Earlier today fight fans were able to see former Japanese Bantamweight champion Yusaku Kuga (16-3-1, 11)* [久我勇作] fight for the first time since losing the national title to Shingo Wake in July. The hard hitting Kuga was up against the experienced but limited Filipino fighter John Mark Apolinario (20-12-3, 5)*.
On paper the bout was a mismatch, with Apolinario being the naturally smaller man and the less talented man, but it was a mismatch with the intention of rebuilding Kuga's confidence in what would have been viewed as a straight forward win given that Kenya Yamashita stopped Apolinario not too long ago.
Kuga, as expected, came forward from the opening bell, looking to take Apolinario out early on. To his credit the Filipino showed his defensive skills by surviving the attacks of Kuga, and even landing some shots off the back foot, but was being bullied around the ring by the very physically strong Kuga. The skills that Apolinario had saw him taking advantage of the crudeness of Kuga, but his moments were few and far between with Kuga really bossing things despite struggling to land a clean blow.
In round 4 Kuga finally began to break through the defenses of Apolinario, dropping him 3 times during the round. The Filipino didn't seem hurt at any point, but was being physically ground down, and the referee seemed to realise that Apolinario was being out classed and beaten up, waving off the bout after the third knockdown.
The win wasn't quite as easy as expected, but was straight forward, and it's clear that Kuga really just needed a work out and he got one here.
Back in July we saw Yusaku Kuga's (16-3-1, 11) [久我勇作] reign as the Japanese Super Bantamweight champion come to an end, as he was stopped by Shingo Wake [和氣 慎吾] in the 10th round of their bout at the Korakuen Hall. Since then Kuga hasn't fought, though has had a bout pencilled in for December 20th.
Until today his opponent for that bout hadn't be revealed. Today however we saw the name of his opponent being announced as Filipino fighter John Mark Apolinario (20-12-3, 5), who was last seen in Japan being stopped by Kenya Yamashita.
If we're being honest it's a disappointing match up, at this point, for Kuga, though we do understand that he's wanting a confidence building win after essentially being schooled by Wake. Sadly Apolinario is 4-10-2 in his last 16 bouts and is not a natural Super Bantamweight. Suggesting this will be a very easy win for the hard hitting Kuga.
(Image of Kuga courtesy of Watanabe Gym)
Earlier today fight fans in Tokyo saw two notable Japan Vs Philippines bouts, as part of a stacked Dangan card.
The first of those Japan Vs Philippines bouts saw the exciting Kenya Yamashita (13-4, 10) [山下賢哉] battle against former world title challenger John Mark Apolinario (20-12-3, 5).
Yamashita set off at a million miles per hour, as he always does. He struggled to get through the guard of Apolinario but made it clear that he didn't want to hang around dragged the Filipino into his fight.
The second round was a better one for the Filipino fighter, who managed to control the distance a bit more and slow Yamashita's pressure. That success however was short lived for Apolinario and within seconds of round 3 he was hurt. Yamashita jumped on him and just unloaded until Apolinario was down, and was stopped by the referee.
The second bout pitting the two countries saw former OPBF Featherweight champion Ryo Takenaka (17-3-1, 10) [竹中 良] battle against the tough Filipino Vergil Puton (17-11-1, 8). This was Takenaka's first bout in over a year, following his OPBF title loss, and it was clear he had some doubt in his mind. Puton on the other hand came to fight and he was all over Takenaka at times, pressing the Japanese fighter and landing shots on the inside. To his credit Takenaka stuck to his boxing, looking for straight shots and fighting back in the pocket.
In round 6 Takenaka landed a thunder bolt of a right hand and seemed to shake Puton. A follow up left Puton up right bout out on his feet against the ropes and forced the referee to stop the contest. There was no complaint from Puton or his team, who had to help their man across the ring to his corner.
Whilst this was certainly a disappointing show for the Filipino fighters it was good to see the excitement and aggression of Yamashita and the return to the ring of Takenaka, who really had to work hard for the win.
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
Earlier today Boxingraise added a new slide to their homepage to reveal some rather exciting news...and that is that they will be live streaming Dangan 216 for their subscribers.
The card isn't a massive card stacked with world title fights, but it's an amazingly interesting one with a number of fantastic match ups that really does make it one worth tuning in for.
The card is a double championship show. The nominal main event is an IBF Atomweight title fight as Yuko Kuroki (17-5-1, 8) [黒木優子] and Saemi Hanagata (14-7-4, 7) [田中冴美] face off for the third time in their careers. These two ladies fought in June 2016, with Hanagata taking a decision win, then rematched in December that year, fighting to a draw. Since then both have established themselves as world class fighters. Kuroki had a 3 and a half year reign as the WBC female Minimumweight champion, recording 5 defenses before losing the title last December to Momo Koseki. Hanagata on the other hand would go 0-1-2 in her 3 world title bouts since that loss, twice drawing with Nao Ikeyama.
