At the end of 2018 we saw Takuma Inoue (13-0, 3) [井上 拓真] being crowned as the WBC "interim" Bantamweight champion, following his win over Petch Sor Chitpattana (48-1, 33) [เพชร ซีพีเฟรชมาร์ท]. Since then Frenchman Nordine Oubaali (15-0, 11) has claimed the WBC regular title , and the two are going to be unifying the WBC crown later this year.
Today Inoue resumed full scale training for that bout, which is being planned for Spring.
Among the training that Inoue did today was sparring with stablemate Kazuki Nakajima (6-0, 5) [中嶋一輝], who like Oubaali, is a southpaw.
Not only was Inoue back in the gym today but also spoke to the press, and told reporters that he's back to normal now, and and that he is hitting the bag with full power, showing he has no worries about the state of his right hand, which had required an operation in 2016.
Takuma's father, Shingo Inoue, seems to be aware of what Oubaali is bringing, and that Inoue will need to improve overall to defeat the unbeaten Frenchman.
(Image courtesy of Nikkan Sports)
Earlier today Ohashi gym held a press conference to announce the next defense of the OPBF Featherweight title by Satoshi Shimizu (7-0, 7) [清水 聡].
The 2012 Olympic bronze medal winner was flanked by Ohashi gym president Hideyuki Ohashi and trainer Koji Matsumoto at the press conference as they announced Shimizu's next bout.
The fighter will return to the ring on December 3rd to face off with fellow unbeaten Takuya Uehara (16-0, 10) [上原 拓哉] , who held a press conference of his own at the Apollo Gym in Osaka to announce the contest.
For Shimizu the bout will serve as his 4th title defense, and is expected to be his final bout before on wards to a world title fight in early 2019. For Uehara the bout is his first at this level, though he is a former WBC Youth and Japanese Youth champion.
With this announcement we now know that the show, which will be the "66th Phoenix Battle", will be a double header with the card also featuring the mouth watering match up between Hinata Maruta (7-1-1, 6) [丸田 陽七太] and Tsuyoshi Tameda (18-3-2, 16) [溜田剛士]. We also know that the card will feature Kazuki Nakajima (5-0, 4) [中嶋一輝] battling Yoshihiro Utsumi (15-8-3, 10) [宇津見義広] and bouts involving Sho Nakazawa (11-2, 5) [中澤奨] and Taku Kuwahara (2-0, 2) [桑原拓].
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Yesterday at the Korakuen Hall fight fans had a trio of notable under-card fighters in action, all picking up wins and moving their careers forward.
The first of those was the once touted former amateur standout Sho Nakazawa (11-2, 5) [中澤奨]. Nakazawa had lost his previous bout, an upset defeat to Ryo Hino, and understandably had a confidence booster, stopping Indonesian Ahmad Lahizab (3-6-11, 1) in 3 rounds. The visitor had been dropped early in the fight and twice in round 3 as Nakazawa proved far too good.
The second of those notable under-card fighters was former amateur stand out Kazuki Nakajima (5-0, 4) [中嶋一輝], who impressed before forcing the durable Takuya Fujioka (8-9-1, 1) [藤岡拓弥] to retire on his stool at the end of round 6. The bout had been one sided with Nakajima in total control in what the most impressive performance of his career so far, and the one that may well have seen him really begin to click as a professional. Although the bout looked like a mismatch on paper it's worth noting that Fujioka was coming into this having never been stopped, with a huge upset win last time out against Futa Akizuki and having given Eita Kikuchi and Kosuke Isono real problems in 2017.
The final under-card bout of note saw the hard hitting Tsuyoshi Tameda (18-3-2, 16) [溜田剛士] deciminate Indonesan veteran Arief Blader (23-30-2, 8). Originally Tameda had been scheduled to face Japanese based Korean fighter Tae Il Atsumi (14-2, 7), though that bout fell through with Blader being a late replacement for Tameda and being totally over-matched.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Earlier today Japanese fight fans at the Korakuen Hall had the chance to see former 3-weight world champion Akira Yaegashi (26-6, 14) [八重樫 東] return to the ring for the first time since last May, when he lost the IBF Light Flyweight title to Milan Melindo.
The Ohashi gym warrior was stepping up in weight, as he began his pursuit for a Super Flyweight title, and faced off with limited Indonesian foe Frans Damur Palue (15-19-2, 10), who looked totally out of his depth from the opening moments The opening round saw a cautious looking Yaegashi using his feet well to keep the distance in the first round, before picking up the pace in round 2 and dropping the visitor with a series of body shots. Palue, to his credit, got up from the first knockdown but it was the start of the end and he would only last a few more moments as Yaegahsi chased the stoppage, and got it at 2 minutes 24 into the second round.
Following the win Yaegashi spoke positively of his performance and spoke about devoting himself to becoming a fully fledged Super Flyweight.
Other men to pick up wins on this undercard included Koki Inoue (11-0, 10) [浩樹井上], who stopped a Thai visitor at 1 minute 4 seconds into round 2, and Kazuki Nakajima (4-0, 3) [中嶋一輝], who needed just 84 seconds to take out his Thai opponent.
For fans interested in these bouts we are expecting some footage to be shown this coming weekend on a tape delay basis on Fuji TV.
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
Earlier this month we saw Ohashi gym announce their next Phoenix Battleshow, set for March 26th.
That original announcement featured only two bouts being confirmed. They were an OPBF Featherweight title bout, between defending champion Satoshi Shimizu (5-0, 5) [清水 聡] and Korean challenger Kyung Min Kwon (6-3, 3) and a bout between former 3-weight world champion Akira Yaegashi (25-6, 13) [八重樫 東] and Indonesian visitor Frans Damur Palue (15-18-2, 10).
Since that original announcement we have since had the card revealed to us, and the announcement has seen two notable fighters added to the under-card.
One of those fighters is the unbeaten Koki Inoue (10-0, 9) [浩樹井上], who will be looking to record his 7th straight stoppage and take yet another small step towards a title fight, which is expected to take place later this year. The other notable man is Ohashi stablemate Kazuki Nakajima (3-0, 2) [中嶋一輝], who will be fighting in his first 8 rounder.
Whilst it's great to see the two talented young Ohashi fighters in action, it's disppointing to know that both men will be matched with weak Thai opponents, who won't be expected to really test the two Japanese fighters, who both need bigger and better tests. Whilst we all know that Inoue is chasing a title fight it seems like this is a big step backwards for Nakajima, who should really be sticking with domestic opponents, rather than weak imports who will do nothing to develop his skill or experience.
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