Over the last few days we've seen a lot of Japanese title bouts being revealed as part of the Champion Carnival. Earlier today those bouts were set in stone as the Champion Carnival presentation took place, confirming the contests we'd reported and getting all the champions and challengers in one event.
The first of the bouts will take place on February 1st at the Dynamic Glove show, and will see Japanese Welterweight champion Yuki Nagano (17-2, 13) [永野祐樹] defending his title against mandatory challenger Keita Obara (22-4-1, 20) [小原 佳太]. This bout has been known about for weeks and is an exciting, and potentially very explosive, way to kick off the Champion Vs Challenger series. This bout will be at Korakuen Hall, where most of the title bouts will actually take place.
The second bout will take on February 13th, when Lightweight champion Shuichiro Yoshino (11-0, 9) [吉野 修一郎] defends his belt against Izuki Tomioka (7-2-1, 2) [富岡樹]. This is expected to bee a match up showing a lot of skills, from both men, though the power and physical edges with the champion does make him the favourite. This is another bout at Korakuen Hall.
It's then almost a month later until we get the next bout in the series. That'll be on March 7th, on the March Dynamic Glove, when Light Middleweight champion Hironobu Matsunaga (16-1, 10) [松永 宏信] defends his belt against Yuto Shimizu (14-4-2, 5) [清水優人] in a potentially enthralling bout. The champion will be seeking his second defense whilst Shimizu will be getting his first title fight. This will be the third successive bout at Tokyo's Korakuen Hall.
Just one day later, March 8th, we get the Flyweight bout with the heavy handed Seigo Yuri Akui (14-2-1, 10) [阿久井政悟] defending his title against Seiya Fujikita (13-4, 6) [藤北誠也]. Given Akui's style this should be an explosive bout, and one to look forward to. This was announced way back at the start of the year and will take place at the Aeon Mall mall in Okayama City, the first of the bouts outside of Tokyo.
Just a week later, March 15th, action turns to the Aioi Hall in Kariya as Light Flyweight champion Yuto Takahashi (11-4, 5) [高橋悠斗] defends against hard hitting challenger Masamichi Yabuki (10-3, 10) [佐藤政道]. This will be the first title defnense for Takahashi, and will see him entering enemy territory.
The following day, March 16th, Light Welterweight champion Koki Inoue (15-0, 12) [浩樹井上] will take on Daishi Nagata (14-2-1, 5) [永田大士] in the main event of a card at Korakuen Hall from Ohashi. This is one of the few shows where under-card details have been revealed, and it makes for a very decent looking card overall.
After a slew of fights in March we then have a bit of a break before returning on April 9th for a double header at Korakuen Hall. One of the bouts here will see Bantamweight champion Yusuke Suzuki (11-3, 7) [鈴木悠介] make his first defense, as he goes up against Kyosuke Sawada (14-2-1, 6) [澤田京介] in a rematch of a bout both men had back in 2013. The other bout on this card will see Featherweight champion Ryo Sagawa (9-1, 4) [佐川遼] make his second defense as he takes on Hinata Maruta (10-1-1, 8) [丸田陽七太], in what we feel is the standout bout from this year's Carnival.
On April 28th Super Bantamweight champion Yusaku Kuga (19-4-1, 13) [久我勇作] will defend his title against Gakuya Furuhashi (26-8-1, 14) [古橋大輔]. This bout will be Kuga's first defense since reclaiming the title last year and will be Furuhashi's third shot, at a third different champion. This bout is also set to be at Korakuen Hall.
Interestingly the Super Featherweight bout between hard hitting champion Kosuke Saka (20-5, 17) [坂晃典] and teak tough challenger Takuya Watanabe (37-9-1, 21) [渡邉卓也] is pencilled in for April in Osaka, though no date or specific venue was confirmed at today's event.
On May 16th we'll see the Super Flyweight title bout as defending champion Kenta Nakagawa (18-3-1, 12) [中川 健太] takes on Yuta Matsuo (15-4-2, 8) [松尾雄太] at the Sumida City Gymnasium in Tokyo.
No those who are eagle eyed will be aware there were some division's missing.
Firstly the Minimumweight bout hasn't yet been decided. The title is currently vacant, after Norihito Tanaka (19-7, 10) [田中教仁] returned the belt earlier this year. What we do know is that Masataka Taniguchi (12-3, 7) [谷口 将隆] will be involved in the title bout, though there is currently no opponent, date or venue for the bout.
The Middleweight title bout will see the hard hitting Kazuto Takesako (11-0-1, 11) [竹迫司登] defending his belt against Riku Kunimoto (4-0, 2) [国本陸] but this bout has no date or location set. This bout is likely to be scheduled following Takesako's bout this coming weekend against OPBF champion Shinobu Charlie Hosokawa (12-4-1, 11) [細川チャーリー忍].
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
At the end of 2019 we saw WBO Asia Pacific Super Bantamweight title bout between Yusaku Kuga (19-4-1, 13) [久我勇作] and Jhunriel Ramonal (17-8-6, 10). The result of that bout was an opening round win for Ramonal, who denied Kuga a chance of becoming a double champion.
Despite that loss Kuga remained the Japanese Super Bantamweight champion and today we were informed his next defense was for April 28th as part of this year's Champion Carnival.
