The Pro Boxing Scene In Japan Is Rising4 min read
Pro boxing in Japan is booming and has reached unprecedented heights in recent years, in contrast to the pro boxing scene in the Philippines, which will conclude the year without a world champion.
Japan is now home to a total of four world champions, two of whom are currently unified champions in their respective divisions.
Naoya “The Monster” Inoue, the undisputed champion of the WBA, WBC, and IBF at bantamweight (118 pounds), is leading the Japanese contingent (23-0 with 20 knockouts). Inoue, a three-division world champion (junior flyweight, junior bantamweight, and bantamweight), is scheduled to battle his WBO opponent Paul Butler of England on December 13 for the undisputed bantamweight title.
If Inoue prevails over Butler, then he will be hailed as the first Asian fighter in the four-belt period to be the undisputed champion of his weight class. Inoue is already regarded as one of the top pound-for-pound champions in the sport at the present time. On June 7, Inoue won the World Boxing Championship by defeating Nonito “The Filipino Flash” Donaire in two rounds. This victory earned him the championship. Inoue already holds the belts from the WBC, WBA, and IBF; all he needs to do to complete his collection of all four major belts is win against Butler.
Kenshiro Teraji, who has the WBA and WBC junior flyweight title at 108 pounds, is another Japanese champion who aspires to follow in Inoue’s footsteps (20-1, 12 knockouts).
Teraji is descended from a long line of boxers. Hisashi Teraji, Teraji’s father, was a former champion of the Orient-Pacific Boxing Federation in the light heavyweight division. In August of 2014, Teraji made the transition from amateur to professional player, just like his father before him.
Teraji, also known as the “Amazing Boy,” was the original holder of the WBC junior flyweight (also known as light flyweight) belt from 2017 until 2021, when an unheralded fellow countryman named Masamichi Yabuki knocked him out in three rounds. Teraji defeated Yabuki via knockout in the third round in their rematch, which took place on March 19th of this year.
Teraji unified the WBC and WBA junior flyweight crowns after winning seven action-packed rounds and defeating Hiroto Kyoguchi, his opponent in the WBA. The fight took place on November 1, 2017. Teraji, who was more often known as a lanky fighter, went all out on attack and knocked out Kyoguchi in the seventh round with a stunning right hook.
Teraji, just like Inoue, has his sights set on becoming the undisputed champion in his weight class. A unification bout with Jonathan Gonzalez of Puerto Rico, who has the WBO title, is on the agenda for the reigning WBC-WBA champion. Gonzalez, who has a record of 25-3 with 14 knockouts, kept his WBO title with a decision victory over Japanese opponent Shokichi Iwata on the undercard of the fight between Teraji and Kyoguchi. This kept Gonzalez on track for a bout with Teraji.
If Teraji is successful in his bout against Gonzalez, the only championship title remaining for him to win is the IBF diadem, which is now held by Sive Nontshinga (11-0, 9 knockouts) of South Africa.
Kazuto Ioka is the current WBO junior bantamweight (115 lbs) champion, while Masataka Taniguchi is the current WBO minimumweight (105 lbs) titlist. These two Japanese boxers complete the list of current Japanese world boxing champions.
Ioka, who is 33 years old and has won world titles in four different weight classes, is coming off of a clear victory over the Filipino champion Donnie “Ahas” Nietes on July 13. The return of Covid-19 in Japan caused a battle between Ioka and then-IBF champion Jerwin Ancajas that was scheduled to take place in 2021. However, the fight did not take place because of the resurgence of Covid-19 in Japan.
Ioka, who has a record of 28-2 with 15 knockouts, is considering a bout against Fernando Daniel Martinez of Argentina, who defeated Ancajas. Martinez, who had a perfect record of 15-0 with 8 knockouts, was able to unseat Ancajas as the IBF champion in February and then did it again in their rematch in October.
After defeating Ancajas, Martinez made it clear that he intended to meet with Ioka by telling reporters, “That’s what I would like to do. My own plan would be to meet with Ioka.”
In his first attempt to win the WBO minimumweight title in February 2019, 28-year-old Japanese boxer Masataka Taniguchi was defeated by Filipino opponent Vic Saludar. Taniguchi responded by capturing the WBO championship with a thrilling victory over Puerto Rican Wilfredo Mendez in December 2021. Taniguchi’s record at that point was 16-3 with 11 knockouts. Taniguchi knocked off Mendez in the eleventh round to take the title from Saludar, who had held it since August 2019.
Inoue’s meteoric ascension has undoubtedly been a source of motivation for the improvement that has been seen in Japanese professional boxing in recent years.
In the sport of boxing, Japan has produced more than 80 world champions. It may be hard to believe, but Japan won its first world championship in 1952, and it was at the expense of a Filipino boxer.
Yoshio Shirai won the world flyweight (112 lb) championship by defeating Dado Marino in May of 1952. Dado Marino was a Hawaiian who was born to Filipino parents. Shirai won the title of world professional boxing champion for Japan. Up until November 1954, Shirai was the reigning world flyweight champion. However, he was ultimately dethroned by the legendary boxer Pascual Perez of Argentina.
Since Shirai was crowned king of Japanese professional boxing, the sport has clearly come a long way since then.
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