Takuma Inoue: Jerwin Ancajas is a tough opponent but no risk, no gain
Another big card in Japan is coming up on November 15.
A championship doubleheader featuring Takuma Inoue’s WBA bantamweight title defense against former 115-pound beltholder Jerwin Ancajas and Seigo Yuri Akui’s challenge to WBA flyweight titleholder Artem Dalakian was officially announced at a press conference at Hotel Edmont Iidabashi in Tokyo on Wednesday.
The event will take place at Ryogoku National Sumo Arena in Tokyo and will stream live on Amazon Prime Video in Japan.
Inoue (18-1, 4 KOs), who won one of the four major bantamweight belts vacated by his older brother (by three years) Naoya Inoue with a unanimous decision over Liborio Solis in April, will headline a show for the first time as a world titleholder.
“I’ll give fans an exciting show, that’s the job for the main eventer,” said Inoue, The Ring’s No. 9-rated bantamweight.
“And I believe it’s the nature of this fight. I’m taking on one of the hardest opponents possible because that’s what fans love and it’s what I wanted to do. Ancajas is a great fighter with power punches who defended his IBF super flyweight title nine times. No risk, No gain. I’ve learnt throughout my career that challenging myself is the best way to improve myself.”
After dropping a unanimous decision to Nordine Oubaali in his first title shot (for the WBC bantamweight title) in November 2019, Inoue took three tough domestic fights to prove he’s best in the country (under his older brother, of course). The experiences have matured him.
“I am defending one of the belts which my brother collected before,” said Inoue, The Ring’s 2015 Prospect of the Year. “But I cannot stop here. I have to overcome Ankajas to move forward to my goal: being the undisputed champion at bantamweight following Naoya.”
Ancajas (34-3-2, 23 KOs) participated in the press conference remotely via a video message:
“Japan is a beautiful country where I’ve dreamed of visiting since I was a kid. Takuma Inoue is a superb boxer with sharp movement, like his brother. I’ve been feeling warm support from Japanese boxing fans, especially when I lost my title last year. Takuma, thank you for this opportunity. Let’s put on a great fight!”
The co-main eventer also has a good story. Seigo Yuri Akui (18-2-1, 11KOs) is a hard hitter known domestically for his first-round TKO of future world titleholder Masamichi Yabuki in a scheduled eight-rounder in 2018. If Akui is successful in his first world title challenge, he will be the first male boxing champion from the Okayama prefecture. The last time someone from his part of Japan attempted to win a world title was by Wolf Tokimitsu against Mexico’s WBC minimumweight champion Jose Antonio Aguirre (resulting in a third-round TKO loss) exactly 22 years ago.
Both Tokimitsu and Akui are from the same local stable, the Kurashiki Moriyasu Gym ran by Tatsuya Moriyasu, who became a Japanese junior welterweight champion while working full time at farmer’s union in 1981. Akui, whose father and uncle were also professional boxers from the same stable, has earned the mandatory position while winning and defending his Japanese flyweight title three times.
“I thank the champion for coming all the way from his country (Ukraine) which is under war,” said Akui, The Ring’s No. 10-rated flyweight. “I am grateful that I am able to challenge for the world title in my country. I cannot lose. I know this is a chance of a lifetime, though I know Dalakian is a highly skilled and tactical boxer who has a decorated career since he was an amateur. I have to set the pace of the fight before he gets into his rhythm. I’ll stay in Tokyo (to train) for three weeks starting on October 2 and have an intensive camp at the Teiken Gym. I will do my best to be in top shape. I want to be the best in the galaxy. I want to prove myself and show fellow fighters that you can be a world champion from Okayama.”
Dalakian (22-0, 15 KOs), The Ring’s No. 3-rated flyweight who is making his seventh title defense, also sent a video message:
“I am always nervous when preparing for a world title fight. Once the gong rings, I just focus on the fight, the opponent without any negativity. I will bring my belt back to Ukraine from Japan like I did in England last time (in January). As you know my country is at war in which many civilians and children are being killed. But this is my work. I’m going to get ready and show a great fight. I’ve studied the style of Akui already. It will be a difficult fight for him.”
There’s an eight-round special attraction on the November 15 undercard. It features Juiki Tatsuyoshi (14-0-1, 10 KOs), the son of charismatic former WBC bantamweight champ Joichiro Tatsuyoshi, against tough Yuki Yonaha (13-5-1, 8 KOs), who gained popularity by going the six-round distance with Tenshin Nasukawa in the kickboxing star’s pro debut in April.
This event, titled “Prime Video Presents Live Boxing 6,” is promoted by Teiken Promotion and Amazon Prime Video. Prime Video Presents Live Boxing 5 featured unified Ring Magazine junior flyweight champ Kenshiro Teraji, WBO 115-pound titleholder Junto Nakatani, and Tenshin Nasukawa at Ariake Arena in Tokyo on September 18.