Japan ‘Golden Era’ in boxing: Cebuano boxing experts explain how this happened

By: Glendale G. Rosal - Multimedia Correspondent - CDN Digital | February 27,2024 - 01:10 PM

Cebuano boxing experts explain Japan's 'Golden Era' in boxing. In photo is Jerwin Ancajas, who is on all fours at the mat after he was KOed by Takuma Inoue, who celebrated his TKO win to retain the WBA WBA bantamweight world title. | INQUIRER PHOTO VIA WENDELL ALINEA

Jerwin Ancajas is on all fours at the ring mat after he was KOed by Takuma Inoue, who celebrates his TKO win to retain the WBA WBA bantamweight world title. | INQUIRER PHOTO VIA WENDELL ALINEA

CEBU CITY, Philippines — Japan is experiencing a surge in boxing world champions.

Just last Saturday, it crowned three boxing world champions in Takuma Inoue (WBA bantamweight), Junto Nakatani (WBC bantamweight), and Kosei Tanaka (WBO super flyweight) in a single fight card that happened in Tokyo.

READ: Ancajas loses to Inoue via a 9th rd. KO in world title duel

Japan ‘Golden Era’ in boxing: 10 world champions

In total, Japan has 10 current world champions in boxing’s lighter-weight classes. 

Many say this is the ‘Golden Era’ of Japanese boxing because of the number of world champions it has currently compared to other Asian nations such as the Philippines with none. 

According to two of Cebu’s trusted boxing experts in international boxing, judge Edward Ligas and trainer and international matchmaker Edito Villamor, there are several key reasons why Japan is so good at boxing right now. 

They also explained how the Philippines can reclaim its lost glory in boxing.

Ligas treats Japan as his second home. He regularly supervises various boxing matches in Japan, especially title fights, making him very familiar with its local boxing scene there, from the promoters and matchmakers down to the trainers and boxers. 

READ: Ancajas knocked out by Takuma Inoue; Jonas Sultan also falls

Honor and pride

According to Ligas, Japanese boxers and promoters have the full support of the ‘paying’ boxing fans and patrons and the private sector. 

Thus, it’s pretty easy for Japanese promoters like Hideyuki Ohashi to promote three world title bouts in one fight card, which is ultra-expensive from a financial perspective. 

“Well, 20 years ago, Filipino boxers easily beat the Japanese. Now, Japan has a great program for boxing, not only for professionals but also in the Olympics,” Ligas told CDN Digital. 

In addition, Ligas said that Japanese boxers take national pride and honor seriously. Thus, it’s evident Japanese boxers are always credited to their relentlessness and hunger to win. 

“They also fight for honor for their country even though some of those boxers are already wealthy outside their boxing careers. Honor for them is always respect and love of the country. That’s why 40 percent of the audience are women. Garbo nila basta makakuha og kampyunato ma regional man or world (It is an honor to them as long as they can get a championship regional or world),” Ligas said. 

READ: Pacquiao accepts his Olympic dream is over

Huge purse

Also, Ligas believes that some Filipino boxers gamble by fighting in Japan despite the lack of training because of the lure of huge purses. It’s despite the lack of training and acclimatization, which are crucial to boost their chances of winning. 

“I guess some boxers and trainers are already contented with the big purses they receive abroad, even if they will lose. Some even do not level up their training,” Ligas added. 

Better program and support

Despite all the current disappointment in the Philippine boxing scene, Ligas strongly believes that there is still hope to produce a new world champion.

It only requires better programs for pro boxers and support from the private sector. 

Ligas strongly discourages promoters and matchmakers from prematurely sending potential boxers to Japan just because the purse offered is big. For him, it’s a waste of talent.

Instead, promoters and trainers must train their boxers properly and wait for the perfect time to send their boxers there. 

Everyone’s involvement

“If we have potential boxers, dili nato i-ahat pag-away abroad tungod kay dako og premyo. Dapat pahinugon sa except anang mga pamugas lang nga mga boxers,” Ligas said.

(If we have potential boxers, we should not fight eventhough we are not ready and just because the purse is big. We should let them ripen except for those boxers who would only want to accept the big purse even though they are not ready.)

“Same with the trainers, who should also level-up their profession and programs. Otherwise, this drought will continue in Philippine boxing,” he said. 

Not too long ago, the Philippines was considered the “Mecca of Boxing in Asia.” This was thanks to boxing outfits such as the ALA Promotions, which unfortunately closed its doors in 2020. 

During its heydays, ALA Promotions put the Philippines on the global boxing map besides Manny Pacquiao.

Its boxing outfit was so big it was able to promote big fight cards in the United States many times.

ALA Promotions and Villamor

One of the people who worked behind the scenes of ALA Promotions’ huge success is Villamor. 

Villamor, who spent his entire boxing career with ALA Boxing Gym and Promotions, told CDN Digital that the Philippines could recover from this drought with everyone’s support.

He means in terms of support that television networks, the private sector, the government, and boxing fans must support Filipino boxers and promoters to bring world title fights here.

Villamor also pointed out boxing fans must pay for tickets if they would want Philippine boxing to flourish again. 

“Boxing fans need jud sila mobayad sa tickets kay tungod sa dako nga gasto sa pagpromote og world title fights,” said Villamor.

(Boxing fans really need to pay for the tickets because of the high cost of promoting world title fights.)

Back in the day, ALA Promotions held world title fights in various parts of the Philippines, especially in Cebu and Manila, and has produced several world champions. 

Fans, TV networks, sponsors, gov’t

“Dili lang boxing fans need ang support, need sad nato ang support sa television networks, generous sponsors, ug atong government. Ug naa ta ana nga suporta, need pud nato ang timing ug proper planning to bring back the world title in our country,” Villamor said.

(Not only do we need the support of the boxing fans, we would also need the support of the television networks, generous sponsors, and our government. And if we have that support, we would also need the timing and the proper planning to bring back the world title in our country.) 

“Ang Japan makaoffer man gud sila kung pila ang pangayuon premyo sa ilang champion, maong madala gyud nila ang championship didto sa ilaha,” he said.

(Japan can really offer how much the purse would be asked from their champion, that is why they can really bring the championship there in their homes.) 

Can the Philippines bring back its glory days in boxing? There is still optimism in that since there are currently seven Filipino boxers who are guaranteed a world title shot this year.

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TAGS: boxing, golden era, Japan

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