Earlier today Japanese fight fans filled up the Korakuen Hall for the latest A-Sign Bee card, and it was a truly brilliant one, packed with great bouts.
Among those great bouts was a contest for the vacant Japanese Featherweight title, as Reiya Abe (19-3-1, 9) [阿部 麗也] and Ryo Sagawa (8-1, 4) [佐川遼] battled for the belt.
On paper this looked like a great bout but it turned out be even better than expected, and just as competitive!
From the opening round it was hard the two men as both jostled for ring position. Abe was looking to create distance for his southpaw shots whilst Sagawa applied pressure, and the dynamic just worked from the off, with both having moments in the early going. From then on it was never really clear who was in control, with Abe landing his clean, accurate straights at range and Sagawa getting his work off up close. As soon as one man seemed to create some momentum the other took it away.
After 5 rounds the judges had really struggled to split them. The open scoring after 5 rounds had Sagawa leading 48-47, twice, whilst the third judge had Abe up 48-47.
Abe began to change tactics following the scoring, but that seemed to give Sagawa more chances to land his shots, and saw him build momentum, despite the increased effort from Abe. Although Sagawa seemed to be doing just a touch more clean work than Abe, there was little to split them, in what was a very evenly fought back and forth. That was until the final round, as Abe began to have some of his best success of the fight. The sustained attack from Abe seemed to suggest that even he felt he was down, but it was too little too late.
After 10 rounds the judges all had the bout to Sagawa, with scores of 96-94, twice, and 96-95.
For Sagawa this continues a sensational run of form, which has also included wins against Junki Sasaki, Ryo Matsumoto, Shingo Kawamura and Al Toyogon. As for Abe this was his second set back in a Japanese title fight, following a draw with Taiki Minamoto earlier in the year.
The champion is now expected to defend his title later this year, Ryo Hino (13-1-2, 8) [日野僚], before the winner of that competes in the Champion Carnival, against either Hinata Maruta (9-1-1, 7) [丸田陽七太] against Takenori Ohashi (17-5-2, 11) [大橋健典].
Despite the set back Abe will remain in the title mix and will likely find himself getting another title fight, of some kind in 2020.
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
Yesterday we reported that an October 26th card at Korakuen Hall would be playing host to 5 Japanese eliminators as we begin to piece together the 2020 Champion Carnival bouts. Now we've been given a full list of all the eliminators, as we really see the end of the year Japanese boxing calendar take shape.
The first of the bouts will take place on September 13th at Super Bantamweight, and will see former champion Ryoichi Tamura (12-4-1, 6) [田村 亮一] take on experienced veteran Gakuya Furuhashi (25-8-1, 14) [古橋大輔], in what should be a thriller.
The second of the eliminators will take place just a few days later, on September 21st and is another bout that was already known about. This one is the Japanese Minimumweight title eliminator between unbeaten teenager Kai Ishizawa (6-0, 6) [石澤開] and former world title challenger Masataka Taniguchi (11-3, 7) [谷口 将隆].
Following the Minimumweight bout we'll have to wait until October for many of the bouts, with the first of those coming on October 21st and seeing Cristiano Aoqui (14-7-2, 10) [アオキ クリスチャーノ] and Daishi Nagata (13-2-1, 5) [永田大士] clash in an eliminator at 140lbs. On paper this one has explosive action written all over it and could turn out to be the hidden gem of the eliminators.
We then move on to the October 26th card, which features 5 different eliminators. They are the Flyweight eliminator, between Ryota Yamauchi (5-1, 4) [山内涼太] and Seiya Fujikita (13-4, 6) [藤北誠也], the Bantamweight eliminator between Kazuki Tanaka (11-2, 8) [田中一樹] and Kyosuke Sawada (13-2-1, 6) [澤田京介] the Featherweight eliminator, pitting Hinata Maruta (9-1-1, 7) [丸田陽七太] against Takenori Ohashi (17-5-2, 11) [大橋健典], the Lightweight eliminator between Kazuki Saito (7-1, 5) [斎藤一貴] and Izuki Tomioka (6-2-1, 2) [富岡樹] and the Welterweight bout between Keita Obara (21-4-1, 19) [小原 佳太] and Toshiro Tarumi (12-3-3, 6) [垂水稔朗]. This is where the bulk of the bouts are, and is expected to be a sensational card.
