We are slowly seeing the boxing calendar for July and August filling up and the latest news from Japan regarding August 22nd's Hajime No Ippo 30th Anniversary tournament final.
The final will see Shingo Kusano (13-8-1, 5) [草野慎悟] and Daisuke Watanabe (10-4-2, 6) [渡部大介] battle for the tournament prize, ending the 7 man knockout competition that began last year. Originally the plan had been for the tournament to end in mid-May but due to the on going global situation the final has been pushed back and will be the headline bout of Dangan's show on August 22nd.
The under-card has now been confirmed and will feature an excellent match up between former world title challenger Shingo Wake (26-6-2, 18) [和氣 慎吾] and the talented but light punching Shohei Kawashima (18-4-2, 4) [川島翔平]. This will be Wake's first bout since being upset by Jhunriel Ramonal last year, in a massive set back.
Another of the under-card bouts will see former Japanese Lightweight champion Shuhei Tsuchiya (23-6, 18) [土屋 修平] look to salvage his career as he battles 2018 All Japan Rookie of the Year winner George Tachibana (8-4, 2) [橘ジョージ]. Coming in to this the 33 year old Tsuchiya has won just one of his last 3 fights and was shockingly upset in February against Shogo Yamaguchi.
Whilst it's great to see under-cards with notable fighters on them the best bit of news regarding the card is that the event will be able to have fans attending it! Tickets will be limited, but fans will be allowed in attendance with the show likely to be the first Dangan promoted card to have fans upon the boxing's restart in Japan.
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.
Earlier today on social media Dangan boxing announced that they were cancelling shows scheduled for May 16th and May 17th at the Sumida City Gymnasium.
Unsurprisingly the reason both shows were cancelled relates to the ongoing global issue.
At the moment it's unclear what will happen with the majority of the bouts set for the two shows, which included a Japanese Super Flyweight title bout between Kenta Nakagawa (18-3-1, 12) [中川 健太] takes on Yuta Matsuo (15-4-2, 8) [松尾雄太], which was set for May 16th, and the Hajime No Ippo 30th anniversary tournament final, between Shingo Kusano (13-8-1, 5) [草野慎悟] and Daisuke Watanabe (10-4-2, 6) [渡部大介], which was to take place a day late. It's expected both bouts will be postponed, but it's very unclear when they will take place.
Although the current suspension on boxing in Japan didn't directly affect the two shows the regulations being put on gyms for hosting shows would have effected both events, which were meant to be held as part of a boxing festival, as opposed to just a plan boxing show.
As with, we suspect everyone else, we hope the issue taking over global news come to an end sooner rather than later. It obviously effects more than just boxing, and we really hope everyone reading this is staying as safe as they can through these trying and tough times.
Earlier today at Korakuen Hall we got the Hajime No Ippo 30th anniversary tournament semi finals. Surprisingly the bouts both ended with Japanese winners, setting up an all-Japanese final. We say it was surprising as, in all fairness, the two locals seemed to be the under-dogs.
The first of the men to secure their place in the final was Shingo Kusano (13-8-1, 5) [草野慎悟], who managed to out point Korean dangerman Jae Woo Lee (7-3, 6) [이재우].
Kusano, who had been dropped several times in his quarter final bout, wasn't expected to be able to cope with the power and aggression of Lee. Impressively however the local fighter boxed excellently, using his legs and experience to out box, out move and out think Lee. The Korean was never out of the bout, and continuously pressed, but struggled to impress the local judges.
After 8 rounds Kusano had done enough to take a narrow majority decision, with scores of 77-75, twice, and 76-76.
Kusano was joined in the final by Daisuke Watanabe (10-4-2, 6) [渡部大介], who took an upset win over Filipino veteran Richard Pumicpic (21-11-2, 6).
The Filipino came out fast, and looked to make action exciting from the other, but a head clash left him bloodied, and Watanabe began to time him well. The local never looked comfortable with the aggression and toughness of Pumicpic, but did enough to take the rounds on the eyes of the judges, who had him the winner in a hotly contested bout.
After 8 rounds the scores were 77-75, twice, and 78-74, all in favour of Watanabe.
At the start of the tournament this is certainly not the final we would have expected, but we're looking forward to it. The bout is pencilled in for May 17th, at the Sumida Ward General Gymnasium, but of course does depend on the Coronavirus and it's long term impact on boxing in Japan, with the virus already forcing a suspension of the sport in Japan in March.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Tomorrow we'll see both of the Hajime No Ippo 30th anniversary tournament semi finals.
On paper the more exciting of the two bouts is set to see Korean visitor Jae Woo Lee (7-2, 6) [이재우] taking on Shingo Kusano (12-8-1, 5) [草野慎悟], with both men being in action packed quarter final bouts to set up this clash.
At the weigh in today both men hit the scales at the 126lb Featherweight limit, and both looked in good shape.
At the weigh in Kusano spoke about his confidence growing, following his quarter final win over Qiang Ma. Lee on the other hand stated that he would definitely beat Kusano.
For fans who failed to secure tickets ahead of the event, the bout will be aired live on Boxing Raise.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
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