Earlier today the nominations for the JBC and Tokyo Athletic Press Club Boxing Subcommittee annual awards were announced, with the media being able to vote on the winners, who will be announced later this month. Unlike usual there will not be a big event ceremony, due to the ongoing Covid19 situation.
Sadly Covid19 really did destroy the boxing calendar in Japan and only a handful of top Japanese fighters managed to squeeze a fight into the year. In fact only 3 of the 7 current male world champions managed to fight, and that include a man who won his world title late year.
The fighters nominated for the "Best Fighter" award were those 3 champions that manage to fight last year:
They were WBO Super Flyweight champion Kazuto Ioka (25-2, 14) [井岡一翔]
WBO Flyweight champion Junto Nakatani (21-0, 16) [中谷 潤人]
And unified WBA "super" and IBF Bantamweight champion Naoya Inoue (20-0, 17) [井上 尚弥]
Those 3 champions are also up in the running for the "Skill Award".
The "Special Merit" award sees Junto Nakatani in the running alongside:
Masayoshi Nakatani (19-1, 13) [中谷正義]
and Hironori Mishiro (10-0-1, 3) [三代大訓]
The Effort/Fighting Award short list is
Ryoji Fukunaga (13-4, 13) [福永亮次]
and Kenichi Horikawa (41-16-1, 14) [堀川 謙一]
The KO award has 4 nominees, with Inoue, Ioka, and both Junto and Masayoshi Nakatani.
The newcomer award sees Mishiro up against:
Daishi Nagata (15-2-2, 6) [永田大士]
and Masamichi Yabuki (12-3, 11) [佐藤政道]
The best bout of the year has been split into two categories, as it has been for a while.
The world title bouts up for the award are:
Kazuto Ioka Vs Kosei Tanaka (15-1, 9) [田中恒成]
Naoya Inoue Vs Jason Moloney
Junto Nakatani Vs Giemel Magramo
As for the none world title bouts, the fights nominated here are:
Riku Nagahama [長濱 陸] Vs Kudura Kaneko [クドゥラ 金子]- For the OPBF Welterweight title
Kenichi Ogawa [尾川 堅一] Vs Kazuhiro Nishitani [西谷和宏] - Non title bout
Masayoshi Nakatani Vs Felix Verdejo - WBO Intercontinental Lighweight title
Ryoji Fukunaga Vs Kenta Nakagawa [中川 健太] - WBO Asia Pacific, JBC and OPBF triple title bout
and Hironori Mishiro Vs Masayuki Ito [伊藤 雅雪] - Non title bout
As for the female awards, the MVP nominess are:
WBO Atomweight champion Mika Iwakawa (9-5-1, 3) [岩川 美花]
WBO female Minimumweight champion Etsuko Tada (20-3-3, 7) [多田悦子]
and WBO female Super Flyweight champion Tomoko Okuda (7-2-2, 1) [奥田朋子]
The best bouts for female boxing are:
Mika Iwakawa Vs Nanae Suzuki [鈴木菜々江]
Etsuko Tada Vs Ayaka Miyao [宮尾 綾香]
and Tomoko Okuda Vs Miyo Yoshida [吉田 実代]
On New Year's eve we saw Yuki Strong Kobayashi (16-9, 9) [ストロング小林佑樹] lose the WBO Asia Pacific Bantamweight title, as he was stopped in brutal fashion by former world champion Daigo Higa (17-1-1, 17) [比嘉 大吾]. The bout, which was held on the same card that also hosted the brilliant WBO Super Flyweight title between Kazuto Ioka [井岡一翔] and Kosei Tanaka [田中恒成], was shown around the globe and saw many see Kobayashi in action for the first time.
Sadly it’s likely to also be the final time.
Yesterday, more than 2 weeks after that loss, Kobayashi announced, via his own blog that he is retiring from the sport.
In the post, on his personal Ameblo, Kobayashi explained that he was injured a lot as a fighter, due to his defense and his aggressive come forward style. That style saw him begin his career 9-5 with losses to the likes of Kiron Omura in 2013 and Takahiro Yamamoto in 2015.
He did make improvements however and in later years turned his career around, winning the WBO Asia Pacific title and scoring notable wins against the likes of Vincent Astrolabio and Ben Mananquil.
In his blog post he revealed that his happiest bout was his 2018 win over Astrolabio, which came in Malaysia, in what was Kobayashi’s third bout on foreign soil.
