After a few quiet weeks it seems that things have picked up in the last few days.
To begin the week Hatanaka gym announced that WBO Light Flyweight champion Kosei Tanaka (8-0, 5) will be defending his title on May 20th against mandatory challenger Angel Acosta (16-0, 16) of Puerto Rico. Tanaka, the youngest active world champion, will be making his first defense of the title that he won last year and although he has home advantage Acosta is a huge puncher and a real threat for anyone at 108lbs.
Another bout that was announced this week is the April 29th bout between unbeaten Japanese based Filipino Genesis Servania (28-0, 11) and once beaten Filipino Ralph Jhon Lulu (12-1-2, 5). The bout will be for the WBO Asia Pacific Featherweight title and will open the door for the winner to, potentially, get a shot at the phenomenal Oscar Valdez.
One other announcement is that Kazuki Nakajima (0-0) has stated his intention to turn professional with the Ohashi gym. He will take part in his pro-test later in Spring and it seems likely that he could debut as early as late May. Although unknown outside of Japan Nakajima is a former standout amateur on the domestic scene and is another great signing for the Ohashi gym, who are currently a hot bed of talent.
The most disappointing bit of news from the last week is that Japanese Welterweight champion Toshio Arikawa (14-4, 12) has been forced out of his planned rematch with Daisuke Sakamoto (13-8-3, 8). The bout, originally set for April 17th, was a mandatory title defense for Arikawa but he has suffered a reported broken jaw in training forcing the bout to be cancelled. The JBC are said to be considering putting Sakamoto into an interim title fight, but no decision has yet to be announced.
On the subject of injuries it sounds like former WBC Flyweight champion Toshiyuki Igarashi (23-2-3, 12) suffered a orbital floor fracture in his recent draw against Miguel Cartagena (15-3-1, 6). The injury will keep Igarashi out of the ring for some time and has seemingly frustrated those at Teiken who had planned to get Igarashi a world title fight later in the year.
Also on the subject of injuries, former OPBF Light Middleweight champion Takayuki Hosokawa (28-11-5, 9) has stated he is set to retire on April 9th, after his next bout. The Muto gym veteran has suffered from eye issues in recent years and has seemingly had enough of risking his sight. He had spoken about this issue in the past and finally seems to have decided he’s not getting a world title fight, and decided to hang them up.
One man who isn’t injured is WBC Bantamweight champion Shinsuke Yamanaka (27-0-2, 19), who returned to the gym this past week less than 4 weeks after his most recent defense. The heavy handed southpaw is set to be make his 13th defense in the fall, and if he’s success he will tie a long standing Japanese record.
Some interesting rumours have began to circulate this past week.
In Puerto Rico fans saw Japan’s Yuki Nonaka (31-8-3, 10) having his name linked to former multi-weight world champion Miguel Cotto (40-5, 33). According to the report Nonaka and Brandon Rios are in the running to face Cotto in June, in what will be Cotto’s first bout since losing to Saul Alvarez in 2015.
From China reports are swirling that WBO Flyweight champion Zou Shiming’s (9-1, 2) is about ti see his first title defense being pushed back until August. Shiming was supposed to defend his title in early May but the reports suggest that the lack of an opponent, and issues in regards to financial have essentially forced those plans to be scrapped and that he will have to wait until August. Incidentally one of the names linked to Shiming was the previously mentioned Igarashi, who may be ready to fight come August if his injury heals quickly.
(Scott Graveson covers the Asian boxing scene for www.asianboxing.info)