Over the last 24 hours or so we saw Japanese Light Welterweight champion Koki Inoue (13-0, 10) [浩樹井上] reveal his first defense.
The unbeaten Ohashi gym fighter, the cousin of Naoya and Takuma Inoue, revealed he would be defending his title on July 1st at Korakuen Hall against Ryuji Ikeda (14-5-3, 9) [池田竜司]. The bout will see Inoue look to build on his impressive title win against Valentine Hosokawa (24-7-3, 11) [細川バレンタイン] back in April and he has suggest that this will be a more exciting fight than that one, where he seemed happy to box and move.
For Ikeda this will be his first Japanese title fight, though he did fight for a regional title in 2017, losing to Darragh Foley in Australia. Although he enters as the #8 ranked Japanese challenger it should be noted that he hasn't really shined on the domestic stage, going 1-1-1 in his last 3 bouts in Japan.
The card has had a number of notable fighters pencilled in for it. These include former world title challenger Ryo Matsumoto (22-3, 20) [松本亮], Japanese Youth title holder Andy Hiraoka (13-0, 9) [平岡アンディ], the very highly regarded Taku Kuwahara (4-0, 3) [桑原拓], the exciting Tsuyoshi Tameda (19-4-2, 17) [溜田剛士] and unbeaten prospect Katsuya Yasuda (3-0, 2) [保田克也]. At the time of writing none of these fighters have had their opponents announced.
Earlier today at the Korakuen Hall Japanese fight fans got a pretty interesting card, with a world title eliminator, a youth title fight and several notable prospects.
Two of those prospects faced off with Indonesian visitors and they made very light work of the visiting fighter, who were both taken out by the local professional novices.
The first of the locals to shine was the very highly touted Taku Kuwahara (2-0, 2) [桑原拓], who needed just 46 seconds to see off Ardi Tefa (6-8-1, 4).
The talented Kuwahara dropped his man early on and although Tefa showed some heart to try and beat the count he was deemed unfit to continue by the time the referee counted to 10. It's worth noting that this is the 7th time Tefa has been stopped, but he had taken Tetsuya Hisada 5 rounds in 2016 and had gone into round 6 with Filipino prospect KJ Cataraja back in 2015, and he had never been stopped this quickly.
The other local prospect was Katsuya Yasuda (3-0, 2) [保田克也], who had a better work out as he was taken into round 3 before stopping Anshori Anhar Pitulay (9-17-2, 6). The promising Yasuda showed off his body punching here, using Pitulay's midsection for target practice until the Indonesian could take no more. By the time the bout had ended he had really taken his lumps and had shown his bravery to pull himself off the canvas to keep fighting, but was sent back down which caused the stoppage
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Back in June we saw the official announcement of a WBC Bantamweight world title eliminator between Takuma Inoue (11-0, 3) [井上 拓真], the younger brother of Japanese sensation Naoya Inoue [井上 尚弥] and OPBF Bantamweight champion Mark John Yap (29-12, 14). The announcement of the bout sadly gave us little detail about the under-card for the show though we've now had the Ohashi gym announce several bouts for the card, and release the poster for the show.
The poster is a pretty decent looking one, making Inoue look like the star, but also feature Yap in a prominent position with both in front of the WBC title.
The poster also features Japanese Youth Light Welterweight champion Andy Hiraoka (12-0, 8) [平岡アンディ], who will be defending his title against Ukyo Yoshigai (6-2, 5) [吉開右京]. These two fought last August, with Hiraoka stopping Yoshigai in a qualifying bout for the Japanese Youth title, a title that Hiraoka would win 3 months later when he stopped Takahiko Kobayashi. Since their first bout Hiraoka has not only won the Japanese Youth crown but also scored an 8 round decision win over Fumisuke Kimura Yoshigai on the other hand has fought just once, stopping Takuya Matsusaka in 68 seconds.
Another fighter on the poster is recent world title challenger Ryo Matsumoto's (21-2, 19) [松本亮], who looks to bounce back from his February loss to Danny Roman in a WBA Super Bantamweight title fight. Matsumoto will be up against domestic foe Ryo Sagawa (4-1, 2) [佐川遼] in a bout at Featherweight, with Matsumoto stepping up in weight. This looks like a mismatch on paper, though Sagawa did really impress last time out, when he defeated Junki Sasaki and he was a very accomplished amateur before turning professional.
