The second Japanese title fight of 2019 saw the heavy handed Ryoichi Tamura (12-3-1, 6) [田村 亮一] put on an aggressive show case as he defeated Mugicha Nakagawa (24-6-1, 14) [武田勇太] to claim the Japanese Super Bantamweight title that was vacated by Shingo Wake (25-5-2, 17) [和氣 慎吾] late last year.
From the opening round Tamura put his flag in the ground and made it clear he was going to be the aggressive pressure fighting, backing Nakagawa up round after round and making life incredibly difficult for Nakagawa to do anything. The shots of Tamura rarely looked fluid, but they were forceful, hard and incessant, as he continually pressed forward, unloaded and hammered the head and body of Nakagawa. There were moments where Nakagawa responded, and had success with uppercuts in particular, but Tamura walked through them whilst landing his own blows in return.
Through the first 5 rounds it was hard to make a case for anything bu Tamura leading, and the judges agreed scoring it 50-45, 49-48 and 48-47, a bizarrely close card for what was looking like a very easy to close and very dominant 1-sided bout. There was a lot to be said about Nakagawa's heart and toughness, but he was looking out of his depth and uncompetitive with a very driven Tamura.
The crowd had responded to Nakagawa's efforts, him gritting his teeth and fighting back, chanting his name. That however served little help in terms of the action with Tamura continuing to march forward in the second half of the fight, landing solid right hands to head and body and regularly punching through the guard of Nakagawa, who ate progressively more shots as the bout went on.
It was only really round 7 that Tamura slowed down, having a battle of jabs with Nakagawa. In the rounds that followed Tamura again ramped up the pressure, and in rounds 9 and 10 he really did look for a stoppage, bouncing shots off Nakagawa's head. It was incredible to not only see Nakagawa standing up right but also firing off his own shots, he was like a human zombie, though he was taking a beating and wasn't competitive in the slightest.
It was amazing to see Nakagawa survive the 10 rounds, but when the bell came to end the fight it was clear that Tamura had won, with the judges scoring the bout 99-91, twice, and 97-93 giving Tamura the title in what was a brilliant performance.
For Nakagawa this was his second shot at the title, following a 2017 loss to Yusaku Kuga, and he simply had too much of everything for Nakagawa. The loser however, should realise the effort he put up, and his incredible toughness will have made him new fans and many will want to see him get another title opportunity in the near future.
The first Japanese title fight of 2019 was a Minimumweight title bout pitting defending champion Shin Ono (23-10-3, 6) [小野 心] against mandatory challenger Norihito Tanaka (18-7, 10) [田中教仁] at the Korakuen Hall as part of the 2019 Champion Carnival. It also saw the first title change in Japan for the year, with Tanaka breaking down the veteran to become the new champion.
In the opening round the champion used his speed, southpaw jab and reach to keep Tanaka at bay, and the fight seemed rather like it could be easy for the experienced champion, if he could maintain the control of the action like he was doing. In round 2 Tanaka began to come alive, landing clean counter shots and rocking Ono at the end of the round, it was clear that Tanaka saw the opening round as scouting mission and was looking to up the tempo as the bout went on, clearing doing just that in the final 30 seconds of round 2.
Tanaka's success from round 2 rolled into a huge round 3, as his confidence began to grow, and he found more and more holes in Ono's defense, dropping the defending champion on to the seat of his pants early in the round. The knockdown clearly hurt Ono who began to hold and looked like he was trying to survive, more than win. It lead to some messy action, but action that Tanaka was getting the better of.
to his credit Ono made round 4 very competitive, gritting his teeth and battling back at times, though his competitive grit did see him being caught by some very clean shots as he began to take risks. It was short lived competitiveness with Tanaka clearly winning round 5, swelling Ono's right eye in the process.
At the end of round 5 the scores were announced, with Tanaka holding a 49-45 lead on all 3 cards. It was now down to Ono to change the fight and in he looked to do just that as he began to ramp up his aggressiveness, taking the fight to Tanaka. It was a foolish gameplan, full of risks, and one that he began to pay for as Tanaka began to find more and more openings up close, landing clean shots to the head and body. On one hand Ono did land more shots of his own, which he needed to do, but he took a significant amount of harder shots as a result of his aggression.