Despite that win he did suffer a loss soon afterwards, in his amazing bout against Keita Kurihara, a bout that all fans should watch on Boxing Raise as it is tremendous, and following that loss he began to train more seriously. That extra training led him to his huge win over Mananquil for the WBO Asia Pacific title, which he successfully defended once before coming up against Higa in December.
In his announcement he thanked Mutoh Gym who managed to secure him 4 title challenge bouts, as well as fights overseas and made him what he was, despite the fact he had no amateur experience. He also saved special thanks for his trainer Kosuke Takeichi.
Following his announcement we would like to thank Kobayashi for his involvement in the sport, the ups and downs of following him and the enjoyment we’ve had watching his fights. He may never have been a world beater but he was certainly a fun fighter to follow and was involved in some great moments and thrilling fights throughout his career. We also want to wish him all the best in his post boxing life.
Just over a week ago we reported that WBO Oriental Flyweight champion Olimjon Nazarov (25-5, 14) would be in action on February 27th in Vietnam. Over the last day or so his opponent for that bout has now been announced.
The world ranked ranked Uzbek Flyweight contender will be up against 26 year old Filipino Ricardo Sueno (10-4-4, 3), who was last seen in the ring in December 2019. The most recent bout for Sueno saw him lose a decision to rising Japanese star Taku Kuwahara, in what was his second loss of 2019 following an opening round TKO to Thanongsak Simsri.
Although he has lost 2 of his last 4 Sueno isn't a push over and has scored decent wins himself against the likes of Diomel Diocos and Ryosuke Nasu.
Aged 35 Nazarov is an old man for the Flyweight division, but he is banging on the door for a potential WBO world title fight following 12 successive wins. Those wins have seen him turn his career around and he'll be desperate to keep the wins coming here.
Whilst it's not the most exciting of bouts it's certainly not an awful one and should see Nazarov being asked questions by Sueno.
Last year was a strange one for boxing in Thailand, with a massive decrease in the number of shows, but a huge increase in the quality of them, with NKL, TL and Tan Telecom promotions all putting on solid shows through out the year. Sadly however it only saw Thailand hosting 2 world title fights, with one of those coming in early March when Knockout CP Freshmart (21-0, 7) [น็อคเอาท์ ซีพีเฟรชมาร์ท] successfully defended the WBA Minimumweight "Super" title.
Since that March bout Knockout has been out of the ring, though there are now plans for him to return sooner rather than later.
Although no date has been set in stone, and no opponent has been agreed as of yet, the plan is for the WBA Minimumweight " Super" champion to defend his title again in May, according to numerous reports from Thailand.
The reports all mention that Piyarat Vachirarattanawong, Knockout's promoter, has previously revealed the plan, though nothing is official as of yet due to the ongoing issues with Covid19 and the various problems with travel caused by the on going Pandemic.
Thailand, which is notoriously hostile for visiting fighters at the best of times, has seen many of it's provinces set out mandatory quarantine, and other provinces limiting or discouraging travel. With this in mind it would certainly limit travel options, though there is a chance things will become more flexible by May.
Earlier today Kadoebi Gym announced that their next "Slugfest" show would be taking place on March 24th with some limited details about the event also being announced, though no bouts have been confirmed at this moment in time.
From the limited details announced we know that the main event will feature the unbeaten Seiya Tsutsumi (5-0-2, 4) [堤聖也], who will be back in the ring for his first fight since his draw with former WBC Flyweight champion Daigo Higa [比嘉 大吾], last October.
Also confirmed for the show are Yuichiro Kasuya (13-3-2, 4) [粕谷 雄一郎], former multi-time world title challenger Takuya Kogawa (30-5-1, 13) [粉川拓也], the always fun to watch Yoji Saito (2-1-2, 2) [齊藤陽ニ], Taiga Ito (3-2) [伊藤大賀] and Jukiya Iimura (1-0, 1) [飯村 樹輝弥], who made his very impressive debut yesterday at Korakuen Hall.
Although details of the show are scarce at the moment Kadoebi have stated that they will announce further details in the near future.
Given the imagine they have posted along with their announcement we suspect the show will be shown on Boxing Raise, potentially as the services live card for the month of March.
For those who missed Tsutsumi's bout with Higa we've included the video of the bout below.
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