Friday, June 09, 2023  |



Japan’s year-end cards are quickly becoming boxing’s new can’t-miss date

Photo by Mark Runnacles/ Getty Images
Fighters Network

We are used to certain boxing traditions, notably Cinco De Mayo in May and Mexican Independence in September. Both are marked in our calendars and over the past decade or so we have seen the biggest names in boxing perform on those dates.

Aside those two dates, another growing tradition is the year-end shows that take place in Japan and on one noteworthy occasion in Macao. It became customary a decade ago and since then we’ve been treated to the biggest names in Japanese boxing plying their trade.

At one stage it appeared as though this year would end with a pair of unifications. The mouth-watering WBA middleweight titleholder Ryota Murata vs. IBF titlist Gennadiy Golovkin matchup and the equally interesting WBO junior bantamweight beltholder Kazuto Ioka facing IBF rival Jerwin Ancajas. However, due to new restrictions in Japan neither Golovkin nor Ancajas were permitted to enter Japan. Both fights are on ice until next year.

Ioka wasn’t content to sit and wait so, for the second-year running he will save the day when he meets late substitute Ryoji Fukunaga.

Here we look at the fights that have happened on this now prestigious date in Japan:

December 31, 2011

Bunka Gym, Yokohama

Takashi Uchiyama TKO 11 Jorge Solis: WBA junior lightweight – Uchiyama brutally knocked the game Mexican cold in the 11th round.

Celestino Caballero UD 12 Satoshi Hosono: WBA featherweight – Caballero widely outboxed the perennially tough Hosono over 12-rounds.

Prefectural Gymnasium, Osaka

Kazuto Ioka TKO 1 Yodgoen Tor Chalermchai: WBC strawweight – Ioka made a second defense of his title with a well-placed left hook midway through the first round.

The great Takashi Uchiyama had some of his greatest nights on Japan’s year-end dates

December 31, 2012

Ota-City General Gymnasium, Tokyo

Takashi Uchiyama TKO 8 Bryan Vasquez: WBA junior lightweight – Uchiyama impressively broke up Vasquez and forced the stoppage in eight rounds.

Yota Sato UD 12 Ryo Akaho: WBC junior bantamweight – Sato dominated Akaho en route to a second successful defense.

Kohei Kono TKO 4 Tepparith Kokietgym: WBA junior bantamweight – Kono was two fights removed from three consecutive defeats when he upset Kokietgym to claim the WBA title.


Bodymaker Colosseum, Osaka

Kazuto Ioka TKO 6 Jose Alfredo Rodriguez: Vacant WBA junior flyweight – Ioka put Rodriguez on the canvas in the opening round and then twice in the sixth round to win the WBA strap.

Ryo Miyazaki UD 12 Pornsawan Porpramook: Vacant WBA strawweight – Former Japanese and OPBF titleholder Miyazaki was able to step up to world level and beat teak-tough Porpramook to become a world champion.


December 31, 2013

Ota-City General Gymnasium, Tokyo

Takashi Uchiyama UD 12 Daiki Kaneko: WBA junior lightweight – Uchiyama had things in control until Kaneko threatened the upset by dropping him in the 10th. Uchiyama righted the ship and won a 12-round unanimous decision.

Takashi Miura TKO 9 Dante Jardon: WBC junior bantamweight – Miura made a second defense of his title against the gritty Mexican.


Bodymaker Colosseum, Osaka

Kazuto Ioka UD 12 Felix Alvarado: WBA junior flyweight – Ioka safely negotiated safe passage past heavy-handed future IBF 108-pound titlist Alvarado.


December 30, 2014

Metropolitan Gym, Tokyo

Jorge Linares KO 4 Javier Prieto: Vacant WBC lightweight – Linares becomes a three-weight world champion at the second time of asking.

Naoya Inoue KO 2 Omar Narvaez: WBO junior bantamweight – Inoue stopped the long-reigning Argentinean in startling fashion.

