Earlier today Japanese fans at the Korakuen Hall. The card wasn't a big one, but did feature several small stories worthy of note.
One of those was thre retirement ceremony of former OPBF and Japanese Middleweight champion Makoto Fuchigami (23-12, 13) [淵上 誠]. The well liked fighter from the Hachioji Nakaya gym is of course best known for losing to Gennady Golovkin in a WBA world title fight though was a popular fighter on the Japanese scene and retired in the wake of his thrilling loss to Tomohiro Ebisu at the end of 2016.
As well as the retirement ceremony of the former world title there was also a potentially career saving win for another former Japanese Middleweight champion, Sanosuke Sasaki (12-6, 6) [佐々木左之介] scoring a 3rd round win over Hisao Narita (12-6, 6) [成田永生]. On paper this looked a 50-50 fight, but going into it Sasaki was really fighting for his career following 5 straight losses, and 3 successive stoppage losses. In fact coming in to this Sasaki hadn't scored a win since stopping Tadashi Yuba way back in October 2012 for the Japanese crown Sadly for Narita the loss ends a 3 fight winning streak, and completely destroys his hope of getting a title fight any time soon.
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
Last year we saw Makoto Fuchigami (23-12, 13) [淵上 誠] officially retire from boxing. Despite that retirement coming way back in the middle of last year the former Japanese and OPBF Middleweight champion has had to wait to have a retirement ceremony, which we now know will take place on February 20th at the Korakuen Hall.
Although best known in the west for being stopped by Gennady Golovkin in a WBA Middleweight title fight Fuchigami had a pretty notable run of success in Asia with wins over Gaku Takahashi, Tetsuya Suzuki, Takayuki Hosokawa and Koji Sato, with the win against Sato being a genuinely amazing fight.
In more recent years Fuchigami has looked like a bit of a spent fighter, losing 5 of 9 bouts after the Golovkin contest, and suffering stoppages in 3 of those defeats.
His final bout saw him take on Tomohiro Ebisu [胡 朋宏] in a contest for the Japanese interim Middleweight title. It was a typical war from both men and a late contender for the 2016 Japanese fighter of the year, taking place on Christmas eve. Since that bout both men have retired, with Ebisu retiring following a loss to Hikaru Nishida [西田 光] last year.
Today we saw the latest Japanese rankings being released, and whilst we won't break them down division by division or anything we will take one story from that, and that's that veteran Makoto Fuchigami (23-12, 13) [淵上 誠] has officially retired from professional boxing.
The former OPBF and Japanese Middleweight champion, best known for a loss in a WBA world title fight against Gennady Golovkin, had looked a faded force in recent years losing 6 of his last 10 but had continually been in thrillers right up to the end.
Fuchigami's final fight was his December 24th war for the Japanese interim Middleweight title against Tomohiro Ebisu, a late contender for the 2016 Japanese Fight of the Year. That fight wasn't his only thriller however and his 2011 win against Koji Sato, to unify the Japanese and Oriental crowns, was one for the ages. For those who haven't seen it we've included it below.
During his 35 fight career Fuchigami scored notable wins over Gaku Takahashi, Tetsuya Suzuki, Takayuki Hosokawa and Koji Sato. He was however unfortunate to run into Golovkin and never looked the same fighter, losing twice to Akio Shibata and twice to Hikaru Nishida, before being stopped by Ebisu last December.
Aged 33 and with his reflexes diminishing markedly it's good to see Fuchigamiwalk away from the sport. Sadly though the post-Golovkin part of his career really has seen him take a lot of punishment, suffering stoppages to Shibata, Nishida and Ebisu, and hopefully that damage won't effect him in later life.
(Image courtesy of 8nakaya.co.jp)
As a boxing fan we get fights we look forward to, expecting real excitement, we get other fights that just seem to come out of nowhere and deliver something extra special. Today we had a fight from that second category as Tomohiro Ebisu (17-4, 17) [胡 朋宏] claimed the “interim” Japanese Middleweight title and won an all out war with Makoto Fuchigami (23-12, 13) [淵上 誠]. The bout was expected to be fun, but nothing close to the incredible war that we had, a war that could well be the best Middleweight bout of 2016.
