Ryo Kawamura looks for his second King of Pancrase title at 185 on Jan. 28. | Photo: Daniel Herbertson
“Progress” is an apt title for Pancrase’s 2012 tour, as it is what will be required for whoever wins the promotion’s one-night middleweight King of Pancrase title tournament.
The longstanding Japanese promotion has announced its full card for Jan. 28 at Differ Ariake, which features a King of Pancrase championship doubleheader, with titles at 185 and 125 pounds up for grabs.
In the middleweight division, former light heavyweight King of Pancrase Ryo Kawamura will meet colorful veteran Yuji Hisamatsu, while Ikkei Nagamura battles cosplayer and Pancrase regular Hikaru Sato. The winners will square off later in the evening with the vacant middleweight title on the line. The throne was vacated last May by former champion Rikuhei Fujii, who gave up the title, citing lingering injuries and a lack of motivation.
Kawamura and Hisamatsu both enter their bout with their backs against the wall, with Kawamura going 0-1-2 in his last three outings, and “The Pink Typhoon” going 1-5-2 in his last eight. Nagamura and Sato enter their semifinal in better competitive shape, with Nagamura going unbeaten in his last four and Sato coming off of a pair of first-round submissions of Ryuji Ohori and Osami Shibuya.
At 125 pounds, super flyweight King of Pancrase Kiyotaka Shimizu will stake his title for the fourth time against Seiji Ozuka.
Shimizu, 27, is coming off of a unanimous decision loss to former Shooto world champion Shinichi Kojima inside the Shooto ring at “Shoot the Shooto 2011” in November. Prior to the defeat, Shimizu had lost just once in 11 bouts, dropping a majority verdict to another former Shooto world champ, Mamoru Yamaguchi, in November 2009.
The 33-year-old Ozuka is having a surprising surge, dropping just one bout in his last eight. Ozuka clinched his title bid with an August knockout of Isao Hirose, with whom he drew with in June.
Both the semifinal and final bouts of the middleweight King of Pancrase tournament will be two five-minute rounds, while the 125-pound title bout will be contested over three five-minute rounds.