Ono continued to be the aggressor in round 7, but he really was taking a lot more than he was giving, with Tanaka returning everything with interest. Things went from bad to worse when Ono was deducted a point for holding, something he had been doing numerous times through the fight. He was also looking exhausted, with his 36 year old body, the tempo and the body shots all catching up to him, seemingly at once.
With his body failing him, and the scorecards now well against him, Ono came out for round 8 fast, but Tanaka quickly responded putting him on the back foot. Only moments later Ono's legs went and a follow up sent him down into the corner where the referee waved the bout off, giving Tanaka the TKO win.
For Tanaka this is his career defining win, in what was his third title fight, after losses to Akira Yaegashi and Tsubasa Koura in previous title bouts. He finally won the big one, and looked like a man who could be tricky to dethrone. Sadly for Ono this is probably the end. He has had a hard, long and draining career, and punishment has seemingly caught up with him.
At the end of 2019 Shingo Wake (25-5-2, 17) [和氣 慎吾] announced that he was vacating the Japanese Super Bantamweight title. As a result of Wake vacating we'll now see Mugicha Nakagawa (24-5-1, 14) [武田勇太] and Ryoichi Tamura (11-3-1, 6) [田村 亮一] battle in the Champion Carnival to crown a new champion.
Today the two men took part in their weigh in, and both men made weight for the contest, whilst bringing different items to the weigh in for the bout.
On the scales Nakagawa, with a bottle of iced tea, came in bang on the divisional limit for what will be his first Japanese title fight. He was 122lbs, looked in good shape and and stated he felt better than usual. To prepare this bout he had done some pretty intensive training in the Philippines and will be hoping that that training pays off for this bout.
Tamura, who will be getting his second shot at a Japanese title following a loss to Yusaku Kuga, was under the limit with a bit of room to spare, weighing around 121.7lbs He spoke confidently and seemed to feel like he cannot be defeated by Nakagawa.
The heavy handed Tamura had his own item to hold at the weigh in, a box of of Ippo tape, which will be used in Dangan shows starting from tomorrow.
Related - Nakagawa and Tamura battle for Japanese crown!
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Tomorrow we see the Champion Carnival kick off with 2 Japanese title bouts at the Korakuen Hall.
One of those will veterans colliding with Shin Ono (23-9-3, 6) [小野 心] defending the Japanese Minimumweight title against Norihito Tanaka (17-7, 9) [田中教仁]. Despite both being veterans, with a combined age of 69, both are still top domestic fighters and both have clearly taken this fight seriously, knowing it could be their last title bout if they come up short.
Today both men took part in their weigh in for the bout, and both men came in right on the limit of 105lbs. Neither of the looked like physical freaks, but both looked in good shape for what is anticipated to be a very competitive contest.
Ono, who turned 36 last month, looked relaxed and spoke about how he had previously sparred with Tanaka and had prepared well for this bout, with an eye clearly on getting another world title fight in the future, after coming up short at world level twice.
Tanaka, who is fighting in his third title bout, appeared strongly motivated by the opportunity. He turns 34 in February and appears to feel he's stronger than ever before.
Related - Ono and Tanaka clash for Japanese title!
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Earlier today at the Tokyo Dome Hotel the media were able to attend the press conference to announce the 2019 Champion Carnival bouts, with 13 contests being officially announced.
As previously reported the Minimumweight bout will see defending champion Shin Ono (23-9-3, 6) [小野 心] defending his title against Norihito Tanaka (17-7, 9) [田中教仁] on January 12th at the Korakuen Hall.
The Light Flyweight bout, to fill the recent vacancy left by Tetsuya Hisada (33-9-2, 19) [久田 哲也], will see Kenichi Horikawa (38-15-1, 12) [堀川 謙一] battle against Satoru Todaka (9-2-4, 3) [戸髙達], with this bout set to take place on February 14th, also at the Korakuen Hall.
