Japan’s year-end cards are fast becoming boxing’s new hot date

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We are used to some boxing traditions including Cinco De Mayo in May and Mexican Independence in September. Both are marked in our calendars and over the past decade we have seen the biggest names in boxing perform on these dates.

Apart from these two dates, another growing tradition is that of year-end performances which take place in Japan and on a notable occasion in Macau. It became a habit a decade ago and since then we have had the best names in Japanese boxing plying their trade.

At one point, it looked like this year would end with a pair of unifications. Appetizing WBA middleweight title holder Ryota Murata against IBF titlist Gennadiy Golovkin and equally interesting WBO junior bantamweight belt holder Kazuto Ioka against IBF rival Jerwin Ancajas. However, due to new restrictions in Japan, neither Golovkin nor Ancajas were allowed to enter Japan. Both fights are on ice until next year.

Ioka didn’t just sit and wait, so for the second year in a row he’ll save the day when he meets late replacement Ryoji Fukunaga.

Here we look at the fights that took place 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 out the Mexican match cold in the 11th round.

Celestino Caballero UD 12 Satoshi Hosono: featherweight WBA – Caballero has largely passed the Eternal Hosono in 12 rounds.

Prefectural gymnasium, Osaka

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

The great Takashi Uchiyama spent some of his finest evenings on year-end dates in Japan

December 31, 2012

Ota-City General Gymnasium, Tokyo

Takashi Uchiyama TKO 8 Bryan Vasquez: WBA junior lightweight – Uchiyama impressively smashed Vasquez and forced the save in eight rounds.

Yota Sato UD 12 Ryo Akaho: WBC Junior Bantamweight – Sato overpowered Akaho en route to a successful second defense.

Kohei Kono TKO 4 Tepparith Kokietgym: WBA junior bantamweight – Kono was two fights away from three straight losses when he upset Kokietgym to win 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 first round and then twice in the sixth round to win the WBA bracelet.

Ryo Miyazaki UD 12 Pornsawan Porpramook: Vacant WBA Straw Weight – Former Japanese and OPBF title holder Miyazaki managed to rise to the world level and beat tough Porpramook to become world champion.

December 31, 2013

Ota-City General Gymnasium, Tokyo

Takashi Uchiyama UD 12 Daiki Kaneko: WBA Junior lightweight – Uchiyama was in control until Kaneko threatened surprise by dropping him in 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 title defense against the gritty Mexican.

Bodymaker Colosseum, Osaka

Kazuto Ioka UD 12 Felix Alvarado: WBA junior flyweight – Ioka safely negotiated a safe passage past Alvarado’s future 108-pound IBF stock list.

December 30, 2014

Metropolitan Gymnasium, Tokyo

Jorge Linares KO 4 Javier Prieto: Vacant WBC lightweight – Linares becomes three-weight world champion on second request.

Naoya Inoue KO 2 Omar Narvaez: WBO junior bantamweight – Inoue surprisingly stopped the longtime Argentinian.

Pedro Guevara KO 7 Akira Yaegashi: vacant IBF junior flyweight – Yaegashi was heavily involved in the fight until Guevara put an end to the affair in the seventh round.

Japan’s adopted son Jorge Linares became a threeweight champion and headlining a year-end card

December 31, 2014

Ota-City General Gymnasium, Tokyo

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

Kohei Kono D 12 Norbelto Jimenez: WBA junior bantamweight – Kono barely retained his title for the first time when he faced tough Jimenez in a tie.

Ryoichi Taguchi UD 12 Alberto Rossel: WBA junior flyweight – Taguchi dropped Rossel in the eighth and ninth to validate a full 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 stand up twice before he found a way to stop the Japanese fighter on the penultimate lap.

Katsunari Takayama TKO 7 Go Odaira: vacant IBF / WBO straw weight – Takayama broke through in the seventh to stop his compatriot. At the time of the shutdown, he was behind on a scoreboard while the other two had combat level.

Kazuto Ioka KO 5 Jean Piero Perez – Ioka continued to acclimate to the new weight by scoring his second flyweight victory after losing in his initial attempt to knock down Amnat Ruenroeng.

December 29, 2015

Ariake Coliseum, Tokyo

Naoya Inoue TKO 2 Warlito Parrenas: WBO junior bantamweight – Inoue bombed his outclassed Filipino opponent in two rounds.

