Earlier today the annual Japanese boxing awards took place at the Tokyo Dome Hotel.
As previously reported unified Bantamweight champion Naoya Inoue (19-0, 16) [井上 尚弥] won the Best fighter award and the Best Fight at event, but was unable to attend due to illness. That however leaves the question "who else won awards?"
The Best Skill award was won by WBO Super Flyweight champion Kazuto Ioka (25-2, 14) [井岡一翔], who became the first Japanese male 4-weight champion in the summer, stopping Aston Palicte. He then defended the title at the end of the year against Jeyvier Cintron, putting in a very different type of performance against Puerto Rican challenger.
Like Inoue, Ioka also didn't attend the event.
The special award saw Ryota Murata (16-2, 13) [村田 諒太] pick up the honours, after reclaiming the WBA Middleweight title and then defending it just before Christmas. He explained his next bout isn't yet decided, though reports are suggesting a May or June date is likely. Murata also picked up the KO award for the year.
The Effort award was won by Yuki Nagano (17-3, 13) [永野祐樹], who won the award for what he did in 2019 despite recently losing the Japanese Welterweight title.
The Newcomer award was win by Junto Nakatani (20-0, 15) [中谷 潤人], who is now reportedly set to fight for the WBO Flyweight title in Spring.
As previously mentioned Naoya Inoue won the best fight in a world title fight, for his sensational bout with Nonito Donaire in the WBSS final. As for none-world title bout, that award, unsurprisingly, went to the brilliant war between Yuki Beppu [別府優樹] and Ryota Yada [矢田良太] for the WBO Asia Pacific Welterweight title. For fans who haven't seen that one, we genuinely implore you to give a watch!
There was a double award for female fighter Tenkai Tsunami (27-12-1, 16) [天海 ツナミ] who not only took the women's MVP award, for the second year running, but also the women's fight of the year for her bout with Naoko Fujioka [藤岡 奈穂子].
The excellent player award, which is given to every Japanese fighter who holds a world title at some point during the year, saw Inoue, Ioka and Murata receive the honour along with:
Kosei Tanaka (15-0, 9) [田中恒成]
Kenshiro Teraji (17-0, 10) [寺地 拳四朗]
Ryosuke Iwasa (27-3, 17) [岩佐 亮佑]
Hiroto Kyoguchi (14-0, 9) [京口 紘人].
The trainer award was given to Mr Kato from the Misako gym, who has been responsible for training Kenjiro Teraji.
There was also a number of special awards given out. These went to:
Kohei Kono (33-12-1, 14) [河野 公平]
Ryoichi Taguchi (27-4-2, 12) [田口良一]
Tatsuya Fukuhara (21-7-6, 7) [福原 辰弥]
And Hitoshi Misako
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
Last month we reported that former WBO Minimumweight champion Tatsuya Fukuhara (21-7-6, 7) [福原 辰弥] had announced his retirement. Today he was in the ring for the final time as a professional fighter, as he took part in a retirement ceremony at the Shiroyama Skydome in Kumamoto.
The former world champion's ceremony saw him sparring 3 rounds with former foe Naoya Haruguchi (15-11, 6) [春口直也] before taking the microphone and speaking to the fans.
Fukuhara admitted that when he started he never thought of winning world titles, and thanked his promoter Mr Honda. It was under the guidance of Kenya Honda that Fukuhara proved Kumamoto can create world champions and Fukuhara seemed to be trying to inspire the youngsters in attendance to follow in his footsteps.
The Kumumoto boxing scene will be worse for his retirement, but hopefully his career has inspired locals and hopefully Mr Honda will find another diamond in the rough to take to world level.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Earlier today sources in Japan revealed that former WBO Minimumweight champion Tatsuya Fukuhara (21-7-6, 7) [福原 辰弥] had announced his retirement, ending a rather interesting, if often over-looked career.
The 30 year old from Kumamoto made his debut all the way back in 2008, and reached the All Japan Rookie of the Year final in 2009, losing to Takuya Mitamoro at Korakuen Hall. Despite reaching the final he spent a number of years in the proverbial boxing wilderness, fighting on the local Kumamoto scene.
It wasn't until 2013 that Fukuhara really got any attention again, losing to both Yu Kimura and a then debuting Takuma Inoue. Those losses saw Fukuhara's record slip to 12-4-3 (3) though he gritted his teeth and battled on, building on the experiences of those losses.
