In the chief support bout of a card at the Korakuen Hall today, Japanese fight fans had the chance to see Yusuke Konno (14-4, 7) [今野裕介] battle Vladimir Baez (24-5-2, 22), aka Destino Japan, in what looked like a must win contest for both men, who had both come up short in recent Japanese title fights.
The fight started at an deliberate and controlled tempo, with both men feeling like their power was going to be the key to victory, and in round 2 it seemed like both men were, momentarily, hurt. The action slowly picked up in round 3, as Konno began to dictate the action behind his heavy and accurate jab. The power of Konno wasn't being all put into the shot, but it was keeping Baez at range and taking it's toll on the Japanese based Dominican.
In round 4 Baez finally found a home for his power shots and rocked Konno, who immediately responded by trading with Baez, as a war broke out. It was thrilling stuff before both men seemed to realise that it wasn't the best idea. It was however something that showed Konno could stand up to the power of Baez who was beginning to look tired.
In round 5 Konno continued to press behind his jab but started to mix more variation into his work, landing a number of solid body shots, including one late on the belt that lead to a knockdown only moments later. Baez about the knockdown, but was looking like a tired fighter who's 34 year old legs weren't quite as strong as they had been earlier in the fight. Baez's exhaustion continued to worsen, as did his frustration, and in round 6 he was deducted a point for leading with the head, something he had been warned about twice in round 5.
Things went from bad to worse for Baez who was dropped only seconds after the point deduction, suffering a 10-7 round. The knockdown was a flash one from a counter shot, but still counted in a round that was already bad for him
Konno came out looking to close the show in round 7, and unloaded some huge shots in the first 30 seconds of the round. Baez saw off the heavy shots from Konno and tried to come back as the round went on, having some late success of his own. Sadly for Baez however his shots never really did the damage that he would have wanted.
The final round saw Baez needing a KO, but he looked too tired to really go for it, shaking his arms out and trying to get the blood slowing. The tired recklessness of Baez saw him take a shot very low whilst leaping in, giving him a few moments to catch his breath. Sadly for Baez it wasn't long enough, and he came out throwing wild shots on the restart, that missed in hilarious fashion. The final 30 seconds saw Baez being rocked before he put it all on the line and the two began to trade. By then it was far too little, far too late.
All 3 judges scored the bout to Konno, with scores of 77-74, 78-72 ans 77-72.
Sadly for Baez this is a second straight loss, following a defeat in a Japanese title bout to Valentine Hosokawa, Konno on the other hand has now reeled off good domestic wins against Kazuya Maruki, Takashi Inagaki and now Baez to put himself on the verge of a second title shot.
Earlier today fight fans at the Korakuen Hall saw a thrilling Japanese Light Welterweight title fight, as Japanese champion Valentine Hosokawa (23-6-3, 10) [細川バレンタイン] battled against hard hitting mandatory challenger Vladimir Baez (24-4-2-22).
The bout was Hosokawa's first since his thrilling title win over Koichi Aso last year and saw him taking on a man who had looked throughly destructive in recent bouts, with Baez stopping his last 3 opponents and being made to look like a genuine monster on the Japanese domestic scene.
Given the styles of the men, with Hosokawa being a high tempo grinder and Baez being a big punching slugger, this always promised a lot, but over-delivered with the fans being treat to something very special.
Hosokawa set off with the clear intention of taking the fight to Baez, who fights under the name Destino Japan, and the high output of the champion saw him establish the early control, and put Baez on to the back foot.
Baez didn't really come into the bout until round 3, when he finally had something of a break throughas he began to let his shots go and upped the pace. The success of Destino grew in round 4 as he dropped Hosokawa, who returned the favour in one of the Japanese rounds of the year. The round served as not only an indicator that both fighters could hurt each other, but also that the bout meant so much to both fighters.
Baez, who had look shaken towards the end of round 4, looked the fresher man in round 5 as he closed the gap on the score cards, which were announced as 49-46 and 48-47 to Hosokawa, and 48-48, giving Hosokawa a lead as we went into round 6. Those scored forced Baez into chasing the fight a little bit more but allowed hosokawa to sit on his shots, look to counter and in round 7 one of those counters paid off, as he rocked, and then dropped Baez who failed to beat the 10 count.
With this win Hosokawa successfully retains his title and makes his first defense. As for Baez this is a major seet back, but he has some interesting domestic options out there if he looks to continue his career in Japan.
