Earlier today news broke that Japanese Minimumweight champion Norihito Tanaka (19-7, 10) [田中教仁] had vacated his title, ahead of the Champion Carnival, to begin a pursuit of a world title fight.
The 34 year old veteran, who claimed the title last year when he stopped Shin Ono, is one of the very few fighters to have a world ranking with all 4 world title bodies.
At the moment the IBF champion, Pedro Taduran (14-2, 11), and WBO champion, Wilfredo Mendez (15-1, 5), have apparently got fights in the works for early in the year however Tanaka could be viewing up fights for either the WBC or WBA champions. They, of course, as the Thai pairing of Wanheng Menayothin (54-0, 18) [วันเฮง ไก่ย่างห้าดาวยิม], who Tanaka has long been rumoured to face, and Knockout CP Freshmart (20-0, 7) [น็อคเอาท์ ซีพีเฟรชมาร์ท].
Although no opponent has yet been named publicly for Tanaka it does seem likely we'll hear something soon for the man from the Misako Gym.
Interestingly this leaves the Japanese Minimumweight title vacant for the Champion Carnival, where we know Masataka Taniguchi (12-3, 7) [谷口 将隆] will fight for the belt. His opponent isn't yet confirmed, but will be a highly ranked domestic contender. That could mean a potential showdown between Taniguchi and Ryoki Hirai (13-6-1, 4) [平井亮輝] or Takumi Sakae (22-3-1, 16) [榮拓海], who are both expected to be looking for title fights in 2020.
We'll find out who is next for Taniguchi shortly, when the full line up for the Champion Carnival is announced, later this month.
(Image courtesy of Misako Gym)
Earlier today in Kobe fight fans saw local hopeful Ryoki Hirai (13-6-1, 4) [平井亮輝] claim his latest win, though do so with a disappointing performance.
The talented Hirai, who has promised a lot but is yet to truly deliver, struggled to an 8 round decision win over domestic foe Hiroshi Ichikawa (7-8-2, 2) [市川雅之], who gave a a decent account of himself in a bout that few gave him any chance in. In fact had the bout not been in Kobe there's a chance the could have been even closer than they were.
From the off the battle was fought with great intensity, with the two men letting thei jabs go in a brilliant back and forth, before things up and they began to trade shots on the inside, giving the fans a real treat. The opening were better for Hirai but the middle rounds saw Ichikawa rebound well, before forcing Hirai to respond. From first bell to the last this was compelling.
After 8 rounds the judges scored the bout 77-75, twice, and 79-74, all in favour of Hirai, who deserved the win, but didn't look like a man on the verge of a title fight.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Earlier today in Kobe fans saw local hopeful Ryoki Hirai (12-6-1, 4) [平井亮輝] claim his latest win and move one step closer to a potential title fight.
The talented Hirai set off with a great gameplan as he took on Koki Ono (12-6, 5) [小野晃輝]. The plan saw Hirai firing off the jab, a lot, and using his footspeed to get away from Ono before his foe could respond. It was a gameplan that Ono had no real answer for, and even when Ono did come forward the foot of Hirai was too much for him and he just re-established his range and control.
After 8 rounds there was no doubting the winner, with Hirai taking the decision, with scores of 78-74, twice, and 79-73.
After the bout Hirai spoke about being a first class fighter and it's clear he has got eyes on getting his second title fight. He looked like a totally different man to the one who lost twice last year, including in a Japanese title fight against Shin Ono, and there seemed to be real spark here. Ono on the other hand will have real questions to answer and this is a third straight loss for him.
(Image courtesy of boxmopb.jp)
The latest Senrima Kobe show took place earlier today at the Tokiwa Arena in Kobe, and although it wasn't a big show it was a pretty interesting one, with three notable fighters on the card.
The first of those in action was 2017 Rookie of the Year runner up Hiroki Tokuyama (8-1-1, 2) [徳山洋輝], was scored his third win since losing to Fumiya Fuse in the Rookie of the Year competition. The talented Tokuyama was up against the often under-rated Tatsuya Terada (7-5-2, 1) [寺田達弥], and it was clear that Terada was up for this one. Tokuyama looked to world the body but was caught by right hands from Terada, who seemed to feel confident that he could stop his man. The bout wasn't the tidiest but was exciting, with big shots and thrilling exchanges through out the contest. Tokuyama was under pressure early, following a cut caused by a head clash, and had to pass several doctors inspections during the bout. He'll be glad he did pass those inspections as it saw him taking an 8 round split decision.
Another man who picked up a decision was #3 ranked JBC Minimumweight Ryoki Hirai (11-6-1, 4) [平井亮輝], who over-came Takayuki Teraji (9-18-1, 4) [寺次孝有希] over 8 rounds, and ended a 2 fight losing run. The talented Hirai looked sharp in the early stages, with his speed, accuracy and timing all on point. Teraji however proved that he knew his role, and didn't just allow Hirai to have things all his own way, instead moving through the gears to take a few of the later rounds from Hirai, who was cut from a head clash in round 7.
Despite the wins for Tokuyama and Hirai it wasn't all good for the Senrima Kobe gym, as their stablemate Giraffe Kirin Kanda (14-3, 8) [神田亮] was surprisingly stopped by Fumisuke Kimura (9-4, 6) [木村文祐]. Kanda, fighting for the first time since his up and down thriller with Takuya Matsusaka last December, rocked his man with a right hand early on and had him in trouble in round 3 as well. Sadly for Kanda he then began to look tired and Kimura sensed something, taking the fight to Kanda who was put firmly in survival mode. Kanda held, spoiled and did everything he could to survive, but in round 7 he was cornered and the referee came in to save him. This ends an 8 fight winning run for Kanda, who's previous loss came in the 2015 All Japan Rookie of the Year final to Yuki Nagano. As for Kimura this is easily his biggest win to date, and should see him put into the JBC rankings.
Earlier this year we saw Ryoki Hirai (10-6-1, 4) [平井亮輝] come up short in a Japanese Minimumweight title fight, suffering a decision loss to Shin Ono [小野 心]. Today Hirai returned to the ring for the first time since that loss, and unfortunately for him it wouldn't be a triumphant return.
The former national title challenger, who carried a Japanese and WBO Asia Pacific ranking into today's bout, was up against fellow Japanese fighter Yuto Takahashi (9-4, 4) [高橋悠斗] and it seemed like the hunger and desire of Takahashi was too much for Hirai.
Takahashi fought well behind his jab early on, though Hirai kept with him well with some good body shots. In the middle rounds however Takahashi began to press forward, and landed his own body shots. Those took a toll on Hirai who seemed to slow down and was unable to trade blows with Takahashi who did enough to convince all 3 judges that he deserved the win, with scores of 77-76, twice, and 78-75.
The loss for Hirai sees him going 0-2 so far this year, following a good 5 fight winning run that had included notable victories over Takuma Sakae and Ryoya Ikema. As for Takahashi the win sees him rebounding from a loss to former world champion Tatsuya Fukuhara.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
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