After more than a decade away from the Korakuen Hall Venezuelan icon Jorge Linares (46-5, 28) returned to the Holy Land of Japanese boxing to take on Filipino foe Al Toyogon (10-5-1, 6) in a scheduled 10 round bout.
In the eyes of many in the west this was a mismatch, a waste of time for Linares against a naturally smaller, less experience young Filipino. For a domestic Japanese audience however this was a special occasion, and a chance to see Jorge return to his boxing "home"
From the off Toyogon didn't seem like a man who was respecting Linares's reputation, and instead he took the fight to Linares, getting on the front foot as often as possible. It was likely a game plan based on Linares's loss to Pablo Cesar Cano, who jumped on Linares, hurt him and never let him recover. Despite the game plan from the Filipino it was the skills of Linares that were catching the eye, with his variety, hand speed and combinations impressing and neutralising the pressure of Toyogon and digging shots to his ribcage.
The pressure from Toyogon has some legitimate success and in round 4 he seemed to hurt Linares who backed off and needed a few moments to clear his head. Toyogon tried to follow up but Linares managed to see off the storm, and the moment for the Filipino slipped. Later that same round the Toyogon seemed to be shaken for a moment.
After a thrilling 4th round the pace did slow down in round 5, something that suited Linares who had more time to pick his spots and let his blazing combinations go before getting away. The 5th also saw Toyogon being deducted a point for use of the head, making it a 10-8 to Linares.
By round 6 the aggression and pressure of Toyogon had dropped off, likely a result of Linares whipping in vicious body shots. As Toyogon slowed things became progressively easier for Linares, who controlled the tempo much easier. There was however moments where Toyogon did get close, and caught Linares with wild hooks in exchanges, likely knowing that was his best chance. Those exchanges were, however, rather rare and the more common thing was Linares landing a combination and getting away before a counter could land.
In round 8 Toyogon seemed to realise trading in combinations wasn't the best idea and instead tried to time Linares when he let his shots go, and that worked really early in the round with a huge counter left hook that seemed to momentarily bother Linares. That was about the only highlight in the round for Toyogon, who was on the receiving end for most of the round.
The 9th round was one of Toyogon's better ones, as Linares went into his shell a bit and Toyogon was able to press the action more than he had in the previous few rounds. His success was limited, but he seemed to be the man out working Linares. The round did however see Linares land a vicious body shot, that would have caught the eye with just seconds of the round left, a shot that could easily have swayed the judges if they were unsure.
Knowing he was behind, by a mile, Toyogon really needed to go for it in the final round. He had however taken a lot through the previous 9 and and given a lot. He tried to up the ante but Linares responded with some sensational stuff of his own, including a gorgeous uppercut that landed clean.
After 10 rounds Linares knew he'd been in a fight, but was the clear winner with scores of 100-89, 100-90 and 99-90. Those scores make it look like it was easy for Linares but it really wasn't, and credit to Toyogon for making Linares work for the win. This was a third straight loss for the Filipino but he is certainly going to stay in demand on the regional scene as a test for prospect, and we wouldn't be surprised to see him back in Japan in the near future.
For Linares surely retirement looms. He showed touches of what he can do, but seemed very much like a fighter who had lost his top gear and seemed to worry every time Toyogon landed a clean counter shot. He's still a better boxer than most on the planet, but he's not close to the fighter he once was and as he ages we're getting closer and closer to the point where his speed and reactions will falter.
Tomorrow at the legendary Korakuen Hall fight fans will see Jorge Linares (45-5, 28) and Al Toyogon (10-4-1, 6) battle in a 10 round bout a contracted 137lbs. Today the two men took part in their weigh in for that bout, and both fighters made the contracted limited with no issues at all.
On the scales Linares was 137lbs dead on whilst Toyogon, who has typically fought as a Featherweight or Super Featherweight, was 135.5lbs.
With both men making weight the bigger talking point was that this was Linares's return to a Japanese ring for the first time in over 4 years and his first bout at the holy land since a February 2007 win over Ramiro Lara. The long break from Korakuen Hall wasn't lost on Linares who explained that it was good to return to Japan and that the Hall was like a house to him, describing it as the best.
Of course with Linares being such a star, a genuine star, Toyogon also seemed rather happy that Linares was back in Japan, stating that he was happy with facing a star like Linares on his second visit to Japan. He will clearly be the under-dog but it's obvious that he'd rather face Linares than some typical domestic level fighter.
