Way back in July 2019 we saw Japanese Bantamweight Yusuke Suzuki (11-3, 7) [鈴木悠介] go through an hellacious war with Yuta Saito (12-10-3, 9) [齊藤裕太] to take the Japanese Bantamweight title from Saito in a bloody, brutal, hard, tough fight.
Following that loss Saito retired from the sport, choosing to do so very soon after the bout.
Suzuki however had ended 2019 as the Japanese champion and was entering 2020 with the view to defend the belt against mandatory challenger Kyosuke Sawada (14-2-1, 6) [澤田京介], with that bout originally scheduled for April 9th 2020. Sadly though that date was derailed completely by the Covid19 pandemic which put the ice on boxing in Japanese a good chunk of 2020.
No it’s been confirmed that Suzuki Vs Sawada will never happen, with Suzuki announcing his retirement from the sport due to a detached retina, ending his career as the reigning champion.
Suzuki revealed that he had wanted to defend the title but that he had been having problems with his right eye for a while, and they got worse recently in training. Rather than risk his sight he has made the wise decision to hang them up and walk away from in ring competition.
Prior to turning professional Suzuki had been a solid amateur, running up a 54-24 (25) record. He turned professional in 2012 and climbed into the Japanese rankings very early in his career, following a win over Takaaki Ishikawa in early 2014. Sadly however he had to wait until 2019 for a show at the title, and made the most of his chance, dethroning Saito in a genuine brutal bout.
Although best known for his title win Suzuki didn’t have it easy. In his 14 bout professional career he beat solid domestic and regional fighters, like Kyosuke Sawada, Takaaki Ishikawa, Monico Laurente, Akinori Hoshino, Eita Kikuchi and Saito. Whilst coming up short against Yusaku Kuga, Ryoichi Tamura and Jeffrey Francisco.
When asked by Boxmob about his best performance Suzuki stated his title win was his best, and that he was glad to be able to show the title to those who had supported him through his career.
He is now going to set up a company and hopes to be able to use the company to help support fighters in the future.
With Suzuki retiring the title situation does become a little bit of a mess, though the assumption is that Sawada will fight for the vacant title against the next highest available contender. That would, potentially, be either Ikuro Sadatsune (11-4-3, 4) [定常 育郎], who is ranked #2 in the latest rankings, or Kenshin Oshima (7-1-1, 3) [大嶋剣心], who is ranked #3.
Sadly the retirement of Suzuki does bring back the curse of the JBC Bantamweight title, which scuppered a host of events in 2018. This ended up seeing Ryo Akaho [赤穂 亮], vacating due to injury, Suzuki himself being injured, Suguru Muranaka [村中 優] missing weight, Saito being ill after winning the title. Strangely we’ve seen almost everyone who has been linked to the title since Akaho vacated retiring. Maybe the curse lives on after all.
We would like to wish Suzuki all the best in his post boxing life.
For those who missed Suzuki's final bout we've included it below.
Back in June we saw a Japanese Bantamweight title bout between Suguru Muranaka (26-3-1, 8) [村中 優] and Yuta Saito [齊藤裕太] falling apart at the 11th hour with Muranaka being taken to hospital due to issues making weight. Sadly Muranaka this wasn't a one off, and his issues with making weight had really plagued his career in recent years, forcing him to be stripped of the Japanese Flyweight title, then having issues making weight in subsequent bouts.
With the inability to weigh in against Saito it appears the Japanese Boxing Commission (JBC) have had enough of Muranaka's issues and today, following a meeting related to the JBC rankings, they announced that they were indefinitely suspending Muranaka.
The JBC have made it clear this year they will not accept fighters missing weight any more. Muranaka is the third fighter, this year, to be given an indefinite suspension, following Daigo Higa [比嘉 大吾] and Luis Nery, who both failed to make weight earlier this year.
Unfortunately for Muranaka, who is best known internationally for losing in a WBA Super Flyweight bout to Kal Yafai, he is now 33 years old. He's not a youngster like Higa and Nery who can take their punishment and come back with most of their career ahead of them. Instead Muranaka's career is possibly now over. He will have to regain the JBC's trust, and hope that they end the suspension sooner rather than later. Sadly however it's likely that the JBC will want to make an example of Muranaka due to the multiple time that he's missed weight already.
