Earlier today in Tokyo there was a special press conference held to announce a charity event set for February 11th, dubbed "LEGEND".
The names of 5 men participating in the event were particularly notable as it features some of the biggest names in Japanese boxing from the last 20 years or so.
At the press conference today were WBA "super" and IBF Bantamweight champion Naoya Inoue (20-0, 17) [井上 尚弥], WBA "Super" and Ring Magazine Light Flyweight champion Hiroto Kyoguchi (14-0, 9) [京口 紘人] and former WBO Flyweight champion Sho Kimura (19-3-2, 12) [木村翔]. As well as that trio it was also confirmed that former world champions Akira Yaegashi [八重樫 東] and Takashi Uchiyama [内山 高志] would participate.
Although the details of what will actually happen aren't totally clear we have been given a number of details about it.
Firstly the event will be held at the Yoyogi National Gymnasium with fans expected. At the moment the number of fans anticipated will be 5,000 though the hope is to increase that to 10,000.
As for the event it's self, it will essentially be a sparring competition featuring 6 bouts, with 3 rounds in each and each round consisting of 3 minutes. This will see fighters wearing head gear and the discussion of glove sizes will also be discussed by the fighters involved, with the bouts being regarded as exhibitions.
At the press conference today the fighters some of the fighters spoke about who they wanted to share the ring with. Kyoguchi called out Inoue, explaining he wanted to face the "Monster" due to the two men being the same age, whilst Kimura called out WBO Super Flyweight champion Kazuto Ioka (25-2, 14) [井岡一翔], explaining that he admired Ioka and as a resulted wanted to face him.
At the time of writing no fights have been decided.
The event is planned to raise money for charity an help support health care professionals. With that in mind it will be little surprise to hear that health is at the key of the event and PCR tests will be carried out on the competitors involved and the fans, with tests being carried out over 3 days.
At the moment it's being reported that tickets will range from ¥15,000 all the way up to ¥150,000 with tickets set to go on sale from tomorrow.
Earlier today we saw an announcement regarding "MEGA 2021", which will take at the Tokyo Dome on February 28th 2021, with Mayweather himself participating in the announcement via a virtual press conference.
The details of the event are rather scares with MEGA Productions set to host the event, and their CEO Kohei Tokuhiro stating the opponent was going to be a Japanese competitor as he plans to make "the most exciting card". Though the Japanese fighter in question was un-named.
At the press conference today Mayweather stated that he was looking forward to fighting back in Japan and that he was slopping last time, and didn't fully practice. That was his 2018 exhibition with RIZIN star Tenshin Nasukawa, which got RIZIN international exposure, something that MEGA will be looking for here.
As for the format of the "bout" it will be fought under rules that "both sides agree", according to Mr Tokuhiro, though the assumption is that it will, primarily, be based around rules of professional boxing, much like the Nasukawa bout.
For those thinking of dream fights between Mayweather and an active Japanese boxing that won't be possible, due to JBC licensing laws. Despite that there was questions regarding Mayweather Vs Naoya Inoue (20-0, 17) [井上 尚弥], though we can safely say that that won't be the bout.
What is more likely is that Mayweather's opponent will either come from MMA, or kickboxing, where JBC licensing won't be standing in the way, or from a retired fighter. Interestingly he was linked to a bout at a RIZIN show against former WBA Super Featherweight champion Takashi Uchiyama [内山 高志], which could potentially be done here. Another rather interesting, although fairly unlikely possibility, would be a modified rules exhibition between Mayweather and the recently retired Japanese Heavyweight Kyotaro Fujimoto (21-2, 13) [藤本京太郎], who is heading back to Martial Arts due to a lack of viable fights in Japan. With the rules modified that could be done in a way where Mayweather's natural size disadvantage could be neutralised, and made to be a much more interesting match up than many would consider.
It should also be noted that Takanori Gomi [五味隆典], a former PRIDE Lightweight champion, was linked to a bout with Mayweather in 2019 and had called out Mayweather, and it seems very possible that Gomi could be the opponent here, with modified rules, not allowing kicks, something that was mentioned in 2019.
It'll be interesting to see where this goes, or whether it disappears into the ether, like other other stories we've seen in the past of Western fighters heading over to Japan.
For those interested the full press conference can be seen below.
Earlier today the Japanese Boxing Federation announced that they would be doing a special competition this year due to the fact all other high school boxing events had been cancelled.
Current face to face competition isn't allowed due to the current "on going situation". As a result the Japan Boxing Federation has set up a shadow boxing challenge, asking high school student to submit videos of them shadow boxing.
