By Joe Koizumi
Photos by Naoki Fukuda
Just a couple of days before our annual year-end tripleheader we saw a big press conference with all participants and people concerned in attendance on Friday in Tokyo, Japan.
Unbeaten brother of “The Monster” Naoya, Takuma Inoue (12-0, 3 KOs) expressed his motivation, saying, “I’d like to show the audience there’s not only Naoya but also Takuma. I’ll follow my brother’s footstep. I wish to fight to win at first rather than to win to impress the crowd.” Takuma will face WBC#2 Petch CP Freshmart (48-0, 33 KOs) in quest of the WBC interim bantamweight belt. The Thailander kept his composure and said, “I’ll fight for Thai people. I’ve dedicated my life to boxing and will do my best to win the belt.”
The main eventer will be newly crowned WBO 130-pound champ Masayuki Ito (24-1-1, 12 KOs), who will make his initial defense against top contender Evgeny Chuprakov (20-0, 10 KOs), from Russia. Ito confidently said, “I’d like to show my improvement after training hard in the US. I’ll fully demonstrate myself to the crowd and television audience.” The unbeaten Russian, who reportedly scored some 120 wins out of 150 amateur contests, said, “I’ll display everything I have to win the belt.”
WBC 108-pound ruler Ken Shiro (14-0, 8 KOs) proudly expressed his confidence, saying, “I’ll win by hitting without getting hit, and hopefully win by knockout to close this prosperous year for me.” His challenger Saul “Baby” Juarez (24-8-2, 13 KOs), from Mexico, verbally countered, “Ken Shiro always says he will win without getting punched, but this time he will get hit by me. I’ll win and bring the belt to Mexico.”
The officials of the tripleheader are as follows:
WBO junior lightweight title bout between Masayuki Ito and Evgeny Chuprakov
Referee Laurence Cole (US); judges Pat Russell, Daniel Sandoval (both US), Phillip Austin (Australia); supervisor Tsuyoshi Yasukochi (Japan)
WBC light-flyweight title bout between Ken Shiro and Saul Juarez
Referee Vic Drakulich (US); judges Steve Morrow, Perla Rodriguez (both US), Jun-Bae Lim (Korea); supervisor Tito Gonzalez (Mexico)
WBC interim bantamweight title bout between Patch CP Freshmart (AKA Tasana Salapat, his passport name) and Takuma Inoue
Referee Frank Garza (US); judges Steve Morrow, Perla Rodriguez (both US), Jun-Bae Lim (Korea); supervisor Tito Gonzalez (Mexico)
It will be telecast live by Fuji Television in Japan and by ESPN+ in the US. This show will be presented by Teiken Promotions in association with Ohashi Promotions.