Pedro Guevara KO 7 Akira Yaegashi: Vacant IBF junior flyweight – Yaegashi was very much in the fight until Guevara ended matters in the seventh round.

Japan’s adoptive son Jorge Linares became a three-weight champ as a headliner in a year-end card

December 31, 2014

Ota-City General Gymnasium, Tokyo

Takashi Uchiyama RTD 9 Israel Perez: WBA junior lightweight – Uchiyama made a 10th successful defense by stopping his Argentinean opponent.

Kohei Kono D 12 Norbelto Jimenez: WBA junior bantamweight – Kono barely kept his title for the first time by fighting the rugged Jimenez to a draw.

Ryoichi Taguchi UD 12 Alberto Rossel: WBA junior flyweight – Taguchi dropped Rossel in the eighth and ninth to rubber-stamp a comprehensive performance.


Bodymaker Colosseum, Osaka

Guillermo Rigondeaux RTD 11 Hisashi Amagasa: Ring/ WBA/ WBO junior featherweight – The Cuban master had some issues with the much taller Amagasa and had to twice get off the floor before finding a way to stop the Japanese fighter in the penultimate round.

Katsunari Takayama TKO 7 Go Odaira: Vacant IBF/ WBO strawweight – Takayama broke through in the seventh to stop his countryman. At the time of the stoppage, he was behind on one scorecard while the other two had the fight level.

Kazuto Ioka KO 5 Jean Piero Perez – Ioka continued to acclimatize to the new weight by scoring his second win at flyweight after losing in his initial bid to unseat Amnat Ruenroeng.


December 29, 2015

Ariake Colosseum, Tokyo

Naoya Inoue TKO 2 Warlito Parrenas: WBO junior bantamweight – Inoue blitzed his over-matched Filipino opponent in two-rounds.

Akira Yaegashi UD 12 Javier Mendoza: IBF junior flyweight – Yaegashi impressively acquired the IBF title to become a three-weight world champion.


December 31, 2015

Ota-City General Gymnasium, Tokyo

Takashi Uchiyama TKO 3 Oliver Flores: WBA junior lightweight – The big-punching champion had no problem taking out Flores.

Ryoichi Taguchi RTD 9 Luis De La Rosa: WBA junior flyweight – Taguchi marked time with a second defense against De La Rosa.


Aichi Prefectural Gym, Nagoya

Kosei Tanaka KO 6 Vic Saludar: WBO strawweight – Tanaka recovered from a fifth-round trip to the canvas to stop Saludar in the following round.


EDION Arena Osaka

Kazuto Ioka TKO 11 Juan Carlos Reveco: WBA flyweight – Ioka struggled to beat Reveco in the spring of 2015. However, he was able to stop the game Argentinean in their rematch several months later.

Jose Argumedo TD 9 Katsunari Takayama: IBF strawweight – Takayama lost his title to Argumedo after the fight was stopped on cuts and the judges gave the Mexican the edge.


December 30, 2016

Ariake Colosseum, Tokyo

Naoya Inoue TKO 6 Kohei Kono: WBO junior bantamweight – Inoue became the first to stop the iron-jawed former two-time WBA 115-pound titleholder.

Akira Yaegashi TKO 12 Samartlek Kokietgym: IBF junior flyweight – The blood and guts warrior was able to force a last round stoppage.

Akira Yaegashi (left) stopped Samartlek Kokietgym in a war

December 31, 2016

Ota-City General Gymnasium, Tokyo

Jezreel Corrales SD 12 Takashi Uchiyama: WBA junior lightweight – Corrales showed his previous win over Uchiyama wasn’t a one off and repeated the victory; this time doing so in a close fight over 12-rounds.

Ryoichi Taguchi D 12 Carlos Canizales: WBA junior flyweight – The unheralded Venezuelan challenger gave Taguchi all he could handle. Ultimately, the judges couldn’t separate the two men.


Memorial Center, Gifu

Kosei Tanaka TKO 5 Moises Fuentes: Vacant WBO junior flyweight – Tanaka impressively claimed the vacant title stopping Mexican former strawweight world champion Fuentes in five rounds.


