By Joe Koizumi –
Photos by Boxing Beat –
There is a proverb in Japan that no one can compete with a crying baby, but it might be true that no sports can compete with the Olympic Games. People here are only talking about how many medals our representatives have acquired—forgetting professional boxing for a while. But this summer we have seen some significant progress in the Sweet Science in this country, where the WBO Asia Pacific championship was duly recognized by the Japan Boxing Commission (JBC) and the Japan Professional Boxing Association (JPBA; the union of club owners the president of which is Hitoshi Watanabe) after their prolonged consideration and discussion among prudent members on August 5. Unlike in other counties, our Japanese fraternity has been so traditional and stubborn in regulating regional championships that the JBC/JPBA had been only recognizing the belts of the Oriental and Pacific Boxing Federation (OPBF) and the WBC Youth championships.
In Japan, you are not allowed to have a world title shot to any of the four organizations such as the WBC, WBA, IBF and WBO without being or once having been (1) Japanese national, (2) OPBF or (3) WBO Asia Pacific champions. That’s for the sake of quality control of world championships. In this regard, it is very meaningful that Japanese boxers aiming to gain the world championship—when staged in Japan—will be able to increase their possibility of a world title shot by winning the WBO Asia Pacific belt.
The historically first WBO Asia Pacific title bout will take place with the vacant lightweight belt at stake between Japan’s Akihiro Kondo and Filipino Jeffrey Arienza over twelve rounds in Tokyo on September 13. On the next day, a couple of WBO Asia Pacific title bouts will follow as the vacant junior lightweight belt will disputed by Japan’s Takuya Watanabe and Indonesian Musa Letding, and the also vacant middleweight title by Japanese compatriots Hikaru Nishida and Makoto Fuchigami also at the Hall. It is Leon Panoncillo, the president of the WBO regional jurisdiction, that will supervise all the title bouts here in Tokyo. It is good that they will be staged after the Olympic Games in Brazil since our people will remember the existence and value of boxing.