March 8th we were supposed to a Japanese Flyweight title bout with the heavy handed Seigo Yuri Akui (14-2-1, 10) [阿久井政悟] defending his title against Seiya Fujikita (13-4, 6) [藤北誠也] as part of the Champion Carnival. Obvious boxing in Japan was completely stopped as we entered March, postponing that bout which was then pushed back to July on a tentative basis.
The bout has been pushed back even further, with an October 18th date now being pencilled in for the contest, which is expected to take place at the Amakusa Park Gymnasium in Okayama.
The announcement of a date and venue has also seen the promoters state that tickets purchased for the March date will now be refunded by the place of purchase, and will not be able to be used for the October date.
The bout will be Akui's first defense of the title, which he won last year with a scintillating performance against Shun Kosaka. He admitted that he had doubt over whether it was possible for the bout to be held in July, but was training where possible.
As for Fujikita this will actually be his first title bout, and comes more than 7 years after his professional debut.
As of writing it's unclear what will happen in regards to the under-card, but we suspect as we get closer to the show details will begin to emerge on what under-card bouts will take place and what sort of fan measures will be enforced for safety.
Over the last few days we've seen a lot of Japanese title bouts being revealed as part of the Champion Carnival. Earlier today those bouts were set in stone as the Champion Carnival presentation took place, confirming the contests we'd reported and getting all the champions and challengers in one event.
The first of the bouts will take place on February 1st at the Dynamic Glove show, and will see Japanese Welterweight champion Yuki Nagano (17-2, 13) [永野祐樹] defending his title against mandatory challenger Keita Obara (22-4-1, 20) [小原 佳太]. This bout has been known about for weeks and is an exciting, and potentially very explosive, way to kick off the Champion Vs Challenger series. This bout will be at Korakuen Hall, where most of the title bouts will actually take place.
The second bout will take on February 13th, when Lightweight champion Shuichiro Yoshino (11-0, 9) [吉野 修一郎] defends his belt against Izuki Tomioka (7-2-1, 2) [富岡樹]. This is expected to bee a match up showing a lot of skills, from both men, though the power and physical edges with the champion does make him the favourite. This is another bout at Korakuen Hall.
It's then almost a month later until we get the next bout in the series. That'll be on March 7th, on the March Dynamic Glove, when Light Middleweight champion Hironobu Matsunaga (16-1, 10) [松永 宏信] defends his belt against Yuto Shimizu (14-4-2, 5) [清水優人] in a potentially enthralling bout. The champion will be seeking his second defense whilst Shimizu will be getting his first title fight. This will be the third successive bout at Tokyo's Korakuen Hall.
Just one day later, March 8th, we get the Flyweight bout with the heavy handed Seigo Yuri Akui (14-2-1, 10) [阿久井政悟] defending his title against Seiya Fujikita (13-4, 6) [藤北誠也]. Given Akui's style this should be an explosive bout, and one to look forward to. This was announced way back at the start of the year and will take place at the Aeon Mall mall in Okayama City, the first of the bouts outside of Tokyo.
Just a week later, March 15th, action turns to the Aioi Hall in Kariya as Light Flyweight champion Yuto Takahashi (11-4, 5) [高橋悠斗] defends against hard hitting challenger Masamichi Yabuki (10-3, 10) [佐藤政道]. This will be the first title defnense for Takahashi, and will see him entering enemy territory.
The following day, March 16th, Light Welterweight champion Koki Inoue (15-0, 12) [浩樹井上] will take on Daishi Nagata (14-2-1, 5) [永田大士] in the main event of a card at Korakuen Hall from Ohashi. This is one of the few shows where under-card details have been revealed, and it makes for a very decent looking card overall.
