Earlier today fight fans at the Korakuen Hall has a chance to see a show promoted by Hideki Todaka. The card wasn't a high profile one, but did feature a number of Japanese ranked fighters, several of which were in pretty interesting match ups.
One of those notable names was JBC ranked Welterweight Cobra Suwa (20-13-2, 12) [コブラ諏訪], who bounced back from his November 2017 loss to Nobuyuki Shindo by blasting out an over-matched Thai foe in just 53 seconds.
One of the more interesting match ups pitted Japanese ranked Super Featherweights against each other, with Kazuma Sanpei (15-4, 6) [三瓶数馬] coming out on top against Kei Iwahara (8-5, 4) [岩原慶]. The bout was a really well matched one on paper, with both fighters just outside the JBC top 10, but in the end Sanpei's experience proved too much for Iwahara, with his team tossing in the towel mid way through round 6.
Another bout between Japanese ranked fighters was the main event, which pitted two JBC top 15 Featherweights against each other. This bout saw Dai Iwai (22-5-1, 7) [岩井大] out point Yosuke Kawano (12-7-2, 6) [河野洋佑] over 8 rounds to take a huge step towards getting a Japanese title fight, potentially against JBC Featherweight champion Taiki Minamoto. This was a really competitive bout, though Iwai's experience helped him to the decision with scores of 78-74 and 77-75, twice.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
On Friday fight fans at the Korakuen Hall saw Japanese Light Middleweight champion Takeshi Inoue (12-0-1, 7) [井上 岳志] score the biggest win of his career, as he unified the Japanese, OPBF and WBO Asia Pacific titles at 154lbs. The win was a huge one for the Japanese hopeful who appears set for big things in the years to come.
Just a day later, at the very same venue, we learned who his next challenger would be, as Nobuyuki Shindo (19-4-1, 8) [新藤寛之] and over-came Cobra Suwa (19-13-2, 11) [コブラ諏訪] and claimed his place as the mandatory challenger to Inoue's Japanese title.
Shindo, a former Welterweight champion, showed off his movement and size early on against Suwa. The lanky and rangy Shindo used his jab well and boxed on the move against the slow and aggressive pressure of Suwa, who's legs looked every bit of their 37 years. Suwa tried to aply pressure but in the first round it did little other than make life easy for Shindo. In round 2 Shindo began to land some big right hands, though to his credit Suwa did intensify his pressure and had some success with Shindo in the corner. That success seemed to continue early in round 3 until a shot from Shindo opened up a cut on Suwa's eye. The bout on for a few moments, but was quickly taken to the ring side doctor who stopped the bout, and Shindo got the stoppage win.
For Shindo the win is a big one, opening up a title fight, but a loss to Inoue in 2018 will likely be the end for Shindo as a title level fighter. For Suwa the loss today could well be the end for his long career.
Earlier today the JBC announced their replacement of the "Strongest Korakuen" and in all honesty we really like their decision, even if we were fans of the Strongest Korakuen.
For those unaware, the Strongest Korakuen, was a short tournament to decide the mandatory challenger for the Japanese titles the following year, at the Champion Carnival. At one point the tournament was pretty significant, with fighters genuinely vying for a place, but in recent years fighters have been less eager and what was once a tournament format has since dropped to being a straight final between two highly ranked JBC contenders in only a few divisions. A far cry from what the Strongest Korakuen once was.
The solution from the JBC was to have a "Japanese Champion Challenger Decision Battle", not a catchy name we'll admit, between two contenders to decide the mandatory challengers across a number of weight classes. And unlike the past these bouts aren't cramped on a single show but instead allowed to take place over a number of cards and dates. This has allowed the fighters more flexibility, and arguably set up a more interesting end to 2017 for Japanese fight fans, who have a number of big domestic clashes to look forward to on the national stage.
The first of the bouts will take place on August 20th and will come at Minimumweight as WBO world ranked fighter Ryoki Hirai (9-4-1, 4) [平井亮輝] take on Kenta Matsui (8-6, 1) [松井謙太]. On paper this doesn't look an amazing bout but the reality is that it's well matched on paper and give both men a rea reason to fight hard and go for the win, and could potentially see Hirai continue his remarkable career turn around which has seen him rebuild from a 3-3-1 (1) record to a potential title fight.
The second bout will take place on October 8th and will be the Light Flyweight bout, which will pit Koki Ono (12-3, 5) [小野晃輝] against veteran Koji Itagaki (17-11-3, 7) [板垣幸司] in what looks like another of those under-rated match ups that has made the Japanese scene as interesting as it is. On paper Ono will be strongly favoured, however Itagaki ios no joke and his record really doesn't tell the story of his good he is,
Interestingly we'll have 5 of the bouts take place on October 21st.
