When fighters really respect each other we don't always see the most exciting of fights, and that certainly seemed to be the case today, in a Japanese Light Welterweight title fight. A fight that was compelling, interesting but not particularly exciting.
The match up saw defending champion Valentine Hosokawa (24-7-3, 11) [細川バレンタイン] take on mandatory challenger Koki Inoue (13-0, 10) [浩樹井上]. On paper it was a bout that promised a lot, thought failed to live up to the high expectations we had. We say that, though we can;t really claim we were disappointed, as the bout genuinely was hard to look away from.
The opening round saw Inoue set out his stall as the counter puncher, a game plan designed to neutralise Hosokawa's trademark aggression and intensity. It allowed Inoue to land some really eye catching shots, and use his feet to avoid anything of note Hosokawa did during the opening round. Hosokawa began to quicken his feet in round 2 and he did have more success, as the two began to really neutralise each other. The first 5 rounds alternated, with Inoue landing the better blows in rounds 1, 3 and 5 and Hosokawa managing to have success in rounds 2 and 4. That was a view not only of us, but also seemingly the judges who all had it 48-47 in favour of the challenger after 5 rounds.
Knowing he was behind Hosokawa seemed to try and turn things around in round 6, the bouts closest round, though he struggled to really establish himself. The rounds that followed really saw Inoue begin to run away with the fight, taking the final 4 rounds, landing some very clean and hurtful shots and clearly doing enough to take each of the rounds to cement the decision. Despite winning those rounds he never really seemed to go all out, fighting within himself, with a controlled performance, that saw him to a clear win, without every coming close to blowing fans away.
After 10 rounds the judges had it 97-93, 98-93 and 98-92 to Inoue. We had it 97-93.
Koki know hoins cousins Naoya and Takuma as champions, whilst Valentine, like his brother Charlie, has lost his title. At the age of 37 it's hard to know quite where he goes following this defeat.
Tomorrow we'll see Japanese Light Welterweight champion Valentine Hosokawa (24-6-3, 11) [細川バレンタイン] making a mandatory defense of his belt against unbeaten challenger Koki Inoue (12-0, 10) [浩樹井上]. The bout, at the Korakuen Hall, will headline a live G+ card and will be part of a really interesting card featuring numerous notable bouts, including a Japanese Youth title eliminator.
Today the two men weighed in for their bout and both fighters made weight for the bout.
On the scales Hosokawa was 139.3lbs, well under the 140 lbs limit, whilst Inoue was 139.8lbs. Not only was Inoue the heavier man but he was also the much, much taller man, towering over Hosokawa.
For Hosokawa this bout will be his 3rd defense of the belt whilst Inoue will be getting his first title fight, as he looks to join cousins Naoya and Takuma in holding gold.
Preview - Another Inoue goes for gold, as Koki takes on Valentine Hosokawa
(Image courtesy of Nikkan Sports, photographed by Izumi Takaba)
Earlier today at the Korakuen Hall fans were given the rare chance to see a double award ceremony, with the award winners of the monthly awards for December and January both being recognised.
The December award winners were Satoshi Shimizu (8-0, 8) [清水 聡], who won the MVP award, Valentine Hosokawa (24-6-3, 11) [細川バレンタイン], who took the fighting spirit award and Taku Kuwahara (3-0, 2) [桑原拓], who was the Newcomer of the Month.
At today's ceremony Shimizu, who has now won the MVP award 3 times, spoke about being pleased at winning the award numerous times and seemed to suggest that he was on the verge of a big fight. It's known that he is eyeing a world title fight, or a world title eliminator, and rumours are suggesting that he may end up with something big in April or May.
The January award winners were Norihito Tanaka (18-7, 10) [田中教仁], who won the the MVP award, Ryoichi Tamura (12-3-1, 6) [田村 亮一], who was the Fighting Spirit award winner, and Naoto Fujimoto (11-9-1, 5) [藤本直人], the New Comer. Tanaka notable shared his thanks to the fans, and admitted that he thought his career would lack the spotlight of winning a title, though now has both a Japanese title and the MVP award.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Earlier this month we reported that Koki Tyson (13-3-2, 11) [太尊 康輝] would be returning to the ring on April 6th at the next "Slugfest" card, and would be up against a Thai foe. We now know who that Thai will be, and if we're being honest we're actually expecting this to be a solid work out for the favoured Japanese puncher.
Tyson, who hasn't fought since a loss in December 2017 to Yasayuki Akiyama, will be up against the durable Chaiwat Mueanphong (4-3, 2). On paper it's a mismatch, but Chaiwat has given Japanese champion Kazuto Takesako [竹迫司登] his toughest bout, by far, and will be expected to give Tyson a genuine test here, given the long break Tyson's had.
Also confirmed for the card now is a Japanese youth Light Flyweight title eliminator, as Tsuyoshi Sato (8-1-1, 4) [佐藤剛] takes on the hard hitting Tetsuya Tomioka (5-3, 5) [富岡哲也] and the return to the ring of the exciting Cristiano Aoqui (13-7-2, 9) [アオキ クリスチャーノ], following a hand injury he suffered last year.
These bouts fill out a card that will be headlined by Japanese Light Welterweight champion Valentine Hosokawa (24-6-3, 11) [細川バレンタイン] defending his title against mandatory challenger Koki Inoue (12-0, 10) [浩樹井上] and will also feature an excellent contest between Aso Ishiwaki (5-2, 3) [石脇麻生] and Yoji Saito (1-1, 1) [齊藤陽ニ].
For fans wanting to watch this card but can't get to Tokyo, it will be aired live on G+.
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