This past week has been lacking in terms of in ring action, but there has been quite a lot going on outside of the ring.
One of the first bits of news was that Ken Shiro (9-0, 5) had vacated the Japanese Light Flyweight title. He was supposed to defend that title less than 2 weeks after the announcement but it now seems clear that he has agreed terms for a world title fight, and has vacated to take part in a bout at world level.
Kenshiro was originally scheduled to face Tetsuya Hisada (27-9-2, 17) on April 2nd in a title defense. Instead Hisada will now have to wait until April 21st to fight for the Japanese Light Flyweight title, and instead of taking on Ken Shiro he will take on former champion Kenichi Horikawa (32-14-1, 7), in what will be a third bout between the two men.
Staying with the Japanese domestic scene we also saw an official announcement about the Japanese youth tournament, which is open for young fighters with A class licenses. This year will be the first such tournament, and will see fighters fighting in 8 divisions, from Flyweight to Light Welterweight. The tournament is a small one, with just over 20 fighters taking part, but if it’s a success it could become a more notable tournament going forward. Of the 8 weight classes only one has 4 competitors, so two semi finals, but all the men involved are of a similar level and should make for some interesting bouts.
It was also this past week that we saw Kazuki Tanaka (6-0, 5) having his opponent officially named for his April 2nd bout. The Japanese former amateur stand out will be up against world ranked Thai Sukkasem Kietyongyuth (16-6, 11). Although only announced this week Sukkasem was reported to have been confirmed as Tanaka’s opponent last week. Although ranked #15 by the IBF Sukkasem will be expected to take a beating here against the very highly touted Sukkasem.
Another Japan Vs Thailand bout announced this past week was an OPBF Light Middleweight title bout between champion Yutaka Oishi (14-5, 7) and Ratchasi Sithsaithong (7-3, 5), with the bout set for April 22nd. For Oishi, who is world ranked by the IBF at 154lbs, this will be his first defense whilst Ratchasi will be seeking his biggest win to date. It’s not a great bout on paper, but is a significant one given Oishi’s world ranking and OPBF title.
Another OPBF bout announced this week was reported in Korea. The report stated that Korean Sa Myung Noh (10-3, 3) will challenge OPBF Featherweight champion Ryo Takenaka (16-3-1, 9). According to the Koreans a deal is done for the bout to take place in Tokyo on June 8th. It will be Takenaka’s 4th defense whilst Noh will be fighting in his first bout at Oriental title level.
At world level it’s being reported that Japan’s Takashi Miura (31-3-2, 24) will face WBC Super Featherweight world champion Miguel Berchelt (31-1, 28) on June 24th in the US. Although the bout hasn’t officially been announced various sources are reporting that this is a done deal and will be announced in the coming weeks. It’s not a bout that’s been any sort of a surprise as Miura is the mandatory challenger to Berchelt and a deadline was approaching for purse bids.
It’s fair to say that Romero Duno (13-1, 12) turned heads earlier this month when he stopped the previously unbeaten Christian Gonzalez. Among those heads were the folks at Golden Boy Promotions, the promoter of Gonzalez, who announced that they had signed a promotional deal with Duno. It’s unclear to see how much weight Golden Boy will put behind Duno but it’s clear that he has the style and excitement to be a very TV friendly fight at Lightweight, and could fit on some of the lower tier TV cards that Golden Boy put on.
I’m sad to report that former Japanese gym owner Takao Sasaki has passed away, with his death occurring on March 18th but not being reported until this past week. Sasaki had run a relatively small gym in Japan,but it had had plenty of success, including recent OPBF Light Middleweight champion Koji Numata.
One other bit of news is that the new WBC Super Flyweight champion Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (42-4-1, 38) returned to Thailand this back week and got a hero’s welcome following his career defining win over Roman Gonzalez. The Thai received a large cheque and has got a meeting set to see the Prime Minister of Thailand, that’s how significant the win has been viewed by those in Thailand.
(Scott Graveson covers the Asian boxing scene for www.asianboxing.info)