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.
Tomorrow we'll see Japanese Light Welterweight champion Valentine Hosokawa (24-6-3, 11) [細川バレンタイン] making a mandatory defense of his belt against unbeaten challenger Koki Inoue (12-0, 10) [浩樹井上]. The bout, at the Korakuen Hall, will headline a live G+ card and will be part of a really interesting card featuring numerous notable bouts, including a Japanese Youth title eliminator.
Today the two men weighed in for their bout and both fighters made weight for the bout.
On the scales Hosokawa was 139.3lbs, well under the 140 lbs limit, whilst Inoue was 139.8lbs. Not only was Inoue the heavier man but he was also the much, much taller man, towering over Hosokawa.
For Hosokawa this bout will be his 3rd defense of the belt whilst Inoue will be getting his first title fight, as he looks to join cousins Naoya and Takuma in holding gold.
Preview - Another Inoue goes for gold, as Koki takes on Valentine Hosokawa
(Image courtesy of Nikkan Sports, photographed by Izumi Takaba)
Earlier this month we reported that Koki Tyson (13-3-2, 11) [太尊 康輝] would be returning to the ring on April 6th at the next "Slugfest" card, and would be up against a Thai foe. We now know who that Thai will be, and if we're being honest we're actually expecting this to be a solid work out for the favoured Japanese puncher.
Tyson, who hasn't fought since a loss in December 2017 to Yasayuki Akiyama, will be up against the durable Chaiwat Mueanphong (4-3, 2). On paper it's a mismatch, but Chaiwat has given Japanese champion Kazuto Takesako [竹迫司登] his toughest bout, by far, and will be expected to give Tyson a genuine test here, given the long break Tyson's had.
Also confirmed for the card now is a Japanese youth Light Flyweight title eliminator, as Tsuyoshi Sato (8-1-1, 4) [佐藤剛] takes on the hard hitting Tetsuya Tomioka (5-3, 5) [富岡哲也] and the return to the ring of the exciting Cristiano Aoqui (13-7-2, 9) [アオキ クリスチャーノ], following a hand injury he suffered last year.
These bouts fill out a card that will be headlined by Japanese Light Welterweight champion Valentine Hosokawa (24-6-3, 11) [細川バレンタイン] defending his title against mandatory challenger Koki Inoue (12-0, 10) [浩樹井上] and will also feature an excellent contest between Aso Ishiwaki (5-2, 3) [石脇麻生] and Yoji Saito (1-1, 1) [齊藤陽ニ].
For fans wanting to watch this card but can't get to Tokyo, it will be aired live on G+.
Earlier today at the Tokyo Dome Hotel the media were able to attend the press conference to announce the 2019 Champion Carnival bouts, with 13 contests being officially announced.
As previously reported the Minimumweight bout will see defending champion Shin Ono (23-9-3, 6) [小野 心] defending his title against Norihito Tanaka (17-7, 9) [田中教仁] on January 12th at the Korakuen Hall.
The Light Flyweight bout, to fill the recent vacancy left by Tetsuya Hisada (33-9-2, 19) [久田 哲也], will see Kenichi Horikawa (38-15-1, 12) [堀川 謙一] battle against Satoru Todaka (9-2-4, 3) [戸髙達], with this bout set to take place on February 14th, also at the Korakuen Hall.
The Flyweight bout, like the Minimumweight bout, had already been announced and will see Junto Nakatani (17-0, 12) [中谷 潤人] and Naoki Mochizuki (15-3, 8) [望月直樹] fight on February 2nd at the Korakuen Hall. This bout is to fill the vacancy left by Masayuki Kuroda (30-7-3, 16) [黒田 雅之], who like Hisada has stated he intends to fight for a world title in 2019.
The Super Flyweight champion Takayuki Okumoto (21-8-4, 10) [奥本 貴之] will defend his title on April 21st in Osaka, and will see Okumoto battle against Yuta Matsuo (15-3-1, 8) [松尾雄太], in what will be Okumoto's second defense of the title.
The Bantamweight bout will be a unification bout as regular champion Yuta Saito (11-9-3, 8) [齊藤裕太], who has been suffering from illness recently, battling against recently crowned interim champion Hayato Kimura (28-10, 19) [木村隼人]. There is no set date on this bout, but it's expected to take place in Tokyo, with the Korakuen Hall the most likely venue.
The Super Bantamweight title will have it's vacancy filled on January 12th, on the same show as the Ono Vs Tanaka card. Fighting for the title will be Mugicha Nakagawa (24-5-1, 14) [武田勇太] and Ryoichi Tamura (11-3-1, 6) [田村 亮一], who will be looking to follow in the footsteps of former champion Shingo Wake (25-5-2, 17) [和氣 慎吾] who looks to be heading towards a world title fight, like Hisada and Kuroda.
Arguably the best match up for the Champion Carnival is the Featherweight bout, which will pit Taiki Minamoto (16-5, 13) [源大輝] against Reiya Abe (18-2, 9) [阿部 麗也], who will be battling former amateur stand out Daisuke Sugita (4-0, 3) [杉田大祐] in January before facing Minamoto on May 1st at the Korakuen Hall. This is, to us, the stand out bout of the Champion Carnival and is genuinely a mouth watering clash.
The Japanese Super Featherweight champion Masaru Sueyoshi (18-1-1, 11) [末吉 大] will take on Ken Osato (15-2-1, 4) [大里拳], in a rematch of the bout the two men had during the 2018 Champion Carnival. This contest will take place on May 4th at the Korakuen Hall and will see Osato looking to avenge his loss and Sueyoshi looking to repeat his win over Osato.
The unbeaten Shuichiro Yoshino (9-0, 7) [吉野 修一郎] will be making his 4th defense of the Japanese Lightweight title, as he takes on the challenge of Accel Sumiyoshi (11-4-3, 3) [アクセル住吉]. This bout is set to take place on April 11th at the Korakuen Hall.
Another bout that really whets the appetite is the Japanese Light Welterweight title bout. That contest will see champion Valentine Hosokawa (24-6-3, 11) [細川バレンタイン] defending his belt on April 6th at the Korakuen Hall against Koki Inoue (12-0, 10) [浩樹井上] in a mouth watering step up for the challenger.
We'll see attention turn to Osaka for the Welterweight title bout, as Ryota Yada (18-4, 15) [矢田良太] defends his belt against Yuki Nagano (15-2, 11) [永野祐樹]. This bout is set to take place on April 21st, though the specific venue wasn't announced.
The Light Middleweight title bout will see Nobuyuki Shindo (20-4-2, 8) [新藤寛之] defending the title against Hironobu Matsunaga (14-1, 8) [松永 宏信] in what should be a thrilling contest between a very hungry challenger and an under-rated champion. These two will clash at the Korakuen Hall on May 1st, as a double header with the Minamoto Vs Abe bout.
On March 2nd we'll see Japanese Middleweight champion Kazuto Takesako (10-0, 10) [竹迫司登] defending his belt against Shuji Kato (10-1-1, 6) [加藤収二], in what will be Takesako's second defense. This will also be at the Korakuen Hall.
At the moment the full details of who will be showing what bouts is unclear, but we're glad to now have most of the matches set, with dates and venues.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
News! We try and give you the most interesting news stories from the Asian boxing world!