The Super Featherweight bout will take place on October 30th and is one of the best match ups. The bout will see former Japanese Featherweight champion Taiki Minamoto (16-5-1, 13) [源大輝] take on Takuya Watanabe (36-9-1, 21) [渡邉卓也]. This pits a huge puncher against a proper tough guy in what could be a very brutal bout.
At Light Middleweight we'll see former champion Nobuyuki Shindo (20-5-2, 8) [新藤寛之] take on Yuto Shimizu (13-4-2, 5) [清水優人] in what looks like a disappointing match up on paper but should prove to be very entertaining. This bout will take place on November 2nd and is expected to be featured on a card that has at least one other noteworthy bout.
The final bout to be scheduled is the Light Flyweight contest, which is set to feature Rikito Shiba (3-0, 2) [芝力人] taking on the big punching Masamichi Yabuki (9-3, 9) [佐藤政道], in another amazing match up. This bout, set to take place in Nagoya on December 15th, is a huge step up for Shiba and a win here would be a huge statement for the youngster.
One bout that has been ordered, but has no set date yet, is the Super Flyweight bout, which will feature former champion Hiroyuki Kudaka (26-18-2, 11) [久高寛之] and Yuta Matsuo (15-4-1, 8) [松尾雄太], in what should be an action packed war, helped by the limitations of the two men involved.
Notably there will be no eliminator at Middleweight and instead Riku Kunimoto (4-0, 2) [国本陸] will get a shot at the belt, likely against current champion Kazuto Takesako (11-0-1, 11) [竹迫司登], in the new year.
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
The Strongest Korakuen tournaments might have ended a few years ago but the Champion Carnival has continued on, with the Japanese national champions defending their belts in mandatory title fights in the first half of the year. At the moment we're not totally sure who will be defending, or challenging, for titles in early 2020 though that will change in the coming months, especially October.
Today we were given the details of a monstrously significant show on October 26th featuring 5 Japanese title eliminators, with the winners all set to become the mandatory challengers for next year's Champion Carnival. What's even better than having 5 eliminators is the quality of those bouts and the fighters involved, with some barn burners set for the card.
In a Flyweight bout we'll see Ryota Yamauchi (5-1, 4) [山内涼太] look to build on his recent win over world ranked Filipino Alphoe Dagayloan as he takes on Seiya Fujikita (13-4, 6) [藤北誠也]. This should see Yamauchi enter as the clear favourite, but Fujikita is no push over and his 2018 war with Naoki Mochizuki showed just how tough he was, despite the close loss. This should be all action, given the styles of the two men, though obviously we do favour Yamauchi to get the win.
In the Bantamweight eliminator we'll see the hard hitting Kazuki Tanaka (11-2, 8) [田中一樹] take on the highly skilled Kyosuke Sawada (13-2-1, 6) [澤田京介], who is riding a 14 fight unbeaten run following back to back losses to begin his career. This is a real 50-50 bout and a hard one to call, and should be one of the most interesting bouts on the card. The winner is likely to face Yusuke Suzuki in the new year, in what should be a tremendous bout it's self.
At Featherweight we'll see touted youngster Hinata Maruta (9-1-1, 7) [丸田陽七太] take on former champion Takenori Ohashi (17-5-2, 11) [大橋健典]. Maruta has yet to live up to his promise, but has shown touches of brilliance and a win here will be a huge chance for him to show what he can do on the big stage. On the other hand Ohashi, despite being technically limited, is a huge puncher and his KO win in May over Shun Wakabayashi is still one of the best KO's this year. The winner of this will likely face either Reiya Abe (19-2-1, 9) [阿部 麗也] or Ryo Sagawa (7-1, 4) [佐川遼], who fight for the vacant title in September.
The Lightweight division will see Kazuki Saito (7-1, 5) [斎藤一貴] battle against Izuki Tomioka (6-2-1, 2) [富岡樹]. Of the two men Saito has proven to be the more aggressive, hard hitter and and crisper looking professional, however Tomioka is an awkward fighter, and he gave Masayoshi Nakatani real fits in an OPBF bout back in 2018. Saito should have the edge, but has shown real issues with his chin, whilst Tomioka is solid, but lacks power. Sadly the winner of this is likely to face the excellent Shuichiro Yoshino, in what would be a huge ask the for the challenger, who ever that ends up being.