For fans wanting to watch the bout will be aired live on G+ tomorrow as part of their Dynamic Glove show, which begins at 17:45 local time.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
One of the most frustrating things about Japanese boxing in 2019 has been the lack of live televised cards, with many of the G+ "Dynamic Glove" cards being aired on tape delay, rather than a live broadcast.
Thankfully we are set to see that chance in September with G+ airing Dynamic Glove 588 live on Saturday 7th September, as well as replays set for September 11th and 24th.
The broadcast is set to begin airing at 17:00 local time and be shown until 22:00 local time.
This card is a pretty notable one with Yuki Nagano (16-2, 12) [永野祐樹] Japanese Welterweight title against veteran challenger Makoto Kawasaki (11-7-1, 2) [川崎真琴] and Jorge Linares (45-5, 28) returning to a Japanese ring for the first time in almost 5 years, to take on Filipino youngster Al Toyogon (10-4-1, 6).
The rest of the card isn't hugely notable but those two bouts alone do deserve some attention, and it's great to actually be excited about a live G+ card after months of tape delay broadcasts.
Back in July we reported that the popular Jorge Linares (45-5, 28) would be returning to a Japanese ring in September, as he takes part on the September 7th Dynamic Glove show at Korakuen Hall.
What wasn't known was who he would be facing on the card, that was until today when his opponent for the show as announced as Filipino youngster Al Toyogon (10-4-1, 6) who returns to the Korakuen Hall for his second bout there, coming just weeks after losing in July to Shuya Masaki.
For Linares, a 3-weight world champion, this will be his first bout in Japan since stopping Francisco Javier Prieto on December 30th 2014. Despite the long break from a Japanese ring this will actually be his 24th bout in the country. Interestingly he is 22-1 in Japan, though his career does seem to be coming to an end and he was blown out last time out by Pablo Cesar Cano in New York, suffering his second loss in 3 bouts.
Whilst Linares' career is coming to an end Toyogon is in his early 20's and has a lot of potential. Sadly though he has lost his last 2, losing to Masaki in July and to Ryo Sagawa back in July. Those loses ended a 5 fight winning run for Toyogon however a win against Linares would be the biggest of his career, by far.
The bout between Linares and Toyogon will be the chief support bout to a Japanese Welterweight title bout between defending champion Yuki Nagano (16-2, 12) [永野祐樹] and veteran challenger Makoto Kawasaki (11-7-1, 2) [川崎真琴].
Just over a week ago we reported that Yuki Nagano (16-2, 12) [永野祐樹] would be defending his Japanese Welterweight title on September 7th, in his first defense, as he takes on Makoto Kawasaki (11-7-1, 2) [川崎真琴]. We can now reported that a big name has been added to that card, and further speculation about the show in general.
We'll start by looking at the speculation about the card, and this isn't a great way to start as one of the originally scheduled bouts looks to be off.
Originally the card was supposed to feature the rescheduled match up between Kenichi Ogawa (24-1-0-1, 18) [尾川 堅一] and Azinga Fuzile (14-0, 8), who were supposed to meet in an IBF world title eliminator. It's now looking highly likely that the bout will not appear on the card as first planned. At the moment the reason is unclear, though it has long been known that Fuzile wasn't wanting to fight in Japan, and visa issues did scupper the bout earlier in the year. Whether one of the them has gotten a different route to a world title is unclear, though sources in Japan are suggesting that either the bout is off, or is in serious doubt.
To soften the blow for Japanese fight fans they may be glad to hear that the still hugely popular Jorge Linares (45-5, 28) has been added to the card, returning to a Japanese ring for the first time since he stopped Francisco Javier Prieto back in December 2014, on the same show that Naoya Inoue blitzed Omar Andres Narvaez.
At the moment Linares' opponent for the bout hasn't been confirmed, and neither has the weight for the contest, though we do know it will be a 10 round bout and will see Linares getting a chance to appear in a Japanese ring for what maybe the last time.
The popular Venezuelan has lost 2 of his last 3 by stoppage, being taken out by Vasyl Lomachenko in May 2018 and Pablo Cesar Cano earlier this year, and at 33, 34 by the time this fight takes place, there are real question marks about his future in the sport. Despite being a faded force we're expecting the Korakuen Hall faithful to give Linares a huge show of support for what will be his first fight in the venue since February 2007!
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
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