Earlier today boxing returned to Japan with a Central Japan Rookie of the Year card in Aichi. Over the next couple of weeks we see more boxing in Japan as the sport slowly begins to get back to normal.
On July 16th we get the first card in Tokyo. The card is a small one, featuring only 2 bouts, but it is a fairly notable one from Ohashi . One bout will see OPBF Featherweight champion Satoshi Shimizu (8-1, 8) [清水 聡] defending his title against Kyohei Tonomoto (9-2-1, 4) [殿本恭平] and the other will see Japanese Light Welterweight champion Koki Inoue (15-0, 12) [浩樹井上] taking on his mandatory challenger Daishi Nagata (14-2-1, 5) [永田大士].
Sadly, though unsurprisingly for those who follow Japanese boxing, this won't be live. Thankfully however Fuji TV have now confirmed the bouts will be aired on tape delay less than a week later, airing the following Sunday night/Monday morning. The broadcast is set to run from 25:55 to 27:00 Sunday night, or from 1:55am to 3am Monday morning.*
On July 22nd Kenta Nakagawa (18-3-1, 12) [中川 健太] will be defending his Japanese Super Flyweight title against Yuta Matsuo (15-4-2, 8) [松尾雄太], on a show that also features the debut of Rentaro Kimura (0-0) [木村蓮太朗]. This will be aired the following Saturday/Sunday, with the broadcast set to run from 27:30 to 28:35 Saturday night, or 3:30am to 4:45am Sunday morning.
Whilst neither broadcast is live it is great to see boxing back in Japan and live events have been announced to be aired on G+ and Youtube in August as the sport begins to really gear up for it's fully fledged return.
*The way Japanese times work go beyond a 24 hour window, and extend the times into the early hours of the following day, this isn't a mistake but is a feature of Japanese time format.
(Image courtesy of Fuji TV)
Yesterday we reported that the 4 fighters involved for the Ohashi promoted card on July 16th had been tested for Coronavirus ahead of boxing's return to Tokyo next month. The tests were part of a plan to test fighters 3 weeks before a fight, and again the day before a fight.
Today the result came back and all 4 fighters came back negative.
The fighters invovled in the show are OPBF Featherweight champion Satoshi Shimizu (8-1, 8) [清水 聡] and his opponent Kyohei Tonomoto (9-2-1, 4) [殿本恭平] as well as Japanese Light Welterweight champion Koki Inoue (15-0, 12) [浩樹井上] and his mandatory challenger Daishi Nagata (14-2-1, 5) [永田大士].
Although the card will only feature two bouts it is seen as a major turning point in the return of the sport in Japan. Whilst it will be the second show in Japan following the sports hiatus it is a massively important card. It will be the first in Tokyo, the first at Korakuen Hall and the first to feature a title bout since late February.
The card is also an important one regarding the fighters involved in it.
For Satoshi Smizu the bout marks his 5th defense of the OPBF Featherweight title, and a return to the ring after being stopped last year by Joe Noynay, it's a huge step up for Kyohei Tonomoto, the first mandatory defense for Koki Inoue and a win for Daishi Nagata would see the Misako Gym have their 6th active Japanese champion, which would be a record.
Whilst fans won't be allowed into the event it is a massively significant show and one that the authorities and fans are hoping goes off without any issues.
It's fair to say that 2020 has been a bad for most of us, and that right now a lot of us are just looking forward to normality and getting things back to feeling like we have some control on what we do on a day to day basis.
One of the fighters who has had an incredibly frustrating time is WBO Asia Pacific Featherweight champion Musashi Mori (11-0, 6) [森 武蔵]. He was supposed to be in the ring in April, defending his title against Shingo Kawamura (16-5-4, 8) [河村真吾] on April 18th, as he looked to move towards a potential world title fight. That bout was then cancelled, with Mori then being scheduled to fight in July, before that bout was cancelled too, due to an inability to have fans in attendance.
Thankfully Mori appears to be hungry to return to the ring and rather than sitting on the sidelines stewing in frustration he has began a sparring camp in Osaka.
Interestingly Mori, who hasn't sparred in a long time, sparred for 4 rounds yesterday with Kawamura, the man he was supposed to face in April.
Mori has revealed that the man he's now wanting to fight, later in the year, is OPBF Featherweight champion Satoshi Shimizu (8-1, 8) [清水 聡]. Shimizu will be defending his title in July, against Kyohei Tonomoto (9-2-1, 4) [殿本恭平], and a win would likely see Mori's team make a solid offer to the 2012 Olympic bronze medal winner.
Whether that bout happens or note Mori is expecting to be in action in November as he continues to rise through the ranks and search for a route towards a world title fight. His team had hoped to land a world title shot in Spring 2021, though it now seems likely that that opportunity has slipped due to on going situation and his rocky 2020.
We expect to see boxing back in Tokyo on July 16th, when the Ohashi Gym put on the 72nd show in the Phoenix Battle series of events. The event, promoted by former world champion Hideyuki Ohashi, will be the first boxing event in the Japanese capital since February and will be a title double header.
Today, 3 weeks out from that show, the fighters involved have all been tested in regards to the on going global situation.
The bouts on the show will see OPBF Featherweight champion Satoshi Shimizu (8-1, 8) [清水 聡] defending his title against Kyohei Tonomoto (9-2-1, 4) [殿本恭平], in what is Shimizu's fifth defense of the title, and Japanese Light Welterweight champion Koki Inoue (15-0, 12) [浩樹井上] defending his belt against mandatory challenger Daishi Nagata (14-2-1, 5) [永田大士], in a Champion Carnival bout.
The 4 men are expecting results back tomorrow as we continue to take steps towards boxing much anticipated return to "The Land of the Rising Sun".
It seems crazy to look back on the last few months and think what has happened to the world, but if we do look back to January 18th news broke that Kenichi Horikawa (40-16-1, 13) [堀川 謙一] and Daiki Tomita (14-1, 5) [冨田 大樹] would clash for the OPBF Light Flyweight title on a card in Osaka on March 1st.
That card ended up being scrapped just days earlier as the "on going global situation" caused boxing events in Japan to be postponed and cancelled.
Today it's been revealed that there is now hope that that delayed bout has a date and venue set for it, and hasn't been cancelled, just postponed.
The plan for Japanese boxing to return in July is still being put together, and that OPBF Light Flyweight title bout has now been pencilled in for July 25th at the Kobe Central Gymnasium
Whilst it's more than 4 months after the originally planned date for the bout we're glad to see it being held all the same. It's an interesting match up between one of the stalwarts of the Japanese scene, in Horikawa, and one of the many promising youngsters, in Tomita.
The way things stand the contest will be the second OPBF title bout in Japan in July, following the OPBF Featherweight title bout set to take place on July 16th at Korakuen Hall between defending champion Satoshi Shimizu (8-1, 8) [清水 聡] and Kyohei Tonomoto (9-2-1, 4) [殿本恭平].
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