Every so often a Japanese domestic clash really surprises us, and deliver something special and truly unexpected. That happened earlier today when Yosuke Fujihara (18-6, 5) and Naoya Okamoto (13-8-1, 6) gave us a bloody, brutal and vicious war.
We weren't surprised to see this being a good fight, especially with both being ranked by the JBC and the winner being set for a Japanese title eliminator later in the year. Despite that we were truly astonished by the fight we got, which was just an insane brawl. From the opening round to the finish in round 5 this was something you couldn't take your eyes off.
The fight started hot, with the mentality of both fighters being incredibly similar, both wanting to out battle, out gut and out heart the other man. This lead to extremely eye catching back and forth sequences where both landed clean, hurtful blows only to throw their own back. It seemed like Fujihara had the slight edge in speed, but Okamoto kept coming throwing the heavier leather, looking like he was the one wanting to force a brawl.
In round 4 Okamoto was punished for his aggression and dropped, from a right hand. Despite scoring the knockdown Fujihara was a bloodied mess, with blood streaming down his face and a clear target for Okamoto's head shots. Okamoto was again the aggressor in round 4, worsening the cuts of Fujihara, but was on the receiving end of a series of right hands and was dropped him a second time. This time the referee stopped the bout, likely realising that whilst Okamoto was game he was starting to lose punch resistance.
Fujihara, who had entered the bout ranked #12 by the JBC, will now find himself taking a huge step towards a second Japanese title fight. As for Okamoto this is a second straight loss, and his win over current Japanese Bantamweight champion Yuta Saito feels like it was a very, very long time ago.
If you have boxing raise and missed this one live we implore you to go back and watch it, it really was all action. A fantastic contest.
At the Korakuen Hall today Mugicha Nakagawa (24-5-1, 14) [武田勇太] battled against Naoya Okamoto (13-7-1, 6) [岡本直也]. The bout turned out to be one of the most enthralling of 6 Japanese title challenger decider bouts to take place at the holy land of Japanese boxing.
The fight saw Nakagawa take the early lead, landing his stiff jab and controlling the distance to being with. Okamoto upped the pace in round 3, especially with his body shots, and got a foot hold in the bout.
The fight back from Okamoto saw the crowd really get into the bout and both began to hold their feet more, until Okamoto was forced to back off as Nakagawa's accuracy and consistency took a toll on the less experienced man.
Sadly clashes of heads in round 7 saw Okamoto suffer a cut, a cut that would worsen from another clash off heads and eventually cause the bout to be stopped after 2 mins 26 seconds of round 7. The stoppage saw us go to the score-cards with Nakagawa taking a narrow majority decision with scores of 67-65, 67-66 and 67-67.
The win for Nakagawa sets up a potential bout with Shingo Wake in 2019 and despite losing Okamoto proved he was a better fighter than many had realised and he will certainly bounce back as a better fighter from this defeat.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
The Super Bantamweight division is red hot in Japan, with so many great fighters at 122lbs. Tomorrow we'll see two of those face off as they compete in a Japanese title eliminator.
Those fighters are Mugicha Nakagawa (23-5-1, 14) [武田勇太] and Naoya Okamoto (13-6-1, 6) [岡本直也] who fight for the right to challenge for the Japanese title at the 2019 Champion Carnival, potentially leading to a fight against Shingo Wake.
Today the two men took part in their weigh in.
At the weigh in Nakagawa came in at 122lbs, bang on the divisional limit, and offered Okamoto a bottle of iced tea at the weigh in whilst looking relaxed and calm, almost playful. Okamoto on the other hand was 121.7lbs and was talking about using his natural size to defeat Nakagawa.
Related - Nakagawa and Okamoto to fight in Japanese eliminator!
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
On October 12th Japanese fight fans at the Korakuen Hall will get an incredible card featuring 6 Japanese challenger decision bouts, including a Super Bantamweight bout between Mugicha Nakagawa (23-5-1, 14) [武田勇太] and Naoya Okamoto (13-6-1, 6) [岡本直也] and a Light Welterweight contest between Koki Inoue (11-0, 10) [浩樹井上] and Marcus Smith (6-0-1, 6).
