Feb. 13, 2014
Asian Boxing News & Rumors
by Scott Graveson
This past week has been a crazy one for announcements in Japan with pretty much every major promoter in the country having something to announce at some point during the week.
I'll start by mentioning Watanabe's announcement of a triple title show set for December 13th. The show, actually promoted by Dangan Boxing, will feature two female world title bouts and a female OPBF title bout and will continue the “Dangan Ladies” show, being the third card in the series. The main event of the card will see WBA Atomweight champion Yunoka Furukawa (8-1-2, 6) defending her title against Mika Iwakawa (6-4-1, 2). In the co-feature Ayaka Miyao (21-6-1, 5) will challenge WBO Atomweight champion Nao Ikeyama (17-3-2, 4).
The Atomweight division, essentially dominated by Momo Koseki,is the 102lb weight class and although we'll never see Furukawa and Miyaofacing off, given they are both licensed by the Watanabe Gym, both could be viable contenders for Koseki in 2017.
On the same December 13th card we'll see the highly touted, former amateur stand, Chaoz Minowa (2-0, 2) battle Filipino Carleans Rivas (5-3-3) for the OPBF female Flyweight title.
Just a day later we'll see WBA Minimumweight champion Knockout CP Freshmart (13-0, 6) take on Japan's Shin Ono (19-7-4, 3), himself a Watanabe Gym fighter. Ono, slipped into the rankings in the past WBA update, will be getting his second world title fight but will be a big under-dog against Knockout. Interestingly if Ono can score the upset he'll be the first Japanese fighter to win a “full” world title in Thailand.
Ohashi made their big announcement for a show on Dec 30th. That card will be headlined by WBO Super Flyweight champion Naoya Inoue (11-0, 9) defending his title against former 2-time world champion Kohei Kono (32-9-1, 13) in what should be a genuinely intriguing match up. Kono has never been stopped and if Inoue can get Kono out of their it would be a very impressive result.
The announcement from Ohashi also announced a WBO Bantamweight title bout between Marlon Tapales (29-2, 12) and Naoya's younger brother Takuma Inoue (8-0, 2). Sadly this bout was cancelled just days later when Takuma suffered a damaged right hand in sparring.
There was also a third title bout announced for the card, with IBF Light Flyweight champion Akira Yaegashi (24-5, 12) set to defend his title. The announcement stated that he would face the winner of upcoming bout between Milan Melindo (33-2, 12) and Fahlan Sakkreerin Jr (29-4-1, 15), who fight for the interim title in November. Given the time frame however it does seem really unlikely that either man will be ready for Yaegashi in December.
On that under card of that show we'll see Koki Inoue (5-0, 4) take on Japanese ranked Lightweight Futoshi Usami (14-2-1, 11), former world title challenher Ryuji Hara (20-2, 11) battle against Japanese ranked Minimumweight Hiroya Yamamoto (10-4, 4) and Olympic Bronze medal winner Satoshi Shimizu (1-0, 1) take on a yet to be named foe.
A day later we'll see an IBF Super Bantamweight title fight as Japanese challenger Yukinori Oguni (18-1-1, 7) takes on defending champion Jonathan Guzman (22-0-0-1, 22) in Kyoto, with that card set to be promoted by Woz. Interestingly that card will also feature Kazuto Ioka's (20-1, 12) defending his WBA Flyweight title against “interim” champion Stamp Kiatniwat (15-0, 6) of Thailand. This show has also been rumoured to feature another title bout, though that hasn't yet been confirmed.
Below the world title fights we had an announcement of an interesting December 8th show. The card will see a Japanese Bantamweight title fight as champion Kentaro Masuda (25-7, 13) takes on Satoshi Ozawa (13-6-1, 2), in what will be Masuda's second defense of his second reign, and will also see Ken Shiro (8-0, 4) defending his OPBF Light Flyweight title against Filipino challenger Lester Abutan (11-5-3, 5).
Staying with the Light Flyweight division it seems that Ken Shiro has vacated the WBC Youth Light title fight as Japanese youngster Seita Ogido (11-2-1, 3) battles against Filipino Jonthan Refugio (16-5-4, 4) for the vacant belt on January 8th.
Back to December 8th that date will also see the ring return of Mongolian star Tugstsogt Nyambayar (6-0, 6) as he takes on veteran German Meraz (55-39-1-1, 32). Nyambayar has looked sensational since turning professional and can be let loose on good competition next year, sadly however his management doesn't seem to have the finances, or the belief, to put him in with good competition and he may end up wasting several years floundering before finally getting a chance to prove his ability.
Going back to my claim that every Major Japanese promoter had some news this week, there was a third notable signing in as many weeks from Teiken, who continued their signing spree with the signature of former amateur stand out Jesse Rodriguez (0-0), who will begin his career in Japan next year.
The saddest bit of news is the passing of Sri Lankan born journalist and broadcaster Ronnie Nathanielsz who will be a sorely missed member of the Filipino boxing scene. Nathanielsz passed away after his life support was turned off this week, following a heart attack. He had long been the voice of Filipino boxing and was a major figure in the country's fight scene having worked in notable roles in the sport since the 1970's. His death will understandably be a big hit to Filipino boxing and I would like to end this by sending my wishes to his family and friends, and hope his work will be continues by those who he has been a mentor and inspiration for, like my good friend Ian Bautista Melodillar.