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.
Earlier today fight fans in Tokyo had the chance to see a number of notable Ohashi Gym fighters in action at Korakuen Hall. That included 3 bright youngsters, all looking to move forward with their career, two of whom had suffered recent set backs.
One of those looking to rebuild from a recent loss was Ryo Matsumoto (22-3, 20) [松本亮], who had actually lost his last 2 bouts. He made relatively light work of Indonesian visitor Carlos Obisuru (5-2-1, 1), scoring a stoppage in round 2.
Another man rebuilding from a loss was the once touted Sho Nakazawa (12-3, 6) [中澤奨], who scored a much needed win after losing 3 of his last 6. Nakazawa scored a 3rd round win over Jio Alfriando (5-8, 2), in what really was nothing more than a confidence building win for the Japanese fighter.
Arguably the most interesting of the youngsters on this card was Taku Kuwahara (4-0, 3) [桑原拓], who scored a 3rd round win over Aprilianto Rumahpasal (1-4, 1). Kuwahara is one of the many talented Japanese fighters breaking through the ranks at 108lbs and he looked incredibly sharp here, a real one to watch!
Sadly a planned bout between Andy Hiraoka (13-0, 9) [平岡アンディ] and Atchariya Wirojanasunobol (12-0, 5) fell through when the Thai was arrested, though Hiraoka did participate in a spar with Kaiki Yuba (4-0-1, 2) [湯場海樹].
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Earlier today we were informed that Ohashi would be putting on their next show on April 8th at the Korakuen Hall. The full hasn't been announced, but plenty of details from the show have been revealed, including the names of many fighters from the card.
The headline attraction is former 3 weight world champion Akira Yaegashi (27-6, 15) [八重樫 東], who will be fighting for the first time since his 2018 war with Hirofumi Mukai. At the moment Yaegashi's opponent hasn't been announced for the contest, though it's not expected to be anyone too testing for the hugely popular warrior.
The most exciting bout that has been confirmed for the show will see Andy Hiraoka (13-0, 9) [平岡アンディ] take on unbeaten Thai Atchariya Wirojanasunobol (12-0, 5), in a really fantastic bout. It's rare we see two unbeaten fighters fighting at this point in their careers, with both heading towards bigger fights, so to see both taking this type of risk is fantastic, and something to get really excited about.
Another bout confirmed for the show will see former Japanese Super Featherweight champion Seiichi Okada (22-6-1, 13) [岡田誠一] take on Nakagawa Kanehiro (6-6, 4) [中川兼玄]. Okada has won his last 4 bouts coming into this, and will be looking to continue his good run of form.
Looking to bounce back from recent defeats will be former world title challenger Ryo Matsumoto (21-3, 19) [松本亮] and the once touted Sho Nakazawa (11-3, 5) [中澤奨], who both suffered stoppage losses late last year. Neither man has had their opponent named, but neither is expected to be up against anyone too testing, given their recent stoppage losses.
One other fighter on this card is fast tracked prospect Taku Kuwahara (3-0, 2) [桑原拓], who will be in his second 8 round bout. He also lacks an opponent, though could end up against someone of some note given how Ohashi seem to view him as a very special talent.
Full bouts are expected to be announced by the middle of March, though it's nice to see that the card already has some notable names on it, and the excellent Hiraoka Vs Atchariya bout.
We recently wrote about not handing out awards whilst there are still bouts to come. There are however exceptions to that rule, such as when there is such a clear winner that no matter how the year ends there is no challenger. For us writing about those before the year ends is fine.
It's with that said we want to award the dubious honour of "Downfall fighter of the Year 2018" to Ryo Matsumoto (21-3, 19) who has had a horror 2018, and we suspect he would love to be able to turn the clock back 12 months.
The Ohashi gym fighter, who was once tipped as being a future star, began the year 21-1 (19) with his sole loss against Victor Uriel Lopez being avenged. His health issues had been sorted following surgery and there was a real feel good story about him heading into the new year with his career back on track.
Sadly he would lose in February, when he challenged Daniel Roman in a WBA title fight. He showed real toughness to survive the 12 rounds, but gave Roman little in way of a challenge as he was widely beaten on the scorecards. It was a world title fight that we had waited long to see Matsumoto get and yet he looked completely outclassed.
He would move up in weight and return in September to take on the unheralded Ryo Sagawa. It was supposed to be a chance to Matsumoto to announce himself on a new weight class and settle at the weight where his body is more suited, as he is a really wiry and rangy fighter. Sadly, however he was stopped by Sagawa in 3 rounds, in what was his final bout of the year.
Matsumoto spent his 2018 going 0-2, going from being regarded as a top contender in the Super Bantamweight division to a 24 year old who seriously needs to consider how his career is going to go over the next 12 months. Fingers crossed that he bounces back, as he is a sensationally gifted fighter, but we can't ignore that 2018 has been a massive setback for him.
Sadly for the Ohashi gym Matsumoto isn't the only fighter from the gym who has had a bad 2018, with Ryuji Hara also having a nightmare due to his injury woes. He's a worthy notable mention here.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Earlier today at the Korakuen Hall saw a notable upset, as former world title challenger Ryo Matsumoto (21-3, 19) [松本亮] suffered a shock 3rd round stoppage loss to Ryo Sagawa (5-1, 3) [佐川遼].
On paper this looked like a mismatch, given Matsumoto's experience at world level. He was however fighting as a fully fledged Featherweight for the first time, and didn't look in the usually amazing shape that we see him in, he was also coming in following a loss last time out to Daniel Roman. Sagawa however turned up for the weigh in in incredible shape, proving he was a natural Featherweight, and was riding the high of an upset win over Junki Sasaki.
Early on Sagawa landed a right hand that seemed to hurt Matsumoto, who looked like he wanted to force a fight. In the second round another right hand from Sagawa landed, and again it seemed like he was hitting too hard for Matsumoto, who had fought much of his career at Super Flyweight.
The power of Sagawa would make a major break through in round 3, when he dropped Matsumoto with a solid right hand. Matsumoto would recover from the knockdown, but immediately showed he was hurt by trying to brawl with Sagawa, who would rock him again before following up and forcing the referee to save Matsumoto.
With the win Sagawa takes a massive step towards a title fight, and could well fight for a regional title by the end of 2018. He's now running a 4 fight winning run and is in great form, living up to the promise of his excellent amateur career.
For Matsumoto however the loss is one that will act as a serious wake up call. Sagawa managed to hurt him repeatedly, seemed to time him with ease and was simply too good. For Matsumoto the future really shouldn't be at Featherweight, though it's hard to see what he can accomplish in the talent packed Super Bantamweight division.
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
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