Japanese puncher Hiroki Okada (10-0, 8) began his career 7-0 (7). It wasn't until he started competing in title bouts that he found himself being take the distance, his power, and his ability to use that power, hadn't quite carried up to the top of the domestic level. Or at least that was how it had seemed coming into this weekend.
Today however Okada has made us question that view as he recorded his second defence of the Japanese Light Welterweight title and easily saw off the more experienced Hayato Hokazono (18-5-1, 11) with a 3rd round TKO.
The powerful champion started fast. He looked sharp from the off with lovely speed, movement and aggression. It seemed clear that the challenger wasn't expecting such a quick pace from the champion and he was forced to answer back. Within a round both men were showing the damage of battle though it was clear Okada was in a different level to his challenger.
By the end of the second round Hokazono was left with further facial damage. His skin couldn't handle the power and accuracy of the champion who showed some brilliant footwork to set up his offensive work and to neutralise Hokazono, when the challenger did manage to get on the front foot.
In the third round Okada manage to land a peach of a right hand that sent his challenger down. Hokazono did his best to get up but was unable to keep his feet forcing the referee to stop the contest.
Following the bout the champion indicated that he wanted to fight for the OPBF title whilst also defending his Japanese title. At the moment that would see Okada going up against monster puncher Keita Obara, though the belief is that Obara will be vacating the title later in the year. If Obara does vacate then Okada really does have a good chance of winning the belt, especially if he shows this time of form next time out. As for Hokazono, the feature is a bit bleak and he'll have to work hard or get very lucky to get another fight at this level.
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
Earlier today the JBC announced their updated domestic rankings for the start of November. The rankings, which we won't go through in full, included a number of interesting changes including two very notable ones.
The most interesting, at least for us, regarded novice professional Ken Shiro (2-0, 1) who took the #6 ranking at Minimumweight following his recent victory over Phuwanai Wor Surapol. From what we understand Ken Shiro will actually be aiming for gold at Light Flyweight and not Minimumweight but this ranking does open a door at 105lbs if the Japanese youngster can make the weight.
The other very notable change was that of Hideo Sakamoto (15-1-2, 5) who is now ranked #9 at Bantamweight following his upset victory over former OPBF champion Hiroki Shiino. The win was unexpected by many though showed that Sakamoto is talented enough to compete in the stacked Japanese Bantamweight division. Although it may seem silly we'd like to see Sakamoto fight the winner of the upcoming national title fight between Kentaro Masuda and Tatsuya Takahashi on December 8th. Sakamoto isn't the only new addition to the Bantamweight rankings and he has been joined by Kenta Toi (4-4, 1) who scored a shock win over Mikihito Seto to take the #10 ranking.
One fighter who has completely dropped from the rankings is Naoki Matsumoto (9-8-2, 2) who announced his retirement earlier this month.
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
Earlier today (September 1st) the JBC issues their latest domestic rankings which were compiled at the end of August. The rankings haven't seen massive changes from the previous month but they have seen some very notable changes a major name entering the rankings and even a few changes in champions.
At Minimumweight we see one of the most notable changes as former world champion Katsunari Takayama ends up back in the rankings following his loss to Francisco Rodriguez Jr. Takayama has moved instantly to #2 in the rankings behind future OPBF title challenger Kosei Tanaka. Falling out of the rankings at 105lbs is recent contender Masashi Tada who hasn't fought since January when he was clearly beaten by current champion Go Odaira in a bout for the vacant belt. We need to admit we were a little bit surprised not to see Ken Shiro take a ranking here following his great debut win over Heri Amol at the start of the month.
At Flyweight we've seen a few changes though the most notable of those was the swapping of places for former world title challenger Hirofumi Mukai and former champion Toshiyuki Igarashi with Mukai now at #8 and Igarashi falling to #9. Lower down the rankings we've seen Hideyuki Watanabe climb into the rankings at #15 following his draw with top contender Tetsuma Hayashi.
The first new champion we see in the rankings is Sho Ishida who took the Super Flyweight title with an excellent win over Yohei Tobe. Going into the bout Ishida was the top contender and his win has allowed Malcolm Tunacao to being the #1 challenger just above former champion Teiru Kinoshita and former national title challenger Taiki Eto, who now sits just above Tobe, who has fallen to #4. Lower down the rankings we've seen a little bit of a reshuffle with Yusuke Suzuki swapping with Shinichiro Morikawa in the 9 and 10 spots and Takayuki Okumoto has claimed the #14 place following his win over Shota Kawaguchi, who has in turn dropped out of the rankings.
At Bantamweight we saw Kentaro Masuda retain his title with an excellent win over mandatory challenger Konosuke Tomiyama, the loss for Tomiyama saw him dropping all the way down to #5. With Tomiyama dropping down the rankings we've seen small boosts for Ryo Akaho, the new #1, Shohei Omori, Masahiro Ishida and Kohei Oba who all moved up 1 place. Much lower down the rankings was lost Kiron Omura, previously #12, allowing Tatsuya Takahashi to move up a place and Naoto Uebayashi to fill the void at #13.