The competition will run from August 1st to August 16th and will be judged by a who's who of top Japanese fighters. These include:
WBA and IBF Bantamweight champion Naoya Inoue (19-0, 16) [井上 尚弥]
WBA Middleweight champion Ryota Murata (16-2, 13) [村田 諒太]
WBO Super Flyweight champion Kazuto Ioka (25-2, 14) [井岡一翔]
WBA Light Flyweight "Super" champion Hiroto Kyoguchi (14-0, 9) [京口 紘人]
WBC Light Flyweight champion Kenshiro Teraji (17-0, 10) [寺地 拳四朗]
IBF "interim" champion Ryosuke Iwasa (27-3, 17) [岩佐 亮佑]
Former WBA Super Featherweight champion Takashi Uchiyama (24-2-1, 20) [内山 高志]
Former WBC "interim" Bantamweight champion Takuma Inoue (13-1, 3) [井上 拓真]
and former 3-weight world champion Akira Yaegashi (28-7, 16) [八重樫 東]
The judges will select a winner and the winners will be given an award on August 22nd.
It's fair to say that Japanese combat sport gives us some of the weirdest stories out there.
We've seen repeated weird stories from across the vast range of Japanese combat including things like professional wrestling, kick boxing and professional boxing. These have included things like wrestling sex dolls and giant pandas, the career of Bob Sapp, the historic bout between Antonio Inoki and Muhammad Ali the controversial exhibition between Koki Kameda and Pongsaklek Wonjongkam and some of the crazy death match wrestling events, just to name a few.
Now it appears that RIZIN are trying to set up another oddity.
A few weeks ago news broke from Japan that RIZIN were trying to bring former multi-weight world champion Floyd Mayweather back over to Japan. That's something they famously did a few years ago when they matched Mayweather against RIZIN's very own star Tenshin Nasukawa. Although the bout wasn't a particularly memorable one, with the much smaller Nasukawa being stopped in a round it did generate RIZIN a lot of international attention and saw people tuning in to the event from all over the globe.
This time it seems like RIZIN actually want Mayweather to actually face a former boxer.
The bout being mentioned in the Japanese press is one between Mayweather and former WBA Super Featherweight champion Takashi Uchiyama [内山 高志], with multiple Japanese sites now reporting the clash is one that the head of RIZIN wants.
Whilst everyone knows Mayweather's legendary career saw him going 50-0 in the professional ranks, claiming world titles from 130lbs all the way up to 154lbs and dub himself "TBE", Uchiyama was a man who never managed to make a major impact outside of Japan. Despite that he was a star at home, the lead face of boxing on TV Tokyo, and man who recorded 11 defenses of the WBA Super Featherweight title. He retired a few years ago but has kept in great shape and looked in fantastic condition last year in an exhibition against Ryoichi Taguchi.
Whilst it's unclear if that will be made both men do have links to RIZIN and it does, from Japanese reports, seem that Nobuyuki Sakakibara is very actively wanting to put the event on. It would be huge for RIZIN and see them grab international attention, like they did when Mayweather shared a ring with Nasukawa.
One of the many Japanese sites reporting this are efight.jp who's article about the bout, in Japanese, can be read here.
Despite this seeming a far fetched idea, it would be big news in Japan, drive huge attention to RIZIN and would also be regarded as an exhibition. The bout would also, potentially, help Mayweather grow his business interests in Japan and help out Uchiyama, who turned to crowd finding to keep his gyms alive earlier this year.
Of course it could simply be Sakakibara wanting some attention on RIZIN, though we suspect it genuinely is a bout he is wanting to make, potentially for the end of year RIZIN later in 2020.
(Note - Image is an old one with the two men together, not a new one)
Earlier today former WBA Super Featherweight champion Takashi Uchiyama [内山 高志] announced the re-opening of the KOD Studio in Kasukabe City, holding a special event to celebrate.
The gym was originally opened this past February, but then closed temporarily almost immediately due to the on going situation that caused sport around the world to be put on hiatus. It was open for just a few weeks before it needed to close, and lead Uchiyama to turn to crowd funding to the gym viable in the short term.
The gym is a boxing-fitness gym, and is the second gym opened by Uchiyama after the KOD Lab in Tokyo. The aim of both is to contribute to the local community, with the gym in Kasukabe aiming to help rebuild the city, which has seen a downturn in recent years.
The gym in Kasukabe doesn't have any boxing rings, but does focus on fitness, with heavy bags, a speed ball and a training machine. The key is to enjoy fitness, getting fit and working on strength and fitness, not boxing.
Of course Uchiyama wasn't the only notable figure at today's event. Former unified Light Flyweight champion Ryoichi Taguchi [田口良一], who retired last year, and former world title challenger Hisashi Amagasa [天笠 尚] also attended. The two men will work as trainers at the gyms, with Taguchi based in Tokyo, at the KOD Lab, and Amagasa at the KOD Studio in Kasukabe.
Given the trouble the gyms appeared to be in when they turned to crowd funding this is great news and the plan seems to be to increase the membership from around 80 members, at the moment, to around 200 in the future.
(Image credit - Boxmob)
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