Before the men had gotten into the ring it seemed that both had the bout as a “must win” in their minds. Neither could really afford another set back, and both would know that another loss could well be the end of their career as a notable fighter, even on the talent thin Japanese Middleweight scene.
With in the opening minute both men made their intentions well known, they were both hunting a stoppage. They weren't just firing bombs from the off, but when they were in range they were letting the rockets fly with Ebisu's shots in the opening round all sounding painful to take. Fuchigami rode a number of them well but he seemed to eat a number flush, including a huge body shot from Ebisu.
Whilst the opening round wasn't a feeling out round it didn't give us any clue as to what was to come with round 2 being a genuine contender for round of the year. From the opening seconds Ebisu was unloading, looking to disconnect Fuchigami from his sense, Fuchigami on the other hand began to land counters as the two men stood and traded, taking turns in an incredible round of back and forth action. Head shots, body shots and combinations were thrown with reckless abandon as the Korakuen Hall exploded into a cacophony of noise and excitement. In the final seconds of the round the power of Ebisu took it's toll dropping Fuchigami, though it was unable to finish him off.
Round 3 was fought in a similar manner to round 2, with both men teeing off with bombs and traded toe-to-toe in another brilliant round of the year contender. At several points it looked like one man was going to hit the canvas before they fired back, with Fuchigami's legs completely losing themselves at one point. Although it seemed like both men were taking bombs they both refused to back down from the fight and at times it resembled, if not surpassed, the stunning bout between Fuchigami and Koji Sato.
The action continued to be hot in round 4, though it seemed clear that the pace of the bout was having an affect on both men as they both seemed to slow, though they were both unloading bombs in another stellar round of action. Unfortunately for Fuchigami it almost seemed like his shots bounced off Ebisu whilst Ebisu looked like a physical bully, and his body shots looked particularly eye watering. By the end of the round both men looked like they'd be fighting to a stand still.
In round 5 the bout began to take a different tone, with Ebisu moving more, trading less and making every shot count that little bit more. Fuchigami continued to try and force a fight, presumably hoping to empty Ebisu's tank, but due to his approach he was leaving himself more open to heavy head shots which Ebisu picked brilliantly. The movement of Ebisu continued in rounds 5, 6 and 7and it seemed that he was more comfortable with the change in tempo, despite Fuchigami trying to keep the bout up close, and having some success when the two men were together. Even though the paced had slowed from the incredible early rounds the action continued to be hot and was brilliant to end round 7 as Fuchigami took some huge bombs and continued to march forward.
Sadly for Fuchigami his hopes were put to the sword in round 8 as Ebisu's power finally broke through his will and Fuchigami was dropped twice. The first of the knockdowns came following a powerful left hand, after Fuchigami's senses were scrambled from a series of hard head shots, the second, only moments later, came as Ebisu chased the stoppage against a still hurt Fuchigami and dropped him with a monstrous right hand on the jaw, forcing the referee to wave the fight off immediately.
For Fuchigami this loss will likely send him into retirement. This was his 6th stoppage loss and the third time he'd been stopped in his last 5 fights, and at 33 he has had a long and hard career, with wars against top Japanese domestic fighters. As for Ebisu it opens the door for a bout with regular champion Hikaru Nishida next year, in what should be a Japanese FOTY contender.
Tomorrow Japanese fight fans will get the chance to see a Japanese interim Middleweight title fight as former champions Makoto Fuchigami (23-11, 13) [淵上 誠] and Tomohiro Ebisu (16-4, 16) [胡 朋宏]. Today the two men took part in the weigh in for the bout and both men made weight.
On the scales the younger, and naturally stronger looking, Ebisu made the limit coming in at 160lbs. Whilst he was dead on the limit he also looked incredible and like he was in some of the best shape of his career. It would seem like he knows this is a must win bout and whilst he is seen as a glass cannon he will be looking to do everything he can to hunt a 17th career stoppage win.
Fuchigami on the other hand was comfortably under the limit, in fact he was around 159.2lbs. Although wellunder the weight he didn't look ripped or that impressive, though in fairness Fuchigami has never been the most Adonis-like fighter out therem instead relying on skills and speed rather than power and brute strength.
For fans wanting to watch this the bout will be featured on asign-boxing.
Tomohiro Ebisu and Makoto Fuchigami battle for interim crown!
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
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