Japan welcomes alphabet titles

For decades, the only sanctioning organizations accepted by the Japanese Boxing Commission and the Japanese Professional Boxing Association were the WBA and WBC. That is why you never see Japanese fighters vying for IBF or WBO belts.

That is why, for example, when Mexico's Fernando Montiel, then the WBO's bantamweight titleholder, went to Japan in 2010 to meet WBC counterpart Hozumi Hasegawa, Montiel's belt was not at stake. Montiel wound up knocking out Hasegawa in the fourth round to unify the 118-pound belts, but had Hasegawa won, he would not have taken the WBO title.

But now Japan's boxing officials have opened their arms to the other sanctioning organizations. There was a press conference in Tokyo on Thursday where IBF officials and Japanese officials made the announcement, which came about a month after a similar event welcomed the WBO to the fray.

Beginning April 1, Japanese boxers will, for the first time, be eligible to fight for all four organizations' titles.

I'm not fan of the organizations, as anyone who reads my blogs undoubtedly knows, but this move will certainly open up more opportunities for Japanese fighters, including bigger purses. However, the titles will also be watered down in Japan, as they have become around the world.

The reason for the change was because the JBPA, a union of the promoters and gym owners in Japan, consistently was receiving requests from people in the boxing business to open the country up to other sanctioning organizations. It eventually went to the JBC to make the request and the JBC decided to allow it.

"We know there are many talented boxers in Japan, and we wish to give them good opportunities to acquire the IBF championships," IBF president Daryl Peoples said at the news conference. "It's our great pleasure that we have Japan as our new member."