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

December 31, 2015

Ota-City General Gymnasium, Tokyo

Takashi Uchiyama TKO 3 Oliver Flores: WBA junior lightweight – The heavy hitting champion had no problem eliminating Flores.

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

Aichi Prefecture Gymnasium, Nagoya

Kosei Tanaka KO 6 Vic Saludar: WBO strawweight – Tanaka recovered from a fifth round trip on the canvas to stop Saludar on the next lap.

EDION Arena Osaka

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

Jose Argumedo TD 9 Katsunari Takayama: IBF strawweight – Takayama lost his title to Argumedo after stopping the fight on cuts and the judges put the Mexican ahead.

Dec. 30, 2016

Ariake Coliseum, Tokyo

Naoya Inoue TKO 6 Kohei Kono: WBO junior bantamweight – Inoue became the first to stop the former double-jawed 115-pound WBA title holder.

Akira Yaegashi TKO 12 Samartlek Kokietgym: IBF junior flyweight – The warrior of blood and guts managed to force a final stop of the round.

Akira Yaegashi (left) arrested Samartlek Kokietgym in a war

December 31, 2016

Ota-City General Gymnasium, Tokyo

Jezreel Corrales SD 12 Takashi Uchiyama: WBA Junior lightweight – Corrales showed that his previous victory over Uchiyama was not unique and repeated the victory; this time, do it in a close combat over 12 rounds.

Ryoichi Taguchi D 12 Carlos Canizales: WBA junior flyweight – The little-known Venezuelan challenger gave Taguchi everything he could handle. In the end, the judges couldn’t separate the two men.

Memorial center, Gifu

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

Shimazu Arena, Kyoto

Yukinori Oguni UD 12 Jonathan Guzman: IBF junior featherweight – Oguni impressively made his way to a broad unanimous decision on the defending champion, who couldn’t blast his power and was disarmed in 12 rounds.

Kazuto Ioka TKO 7 Kiatniwat stamp: flyweight WBA – Ioka managed to cope with the teak-resistant Thai fighter, but had to wait for the seventh to force the stop.

December 30, 2017

Bunka Gym, Yokohama

Naoya Inoue TKO 3 Yoan Boyeaux: WBO junior bantamweight – The vaunted power of Inoue explained his French adversary.

Kenshiro Teraji TKO 4 Gilberto Pedroza: WBC junior flyweight – The defending champion qualified 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 – Longtime WBA titlist added Ring and IBF titles to their collection by overtaking Melindo.

Sho Kimura TKO 9 Toshiyuki Igarashi: WBO flyweight – Kimura impressively stopped her compatriot and former Ring / WBC titlist from 112 pounds in nine rounds.

Hiroto Kyoguchi TKO 8 Carlos Buitrago: IBF strawweight – Kyoguchi managed to face a seasoned Nicaraguan, forcing an eighth round stoppage.

Dec. 30, 2018
Ota-City General Gymnasium, Tokyo

Masayuki Ito TKO 7 Evgeny Chuprakov: WBO junior lightweight – Ito managed a 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 ended Chitpattana’s 48-fight unbeaten streak and became interim champion behind full champion Nordine Oubaali.

Kenshiro Teraji UD 12 Saul Juarez: WBC Junior Flyweight – Teraji easily passed the tough Mexican to win a broad unanimous decision in 12 rounds.

December 31, 2018

Wynn Palace Cotai, Macau, China

Donnie Nietes SD 12 Kazuto Ioka: vacant WBO junior bantamweight – Nietes dominated a world champion battle at three weights to become the defending champion at four weights.

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

Hiroto Kyoguchi TKO 10 Hekkie Budler: Junior Ring Flyweight / WBA – Kyoguchi notched career-best victory as he toppled Budler to become world two-weight champion

Kazuto Ioka beat 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 managed to push back his mandatory challenger with a close but unanimous decision.

Kosei Tanaka KO 3 Wulan Tuolehazi: WBO flyweight – Tanaka easily managed his Chinese challenger to make his third and final title defense before stepping up.

December 31, 2020
Ota-City General Gymnasium, Tokyo

Kazuto Ioka TKO 8 Kosei Tanaka: WBO Junior Bantamweight – Ioka grabbed the career-best victory against Tanaka to keep his compatriot from joining him as the 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 is content with one defense against Ryoji Fukunaga due to COVID restrictions

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