Earlier today Japanese fight fans at the Korakuen Hall got a stacked card featuring some really interesting match ups.
One of those match ups pitted young and unbeaten fighters against each other with Rikito Shiba (4-0, 2) [芝力人] and Shisui Kawabata (2-1, 2) [川端嗣穂] facing off for the Japanese youth Light Flyweight title.
It wasn't a bout that was going to get a lot of international attention, but it certainly looked like an excellent match up between two brilliant young prospects, and it delivered!
Shiba got off to the perfect start, dropping Kawabata in the opening round with a counter shot. Kawabata wasn't badly hurt but the knockdown secured Shiba a 10-8 round, despite a great fight back from Kawabata.
Kawabata's fight back saw him take round 2, as he upped his work rate, but then he struggled to really build on that momentum with Shiba taking the play away in round 3 as he picked up his own pace and forced Kawabata on to the back foot. Rounds 4 and 5 were both close but Shiba's power began to shine in round 6, as he landed clean hurtful shots on Kawabata and built further on his lead in round 7. To his credit Kawabata came back hard in the 8th round, but it was too little too late to over-come Shiba and his lead, with all 3 judges scoring the bout 77-74 to Shiba.
Despite suffering a small nick over his left eye Shiba is pencilled in to return to the ring in December, in a Japanese Light Flyweight title eliminator, as he looks to move from the Youth title to the senior title. In his eliminator he will face off against Masamichi Yabuki (9-3, 9) [佐藤政道].
As for Kawabata his career is certainly not over with this loss, and the 23 year old is likely to get another shot at the belt in the near future. A loss of this kind, this early in his career, will certainly do more good than harm and Kawabata will have learned more from this loss than he would from a string of easy wins.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Tomorrow fans at Korakuen Hall will see a Japanese youth Light Flyweight title bout, with Rikito Shiba (3-0, 2) [芝力人] battling against Shisui Kawabata (2-0, 2) [川端嗣穂] in a mouth watering clash.
Today the two youngsters weighed in for the their bout, and both men made the 108lb limit with no issues.
On the scales Shiba was bang on the Light Flyweight limit, whilst the taller Kawabata was slightly lighter at 107.37lbs.
At the weight in Shiba seemed incredibly confident and had belief in his power. He has already got his next bout arranged, a Japanese title eliminator later in the year against Masamichi Yabuki (9-3, 9) [佐藤政道] and admitted that it would be embarrassing to lose tomorrow and still enter the eliminator for the senior Japanese title.
Kawabata on the other hand seemed comfortable with the weight loss and stated that Shiba was smaller than he'd expected. He revealed his game plan was to box, and be wary of Shiba's power.
Related - Shiba and Kawabata face off for Japanese youth title!
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
We've known for a little over a month that former WBO Super Featherweight champion Masayuki Ito (25-2-1, 13) [伊藤 雅雪] would be returning to the ring on September 13th. Sadly what we didn't know was who he would be fighting.
Today we finally saw his opponent for the being announced, and unfortunately it's not someone worth getting excited about.
The bout, which is a home coming for Ito following his title loss to Jamel Herring, will see the Japanese fighter take on Indonesian foe Ruben Manakane (25-18-1, 14).
The 26 year old Manakane turned professional in 2011 and has been a regional journeyman, padding his record in Indonesia and losing on the road to the likes of Billy Dib, Luke Jackson, Marlon Tapales and AJ Banal. It's almost a given he will pick up another loss here to the world class Ito.
Whilst the main event is disappointing the rest of the card is worth getting excited about, with a great Japanese Featherweight title bout between Reiya Abe (19-2-1, 9) [阿部 麗也] and Ryo Sagawa (7-1, 4) [佐川遼], a Japanese Super Bantamweight title eliminator between Ryoichi Tamura (12-4-1, 6) [田村 亮一] and Gakuya Furuhashi (25-8-1, 14) [古橋大輔] and a Japanese youth Light Flyweight title bout, as Rikito Shiba (3-0, 2) [芝力人] faces Shisui Kawabata (2-0, 2) [川端嗣穂].
Earlier this month we saw a press conference to announce that former WBO Super Featherweight champion Masayuki Ito (25-2-1, 13) [伊藤 雅雪] would be in action on September 13th as part of an A-Sign card. Ito's bout was announced as the main event of the with a great a supporting bout between Reiya Abe (19-2-1, 9) [阿部 麗也] and Ryo Sagawa (7-1, 4) [佐川遼] for the Japanese Featherweight title also confirmed for the show.
Other than those two bouts there was very little known about the show, though today it appears that changed with two bouts being announced by the A-sign blog.
The less interesting of the two, if we can say that, is a Japanese title eliminator at 122lbs between former champion Ryoichi Tamura (12-4-1, 6) [田村 亮一] and the always entertaining Gakuya Furuhashi (25-8-1, 14) [古橋大輔]. Despite being the "lesser" of the two bouts announced today this should be a really good bout between two men who enjoy a tear up, lack a little but of thunder on their punches, but set aggressive work rate and look to make wars.
For Tamura the bout will be his first since losing the belt in his second bout with Yusaku Kuga, in what was one of the best Japanese bouts of 2019. Tamura, who is promoted by Hajime No Ippo creator George Morikawa, will be looking to end his year on a high after winning, and losing, the Japanese title this year. For Furuhashi on the other hand the bout will see him looking to earn his third shot at the title, following a draw with Yukinori Oguni in 2014 and a TKO10 loss to Yasutaka Ishimoto in 2016.
Earlier this months Tsuyoshi Sato (9-1-1, 5) [佐藤剛] was forced to pull out of a Japanese Youth Light Flyweight title bout against Rikito Shiba (3-0, 2) [芝力人], in what was really unfortunate news and scuppered what had looked like a genuinely amazing bout. Thankfully things have fallen into place for Shiba to now be matched with Shisui Kawabata (2-0, 2) [川端嗣穂], in an excellent match up, even if we did prefer the Sato one.
For both Shiba and Kawabata this is a huge risk, especially this early in their careers, but for the two former amateur standouts this is a fantastic fight to put one on the fast track, and to allow the other a chance to gather themselves and build going forward. Neither man can be written off with a loss this earlier, especially not to the other guy, and this is the sort of amazing match up the Youth titles can give us, and further shows how Japan is so much different to many countries in terms of how they bring young fighters through. We would never see two notable young amateurs with the pedigree these two have facing off this early in their careers.
We're expecting Ito's opponent to be announced in the coming weeks and whilst we don't expect someone too tough it's still going to be great to see Ito back in action in Tokyo, and we expect he will get a really warm welcome back at Korakuen Hall in his first bout since losing the WBO world title to Jamel Herring.
(Image courtesy of A-Sign Boxing)
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