Since I have not been doing anything in this space as all my recent boxing posts have been going on The Boxing Bulletin, I decided that I might as well put some miscellaneous boxing things here for the time being. I do not know what that will be in the future, but for the first new addition, here are some pictures I took at Monday’s card at the opening and end of the main event featuring OPBF 108lb champ Katsuhiko Iezumi vs. Japanese national titleholder Ryo Miyazaki. See the full recap of the fight at the bulletin.

This is the scene just after the combatants made their way into the ring. Miyazaki, in the black trunks, looks like a really small guy. He is, no doubt, at a disadvantage in terms of height, but he has a thick, broad back for his frame.

After the stoppage is official. On Miyazaki’s right (your left), with the reddish-orange hair, is former two-division world titleholder Hiroki Ioka. Though I think the guy on his left is actually Miyazaki’s lead trainer, Ioka is the lead figure among his representatives. Outside of the Kameda clan, I think Ioka’s camp is the most vocal among prominent gyms/promoters in Japan.

That green atrocity strapped across Miyazaki is the OPBF belt. Personally, I think the national title looks a lot better. You would hope they could get a better design for the regional belt.

Miyazaki reminded me of those studs in the really light weight classes in wrestling. Very fit. However, note the cut over his left eye. He seemed very weary of headbutts from the start of the bout, but I noticed a lot of clashes in each round.

And yeah, the girl standing next to him, whose face is unfortunately covered by the camera, is really tall. That and she was wearing thick-soled sketchers-like sneakers.

Ioka all smiles after the fight. In the foreground of this shot is one of the banners that Miyazaki’s supporters hold up as he makes his entrance into the ring.

Miyazaki surrounded by fans on the way out.

Mind you this fight was in Tokyo and Miyazaki & crew are based in Osaka (think Yankees vs. Red Sox for a comparison). It was an away-game for him, but he had some followers in the stands.

The young gentleman in the middle of the shot, with his back to the camera and the t-shirt saying “Bigholiday” is Kazuto Ioka. He’s the phenom who is looking to break the national record for taking a world title in the fewest number of pro fights. Currently campaigning at 108 as well, he seems to be a bit taller than Miyazaki.

From the reports I have seen about their sparring session, Ioka is supposed to be much better than his buddy and has his way in the ring. Miyazaki impressed me on Monday. If Ioka is to be that much better, then he has got to be damn good.

Another shot of the two junior flyweight hopefuls. Seeing how poor these pictures came out, I really want a new camera…

Well, since I have not written here in a while, and since all the news on Japan I have been translating/posting is going to the Bulletin, I figure I would put my thoughts on Pacquiao v. Clottey here. So this post is not necessarily about boxing in JAPAN, but it still is about boxing. Besides, it is my personal blog, anyway…

First off, if you are a boxing fan in Japan and want to watch a major card held outside of the country, your viewing options are to subscribe to wowow, which carries a lot of the broadcasts, or go to a sports bar that has it. Since I have only recently bothered to buy a TV, and don’t really want to pay the ridiculous monthly fees, I have to rely on option two. (Japan’s going digital next year – so you will need to upgrade your set or buy a special tuner in order to get even public television – and I got rid of the huge & heavy tube TV I inherited from a co-worker a few years back.)

Sports bars are not my thing. Well, that’s not true. Sports bars in Roppongi are not my thing. Tokyo’s most infamous party district is the last place I want to spend a few hours of my weekend. Why? Well, that’s a long story that does not belong here or on any publicly accessible forum. However, the only bar that I could easily confirm that shows the fights I want to see is Tokyo Sports Cafe, also known as Lime.

I have only been there for two broadcasts (Pacquiao/Hatton & Pacquiao/Clottey). It would have been three, but I could not make Pacquiao vs. Cotto. Two thousand yen (a little over USD 20) will get you in the door with two drinks, but seating is first come, first served. It is a fairly good sized bar (for Japanese standards), so as long as you get there around the time doors open, you should be able to get a chair and avoid standing the whole time. For broadcasts like Pac/Clottey, doors open at 11:45.

There is a good population of Filipinos in Japan, and a number of them live near or party in Roppongi, so if it’s a Pacman fight, you are bound to be joining dozens of his followers. Fortunately, they aren’t nuthugging fanatics, rather middle-age uncles and aunties with a few 20-somethings. There are also many Ghanaians in the area. However, it seems they aren’t boxing fans or don’t care for Clottey, as there were maybe two guys in the bar rooting for the Accra native.

On Sunday, I had interesting company for the fight, as I shared a table with a few Cubans (one of whom strangely had money on Clottey) as well as a British (or maybe Kiwi) female boxer. The Cubans were raving over Yuriorkis Gamboa, while I suggested Guillermo Rigondeaux. But we all agreed that “El Cepillo “ – Joel Casamayor – could kick some ass back in the day.

