One of the weirdest things about recent US shows is the lack of fans in attendance. Whilst the reason for no fans is ab obvious one it's made the shows seem a bit odd, despite the attempts of using the "Hear me Cheer" system, which is frankly just odd.
Thankfully it seems that crowds at fights are likely to begin happening on a regular basis from August in Japan, and potentially earlier in other places.
Despite crowds not being a regular thing in Japan until August it does appear that some events may have some fans attending before then, albeit on a case by case, show by show basis with very limited numbers allowed to attend.
One of first shows that does appear set to have fans at the venue is the July 26th bout for the Japanese Light Flyweight title, which will see Masamichi Yabuki (10-3, 10) [佐藤政道] taking on Tsuyoshi Sato (10-1-1, 5) [佐藤剛].
The event has already sold some tickets and has been told it can only run with 50% capacity. It will also have other measures to help limit the risk of potential infections at the venue.
Whilst this isn't out and out massive news, it will be the first Japanese title fight fight to feature fans upon the sports return, and is another step towards boxing resuming a somewhat normal service in the country, which has had no boxing at all since February. The bodies for the sport in Japan do seem to have taken the risks seriously and appear to have put a lot of planning in place to get the sport back up and running with out risking the health and safety of fighters, and fans.
A few days ago Yuto Takahashi (11-4, 5) [高橋悠斗] announced his retirement from the sport, despite being the reigning Japanese Light Flyweight champion. Prior to his decision to retire he had been scheduled to make a mandatory defense of the title against the big punching Masamichi Yabuki (10-3, 10) [佐藤政道], as part of the 2020 Champion Carnival. That bout had, sadly, been re-arranged a couple of times due to the on going global situation and it appears that the uncertainty had been part of Takahashi's decision to retire.
Today it was announced that Yabuki will still be fighting for the title, with his new opponent being named as Tsuyoshi Sato (10-1-1, 5) [佐藤剛], with the two clashing for the vacant title on July 26th at the Aioi Hall.
The hard hitting Yabuki earned his title shot last year, when he topped Rikito Shiba in a Japanese eliminator, scoring his third win of 2019. Although that was his first bout as a fully fledged Light Flyweight, he looked very impressive and carried his brutal power down.
Sato on the other hand has won 9 in a row after starting his career 1-1-1. He's an aggressive little warrior who marches forward, lets his hands go and makes for fun fights, but this is a big step up for him and the first time he will be facing a legitimate puncher.
At the moment the bout is still subject to change, but given the July date it does seem likely this will be taking place when scheduled, as long as Japan can get on top of the growing situation affecting th country.
Earlier today Korakuen Hall played host to a small, yet notable, card from Flash Akabane. The show wasn't one that got much attention, but did feature notable fighters.
The main event saw the colourful and charismatic Zirolian Riku (10-3, 9) [高橋陸] take his first decision win, as he out pointed Ikemen Atsushi (7-5-2, 2) [鈴木淳] over 8 rounds in a Super Featherweight bout.
Riku, who came to the ring dressed as Santa, was left cut and and bang up after the bout, with a bloodied nose and a nasty cut on his left eye brow, but was the boss through out the contest. Atsushi had moments, but they were few and far between and he was deducted a point late on for holding.
After the bout Riku stated that he was hoping to fight a domestically ranked fighter in the new year.
Talking about ranked fighters the chief support bout saw Japanese and WBO Asia Pacific ranked Light Flyweights clash in a more competitive contest.
This contest saw exciting youngster Tsuyoshi Sato (10-1-1, 5) [佐藤剛] battle 2-time Japanese challenger Masashi Tada (13-7-3, 8) [多田雅], and take a well earned win.
Sato had been on a roll since winning the 2017 Rookie of the Year, going 4-0 (3) since then and hadn't really lost a round in his last 5 bouts. Here though he was tested and had to bit down as Tada's toughness and experience saw the youngster being asked serious question. This was war, with both taking one to land one, but in the end Sato's youth, work rate and power were the difference, helping him to a unanimous decision win.
