For most of the world the boxing year ended with a slew of notable fights on Dec. 19, after which almost everyone went into holiday mode for a few weeks.
The one exception is Japan, where it has become tradition for there to be a bevy of world title fights to close the year and 2015 is no different as there are seven world title bouts spread over four fight cards — one on Tuesday and three more on Thursday, which is New Year’s Eve.
First up is a world title doubleheader on Tuesday in Tokyo.
On that card, 22-year-old phenom Naoya Inoue (8-0, 7 KOs), already a two-division titlist, will defend his junior bantamweight belt against huge underdog Warlito Parrenas (24-6-1, 21 KOs). Inoue, making the first defense of the belt he won last Dec. 30 with a shocking second-round wipeout of Omar Narvaez, missed most of 2015 because of a severe injury to his right hand against Narvaez.
On the undercard, Javier Mendoza (24-2-1, 19 KOs) will make the second defense of his junior flyweight belt when he faces Akira Yaegashi (22-5, 12 KOs), a former strawweight and flyweight titleholder who has been in some excellent scraps, including a 10th-round knockout win against Porsawan Porpramook to win a strawweight title in the 2011 ESPN.com fight of the year.
That card will set the stage for a busy New Year’s Eve.
In Tokyo, junior lightweight titleholder Takashi Uchiyama (23-0-1, 19 KOs), fighting on his fifth New Year’s Eve in a row, will make the 11th defense of his belt when he takes on Oliver Flores (27-1-2, 17 KOS). A victory could propel Uchiyama into a defense against Nicholas Walters in the United States in 2016.
In the co-feature junior flyweight titlist Ryoichi Taguchi (22-2-1, 9 KOs) will make his second defense when he squares off with Luis De La Rosa (24-5-1, 14 KOs).
In Osaka, flyweight titleholder Kazuto Ioka (18-1, 10 KOs) will make his second defense when he meets former titleholder Juan Carlos Reveco (36-2, 19 KOs) in a rematch. Ioka won the belt from Reveco via majority decision on April 22, also in Osaka, Ioka’s hometown.
The card also will feature strawweight titlist Katsunari Takayama (30-7, 12 KOs) making his third defense when he takes on Jose Argumedo (15-3-1, 9 KOs). In August 2014, Takayama lost a decision to Francisco Rodriguez Jr. in a strawweight title unification fight that was the ESPN.com fight of the year.
And in Nagoya, fans will ring in the new year when strawweight titlist Kosei Tanaka (5-0, 2 KOs), who is only 20, makes the first defense of the belt he won in May when he faces Vic Saludar (11-1, 9 KOs). When Tanaka outpointed Julian Yedras to win vacant belt in only his fifth professional fight he set the Japanese record for winning a world title in the fewest number of fights. The record previously was held by Inoue, the prodigy who claimed a junior flyweight world title in his sixth pro fight in April 2013.