Earlier today Japanese fight fans at the Korakuen Hall saw the very last Youth Tournament Semi-final bouts of 2017, with both of them taking place at 140lbs, setting up the final later in the year.
The first of those bouts saw scores being settled as Takahiko Kobayashi (7-2, 5) [小林孝彦] took a majority decision win over fellow puncher Hayato Ono (5-2, 5) [大野俊人]. This was a second meeting between the two heavy handed sluggers, with Ono having stopped Kobayashi last year, though this time Kobayashi showed his maturity to take the win, though he did look exhausted in the later stages.
The other semi final saw the unbeaten Andy Hiraoka (10-0, 7) [平岡アンディ] shine, with a stoppage win over 2016 Rookie of the Year Ukyo Yoshigai (5-2, 4) [吉開右京]. The tall and rangy Hiraoka showed why many in Japan rate him so highly, as he controlled the range and tempo of the bout, before a perfectly simed left hand in round 3 closed the show.
The twomen will now face off on November 11th decide the first Japanese Light Welterweight Youth Champion, and it's fair to say that whilst Hiraoka will be the favourite, the bout is a mouth watering one, and one that fans should be looking forward to.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Tomorrow we will see a number of Japanese Youth Tournament finals, with titles being decided in several divisions. We will also see two semi-finals, with both of those bouts being at 140lbs and deciding the fighters for the tournament's final.
In one of those semi-final bouts we'll see heavy handed Hayato Ono (5-1, 5) [大野俊人] take on take on fellow puncher Takahiko Kobayashi (6-2, 5) [小林孝彦]. This is a rematch between two men who fought last year, with Ono stopping Kobayashi in the 5th round of their Rookie of the East final bout. With a bit of history between the two men, and fire power in the hands of both this has the potential to be something genuinely thrilling.
On the scales Kobayashi was bang on the divisional limit of 140lbs whilst Ono was 139.75lbs. Both looked in fantastic shape, seemed confident and looked like fighters excited to get in their against each other for the second time.
It's worth noting that whilst both are genuine bangers at this level, neither has a reputation of being someone who can take a good shot, and all 3 of their combined losses have been by stoppage, adding further to the idea that this one will not go the scheduled 6 round distance, and may well end in the blink of an eye.
The other semi final lacks the history of the first one, but is arguably an even better looking bout as the sensationally talented Andy Hiraoka (9-0, 6) [平岡アンディ] faces 2016 Rookie of the Year Ukyo Yoshigai (5-1, 4) [吉開右京]. Of the two men Hiraoka is the more well known, having been a stand out athlete and recently transferring to the Ohashi Gym, but Yoshigai cannot be over-looked and holds a win over the aforementioned Hayato Ono.
On the scales for this bout Yoshigai made the limit of 140lbs dead on, and looked in good shape, though was notably shorter than a very confident looking Hiraoka who came in at 139.75lbs for the contest.
At the moment we've not been given the date of the eventual final, but given the fighters involved in the semi finals it's hard not to be excited about both the semis and the eventual final.
Fans interested in watching these bouts will be glad to know they will be featured on boxingraise.com.
(Images courtesy of boxmob.jp)
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