Fightful Boxing Newsletter (1/10): NYE Week Tokyo Boxing Show Review, Year-End Awards, 2019 Preview

Fightful Boxing Newsletter (1/10) Table Of Contents:

  1. December 30 Tokyo Boxing Show Review
  2. 2019 Boxing Preview
  3. Floyd Mayweather vs. Tenshin Nasukawa Fallout
  4. Fightful Boxing Awards: Event of the Year
  5. Fightful Boxing Awards: Upset of the Year
  6. Fightful Boxing Awards: Breakout Star of the Year
  7. Fightful Boxing Awards: Fight of the Year (10-1)
  8. Fightful Boxing Awards: Female Boxer of the Year (5-1)
  9. Fightful Boxing Awards: Male Boxer of the Year (5-1)
  10. U.S. Boxing Roundup
  11. Japan Boxing Roundup

December 30 Tokyo Boxing Show Review:

Japan’s final big boxing show of 2018, taking place at the Ota-City General Gymnasium in Tokyo, featured three impressive performances from their native boxers, all looking primed for big fights in 2019.

In what has been an annual tradition for Japanese boxing, the New Year’s Eve show (this year taking place on December 30 instead of December 31), is generally one of, if not the biggest boxing card of the year for Japan. The show featured three title fights, all involving a Japanese star in action, but all had somewhat predictable results.

In the main event, Masayuki Ito retained his WBO super featherweight title with a dominant victory over mandatory challenger Evgeny Chuprakov. On the undercard, Takuma Inoue won the interim WBC bantamweight title and Ken Shiro defended his WBC light flyweight title.

While the show was solid and by no means a bad card, this year’s New Year’s Eve card wasn’t as good or star-studded as some of the cards held this time of the year in previous years. The 2017 iteration, which had two cards on the last two days of the year, featured a title unification on one show and Naoya Inoue on the other show. In 2016, which had three shows on NYE, had an extremely competitive fight and a total of four title fights.

When looking at who could have been on the card, perhaps the three biggest names in Japan that could have been on the show were Kosei Tanaka, Hiroto Kyoguchi and Kazuta Ioka. In the case of Tanaka, he would have defended his WBO flyweight title on the show, but still needed time to recover from his war against Sho Kimura back in September. Kyoguchi and Ioka were in their respective title fights the day after in Macau, China, leaving something to be desired for the Tokyo card. Again, that’s not to say there wasn’t anything good to see.

ESPN+ aired Inoue’s and Ito’s fights live and both bouts certainly had something good to talk about. Inoue’s fight against Petch Sor Chitpattani ended being an enjoyable bout towards the end and left viewers wanting Inoue to fight either Luis Nery or Rey Vargas, both of which would have made for exciting matchups at bantamweight. Ito, whom ESPN+ remember him from his title win over Christopher Diaz last July, is now being eyed by Top Rank to have a title defense in 2019 against Jamel Herring.

Shiro was not featured on the ESPN+ stream due to time constraints, but had perhaps the most dominant performance among all three champions on the card. Shiro won almost every round in his win over Saul Juarez. Heading into 2019, possibly the biggest all-Japanese fight would be one against Kyoguchi, the new WBA champion at light flyweight.

Such a fight would be the perfect main event for the 2019 NYE card, but there is one potential roadblock that could stop the fight from happening. Kyoguchi is a part of Watanabe Gym, who fights on Tokyo Broadcast System (TBS), while Shiro fights on Fuji TV, the domestic television station that aired the December 30 show. It’s a similar situation to Terence Crawford, who fights on ESPN for Top Rank Boxing, and the rest of the welterweight champions, who are aligned with PBC and have broadcast deals with Showtime and Fox. While a unification fight might be the best thing for boxing, behind-the-scene wars for television supremacy might stop it from happening.

Results From Ota-City General Gymnasium, December 30, 2018:

Masayuki Ito defeated Evgeny Chuprakov by TKO, round 7 to retain the WBO super featherweight title: Ito opened things up with a solid first round, landing the right hand with ease while Chuprakov barely landing anything as he clinched throughout the opening frame. The champion would continue outboxing Chuprakov throughout the first three rounds, but Chuprakov would land big punches in the fourth, including a left hook to Ito's chin. The rest of the round saw both men trade blows as the crowd at the Ota-City General Gymnasium was cheering loudly for the action to continue. As the fight progressed into the middle rounds, both men would start receiving cuts thanks in part to several clashes of heads throughout the fight. Ito would still continue to land the bigger punches even while dealing with a cut right above the left eye. In the seventh round, Ito lands a flurry of punches that stunned Chuprakov into the corner and Ito let his hands go, trying to find the stoppage. The referee would step in to stop the fight with less than a minute remaining in the seventh round.

Takuma Inoue defeated Petch Sor Chitpattana by unanimous decision (117-111, 117-111, 117-111) to win the interim WBC bantamweight title: The fight started off with Inoue landing the straight right hand effectively, causing a cut near Chitpattana's right eye. Throughout the first couple of rounds, Chitpattana's head movement was almost nonexistent, allowing Inoue to let his hands go and take control of the fight early. Chitpattana did manage to get back and starting landing punches, some to the body, but was still outmatched by Inoue. In the middle rounds, Inoue's punch output started to decrease and Chitpattana established his right hand to pressure Inoue. Late in the ninth round, Inoue, with his back against the ropes, landed a right hand that caught Chitpattana off-balance and Inoue finished the round with a flurry of shots. In the 10th round, Inoue landed a body shot that stunned Chitpattana, reclaiming the momentum that he had in the early rounds. Chitpattana tried to come back pressure forward to Inoue, looking to work the body, but Inoue proved to be too much for Chitpattana to handle.

Ken Shiro defeated Saul Juarez by unanimous decision (120-108, 119-109, 119-109) to retain the WBC light flyweight title: The fight was a one-sided bout that saw Shiro establish his superior boxing abilities almost from the start. Shiro primarily utilized the jab to keep Juarez in check while mixing things up with various punches to win the fight. Shiro tried to find his fourth consecutive stoppage win, but Juarez proved to be too tough, having been knocked out once in his nine losses as a pro. The 26-year-old Shiro had been one of boxing's busiest champions since defeating Ganigan Lopez to win the WBC title in May 2017. After beating Lopez, Shiro would go on to retain his title five more times. A showdown against Kyoguchi should be next, but that is still somewhat unlikely to happen due to opposing television networks wanting to broadcast the fight.

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