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
Tomorrow fight fans at the Korakuen Hall will see Valentine Hosokawa (22-6-3, 9) [細川バレンタイン] make his first defense of the Japanese Light Welterweight title, as he takes on mandatory challenger Vladimir Baez (24-3-2-22).
Today the two men took part in their weigh in for the contest, and both men came in comfortably under the limit, with both men weighing in around 139.4lbs for the bout.
For Hosokawa the bout will see him defending the title that he won last year, when he took a narrow victory over close friend Koichi Aso. He seemed to feel liek this bout was another big challenge for himseld and he is fully aware that the challenger is a strong fighter. He's stated that he's prepared well, but he is seen by many as the under-dog given that he is now 37 and has had a long and damaging career.
Baez also seemed confident stating that he had been practicing a lot and despite having a lot of respect for Hosokawa hesounded like he was very confident of coming out on top and adding the Japanese title to a reign as the Dominican champion. He's coming in to this bout on the back of 3 straight stoppage wins, including victories over Daishi Nagata and Kazuyasu Okamoto.
Hosokawa defends belt against hard hitting Baez
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Japanese, OPBF and WBO Asia Pacific unified Heavyweight champion Kyotaro Fujimoto (18-1, 10) [藤本 京太郎] hasn't fought since November 4th, when he stopped Randall Raymart to defend his two regional titles. That was his third bout of 2017 and saw him build on other wins over Willie Nasio and Herman Ene Purcell as he solidified his position as a fringe world contender.
There was no sign of when he would return until recently with various Japanese sources now reporting that he will be back in the ring on May 7th, as part of a Kadoebi card at the Korakuen Hall.
At the moment the details are scarce, though it seems like the bout will be a 12 round contest, like Fujimoto's last 3. At the moment there is no opponent set for the bout, and with no opponent it's unclear whether he will, or won't, be defending his titles.
Until recently it was assumed the main event for the card would be Valentine Hosokawa (22-6-3, 9) [細川バレンタイン] defending the Japanese Light Welterweight title against Vladimir Baez (24-3-2-22). That however has now been relegated to the show's chief support slot.
Interestingly for such a notable card there has been no confirmation, yet, of television or online distribution coverage. We'd assume some of the bouts will be shown, but up to now there has been nothing announced or confirmed in that regard.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
One of the key parts of the Japanese boxing calendar is the Champion Carnival, which takes place over the first 6 months of the year and sees the national champions defending their titles against their mandatory challengers.
Today we saw the bouts being announced for the 2018 Champion Carnival at a huge press confeence, and as with every year, there were some brilliant bouts being announced.
At Minimumweight we'll see Ryoki Hirai (10-4-1, 4) [平井亮輝] and Shin Ono (21-9-3, 5) [小野 心] battle for the vacant title, which was given up by Reiya Konishi (15-0, 5) [小西伶弥] a few days ago. The bout will be Hirai's first title bout, whilst the experienced Ono will be getting his 4th shot at a Japanese title, having previously won an OPBF title and having several world title bouts. This bout will take place in Kobe on April 22nd and should be a very, very good match up.
The Light Flyweight bout will see defending champion Tetsuya Hisada (30-9-2, 19) [久田 哲也] make his 3rd defense of the title, as he takes on Koji Itagaki (18-11-3, 7) [板垣幸司]. This looks like a mismatch on paper, but it will be Itagaki's first, and likely last, shot at a domestic title and he sounded determined and confident at today's event. This contest has been pencilled in for April 19th and will take place in Osaka.
Although a number of bouts were announced today, some were already known about. One such bout was the Flyweight contest, which will see Masayuki Kuroda (28-7-3, 16) [黒田 雅之] defending his title against the exciting Katsunori Nagamine (14-1-1, 10) [長嶺克則. This will be Kuroda's third defense of the title, whilst Nagamine will be having his first challenge, and the bout really does have the potential to be a real thriller. As mentioned this bout was already known about, and will take place on March 3rd, as previously reported.
At Super Flyweight we'll be getting a rematch between Hiroyuki Kudaka (25-17-2, 11) [久高寛之] and Go Onaga (28-3-4, 19) [翁長 吾央], who face off following a technical draw in December. The two men will be fighting for the currently vacant title, which was given up by Ryuichi Funai (29-7, 20) [船井 龍一] earlier this week. Sadly at the time of writing this bout has no venue, or set date, but seems likely to be fought in Tokyo on either a Dangan show or an Ohashi one, potentially in April or May.
