Earlier today at a gym in Akune City, Kagoshima prefecture, we had the All Japan Championship finals. The competition, shown between two NHK channels, had 8 finals and was the next step towards Olympic qualification for the fighters who are looking to book a place at their home games in Tokyo next year.
The first final took place at 49KG's and saw Tsuyoshi Kawatani [川谷剛史] out point Tsubasa Ogawa [小川 翼] in a hotly contested contest between two very promising youngsters. Though out the bout it felt like Kawatani was a touch too sharp for Ogawa, though it was certainly a competitive contest and both youngsters appear to be fighters with very good careers ahead of them.
At 52KG's Ryomei Tanaka [田中亮明] took a razor thin split decision win over Tomoya Tsuboi [坪井智也]. This was so close and competitive that Tsuboi's team appealed the decision, though failed to get it over-turned. This was an ugly fight with both men giving their all to win and their styles really clashing at times. Tsuboi was cut but had a lot of success with his overhand right and his teams appeal was certainly a worth while one. This was messy, it was fun and it was exciting, even if wasn't all clean action. With the win Tanaka, who's brother Kosei Tanaka is a professional world champion, takes a step towards an Olympic place, but the real question is whether or not Tsuboi decides to turn professional or not. If he does he will be a very welcome addition to the pros.
Notably the decision to the above bout was met with mixed reaction by the crowd who seemed unsure who deserved the decision and had it been reversed on appear no one would have been surprised.
At 57 KG's we super talented youngster Hayato Tsutsumi [堤駿斗] take a clear decision over veteran Kenji Fujita [藤田健児], who announced his retirement from amateur boxing after the bout. Tsutsumi is the rising star of Japanese amateur boxing and his win here was a passing of the torch type of event, and it seems clear he will be one of Japan's best hopes for an Olympic medal next year. As for Fujita's future, it's unclear what he will do, but we wouldn't be surprised if he was getting calls this coming week to turn professional after a very long and successful amateur career.
In the the 60KG's bout Shion Nishiyama [西山 潮音] took a clear decision over Taketo Yamahara [山原武人]. Last year at the Japanese National Sports Festival Nishiyama lost in the semi-final at 56KG's and the move up in weight seems to have suited him here, though it will be a hard road to Olympic qualification given the regional talent he'll have to get through in the Asian qualifiers.
At 63KG's it was the all action Daisuke Narimatsu [成松大介] who again shined, as he beat Taiga Imanaga [今永虎雅] in a shut out win, to claim his third successive All Japan Championship. The talented Narimatsu is a name we suspect followers of the amateur scene are familiar with, and he competed at the 2016 Olympics in Rio with a style that looked made to go professional with. With his 30th birthday coming in December we suspect he'll have left it too late to have a successful professional career, no matter what happens at Tokyo 2020, but he will be a genuine "what if" given how pro-ready his style has been over the years.
The 69KG's final saw Seon Okazawa [岡澤セオン] take a 5-0 win over Yasuhiro Suzuki [鈴木康弘], to become a 2-time champion. The now 31 year old Suzuki had gone to the London Olympics in 2012, and is getting on in years, so we wonder whether he'll decides it's time for a short at professional boxing, or maybe just hangs them up. Either way he has been a credit to Japanese amateur boxing and Okazawa's win is a very meaningful one here.
The penultimate bout took place at 75KG's and saw Yuito Moriwaki [森脇唯人] takes a shut out win over Kyohei Hosono [細野恭兵], just as he did last year. This win saw Moriwaki become a triple champion, having won in 2017 and 2018. He'll be another hopeful for a medal at Tokyo 2020, but he's not going to have an easy route to the games.
The heaviest weight competed at was 81KG's, which saw Ren Umemura [梅村錬] take a decision over Ryudai Onikura [鬼倉龍大]. Uemura was the more aggressive fight in what was a well contested bout between two well schooled fighters. In the end the judges went with Uemura, 4:1, and there no objection from Onikura's team who seemed to agree their man was second best in a close fight.
Over the last couple of hours we have looked at some individual award winners at today's Japanese boxing awards, held in the amazing Tokyo Dome Hotel. For those who just want to see the winners in a list here we go:
The MVP was:
Naoya Inoue (17-0, 15) [井上 尚弥]
The Skills Award was won by:
Kosei Tanaka (12-0, 7) [田中恒成]
The KO Award was won by:
Naoya Inoue (17-0, 15) [井上 尚弥]
Special Award was won by:
Masayuki Ito (25-1-1, 13) [伊藤 雅雪]
The Effort Award was won by:
Masayoshi Nakatani (18-0, 12) [中谷正義]
The Newcomer Award was won by:
Kazuto Takesako (10-0, 10) [竹迫司登]
The Best World title Fight:
Sho Kimura [木村翔] Vs Kosei Tanaka [田中恒成]
The Best Japanese Domestic fight:
Yusaku Kuga [久我勇作] Vs Shingo Wake [和氣 慎吾]
Female fighter of the year was:
Tenkai Tsunami (26-12, 15) [天海 ツナミ]
Female Fight of the Year was:
Kayoko Ebata [江畑佳代子] Vs Etsuko Tada [多田悦子]
Trainer of the Year was:
Shingo Inoue [井上真吾]
A Special Achievement Award was won by:
Shinsuke Yamanaka [山中慎介]
Special Prizes were given to:
Toshiyuki Igarashi [五十嵐 俊幸]
Naoko Shibata [柴田 直子]
Nana Yoshikawa [好川 菜々]
Ryuya Yamanaka [山中 竜也]
And Momo Koseki [小関 桃]
A social Contribution prize was given too:
Naoko Fujioka (17-2, 7) [藤岡 奈穂子]
JBC Service Achievements were won by
Akira Tabata, who has served as a timekeeper, and Hiroyuki Tokuzaki, a referee who sadly passed away in October.