As for the fight, well, let’s say “The Event” was not much of an event. It looks like it would have been a fun experience if you were one of the 50,000+ that packed into Cowboys Stadium. It was not, however, a great, or even good, night of boxing.

So here are a few random notes I jotted on some napkins during the broadcast:

** Former Ring Magazine contributor and Japan’s most well known boxing writer/analyst Joe Koizumi was in the studio to do color commenting for the broadcast. I’m not sure if he still writes for the boxing bible, but he is still very much active. Tsuyoshi Hamada and WBC Super Bantamweight champion Toshiaki Nishioka were also in the studio.

** I made it in the doors just after 12, so I was settling in as Castillo vs. Gomez started. I think it was the second round when I jotted down “JLC looks old and shopworn.” He has only been a shadow of the warrior we’ve known since the first battle with the late Diego Corrales. If he does call it a career, he will have at least made his mark by taking part in one of the most memorable fights in recent history.

** Every time you could hope for Humberto Soto to put up a break out performance, he manages to be less than impressive. Though he won his fight with David Diaz rather easily, it was not the dominant performance that could help generate more momentum for the Los Mochis native. I am looking forward to seeing him fight Anthony Peterson. Hopefully he shows up with more fire in the ring.

** Anyone else think Soto looked pretty soft around the waist at 135?

** As for Manny, well, what else could he do when Clottey refused to let his hands go? Loved his attack to the body. Those looked like some hard punches.

** Some of the punches that Clottey did land had me concerned. Who knows what would happen if he caught Manny off guard with an unexpected sustained attack.

** I scored the fight 119-109, giving Clottey the fifth, but I could understand if someone scored it a shut out. Even when the former IBF champion did become more offensive-minded, Pacquiao always came back with multiple punches, never allowing Clottey to build any momentum.

Lastly, for those of you in Japan (and specifically in Tokyo looking to find a place to watch boxing), I was pleased to confirm that the cafe will be showing Mosely-Mayweather. I was a little worried that they only show Pacman fights. Filipinos are guaranteed to show up when Manny headlines, but other fights might be less of a draw (especially when you consider it will be shown at an hour when fans won’t already be out drinking with buddies). I’m pulling for Shane in that fight. Pacquiao-Mosely is probably a much better fight than Pacquiao-Mayweather. Shane isn’t going to be running all night if he gets that fight.

It will be a slow week in boxing in Japan, however things pick up next week with several world, regional and national titles on the line.
– March 25 (Thursday): Akio Shibata (13-5-1, 7KO) defends his national and OPBF Light Middleweight titles against Charlie Ohta, aka Charles Bellamy (12-1-1, 9KO).
– March 27 (Saturday): WBC Flyweight champ Koki Kameda vs. WBC Flyweight Interim champ Pongsaklek Wonjongkam should be an interesting battle. I will probably do a preview for the fight for the bulletin. Also on the card, WBC Minimumweight titleholder Oleydong Sithsamerchai defends his title against Japanese challenger Yasutaka Kuroki.
– March 28 (Sunday): OPBF Super Bantamweight beltholder Hiromasa Ohashi (21-8-3, 15KO) faces Akifumi Shimoda (20-2-1, 10KO).

Be sure to see the recap of the WBA Flyweight title match between Denkaosan Kaovichit vs. Daiki Kameda, as well as the summary of Saturday’s card featuring Takashi Miura vs. Seiichi Okada and Ryol Li Lee vs. Kazunori Takayama.

Japanese Scene Weekend Recap

Here is the round by round summary of the back-and-forth brawl between Japanese Super Featherweight champion Miura and JBC #1 rated contender, the undefeated Seiichi Okada.


Round 1:
While Okada sparred with southpaw Takahiro Aoh, the former WBC Featherweight champion, in the past and claims he never felt fighting a lefty would be a problem, he seemed to have some apprehension facing Miura’s southpaw style once the opening gong rang (and even more trouble later in the fight as a lead left would prove to be his kryptonite). The champion was not only able to reach Okada with the first scoring blows of the bout, he also showed an advantage in hand speed landing a quick right hook followed by a straight left early in the round. However, the challenger refused to be outdone as he connected with three beautiful short right hands after the two traded in a nice exchange at the center of the ring.