Interestingly the first Champion Carnival bout comes in just over a week's time, as Ryo Akaho (31-2-2, 20) [赤穂 亮] defends his Bantamweight title against Yusuke Suzuki (9-3, 6) [鈴木悠介] at the Korakuen Hall on January 20th, in a bout set to be televised on G+. For Akaho the bout willbe his second defense, whilst Suzuki gets his first title fight, in what looks like a really exciting way to kick off the 2018 Champion Carnival, and should be a very brutal bout.
At Super Bantamweight we'll see Ryo Kosaka (15-3-1, 7) [小坂遼] challenging champion Yusaka Kuga (15-2-1, 10) [久我勇作], with Kosaka essentially filling in for the injured Yasutaka Ishimoto (31-9, 9) [石本康隆]. The bout is a decent looking one, but it's hard to not expect a win for the champion, who has looked fantastic in a number of recent contests, and could well find himself in the world title mix later this year. This bout is scheduled for March 27th at the Korakuen Hall.
Featherweight champion Takenori Ohashi (15-4-2, 10) [大橋健典] will look to build from his dramatic 2017 win over Kosuke Saka (16-4, 13) [坂晃典] as he defends his title against fellow puncher Taiki Minamoto (14-5, 11) [源大輝]. This bout promises to be explosive, even if both are a bit crude, and Ohashi will be hoping to avoid a similar finish to his title win, where Saka turned away thinking he had heard the bell, and got iced by Ohashi in the final seconds of the round. These two will meet on April 7th at the Korakuen Hall.
In early February we'll see Ken Osato (13-1-1, 4) [大里拳] challenge Super Featherweight champion Masaru Sueyoshi (16-1, 10) [末吉 大]. For Sueyoshi this will be his first defense whilst Osato looks to build on his big 2017 win over Satoru Sugita (13-5-1, 8) [杉田聖]. The talented Sueyoshi has frustrated at times, but does look class when he gets going and should be favoured here for the February 3rd bout, but Osato is in good form and could easily spring the upset, if Sueyoshi is anything less than his best.
At Lightweight we'll see the very talented Shuichiro Yoshino (6-0, 4) [吉野修一郎] defending his title, for the first time, against Masaki Saito (14-12-6, 5) [斉藤正樹]. Yoshino has really shined so far in his short career and looks to be a star of the future for Japanese boxing, though will obviously need to get his first defense under his belt before becoming a star. Saito looks like a limited challenger, though is a very experienced fighter and should be able to give Yoshino some questions. This bout will be taking place on February 8th at the Korakuen Hall.
The Light Welterweight contests looks set to be one of the most exciting, as Valentine Hosokawa (22-6-3, 9) [細川バレンタイン] makes his first defense, and takes on the heavy handed Vladimir Baez (24-3-2-22). This bout looks likely to be a war, and whilst Baez will be the favourite, despite being the challenger, we can't rule out the champion, who hs long been under-rated. Like many this contest will take place at the Korakuen Hall and is set for May 7th.
One of the most explosive bouts on paper will see Welterweight champion Toshio Arikawa (15-4, 13) [有川 稔男] taking on fellow puncher Ryota Yada (14-4, 11) [矢田良太]. The contest might not have a future world champion or potential star in it, but given the power of both men this should be a shoot out, and could be something fvery, very special for the fans, who will be in the Korakuen Hall on April 16th.
At Light Middleweight we'll see triple crown winner Takeshi Inoue (12-0-1, 7) [井上 岳志] take on former Welterweight champion Nobuyuki Shindo (19-4-1, 8) [新藤寛之] in what should be a really good test for Inoue, who will be lookibg at bigger and better things in 2018. Shindo's reign at Welterweight was a short one, and whilst he will be hoping to become a 2-weight champion he is really up against it here against the fantastic Inoue. This bout is set to take place on April 26th at the Korakuen Hall.
The heaviest weight being contested at this year's Champion Carnival is Middleweight, and it may well end up being the best of the bouts, as March 3rd plays host to a contest between defending champion Hikaru Nishida (17-8-1, 8) [西田 光] and the heavy handed Kazuto Takesako (7-0, 7) [竹迫司登]. Nishida is a freakishly strong fighter who brings a lot of pressure, and whilst he can be out boxed he is a tough and aggressive nightmare,. Takesako on the other hand is a really brutish puncher and this will be something very special.
The winners of the bouts will of course be the defending champion, and will also be in the running for a number of prizes, including a notable award for being crowned the MVP of the Champion Carnival, or winning either the Skill or Battle awards.
(Photographs courtesy of boxmob.jp)
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