Earlier today I was informed that Shingo Wake (17-4-2, 10) had "pulled out" of a world title fight with Scott Quigg (29-0-2, 22). At the time it was slightly surprising as no one had actually announced the bout as being signed. It seems scarcely believable that a fighter can pull out of something that hasn't been announced. It was then brought to my attention that several sources had reported that Eddie Hearn was in talks with former Japanese national champion Hidenori Otake (22-1-3, 9). After a little thought and consideration I've decided that I would throw out 2 pence into the conversation.
Firstly the deal regarding Wake struck me as a little bit. On October 2nd Wake said he was "on standby" for a world title bout, this was after some in the British press made the fight sound like a done deal. No one in the Japanese press seemed to think of it was worth news and no one, from Nikkan Sports to Boxingnews.jp seemed to say much, if anything about the contest. A Japanese fighter signing up for a world title fight would have made a few ripples in the local press, right? Well apparently not and what ripples there were died down almost as quickly as they originated with British press being given as the source.
Maybe I'm a cynic but I'm not sure the Wake fight was ever really on. Wake, who I know likes to blog a lot, hardly mentioned it when one would have assumed it would have been all over his blog. Likewise had he suffered an injury in training that too would have been on his blog, instead he was talking about the fact he was at yesterday's OPBF Featherweight title bout between Hisashi Amagasa and Ryo Takenaka. No mention of an injury just that he enjoyed the fight yesterday.
That, to me anyway, doesn't sound like a guy who has just hurt his leg and had to miss out on the opportunity of a life time. It sounds like a guy enjoying life, enjoying watching fights and watching his friends in action.
In regards to Otake, who is now apparently in talks regarding a Quigg fight, I again have issues with believing the fight is actually being spoken about in good faith.
Firstly Otake would have to receive a WBA ranking in the next update, an unlikely outcome given he's been inactive for most of the year following a rib injury that he suffered prior to a scheduled bout with Gakuya Furuhashi (16-5, 6). That rib injury forced Otake out of a scheduled defense of the Japanese title on July 18 and he has now been out of the ring for around 7 months. Not a huge amount of time but considering the injury it would make sense for Otake to look else where than jump straight in to a world title bout and since he has had a bout arranged for November 18th it would seem likely that he has an easy bout planned.
Otake's last blog entry followed him vacating the title at the end of September. Does anyone not find it odd that Otake hasn't updated his own blog to suggest he's in talks about a world title bout? I know Otake doesn't blog as much as Wake but again I'd have expected such a huge opportunity to have been mentioned on there, or at least in the Japanese press.
So is Otake likely? Not really, without a WBA ranking, with a bout scheduled and coming back from an injury I can't see him fighting Scott Quigg in 5 weeks time. To suggest otherwise is a bit foolish in my eyes and instead I'd suspect Otake will be in a "world title prelude" or a tune up next time out. What is possible however is tat either Otake or Wake get a fight with Quigg in 2015 if Quigg continues to hold a title into next year.
We suspect Hearn has linked Wake's name to Quigg due to the high rankings Wake has though in reality there was no real negotiations with the Japanese fighter. Hearn does, after all, have a very controversial PPV to sell fans. Even if there was no intention of having Quigg fight Wake there was still bluster behind linking a top contender to Quigg and now selling a late replacement as a bout where the original opponent "had to pull out".
In some ways I'm becoming very doubtful when Hearn, or someone from his stable or television backers, mentions a Japanese fighter as it's becoming a bit like a broken record. The number if times Stephen Smith has been linked to Takashi Miura does help back me up here. Sorry "Fast Car" but talk's cheap.
Takahiro Onaga is a regular contributor to Asian Boxing and will now be a featured writer in his own column where his takes his shot at various things in the boxing world.