Earlier today news broke that Japanese Minimumweight champion Norihito Tanaka (19-7, 10) [田中教仁] had vacated his title, ahead of the Champion Carnival, to begin a pursuit of a world title fight.
The 34 year old veteran, who claimed the title last year when he stopped Shin Ono, is one of the very few fighters to have a world ranking with all 4 world title bodies.
At the moment the IBF champion, Pedro Taduran (14-2, 11), and WBO champion, Wilfredo Mendez (15-1, 5), have apparently got fights in the works for early in the year however Tanaka could be viewing up fights for either the WBC or WBA champions. They, of course, as the Thai pairing of Wanheng Menayothin (54-0, 18) [วันเฮง ไก่ย่างห้าดาวยิม], who Tanaka has long been rumoured to face, and Knockout CP Freshmart (20-0, 7) [น็อคเอาท์ ซีพีเฟรชมาร์ท].
Although no opponent has yet been named publicly for Tanaka it does seem likely we'll hear something soon for the man from the Misako Gym.
Interestingly this leaves the Japanese Minimumweight title vacant for the Champion Carnival, where we know Masataka Taniguchi (12-3, 7) [谷口 将隆] will fight for the belt. His opponent isn't yet confirmed, but will be a highly ranked domestic contender. That could mean a potential showdown between Taniguchi and Ryoki Hirai (13-6-1, 4) [平井亮輝] or Takumi Sakae (22-3-1, 16) [榮拓海], who are both expected to be looking for title fights in 2020.
We'll find out who is next for Taniguchi shortly, when the full line up for the Champion Carnival is announced, later this month.
(Image courtesy of Misako Gym)
Heavy hitting Japanese Welterweight Yuki Beppu (20-1-1, 19) [別府優樹] got back to blowing opponents away today after having taken his first decision win back in April.
The exciting Beppu headlined a card in Fukuoka and faced off with former world title challenger Roy Mukhlis (29-11-4, 22), from Indonesia. Sadly for fans expecting to see Beppu to be tested this wasn't close to competitive. In fact Mukhlis was stopped after just 68 seconds.
Beppu dropped Mukhlis with a body shot, a straight right hand to the midsection, dropping the visitor for the 10 count.
After the bout Beppu stated he was intending to fight for the WBO Asia Pacific Welterweight title, on December 8th in Osaka against former Japanese national champion Ryota Yada (19-5, 16) [矢田良太].
Also on the card was the once touted Takumi Sakae (22-3-1, 16) [榮拓海], who scored a 4th round stoppage win over Indonesian journeyman Stevanus Nana Bau (9-12-2, 2). Sakae used his body attack to break down Bau, who was totally out classed form the start to the end.
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
Earlier today in Fukuoka we had the Japanese Minimumweight title decider bout, as once touted Takumi Sakae (19-3-1, 13) [榮拓海] battled with tough veteran Norihito Tanaka (17-7, 9) [田中教仁] for a place in the 2019 Champion Carnival.
It was Tanaka who managed to dictate the early distance,by closing the distance and getting in to the fact of the youngerman. Sakae,to his credit, managed to create some space, using his sharp jab and quicker feet, but it was clear that he had to work incredibly hard to create distance. On the inside Tanaka worked away well, damaging Sakae with body shots in round 2.
Sakae would manage to rebuild, and would begin to find a foot hold in the bout, soon afterwards as he started to be more active than Tanaka and use his younger, fresher, legs. Unfortunately for him however he struggled to discourage Tanaka who came on strong in the final two rounds, particularly round8, and he tried to put the but beyond doubt. Sakae saw off the storm and avoided the bigger shots from Tanaka but was unable take the rounds, which is what he really needed to do.
In the end we went to the scorecards, with the judges favouring Tanaka in a split decision. The scores were 76-75 and 77-76 in favour of Tanaka, whilst the dissenting judge, turned in a score of 77-74 for Sakae, who is a local fighter from Fukuoka.