After a slew of fights in March we then have a bit of a break before returning on April 9th for a double header at Korakuen Hall. One of the bouts here will see Bantamweight champion Yusuke Suzuki (11-3, 7) [鈴木悠介] make his first defense, as he goes up against Kyosuke Sawada (14-2-1, 6) [澤田京介] in a rematch of a bout both men had back in 2013. The other bout on this card will see Featherweight champion Ryo Sagawa (9-1, 4) [佐川遼] make his second defense as he takes on Hinata Maruta (10-1-1, 8) [丸田陽七太], in what we feel is the standout bout from this year's Carnival.
On April 28th Super Bantamweight champion Yusaku Kuga (19-4-1, 13) [久我勇作] will defend his title against Gakuya Furuhashi (26-8-1, 14) [古橋大輔]. This bout will be Kuga's first defense since reclaiming the title last year and will be Furuhashi's third shot, at a third different champion. This bout is also set to be at Korakuen Hall.
Interestingly the Super Featherweight bout between hard hitting champion Kosuke Saka (20-5, 17) [坂晃典] and teak tough challenger Takuya Watanabe (37-9-1, 21) [渡邉卓也] is pencilled in for April in Osaka, though no date or specific venue was confirmed at today's event.
On May 16th we'll see the Super Flyweight title bout as defending champion Kenta Nakagawa (18-3-1, 12) [中川 健太] takes on Yuta Matsuo (15-4-2, 8) [松尾雄太] at the Sumida City Gymnasium in Tokyo.
No those who are eagle eyed will be aware there were some division's missing.
Firstly the Minimumweight bout hasn't yet been decided. The title is currently vacant, after Norihito Tanaka (19-7, 10) [田中教仁] returned the belt earlier this year. What we do know is that Masataka Taniguchi (12-3, 7) [谷口 将隆] will be involved in the title bout, though there is currently no opponent, date or venue for the bout.
The Middleweight title bout will see the hard hitting Kazuto Takesako (11-0-1, 11) [竹迫司登] defending his belt against Riku Kunimoto (4-0, 2) [国本陸] but this bout has no date or location set. This bout is likely to be scheduled following Takesako's bout this coming weekend against OPBF champion Shinobu Charlie Hosokawa (12-4-1, 11) [細川チャーリー忍].
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
In October Seigo Yuri Akui (14-2-1, 10) [阿久井政悟] claimed the Japanese Flyweight title, as he blitzed Shun Kosaka (16-6, 4) [小坂駿], inside a round. The win saw Akui winning the title which had previously been vacated by Junto Nakatani (20-0, 15) [中谷 潤人], who is focusing on getting a world title fight.
The win for Akui was his 9th opening round win from 10 stoppages, and saw him prove his power was legitimate.
We now know the details of Akui's first title defense, with the bout being a Champion Carnival bout against Seiya Fujikita (13-4, 6) [藤北誠也], who essentially got a bye in his title eliminator last year due to an injury forcing Ryota Yamauchi (5-1, 4) [山内涼太] out of their planned October bout. Interestingly this will be Fujikita's first title bout, of any kind.
Akui and Fujikita will face off on March 8th at the AEON Hall in Okayama, with the bout being the main event of Momotaro Fight Boxing 39. At the moment not much else is known about the card, though we have been informed that Kenya Okada (5-1-1, 3) [岡田兼弥] will be facing Daisuke Sudo (6-6-3) [須藤大介] in a supporting 6 round Flyweight bout.
Although yet to be confirmed it seems likely this will be made available on Boxing Raise, like many of Akui's other recent bouts.
Earlier this morning in Tokyo we got the 66th All Japan Rookie of the Year final, held at the Korakuen Hall and shown live on G+.
The show began with Ohashi promoted teenager Katsuki Mori (6-0, 1) [森且貴] taking a wide decision over the very game Takumi Chono (5-1, 3) [丁野拓海] at Minimumweight. Chono came out with real ambition and hunger in the first 2 rounds but was unable to keep it up, whilst Mori moved through the gears and tagged Chono at will in the final 3 rounds. Huge credit goes to Chono for lasting the distance, but he was clearly the second best, and even his best rounds were not great ones for him. After 5 rounds Mori took the decision 50-45, and 49-46, twice.