Round 2:
Neither fighter was planning to jab his way to victory, and Miura opened the second round pawing his right hand out looking for opportunities to launch his powerful right hook. The challenger, on the other hand, perhaps feeling that setting up in the pocket would not only negate the awkwardness with the southpaw style but also allow him to execute his own offensive, worked his way inside Miura’s defense. Okada showed excellent poise in doing so, and was able to get off a left hook to the body and a straight right to the head. Another left hook/straight right combination by the 27-year old challenger seemed to put momentum on his side. However, the champion pushed back, landing a jab/jab/right hook and stunned Okada with an uppercut. Miura then found Okada’s weakness – the five-hole – particularly with lead lefts and uppercuts, and was able to turn the tide, finishing strongly to take the round.

Round 3:
With 14 knockouts in 20 career fights, Miura’s power was well publicized, but as Okada continued to prove to have a chin made of steel, the champ began round three with a concentrated attack on the challenger’s body. Okada’s crisp combinations, however, allowed him to take the upper hand when the two exchanged close range salvos. Short, quick punches punctuated by two straight rights had the champion on his heels. Okada’s patience was paying off as his more accurate delivery earned him the round.

Round 4:
His confidence building, Okada scored five short right hands while navigating through the champion’s counter attack at the start of the fourth stanza. With the pace of the fight slowly moving in favor of the challenger, Miura, again, was able to connect with a left uppercut/right uppercut combination, knocking Okada back and preventing a complete shift in momentum. The crowd roared as the combatants traded flurries while the timekeeper sounded the 10-second mark, and though a portion of the audience had left after the Lee/Takayama bout, those that remained knew they were witnessing a beautiful and brutal display of the sweet science.

Round 5:
The fifth round would prove to be the turning point of the title match as the champion’s right eye would be cut after an accidental clash of heads. Okada continued his accurate assault, mixing body shots to set up the straight right. The stream of blood becoming more of a hindrance, Miura was less able to fight on his own terms and the two exchanged hard punches with Okada taking command with good work to the champion’s body. Refusing to give up the title he had won twelve months earlier, Miura resigned to an increased activity level, punching constantly with little regard to whether or not the punches landed.

Rounds 6 & 7:
The unexpected handicap had effectively forced the champion to change his tactics. Okada was now in the driver’s seat, taking the sixth with short punches and good work to the body.

The seventh frame would be the best of an already compelling fight.

Okada would maintain his dominance with a one-two and a left to the body at the start of the round. He followed this with a classic double left hook to the body/left hook to the head combination. But before the challenger could capitalize any further, Miura managed to get the better of an exchange when the pugilists had launched punches simultaneously. Knees buckled, Okada was now in survival mode. The champion rushed in behind an uppercut and two body shots, clearly aiming to finish off the challenger. Pinning Okada to the ropes with a minute left in the round, Miura looked to be just a few blows away from incapacitating his opponent.

It was then that Okada mustered up the little energy he had left to throw a monstrous left hook to the body. The sound of that blow resonated throughout the hall, and the champion’s attack was temporarily stifled as he was forced to back off. Okada was not in the clear yet, and his steel chin saved him again as he had to absorb a wicked uppercut and right hand before the three minutes came to a close.

Round 8:
Both fighters were weary in the eighth. Despite having been close to hitting the canvas in the previous round, Okada found the strength to land scoring blows to Miura’s midsection throughout the frame. The champion, with blood flowing from the cut, did his best to keep distance with multiple jabs to set up the straight left. Okada also benefited on the scorecards when Miura, who had been cautioned earlier for low blows, received a third warning and docked a point.

Rounds 9&10:
The final two rounds saw Miura attempt to fend off the challenger with punches in bunches, doing what he could to prevent Okada from executing a fight-ending offensive. The challenger seemed to have recovered from the damage received in the seventh and was smartly positioning himself to connect with left hooks to the body and straight rights. He finished the fight making better use of a lead right and never stopped pounding away at the belt holder’s body.

Unfortunately, there could only be one winner, and it was the champion’s hand that was raised. The victory marked Miura’s third defense of the title.

The good folks at The Boxing Bulletin have recently invited me to work with them as a contributor, and I was very pleased to accept. Our first piece together was posted earlier today and discusses the JBC’s annual Champion Carnival, which starts tonight.

Japanese Scene: Champion Carnival 2010

Carnival results/previews/recaps/etc will be posted at The Boxing Bulletin. I will do other things for this blog, as time permits. My ongoing corner with news on Japan’s champions will likely be on the Bulletin in the future, but I will probably keep “The Blue Corner” here. Not sure yet about the Prospect Previews – I might decide on a case-by-case basis.

The next two pieces for the Bulletin should be recaps on fight cards held today and tomorrow.

This evening, I will be in attendance of the kick-off card for the carnival featuring WBA rated #14 Featherweight Ryol Li Lee (14-1-1, 8KO) vs. Kazunori Takayama (17-5-4, 4KO) for the vacant Japanese title. Takashi Miura (17-1-2, 14KO; WBA#12, WBC#12) defends his Super Featherweight title against number one contender Seiichi Okada (10-0, 6KO).

