Earlier today we were informed that Japanese Featherweight champion Ryo Sagawa (8-1, 4) [佐川遼] will make his first defense on December 12th, in what is expected to be the final Diamond Glove card of the year.
The champion, who won the title in September with an excellent win against Reiya Abe (19-3-1, 9) [阿部 麗也], will be taking on the once beaten Ryo Hino (13-1-2, 8) [日野僚].
For Sagawa this will be his first defense and his third bout this year, following wins over Al Toyogon and Abe. He has rebuilt his career excellently following a loss in his second pro-bout, back in May 2017, and looks to be in some of the best for of any fighter in Japan. His 7 fight winning run has included not only his wins from this year but also notable victories over Ryo Matsumoto, Junki Sasaki and Shingo Kawamura.
In the ring the champion is an excellent fighter, able to box or brawl and looks to have corrected the issues that lead to him getting stopped in his second bout, against Retsu Kosaka.
Hino is unbeaten since 2015, when he lost to Reiya Abe, and has reeled off 8 wins and a draw since then. Sadly his competition hasn't been great, with the most notable results during that 9 fight unbeaten run being a win over Sho Nakazawa and a draw with Coach Hiroto. On paper he's taking a huge step up but the 29 year old will like it's his time to shine.
The winner of this bout will be expected to defend the title next year at the Champion Carnival, against either former champion Takenori Ohashi (17-5-2, 11) [大橋健典] or the highly touted Hinata Maruta (9-1-1, 7) [丸田陽七太], who clash on October 26th in a title eliminator.
Earlier today the Japanese Light Flyweight title changed hands, as veteran Kenichi Horikawa (40-16-1, 13) [堀川 謙一] came up short against young challenger Yuto Takahashi (11-4, 5) [高橋悠斗], in what was an incredibly close bout.
The 39 year old Horikawa was look to control the distance against the 26 year old challenger, but in the early going it was the challenger who managed to do that little bit more and dictate the tempo. Horikawa used his speed and movement to just do enough to take the rounds, though it wasn't clear cut and the champion had his own success, particularly in round 5 with his left hook.
After 5 rounds Takahashi was leading, 48-47, twice and 49-46.
Knowing he was behind Horikawa looked to impose himself more, and had notable success in round 7 as he ramped up the pressure. Though he was upping his work rate Horikawa couldn't take away the legs of Takahashi who bit down on his gum shield and fought back hard, refusing to let Horikawa take total control.
After 10 rounds it was clear the bout was close, much closer than it had been at the midway point. The fight back from Horikawa had been excellent, and he showed a champions determination. In the end however it wasn't enough, with Takahashi taking the decision with scores of 97-93, 96-94 and 95-95, to become the new Japanese Light Flyweight champion.
It's now unclear on what the future holds for Horikawa, and it wouldn't be a massive shock if he retired given his age. However given his effort here, we certainly wouldn't complain about a rematch next year, and even at an advanced age Horikawa has plenty left in the tank. As for Takahashi he will be defending the title in the 2020 Champion Carnival against either Rikito Shiba (4-0, 2) [芝力人] or Masamichi Yabuki (9-3, 9) [佐藤政道], who will fight in an eliminator later this year.
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
The second Japanese title fight of 2019 saw the heavy handed Ryoichi Tamura (12-3-1, 6) [田村 亮一] put on an aggressive show case as he defeated Mugicha Nakagawa (24-6-1, 14) [武田勇太] to claim the Japanese Super Bantamweight title that was vacated by Shingo Wake (25-5-2, 17) [和氣 慎吾] late last year.
From the opening round Tamura put his flag in the ground and made it clear he was going to be the aggressive pressure fighting, backing Nakagawa up round after round and making life incredibly difficult for Nakagawa to do anything. The shots of Tamura rarely looked fluid, but they were forceful, hard and incessant, as he continually pressed forward, unloaded and hammered the head and body of Nakagawa. There were moments where Nakagawa responded, and had success with uppercuts in particular, but Tamura walked through them whilst landing his own blows in return.
Through the first 5 rounds it was hard to make a case for anything bu Tamura leading, and the judges agreed scoring it 50-45, 49-48 and 48-47, a bizarrely close card for what was looking like a very easy to close and very dominant 1-sided bout. There was a lot to be said about Nakagawa's heart and toughness, but he was looking out of his depth and uncompetitive with a very driven Tamura.
The crowd had responded to Nakagawa's efforts, him gritting his teeth and fighting back, chanting his name. That however served little help in terms of the action with Tamura continuing to march forward in the second half of the fight, landing solid right hands to head and body and regularly punching through the guard of Nakagawa, who ate progressively more shots as the bout went on.
