Throughout this past week Japanese fight fans have been getting excited about the scheduled WBO Minimumweight title bout, putting champion Masataka Taniguchi (15-3, 10) [谷口将隆] against hard hitting challenger Kai Ishizawa (10-1, 9) [石澤開] in what was set to be Taniguchi’s first defense since he winning the title late last year, stopping Wilfredo Mendez. The bout was a much anticipated one, and wasn’t just set to be Taniguchi’s maiden defense, but also a great chance to Ishizawa to avenge his first, and so far only, professional defeat.
Sadly however today saw a massive wrench thrown into the bout that hasn’t cancelled it, yet, but does leave the bout hanging by a thread after a massive mishap on the scales this morning.
The champion had no issues at all making the 105lb limit, coming in bang the divisional limit and looking strong in the process. The same could not be said for Ishizawa.
On the scales the challenger came in at a ridiculous 110.4lbs, well over not just the Minimumweight limit but also the Light Flyweight limit. He was then given 2 hours to shift the weight, and could only manage to lose a small amount, coming in at 110lbs on his second attempt at the weight. Missing by so much could have seen the bout cancelled, but instead the bout is still on, albeit on certain conditions, and certainly not for the title.
The bout will be cancelled all together if Ishizawa weighs more than 111.5lbs tomorrow in a weigh in at the JBC’s office in Tokyo at 17:30. If he comes in on or under the limit the bout will go ahead as a non-title bout, which would be better than the bout being scrapped. If however he misses weight the bout will be cancelled.
Interestingly Taniguchi’s team revealed that their man had originally been threatening to walk away from the bout if Ishizawa failed to lose 1KG today, with Ishizawa then only able to lose 200G, the new weight limit was set for tomorrow.
It’s been reported that Ishizawa struggled to make weight due to illness, stating "I got sick yesterday morning and couldn't move. I tried to do training again at night, but I couldn't do much and the result was like this." Given that there’s also a chance that Ishizawa flat out pulls out of the bout over-night. Rather astonishingly he becomes the first Japanese world title challenger to fail to make weight, and this is only the second time a Japanese fighter has ever missed weight for a world title fight, with the other being Daigo Higa (17-2-1, 17) [比 嘉 大吾] in 2018.
Notably if the bout does go ahead and Ishizawa wins, the WBO rules dictate that the title will become vacant.
Related - Taniguchi seeks first WBO title defense in rematch against Ishizawa!
Tomorrow the Saitama Super Arena will see WBO Flyweight champion Junto Nakatani (22-0, 17) [中谷 潤人] make his second defense, as he takes on exciting challenger Ryota Yamauchi (8-1, 7) [山内涼太] in a mouth watering all-Japanese Flyweight clash. For Nakatani the bout is a great chance to have something of a homecoming defense after his 2021 victory over Angel Acosta, in the US whilst it's also a chance for the fan friendly Yamauchi to announce himself on the global stage.
Today, ahead of their bout, the two men took part in their weigh in and both men made the 112lb limit with absolutely no issues at all.
Nakatani, who is incredibly tall for a Flyweight and looked to be a weight division bigger than Yamauchi, was 111.5lbs and looked like a man who could remain at Flyweight for the next few years, despite talk of him moving up in weight in the near future. He looked strong, comfortable, powerful and in genuinely excellent condition.
Yamauchi on the other hand was bang on the divisional limit of 112lbs and much like the champion looked fantastic on the scales, much like a man who was fighting at his natural weight, with no need to move up in weight or to move down. He was smaller than the champion but that says more about the freakish size of Nakatani, rather than Yamauchi being a small fighter at 112lbs.
Related - Nakatani seeks second defense as he takes on aggressive Yamauchi!
Yesterday the excellent Carlos Toro reported that the WBO had ordered a rematch between the WBO Super Flyweight champion Kazuto Ioka (28-2, 15) [井岡一翔] and former champion Donnie Nietes (43-1-6, 23), and given the two teams 30 days to agree a deal, before ordering purse bids.