I will also cover tomorrow’s world title fight where WBA Flyweight strap holder Denkaosan Kaovichit and bad-boy Daiki Kameda face off on a rematch of their October meeting.

Well, since I have entitled the reports on Japan’s champions as “The Red Corner,” I thought it would be fitting to label these posts as their challengers on the other side of the ring. I will use this space for news/previews/reviews/general tidbits about boxers who are working toward a title or may do so in the near future.


Daiki Kameda
WBA #11 rated Flyweight

WBC Flyweight champion Koki Kameda’s little brother, Daiki, is set to face Denkaosan Kaovichit this Sunday for the Thai champion’s WBA belt. The fight is a rematch of last October’s title match that ended in a majority decision for Denkaosan, who had stamina issues in the second half of the fight. Making up for a lack of energy with clinches and holding, the champion effectively, and frustratingly, prevented the young challenger to mount a full-scale attack.

During a preflight medical check held yesterday, the proud title holder commented that while there was a lot of clinching in the previous bout, he plans to fight in a different style this time around. Earlier in the day, upon arriving at Kansai International Airport, he proclaimed that he wanted to keep the outcome from the hands of the judges and said he would win by KO.

Kameda, on the other hand, is experiencing a battle with the scale as the 21-year old, who says he has never had to seriously cut weight before previous matches, will have to resort to going a few days without food in order to make the 112lb limit. Perhaps starting to put on his man-muscle, the two-time world title challenger confided that he gained 3kg (6.6lb) more than usual after the October fight.

Late last month, the WBA issued a mandate that requires the winner of this bout to meet former champion Takefumi Sakata (see below). Denkaosan, who won his title by dropping the flyweight stalwart on New Year’s Eve 2008, is already looking ahead and said that while Sakata may be next in line, he eventually wants Daiki’s brother. A fight with Koki would probably bring a decent paycheck (yeah, that’s an understatement) while also providing the opportunity to unify titles.

Nikkan Sports via MSN
Jijicom via MSN
Daily Sports Online


Takefumi Sakata
Former WBA Flyweight champion, currently ranked WBA #7

The WBA has issued a mandate that has installed Takefumi Sakata, the previous WBA Flyweight champion, as the next opponent for the winner of the title match between current champion Denkaosan Kaovichit and Daiki Kameda.

Kaovichit’s reign began on New Year’s Eve 2008 when he unloaded a right hand that rocked Sakata at the end of the second round. The Japanese champ was attempting to defend his title for the fifth time, which included a draw with Kaovichit 14 months earlier, but could not get to his feet before referee Roberto Ramirez finished the 10 count. Sakata returned from the loss to score 2 victories in 2009 against lesser opponents and is scheduled to meet Eric Diaz Siregar (9-9-3, 1KO) on February 20.

Sakata has long been a contender in the division, losing twice to former WBA champion Lorenzo Parra by close majority decision before finally knocking the Venezuelan out in their third meeting in March 2007 to claim the title. He also has split two bouts with two-weight title holder Roberto Vasquez.



Yasutaka Kuroki
Ring #10 rated Strawweight

Former OPBF Minimumweight champion Yasutaka Kuroki won a tune-up bout on Monday, stopping Takuma Suda at 1:20 of the 6th round, stamping his ticket to a scheduled showdown with WBC strap holder Oleydong Sithsamerchai. The 33-0 (12KO) champion from Thailand will be making the 5th defense of the title he won in 2007 against Eagle Den Junlaphan.

Boxing Scene reports that Sithsamerchai/Kuroki would be a part of the Koki Kameda/Wonjongkam card scheduled for late March or early April.

Boxing Scene


Kazuto Ioka
WBC #15 rated Light Flyweight

Ioka, the nephew of former two-weight world title holder Hiroki Ioka, has been included in the latest WBA ratings, earning the #14 spot.

The 20-year old prospect (3-0, 2KO) is coming off his biggest win, a unanimous decision against former world ranked contender Takashi Kunishige. His next fight has yet to be announced.

Click here for ringwalkNIPPON’s preview of Ioka.


A little cheating in this post for a few reasons. One – as a highly ranked contender for all four major sanctioning organizations as well as a spot in the top 10 in Ring Magazine’s ratings, it would be incorrect to label this 28-year old sharpshooter a “prospect.” Two – while ringwalkNIPPON focuses on the boxing scene in Japan, the fighter we will look at is no longer based in the land of the rising sun. However, aside from his last bout in December, this undefeated former amateur champion fought his entire professional career in Japan. As WBC Bantamweight champion Hozumi Hasegawa recently stated that he intends to continue at the 118lb division, I felt it more than appropriate to take a look at one of his possible opponents.