At Super Bantamweight we've seen Kojiro Takada drop from #4 to #14 allowing for a notable reshuffle near the top. One of the beneficiaries is Yusaku Kuga who jumped from #9 to #6 as he nears a title opportunity, though of course he is behind Takafumi Nakajima, #4, who we expect to fight Hidenori Otake later this year, and Yukinori Oguni who is currently the #1 contender.
At Featherweight we've seen former world champion Akifumi Shimoda drop notably from #2 to #5 allowing Daisuke Yokoyama, Takuya Watanabe and Noriyuki Ueno to each move up a place. The only other changes come at the bottom of the top 15 where Ryo Takenaka has swapped with Hiroshige Osawa for #14 and #15.
At Super Featherweight we have an obvious chance as Masayuki Ito climbed to #4 following his win over Masao Nakamura who has dropped to #7. The only other change has seen Ryota Kajiki swap with Kazuma Sanpei for places #13 and #14.
At Light Welterweight we've seen some very interesting changes at the top. The new #1 contender is Hayato Hokazono who climbs up the rankings following the loss of Shinya Iwabuchi to OPBF champion Keita Obara. The fall of Iwabuchi has seen Shamgal Koichi move up a place to #2 despite his recent loss to champion Hiroki Okada. Another man to come out of this in an advantageous position is the #3 ranked Masanobu Nakazawa who may feel that he has a chance at getting a title fight early next year.
Welterweight has seen a small shuffle with Toshio Arikawa moving above above Yuji Wauke and Shusaku Fujinaka to claim the #9 place.
Light Middleweight has seen a new champion crowned courtesy of Yuki Nonaka's great performance against Kengo Nagashima. Former champion Takayuki Hosokawa is now the #1 contender after Koji Numata claimed the OPBF belt whilst another former champion, Charlie Ota, sits at #2 in the rankings.
There have been no changes at Light Flyweight, Lightweight, Middleweight, Super Middleweight, Light Heavyweight, Cruiserweight or Heavyweight.
For those interested in the updated rankings they can be found here courtesy of the JBC.
The main event on today's "Dangan 103" show saw the very promising Japanese Super Featherweight prospect Rikki Naito (10-0, 5) successfully defending his national title for the first time as he out pointed the experienced Kyohei Tamakoshi (32-9-6, 12).
Naito was fighting for the first time since winning the belt, in exceptional style, against Hiroyasu Matsuzaki, and was widely regarded as the favourite going into the clash. The tag of favourite may well have played on Naito who seemed to be frustrated early on by Tamakoshi who wasn't giving much away in terms of opportunities. It was a cagey start by the challenger and whilst Naito was winning the rounds he wasn't able to full impress as he'd have wished.
Tamakoshi's experience managed to prevent Naito from really shining but in the second half the champion put his foot on the gas, increased the pressure and tried to stop the challenger. Again Tamakoshi's experience and toughness helped him but it was a thoroughly one sided bout in the end with Tamakoshi's main achievement being his survival.
When it came to the score cards there was no doubting who won with Naito taking the decision with scores of 99-91 on all 3 cards.
Although Naito was impressive, for the second successive fight, his inexperience is something that needs work. We don't think he's ready for any of the top fighters in the country, though they do including WBA world champion Takashi Uchiyama and WBC champion Takashi Miura as well as the very talented Daiki Kaneko and the monstrous puncher Masao Nakamura. Aside from those 4 world class fighters Naito is the best in Japan.
As for Tamakoshi this was likely his last chance to win a domestic title and is was 5th loss in Japanese title fights.
This fight, as with Go Odaira's bout with Yuma Iwahashi, will be aired later today on Fuji TV.
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
Japanese Minimumweight champion Go Odaira (10-3-3, 1) successfully defended his title earlier today in an unexpectedly close contest with determined challenger Yuma Iwahashi (11-7-1, 1).
Odaira, a speedy southpaw from the Hanagata gym, worked well with his counters early on and was in the lead on all 3 cards as we entered the second half of the fight. Although he was in the lead it was close and and it seemed like Iwahashi could over-come the small deficit between the two men.
In the second half of the fight thins started to swing a little to Iwahashi who seemed to hurt Odaira slightly with a counter in round 7. Unfortunately for the challenger his lack of skills saw Odaira getting off the hook relatively easily and re-settling relatively quickly.
In the final round it seemed both men were unsure on who was winning and they both went for it in a very entertaining round that showed the character of both men.
Unfortunately for Iwahashi, who was challenging for the Japanese title for the second time, he came up just short losing a majority decision with scores of 97-93, 96-94 both being rendered for Odaira and 95-95 coming from the third judge.
This bout will be shown on Fuji TV in a few hours time on tape delay
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
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