Way back in July 2019 we saw Japanese Bantamweight Yusuke Suzuki (11-3, 7) [鈴木悠介] go through an hellacious war with Yuta Saito (12-10-3, 9) [齊藤裕太] to take the Japanese Bantamweight title from Saito in a bloody, brutal, hard, tough fight.
Following that loss Saito retired from the sport, choosing to do so very soon after the bout.
Suzuki however had ended 2019 as the Japanese champion and was entering 2020 with the view to defend the belt against mandatory challenger Kyosuke Sawada (14-2-1, 6) [澤田京介], with that bout originally scheduled for April 9th 2020. Sadly though that date was derailed completely by the Covid19 pandemic which put the ice on boxing in Japanese a good chunk of 2020.
No it’s been confirmed that Suzuki Vs Sawada will never happen, with Suzuki announcing his retirement from the sport due to a detached retina, ending his career as the reigning champion.
Suzuki revealed that he had wanted to defend the title but that he had been having problems with his right eye for a while, and they got worse recently in training. Rather than risk his sight he has made the wise decision to hang them up and walk away from in ring competition.
Prior to turning professional Suzuki had been a solid amateur, running up a 54-24 (25) record. He turned professional in 2012 and climbed into the Japanese rankings very early in his career, following a win over Takaaki Ishikawa in early 2014. Sadly however he had to wait until 2019 for a show at the title, and made the most of his chance, dethroning Saito in a genuine brutal bout.
Although best known for his title win Suzuki didn’t have it easy. In his 14 bout professional career he beat solid domestic and regional fighters, like Kyosuke Sawada, Takaaki Ishikawa, Monico Laurente, Akinori Hoshino, Eita Kikuchi and Saito. Whilst coming up short against Yusaku Kuga, Ryoichi Tamura and Jeffrey Francisco.
When asked by Boxmob about his best performance Suzuki stated his title win was his best, and that he was glad to be able to show the title to those who had supported him through his career.
He is now going to set up a company and hopes to be able to use the company to help support fighters in the future.
With Suzuki retiring the title situation does become a little bit of a mess, though the assumption is that Sawada will fight for the vacant title against the next highest available contender. That would, potentially, be either Ikuro Sadatsune (11-4-3, 4) [定常 育郎], who is ranked #2 in the latest rankings, or Kenshin Oshima (7-1-1, 3) [大嶋剣心], who is ranked #3.
Sadly the retirement of Suzuki does bring back the curse of the JBC Bantamweight title, which scuppered a host of events in 2018. This ended up seeing Ryo Akaho [赤穂 亮], vacating due to injury, Suzuki himself being injured, Suguru Muranaka [村中 優] missing weight, Saito being ill after winning the title. Strangely we’ve seen almost everyone who has been linked to the title since Akaho vacated retiring. Maybe the curse lives on after all.
We would like to wish Suzuki all the best in his post boxing life.
For those who missed Suzuki's final bout we've included it below.
Earlier today at Korakuen Hall fight fans got a treat as Yuta Saito (12-10-3, 9) [齊藤裕太] and Yusuke Suzuki (11-3, 7) [鈴木悠介] had an enthralling, hard hitting 10 round war for the Japanese Bantamweight title.
Entering the bout Saito was the champion, hunting his second defense and taking on the mandatory challenger. He had looked great in both his title win and his first defense, and despite looking drained on the scales seemed confident that his power and physical style would come out on top.
Straight from off the two men looked to land big shots. Saito was the more aggressive, but also the clumsier man, whilst Suzuki looked to use his feet, box and move and when he returned fire they were huge blows with bad intent. When Saito got inside Suzuki had to return fire and in round 4 that lead to Saito being cut from a fun to his left eye. It was a nasty cut, but the bout continued with Saito looking to get back at Suzuki for the damage.
After 5 rounds Suzuki found himself up, 48-47, on all 3 cards and fighting a man who was cut and looking like he starting to struggle with the tempo. An accidental headclash in round 6 left Saito with another cut, as Suzuki began to raise his tempo, matching Saito in a fierce up, close battle. It was becoming the type of fight Saito would have wanted, but by then Saito had lost something, just a touch, and it was Suzuki who was landing the cleaner, harder, crisper shots. He extending his lead, but taking damaging punishment himself.
After 10 rounds it was clear Suzuki, by then looking a swollen mess with a badly damaged right cheek, had done enough to win. Saito landed the more damaging shots but he was out landed, out boxed, out fought and the facial damage of Suzuki wasn't going to cost him. That was a viewed by all 3 judges who had the bout 97-93 to Suzuki.
After the bout both men seemed to suggest they couldn't put their gameplan into action, with Suzuki wanting to box more but being dragged into a way and Saito struggling with the southpaw stance of Suzuki, and Suzuki's strength and power.