Sasha Bakhtin vs. Hidenobu Honda Part 2
(Click here for part 1)

Currently ranked #3 by the WBC, #6 by the WBA & IBF, and #14 by the WBO, former OPBF & Japan Bantamweight champion Sasha Bakhtin (Boxrec: Alexander Bakhtin) is a pristine 24-0 with 11KO. Also rated at #10 by The Ring Magazine, the lanky 5’7’ native of Balashikha, Russia, is touted for his tight defense and a jab that he shoots out like an automatic weapon as described on wikipedia.

While only a few of Bakhtin’s fights are available on youtube and dailymotion, it is apparent that he commands a superior set of skills and uses a good variety of punches to dominate his opponents. Ring generalship and a cool demeanor are perhaps two of his best traits, and a look at his record shows many one-sided unanimous decisions (though I thought Bakhtin/Minoriyama II was a lot closer than scores would suggest). His lead left hand is low, and while his jab is not the Tommy Hearns-type flicker jab, the low angle from which it is thrown, as well as the sniper-like accuracy at which is delivered, provides Bakhtin with a very powerful weapon. At his best, he will fire the jab and his wide arsenal of power shots from a variety of angles. Somewhat flat-footed and susceptible to body shots, I found myself wondering why he is so hard to hit. However, that must have been the same question each of his 22 opponents has asked themselves.

Bakhtin came to Japan after a spectacular amateur career that resulted in a 130-4 record with 60RSC, and included a European Youth title. Initially joining Japanese powerhouse Kyoei Gym, the home of Takefumi Sakata and, formerly, Koki Kameda, he debuted at Korakuen Hall at the age of 19. His second fight was a close UD over Pone Saengmorakot (22-4), who had faced (and lost against) WBC Super Flyweight champion In-Joo Cho, future Super Flyweight champ Masamori Tokuyama, and two-weight world title holder Gerry Penalosa. Winning the Japan title in only his seventh pro bout, Bakhtin defended it for a record 9 times.

That record could have been extended much longer, however, while cool in the ring, he may not have been so outside it as he was stripped of the title for his involvement in an incident that took place in Tokyo’s famed entertainment district, Roppongi. The case was resolved without criminal charges but resulted in a 16-month blank, during which Kyoei Gym voided their contract with the fighter (only to sign him back in April 2007).

Returning to the ring in July 2007, Bakhtin faced former OPBF champion and world title challenger Jesse Maca. The shopworn Filipino had been relegated to the status of “name opponent” and Bakhtin took advantage of his youth and skills in ending the fight in the 8th round by TKO. The next biggest challenge he would face, at least on paper, would be Gerson Guerrero, who is set to face Nonito Donaire next month. Though owning a 1999 victory over Super Flyweight stud Hugo Cazares, Guerrero had typically fallen flat against top competition, losing to Mauricio Pastrana, Cristian Mijares and Daniel Ponce de Leon. His outing with Bakhtin was lackluster and resulted in scores of 100-91 (twice) & 99-91.

The Russian sharpshooter then captured the OPBF Bantamweight crown in his next fight against Sung-Kook Kim. However, within a month of that fight, Bakhtin parted ways with Kyoei and joined Okinawa World Ring Gym in January 2009. While I was unable to find details on reasons for changing gyms, it may have been just one of the visible signs that Bakhtin would eventually leave Japan all together. That is exactly what he did after defending the OPBF title once – a TKO over Richard Samosir in July. The next time we would see Bakhtin would be on Christmas Day in Moscow with the now former champ forcing a corner retirement against a 6-3 fighter.

I imagine that many of Bakhtin’s fans and supporters in Japan were disappointed by his departure. Boxing Magazine reported in its 2010 World Boxing Perfect Guide that the Russian had vacated the OPBF title and his future plans were unknown.

Earlier this month, posted a presser that stated Bakhtin will face Nick Otieno (20-4, 9KO) in a WBC title eliminator “semifinal” in Izhevsk, Russia, on February 22. As Hasegawa is planning to fight in April, that would seem to rule Bakhtin out as his next opponent. Even if they do not meet for the champion’s next defense, I am sure I am not alone in saying that a showdown between Hasegawa and Bakhtin is a fight that would be very welcome. That card has much more appeal than Hasegawa/Vetyaka II.