The highest weight being fought at on this show is Welterweight, which will see Keita Obara (21-4-1, 19) [小原 佳太] battle Toshiro Tarumi (12-3-3, 6) [垂水稔朗]. Coming in to this Obara is, clearly, the bigger name, and is the most well known fighter on the show. Despite that he is now heading towards his 33rd birthday and has taken punishment through his career. Tarumi on the other hand is a relative unknown outside of Japan, but is riding a 7 fight winning streak since a 2016 loss to Yuki Nagano, who has since gone on to win the Japanese title.
At the moment the broadcast details of this show are unclear, though the hope is that Boxing Raise will carry it, like they did with a similar show in 2018.
Back on May 1st we saw a thrilling Japanese Featherweight title bout, as defending champion Taiki Minamoto (16-5-1, 13) [源大輝] just retained his title, fighting to a draw with Reiya Abe (19-2-1, 9) [阿部 麗也]. After the bout their was talk about a rematch, and talk about Minamoto potentially moving up. We'll be honest and admit we wanted to see a rematch, the first really was that good, though today the hope of a rematch was ended.
The decision has been made by Minamoto to abandon the division and begin campaigning at Super Featherweight, due to issues making the 126lb weight limit. Whilst that does ruin hope of a rematch it's not a bad thing for fans who are now set to get another hard hitting in the already stacked Japanese Super Featherweight picture and a number of potentially interesting bouts to fill the title void at Featherweight.
For the vacant title we would expect to see Abe fighting for the belt again next, with likely opponent being highly ranked by the JBC. The #2 ranked fighter, behind Abe, is former world title challenger Genesis Servania (32-2, 15) and we would certainly expect that to be an amazing match up. Others ranked highly by the JBC include Ryo Hino (13-1-2, 8) [日野僚], who would look to avenge a 2015 loss to Abe, the in form Ryo Sagawa (7-1, 4) [佐川遼], former world title challenger Hiroshige Osawa (35-5-4, 21) [大沢宏晋] and super talented youngster Hinata Maruta (9-1-1, 7) [丸田陽七太]. Any of those 5 possible foes against Abe would be great.
With Minamoto moving up he will find himself linked to fights against the likes of Japanese champion Masaru Sueyoshi (19-1-1, 11) [末吉 大] and former world champion Masayuki Ito (25-2-1, 13) [伊藤 雅雪], among others. Though, for now,m he'd be unable to challenge for the OPBF title held by Watanabe gym stablemate Hironori Mishiro (7-0-1, 2) [三代大訓], who defends that title in July.
Whilst it's obviously a shame we won't see Abe and Minamoto run it back with a rematch, the move up in weight for Minamoto is better for his health, and really changes the dynamic on the Japanese scene at both Featherweight and Super Featherweight.
Earlier today at the iconic Korakuen Hall fans saw touted youngster Hinata Maruta (9-1-1, 7) [丸田 陽七太] claim his latest victory, shutting out the the game but over-matched Coach Hiroto (13-3-2, 4) [小内義人] over 8 rounds.
The bout really wasn't the most exciting, and that was seemingly be design from Maruta who boxed really well behind his jab, showed off his movement, his speed and ring IQ but boxed safely, showing the same lack of urgency that has been criticised in the past.
Although Maruta lacked urgency he wasn't inactive, instead he was just fighting comfortably behind a busy and sharp jab. There wasn't a great deal of follow up to the jab, with big right hands a rarity, but there was no need to take risks here and potentially suffer some sort of injury. Instead it was a conscious performance by Maruta against an experienced but slower, older, smaller opponent.
Hiroto, to his credit, did try to fight, and did try to make a go of things, but all too often found himself out of range, and then being pinged in the face by Maruta's razor like jab, which really was the story of the fight.
After the bout Maruta made it known he was wanting to get a title bout, and the 8 rounds here will have served as a decent bout to sharpen his tools. He looked good and sharp, but there was a feeling that there was much more for him to show than he did here. It was clear he was levels above Hiroto, but was also happy to take a clear decision, and get some rounds in the bag.
For Hiroto, who hadn't fought in over a year, the bout will have helped him shake some ring rust, but it's hard to imagine him making any noise of the domestic scene going forward.
For fans wanting to watch this, the bout is now available on Boxing Raise.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
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