The Japanese Bantamweight title has been held by some national boxing icons, though this year it has been dragged through the mud and has seemingly been cursed with 3 title bouts now being cancelled this year! With the most recent, which was set to take place tomorrow, being cancelled due to Suguru Muranaka (26-3-1, 8) [村中 優] being taken to hospital, before he was supposed to weigh in to face Yuta Saito (10-9-3, 7) [齊藤裕太].
The title had been vacated back in January when Ryo Akaho (31-2-2, 20) [赤穂 亮] was forced to pull out of a bout against Yusuke Suzuki (9-3, 6) [鈴木悠介], in a similar though not identical circumstances. Suzuki was himself injured before a scheduled fight with Muranaka in April.
Now logically, though when does boxing use logic, a match up between Suzuki and Saito would make sense though it's unclear if that's now the option the JBC have in mind.
Sadly for Muranaka this could essentially end his career. He has had weight issues in the past, failing to make weight several times including failing to make the Flyweight limit for a defense of the Japanese Flyweight title. Failing to make weight for that bout really was the start of Muranaka's problems and since then he has suffered two suspensions. It's now hard to see the JBC giving him any more chances, especially given their crack down on fighters failing to make weight this year.
(Image of Saito courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Back in January Ryo Akaho (31-2-2, 20) [赤穂 亮] vacated the Japanese Bantamweight belt due to health reasons, cancelling a scheduled defense of the title. Originally the vacancy was set to be filled on April 12th with a scheduled bout between Yusuke Suzuki (9-3, 6) [鈴木悠介], who was supposed to originally face Akaho in January, and former world title challenger Suguru Muranaka (26-3-1, 8) [村中 優]. Sadly that bout was cancelled when Suzuki suffered an injury in trainer, and the title has remained vacant since.
Today it was announce that the title would have it's vacancy filled on June 22nd, with Muranaka facing off with Yuta Saito (10-9-3, 7) [齊藤裕太] for the title at the Korakuen Hall.
For Muranaka, a former Japanese Flyweight champion, this bout gives him a chance to become a 2-weight national champion. His reign as the Flyweight champion ended in 2015, when Muranaka was stripped for being unable to make the weight, and since then he has bounced between Super Flyweight and Bantamweight with his world title fight coming last year against WBA Super Flyweight champion Kal Yafai. The loss to Yafai is Muranaka's only defeat since a 2006 loss to Tomoya Kaneshiro and he has since bounced back from the Yafai fight with a victory over domestic foe Ken Achiwa.
Coming into this fight Saito is ranked #4 by the JBC but has notably lost his last 2 and is win-less since April 2016, when he defeated Corrales Kawashimo. In his last 3 bouts Saito has fought to a draw with Tatsuya Takahashi, been stopped by the aforementioned Akaho in a title fight and lost at Super Bantamweight to Naoya Okamoto. Against Akaho he put up an excellent fight, but was eventually stopped in the 9th round, whilst level on two of the score cards. It was a performance that kept him in consideration for another title fight.
Despite his form Saito has managed to get a title fight due to the bizarre situation with Akaho and Suzuki, and the fact that the originally rumoured opponent for Muranaka, Seizo Kono (19-10-1, 12) [高野誠三] lost earlier this month to Kazuki Tanaka (9-1, 6) [田中一樹],and would need some time to recovering the hard bout with Tanaka.
The Japanese Bantamweight title has been vacant since January, when Ryo Akaho (31-2-2, 20) [赤穂 亮] vacated the belt due to health reasons.
Originally Akaho was supposed to defend the belt against Yusuke Suzuki (9-3, 6) [鈴木悠介] but due to the health issues Akaho was forced to pull out of the bout. That pull out lead to Suzuki being scheduled to face former world title challenger Suguru Muranaka (26-3-1, 8) [村中 優] for the vacant belt on April 12th.
Sadly it appears the title will remain vacant for a continued amount of time as Suzuki has now had to pull out of the April 12th date as he has suffered an injury in training.
The details of the injury aren't yet widely reported, and it's unclear whether the bout will be rescheduled or whether Muranaka will end up fighting someone else for the title further down the line. What is known however is that this injury is a big hit so Suzuki's career, and sees him further stall on getting his hands on the Japanese title.
We do however know that the show will continue, and fans will get a title double header, with WBO Asia Pacific Featherweight champion Richard Pumicpic (20-8-2, 6) defending his title against against Yoshimitsu Kimura (9-0, 4) [木村吉光] and WBO Asia Pacific Welterweight champion Keita Obara (19-2-1, 17) [小原 佳太] defending his title against Filipino challenger Alvin Lagumbay (9-2, 8).
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