After a cracking bout to open the show the pace dropped off when we moved on to the Light Flyweight bout between Kosuke Ando (7-2, 3) [安藤教祐] and Sho Omote (8-1, 3) [表祥]. Although the pace slowed drastically the bout was one that was expected to be very competitive, and managed to live up to the expectations, though not quite how we had imaged. The first 3 rounds seemed to be won by Ando, who used movement to keep the bout at distance and rack up the rounds. That early lead was wiped out in round 4 when Omote began to dictate the tempo with his pressure, and twice dropped Ando to secure a 10-7 round. That left the bout finely poised for the final round, which ended up being a slow one that Emote did enough to take, winning the bout with a majority decision, 47-46, twice, and 47-47.
We had an entertaining Flyweight bout as unbeaten men clashed. In the end West Japan champion Atsuki Nakamura (5-0-1, 3) [中村淳希] took a clear decision, out pointing Haruki Usui (5-1-2, 1) [臼井春樹] in a bout that came close to delivering something special. Both men fought with bad intent, and Nakamura managed to drop Usui with a brilliant 3 punch combination in round 2. Both men were hurt at various points and it seemed like both could take the other out, but neither managed to land with the consistency needed. It always seemed like the bigger bombs just missed. After 5 rounds Nakamura certainly deserved the win, and got it with scores of 50-44 49-45 and 49-46.
At Super Flyweight we had entertainment again, with Seiya Meguro (6-0, 3) [目黒聖也] taking a split decision over Keisuke Iwasaki (4-2, 1) [岩﨑圭祐]. Through out the bout Meguro looked the bigger puncher, though Iwasaki was the one who landed more shots, and seemed to be the more rounded boxer, it was a bit of a case judges preferring one thing to another in the closer rounds. From this bout it's clear Meguro has a lot to work with, but also a lot to work on, whilst Iwasaki looked like he could end up in some very exciting bouts with his current skill set. A rematch down the line, when both have more experience, seems a must given how close and competitive this was.
Talented teenager Kantaro Nakanishi (3-0-1) [中西寛多朗] out worked and out fought Shota Ogasawara (5-3, 3) [小笠原梢太] to claim the Bantamweight crown in a 4 rounder. The unbeaten Nakanishi was aggressive throughout and a worthy winner, though we do hope he can add some power into his work going forward or he's going to have a very tough career going forward.
The first of two former Kyoei fighters to fight here was Takeshi Takehara (5-1, 1) [竹原毅], who managed to secure a short 1 fight deal with the Hanagata gym for his Super Bantamweight final against 19 year old Ryuya Tsugawa (7-1, 3) [津川龍也]. Sadly for Takehara he was unable to deal with Tsugawa's aggression and the youngster took home the well earned decision here. We do wonder whether the political issue with Kyoei was on Takehara's mind, though in reality thinking too much about that would only devalue the win for Tsugawa who deserves more credit than that for a career best win.
One of the most highly anticipated bouts on the show was the Featherweight clash, which saw Kyonosuke Kameda (5-2-1, 4) [亀田京之介], fighting in his 1-fight deal with Hanagata after Kyoei's closure, taking on Jinki Maeda (4-0, 2) [前田稔輝]. The early stages of the bout saw the confident Kameda do a lot of show boating and taunting but not a lot of actual fighting, and he really didn't use his 6' frame very smartly. He got going with offense a bit more in round 2, but was caught by some big shots in rounds 3 and 4 as Maeda did enough to edge a split decision in a genuine thriller. Both men had a score of 39-37 in their favour, with Yuji Fukuchi's 39-38 to Maeda being the deciding card. Given Kameda's show boating and taunting it's hard to have much sympathy for him here, and Maeda fought like a man who genuinely valued what the bout meant.
