Earlier today in at the City Gym in Tomigusuku, Okinawa, Japanese fight fans had the chance to see a number of promising local prospects in action, as they looked to move forward with their careers in 2018 and potentially climb towards the Japanese rankings or even title fights.
The first local prospect was Okinawa based American Marcus Smith (5-0-1, 5), who took on his first none Japanese foe. The hard hitting Smith forced Filipino Joffrey Garcia (6-8-4, 5) to retire at the end of round 4. Smith had a break out as he went 3-0-1 (3) and with this win under his belt he's looking ike he's on the way to having another big year. At 32 years old Smith can't really waste time, so we're expecting to see him stepped up through the year and moved towards a potential title fight in an aggressive fashion. As for Garcia this is his 4th stoppage loss, and his third by retirement.
The those of those to fight today was 21 year old Ukyo Yoshigai (6-2, 5) [吉開右京], who was looking toput a nightmare 2017 behind him. Yoshigai had won the 140lb Rookie of the Year crown in 2016 but suffered losses to Giraffe Kirin Kanda and Andy Hiraoka last year totally destroying the momentum he had. Thankfully though today he got back to winning ways, as he blew out fellow puncher Takuya Matsusaka (6-7, 6) [松坂拓哉] in just 68 seconds. This bout was never really expected to go long, with Matsusaka only going beyond 2 rounds twice, but it's a good confidence booster for Yoshigai who can look to build on this win. Sadly for Matsusaka this was a third straight stoppage loss.
The most impressive prospect wasn't actually a local, as 21 year old Kanagawan puncher Kai Ishizawa (4-0, 4) [石澤開] stepped up in class and stopped local hopeful Tatsuro Nakashima (7-1-1, 5) [仲島辰郎] in the 5th round of their scheduled 6 rounder. Prior to today's fight Ishizawa had only fought 5 career rounds but really stepped up here and showdd not only that his power was legitimate but that he could go and perform on the road, with this being his first fight outside of Tokyo. Sadly for the 23 year old Nakashima this will be a painful loss, but on the other hand he will have time to rebuild and bounce back. With this win Ishizawa moves a step towards fighting for the Japanese Youth Minimumweight title.
Earlier today fight fans in Okinawa saw WBC Flyweight champion Daigo Higa (15-0, 15) [比嘉 大吾] record his second defense of the world title as he stopped Mexican challenger Moises Fuentes (25-5-1, 14) inside a round. The card did also feature a number of other Okinawan prospects, several of which are tipped for big things in the near future.
One of those rpsoects was Tatsuro Nakashima (7-0-1, 5) [仲島辰郎], wh retained his unbeaten record by blowing away Kittikon Oangkuradet (0-2) in the second round of their scheduled 6 rounder. The bout was a mismatch with Nakashima forcing the referee in after just over a minute of round 2.
Another prospect was the exceptionally talented Ryuto Owan (4-0, 2) [大湾硫斗], who stepped up massively and out pointed heavy handed Filipino puncher Jun Blazo (7-5-3, 6), with scores of 59-55 from all 3 judges. Owan managed to win by using his skills, though did admit he entered the bout with a fever and wasn't happy with his over-all performance. Given it was just his 4th professional boyut this was an impressive win and shows just how talented he is.
The other was Shawn Oda (7-0, 7), the 2016 Lightweight Rookie of the Year, who disposed of Filipino Warren Mambuanag (11-9-2, 3) inside a round. The heavy handed Oda broke down the Filipino with brutal body shots and the visitor was in agony on the canvas well after the 10 count.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Way back in 1981 fight fans in Okinawa saw Yoko Gushiken lose the WBA Light Flyweight title to Pedro Flores. That was the last time fight fans in Okinawa had the chance to see one of their own fighters defending a world title in their back yard.
The long wait ends on February 4th when Daigo Higa (14-0, 14) [比嘉 大吾] defends his WBC Flyweight title against former WBO Minimumweight champion Moises Fuentes (25-4-1, 14), and seeks a 15th straight knockout as he looks to put himself firmly at the center of Japanese boxing going forward.
Whilst we're known about the main event for a while details on the under-card weren't readily available until today, when several fighters were officially announced for the card.
The chief support bout was confirmed as being an 8 rounder featuring 2016 Lightweight Rookie of the Year Shawn Oda (6-0, 6) [小田翔夢], who returns to the ring for the first time since his April 2017 win over Thai visitor Tienchai Sor Kanitson. At the moment Oda's opponent hasn't been named but the 19 year old is likely to be wanting to shake some ring rust here and will probably face bigger tests down the line.
In another of the main supporting bouts we'll see 23 year old Tatsuro Nakashima (6-0-1, 4) [仲島辰郎] look to extend his unbeaten record. This will be his irst bout since a 5 round split deciison draw with Yuga Inoue in the later stages of the 2017 Rookie of the Year at Minimumweight. As with Oda his opponent hasn't been named.
There will also be an outing for Ryuto Owan (3-0, 2) [大湾硫斗], who will be in the danger zone as he takes on the big punching Jun Blazo (7-4-3, 6) in a really stiff test. On paper Blazo doesn't look much but he dropped Koiki Eto hard in 2016 and gave the touted Hayate Kaji hell in December, and this is a very tough outing for the 19 year old Owan
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