By Joe Koizumi
More than two hundred boxing and media people attended an annual award-giving ceremony to celebrate our outstanding boxers who showed remarkable achievements in the previous year in Tokyo, Japan, on Wednesday. WBC bantam champ Hozumi Hasegawa, who registered three more defenses all by fine and fast stoppages en route to his creditable ten defenses, received the Boxer of the Year award for the fourth time. The champ said, “It is not certain yet whether I’ll stay in the bantam division or move up to the feather class, but would like to continue my winning way, hopefully by a knockout victory.”
The Technique Award went to WBC super-bantam kingpin Toshiaki Nishioka, who displayed a pulverizing one-punch knockout over Jhonny Gonzalez in Mexico to defend his throne to his credit. The Valuable Victory Award was rendered to newly crowned WBC flyweight champ Koki Kameda who dethroned Daisuke Naito by a unanimous nod last November. WBA super-fly titlist Nobuo Nashiro received the citation for Fighting Spirit thanks to his hard-fought defense with mandatory challenger Hugo Cazares via well-evaluated split draw.
The Effort Award was given to ex-WBC 112-pound ruler Daisuke Naito who had kept his belt on five occasions prior to his forfeiture to Kameda. Hasegawa was also awarded the KO citation due to his five consecutive stoppages in defending his world throne.
Unbeaten ex-amateur champ and currently already WBC#15 108-pound contender Kazuto Ioka, a 20-year-old future world champ, was unanimously the Rookie King of the previous year. Kazuto (3-0, 2 KOs), a nephew of former two-class world champ Hiroki Ioka, is gunning for a world shot in his fifth professional bout. The Fight of the Year was the Nishioka-Gonzalez WBC 122-pound title bout in Mexico.
Unbeaten WBA 105-pound champ Etsuko Tada, a fast-punching southpaw, was named the female Boxer of the Year thanks to her winning the belt and defending it via hard-fought split draw with WBC 108-pound ruler Naomi Togashi last December.
It was a deluxe lunch time with our fistic stars gathering on the platform. It is a pity that some world champs unfortunately failed to get any awards, since the number of our champions is more than that of awards. We, in Japan, now see six male and four female titlists. Despite our recession even in the boxing industry, anyhow, our boxers displayed fine performances to entertain our fight fans last year. It was true.
The event was conducted by the Japan Boxing Commission (JBC) and the Japan Professional Boxing Association (JPBA), and the union of licensed club owners.