BOXING IN 1996
Kasai is put down, but Tatsuyoshi's hope surges
Yuichi Kasai who is top ranked in the world challenged again the WBA junior featherweight title. He faced champion Antonio Cermeno of Venezuela in Las Vegas on Dec. 21. Cermeno was quite aggressive from the beginning and was overwhelming Kasai with his long reach. Kasai withstood the punches. They fought all 12 rounds. Cermeno won an unanimous decision and defended his title for the 4th time. Kasai failed again to win the world title.
Meanwhile, superstar Joichiro Tatsuyoshi was back on the ring for the first time in 9 months. He fought earlier on the same ring in Las Vegas, facing Mexican, Fernando Alanis who does not hold a world ranking. It looked as if Alanis had advantage over Tatsuyoshi in the beginning. Tatsuyoshi kept to his style though, that is, not bothering to guard himself from his opponent's blows. In the 9th round, Tatsuyoshi began to attack Alanis with fervor. Alanis looked dazzed, and Tatsuyoshi's continuous attack won him a techical knock out. This victory has given Tatsuyoshi the chance to challenge the world title again. It has been reported after this match that Tatsuyoshi may challenge Cermeno or Daniel Zaragoza sometime after next March.
Yamaguchi fails to defend his title
Champion Keiji Yamaguchi took on Thailand's Pitchinoi Siriwat in the WBA junior flyweight title match in Osaka on Dec.3. It was a quick match. Yamaguchi received a strong punch in the head in the 2nd round. That did it. Yamaguchi fell to the floor. It was a technical knock out. Yamaguchi is hoping to challenge a different weight division next time.
Foreman defends title in Tokyo
47-year George Foreman appeared before fans in Tokyo for the first time since 1973. Unfortunately, Tokyo Bay NK Hall, where the match was held, did not attract a full crowd to everyone's surprise. Anyway, Foreman took on Crawford Grimsley in the WBU Heavyweight Title Match. They fought 12 rounds. Foreman took an unianimous win. Foreman must have kept the Lord on his side, because he did not move that well on the ring.
First women's match in Japan
For the first time, Japanese fans witnessed a women's boxing match, also held at the Tokyo Bay NK Hall. It's the WIBF welterweight title match. An upset occured. American Mary Ann Almager lost her title to France's Valerie Wiet.
Hiranaka misses the world title again
On November 2, Nobutoshi Hiranaka challenged WBC feather weight champion, Filipino Luisito Koizumi who belongs to a Japanese gym. The fight was held in Fukuoka. The right side of Hiranaka's face was so badly swollen that in the 8th round he lost to a technical knock out. Hiranaka was unable to fulfill his dream at his second attempt for the world title.
Quick victory for champion Kawashima
WBC super flyweight champion Hiroshi Kawashima won a technical knock out against Domingo Sosa of the Dominican Republic in the 2nd round at Tokyo's Ryogoku Kokugikan on October 12. Kawashima needed to fight for only 315 seconds to defend his title for the 6th time. He now ties second in Japan for the number of title defense.
Toguchi fails to beat champion
WBC world flyweight champion, Yuri Arbachakov who is Russian based in Japan took on Takato Toguchi on August 26. Fans looked on curiously at this match, because it reminds them of the 1991 national championship match that was set between the two but not realized. Toguchi suddenly disappeared and people thought that he was just being a chicken. In reality, he was taking action against the gym he belonged to then.
Toguchi proved that he was determined to fight like a warrior at the Ryogoku Kokugikan. But he was badly battered by Arbachakov in the 7th round that he was down on the floor twice. Toguchi, however, kept up his spirit and got up. In the 9th round, Toguchi no longer was able to survive the blows and lost to a technical knock out. No question, Arbachakov is quite a boxer. This is his 9th time to successfully defend his world title. Fans though were a bit disappointed, because most of them were rooting for Toguchi.
Arbachakov has been found to have broken his bone in middle of his right hand and will undergo surgery. He will not be able to fight for 4 months.
Yamaguchi defends title
On August 13, WBC junior flyweight champion, Keiji Yamaguchi was challenged by Carlos Murillo at the Osaka Municipal Central Gymnasium from whom he seized the world title in May. Murillo has been complaining that the previous match was judged unfairly, so he asked that the match be set again. HIs wish was realized. However, Murillo couldn't give Yamaguchi a damaging blow. They went into the 12th round. Yamaguchi scored more points again this time, and he defended his title for the first time.
Middleweight world title
Japan's Shinji Takehara lost his middleweight world title to American William Joppy on June 24. The fight took place in front of a crowd of 15,000 at the Yokohama Arena. Takehara was overwhelmed by his opponent from the very beginning. He was knocked down in the first round. He'd try to give Joppy big blows but none were effective. In the ninth round Joppy cornered Takehara and the refree stopped the match. Takehara failed to defend his first match as the world champion. He won the title last December from Argentina's Jorge Castro.
New world champion Yamaguchi
Japan has a new boxing world champion. On May 21, Keiji Yamaguchi challenged Carlos Murillo of Panama in the WBA junior fly weight championship in Osaka. The match was taken into the final round. Yamaguchi scored slighly better than Murillo to win the title. He certainly didn't look like the winner. His left eye was so badly swollen.
World champion Kawashima
World flyweight champion, Hiroshi Kawashima successfully defended his title for the 5th time on April 27. He was challenged by Mexico's Cecilio Espino. The match went into 12 rounds. Kawashima was awarded his title as a result of an unanimous decision.
Tatsuyoshi fights again in Japan
On March 3, Japan's charismatic boxer Johichiro Tatsuyoshi faced world champion Daniel Zaragoza of Mexico in The WBC junior featherweight title match in Yokohama. Tickets were sold out in two weeks, and the spectators were quick in getting seated on the day. All 17,000 seats at the Yokohama Arena are said to have been filled up before the main championship match. This is considered the most successful boxing match held in Japan since Mike Tyson faced James Douglas at the Tokyo Dome in 1990.
Japanese fans have been looking forward to this match, not only because Tatsuyoshi's was challenging a new weight division, moreover, because its's the first time the Japan Boxing Commission has permitted Tatsuyoshi to fight in Japan since he has been ousted from fighting here for medical reason. He has been diagnosed of a detached retina.
The Japan Boxing Commission did not allow anybody back on the ring if such a problem is detected. Even though Tatsuyoshi underwent surgery it took several years for JBC to revise the rule.
In this title match, 38 year-old Zaragoza added points after points each round. In the 4th round, Tatsuyoshi's left eyelid was wounded, and during the 8th round, the corner of his right eye slit open. Two minutes and 47 seconds into the 11th round, Tatsuyoshi was stopped after his eye was checked. Zaragosa was automatically given a TKO victory. It was the first time Zaragoza defended his championship title. It's to be seen if Tatsuyoshi will pursue boxing. JBC definitely expects him to retire.
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