For us the real main event is the other part of the double championship banner, and will see OPBF Minimumweight champion Tsubasa Koura (13-0, 9) [小浦 翼] defending his belt against unbeaten challenger Daiki Tomita (12-0, 4) [冨田大樹]. This is a truly mouth watering clash between two top young talents in a division that is often over-looked. For the heavy handed Koura the bout will serve as his third defense, and he has made it clear that he's wanting to fight in world title bouts sooner rather than later. For Tomita 20 year old Tomita the bout is a big step up from his recent competition, including Desierto Nagaike, but he was the 2016 All Japan Rookie of the Year, and has shown impressive talent. This could be something special.
It would be easy to just be excited about the two main events but the reality is that the card is deep. One of the under-card bouts will see former OPBF Featherweight champion Ryo Takenaka (16-3-1, 9) [竹中 良] battle against the always testing tough Filipino Vergil Puton (17-10-1, 8) whilst the all action Kenya Yamashita (12-4, 9) [山下賢哉] will face off with former world title challenger John Mark Apolinario (20-11-3, 5). These are two really solid match ups, given that Takenaka has been out of the ring since losing the OPBF title and that Yamashita is a never in a bad fight, even if that does come to his detriment at times.
Potentially the most attractive of the supporting bouts is the chief support bout, which is a mouth watering clash between Japanese puncher Masamichi Yabuki (7-2, 7) [佐藤政道] and the world ranked Light Flyweight Daniel Matellon (7-0-2, 4). This will be a serious test of Yabuki's boxing ability and Matellon's chin. Neither of these are big names, even domestically, but that shouldn't take away from what looks an interesting contest, and allows Yabuki to build on his recent win over former world title challenger Gilberto Pedroza.
The remaining bout on this card will see 39 year old Ribo Takahata (13-8-1, 5) [高畑里望] battle against Sho Nagata (9-4, 2) [永田翔] in a 6 round Super Featherweight bout.
Given that a lot of shows this month in Japan will be on tape delay this looks like an amazing way for Dangan to finish the month, and the card really is set to be something fantastic for subscribers of Boxingraise
It's fair to say we've been drip fed the match ups for Dangan 216, on September 29th. First came an interesting contest between Japanese puncher Masamichi Yabuki (7-2, 7) [佐藤政道] and the world ranked Light Flyweight Daniel Matellon (7-0-2, 4), in what looked like a really good match up a solid test for the hard hitting Yabuki. A week or so after that announcement we saw two title bouts being added to the card, with Yuko Kuroki (17-5-1, 8) [黒木優子] taking on Saemi Hanagata (14-7-4, 7) [田中冴美] for the vacant IBF Atomweight title and OPBF Minimumweight champion Tsubasa Koura (13-0, 9) [小浦 翼] defending his belt against unbeaten challenger Daiki Tomita (12-0, 4) [冨田大樹].
At the time of the title bout announcements we saw Dangan confirm that the under-card would also feature former OPBF Featherweight champion Ryo Takenaka (16-3-1, 9) [竹中 良] and the all action Kenya Yamashita (12-4, 9) [山下賢哉]. Despite the confirmation neither man had their opponents announced.
Now however we have seen both of those men having their opponents named.
Takenaka, who will be fighting for the first time since suffering a gruesome facial injury in his title loss to Sa Myung Noh [노사명], will now be matched against the always tough Filipino Vergil Puton (17-10-1, 8), who will be fighting in Japan for the third successive time, following a TKO loss to Masayuki Ito in March and an opening round technical draw to Shuma Nakazato in June. Despite his record Puton is always a good test and should give Takenaka a genuine fight here, especially given that Takenaka hasn't fought since June 2017.
As for Yamashita he will be stepping up in class to face off with former world title challenger John Mark Apolinario (20-11-3, 5), who the likes of Drian Francisco, Hernan Marquez, Roberto Vasquez and Koki Kameda. The experienced Filipino debuted back in December 2006 and is certainly experienced at a higher level than Yamashita, but will certainly be the under-dog against the incredibly aggressive and hard hitting Yamashita.
One other under-card bout on this card will see 39 year old Ribo Takahata (13-8-1, 5) [高畑里望] battle against Sho Nagata (9-4, 2) [永田翔] in a 6 round Super Featherweight bout.
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