With the win Tanaka bounces back perfectly from his recent loss to OPBF champion Tsubasa Koura, and secures himself a third title bout. For Sakae this was another setback in a mjor bout, with his other losses coming in another Japanese title eliminator and a Japanese title fight. He may rebuild, but questions still need to be asked about his future, and potentially we could even see him move up in weight to continue his career development.
Tomorrow fight fans in Fukuoka will see a Minimumweight bout between Takumi Sakae (19-2-1, 13) [榮拓海] and Norihito Tanaka (16-7, 9) [田中教仁], with the winner becoming the next mandatory challenger for the Japanese title.
Today the two fighters took part in their weigh in for their bout, and both men made weight.
On the scales the younger and taller Sakae was the lighter man, weighing in at 104.7lbs.
Tanaka, who recently came up short in an OPBF title fight against Tsubasa Koura, was bang on the divisional limit of 105lbs.
Both appeared confident and it seems like both fighters who believed in themselves ahead of tomorrow's bout and look forward to getting a Japanese title shot next year, at the 2019 Champion Carnival.
Related - Sakae and Tanaka face off in Japanese eliminator! (Preview)
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
An important part of the Japanese boxing calendar is the Champion Carnival, which takes place in the first half of the year. The fighters who compete in the Champion Carnival are the national champions and the leading domestic contenders.
In August we a number of bouts to decide the top contenders being announced, with 6 such bouts being set for October 12, on a stacked card at the Korakuen Hall.
For those missed that report those bouts on October 12th will be:
Light Flyweight - Kenichi Horikawa (37-15-1, 11) [堀川 謙一] Vs Koji Itagaki (18-12-3, 7) [板垣幸司]
The Super Flyweight - Yuta Matsuo (14-3-1, 7) [松尾雄太] Vs Rey Orais (20-17-2, 5)
Super Bantamweight - Mugicha Nakagawa (23-5-1, 14) [武田勇太] Vs Naoya Okamoto (13-6-1, 6) [岡本直也].
Super Featherweight - Ken Osato (14-2-1, 4) [大里拳] Vs Satoru Sugita (14-5-1, 9) [杉田聖]
Light Welterweight - Koki Inoue (11-0, 10) [浩樹井上] Vs Marcus Smith (6-0-1, 6)
Light Middleweight Koshinmaru Saito (24-9-2, 13) [斉藤伸介] vs Hironobu Matsunaga (13-1, 7) [松永 宏信]
As well as the October 12th card we also, recently, saw the confirmation that the Flyweight bout would see Junto Nakatani (16-0, 12) [中谷 潤人] battle against Shun Kosaka (15-4, 4) [小坂駿], which that bout now set for October 6th as part of notable Japanese domestic card which is set to be televised on G+.
Today saw the rest of the bouts being announced.
On October 21st we'll have two of them take place in Fukuoka. One of those is the Minimumweight bout, which will see Takumi Sakae (19-2-1, 13) [榮拓海] take on Norihito Tanaka (16-7, 9) [田中教仁], in what could end up being one of the surprise contests from these eliminator style contests. On the same card will be the Welterweight clash between Yuki Beppu (18-0-1, 18) [別府優樹] and Yuki Nagano (14-2, 11) [永野祐樹], in what we are expecting to be a very explosive and exciting encounter between two fighters with very solid power at this level.
A week later, October 28th, we'll get the Lightweight bout, which will see Accel Sumiyoshi (11-4-2, 3) [アクセル住吉] face off with Tatsuya Yanagi (15-5-1, 6) [柳達也]. This bout will take place in Shimonoseki, Yamaguchi prefecture, which should favour Sumiyoshi but given the styles of the two men this has the potential to be very exciting.
On November 7th we'll get the Middleweight bout as former champion Hikaru Nishida (17-9-1, 8) [西田光] takes on Shuji Kato (9-1-1, 6) [加藤収二], with this bout taking place at the Korakuen Hall.
The only bout with out a set date so far is the Bantamweight bout. Despite no set date we do know that Hayato Kimura (27-10, 18) [木村隼人] facing off with Seizo Kono (19-10-1, 12) [高野誠三], in what is a bit of an under-whelming contest given some of the Japanese domestic talent in the division. This bout is expected to have it's date and venue announced in the coming weeks.
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