The heavy handed Kuga will be making his second defense of the title, which he now holds for the second time, as he takes on mandatory challenger Gakuya Furuhashi (26-8-1, 14) [古橋大輔], with the bout pencilled to take place at Korakuen Hall.
Kuga, from the Watanabe Gym, became a 2-time champion last May, when he beat Ryoichi Tamura in a 10 round barn burner to reclaim the title. He made his first defense in September, when he took out Yosuke Fujihara in just 95 seconds. Then he ended the year with the loss to Ramonal.
As for Furuhashi he is riding an 8 fight winning streak since a 2016 loss in a Japanese title fight to Yasutaka Ishimoto. He earned this title shot with a win in September over Ryoichi Tamura to secure his third shot at the title.
At the moment there are no other bouts for this show have been reported, though it seems likely that there would be at least 1 other notable bout on the show, as well as the typical Japanese under-card of novices and prospects.
On New Year's Eve the Ota City General Gymnasium played host to a show with a staggering 6 title bouts on it. Sadly only two of those were shown live on Japanese channel TBS.
That meant that we never got the chance to see the WBO Asia Pacific Minimumweight title fight, featuring unbeaten champion Ginjiro Shigeoka (5-0, 4) [重岡銀次朗] defending against former world title challenger Rey Loreto (25-15, 17), or the WBO female Super Flyweight title bout, between Miyo Yoshida (14-1) [吉田 実代] and Chinese challenger Li Ping Shi (5-3, 2).
Thankfully we now know when those bouts will be televised, with TBS set to air them in just over a week's team on a tape delay basis as part of their semi-regular Guts Fighting series.
From the TBS website the bouts will air on January 20th at 2:05, though from a Japanese TV guide it appears the bout will actually be shown on the 21st at 2:05. It's unclear if they will be shown in full, though given how long they went it wouldn't be a surprise to see both aired in an unedited form during a 1 hour broadcast slot.
Although they'll have taken 3 weeks to be aired, we suspect the wait will be worth it, with the fan cam footage of Shigeoka's making it seem like that was a very fun fight.
At the moment it's unclear whether TBS plan to air the WBO Asia Pacific Super Bantamweight title bout between Yusaku Kuga (19-4-1, 13) [久我勇作] and Filipino fighter Jhunriel Ramonal (17-8-6, 10), though given how short that was it would be no surprise to see them slip it on to this broadcast.
Coming in to 2019 Filipino puncher Jhunriel Ramonal (17-8-6, 10) had no career momentum. He had fought just once in the previous 4 years, and even that was just a draw in 2018. He ends the year, however, with a new found reputation as a Japanese killer after scoring a second huge win in Japan, and has instantly put himself in the mix for a world title fight!
Back in October Ramonal stopped former world title challenger Shingo Wake, taking out Wake in brutal fashion at the end of round 3. Today he returned to Japan and blew out Japanese Super Bantamweight champion Yusaku Kuga (19-4-1, 13) [久我勇作], inside a round, to claim the vacant WBO Asia Pacific Super Bantamweight title.
From the off both men were letting heavy leather go. Neither seemed to feel like they were in need of their defense. That was a dangerous gameplan and a huge, sweeping right hand from Ramonal dropped Kuga. Kuga beat the count but failed to prove he was in a fit state to continue, and the referee waved off the bout.
The stoppage came at 1:24 of round 1.
Given that Ramonal seemingly walked away from the sport in 2014, following a 4 fight stretch that saw him lose 3 of his previous 4, his 2019 has been massive and this is a second massive upset win over a world ranked fighter this year! Although not the best boxer, he's a monster puncher, and has proven his win over Wake wasn't a fluke.
As for Kuga this will be a hard loss to rebuild from. He had managed to put a 2018 loss to Wake behind him, and reclaimed the Japanese national title, but with 2 stoppage losses in 5 bouts it's going to leave the Watanabe man with a lot of question marks over his durability and chin.
(Photo Credit - A. McGovern)
One of 6 title fights tomorrow will see Japanese Super Bantamweight champion Yusaku Kuga (19-3-1, 13) [久我勇作] take on hard hitting Filipino fighter Jhunriel Ramonal (16-8-6, 9) in a bout for the vacant WBO Asia Pacific Super Bantamweight title.
Today the two men weighted in for their bout, and both made the 122lb limit.
On the scales Kuga made the limit dead on, and quickly took on fluids afterwards. Although he looked alright on the scales he has always looked a bit tight around the face at weighs in, and is clearly pushing himself to make the Super Bantamweight limit.
After taking on fluids Kuga spoke about his plan, to defeat Ramanol without letting the Filipino get into the bout, and added that he wanted to fight at the in a world title fight at the Ota City General Gymnasium, where this bout takes place, one day.
Ramonal had no such issues with liquids and made the weight with room to spare. The rugged Filipino was 121.5lbs on the scales and stated that he had seen video of Kuga and would do his best to win.
Sadly this bout won't be available to watch, unless TBS put it up on a future Guts Fighting broadcast, though for fans in the venue it should be a bit of a shoot out, between two crude but hard hitting fighters.
Related - Kuga and Ramonal clash for WBO Asia Pacific crown!
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
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