It was only really round 7 that Tamura slowed down, having a battle of jabs with Nakagawa. In the rounds that followed Tamura again ramped up the pressure, and in rounds 9 and 10 he really did look for a stoppage, bouncing shots off Nakagawa's head. It was incredible to not only see Nakagawa standing up right but also firing off his own shots, he was like a human zombie, though he was taking a beating and wasn't competitive in the slightest.
It was amazing to see Nakagawa survive the 10 rounds, but when the bell came to end the fight it was clear that Tamura had won, with the judges scoring the bout 99-91, twice, and 97-93 giving Tamura the title in what was a brilliant performance.
For Nakagawa this was his second shot at the title, following a 2017 loss to Yusaku Kuga, and he simply had too much of everything for Nakagawa. The loser however, should realise the effort he put up, and his incredible toughness will have made him new fans and many will want to see him get another title opportunity in the near future.
The first Japanese title fight of 2019 was a Minimumweight title bout pitting defending champion Shin Ono (23-10-3, 6) [小野 心] against mandatory challenger Norihito Tanaka (18-7, 10) [田中教仁] at the Korakuen Hall as part of the 2019 Champion Carnival. It also saw the first title change in Japan for the year, with Tanaka breaking down the veteran to become the new champion.
In the opening round the champion used his speed, southpaw jab and reach to keep Tanaka at bay, and the fight seemed rather like it could be easy for the experienced champion, if he could maintain the control of the action like he was doing. In round 2 Tanaka began to come alive, landing clean counter shots and rocking Ono at the end of the round, it was clear that Tanaka saw the opening round as scouting mission and was looking to up the tempo as the bout went on, clearing doing just that in the final 30 seconds of round 2.
Tanaka's success from round 2 rolled into a huge round 3, as his confidence began to grow, and he found more and more holes in Ono's defense, dropping the defending champion on to the seat of his pants early in the round. The knockdown clearly hurt Ono who began to hold and looked like he was trying to survive, more than win. It lead to some messy action, but action that Tanaka was getting the better of.
to his credit Ono made round 4 very competitive, gritting his teeth and battling back at times, though his competitive grit did see him being caught by some very clean shots as he began to take risks. It was short lived competitiveness with Tanaka clearly winning round 5, swelling Ono's right eye in the process.
At the end of round 5 the scores were announced, with Tanaka holding a 49-45 lead on all 3 cards. It was now down to Ono to change the fight and in he looked to do just that as he began to ramp up his aggressiveness, taking the fight to Tanaka. It was a foolish gameplan, full of risks, and one that he began to pay for as Tanaka began to find more and more openings up close, landing clean shots to the head and body. On one hand Ono did land more shots of his own, which he needed to do, but he took a significant amount of harder shots as a result of his aggression.
Ono continued to be the aggressor in round 7, but he really was taking a lot more than he was giving, with Tanaka returning everything with interest. Things went from bad to worse when Ono was deducted a point for holding, something he had been doing numerous times through the fight. He was also looking exhausted, with his 36 year old body, the tempo and the body shots all catching up to him, seemingly at once.
With his body failing him, and the scorecards now well against him, Ono came out for round 8 fast, but Tanaka quickly responded putting him on the back foot. Only moments later Ono's legs went and a follow up sent him down into the corner where the referee waved the bout off, giving Tanaka the TKO win.
For Tanaka this is his career defining win, in what was his third title fight, after losses to Akira Yaegashi and Tsubasa Koura in previous title bouts. He finally won the big one, and looked like a man who could be tricky to dethrone. Sadly for Ono this is probably the end. He has had a hard, long and draining career, and punishment has seemingly caught up with him.
At the end of 2019 Shingo Wake (25-5-2, 17) [和氣 慎吾] announced that he was vacating the Japanese Super Bantamweight title. As a result of Wake vacating we'll now see Mugicha Nakagawa (24-5-1, 14) [武田勇太] and Ryoichi Tamura (11-3-1, 6) [田村 亮一] battle in the Champion Carnival to crown a new champion.
Today the two men took part in their weigh in, and both men made weight for the contest, whilst bringing different items to the weigh in for the bout.
On the scales Nakagawa, with a bottle of iced tea, came in bang on the divisional limit for what will be his first Japanese title fight. He was 122lbs, looked in good shape and and stated he felt better than usual. To prepare this bout he had done some pretty intensive training in the Philippines and will be hoping that that training pays off for this bout.
Tamura, who will be getting his second shot at a Japanese title following a loss to Yusaku Kuga, was under the limit with a bit of room to spare, weighing around 121.7lbs He spoke confidently and seemed to feel like he cannot be defeated by Nakagawa.
The heavy handed Tamura had his own item to hold at the weigh in, a box of of Ippo tape, which will be used in Dangan shows starting from tomorrow.
Related - Nakagawa and Tamura battle for Japanese crown!
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
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