Back in April we reported that Japanese legend Shinsuke Yamanaka [山中慎介] had began to work with Danagn on an special Bantamweight tournament, set to begin in July.
Today the draw for that tournament took place, as well as the reveal of who would be involved, and who the men would be facing.
The original plan seemed to be for 8 fighters to compete, though only 7 have actually been selected, allowing one fighter to have a bye into the final 4. The fighter getting the bye is 23 year old Seiya Tsutsumi (5-0, 4) [堤聖也], who has been given a seeding position and will skip the quarter finals as a result.
Tsutsumi is a really exciting fighter from the Watanabe gym who made his debut in March 2018 and impressed last September when he won a B Class tournament, dismantling Junpei Inamoto in the final. More recently he stopped tough Filipino Ryan Rey Ponteras, back in April, and has been strongly tipped as one to watch.
Tsutsumi's opponent in the semi-final will be either Gaku Aikawa (9-7-1, 3) [相川 学己] or Kenya Yamashita (13-5, 10) [山下賢哉].
Aikawa, from the Misako gym, is a 25 year old who has lost 3 of his last 4, but has been fighting mostly at Super Bantamweight and not Bantamweight. At his best he's a tough guy to discourage, but will be regarded as one of the big under-dogs in the tournament. Interestingly he reached the 2013 All Japan Rookie of the Year, losing to Bunta Mitaka in the final.
Yamashita on the other hand is a well liked, aggressive fighter who was one tipped to be a force on the domestic scene. He brings intense action, but can be out boxed, as we've seen recently against John Riel Casimero. He's explosive, exciting and comes to fight, but has suffered 4 stoppage losses, and at the age of 22 it already feels like his all action style is catching up with him. Notably this will be his first fight since joining up with the JB Sports Gym. As with Aikawa he will be regarded as a betting outsider.
Another of the semi-final bouts will see Ohashi gym's unbeaten hopeful Kazuki Nakajima (6-0, 5) [中嶋一輝] take on Kenichi Watanabe (8-4-1, 4) [渡辺健一]. On paper this looks like a bit of a mismatch, but should be a good chance to see if Nakajima is as good as some suggest.
Nakajima is a 26 year old former amateur stand out who made his debut in 2017 and already holds solid wins over Taiga Higashi and Yoshihiro Utsumi. He has been groomed for success following his long amateur career, where he went 72-15 (30) and is expected to become another of the top guys under the guidance of Hideyuki Ohashi.
Watanabe on the other hand is from the little known Dream Boxing Gym and at 32 years old is clearly the oldest man in the tournament. He debuted more than a decade ago, but has had a stop-start career which has struggled to get going. During his time in the sport he has shared the ring with Koki Eto, Akinori Hoshino and Hiroaki Teshigawara, though those bigger names have all beat him. Another of the tournaments outsiders.
The remaining quarter final is the best of the bunch will see another of the tournaments favourites in action, in fact even the bout's under-dog will be regarded as the best of the under-dogs. In one corner will be unbeaten puncher Jin Minamide (3-0, 3) [南出仁] and in the other will be once beaten Japanese Youth champion Tetsu Araki (14-1-1, 2) [荒木哲], in what is easily the best of the match ups in the first round.
The 24 year old Minamide was a notable amateur, going 43-22 (15) before turning professional with Celes Kobayashi at the Kobayashi gym. Since debuting, in June 2018, he has fought just 5 rounds but taken out some impressive competition, including Marjun Pantilgan. His opponents combined record so far is 33-12-1, yet he has sliced through them with complete ease and looked ready for much bigger things.
As mentioned Araki the the Japanese Youth champion, and is also 24 years old. He debuted in 2014 and lost in the 2015 Rookie of the Year tournament to Tenta Kiyose, since then however he has reeled off 10 straight wins including notable victories over Yuto Nakamura, Ryuto Owan, Morihisa Iju and Atsushi Takada. As far as under-dogs go he's the most likely to over come the unbeaten men, all of whom were top, top amateurs.
Thee tournament officially begins on July 23rd, with the quarter final bouts. The semi-final bouts will take place on October 31st with the final pencilled in for January 2020. The winner will receive a large financial prize
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
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)
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