It's fair to say that the Bantamweight division promised a lot last year for Japanese boxing but, on the whole, failed to live up to those expectations. Part of the disappointment saw fighters like Tomoki Kameda, Ryo Akaho and Ryosuke Iwasa come up short at the world level.
Despite those set backs we are now in a new year and fans again go into a year with some real excitement in the division. We've, of course, had a brilliant match up between Shinsuke Yamanaka and Liborio Solis announced, for the WBC title, and we've also seen a Japanese national title fight being announced.
That fight will see former champion Kentaro Masuda (23-7, 12) [益田 健太郎] battle against the unbeaten Yushi Tanaka (16-0-3, 10) [田中 裕士] for the currently vacant on March 18th at the Korakuen Hall as part of the Champion Carnival.
For Masuda this is a great chance to reclaim the title that he last year, at the 2015 Champion Carnival to Shohei Omori. In that loss Masuda was simply over-whelmed by the younger, faster, bigger man who blew him aside in 3 one-sided rounds. Since then he has bounced back with a couple of wins, including an excellent stoppage win over Daisuke Sakamoto at the Strongest Korakuen last year.
Aged 32, soon to be 33, Masuda has had a long career of ups and downs. He began his career 1-2, and was also 3-3, but improved notably to reach 15-6 by the end of 2012. Since then He has gone 8-1 scoring wins over the likes of Yu Kawaguchi, to claim the Japanese title in 2014, and Konosuke Tomiyama and Tatsuya Takahashi, to defend that title.
Whilst Masuda has made a name for himself it's fair to say Tanaka hasn't, yet, despite a reign as the WBC Youth Bantamweight champion. The unbeaten man, a stablemate of Kosei Tanaka, is a 24 year old who has shown some real promise since his debut back in November 2009. That talent has seen him remain unbeaten though fair to score many wins of note, in fact his most notable opponent saw far was former world champion Wandee Singwancha way back in November 2012.
Whilst Tanaka has a trio of draws two of those came in his first 5 bouts and he is currently on a run of 7 straight wins, the most notable of which have come against the likes of Vergel Nebran and Mako Matsuyama. Those wins haven't proven his ability, and he is certainly less proven than Masuda, however given his youth and unbeaten record it's clear he'll be facing Masuda full of confidence and see it as a great chance to claim a title.
For those who haven't seen these two in action we have included videos of both men below.
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