In 2015 Fukuhara got his first title fight, and beat Hiroya Yamamoto for the Japanese Minimumweigjht title. He would go on to record 3 defenses of the belt, taking the unbeaten records of Takumi Sakae and Genki Hanai along the way. Those wins helped him climb up the WBO world rankings and in 2017 he fought Moises Calleros for the interim WBO Minimumweight title. The Japanese local narrowly over-came Calleros, in an often forgotten classic. That interim title would be upgraded to the main title a few months later but he would lose the belt in his first defense, coming up short against Ryuya Yamanaka.
Following the loss to Yamanaka in August 2017 we saw Fukuhara have two shots at WBC champion Wanheng Menayothin, losing both bouts by decision, with the second of those coming this past May.
The reasons for Fukuhara's retirement are limited physical strength and a lack of motivation, though he will be back in the ring for one more appearance. That will be an exhibition on August 11th, in what will essentially be his retirement ceremony.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Last week we saw WBC Minimumweight champion Wanheng Menayothin (53-0, 18) [วันเฮง ไก่ย่างห้าดาวยิม] score his 11th defense, as he took a technical decision win over former WBO king Tatsuya Fukuhara (21-7-6, 7) [福原 辰弥].
That bout was supposed to be Wanheng's final defense before making a mandatory defense against South African challenger Simpiwe Konkco (19-5-0-1, 7), though Thai sources are now reporting that a deal may be in the works for the mandatory defense to be pushed back.
The sources, including SiamSport, have reported that a member of the Watanabe Gym was at ringside for the Menayothin Vs Fukuhara bout last week, and looking at getting Wanheng to fight in Japan in October in a voluntary defense, pushing back the mandatory. It also appears that Konkco's team are likely to allow the bout, for a step aside fee.
Whilst Wanehng fighting outside of Thailand would be big, it does leave to two different lines of thought. Firstly who would he be fighting? And secondly haven't we heard this before?
The Watanabe gym does have a number of Minimumweights, including world title challenger Masataka Taniguchi (11-3, 7) [谷口 将隆], former multi-time world title challenger Shin Ono (23-11-3, 6) [小野 心] and fast rising youngster Ginjiro Shigeoka (3-0, 2) [重岡銀次朗], none of whom would be suitable for an October bout with Wanheng. In theory the gym could be looking to work on behalf of another promoter, and perhaps looking to secure a shot for someone like Norihito Tanaka (18-7, 10) [田中教仁] or Tsubasa Koura (14-1, 9) [小浦 翼], but it would be a rather strange plan from the gym.
What needs to be remembered is that Wanheng was repeatedly linked to a fight in Japan last year, and nothing ever came of it. This could be the same as that, where plans don't come to fruition, or it could be a sign that Watanabe gym have some huge plans between now and October, and we may hear more about the in the coming weeks.
It should also be noted that Watanabe gym's Hiroto Kyoguchi (12-0, 9) [京口 紘人], the current WBA "super" Light Flyweight champion, will be defending his title against unbeaten Thai fighter Satanmuanglek CP Freshmart (11-0, 5), aka Tanawat Nakoon, on June 19th and we may hear more about these plans around there.
Tomorrow we'll see Wanheng Menayothin (52-0, 18) [วันเฮง ไก่ย่างห้าดาวยิม] attempt to make his 11th defense of the WBC Minimumweight title, as he takes on former WBO king Tatsuya Fukuhara (21-6-6, 7) [福原 辰弥], in what will be the second bout between the two men.
Today, ahead of their bout, the two men took part in their weigh in, and both men made the 105lb limit at their first attempt.
The unbeaten champion was just under the limit, at 104.7lbs for the contest, whilst the challenger was bang on the 105lb limit for the bout.
As well as making weight, both fighters also passed their physicals and seemed in great condition for the bout.
When the two men first met, back in 2017, Wanheng took a clear decision, with scores of 118-110, 117-113 and 116-112, though we had the bout much, much closer. Wanheng will again enter the bout as the favourite, though it's clear that Fukuhara won't have travelled to just lose to the unbeaten Thai champion, and we're expecting a very hotly contested bout here.
Wanheng and Fukuhara battle again for WBC crown
(Image courtesy of Petchyindee Gym)
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