Also set to be on this show are former amateur stand outs Katsuya Yasuda (2-0, 1) [保田克也] and Taku Kuwahara (1-0, 1) [桑原拓] among others.
Just moments ago Japanese fight fans at the Bunka Gym in Yokohama got the chance to see 2012 Olympic bronze medal winner, and current OPBF Featherweight champion, Satoshi Shimizu (5-0, 5) [清水 聡] record his first defense of the title that he won this past October. The talented, and heavy handed, Japanese fighter from the Ohashi stable was facing off with gutsy Filipino challenger Eduardo Mancito (15-8-2, 9) but made the bout look like a relatively one sided show case, bouncing Mancito off the canvas a number of times.
The challenger came to fight and showed that from the off as he came out trying to attack Shimizu, but lacked the nuances needed to to get inside the much taller man. Instead Shimizu picked him off and scored a knockdown in the opening round.
Thanks to the knockdown Shimizu was winning 40-35 when the scorecards were announced, but Mancito wasn't going to go without a fight and continued to try and break down the champion. This came at a price and in round 5 the champion landed some heavy blows on the challenger, and scored the second, and third, knockdowns of the fight.
In round 7 Mancito was down again, and this time Shimizu wasn't letting him off the hook, going for the finish and forcing the referee in to stop the bout.
Prior to this OPBF title fight fans in the arena had seen Takuma Inoue (10-0, 2) [井上 拓真] take a competitive but clear decision win over former 2-time Japanese Bantamweight champion Kentaro Masuda (27-9, 15) [益田 健太郎], with Masuda refusing to ever quit and coming on strong late on. They had also seen Koki Inoue (10-0, 9) [浩樹井上] stop Korean visitor Dong Hee Kim (8-2-2, 3) in 4 rounds, whilst Ohashi novices Kazuki Nakajima (3-0, 2) [中嶋一輝] and Katsuya Yasuda (2-0, 1) [保田克也] had to settle for 6 round decision wins.
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
We've known for a while that 2017 will end with two big Japanese cards, one on December 30th and the other on December 31st, though details of the under-card for those shows haven't been very widely announced. Thankfully though we have now began to see details emerge for both shows, and both feature some notable names.
We've known for a while that the first show, on December 30th, will be headlined by WBO Super Flyweight champion Naoya Inoue (14-0, 12) [井上 尚弥], who faces French challenger Yoan Boyeaux (41-4, 26). We've also long known that that card is also going to feature Naoya's younger brother Takuma Inoue (9-0, 2) [井上 拓真], who faces former 2-time Japanese Bantamweight champion Kentaro Masuda (27-8, 15). What we didn't know until the last 24 hours was that Koki Inoue (9-0, 8) [浩樹井上] would also feature, meaning all 3 of the Inoue clan will be in action on the show.
Koki will be up against Korean visitor Dong Hee Kim (8-1-2, 3), who has never been stopped, and has gone 10 fights unbeaten following a decision loss. Not only is Kim in good form, but he also managed tofight to a draw with the talent In Duck Seo for the Korean Light Welterweight title.
Other Ohashi gym fighters now confirmed for the card are former amateur standouts Kazuki Nakajima (2-0, 2) [中嶋一輝] and Katsuya Yasuda (1-0, 1) [保田克也]. Nakajima will be up against domestic foe Taiga Higashi (4-1, 1) [東大河] whilst Yasuda will be facing off with a Korean visitor.
On the 31st we get a world title triple header, with the stand out bout being the Light Flyweight title unification bout between WBA champion Ryoichi Taguchi (26-2-2, 12) [田口良一] and IBF champion Milan Melindo (37-2, 13). We now know that along with the three world title bouts the card will also include former world title challenger Shingo Wake (22-5-2, 14) [和氣 慎吾] and recent OPBF title challenger Masataka Taniguchi (8-2, 6) [谷口 将隆]. Both of these men will be facing Thai foes, in what we suspect will be easy wins, but it's clear the plan for bother fighters is to have something big in 2018, and just want to keep ticking over befoe the year comes to an end.
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