One of those will be at Flyweight as the always fun to watch Katsunori Nagamine (14-1, 10) [長嶺克則] takes on Akinori Hoshino (13-7-1, 9) [星野晃規]. Whilst this looks likely to be another predictable win, for Nagamine, it's hard to argue with him getting a title shot after the run he's been on since losing to Ken Shiro. Another bout on the same day Eita Kikuchi (21-4-4, 8) [菊地永太] will face off with Yusuke Suzuki (8-3, 5) [鈴木悠介] in a really good looking Bantamweight bout, which pits a veteran against a relative novice in what could be a real thriller.
On the same day we'll also get Featherweight bout which will pit Dai Iwai (21-4-1, 7) [岩井大] against Taiki Minimoto (13-5, 11) [源大輝], in a bout where we see former title challengers face off. We also get the Lightweight bout, which will pit fast rising prospect Shuichiro Yoshino (4-0, 2) [吉野修一郎] against Spicy Matsushita (17-9-1, 2) [スパイシー松下] in a another bout that pits a veteran against a novice, though it's fair to say the novice will be very strongly favoured here. The other bout taking place the same day is a Welterweight bout which will see former title challenger Moon Hyun Yun (18-4-3, 3) [尹文鉉] take on the heavy handed Ryota Yada (13-4, 11) [矢田良太] in a potentially explosive bout.
On November 4th we'll again get a number of bouts. One of those is a juicy looking Super Bantamweight bout between Yuta Nakagawa (21-4-1, 12) [中川勇太] and Yasutaka Ishimoto (30-9, 9) [石本康隆], in what could well be the pick of the bouts given the styles of the two men. Another bout on the same day will see Masaru Sueyoshi (15-1, 10) [末吉大] take on Ribo Takahata (13-7-1, 5) [高畑里望] in a Super Featherweight bout, with Sueyoshi looking ready to move on to title level. A third bout on the same day, and another real cracker on paper, will see Shoma Fukumoto (11-1, 9) [福本祥馬] trade blows with Kazuto Takesako (6-0, 6) [竹迫司登] for the chance to fight for a Middleweight title next year, and we suspect that one will be very explosive.
The Super Flyweight bout will take place on November 11th as Ohashi gym fighter Go Onaga (27-3-3, 18) [翁長吾央] battles against 4-time world title challenger Hiroyuki Hisataka (25-16-1, 11) [久高寛之] in what will almost certainly be a gruelling battle between two veterans of the ring.
At some point in November, though yet to be confirmed, we'll see the Welterweight bout between Nobuyuki Shindo (18-4-1, 7) [新藤寛之] and Cobra Suwa (19-12-2, 11) [コブラ諏訪], in what is a real must for both, who are both struggling at the moment and cannot afford another loss.
The final bout, scheduled for December 8th, will be at 140lbs and see Dominican born Japanese based Vladimir Baez (22-3-21, 20), aka "Destino Japan, take on Kazuyasu Okamoto (14-4, 4) [岡本和泰] in what should be another explsoive match up.
The winners of all the bouts will earn themselves a shot at their respective divisional champion in 2018, meaning the bouts really do matter, not just to the men involved, but also to the Japanese champions and the top domestic contenders.
Earlier today saw an announcement from Japan that Japanese fighter Cobra Suwa (18-11-2, 10) [コブラ諏訪] would be returning to the ring on December 10th to defend his WBC Asian Boxing Council Light Middleweight title. The Puma Toguchi fighter will be defending his title against former foe Ratchasi Sithsaithong (6-3, 5).
The bout will be Suwa's first defense of the title,a title that he won earlier this year when he stopped Ratchasi in 5 rounds, and will see the Thai being given a chance to claim revenge against Suwa.
Suwa might not have the greatest of records but is running up a 6 fight winning streak, with 5 stoppages, and is more than 3 years removed from his last loss. As for Ratchasi he has 2-2 in his last 4, and 3-3 on his last 6, and is without a win of any note having lost to both Suwa and Hikaru Nishida.
On the under-card fans will see Japanese veteran Hirotsugu Yamamoto (19-13-2, 3) [山元 浩嗣], though his opponent has yet to be named. Whilst he's not so well known this will be his first bout since his loss, earlier this year, to former multi-weight world champion Jhonnt Gonzalez.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Although relatively unknown outside of Japan it's fair to say that Cobra Suwa (18-11-2, 10) [コブラ諏訪] has had an interesting career, fighting for the OPBF and Japanese Welterweight titles in 2013 before mounting a run at 154lbs in both Japan and Thailand. Although never one of the best fighters on the planet he has certainly enjoyed a bit of success.
Earlier this month he was in the US to have a training camp which saw him training under the eye of American boxing icon Shane Mosley Sr, and in fact spent time sparring with Shane Mosley Jr.
The training camp, which lasted around 2 weeks, was to help Suwa prepare for his first defense of the WBC Asian Boxing Council Super Welterweight title, which has been pencilled in for December in Thailand. That would be his 4th successive bout in the Land of Smiles and likely see him continue his title reign as he continues to develop a successful final chapter to his 13 year career.
(Image courtesy of Puma Toguchi gym)
News! We try and give you the most interesting news stories from the Asian boxing world!