The Flyweight bout, like the Minimumweight bout, had already been announced and will see Junto Nakatani (17-0, 12) [中谷 潤人] and Naoki Mochizuki (15-3, 8) [望月直樹] fight on February 2nd at the Korakuen Hall. This bout is to fill the vacancy left by Masayuki Kuroda (30-7-3, 16) [黒田 雅之], who like Hisada has stated he intends to fight for a world title in 2019.
The Super Flyweight champion Takayuki Okumoto (21-8-4, 10) [奥本 貴之] will defend his title on April 21st in Osaka, and will see Okumoto battle against Yuta Matsuo (15-3-1, 8) [松尾雄太], in what will be Okumoto's second defense of the title.
The Bantamweight bout will be a unification bout as regular champion Yuta Saito (11-9-3, 8) [齊藤裕太], who has been suffering from illness recently, battling against recently crowned interim champion Hayato Kimura (28-10, 19) [木村隼人]. There is no set date on this bout, but it's expected to take place in Tokyo, with the Korakuen Hall the most likely venue.
The Super Bantamweight title will have it's vacancy filled on January 12th, on the same show as the Ono Vs Tanaka card. Fighting for the title will be Mugicha Nakagawa (24-5-1, 14) [武田勇太] and Ryoichi Tamura (11-3-1, 6) [田村 亮一], who will be looking to follow in the footsteps of former champion Shingo Wake (25-5-2, 17) [和氣 慎吾] who looks to be heading towards a world title fight, like Hisada and Kuroda.
Arguably the best match up for the Champion Carnival is the Featherweight bout, which will pit Taiki Minamoto (16-5, 13) [源大輝] against Reiya Abe (18-2, 9) [阿部 麗也], who will be battling former amateur stand out Daisuke Sugita (4-0, 3) [杉田大祐] in January before facing Minamoto on May 1st at the Korakuen Hall. This is, to us, the stand out bout of the Champion Carnival and is genuinely a mouth watering clash.
The Japanese Super Featherweight champion Masaru Sueyoshi (18-1-1, 11) [末吉 大] will take on Ken Osato (15-2-1, 4) [大里拳], in a rematch of the bout the two men had during the 2018 Champion Carnival. This contest will take place on May 4th at the Korakuen Hall and will see Osato looking to avenge his loss and Sueyoshi looking to repeat his win over Osato.
The unbeaten Shuichiro Yoshino (9-0, 7) [吉野 修一郎] will be making his 4th defense of the Japanese Lightweight title, as he takes on the challenge of Accel Sumiyoshi (11-4-3, 3) [アクセル住吉]. This bout is set to take place on April 11th at the Korakuen Hall.
Another bout that really whets the appetite is the Japanese Light Welterweight title bout. That contest will see champion Valentine Hosokawa (24-6-3, 11) [細川バレンタイン] defending his belt on April 6th at the Korakuen Hall against Koki Inoue (12-0, 10) [浩樹井上] in a mouth watering step up for the challenger.
We'll see attention turn to Osaka for the Welterweight title bout, as Ryota Yada (18-4, 15) [矢田良太] defends his belt against Yuki Nagano (15-2, 11) [永野祐樹]. This bout is set to take place on April 21st, though the specific venue wasn't announced.
The Light Middleweight title bout will see Nobuyuki Shindo (20-4-2, 8) [新藤寛之] defending the title against Hironobu Matsunaga (14-1, 8) [松永 宏信] in what should be a thrilling contest between a very hungry challenger and an under-rated champion. These two will clash at the Korakuen Hall on May 1st, as a double header with the Minamoto Vs Abe bout.
On March 2nd we'll see Japanese Middleweight champion Kazuto Takesako (10-0, 10) [竹迫司登] defending his belt against Shuji Kato (10-1-1, 6) [加藤収二], in what will be Takesako's second defense. This will also be at the Korakuen Hall.
At the moment the full details of who will be showing what bouts is unclear, but we're glad to now have most of the matches set, with dates and venues.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
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