Several other officials earned awards for their roles in the sport as well, as did Atsushi Sato, a producer at WOWOW.
It's also worth noting that every male fighter who held a world title at some point during the year won an Outstanding Fighter Award, this is a normal thing to recognise all champions. We won't list them all here though they obviously included Kenshiro [拳四朗] and Hiroto Kyoguchi [京口 紘人] among others.
As for amateur awards, the best male fighter was:
Daisuke Narimatsu [成松大介]
and the best female fighter was:
Tsukimi Namiki [並木月海]
(Image courtesy of Boxingnews.jp)
Earlier today fans were able to see the 88th All Japan National Championships, with 8 national champions being crowned in what was an incredible show of high level amateur boxing. For fans at the venue the show was brilliant, whilst those watching on TV, courtesy of NHKBS1 got guest analyst work from WBA "Regular" Bantamweight champion Naoya Inoue.
The lowest weight on the show was the Light Flyweight division, which saw Yudai Shigeoka [重岡優大], the older brother of touted professional prospect Ginjiro Shigeoka, take a 5-0 decisions over Daichi Hasebe [長谷部大地]. The bout was a high skilled, fast paced contest that really kicked the show off in an amazing fashion.
The Flyweight bout was another amazing contest, which saw Tosho Kashiwazaki [柏崎刀翔] taking a 4-1 decision over Ryomei Tanaka [田中亮明], the older brother of 3-weight world champion Kosei Tanaka. This was was tightly fought, but Kashiwazaki always looked like the aggressor, and it seems like that extra offensive mentality was the difference between the two men.
At Bantamweight 2014 Youth Olympics bronze medal winner Subaru Murata [村田昴] over-come Keisuke Matsumoto [松本圭佑], the son of former world title challenger Koji Matsumoto. Murata was cut around both eyes but took the decision win, thanks in part to an amazing effort in the final round, where he really put Matsumoto on the back foot to claim a 3-0 win.
The Lightweight bout saw 2016 Olympian Arashi Morisaka [森坂嵐] narrowly over-come Kenji Fujita [藤田健児] in a 3-2 decision. This was a messy bout at time, with the styles not quite gelling as the earlier bouts, but was very competitive and hard to take your eyes off as both men did all they could to try and take the win.
In the Light Welterweight final we saw the highly established Daisuke Narimatsu [成松大介] claim his latest title as he defeated Yuta Akiyama [秋山佑汰]. This was Narimatsu's 8th All Japanese title, and it seems like his intention is to go to the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. If boxing is however removed from the Olympics we could imagine promoters scrambling over each other to become his professional promoter.
The Welterweight crown was won by Sewon Okazawa [岡澤セオン], who took a 5-0 decision over Kanjo Taiyo [金城大明], in what was an another entertaining contest with Okazawa making his claim to be pushed towards some notable international competitions, potentially including the Olympics.
At Middleweight Yuito Moriwaki [森脇唯人] continued his great run on the domestic scene, as he defeated Kyohei Hosono [細野恭兵] 5-0. This win saw Moriwaki retain the title he won last year, and claim the MVP award for the show, as he continues to thrive and really make his mark.
The heaviest weight class on the show as the Light Heavyweight division, which saw Takuro Kurita [栗田琢郎] take a 3-2 win over Takahito Nitta [新田隆人] to take the crown.
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
Last week we reported on the Japanese boxing awards, awarded to the professional Japanese fighters. Today sees news of the Japanese Amateur boxing awards, and the big story of the day is that youngster Hayato Tsutsumi [堤駿斗] has been awarded the MVP award, despite only being a high school student, being the high school boxing to claim the MVP award.
In 2016 the 17 year old had a massive year, winning gold at both the the Asian Youth Championships and the AIBA Youth World Championships as well the national High School championships. Although they may have been at Youth level there was little to argue with his achievements and it's fair to say that if Tsutsumi looks to turn professional before Tokyo 2020 his signature will be one that all the major promoters will be after.
Other awards were won by Daisuke Narimatsu [成松大介] and Arashi Morisaka [森坂嵐], who shared the Excellent Fighter award, the Skills Award was won by Ryomei Tanaka [田中亮明], the Fighting award was won by Yusuke Yamauchi [山内祐季] whilst the Effort and Newcomers awards were both shared.
(Image courtesy of Boxingnews.jp)
The boxing at the Olympics continued earlier today and there was several more Asian fighters in action, with mixed successes.
In an absolutely barn storming bout Japan's Daisuke Narimatsu came up short against American sensation Carlos Balderas. The bout was fought at an incredible pace up, close with punches being thrown non-stop in a toe-to-toe war. In the end however the more classy work came from the American who looks like a very special talent for the future, and maybe these two will clash again in the professional ranks in the future. Given the quality of this fight we'd love to see them go again over 12 rounds!
In the second fight to feature an Asian we saw Uzbek fighter Hurshid Tojibaev over-come British fighter Joe Cordina, with a majority decision in a 75KG bout. The touted Cordina seemed to concentrate more on moving with his hands down than actually fighting, yet one judge manage to give him a share of the fight, whilst the Uzbek actually came for a fight and landed almost all the notable blows to claim a well earned win, despite a very harsh point deduction.
Sadly things weren't as good in the third bout as Tajikistan's Anvar Yunusov was forced to retire at the start of the second round against home fighter Robson Conceicao. Yunusov had injured his right arm in his previous bout and was unable to through it during this bout, retiring as a result.
Staying in the 75KG division was saw Azeri fighter Kamran Shakhsuvaerly over-come China's Zhao Minggang with a decision in what was a rather 1-sided bout, with the Azeri looking several levels above the brave but out-classed Chinese fighter.
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