Thankfully this show isn't just limited to fight fans at the Korakuen Hall with the online streaming and video on demand service Boxingraise announcing they will be broadcasting the show live over their service, for all subscribers.
The winners of the 6 bouts will advance to the 2019 Champion Carnival early next year, meaning they will fight for Japanese titles, showing the significance of the card, so to get the entire show live over Boxingraise is a real unexpected treat and a chance to get a look at future title challengers and leading domestic contenders.
It's worth noting Boxingraise are currently offer a free 1 month trial to new subscribers, so the timing of this show couldn't be at a better time and it really worth giving the trial a shot, especially with the addition of at least 7 other on demand shows being added in October!
For those interested in the trial click here.
An important part of the Japanese boxing calendar is the Champion Carnival, which takes place in the first half of the year. The fighters who compete in the Champion Carnival are the national champions and the leading domestic contenders.
In August we a number of bouts to decide the top contenders being announced, with 6 such bouts being set for October 12, on a stacked card at the Korakuen Hall.
For those missed that report those bouts on October 12th will be:
Light Flyweight - Kenichi Horikawa (37-15-1, 11) [堀川 謙一] Vs Koji Itagaki (18-12-3, 7) [板垣幸司]
The Super Flyweight - Yuta Matsuo (14-3-1, 7) [松尾雄太] Vs Rey Orais (20-17-2, 5)
Super Bantamweight - Mugicha Nakagawa (23-5-1, 14) [武田勇太] Vs Naoya Okamoto (13-6-1, 6) [岡本直也].
Super Featherweight - Ken Osato (14-2-1, 4) [大里拳] Vs Satoru Sugita (14-5-1, 9) [杉田聖]
Light Welterweight - Koki Inoue (11-0, 10) [浩樹井上] Vs Marcus Smith (6-0-1, 6)
Light Middleweight Koshinmaru Saito (24-9-2, 13) [斉藤伸介] vs Hironobu Matsunaga (13-1, 7) [松永 宏信]
As well as the October 12th card we also, recently, saw the confirmation that the Flyweight bout would see Junto Nakatani (16-0, 12) [中谷 潤人] battle against Shun Kosaka (15-4, 4) [小坂駿], which that bout now set for October 6th as part of notable Japanese domestic card which is set to be televised on G+.
Today saw the rest of the bouts being announced.
On October 21st we'll have two of them take place in Fukuoka. One of those is the Minimumweight bout, which will see Takumi Sakae (19-2-1, 13) [榮拓海] take on Norihito Tanaka (16-7, 9) [田中教仁], in what could end up being one of the surprise contests from these eliminator style contests. On the same card will be the Welterweight clash between Yuki Beppu (18-0-1, 18) [別府優樹] and Yuki Nagano (14-2, 11) [永野祐樹], in what we are expecting to be a very explosive and exciting encounter between two fighters with very solid power at this level.
A week later, October 28th, we'll get the Lightweight bout, which will see Accel Sumiyoshi (11-4-2, 3) [アクセル住吉] face off with Tatsuya Yanagi (15-5-1, 6) [柳達也]. This bout will take place in Shimonoseki, Yamaguchi prefecture, which should favour Sumiyoshi but given the styles of the two men this has the potential to be very exciting.
On November 7th we'll get the Middleweight bout as former champion Hikaru Nishida (17-9-1, 8) [西田光] takes on Shuji Kato (9-1-1, 6) [加藤収二], with this bout taking place at the Korakuen Hall.
The only bout with out a set date so far is the Bantamweight bout. Despite no set date we do know that Hayato Kimura (27-10, 18) [木村隼人] facing off with Seizo Kono (19-10-1, 12) [高野誠三], in what is a bit of an under-whelming contest given some of the Japanese domestic talent in the division. This bout is expected to have it's date and venue announced in the coming weeks.
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