At the start of today we knew that Seiya Tsutsumi (5-0, 4) [堤聖也] was assured a place in the God's Left Bantamweight tournament semi final. What we didn't know is who the other 3 semi-finalists would be. That changed today, when we had the three quarter final bouts take place the the Korakuen Hall. Whilst they didn't provide much in terms of an upset they did provide some great entertainment.
The first man to join Tsutsumi in the round of 4 was Ohashi gym's unbeaten hopeful Kazuki Nakajima (7-0, 6) [中嶋一輝]. Nakajima, a former amateur stand out, did exactly what was expected of him as he quickly disposed of veteran Kenichi Watanabe (8-5-1, 4) [渡辺健一] inside a round. Nakajima took control quickly and dropped hard near the ropes. The referee quickly waved off the action, after just over 2 minutes, as he booked his place in the final 4.
The next man to advance was the aggressive Kenya Yamashita (14-5, 11) [山下賢哉], who booked himself a fight with Tsutsumi, as he scored a second round win over Gaku Aikawa (9-8-1, 3) [相川 学己]. Aikiawa put up a good effort in the opening round, but Yamashita always looked more dangerous, more aggressive and much more powerful. In round 2 that aggression proved too much for Aikawa who was dropped and failed to beat the 10 count, at a time of 2:10 in round 2.
With Yamashita Vs Tsutsumi now booked we're glad to say that this will be a brutally violent war and we really cannot wait to see this one.
The final of the quarter final bouts proved to be the most exciting, and the most competitive, with Jin Minamide (4-0, 3) [南出仁] and Tetsu Araki (14-2-1, 2) [荒木哲] putting on a show.
Minamide always looked the more powerful and aggressive fighter, but often the man who was taking risks and he was cut and tagged by counters from Araki, who proved his mettle and toughness through out. In the end Minamide did enough to earn the decision, albeit a razor close one, and book himself a fight with Nakajima. From all the rounds of today's show the 6th round of this bout was particularly good, with the men stand and throwing bombs in the final moments of the fight.
Whilst Tsutsumi Vs Yamashita is likely to be a violent inside war we can't help but feel that Nakajima and Minamide will make for a brutal fight in it's own right, albeit with a more varied style due to the strong amateur pedigree of both men, who can certainly both bang and both put on a show.
For fans interested in watch this it was aired live in Boxing Raise and will be made available on demand in the coming days.
(Image ourtesy of boxingnews.jp)
We already know that the exciting Seiya Tsutsumi (5-0, 4) [堤聖也] will compete in the semi-finals of the God's Left Bantamweight tournament, though his opponent has yet to be decided. Tomorrow that changes, with Tsutsumi facing the winner of a bout between Gaku Aikawa (9-7-1, 3) [相川 学己] and Kenya Yamashita (13-5, 10) [山下賢哉].
Today Aikawa and Yamashita took part in their weigh in for tomorrow's contest, and they both made the 118lb limit, though looked like they belong in different division's.
Aikawa, the much taller man, is fighting at Bantamweight after having fought as high as Featherweight before, and having consistently fought at 122lbs. He looked huge compared to Yamashita, who has fought as low as Flyweight before, though strangely not a lot separated them on the scales. With Yamashita actually hitting the 118lb limit and Aikawa coming in slightly under the limit.
Interestingly Yamashita, who has typically has his hair in a perm, showed a new style with short hair, leaving himself somewhat unrecognisable to the aggressive terror that he burst on the to the scene a few years ago. He seemed confident, and seemed to suggest he was hunting a KO. Aikawa on the other hand seemed confident that he had the tools to beat Yamashita, and sounded confident that he knew what was needed to neutralise the aggression of the shorter man.
Although this is the weakest of the quarter final bouts on paper it does promise a lot or excitement and action, given the style of the fighters involved.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
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)
Over the weekend news broke that the Shirai Gushiken Sports Gym (SGS) had lost two of it's more notable fighters, who have transferred to other gyms.
One of those was the popular Kenya Yamashita (13-5, 10) [山下賢哉], who revealed over social media that he had left to join the JB Sports Gym, who will be guiding his career going forward. His first fight with his new gym has yet to be announced, but it will be his first bout since losing in Philippines to John Riel Casimero.
The other is Japanese ranked Welterweight Riku Nagahama (9-2-1, 4) [長濱陸], who has signed with the Kadoebi Gym, who continue their recent talent acquisition spree which has really seen them building a depth in the higher divisions in Japan. There is, obviously, work to do, but it does seem like they want to make a mark in the Welterweight to Middleweight ranks.
Whilst these aren't the biggest names at the SGS gym it does leave question marks about the future of the gym, which is run by Yoko Gushiken.
In recent bouts former 2-weight world champion John Riel Casimero (26-4, 17) has failed to really put on a show, having some very messy and ugly fights. Today however he was in a very fan friendly contest, as Japanese visitor Kenya Yamashita (13-5, 10) [山下賢哉] made the perfect foil for the Filipino.
The fight, as every Yamashita fight, started with the Japanese fighter pressing the action. That wasn't a great tactic however as it lead to openings for the crisp and sharp shots of Casimero, who found a home for his right hand, which he landed regularly in the opening round. The Filipino really began to light Yamashita on a regular basis through rounds 2 and 3 as Yamashita began to eat bombs from Casimero, and walk though them. It was a brave tactic from the Japanese visitor, but one that needed him to have his own success, especially in the exchanges which he continually lost.
Casimero began to slow down in round 4, but still landed the better shots, going to both head and body and landing some brutal uppercuts. It seemed like he couldn't miss, and really showed the difference in class between the two men. The slow down from the former champion continued in round 5, arguably Yamashita's best round, but he still found the openings for big right hands, and shined at the end of the round with a flashy combination that showed he still had more than enough in the tank.
To begin round 6 Casimero landed a huge bomb. Yamashita tried to come forward but lacked the life in his legs and was tagged again as Casimero seemed to show a bit of mercy before unleashing a nasty uppercut that seemed to badly damage Yamshita's nose. He some how stayed standing up until the referee waved the bout off, then stumbled a few moments later to his knees, later being given oxygen in his corner. He seemed fine, though a little shocked.
The win puts Casimero in the Bantamweight mix, as he pursues a third world title. For Yamashita his effort might see brought back to the Philippines to take on some of the other Filipino talent at Bantamweight, though he is still very popular on the domestic scene and will likely return to Japan for his next bout.
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