Earlier this week the Watanabe Gym announced that their gym had been fully disinfected, and cleaned following a break out of Covid19 at the gym. Sadly whilst is disinfected it isn't yet re-opened, and cases relating to the gym have continued mount, with several cases since that of WBA Light Flyweight "Super" champion Hiroto Kyoguchi (14-0, 9) [京口 紘人], who had to cancel a scheduled world title fight.
Last week the gym announced that their plan was to reopen on November 16th. It still seems like that is the plan, but with an on going investigation in to how Kyoguchi got infected there is a chance the gym will end up needing to change those plans.
Earlier this month we reported that there would be a Japanese Minimumweight title bout between #1 ranked Masataka Taniguchi (12-3, 7) [谷口将隆] and the #3 ranked contender Hizuki Saso (12-6-2, 4) [佐宗 緋月]. We also mentioned how that bout would be taking place on December 3rd at Korakuen Hall.
Today it was confirmed that that bout will be one of two of the show, with a supporting bout announced as being a female OPBF title bout at 105lbs between defending champion Sana Hazuki (8-4-1, 2) [葉月さな] and former Japanese national champion Mizuki Chimoto (2-0, 1) [千本瑞規].
For Hazuki, who won the belt in in November with a win over Eruka Hiromoto, this will be her first defense and at 36 years old who really can't afford a loss if she intends to remain in the title mix. As for Chimoto the bout is the next step forward after a very short reign as the Japanese national champion. She was a former amateur standout before turning professional and will, if she wins the OPBF title, likely be fast tracked to a world title fight.
Sadly no other bouts for this card have been confirmed yet, but with the show already being a title double header it's already worthy of some serious interest for those in Tokyo in early December.
The ever useful Watanabe Gym fight scheduled has been a valuable source of information regarding future bouts in recent weeks. One of the more notable recent additions is the next bout of talented Shu Utsuki (6-0, 5) [宇津木秀] and female hopeful Kanako Taniyama (2-1-1, 1) [谷山佳菜子], who are now both pencilled in for a Korakuen Hall show on October 30th.
Utsuki's opponent is set to be Takayuki Sakai (9-2-2, 6) [酒井 孝之], in what looks a pretty decent bout given that Utsuki will have been out of the ring for exactly 12 months, the long period of in activity in his career. The hope had been for him to fight for a title in 2020, though that's now clearly looking like an impossibility.
Utsuki is very highly touted, and is seen as one of the many promising prospects at the Watanabe gym. He's shown himself to be very heavy handed, technically solid and has scored 4 stoppages in a row, including wins over Da Xu, Jerry Castroverde and Omrri Bolivar.
Sakai on the other hand has been a professional since 2015 and had been riding an 8 fight unbeaten streak until being stopped in 4 rounds by Yuichiro Kasuya last August. Although not tipped as a star he's certainly a capable fighter and scored a good win over Pharanpetch Tor Buamas in December 2018.
As for Taniyama her opponent will be Rena Koizumi (3-2, 2) [小泉 礼奈].
Taniyama turned professional in 2018 with some expectations on her shoulders after a success amateur career. After winning her first two professional bouts she has failed to win either of her last two, having a controversial and a razor thin technical decision loss, both to Tomoko Okuda.
Koizumi on the other hand is riding a 2 fight winning streak at the moment, but will be regarded as the under-dog here.
As with all bouts right now, things are subject to change, and these may end up being cancelled, but it is something to look forward to, with Utsuki in particular being one to watch.
Although not many notable bouts form Japan have been officially announced in recent days a lot has leaked out from one place or another, with several promoters listing some of their fighters in various bouts.
One of the many interesting bouts to be revealed in the manner is an 8 rounder set to take place between Reiya Abe (19-3-1, 9) [阿部麗也] and the unbeaten Ren Sasaki (10-0, 6) [佐々木蓮].
Watanabe have this bout slated for an October 13th bout is scheduled for an October 13th date at Korakuen Hall.
It's fair to say that 2019 is a year that Abe would like want to forget. The KG Yamato gym fighter went 1-1-1 over the year with a draw in a Japanese Featherweight title bout against Taiki Minamoto and a loss later in the year to Ryo Sagawa, for the then vacant Japanese Featherweight title.
Sasaki on the other hand is coming in to this bout on the back of a tournament win, in the "Knock Out Dynamite prize match tournament", which he won due to Yuki Yamauchi being unable to compete in the final.
Although not a massive bout, by any stretch, this is an excellent domestic match up. It's one that is a real must win for Abe, given how last year went, and a huge step up in class for Sasaki. A wonderful match up and something Japanese fans should be excited about for October.
Of course it needs to be noted that all bouts, world wide right now, are subject to change given the global situation, and this bout may vanish due to that, though fingers crossed things do get better, not worse, and that we'll actually have fans back in venues by October.
Back on May 11th we brought you the news that the Watanabe Gym had set up a crowd funding campaign , titled "Save the Watanabe Boxing Gym" with real fears that the long established gym was going to potential need to close down, permanently. When we reported that the gym had hit 79% of it's target, of 6,000,000JPY.
Today the campaign has managed to hit the target, with the help of more than 400 fans.
Although the gym will remain closed for now the plan seems to be for Watanabe to promote a show in August. At the moment details o that card haven't been planned, but there is light at the end of the tunnel for the Gym.
Originally, before the global situation became what it has been, the plan had been for WBA Light Flyweight "Super" champion Hiroto Kyoguchi (14-0, 9) [京口 紘人] to defend his title against Indonesian challenger Andika Sabu (17-0, 8) in May. It's unclear if that bout will now occur in August but it is great to see that the gym has hit it's target and fighters have been given some money out of the pledges, to tide them over for the short term.
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