It will be interesting to see if the move back to Russia will be beneficial to the young technician. Bakhtin had voiced frustration in the progress of his career while in Japan, as a chance at a world title had never materialized despite some media buildup. Now out of the country, he is no longer restricted to the WBC and WBA (as the only two sanctioning organizations recognized by Japan), and has already doubled the possibility for a world title fight. If he persists on targeting the green belt, we will have to see if the WBC keeps its word and installs him as a mandatory should Bakhtin win both the semi-final and title eliminator (wonder who that would be against…).

Nonetheless, for fight fans, this has expanded the number of intriguing match-ups for the Russian sniper. Bakhtin versus IBF title holder Yonnhy Perez would be an interesting fight, as would a meeting with WBO champ Fernando Montiel (who would probably be too much for him at this stage), or a clash with young Filipino bomber AJ Banal.

The fight I would like to see the most, however, is with former Mexican Olympian and fellow undefeated contender Abner Mares. While Mares is tentatively scheduled to challenge Perez for the IBF title in May, a bout with Bakhtin would be a great show of young, skilled pugilists defending their “0.” Both fighters had extensive amateur careers that have translated to polished skills in the professional ring. Both have a smooth style underlying their cool demeanor. Both are very accurate with their punches.

I would slightly favor the Hawaiian Gardens resident as I can see Mares wearing Bakhtin down by going at his midsection and being effective in using the Russian’s low left hand against him. In addition, while Bakhtin has been more aggressive recently, Mares has more pop in his punch. Moreover, as Ryuichi Minoriyama showed in his first two fights with the former Japan title holder, speed can be effective against the less mobile Bakhtin, and Mares has great hand speed and is able to move around the ring well enough.

Whether or not Bakhtin ever faces any of the boxers mentioned above, let’s hope that his career unfolds in events where we can watch him fight. It would be a shame if the skilled technician continues to be stuck in purgatory away from higher profile bouts.

*Posts from also consulted for content for this post.

Future plans for WBC Bantamweight title holder Hozumi Hasegawa have become a little more clear in the past 24 hours. While in attendance of the annual JBC boxing awards last night, the long-reigning 118lb champion announced that he plans to stay in his current weight class and attempt to make the 11th defense of his crown.

Speculation that a move up in weight has grown among the media and boxing enthusiasts with each successful defense. After his performance over Alvaro Perez in December, possible opponents that were mentioned included the winner of the WBA Super Bantamweight title match between Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym and Satoshi Hosono held on January 11, as well as WBA Featherweight champion Chris John.

However, earlier this month, Shinsei Gym president Mr. Yamashita commented that it would be unlikely that his fighter would vacate his green belt to challenge for a WBA title. In addition, members of Hasegawa’s team stated yesterday that a move to featherweight was abandoned due to money issues with possible opponents. Staying at 118 and defending the WBC title was then the most logical decision.

Though dominating his last 5 opponents in the ring with stoppages all coming within 4 rounds, his biggest challenge in the past few years has been the scale. It is well publicized in Japan that the champion must remove 10 – 12kg (22 – 26.4lbs) to make the Bantam limit. The slick southpaw has fought all 30 of his pro bouts at 118, a career that spans over 10 years, and his body is no longer the same as it was when he debuted as an 18 years old.

Hasegawa addressed the media at the awards ceremony and revealed that he felt there is room for improvement in regards to how he cuts weight. In the process of making the bantamweight limit, Hasegawa’s body-fat percentage drops to 7-8%, a figure he feels, with the assistance of a nutritionist, he can bring down even lower to 5%.

Moreover, the champ gave recognition to the rest of the division in stating that there are strong contenders in the weight class, however, intends to show that he is the strongest.

A card is already being built for April that will feature Hasegawa and WBC Super Bantamweight champion Toshiaki Nishioka. Mr. Yamashita mentioned that while an opponent has yet to be determined for his charge, the WBC may set up a title eliminator between #1 contender Simpiwe Vetyeka and #2 Abner Mares. The later of he two is tentatively scheduled to meet IBF champion Yonnhy Perez in May. The #3 rated contender by the WBC is Sasha Bakhtin. The former OPBF & Japan Bantamweight champion has recently moved back to his native Russia and is scheduled to fight in a title eliminator “semi-final” in February. Considering all of those factors, I would imagine Hasegawa fights Vetyeka or someone at #4 or below.

Daliy Sports Online
Nikkan Sports

Hozumi Hasegawa & Toshiaki Nishioka
WBC Bantamweight champion & WBC Super Bantamweight champion

Hasegawa and his team have yet to make an announcement on a decision regarding his next fight, tentatively scheduled for April. Reports have suggested that the premier 118-pounder will either stay at weight to make his 11th defense or jump the 122lb division all together in order to campaign at Featherweight. A decision is expected by the end of the month.

