Back in June we reported that Kenji Fujita [藤田健児], Subaru Murata [村田昴], Junya Shimada [嶋田淳也] and Kota Kaneko [金子虎旦] had all left the amateur ranks and signed up with Teiken, with the plan being for all 4 men to turn professional.
Sadly due to the on going situation the 4 men were forced to wait until today to take part in their pro-tests. Delaying the hope of an early debut after signing with the Japanese promotional power house.
The 4 men all passed their B License tests today and all intend to debut before the end of 2020.
Following their tests today all 4 men gave some comments to the media.
Fujita, who is probably the most notably of the foursome, was humble in his comments, explaining that he was relieved to have passed his test, but also sounded confident of rapidly rising through the ranks. That rising through the ranks should be no surprise however, as he was a very experienced amateur fighter, winning multiple domestic championships and running up an incredible amateur record of 153-21.
Murata also stated that he was glad he passed, and it seemed like his goal was to continue having success. He spoke becoming a fighter who can make a mark at Bantamweight and it seems clear that he wants to follow in a long line of top Japanese fighters at 118lbs.
Shimada explained that he's glad to finally be at the starting line of his professional career, and that he has long dreamed of being a world champion. He explained that he doesn't yet feel that he's had a real fight, and it seemed clear that he was rearing to go and get his professional debut under his belt.
Kaneko explained that he has also dreamed of being a professional fighter, and wanted to thank those who have supported him, and that continue to support him.
With Teiken having several more shows set this year the hope will be for all 4 men to get their debuts out of the way this year before progressing in 2021. The hope will be that all 4 men will make a big mark on the sport, and help rebuild the Teiken stable, which has struggled in recent years due to big retirements of the likes of Shinsuke Yamanaka and Takashi Miura.
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
Last week we reported that former 3-weight world champion Jorge Linares (47-5, 29) had a positive result show up on a PCR test. As a result of Linares's test result the Teiken Gym was forced to close temporarily. Since then all of the Teiken fighters, and trainers, have been tested and shown negative results in PCR tests, however the gym is still not open, and hasn't been given permission to reopen from the public health centre.
Had the gym only been closed for a few days, as some hoped, the knock on from the closure would have been very limited. It would seen a bout that was supposed to take today place being cancelled, which it was last week, and Linares bout set for August 28th being cancelled. That would pretty much have been it.
Sadly though with the gym still being closed it has now had wider knock on issues. The most obvious of those relate to the fighters who had been preparing for a September 5th date, for a show at Korakuen Hall which was set to be televised live on G+. With fighters unable to train at the gym at the moment, the September 5th date has officially been scrapped today. Instead the show will be delayed until October 2nd, which may have other knock on issues relating to TV.
The original date for the fight sat on a TV slow reserved for a live boxing broadcast with G+ as part of their monthly Dynamic Glove series. That series shows a live boxing event on the first Saturday of every month, typically from Korakuen Hall. The new days falls on a Friday which may mean that the event misses out on live TV, though this yet to be confirmed. If live TV is lacking the best we can hope for is a tape delay broadcast.
The reason the event can't take the set aside October TV slot, on the first Saturday of the month, is that there is already a show set for that date, with Japanese Light Middleweight champion Hironobu Matsunaga (16-1, 10) [松永 宏信] defending his belt against Yuto Shimizu (14-4-2, 5) [清水優人] on October 3rd.
In a perfect world both events would get live TV coverage, though we suspect that that's unlikely to happen. It should be noted that the event is still being marketed as a Dynamic Glove show, suggesting that the event will still get TV exposure, though it's unclear if it will be tape delay or live broadcast.
What makes this even bigger news is that the September 5th date was set to be the first live televised event in Japan since boxing restarted there. They have had some tape delay broadcasts and have had some live streamed events, but no live televised boxing has taken place in the country since February.
We do, fully understand the reason for the delay, and I think everyone else does as well. But it's certainly been a few frustrating months for some of the fighters on this show. That includes Kenichi Ogawa (24-1-1-1, 18) [尾川 堅一], who has now had 3 different dates fall apart this year.
From what we under-stand, though again it's yet to be confirmed, the 6 bouts that were scheduled for September 5th will all still take place on the new date. However we do know that the card, for definite, still includes Ogawa's bout with the world ranked foe Kazuhiro Nishitani (21-4-1, 12) [西谷和宏] and Shokichi Iwata's (4-0, 3) [岩田翔吉] bout with Ryo Narizuka (9-9-1) [成塚亮].
Once we know more about the bout line up and the TV situation we'll report that.
Last week Teiken announced that former 3-weight world champion Jorge Linares (47-5, 29) had a positive result show up on a PCR test. There was worries that the situation could end similar to the Osakan Gym cluster, which saw more than 15 individual testing positive including fighters, trainers and gym owner.
Today Teiken announced that everyone at the gym has been tested yesterday, including all the fighters and all the trainers, with everyone returning a negative result earlier today.
This is great news for the gym, but things still aren't perfect and the gym still hasn't been given permission to re-open, with the Public Health Center still not allowing them to open the doors, yet.