Ina really competitive clash fans saw Hyoga Taniguchi (3-2-2, 1) [谷口彪賀] and Atsushi Iwasaki (5-3-4, 1) [岩崎淳史] fight to a draw in their 4 rounder at Super Featherweight. There was little to separate the men in what was really hotly contested, with Taniguchi getting the Rookie triumph on the majority point rule. The scorecards turned in were 38-38, 38-38 and 39-37 to Taniguchi, who was very emotional in his post-fight speech.
At Lightweight we got another close one as Shinnosuke Saito (6-3, 2) [齋藤眞之助] took a razor thin unanimous decision over Kensuke Fujita (4-4-3) [藤田健介]. All 3 judges turned in cards of 48-47 to Saito, though it was hard to be too impressed by either of these men, who both looked very limited and it's hard to imagine either either pushing on to title level any time soon.
We ended up getting a very late contender for Japanese fight of the year in 140lbs bout between Yasutaka Fujita (5-1, 5) [藤田裕崇] and Kodai Honda (5-1, 4) [本多航大]. The bout began at an insane pace and Fujita dropped Honda twice in the opening round, but seemed to pretty much punch himself out, and unable to have similar success afterwards. Honda regrouped, and began to break down Fujita who was dropped late in round 3 then again in round 4, to earn Honda an incredible win. This is the bout from the show, and the one that every fan should make sure they watch.
We had another great fight at Welterweight as Yuta Ashina (4-2) [足名優太] and Homare Yasui (5-1-2, 4) [安井誉] battled in an thriller. Ashina looked like the man on top in the first 2 rounds, taking the bout to Yasui, but taking punish due to his aggressive pressure. In round 3 Ashina landed a number of big uppercuts but was rocked and wobbling around the ring before the bell came. Round 4 was more evenly fought whilst the 5th and final round, was just a wild, entertaining, hard hitting brawl. Sadly that was always going to favour the man with power, but god damn what a round. After 5 rounds Yasui took the split decision, before making a very emotional speech after the win. One thing about this bout is both men would have won over new fans in what was a genuinely brilliant war, even if it didn't have the drama of the Fujita Vs Honda bout.
The final bout on the show saw Takumi Yuzawa (4-0-1, 1) [湯澤卓巳] defeat Yasuyuki Kunimoto (3-1, 1) [国本泰幸] at Middleweight. Yuzawa was the better fighter through out. Kunimoto looked out of his depth and was deducted a point for hitting and holding. After 4 rounds the scores were 40-34, twice, and 39-35.
When the Japanese eliminators were announced for the 2020 Champion Carnival we originally saw 5 eliminators being pencilled in for the October 26th show at Korakuen Hall. Sadly though we're only getting 4 of those as the Flyweight bout between Ryota Yamauchi (5-1, 4) [山内涼太] and Seiya Fujikita (13-4, 6) [藤北誠也] was cancelled several weeks ago.
Despite the bout being cancelled one of the two men still attended what would have been the weigh in for the bout due to the need to follow procedure.
The original plan had been for Yamauchi and Fujikita to fight, though sadly Yamauchi suffered an injury in his August win over Alphoe Dagayloan. The hope had been for Yamauchi to have been recovered in time for this bout but he was unable get over the injury.
A back up opponent was sought for Fujikita, though no suitable fighter was found. In part that was due to two of the leading contenders, Seigo Yuri Akui (13-2-1, 9) [阿久井政悟] and Shun Kosaka (16-5, 4) [小坂駿], being scheduled to fight for the vacant title on October 27th, whilst other potential opponents, such as Yusuke Sakashita (19-8-3, 14) [阪下優友] and Naoki Mochizuki (16-5, 8) [望月直樹], were in action too recently to be ready for this weekend.
With no suitable opponent Fujikita essentially got a bye to a title fight at the Champion Carnival, on the condition that he made weight for the originally scheduled bout. Which he did today, despite knowing there was no fight set to take place.
This is likely not the way Fujikita would have wanted to land a shot the Japanese Flyweight title, but he won't be complain, and will feel up for facing the winner of the Akui Vs Kosaka bout in the new year.
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
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