This coming weekend we'll see Naoya Inoue (19-0, 16) make his Las Vegas debut, as he looks to defend the WBA "Super" and IBF Bantamweight titles. In the opposite corner will be Australian challenger Jason Moloney (21-1, 18).
Before this bout we have heard a lot about Japanese fighters and their form internationally, so ahead of this weekend's bout we've decided to look at some recent events where we've seen Japanese fighters in Las Vegas.
The last win by a Japanese boxer in Las Vegas
November 30th 2019 - Andy Hiraoka TKO2 Rogelio Casarez
Just 11 months ago Inoue's stable mate Andy Hiraoka travelled over to the US and beat Rogelio Casarez in 2 rounds to make a successful US debut. This was Hiraoka's first bout under the Top Rank banner, and was the ideal way for him to make a statement and impress the likes of Bob Arum. Unfortunately he failed to build on this momentum and hasn't fought since though he does, at the time of writing, hold the distinction of being the last Japanese fighter to win in Sin City.
An interesting caveat to add here is that Hiraoka actually fights again this weekend. In fact he'll do so before Inoue, as he takes on Rickey Edwards, so there is a chance this fact will be incorrect by the time Inoue fights. If Hiraoka does beat Edwards he'll be one of the very, very few Japanese fighters to have scored multiple wins in Las Vegas!
The last world title fight involving a Japanese fighter in Las Vegas
October 20th 2018 - Rob Brant UD12 Ryota Murata I
Just over 2 years ago we saw a massive upset as unheralded American challenger upset the then WBA "regular" Middleweight champion Ryota Murata with a wide 12 round decision. The bout, a WBA mandatory, seemed like Murata over-looked Rob Brant and paid for it, losing pretty much every round. Thankfully for Murata the two men engaged in a rematch 9 months later with Murata beating Brant in 2 rounds to reclaim the title.
Interestingly this was Murata's third bout in Las Vegas, and he had won the previous 2. This was also the last time a Japanese fighter lost a world title bout in Japan
The last time a Japanese world champion was stopped in Las Vegas
November 21st 2015 - Francisco Vargas TKO9 Takashi Miura
We need to go back to 2015 to find the last time a Japanese world champion was stopped in a world title bout in Las Vegas, and that came in the sensational bout between Takashi Miura and Francisco Vargas. This amazing battle for the WBC Super Featherweight title was one of the best bouts of the year and saw both men being dropped, and dynamite being thrown by both men. If you've never seen this one, you really do your self a watch of it before the weekend!
The last successful world title defense a Japanese world champion in Las Vegas
July 12th 2014 - Tomoki Kameda KO 7 Pungluang Sor Singyu
The last successful world title defense by a Japanese world champion in Las Vegas came more than 6 years ago, when Tomoki Kameda successfully defended the WBO Bantamweight title against Pungluang Sor Singyu, stopping the Thai with a brutal body shot in round 7. Interestingly this was Kameda's Las Vegas debut, and is still his only bout there.
It's also worth noting that on October 1st 2011 Toshiaki Nishioka retained the WBC Super Bantamweight title with a unanimous decision win over Rafael Marquez. This was the first time a Japanese fighter had successfully defended a world title in Las Vegas. Interestingly this was Nishioka's third, and final, bout in Las Vegas and came almost 9 years after his Las Vegas debut. It's worth noting Nishioka's record in those 3 bouts was 3-0.
The last No Contest in a world title fight featuring a Japanese fighter in Las Vegas
December 9th 2017 - Kenichi Ogawa Vs Tevin Farmer
No Contests are always a bit of an oddity and a rarity but in December 2017 we did have one as Kenichi Ogawa and Tevin Farmer had their clash become a No Contest following a failed drug test for Ogawa. This bout had originally seen Ogawa win a controversial decision but that was over-turned due to the drug test, which found a steroid in his sample.
The last draw by a Japanese fighter in Las Vegas
October 21st 2017 - Shoki Sakai D8 Cameron Krael
Given how rare draws are we thought this was worth adding, despite the fact it wasn't a world title bout. The last draw for a Japanese fighter in Las Vegas came in October 2017 when Shoki Sakai fought to an 8 round draw with Cameron Krael as Sam's Town Hotel and Gambling Hall. Unlike most of the bouts here this was on a Mayweather Promotions show and came before the Japanese fight, Sakai, had even fought in Japan.
One interesting thing to note is that no Japanese fighter has ever won a world title in Las Vegas. Only 5 Japanese fighters have actually claimed world titles on US soil, with the most recent being Masayuki Ito and then, going backwards, Tadashi Mihara, Yatsusune Uehara, Kuniaki Shibata and Shozo Saijo.
Any other interesting trivia when it comes to Las Vegas?
This will be the first bout for some version of the WBA Bantamweight title to be held in Las Vegas in 20 years! The last time the title was defended there was Paulie Ayala's 12 round majority decision win over Johnny Bredahl in 2000. For the last WBA Bantamweight title change we need to go back to 1999 when Ayala won the title from Johnny Tapia.
For those wondering the WBA Bantamweight "Super" title has never been fought for in Las Vegas.
The last defense of the IBF Bantamweight title in Las Vegas came in 2012, when Leo Santa Cruz beat Eric Morel in 5 rounds. Incidentally the title actually changed hands a year earlier in Las Vegas, when Abner Mares dethroned Joseph Agbeko in a controversial clash in what is the last time the IBF Bantamweight title was won in the City. Rather interestingly the title has changed hands in 2 of the last 3 bouts where it has been fought for in Las Vegas.
One other interesting fact is that in December 1996 Yuichi Kasai came up short against the then WBA Super Bantamweight Antonio Cermeno. The two men would notable have a rematch the following year which ended with a brutal KO win for Cermeno. Rather interestingly Kasai was is a close friend of Koji Matsumoto, a trainer at the Ohashi Gym, the same Ohashi Gym that Inoue, and Andy Hiraoka, fight out of!
*Note this is not a comprehensive list of all bouts, and is very much focused on recent contests.
Thinking Out East
With this site being pretty successful so far we've decided to open up about our own views and start what could be considered effectively an editorial style opinion column dubbed "Thinking Out East" (T.O.E).