After a couple of relatively unexciting performances from Koki Inoue (14-0, 11) [浩樹井上] he knew he had to put on a show today, especially given he was making his first defense of the Japanese Light Welterweight title.
Thankfully for Inoue's career he did indeed put on a show as he battered Ryuji Ikeda (14-5-3, 9) [池田竜司] in a 5th round stoppage, and defended the national title in style, making a statement and showing that he can indeed be a very fun fighter to watch.
The power and aggression of Inoue, which has been subdued in his last 2 bouts, showed in the opening round when he rocked Ikeda towards the end of the round. He would again showcase what he could do in round 2, when he forced Ikeda into the ropes, with the referee ruling the ropes kept the challenger up.
In round 3 Inoue allowed pressure and Ikeda built some confidence, before being caught by a right hook that send him down and secured Inoue his second 10-8 round. By now it was looking like Ikeda was going to struggle to survive long, especially as he was bleeding from a cut caused by a clash of heads. Ikeda did however manage to get through round 4, whilst Inoue looked to sharpen his crisp right hook.
In round 5 the power of Inoue again hurt Ikeda, and a follow forced the referee to save the challenger, after just 34 seconds of the round.
After the bout Ikeda seemed to hint at retirement, and it may not be the worst of ideas given how badly beaten he was today. Interestingly Inoue seemed to hint at a potential fight with Hiroki Okada (19-1, 13) [岡田 博喜], and if we're being honest that would be a great test for Inoue.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Tomorrow fight fans at Korakuen Hall will see Japanese Light Welterweight champion Koki Inoue (13-0, 10) [浩樹井上] defending his title against Ryuji Ikeda (14-5-3, 9) [池田竜司], in what will be Inoue's first defense.
Today, ahead of tomorrow's bout, the two fighters took part in their weigh in and both fighters made the 140lb limit with no notable issues.
On the scales Inoue was 140lbs whilst Ikeda was slightly lighter at 139.56lbs.
Inoue, who looked in amazing shape, stated that he was in the best condition of his career so far though admitted that he wanted to put on a more high impact style than he has had in the past. Inoue, who was over in the UK in May, spoke about watching the recent Josh Taylor Vs Ivan Baranchyk bout, and seemed to hint at a potential future bout with Taylor. He admitted he's not as good as Taylor is at the moment, but seems confident that he can improve and become better than the Scottish champion.
Ikeda on the other hand spoke about scoring the upset and he seemed confident of making the most of the one-to-one training he's had with Takanori Hatakeyama. He seemed to suggest he knew he couldn't out boxing Inoue but would be looking go for a stoppage of the Japanese champion.
Related - Inoue takes on Ikeda in Japanese title defense
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
It's fair to say that Naoya Inoue (17-0, 15) [井上 尚弥] has got a lot of attention this week ahead of his WBSS semi-final bout with Emmanuel Rodriguez (19-0, 12) but he's not the only member of the family to be a boxer, with his cousin Koki Inoue (13-0, 10) [浩樹井上] and younger brother Takuma Inoue (13-0, 3) [井上 拓真] both being successful as well, and both currently being in Scotland with Naoya.
We've known that Koki will be defending his Japanese national title in the summer for a while but the plan for Takuma was somewhat unclear until today, when he spoke to the press.
Takuma, the current WBC "interim" Bantamweight champion, revealed that he has been enjoying Europe, picking up Harry Potter DVD's and also explained that he was happy to fight in Europe. He stated "The environment is good, so I would like to do it if I can do it in Europe. The feeling that the unification war should be in Europe is good", regarding a WBC unification bout with Nordine Oubaali (15-0, 11).
According to Japanese sources who have spoken to Takuma and his manager Hideyuki Ohashi, Oubaali is now expected to make his first defense in Morocco in Summer before facing Takuma in the fall. It seems like whilst Inoue would obviously home advantage he's more than open to travelling to Europe to face the French based Morrocan.
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.
When fighters really respect each other we don't always see the most exciting of fights, and that certainly seemed to be the case today, in a Japanese Light Welterweight title fight. A fight that was compelling, interesting but not particularly exciting.
The match up saw defending champion Valentine Hosokawa (24-7-3, 11) [細川バレンタイン] take on mandatory challenger Koki Inoue (13-0, 10) [浩樹井上]. On paper it was a bout that promised a lot, thought failed to live up to the high expectations we had. We say that, though we can;t really claim we were disappointed, as the bout genuinely was hard to look away from.
The opening round saw Inoue set out his stall as the counter puncher, a game plan designed to neutralise Hosokawa's trademark aggression and intensity. It allowed Inoue to land some really eye catching shots, and use his feet to avoid anything of note Hosokawa did during the opening round. Hosokawa began to quicken his feet in round 2 and he did have more success, as the two began to really neutralise each other. The first 5 rounds alternated, with Inoue landing the better blows in rounds 1, 3 and 5 and Hosokawa managing to have success in rounds 2 and 4. That was a view not only of us, but also seemingly the judges who all had it 48-47 in favour of the challenger after 5 rounds.
Knowing he was behind Hosokawa seemed to try and turn things around in round 6, the bouts closest round, though he struggled to really establish himself. The rounds that followed really saw Inoue begin to run away with the fight, taking the final 4 rounds, landing some very clean and hurtful shots and clearly doing enough to take each of the rounds to cement the decision. Despite winning those rounds he never really seemed to go all out, fighting within himself, with a controlled performance, that saw him to a clear win, without every coming close to blowing fans away.
After 10 rounds the judges had it 97-93, 98-93 and 98-92 to Inoue. We had it 97-93.
Koki know hoins cousins Naoya and Takuma as champions, whilst Valentine, like his brother Charlie, has lost his title. At the age of 37 it's hard to know quite where he goes following this defeat.
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