As noted last week, Hasegawa’s next fight could be one half of a doubleheader with Toshiaki Nishioka, the WBC Super Bantamweight champion. Nishioka will attempt to make the fourth defense of his title (counting from when he annexed the interim title against Napapol Kiatisakchokchai). An opponent has yet to be determined as well.


Takashi Uchiyama
WBA Super Featherweight champion

Takashi Uchiyama, still fresh off his title earning effort against Juan Carlos Salgado, made his way back to the gym at the close of last week and is looking to go rounds with Hasegawa in sparring. The new 130lb champion publicly requested the Bantam title holder’s assistance, specifically hoping to learn from Hasegawa’s speed and counterpunching expertise.

While gym wars between world-class fighters may not be rare, I am not sure if it is common practice in Japan for two belt holders to mix it up in a sparring session. Uchiyama’s adjustment to the pro ranks and acceleration toward a title was likely boosted as he had spent time as a sparring partner with former two-weight champion Jorge Linares and current WBC Lightweight champion Edwin Valero (wish I could have seen those sessions!!).

Uchiyama’s team cites a possible showdown with interim champion Likar Ramos as a motive for the sparring request. The Colombian, like Hasegawa, is a southpaw, but must get through two-time world title challenger Jorge Solis in a defense scheduled for February 6.

Interestingly, the weight difference between Uchiyama and Hasegawa would not be that big as the Super Feather belt holder walks around at 64kg (140.8lbs), while Hasegawa is usually at 63kg (138.6lb).

Sports Hochi


**updated 01/26/10**
Nobuo Nashiro
WBA Super Flyweight champion

Though his next fight has yet to be announced, Nashiro is back in Japan after a brief two-week camp in Guam. A third defense of the title he claimed in September 2008 is planned for this spring. The possibility of a rematch with former WBO light flyweight champion Hugo Cazares is high. The Los Mochis native battled Nashiro to a draw last September, resulting in scores of 112-116, 114-114, 116-112.

Found an interesting clip on youtube as well. This is from a sparring session held in late 2007 in preparation for Hasegawa’s 5th defense of his WBC Bantamweight title. Nashiro had lost the WBA Super Flyweight belt to Alexander Munoz months earlier.

The quality is not great and you only see 30 seconds or so of each of the four rounds that they sparred, but at least it is some footage of world class pugs going at it in the gym.



Not much else going on with Japan’s world title holders as I do not care to report on things like this. I am working on a preview of the annual Champions’ Carnival that pits the holder of the Japanese title against the highest ranked challenger. I hope to have that up in the next day or two. I am also looking for footage of more prospects to share. The only film of the guy I would like to show next is a really grainy 30 second video of a video, so no point in putting any viewers through that.

Last Thursday, it was reported that the WBC had tabbed 20 year old Kazuto Ioka at #15 in the most recent edition of their rankings for the Light Flyweight division.

The young Osaka native has only three bouts under his belt, the most recent being a dominating performance over 25-fight veteran Takashi Kunishige, who was ranked at #12 by the WBC and #9 by the WBA at the time. Ioka has been on an accelerated schedule since turning pro in January 2009. Unable to find an opponent domestically for his debut, he was matched with Thongthailek Por Vorasing (5-8, 2KO), who was reportedly the #1 Flyweight in Thailand. That fight was stopped by the referee 26 seconds into the third round as Ioka was wailing away at the Thai in a corner.

His second bout, which took place in July, also ended early when he stopped JBC #7 rated Minimumweight Hiroshi Matsumoto in an 8 round Light Flyweight contest. The prospect destroyed the veteran within 3 rounds, earning a TKO at the 2:59 mark of the second stanza.

Currently at 3-0 with 2KOs, Ioka was honored with the JBC 2009 Rookie of the Year award given out earlier this month. Already a draw in the Kansai area, over 8000 came to watch the phenom make his debut at the Prefectural Gymnasium in Osaka.

With good hand speed and a decent arsenal of punches, the speedy Ioka is on a crash course for a world title match within his first 10 bouts. The media is already making a fuss as to whether or not he can rewrite Japanese record books by winning a world championship in the fewest number of fights. Certainly Ioka has a solid amateur background, winning several tournaments in building a record of 95-10, and has the genes – he is the NEPHEW (I mistakenly said grandson on twitter) of former two-weight world title holder Hiroki Ioka. While some Japanese have been successful despite a rushed date with a world title, think Nobuo Nashiro, let’s hope that he is allowed to acclimate himself to the pro ranks before he makes that step.

Ioka vs. Kunishige Part 2
Ioka vs. Kunishige Part 3

Hozumi Hasegawa
WBC Bantamweight champion

Japan’s leading promotional outfit, Teiken Promotions, is currently planning a world title doubleheader in April featuring WBC Super Bantamweight champion Toshiaki Nishioka and WBC Bantamweight champion Hozumi Hasegawa. While details are still being finalized, perhaps the most intriguing issues of the event would be Hasegawa’s weight class and his opponent.

