On paper the best looking bout at today's Strongest Korakuen show was the Super Bantamweight bout between veteran Jonathan Baat (32-8-5, 14) battle rising puncher Yusaku Kuga (13-2-1, 9) [久我 勇作], with the two men both battling for the right to challenge for the Japanese title in 2017. On paper it was a great match up, with Baat's experience and battle hardened mentality up against Kuga's youth and power.
Sadly the bout wasn't as competitive or as interesting as we had all assumed, in stead it was a bout that saw Kuga secure himself a title shot and prove that he was another legitimate player at Super Bantamweight, and one of the rising forces in the division.
From the off the 25 year old set the pace, using his jab to establish himself before following it up with the left hand. A headclash in the opening round slowed his charge slightly as the two men had a moment to recover but it wasn't long until he got back to work dropping Baat for the first time in the fight. Baat would recover from the knock down and took the fight back to Kuga, but that was a mistake with Kuga stopping Baat in round 4 with a brutal body shot that left the veteran in agony for the 10 count.
With the win Kuga has secured himself a second bout for the Japanese title and will be seeking revenge over Yasutaka Ishimoto, who beat at the end of 2015 in bout for the then vacant title. The win also netted Kuga a hefty bonus for being the show's MVP. For 36 year old Baat the loss was just his third stoppage defeat, with the others coming to Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym and Rodrigo Guerrero, and this could well be the end of his long career.
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
Tomorrow fight fans will see several Japanese title eliminators take place at the Strongest Korakuen event at the Korakuen Hall. One of those, in fact on paper the best of those, will see veteran Jonathan Baat (32-7-5, 14) battle rising puncher Yusaku Kuga (12-2-1, 8) [久我 勇作], with the winner expected to face Japanese Super Bantamweight champion Yasutaka Ishimoto in 2017.
At today's weigh in Kuga came in bang on the limit and looked incredible at the weigh in as he looked to make a statement and secure a second bout with Ishimoto, who beat him late last year. The Watanabe man has fought just once since his 2015 loss to Ishimoto, in a bout for the vacant title, but looks hungry and sounds like he's looking to score an impressive result tomorrow.
Baat on the other hand was coming in a bit lighter at 121¾lbs, which is around the same weight he's been in a number of recent bouts, but not the lowest he can get to, with the Filipino actually fighting both Liborio Solis and Rey Migreno at Bantamweight in the last 12 months. He's stated that he's willing to have a war with Kuga and both have seemingly suggested the winner of their bout will by the MVP of the show, and take up a large financial bonus.
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
This past Sunday fans in Ishikawa had the chance to attend a Kashimi gym show that featured a trio of bouts between Kashimi gym fights and Venezuelan visitors.
The highest profile of the Kashimi fighters was world ranked Filipino Genesis Servania (28-0, 11), who secured an 8 round decision win over the heavy handed Alexander Espinoza (11-8-1, 10). The win was a convincing one for Servania who had cards of 80-71, twice, and 80-72 all in his favour. Despite being dominated Espinoza has continued his trend of never being stopped and may well find himself being brought back over to Japan to test other fighters.
Another notable name was Hurricane Futa (22-6-1, 13), who built on his recent win over Will Tomlinson by stopping Luis Araguayan (12-10, 7) in 3 rounds. This was Araguayan's second bout in Japan, following a loss to Shinya Iwabuchi last year, and it seems he is now damaged good with 3 KO losses in his last 4 bouts.
The third bout saw the experienced Japanese based Filipino Jonathan Baat (32-7-5, 14) get a good 8 rounds of competitive action as he over-came Iwier Henriquez (9-9-1, 4). The Kashimi fighter wasn't in much trouble but certainly had to do more than just break a sweat with Enriquez taking a round or two for his work in what was likely a tougher bout than Baat expected.
Over the past few days Japanese promoter Kashimi have announced their next show, a show set for September 11th at the Sangyo Hall in Kanazawa. The card will feature several notable fighters with the best known of those being Japanese promoted Filipino fighter Genesis Servania (27-0, 11), with this being his first bout since last December.
The talented Filipino Super Bantamweight has been inactive since New Year's Eve , when he beat Hendrik Barongsay on the under-card of Kosei Tanaka's bout with Vic Saludar. Despite that inactivity he has been staying sharp and took part in a recent exhibition with WBO Super Flyweight champion Naoya Inoue and has been part of the team sparring with the Inoue brothers ahead of their bouts on September 4th. Suggesting that Servania will be in great shape for his ring return.
Servania will be up against a less than frightening test for his ring return and will be up against Venezuelan 35 year old Alexander Espinoza (11-7-1, 10). On paper Espinoza has a solid punch on him but he's without a win in almost 4 years. Notably however his last two bouts have both come against former world champions, losing to both Liborio Solis and Jhonathan Romero. Despite not having a stellar record he had never been stopped and should be tough enough for Servania to get some much needed rounds under his belt.
Also on the card will be veteran Jonathan Baat (31-7-5, 14), who looks to stay busy ahead of a bout at the Strongest Korakuen in October and Hurricane Futa (20-6-1, 11), who faces Luis Araguayan (12-9, 7), who returns to Japan following a loss last year to Shinya Iwabuchi.
Earlier today we were informed of the 4 bouts that will make up the 2016 Strongest Korakuen show on October 22nd, with the winners of the 4 bouts becoming the mandatory title challengers for the Japanese national title.
At light Flyweight the bout will see the #1 Japanese ranked fighter Tetsuya Hisada (26-9-2, 16) [久田 哲也] face off with Hayato Yamaguchi (14-6-1, 2) [山口 隼人(]. For Yamaguchi the bout will see him being given an opportunity to earn a third shot at the Japanese title, following losses to Masayuki Kuroda and Yu Kimura whilst Hisada will be looking at this bout as an opportunity to earn his first title bout. Interestingly Hisada enters this bout on a run of 5 straight stoppages!
At Super Bantamweight we again get a #1 Vs #2 scenario as veteran Jonathan Baat (31-7-5, 14) takes on Yusaku Kuga (12-2-1, 8) [久我 勇作] in a really mouth watering bout. Baat is a true veteran and appeares to have been getting better in the last few years with recent wins over Kenta Ono, Takahiro Shigee and Takafumi Nakajima, whilst holding Hikaru Maugame and Rey Megrino to draws. On the other Kuga is one of the division's most under-rated fighters and ran Yasutaka Ishimoto incredibly close at the end of last year, unfortunately however he has only fought once since that draw with the current Japanese champion.
At Super Featherweight we will see the #4 ranked Satoru Sugita (11-3-4, 7) [杉田 聖] battle against the #5 ranked Tsuyoshi Tojo (13-13-5, 2) [東上 剛司]. For Sugita it's a chance to get back on the horse so to speak following this year's loss to Kenichi Ogawa in a title fight, a fight in which he actually impressed before being stopped. As for Tojo it's a chance to earn his first title shot, at the age of 36. It's clear that Sugita will be favoured here but Tojo will certainly be looking to make the most of this opportunity.
The fourth bout will be at Light Welterweight where we again see the #1 and #2 facing off. This bout will see 2-time title challenger Koichi Aso (20-7-1, 13) battle against impressive novice Noriaki Sato (4-1-1) in what looks like a really, really promising bout. Aso will obviouwlt be favoured, and with good reason given his experience and power. However Sato has impressed so far into his career with a draw against Yuya Okazaki and wins against Valentine Hosokawa and Kazuya Ito.
This will be a brilliant show and we wouldn't be surprised to see the card become one of the most exciting domestic Japanese of the year.
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