Notably these two men fought at the very end of 2018, with Nietes taking a close, and debated, decision over Ioka in Macau. Sadly Nietes then made some poor decisions, vacating the title, rather than using it to secure unifications bouts, and spent more than 2 years away from the ring. Losing all the momentum he had from that victory. Since his win he has fought twice, going 1-0-1, but really hasn't had a major bout in his return, and now aged 39 it's hard to imagine him beating Ioka again.
As for Ioka he bounced back from the loss to Nietes, by winning the title against Aston Palicte in 2019, and has since defended it 4 times. Amazingly this will be his 4th mandatory since winning the belt, with his his only voluntary being the hastily arranged clash with Ryoji Fukunaga last December, when a planned unification bout with Jerwin Ancajas was scrapped due to Covid regulations in Japan.
Notably there could be a spanner in the works of the WBO's order here, as there has been rumours of recent weeks that there are plans of a massive bout between Ioka and Nicaraguan great Roman Gonzalez (51-3, 41), with that bout rumoured to be in the works for the Summer. Although clearly the men would like to have the WBO title on the line for that contest, there is a chance they would pass up the title, if needed to secure what would be a legacy defining contest for both men. Or the wBO may allow the bout, with the winner to face Nietes, which seems reasonable given Ioka's already made 3 mandatories in 4 bouts, and Gonzalez's standing in the sport
Last month we reported that WBO Minimumweight champion Masataka Taniguchi (15-3, 10) [谷口将隆] would make his first defense in April, with a scheduled but against Kai Ishizawa (10-1, 9) [石澤開]. Today it was confirmed that, ahead of that bout, Ishizawa had vacated the Japanese Minimumweight title.
The hard hitting Ishizawa had won the title in January, when he defeated Katsuki Mori (9-1, 2) [森 且貴], and explained that coming into the bout with Ishizawa "By returning the title, if I win, I will have a belt in the world, and if I lose, I will not have anything left."
It's now expected that Ginjiro Shigeoka's (6-0, 5) [重岡銀次朗] upcoming bout against Tatsuro Nakashima (11-2-1, 7) [仲島辰郎], which is set to take place on March 27th at the City Gym, in Okinawa, will be for the title that Ishizawa has vacated.
Tomorrow we'll see WBO Super Flyweight champion Kazuto Ioka (27-2, 15) [井岡一翔] defending his title against fellow Japanese fighter Ryoji Fukunaga (15-4, 14) [福永亮次] in the final major bout of 2021. Today, ahead of their bout, the two men took part in a number of formalities.
One of the most notable of those formalities was the weigh in, which saw both men make weight with no issues at all.
Ioka was bang on the limit, at 115lbs whilst Fukunaga was under the limit, with a little bit of room to spare, coming in at 114.8lbs. Interestingly both men looked in good shape, but not sensational shape. Ioka looked like he was carrying just a touch of extra weight whilst Fukunaga looked like he may have drained down a little bit more than he needed to. Neither looked bad, but we've certainly seen both men look better.
There was also a press conference that saw both men talk about the bout, with Ioka explaining that he wanted to deliver an exciting match and that he was nervous, though he seemed alarmingly calm through out the entire event. As for Fukunaga he seemed amazed to be getting a shot at Ioka, who explained that it was "amazing" to fight such a person.
We also saw the two fighters pick their gloves. Both men will be wearing black, with Ioka wearing Everlast and Fukunaga wearing Reyes.
One other thing they both did was go through a number of medical checks. Interestingly these shows Fukunaga having all the physical advantages.
According to the numbers from the physical, the challenger is 5.2cm taller, has a 0.2cm reach advantage, a thicker chest and a thicker neck. Oddly Ioka's pulse rate was 120 BPM which was twice as quick as Fukunaga's, at 57BPM, both had similar body temperatures, though Ioka's was slightly highly higher.
For fans wanting to watch the bout, it will be aired from 18:30 local time on TBS.
Related - Ioka faces Fukunaga to end 2021
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