As a part of the negotiations for the card with the WBC, possibilities for the long-reigning Bantam title holder would be his 11th defense of that crown or a move up to featherweight. A match at 126 would be a title eliminator with the victor installed at #1 or #2 in the WBC ratings. The WBC Featherweight champion is Elio Rojas while Israel Vasquez, who already has plans for his fourth bout with Rafael Marquez in May, is currently ranked #1. Undefeated Juan Carlos Burgos is #2. The result of the negotiations should be made public in the next week.

Hasegawa has had a difficult time making 118 for recent defenses, and many media outlets, domestic and foreign, were under the impression that he would soon be moving upward in weight class. Hasegawa was working the microphone at Monday’s WBA title matches and it was well publicized that he may target the winner of the Super Bantamweight bout, Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym.

However, the day after the fight, Shinsei Gym president Mr. Yamashita commented that they are not currently considering a challenge to the Thai champion as that would require Hasegawa to turn his back on the WBC and give up the title he has defended 10 times.

Hasegawa requested that media refrain from questions about weight classes at a public appearance on Wednesday,

Will we see Japan’s best pugilist defending his 118lb title for the 11th time in April, or will we see him in a title eliminator two weight classes north?

Toshiaki Nishioka
WBC Super Bantamweight champion

Nishioka’s opponent for the April doubleheader has not yet been made public, but the 122lb champ has already been spotted in the gym working out.

Nobuo Nashiro
WBA Super Flyweight champion

Nashiro is currently in Guam training for a spring defense of his WBA Super Flyweight title though an opponent has yet to be determined. Before taking off for the US territory, he stated that he would welcome a challenge from current WBC Flyweight title holder Koki Kameda. The brash 23 year old has publicly stated his goal is to become a three-weight champion. Having only usurped the title from the popular Daisuke Naito recently, a move up in weight may be a year or so away. Regardless, Nashiro has stated that he hopes Kameda targets him when he does come to 115 and that he believes he would come out the winner of the two.

Koki Kameda
WBC Flyweight champion

Kameda, on the other hand, was in the Philippines last week with younger brother and WBA #11 ranked flyweight, Daiki. The southpaw, who countered his way to a UD against Naito in November, looks to make his first defense as early as March. While a face-off with interim champion Pongsaklek Wonjongkam looms in the near future, the older Kameda is mainly focusing on helping his younger brother prepare for his challenge to WBA Flyweight title holder Denkaosan Kaovichit.

During his stay in the Philippines, Kameda was able to meet Manny Pacquiao, spending about an hour with the seven weight champion (yeah, I said 7!!).

Takashi Uchiyama
WBA Super Featherweight champion

Daily Sports Online reports that newly crowned WBA Super Featherweight title holder Takashi Uchiyama has expressed interest in taking on former two-weight champion Jorge Linares as well as former WBC Featherweight strap holder Takahiro Aoh.

It seems that Uchiyama may not elect to take a soft first defense and has stated that he would like to face a reputable and strong challenger. The new champion feels Linares and Aoh fulfill those conditions. Both former belt holders are represented by Teiken Promotions, which also holds a stake in Uchiyama as his co-promoter. Uchiyama has experience with both contenders, sparring with Linares in the past and working out with Aoh when they were amateurs.

As Uchiyama ultimately hopes to fight outside of Japan, his team believes that a fight with either former champion would boost their charge’s reputation abroad. RingwalkNIPPON believes a win over Linares, who had been highly regarded before his loss to Juan Carlos Salgado, would certainly heighten Uchiyama’s status, however, presents a steep challenge if the Venezuelan proves that he has recovered from the upset. Aoh, a skilled southpaw who lost his title in attempting his first defense against Rojas, may be an easier test for the new WBA champ

Boxing Scene has also reported that Uchiyama may target the winner of the WBA interim title bout between Jorge Solis (37-2-2, 27KO) and Likar Ramos (21-2, 15KO).

Tentative plans for the first defense are being made for May or June.

Nobuhiro Ishida
WBA Interim Super Welterweight champion

Ishida has called out Yuri Foreman in order to unify the WBA Super Welterweight titles. That is unlikely to happen any time soon as ESPN’s Dan Rafael has reported Foreman plans to defend his title against fellow Top Rank fighter and former welterweight belt holder Miguel Cotto.

There had been hopes that a Foreman-Ishida unification bout would be a part of a mega event held in Shanghai involving 4 world title matches.

RingwalkNIPPON @Twitter

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