The hope is, obviously, for the gym to be given permission to be open shortly so fighters can continue their preparation for upcoming bouts, including the bouts set for a September 5th "Dynamic Glove" show.
Among those who tested negative were Kenichi Ogawa (24-1-1-1, 18) [尾川 堅一], who announced his negative test on social media. His name is particularly notable as he will be main eventing the September show and will be facing world ranked foe Kazuhiro Nishitani (21-4-1, 12) [西谷和宏].
The September 5th show is a major one for Japanese boxing as it will be the first live televised card since the sport resumed in the country in July. In fact it will be the first nationally televised card in the country since February 1st! The show will have heightened focus as G+ have had several other shows fall through for recent months, including the planned August 21st WBO Flyweight title bout between Junto Nakatani (20-0, 15) [中谷 潤人] and Giemel Magramo (24-1, 20), which was indefinitely postponed when Magramo was unable to travel to Japan, due to the on-going situation.
Earlier today Teiken announced that Venezuelan fighter Jorge Linares (47-5, 29) has tested positive in regards to the "on going global situation".
The fighter, who is scheduled to fight on August 28th, had a PCR test yesterday with the result coming back today. He wasn't showing any symptoms, and doctors have advised that he takes the next 10 days to rest, before being given another test.
This is huge news for Linares, and for his upcoming bout with Javier Fortuna (35-2-1-2, 24) which was one of the big bouts for boxing's return to DAZN. But also much, much bigger news for Japanese boxing.
The positive test is the first in Japan where a boxer has had their name made public, it's the first case in a boxing gym in Tokyo, and it's caused the Teiken gym to be closed until it's been cleared to re-open by the local public health center.
This could, essentially, see Teiken fighters having their bouts cancelled due to an inability to train. This could mean the September 5th show at Korakuen Hall, which was set to be the first live televised Japanese show since the sports return, could, potentially, end up being cancelled. This is speculation at the moment, but if is the gym is closed for a week or two, it likely becomes a genuine reality.
We want to wish Linares a speedy and safe recovery.
After this went live a bout planned for August 13th featuring Teiken fighter Muentaka Kihara (3-2-1, 1) [木原宗孝] was cancelled. He's the only Teiken fighter scheduled to fight in Japan in August.
It feels like it's been weeks since we had stuff to be legitimately excited about, but today Teiken have out done themselves, announce the signing of 4 top Japanese amateurs who have announced they will be turning professional will the very well established Tokyo outfit.
The four men are Kenji Fujita [藤田健児], Subaru Murata [村田昴], Junya Shimada [嶋田淳也] and Kota Kaneko [金子虎旦]. Whilst some of those names will be familiar to fans of international amateur boxing others might not be, so in a minute we'll take a quick look at all 4 men, though what is clear by the signings is that Teiken are strengthening their ranks once again. The gym has taken the cream of the crop from those who failed to make it to the Olympic qualifying events, and with Tokyo 2020 now being delayed a year there's a real chance that these men may find themselves racing through the ranks quickly.
Fujita is probably the more well known of the 4 men. He is currently 26 years old and ran up a frankly stunning amateur record of 153-21 (40), winning 3 All Japan Championships, an Asian Championships bronze medal, in 2013, and competed at the World Championships. Back in November he announced he was retiring from amateur boxing, after 10 years in the sport, but left it unclear on what he would be doing. His decision to turn professional however wasn't much of a surprise and it was clear promoters would be very interested in luring him over to the paid ranks.
Of course Fujita isn't the only notable name from the new signings and Subaru Murata was also a very highly sought after fighter. Murata, who is now 23, ran up a 68-12 amateur record, took a bronze medal in the 2014 Youth Olympics, won an All Japan title and a National Sports Festival. In a comment on Teiken's website he spoke about wanting to unify the 4 Bantamweights titles and seemed to be intent on making a buzz on his debut. He's not quite the established talent of Fujita, but is going to be someone to keep a very close eye on.
The 22 year old Shimada went 58-23 in the amateurs, coming third in successive National Athletic events as a Lightweight. He appears to be turning professional at Featherweight and is probably the least well known of the 4 men. Despite that he does have international experience, and from what we under-stand he participated at the 2018 World University Championships in Russia. We see him as the dark horse of the group but given his age and extensive amateur experience we wouldn't be surprised by him being moved aggressively over the next few years.
Kaneko, who is also 22, is also turning professional at Featherweight after compiling an excellent 56-13 amateur record. His credentials aren't as impressive as the rest of the group. His results are a bit harder to find though interestingly he dd battle Murata as an amateur in 2018, losing to his new stablemate in the Japanese National Championships and that could lead to a rather fun but friendly rivalry between the two new gym mates.
At the moment it's unclear when the pro-tests for the 4 will take place, but it's obvious that all 4 men should be getting B licenses without any issue. With that said it's also unclear when any of the 4 men will debut but the expectation is that both Fujita and Murata will be fast tracked.
News! We try and give you the most interesting news stories from the Asian boxing world!