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Japan tightens travel restrictions, upcoming fights in jeopardy

Gennadiy Golovkin vs. Ryota Murata and Kazuto Ioka vs. Jerwin Ancajas are slated for the last week of December 2021

Gennady Golovkin v Kamil Szeremeta Photo by Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images
Patrick Stumberg is a freelance writer for SB Nation, first joining the network in 2011 before linking up with Bad Left Hook in 2015.

Japan’s long tradition of rapid action in response to COVID continued today, as the country set forth a tentative one-month ban on foreign travelers due to the newly emerging Omicron variant. While the December 14th Naoya Inoue vs. Aran Dipaen card remains intact thanks to Dipaen and co-main eventer Wilfredo Mendez entering the country before the new rules went into effect, two major events are now in limbo.

Gennadiy Golovkin is slated to face Ryota Murata in a December 28th middleweight unification in Saitama, which will also see Junto Nakatani defend his WBC flyweight title against Cristian Gonzalez. Keith Idec reports that Golovkin is training “as if it’s business as usual,” as his team is confident that they can arrive earlier and quarantine longer than previously expected if worst comes to worst.

Teiken’s Akihiro Honda also claims that he and his fellow promoters “are seeking to get Golovkin’s entrance into Japan any way they can, including requesting permission with Golovkin as a special case.”

Three days later, Kazuto Ioka is slated to welcome Jerwin Ancajas to Tokyo in a super flyweight unification. That same Asian Boxing article says that “no comments to the media have been released about this contest,” so there’s no telling how this will play out.

The one bright side in this whole mess is that there’s ostensibly still time to relocate these cards if things go completely south, though doing so would leave the Japanese fighters needing to quarantine instead. We’ll keep you posted as things develop.

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