Earlier today saw Ohashi gym announce two bits of information regarding their March 27th card, "Phoenix Battle 59".
One of those those things was that Quaye Peter (9-8-2, 5) has seen his opponent for the show change. Originally the Japanese based Ghana born fighter was set to face the 32 year old Yusuke Konno (11-3, 5) in a relatively interesting match up. Now however Konno is out of the bout and in his place is recent Japanese title challenger Valentine Hosokawa (20-6-3, 9) [細川バレンタイン], who will be risking his JBC ranking as he takes on Peter.
The reason for the change wasn't announce but if we're being honest the move seems like a positive change with Hosokawa being a much bigger name than Konno, and also being a man who will be fighting with a point to prove following his controversial loss last year to Hiroki Okada. Peter is a decent fighter but a win over Hosokawa would be a huge ask for the Ohashi man.
The other announcement was the poster, which Ohashi put on their website. It's not an amazing poster by any means but it features the 6 Ohashi fighters on the show and makes it clear that this card is an Ohashi event where their fighters will be the key. The poster could have featured some of the opponents, such as Hideo Sakamoto (17-3-3, 5) [坂本 英生], Shogo Yamaguchi (10-2-1, 5) [山口 祥吾] or Mitsuyoshi Fujita (10-2, 3) [藤田 光良], but it didn't need to as the Ohashi gym members were the key selling point of the show, and they all have their faces on the poster.
It's notable that the poster doesn't confirm whether or not some of the show will feature on Fuji TV, though the expectation is that it will indeed be covered on a tape delay broadcast, either on Fuji or a sister channel such as Fuji BS, giving fans a chance to follow the careers of the hopefuls on the card, such as Ryo Matsumoto (18-1, 16) [松本 亮], Koki Inoue (6-0, 5) [浩樹井上] and Andy Hiraoka (8-0, 5) [平岡アンディ.
We've known for a while that Ohashi would be holding one of their next "small" cards on March 27th at the Korakuen Hall, and last week we saw a number of bouts for that card being announced, including the very interesting match ups between Ryo Matsumoto (18-1, 16) [松本 亮] and Hideo Sakamoto (17-3-3, 5) [坂本 英生] as well the bout between Andy Hiraoka (8-0, 5) [平岡アンディ] and Shogo Yamaguchi (10-2-1, 5) [山口 祥吾].
Today we saw some more bouts from that show announced.
One of those will see Japanese ranked Light Welterweight hopeful Koki Inoue (6-0, 5) [浩樹井上] battle against fellow Japanese ranked Light Welterweight Mitsuyoshi Fujita (10-2, 3) [藤田 光良] in a very good match up, which will boost the winner towards a Japanese title fight later this year. For Inoue this will be a second straight fight against a Japanese ranked foe, following a win over Futoshi Usami back in December. Although not as well known Fujita is a talented southpaw who has run up 8 straight wins and looks to be full of confidence following that run. Despite being in good form Fujita is taking a huge step up in class here.
Another bout announced today will see former Japanese Super Featherweight champion Seiichi Okada (19-6-1, 11) [岡田 誠一] battle against Kentaro Yamada (8-7-1, 6) [山田 健太郎]. Okada was the Japanese champiuon back in 2011, and recorded 3 successful defenses in a career defining year, but has since gone 3-5-1 and his career is clearly winding down. Although Okada is struggling he's doing much better than Yamada, who has lost his last6 and is now more than 4 years removed from his last win.
Earlier this month we reported that Ohashi had announced "Battle Phoenix 59", which would be held on March 27th at the Korakuen Hall. At the time of that announcement a number of notable fighters had been announced for the show but no opponents were named at the time.
Today we saw some of those notable fighters having their opponents named.
One of those notable fighters was former OPBF champion Ryo Matsumoto (18-1, 16) [松本 亮] who we now know will be up against the talented and under-rated Hideo Sakamoto (17-3-3, 5) [坂本 英生], in what looks looks like a genuinely good domestic bout. Although a good match up we suspect Matsumoto will be too good for Sakamoto, but the bout is still a decent fight with Sakamoto more than capable of serving as a good test for a fighter like Matsumoto, who will likely be looking for a world title fight before the end of the year.
Another notable fighter having their opponent named today was former world title challenger Ryuji Hara (21-2, 11) [原隆二], who we now know will be fighting Akiyoshi Kanazawa (14-6-4, 7) [金沢 晃佑]. Hara should be far too good for Kanazawa, however the under-dog can put in good performances and holds a draw with Tatsuya Fukuhara and was competitive with both Myung Ho Lee and Kenichi Horikawa. If Kanazawa turns in a good performance here, he could be a fantastic test for Hara, who will be looking for his second world title bout later this year.