Shimazu Arena, Kyoto

Yukinori Oguni UD 12 Jonathan Guzman: IBF junior featherweight – Oguni impressively boxed his way to a wide unanimous decision over the defending champion, who was unable to detonate his power and was disarmed over 12-rounds.

Kazuto Ioka TKO 7 Stamp Kiatniwat: WBA flyweight – Ioka had his way with the teak-tough Thai fighter but had to wait until the seventh to force the stoppage.


December 30, 2017

Bunka Gym, Yokohama

Naoya Inoue TKO 3 Yoan Boyeaux: WBO junior bantamweight – Inoue’s vaunted power accounted for his French opponent.

Kenshiro Teraji TKO 4 Gilberto Pedroza: WBC junior flyweight – The skilled defending champion was too much for his Panamanian challenger.


December 31, 2017

Ota-City General Gymnasium, Tokyo

Ryoichi Taguchi UD 12 Milan Melindo: Vacant Ring and IBF/ WBA junior flyweight – The long-reigning WBA titlist added the Ring and IBF titles to his collection by edging past Melindo.

Sho Kimura TKO 9 Toshiyuki Igarashi: WBO flyweight – Kimura impressively stopped his countryman and former Ring/ WBC 112-pound titlist in nine-rounds.

Hiroto Kyoguchi TKO 8 Carlos Buitrago: IBF strawweight – Kyoguchi had his way with battle-hardened Nicaraguan, forcing an eighth-round stoppage.


December 30, 2018
Ota-City General Gymnasium, Tokyo

Masayuki Ito TKO 7 Evgeny Chuprakov: WBO junior lightweight – Ito made a successful first defense against his Russian mandatory challenger. Chuprakov’s corner stopped the fight in the seventh round.

Takuma Inoue UD 12 Petch Sor Chitpattana: Vacant WBC Interim bantamweight – Inoue brought an end Chitpattana’s 48 fight unbeaten run and became interim champion behind full champion Nordine Oubaali.

Kenshiro Teraji UD 12 Saul Juarez: WBC junior flyweight – Teraji easily outboxed the tough Mexican to win a wide 12-round unanimous decision.


December 31, 2018

Wynn Palace Cotai, Macao, China

Donnie Nietes SD 12 Kazuto Ioka: Vacant WBO junior bantamweight – Nietes edged a battle of three-weight world champions to become a four-weight titleholder.

Moruti Mthalane TKO 10 Masahiro Sakamoto: IBF flyweight – The experienced South African stopped Sakamoto in 10 one-sided rounds.

Hiroto Kyoguchi TKO 10 Hekkie Budler: Ring/ WBA junior flyweight – Kyoguchi notched a career best win by toppling Budler to become a two-weight world champion

Kazuto Ioka edged Jeyvier Cintron in 2019 – Photo by Naoki Fukuda

December 31, 2019
Ota-City General Gymnasium, Tokyo

Kazuto Ioka UD 12 Jeyvier Cintron: WBO junior bantamweight – Ioka successfully turned back his mandatory challenger by close but unanimous decision.

Kosei Tanaka KO 3 Wulan Tuolehazi: WBO flyweight – Tanaka easily handled his Chinese challenger to make the third and final defense of his title before moving up in weight.


December 31, 2020
Ota-City General Gymnasium, Tokyo

Kazuto Ioka TKO 8 Kosei Tanaka: WBO junior bantamweight – Ioka scored a career best win over Tanaka to prevent his countryman joining him as a four-weight world champion.


December 31, 2021

Ota-City General Gymnasium, Tokyo

Kazuto Ioka vs. Ryoji Fukunaga: WBO junior bantamweight


YOU MAY HAVE MISSED: Kazuto Ioka settles for a defense against Ryoji Fukunaga due to COVID restrictions


Questions and/or comments can be sent to Anson at [email protected] and you can follow him on [email protected]