Earlier today Dan Rafael, writing for Boxingscene.com, reported the latest update in regards to the long running saga between WBC Bantamweight champion Nodine Oubaali (17-0, 12) and his mandatory challenger Nonito Donaire (40-6, 26).
According to Dan Rafael's report (which can be read here) the new plan is for the bout to take place on May 29th on Showtime, though a venue hasn't yet been sorted for the show.
The whole saga in regards to this bout goes back December 2019, when the WBC ordered the bout, instilling Donaire as the mandatory for Oubaali. That was after an eliminator between Luis Nery and Emmanuel Rodriguez fell apart with Nery unable to make weight. We then had the purse bids in January with TGB Promotions winning the right to hold the fight with a bid of $401,000.
Since then there has been a huge number of twists and turns. The most notable of those was the covid19 pandemic which pretty much put boxing on ice for a good portion of 2020. When boxing did return to the US the bout was planned for December 12th, as part of a brilliant showtime line up. And a line that, for the most part, went to plan which was a huge surprise given the Covid pandemic.
Sadly however there were some bouts that didn't end up happening from that Showtime line up, the most notable of which was the Oubaali Vs Donaire bout, which was cancelled in November when Oubaali tested positive for the virus, he would later be named "Champion in Recess".
As a result the WBC set up a bout between Donaire and Emmanuel Rodriguez for the title. Those plans were scuppered in December when Donaire tested positive, in what seems to have been a false positive.
Due to Donaire testing positive Rodriguez then faced, and controversially lost to, Reymart Gaballo for the WBC "interim" title. A result that lead the WBC to ordering a rematch. Whilst we awaited the rematch the plan was to begin work on re-arranging the Oubaali Vs Donaire bout, though Oubaali was originally granted permission to make a voluntary defense.
That voluntary defense would have seen Oubaali battle Nawaphon Nakornloung Promotion, aka Nawaphon Por Chokchai or Nawaphon Kaikanha, on March 13th in Paris. Before the fight fell through due Covid restrictions in France and the TV broadcaster also pulled out of the bout.
Rather shockingly both men will have been out of the ring since November 2019, when both men fought on the same show. That was was back on November 7th 2019 when Donaire lost a 12 round decision to Naoya Inoue [井上 尚弥] in the WBSS final and Oubaali took a decision over Naoya's younger brother Takuma Inoue [井上拓真], to unify the WBC regular and interim titles. If the bout does take place in May, then it'll be almost 19 months since either man last fought!
A few days ago we reported that Takuma Inoue (14-1, 3) [井上拓真] had vacated the OPBF Bantamweight title that he had won in January against Keita Kurihara (15-6, 13) [栗原慶太]. Interesting he is one of three Japanese men to vacate titles recently.
One of those other men to vacate was Suzumi Takayama (3-0, 3) [高山涼深], who officially vacated the Japanese Youth Super Flyweight title a few days ago. Sadly for Takayama he never actually defended the belt, which he won in October 2019,. He was scheduled to defend it last November, but opponent Hiroto Yashiro (2-0, 2) [矢代博斗] was forced to pull out of the bout, forcing it to be cancelled at short notice.
It should be noted that Takayama is 24 years old and that the limit for a Japanese Youth champion, so him vacating isn't much of a surprise.
The other man to vacate was a bit of a surprise and that was OPBF Super Featherweight champion Hironori Mishiro (10-0-1, 3) [三代大訓], who has given up the title after 4 defenses. He won the belt in 2018, when he defeated Carlo Magali, and defended it against solid competition in the form of Masaru Sueyoshi, Takuya Watanabe, Ryo Takenaka and Yoshimitsu Kimura.
Notably Mishiro's last bout came at Lightweight, when he defeated Masayuki Ito in December 2020, and we suspect he's vacating the title to campaign full time at Lightweight. If that's the case then we could potentially be seeing a brilliant match up between Mishiro and triple crown champion Shuichiro Yoshino (13-0, 10) [吉野 修一郎], who currently holds the JBC, OPBF and WBO Asia Pacific titles. Fingers crossed that is next for Mishiro!
Back on January 14th we saw Takuma Inoue (14-1, 3) [井上拓真] score one of his best wins, as he over-came Keita Kurihara (15-6, 13) [栗原慶太] and won the OPBF Bantamweight title. Today it's been confirmed that he has vacated that title, with the aim being for him to get bigger and better fights.
