Fast rising Japanese youngster Taku Kuwahara (6-0, 4) [桑原拓] scored his career best win today as he dominated experienced Filipino foe Jonathan Refugio (21-7-5, 7) in an 8 round bout at the Korakuen Hall.
The naturally bigger Kuwahara took control with his speed in the opening stages and kept Refugio on the defensive, whilst looking to create openings. From there on he had the foundation to build on and began to move through the gears, landing more and more punishing blows through rounds 2 and 3 as he strengthened his early grip on the bout.
To his credit Refugio showed no quit, and did try to make a fight of things, but was often handcuffed by the speed and accuracy of Kuwahara. Kuwahara's shots never hurt the Filipino, but they were stopping Refugio from ever getting momentum of his own.
In round 7 Kuwahara finally got a break through, putting Refugio down, though the Filipino claimed it was a slip. It was as close as Kuwahara got to stopping Refugio who toughed out the final stages.
After 8 rounds all 3 judges had the bout 80-71 to Kuwahara, who looked totally unmarked at the final bell.
Kuwahara later revealed he is scheduled to fight again in December, in another bout at Flyweight, and is hoping to fight for a title, of some kind, next year.
Refugio suggested that Kuwahara had the potential to become a world champion, though did also hint that he's lacking a bit of power. He also added that he would like to return to Japan, where he is now win-less in 3, for a bout, though would like to fight at his more natural Minimumweight next time he fights in the country.
(Image courtesy boxmob.jp)
Tomorrow Japanese youngster Taku Kuwahara (5-0, 4) [桑原拓] will take his first major step up in class, as he battles against Filipino foe Jonathan Refugio (21-6-5, 7) at Korakuen Hall. Today, ahead of that bout, the two men took part in their weigh in for the contest.
The bout, which is being fought at a contracted 51KG's, around 112.4lbs, saw both men make weight.
On the scales Kuwahara came in on the contracted limit whilst the naturally smaller Refugio came in well under the limit, hitting the scales at 110.2lbs..
Not only was Kuwahara the heavier man but also looked like the much bigger fighter in terms of natural weight, towering over the Filipino visitor.
Kuwahara spoke about this was a step up and suggested it would be a more technical bout than his other contests. Despite the step up he sounded very confident, and spoke about the sparring he's had to prepare for Refugio, which included sparring with Junto Nakatani. For Refugio this will be his third bout in Japan but he's still seeking his first win on Japanese soil.
Related - Kuwahara takes big step up to face off with Refugio!
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
A day of top sparring at the Ohashi Gym, Mr Ohashi states no decision has been made on WBSS final date
Today was a genuine crazy day at the Ohashi gym at the media were able to attend a packed session with a host of notable names involved.
The biggest name there was, of course, Naoya Inoue (18-0, 16) [井上 尚弥] who was preparing for this WBSS final bout with Nonito Donaire (40-5, 26), more about that bout in a few monemts. The 3 weight world champion was sparring with amateur standout Arashi Morisaka [森坂嵐], who is one of Japan's big hopes for the Tokyo games next year. Inoue hadn't really sparred over the last few months, focusing on general fitness since the Rodriguez bout in May, but spent 4 rounds with Morisaka today, and looked devastating when he moved through the gears.
Noaya Inoue was one of two world class Bantamweight's with the Inoue name sparring in front of the media, with younger brother Takuma Inoue (13-0, 3) [井上 拓真], who is preparing to face WBC champion Nordine Oubaali (16-0, 12), also in action. The talented, though often over-looked Takuma, did 4 rounds of sparring with former world title challenger Masataka Taniguchi (11-3, 7) [谷口 将隆]. Whilst Takuma has a bout with Oubaali to prepare for, Taniguchi has a major bout of his own to get ready for, as he meets Kai Ishizawa (6-0, 6) [石澤開] in a Japanese title eliminator in September.
Taaniguchi's stablemate Hiroto Kyoguchi (13-0, 9) [京口 紘人], the WBA "super" and Ring Magazine Light Flyweight champion, was also in the Ohashi gym. Kyoguchi will be defending his titles on October 1st against Tetsuya Hisada (34-9-2, 20) [久田 哲也] and today prepared for that bout by sparring with excellent Japanese youngster Taku Kuwahara (5-0, 4) [桑原拓]. Kuwahara will have taken a lot from the spar and it was particularly notable given he faces former Kyoguchi opponent Jonathan Refugio (21-6-5, 7) in September. Interestingly Kyoguchi admitted he got hit too much, with Kuwahara bringing the pressure in their spar.
Of course with this being the Ohashi Gym, and with Naoya Inoue being a notable figure, with a big bout on the horizon the press asked Hideyuki Ohashi about the recent rumour for the WBSS final. The story doing the rounds is that it will place on November 7th at the Saitama Super Arena. Mr Ohashi told Sankei Sports that "it has not been decided yet" whilst Nikkan sports have him quoted as simply saying "It is November", something that was already confirmed back at a recent Ohashi in July. Whether this was just Mr Ohashi keeping his cards close to his chest until an official announcement, which is expected to take place after the Bon Festival next week, or whether their are still details to iron out is unclear.
Although November 7th, a Thursday, is now widely reported it is worth noting that there are two bank holidays in Japan in November. The first of those is Monday 4th and the second is Saturday 23rd, giving some interesting alternatives
(Photo - nikkansports.com / Shinji Kawada)
Earlier today the Ohashi Gym announced their next Phoenix Battle show, which we now know will take place on September 17th at Korakuen Hall.
The main event for the card was announced as a being a bout between the fast rising Taku Kuwahara (5-0, 4) [桑原拓] and world ranked Filipino Jonathan Refugio (21-6-5, 7), who is currently ranked #15 by the WBC at Minimumweight.
The talented Kuwahara, who has been dubbed "Ioka II", made his debut in May 2018 and and has been tipped for major success since announcing that he was heading to the professional ranks. In just his third bout he was fighting in 8 round bouts but this is a huge step up in class against a man who has over 230 rounds as a professional.
The 26 year old Refugio has been a professional since June 2010 and whilst he hasn't yet scored a world class win he has mixed with good company with losses to Wanheng Menayothin, Merlito Sabillo, Knockout CP Freshmart, Melvin Jerusalem and Hiroto Kyoguchi in recent years. He's no world beater, but a stoppage against him would be very, very impressive.
In the chief support we'll see Japanese ranked Super Featherweight Kazuma Sanpei (17-5, 7) [三瓶数馬] will take on Toru Kiyota (9-3, 7) [清田亨] in what should be a very competitive and interesting 8 round bout. Sanpei has the edge in experience and achievement but with 4 stoppages against him Kiyota will enter the bout with the belief that he has the power to stop his man.
Another good bout announced for this card will see JBC and WBO Asia Pacific ranked fighter Tsuyoshi Tameda (20-4-2, 18) [溜田剛士] take on Filipino Joe Tejones (13-6, 7), who fights in Japan for the third time, following losses to Hinata Maruta and Tenta Kiyose in previous Japanese bouts. Coming into this bout Tameda is riding high following a really good win over Tae Il Atsumi whilst Tejones recently took the unbeaten record of KJ Natuplag.
One other talented hopeful booked for this is Katsuya Yasuda (4-0, 2) [保田克也], though he is yet to have his opponent for the card announced. Given he took a step up in class in July, when he beat Jerry Castroverde, we would hope for another step up for the 27 year old, however it does seem more likely to be a tick over for the Lightweight hopeful.
Introducing... Taku Kuwahara
Introducing... Katsuya Yasuda
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.
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