This was the test Sato needed before a potential bout in 2020, and we'll be honest we are really looking forward to what he'll do next year.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Earlier today we were informed that the all action Tsuyoshi Sato (9-1-1, 5) [佐藤剛] would be back in action on December 11th, as part of the Over Heat Boxers Night 92.
The incredibly fun to watch Sato was supposed to fight for the Japanese Youth Light Flyweight title in July before suffering an injury, scuppering that planned fight with Rikito Shiba (4-0, 2) [芝力人]. The injured has been responsible for keeping him out of the ring, but it is great to see his return has now got a date.
The 22 year old Sato, who turns 23 on December 16th, will be up against former 2-time Japanese challenger Masashi Tada (13-6-3, 8) [多田雅], in what is a very good step up in class.
Although we did want to see Sato Vs Shiba, this is not a bad bout at all, especially given that Tada is a legitimately notable domestic level fighter, ranked #6 by the JBC at Light Flyweight and fought for the Japanese title back in May.
This bout will be the show's chief support bout, with the main event being a contest between Zirolian Riku (9-3, 9) [高橋陸] and Ikemen Atsushi (7-4-2, 2) [鈴木淳], in what could be a very explosive fight thanks to the power of Riku.
Earlier this month we saw a press conference to announce that former WBO Super Featherweight champion Masayuki Ito (25-2-1, 13) [伊藤 雅雪] would be in action on September 13th as part of an A-Sign card. Ito's bout was announced as the main event of the with a great a supporting bout between Reiya Abe (19-2-1, 9) [阿部 麗也] and Ryo Sagawa (7-1, 4) [佐川遼] for the Japanese Featherweight title also confirmed for the show.
Other than those two bouts there was very little known about the show, though today it appears that changed with two bouts being announced by the A-sign blog.
The less interesting of the two, if we can say that, is a Japanese title eliminator at 122lbs between former champion Ryoichi Tamura (12-4-1, 6) [田村 亮一] and the always entertaining Gakuya Furuhashi (25-8-1, 14) [古橋大輔]. Despite being the "lesser" of the two bouts announced today this should be a really good bout between two men who enjoy a tear up, lack a little but of thunder on their punches, but set aggressive work rate and look to make wars.
For Tamura the bout will be his first since losing the belt in his second bout with Yusaku Kuga, in what was one of the best Japanese bouts of 2019. Tamura, who is promoted by Hajime No Ippo creator George Morikawa, will be looking to end his year on a high after winning, and losing, the Japanese title this year. For Furuhashi on the other hand the bout will see him looking to earn his third shot at the title, following a draw with Yukinori Oguni in 2014 and a TKO10 loss to Yasutaka Ishimoto in 2016.
Earlier this months Tsuyoshi Sato (9-1-1, 5) [佐藤剛] was forced to pull out of a Japanese Youth Light Flyweight title bout against Rikito Shiba (3-0, 2) [芝力人], in what was really unfortunate news and scuppered what had looked like a genuinely amazing bout. Thankfully things have fallen into place for Shiba to now be matched with Shisui Kawabata (2-0, 2) [川端嗣穂], in an excellent match up, even if we did prefer the Sato one.
For both Shiba and Kawabata this is a huge risk, especially this early in their careers, but for the two former amateur standouts this is a fantastic fight to put one on the fast track, and to allow the other a chance to gather themselves and build going forward. Neither man can be written off with a loss this earlier, especially not to the other guy, and this is the sort of amazing match up the Youth titles can give us, and further shows how Japan is so much different to many countries in terms of how they bring young fighters through. We would never see two notable young amateurs with the pedigree these two have facing off this early in their careers.
We're expecting Ito's opponent to be announced in the coming weeks and whilst we don't expect someone too tough it's still going to be great to see Ito back in action in Tokyo, and we expect he will get a really warm welcome back at Korakuen Hall in his first bout since losing the WBO world title to Jamel Herring.
(Image courtesy of A-Sign Boxing)
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