Earlier today Watanabe gym held a press conference to talk about the future of 5 of their fighters, with the view of the gym clearly being on the future and not a very disappointing 2016, which saw high profile defeats for the likes of Takashi Uchiyama, Kohei Kono, Akio Shibata, Shin Ono and Ayaka Miyao.
Of those 5 men, 4 already have title bouts lined up, with the fifth man said to be close to securing a title fight of his own.
The most experienced of the fighters at the press conference was Nihito Arakawa (28-6-1, 17) [荒川 仁人], who will be back in the ring later this month to face off with Filipino Anthony Sabalde (12-5-0-1, 7) for the WBO Asia Pacific title, with that bout taking place on January 31st.
Less than a week later we get the chance to see Yusaku Kuga (13-2-1, 9) [久我 勇作] challenge Japanese Super Bantamweight champion Yasutaka Ishimoto (29-8, 8) [石本 康隆], in a mouth watering match up set for February 4th. On March 22nd Ryuichi Funai (26-7, 18) [船井 龍一] challenges Japanese Super Flyweight champion Kenta Nakagawa (13-2-1, 9) [中川 健太], who will be making his first defense and then we'll see Masataka Taniguchi (6-0, 4) [谷口 将隆] battle Reiya Konishi (12-0, 5) [小西 伶弥] for the Japanese Minimweight title, in early April.
The "odd man out" at the press conference was Hiroto Kyoguchi (5-0, 5) [京口 紘人] who hasn't yet got a title fight lined up, but the talk at the press was that a deal is close to being reached for Kyoguchi to fight in a title fight. The news from the fighter himself seems to be that Watanabe are negotiating for him to fight in an OPBF title fight.
Although it's not yet clear who Kyoguchi could be up against the fight seems comfortable fighting at either 105lbs or 108lbs. If he's to fight for the Minimumweight title that would, possibly, see an all-Japanese show down with Ryuya Yamanaka (13-2, 3) [山中 竜也] whilst a bout at Light Flyweight would likely be for a vacant title, with Ken Shiro (9-0, 5) [拳 四朗] likely to vacate that title in the near future.
Although without a dance partner at the moment Kyoguchi did, along with Taniguchi, take part in a public spar for the media. Those who attended the press conference stated the spar was incredibly engaging with the two men not holding back as they let shots rip at each other, and it's clear that these two youngsters are going to be the long term future of the Watanabe Gym.
Although 2016 was a horrible year for the gym it does look like 2017 has the potential to be a brilliant year for the Tokyo gym.
(Top image courtesy of boxmob.JP, bottom image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
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