Arguably the most interesting of the bouts announced today was a bout between the unbeaten Andy Hiraoka (8-0, 5) [平岡アンディ] and the 2014 All Japan Lightweight Rookie of the Year Shogo Yamaguchi (10-2-1, 5) [山口 祥吾]. Originally this bout was set to take place in December 2014, but Hiraoka was forced to pull out of the fight with influenza. Since that aborted bout in '14 we've seen Hiraoka sign with the Ohashi Gym and score two stoppages. As for Yamaguchihe has stepped up in class and despite losses to Akihiro Kondo and Genki Maeda last year still has a lot of potential, which he will look to show when he takes on Hiraoka in a bout that is more than 2 years in the making.
At the moment we are yet to hear who the fast rising Koki Inoue (6-0, 5) [浩樹井上] and veteran Seiichi Okada (19-6-1, 11) [岡田 誠一] will be facing, but we expect their opponents to be named in the near future.
Earlier today in Nagaoya fight fans saw the coronation of a new Japanese Featherweight champion as Shota Hayashi (28-5-1, 17) [林 翔太] over-came Noriyuki Ueno (18-14-5, 5) [上野 則之] in a thrilling back and forth war.
The fight started fast with Hayashi using his jab extremely well to try and neutralise the offensive Ueno, who looked a touched slower than his younger foe. The jab and the additional zip, as well as the strong crowd backing, helped Hayashi establish a 49-46 lead after 5 rounds, though the bout could have been closer.
Knowing he was behind Ueno upped the pace, as if he knew his career was on the line. Hayashi,to his credit, saw off the storm by fighting fire with fire and the fans got a great ending to the bout with Ueno throwing everything he could in an attempt to stop the local favourite.
At the end though Ueno was unable to ever do enough, on a consistent basis, and lost with the judges giving the bout to Hayashi with scores of 98-92, from all 3 judges. Although the scores look decisive there were some real moments of thrilling action that should make fight fans tune in to CBC later tonight for the tape delay action from the show.
Following the bout Ueno seemed to suggest he was heading to retirement whilst news from the Hatanaka camp is that they are interested in doing a title double with Hayashi defending his new title on a show that could also feature Kosei Tanaka fighting for a world title. If that happens we suspect it'll be in late December.
Also on this card were wins for Shogo Yamaguchi (10-2-1, 5) [山口 祥吾] and Yushi Tanaka (18-1-3, 12) [田中 裕士], who both stopped poor Thai foes.
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
Earlier today Japanese fans at the Korakuen Hall had the chance to attend "Fighting Bee 16", the latest in the Ichiriki series of shows. The card wasn't a high profile show but was one that looked fantastic for a Japanese domestic card with several well matched bouts, at least on paper. The bouts ended up giving the fans excitement, action and a genuinely notable upset.
The main event of the card was an 8 round bout between the world ranked Akihiro Kondo (24-6-1, 11) [近藤 明広] and the previously unbeaten Shogo Yamaguchi (9-1-1, 4) [山口 祥吾]. The bout looked like a big test for Yamaguchi and to begin with he looked up for the test with the youngster having a good start. In fact a strong case could be made for Yamaguchi winning the first 3 rounds. From then however Kondo turned things around, using his experience to up the tempo and take the fight to Yamaguchi who's lack of experience, especially at this sort of level, told. For the final 5 rounds Kondo bossed the action, though there were some competitive moments, with rounds 6 and 7 being particularly good for the former Japanese Lightweight champion. Despite the loss for Yamaguchi he did receive a lot of praise and it seems clear he will come again.
In an action packed support bout fans saw former amateur standout Naoto Uebayashi (9-1-1, 5) [上林 巨人] score a 3rd round TKO win against Naoaki Kumagai (7-4, 4) [熊谷 直昭]. On paper the result wasn't a shock but one against Uebayashi found himself on the canvas before fighting back to earn himself a win. Although he was a former amateur star the 29 year old Uebayashi has shown too many frailties to reach the heady heights expected of him, however he does seem to be in fun fights and will never be short of a fan given the way he fights, and the way he can be dropped by almost anyone who catches him. Although dropped in round in the opening round Uebayashi dropped Kumagai in round 2 and forced the finish in the third.
In a genuine upset we saw Uebayashi's stablemate Hikaru Marugame (5-1-1, 3)[丸亀 光] suffer his first defeat in an upset loss to Reiya Abe (11-2, 5) [阿部 麗也]. This bout was fought at a hectic pace with Abe throwing a lot of leather and leaving Marugame with a very nasty cut. Although cut Marugame's heart showed as he tried to turn the bout around but surprisingly looked out of his depth against the busier Abe, who scored a major win. For Marugame there is a good chance he'll bounce back but this is a second successive setback, following a draw to Jonathan Baat last year, and it may be fair to say that he's going to fall short of expectations.
Another bloody battle saw Yudai Arai (8-3-3, 4) [新井 雄大] score a 7th round TKO win over the gutsy Tatsuya Kaneko (7-12-3, 1) [金子 達也], with Kaneko suffering a badly bloodied nose along with other cuts, including a nasty one above hsi right eye.
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