Thankfully the vacancy won't last for long and we already know who will be fighting for the title, and when.
The vacancy will be filled on May 13th when the heavy handed Kazuki Nakajima (9-0-1, 8) [中嶋一輝], a stablemate of Inoue's at the Ohashi gym, takes on the once beaten Kai Chiba (13-1, 8) [千葉開] for the belt.
The hard hitting Nakajima, who is now 27 years old, has been a professional since 2017 and is regarded as a bright hopeful for the Ohashi Gym. He won his first 8 bouts in a row before fighting to a draw with Seiya Tsutsumi in the "God's Left Bantamweight tournament" in early 2020. Since then he has fought once, stopping Kenta Nomura at Super Bantamweight.
As for Chiba he's now 28 and has been a professional since 2015. He wasn't touted when he turned professional, but rose quickly through the ranks and impressed in 2017 with wins against Ikuro Sadatsune and Ryo Matsubara. He looked on the verge of a big fight in 2018 but was upset by Filipino Brian Lobetania and lost a lot of his momentum. Since that loss he has reeled off 6 wins and earned a shot at a title.
Whilst neither man will be regarded as one of the standout Bantamweights in Japan, a division that is truly stacked in the country with the likes of Naoya Inoue, Takuma Inoue and Daigo Higa, a win here would move their career forward massively and put them on the right track for a world ranking later in the year.
The bout has been added to an already solid looking Ohashi promoted show at Korakuen Hall, headlined by a Featherweight unification bout between WBO Asia Pacific champion Musashi Mori (12-0, 7) [森 武蔵] and OPBF champion Satoshi Shimizu (9-1, 9) [清水 聡]. This OPBF bout will serve as the chief support bout to Mori Vs Shimizu clash.
The latest issue of Japanese boxing magazine "Boxing Beat" will be released tomorrow and it promising to be an interesting issue with a lot to talk about.
One of the key features will see WBO Super Flyweight champion Kazuto Ioka (26-2, 15) [井岡一翔] talk about his 8th round TKO win over fellow Japanese fighter Kosei Tanaka (15-1, 9) [田中恒成] at the end of 2020, in what was one of Ioka's best performances.
Other features also include something looking at the domestic divisions across Japan, going from Minimumweight to Heavyweight.
There is also a lengthy preview of the up coming WBA Light Flyweight "Super" title fight between Hiroto Kyoguchi (14-0, 9) [京口 紘人] and Axel Aragon Vega (14-3-1, 8), who meet in March in Kyoguchi's US debut.
Among the fight reports in the magazine are write ups about some of the biggest domestic fights from January, including Takuma Inoue's (14-1, 3) [井上拓真] win over Keita Kurihara (15-6, 13) [栗原慶太], for the OPBF Bantamweight title, and Gakuya Furuhashi's (27-8-1, 15) [古橋大輔] sensational win over win over Yusaku Kuga (19-5-1, 13) [久我勇作], for the Japanese Super Bantamweight title.
The magazine will be available in stores across Japan or digitally on Amazon.jp.
Earlier today the East Japan Boxing Association announced their monthly award winners for the month of January, with 3 winners being announced.
The MVP for the month was the newly crowned OPBF Bantamweight champion Takuma Inoue (14-1, 3) [井上拓真] who earned the award for his technical decision win against Keita Kurihara (15-6, 13) [栗原慶太] back on January 14th. During the bout Inoue looked in control through out, and showed his speed, movement and boxing IQ in one of, if not the, best performance of his career.
The Fighting Spirit award was also won by a new champion, with Gakuya Furuhashi (27-8-1, 15) [古橋大輔] picking up the award for his amazing win over Yusaku Kuga (19-5-1, 13) [久我勇作], which saw him claim the Japanese Super Bantamweight title. The bout was Furuhashi's third for the title and he really did show incredible fighting spirit to take a 9th round TKO win over Kuga back on January 22nd.
The Newcomer award was won by the hard hitting Seigo Hanamori (7-3, 5) [花森 成吾], who recorded an impressive win over #7 JBC ranked Super Bantamweight Naoto Mizutani (7-7-2, 2) [水谷 直人], in what was the most meaningful win of his career, by far.
As we've seen in recent months there will not be a physical award ceremony, due to the ongoing pandemic, but the fighters will be able to take part in a online ceremony.
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