On September 9th we'll see WBO Super Flyweight champion Naoya Inoue make his US debut, as he defends his title on the stacked "Superfly" card. Today fans in Japan had the chance to see his younger brother Takuma Inoue (9-0, 2) [井上 拓真] take part in a thriller against 4-time world title challenger Hiroyuki Kudaka (25-17-1, 11) [久高寛之].
The bout, Inoue's first in almost a year, was set to be a tough return to the ring following a nasty injury last year, though surprisingly turned out to be one of the fights of the month.
Despite the lay off coming into this fight Inoue looked crisp and sharp straight away. He used his movement and power brilliantly from the opening moments. The experienced Kudaka had, of course, seen it all before and looked to turn things around in the second round and fight began to take on a life of it's own.
With Kudaka looking to get inside and force a war Inoue had to respond, and respond he did as he fought fire with fire and we ended up getting a fierce and hard fought bout that saw Kudaka suffer a huge cut over his left eye. The action was thrilling and the fans rightfully applauded the two men who had given them a real show.
Despite the effort from Kudaka, previously known as Hiroyuki Hisataka, it was clear he had come off second best, and that was shown on all three cards, which favoured Inoue by scores of 98-92, 98-93 and 97-94.
After the bout Inoue made itclear he now wanted a world title fight, something his injury last year prevented him from getting at the end of 2017, whilst sadly a bout between Kudaka and Go Onaga (28-3-3, 19) [翁長 吾央], which was scheduled for November 11th, is now expected to be delayed due to Kudaka's cut.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Tomorrow we'll see former OPBF Super Flyweight champion Takuma Inoue (8-0, 2) [井上 拓真] fight for the first time in almost a year, as he takes on 4-time world title challenger Hiroyuki Kudaka (25-16-1, 11) [久高寛之] at the Korakuen Hall.
Today the two men weighed in for their bout, which will be fought at the Bantamweight limit.
On scales today a ripped Inoue, the younger brother of world champion Naoya Inoue, came in bang on the limit and looked more muscular around the arms than he ever had previously. Last year he ended the bout feeling the heart ache of injury, which forced him to pull out of a world title fight, and it's clear he has spent his time away from the ring working on strength and conditioning.
As for Kudaka, who was previously known as Hiroyuki Hisataka, he was well under the weight comijng in around 117.5lbs for the bout, and lookin in incredible shape. Notably he has signed on for his next fight before facing Inoue, and we now know that he will be fighting Inoue's stablemate Go Onaga (27-3-3, 18) [翁長 吾央] in November, in what will be a Japanese title challenger bout for the Japanese Super Flyweight title.
For fans interested in this bout it is set to be aired on Fuji TV this coming weekend.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
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 the Ohashi gym held a press conference to officially announce an August 30th show, which had been rumoured over the last few days.
The show was fully announced today, but the main event of the card was, and will see former OPBF Super Flyweight champion Takuma Inoue (8-0, 2) [井上 拓真] make his long awaited ring return, following an injury last year. His opponent for the card, which will be the 60th Battle Pheonix show, will be former 4-time world title challenger Hiroyuki Hisataka (25-16-1, 11) [久高 寛之].
Inoue was supposed to fight for the WBO Bantamweight title last December but a hand injury forced him out of the contest, and it took a while for him to recover. Rather than take on an easy foe he's taking on a very under-rated and tough Hisataka, who has competed with a who's who of the lower weights. It's a tough return for the youngster, but he has stated he is looking toward a world title and will fight at either Super Flyweight or Bantamweight if an opportunity provides it's self.
Also expected on the same card will be Ryo Matsumoto (20-1, 18) [松本亮], Satoshi Shimizu (3-0, 3) [清水 聡], Kazuki Nakajima (0-0) [中嶋一輝], Go Onaga (27-3-3, 18) [翁長 吾央], Katsuya Yasuda [保田克也] and Koki Inoue (7-0, 6) [浩樹井上]
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Earlier today saw the announcement that Yutaka Oishi (14-5, 7) [大石 豊] would be returning on April 22nd to defend the OPBF Light Middleweight title, making his first defense of the belt.
The IBF world ranked Osakan claimed the belt last year, when he defeated Takayuki Hosokawa, will be up against limited Thai Ratchasi Sithsaithong (7-3, 5) in what looks like a less than great bout.
Prior to beating Hosokawa last year Oishi was really unknwon, and had lost his most notable bouts, against Zac Dunn and Sanosuke Sasaki but is now riding a 3 fifght winning streak and seems to know that he's now in last chance saloon with his career, with any loss potentially being the end of his dreams of being a successfulfighter.
The Thai came to our attention last year, losing in April to Cobra Suwa, in a bout for the WBC Asian Boxing Council Light Middleweight title, before defeating Suwa in a rematch in December. His only other bout of note was a November 2015 loss to Hikaru Nishida, in Tokyo.
The bout will headline the card which will also feature Terumi Nuki (8-1, 5) [ぬき てるみ] battle against a Thai for an OPBF female Super Flyweight title and a bout featuring Hiroyuki Hisataka (24-16-1, 10) [久高 寛之].
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