsuits for the judges, which included former world champion Ryoichi Taguchi (27-4-2, 12) [田口良一] and current female world champion Miyo Yoshida (13-1) [吉田 実代], who will feature on the card herself in a world title defense.
The two winners, who are both said to be boxing fans, will not only do the ring cards, but will also feature in a number of the build up events including the signing ceremony, the face and the weigh in.
Whilst the use of ring card girls have had a mixed response in the west in recent years, with some promoters doing away with them and some feminist groups complaining, events to select ring card girls do happen somewhat regularly in Japan. They usually aren't as high profile as they were for this particular show, but there isn't the same calls to ban ring girls are there are in the west.
The girls will get a huge chance to boost their modelling careers here with them appearing on a show that features Kosei Tanaka (14-0, 8) [田中恒成] and Kazuto Ioka (24-2, 14) [井岡一翔], as well as Yoshida, defending world titles and talented youngster Ginjiro Shigeoka (4-0, 3) [重岡銀次朗] also on the card.
(Images courtesy of Boxmob.jp)
Earlier this year we saw Ryoichi Taguchi (27-4-2, 12) [田口良一] lose in a WBO Flyweight world title bout against the excellent Kosei Tanaka [田中恒成]. After that bout it was unclear what Taguchi was going to do next, thought it seemed obvious that a rest was needed before any decision was made.
Today Taguchi finally announced what he was going to do, holding a press conference with promoter Hitoshi Watanabe, and he has chosen to retire from the sport. With the Tanaka bout, back in March, being his final contest.
Taguchi made his decision just 2 months after the loss to Tanaka, and explained that “I felt like I couldn’t raise my motivation as before, and I thought I d done boxing. I don’t think I should be in the ring if I don’t have the mental skills." [Translated]
As well as explaining his reason for retiring Taguchi also spoke about his career “At first, I thought there was too little stamina and it was difficult to go up to Class A, but it was a strange feeling that I was able to fight at the world level.” “I wanted to be a world champion, but I never dreamed of defending it seven times and becoming a unified champion. It was too good,” [Tranlated]
Taguchi has been working as a trainer at a friends gym recently, and despite previously stating that he wanted to open a restaurant after retiring he has now stated that he's wanting to open a gym instead, too share his experienced and knowledge of boxing. Though he did add that he would still like to open a restaurant one day.
At today's event Taguchi spoke about his contest with Naoya Inoue (19-0, 16) [井上 尚弥], a bout that saw him losing the Japanese Light Flyweight title and his very high world ranking at the time. He explained “It was a match where I lost everything I had, but I think I was able to become a world champion because of that game. After that, I came to think that “I won't fight anyone stronger than Inoue, so I was able to relax. I was really happy to be able to fight without running away.” [Translated]
Taguchi's retirement ceremony will take place on December 10th at "Guts Fighting & DANGAN231" at the Korakuen.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
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