Also following the contest Saito seemed to make it clear he was indeed retiring. He no complaints about the fight or result, though had previously stated his intention to retire if he lost, and that intention was echoed in post fight comments. Hopefully if he does retire he manages to have a great life outside of the sport, and following how he's fought through his career few can criticise him for what what he has given every time he has stepped in the ring.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Tomorrow at the Korakuen Hall fans will get a title triple header. One of the bouts on that card, arguably the most over-looked, will see Japanese Bantamweight champion Yuta Saito (12-9-3, 9) [齊藤裕太] making his second defense of the title, as he takes on mandatory challenger Yusuke Suzuki (10-3, 7) [鈴木悠介].
The bout isn't the one expected to create a lot of headlines tomorrow, but it may be, stylistically, the most exciting bout on the card and the one with the most back and forth fireworks.
Today the two men took part in their weigh in and both men hit the scales, coming in under the limit. Despite that they seemed to make weight very differently.
The champion, who won the belt last year, seemed gaunt at the weigh in and like it had taken something out of him. He looked really drained until he had a chance to have some water, and clearly felt the effects of a hard weight drain. He started his condition wasn't bad, though we do wonder just how much this cut has taken out of him. Despite the worries the fighter himself seemed full of confidence, and stated he was motivated by his children.
Suzuki on the other hand looked relaxed at the weigh in, he looked like he didn't really cut too much and in fact seemed pretty hydrated.He spoke confidently and has clearly been looking forward to getting a title fight after 18 months of issues, including injuries and having the then champion Ryo Akaho pull out of a fight with him in December 2018. He might be entering as the challenger but certainly looked the much more comfortable today.
Saito and Suzuki battle for Japanese crown
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
On July 27th we get a stacked card from Dangan and Watanabe. The hope had long been for the card to be made available live on Boxing Raise, given that Dangan were involved in the promotion of the show. Sadly however it's now clear that Boxing Raise will not have the show live.
Instead Japanese premium service Paravi will have the card streamed live online, allowing only Japanese viewers to watch the card which features a brilliant triple header of title fights.
The show will be headlined by OPBF Super Featherweight champion Hironori Mishiro (7-0-1, 2) [三代大訓] defending his belt against former OPBF Featherweight champion Ryo Takenaka (18-4-1, 11) [竹中 良], in what looks like a solid third defense for the champion.
As well as the main event the other title bouts on the card will see Japanese Bantamweight champion Yuta Saito (12-9-3, 9) [齊藤裕太] taking on mandatory challenger Yusuke Suzuki (10-3, 7) [鈴木悠介] and the next bout in the career of the highly touted Ginjiro Shigeoka (3-0, 2) [重岡銀次朗] , who faces Filipino foe Clyde Azarcon (15-2-1, 5) for the WBO Asia Pacific Minimumweight title.
Although the live broadcast news is hugely disappointing it is worth noting that TBS will show parts of the card, as part of their "Guts Fighting" series, just 2 days later on free TV, giving the fighters a chance to show what they can do to a wider audience than Boxing Raise could ever manage. In a way this is a silver lining to the gray cloud.
Mishiro takes on Takenaka in latest OPBF title defense
Saito and Suzuki battle for Japanese crown
Shigeoka goes for regional title against Azarcon!
Earlier today Kaoebi revealed that exciting youngster Tsuyoshi Sato (9-1-1, 5) [佐藤剛] has unfortunately had to pull out of his July 27th Japanese Youth Light Flyweight title bout against Rikito Shiba (3-0, 2) [芝力人], following an injury in training.
Kadoebi, who promote the all action Sato, didn't go into to too much detail about the injury but revealed that they are looking to postpone the bout, rather than totally cancel it, leaving the door open for a rescheduling of the fight down the line. They also apologised to Shiba, the RK Boxing family, who promote Shiba and the fans.
The bout was scheduled to be 1 of 4 title bouts on a stacked late July Dangan card, and whilst the injury is certainly a disappointing one for Sato, and for fans looking forward to the bout, the card is still a really strong one with 3 title bouts remaining. They will see Hironori Mishiro (7-0-1, 2) [三代大訓] defending his belt against Ryo Takenaka (18-4-1, 11) [竹中 良], Japanese Bantamweight champion Yuta Saito (12-9-3, 9) [齊藤裕太] defending against mandatory challenger Yusuke Suzuki (10-3, 7) [鈴木悠介] and the super fast rising Ginjiro Shigeoka (3-0, 2) [重岡銀次朗] facing Filipino foe Clyde Azarcon (15-2-1, 5) in a bout for the in a bout for the WBO Asia Pacific Minimumweight title.
On paper the Sato Vs Shiba clash looked like it was going to be something special, so we've got our fingers crossed that the bout will be rescheduled later in the year, though there is nothing official at the time of writing.
News! We try and give you the most interesting news stories from the Asian boxing world!