Giant Japan Boxing Update

By Joe Koizumi
Photo: Boxing Beat

WBC#6 super-light contender, unbeaten Japanese Yoshihiro Kamegai (22-0-1, 19 KOs), 149.5, decked his final bout prior to his departure for campaigning in the US from now on, when he impressively dispatched Mexican Jose Alberto Leal (8-5, 4 KOs), 149.5, with a vicious right-left combination penetrating the jaw at 1:59 of the second round in Tokyo, Japan, last Saturday (February 2). Kamegai, a skillful speedster, had tasted his first draw with Jorge Silva in Sacramento last October, and will fight abroad in May. The 30-year-old Japanese, nicknamed “Maestrito (young master)”, will hone his fists and cope with American or Mexican welterweights there since there is no competitive opposition in Asia. Bon voyage.

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Olympic gold medalist in the middleweight category in London, Ryota Murata astoundingly changed his mind and decided to turn professional from this spring. Murata, 27, is a hard-punching six-footer, having gained the gold medal to become the very second to the late Takao Sakurai, ex-bantam gold medalist in 1964. The Japan Boxing Federation, a jurisdiction in the amateur field, is in hot water against its pride and symbol Murata’s abrupt entry into the paid ranks. Our boxing fraternity will be in a turmoil following Murata’s forthcoming public announcement, which may cause an antagonism between the professional and amateur organizations. It also followed a Sakurai scandal forty-eight years ago, when the amateur fraternity tried to strongly dissuade the first gold medalist out of Japan from turning pro.

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The Japan Professional Boxing Association (JPBA), a union of club owners, announced its promotion of a female world title tripleheader to be held at the Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, on March 3. WBC atomweight champ Momo Koseki will make her tenth defense against Mexican Maria Jimenez. WBA minimum titlist Etsuko Tada, an unbeaten southpaw making the ninth defense, will put her belt against Yuko Kuroki, OPBF top ranked compatriot. Naoko Shibata will dispute the vacant WBC light-flyweight belt with Mexican Ibeth Zamora due to former champ Esmeralda Moreno’s relinquishment following her pregnancy. Since the popularity of the female boxing is at the bottom here in Japan, the union thus financially helps the activities of female boxers.

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The Japan Boxing Commission (JBC) stripped Hiroshige Osawa of his featherweight belt of the OPBF (Oriental and Pacific Boxing Federation, the presidency of which the JBC is now administrating) and suspended him for a year. It was because Osawa, despite holding the regional belt of the OPBF, filed a false contract of a non-title bout in Korea with the JBC and fought Indonesian Jason Butar Butar in a quest for the vacant interim WBO Asia Pacific featherweight belt on December 16. Despite his KO triumph in nine rounds, we really wonder why Osawa dared to fight for the still unauthorized organization at this moment. It is said the JBC is positively considering its affiliation with the WBO from this year. If so, why wasn’t Osawa a bit more patient prior to fighting for the WBO regional belt? Or, was he too much eager to face the WBO champ Mikey Garcia soon?

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Yoko Gushiken, ex-world junior flyweight champ and now an active promoter, discloses that he plans to stage WBA female super-flyweight champ Naoko Yamaguchi’s second defense in Tokyo on April 10. Her challenger will be announced by Gushiken soon. Gushiken, now a famous television talent, has been frequently appearing on many quiz programs.

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