Every so often a Japanese domestic clash really surprises us, and deliver something special and truly unexpected. That happened earlier today when Yosuke Fujihara (18-6, 5) and Naoya Okamoto (13-8-1, 6) gave us a bloody, brutal and vicious war.
We weren't surprised to see this being a good fight, especially with both being ranked by the JBC and the winner being set for a Japanese title eliminator later in the year. Despite that we were truly astonished by the fight we got, which was just an insane brawl. From the opening round to the finish in round 5 this was something you couldn't take your eyes off.
The fight started hot, with the mentality of both fighters being incredibly similar, both wanting to out battle, out gut and out heart the other man. This lead to extremely eye catching back and forth sequences where both landed clean, hurtful blows only to throw their own back. It seemed like Fujihara had the slight edge in speed, but Okamoto kept coming throwing the heavier leather, looking like he was the one wanting to force a brawl.
In round 4 Okamoto was punished for his aggression and dropped, from a right hand. Despite scoring the knockdown Fujihara was a bloodied mess, with blood streaming down his face and a clear target for Okamoto's head shots. Okamoto was again the aggressor in round 4, worsening the cuts of Fujihara, but was on the receiving end of a series of right hands and was dropped him a second time. This time the referee stopped the bout, likely realising that whilst Okamoto was game he was starting to lose punch resistance.
Fujihara, who had entered the bout ranked #12 by the JBC, will now find himself taking a huge step towards a second Japanese title fight. As for Okamoto this is a second straight loss, and his win over current Japanese Bantamweight champion Yuta Saito feels like it was a very, very long time ago.
If you have boxing raise and missed this one live we implore you to go back and watch it, it really was all action. A fantastic contest.
On August 24th Dangan will be putting on Dangan 215, a show that really is a great one on paper for fans able to attend at the Korakuen Hall. Thankfully you won't need to be in Tokyo to watch the card live with Dangan's online service "Boxingraise" confirming they would be streaming the entire show live as part of their monthly subscription service.
The card's big selling point is the double title aspect of the card, with two Japanese title fights.
One of those will see youngster Riku Kano (13-3-1, 7) [加納 陸] challenge Japanese Minimumweight champion Shin Ono (22-9-3, 5) [小野 心]. For Ono the bout will service as his first defense, following his title winning effort against Ryoki Hirai earlier in the year whilst Kano will be getting his first Japanese title shot, though has previously won an interim OPBF title and a WBA Asia title. The winner of this will be seen as a potential world title challenger towards the end of the year, whilst the loser really will have a long way to climb back if they are to be considered a contender.
The other title bout will be for the Japanese interim Light Middleweight title, as Ryosuke Maruki (15-5-1, 10) [丸木 凌介] and Akinori Watanabe (36-7, 30) [渡部あきのり] meet in what could be an explosive and action packed contest. For Maruki the bout will be his third shot at the title, after having come up short against Yuki Nonaka and Nobuyuki Shindo, both in close contests, whilst Watanabe will be looking to add to his collection of career titles which saw him claim a number of belts at Welterweight.
Other bouts of note on this card will see Kenshin Oshima (3-1-1, 3) [大嶋剣心] taking on Joe Tanooka (15-4-4, 1) [田之岡条], in what is a fantastic match up, and a bout featuring the in form Kyosuke Sawada (11-2-1, 6) [澤田京介] taking on former Japanese title challenger Yosuke Fujihara (17-5, 4) [藤原陽介].
Although fight fans will need access to boxingraise it is a fantastic show for subscribers, and well worth the attention for those tempted to try the service.
Yesterday we reported that Nihito Arakawa (28-6-1, 17) [荒川 仁人] had vacated the Japanese Lightweight title in pursuit the WBO Asia Pacific Lightweight title. When we did that report we did wonder where that left Shuhei Tsuchiya (21-4, 17) [土屋 修平] but it appears that the JBC #1 ranked Lightweight knew exactly where he was and today, just 24 hours after Arakawa's announcement, we saw an announcement of Tsuchiya's bout.
The announcement was that Tscuhiya would be returning to the ring on December 19th, as the headline bout of a Dangan 172, and would be facing JBC #2 ranked Lightweight Masashi Noguchi (12-5-1, 6) [野口 将志] for the vacant title. The bout isn't the most mouth watering but given that it's just 5 weeks away it's not a bad bout and could potentially be a very fun contest.
The bout came along with other announcements from the card which will feature an intriguing match up between JBC #4 ranked Super Bantamweight Yosuke Fujihara (16-4, 4) [藤原 陽介] and the #5 ranked Daisuke Watanabe (4-2, 3) [渡部 大介] as well as a huge step up in class for Tsubasa Koura (8-0, 5) [小浦 翼] as he takes on former world title challenger Jeffrey Galero (14-2, 7) and a bout between OPBF ranked Bantamweight Tenta Kiyose (10-2-1, 3) [清瀬 天太] and JBC ranked Super Flyweight Ryuta Otsuka (16-9-2, 6) [大塚 隆太].
As with all the numbered Dangan cards this show will be included on boxingraise and looks to be another intriguing pre-Christmas card for Japanese fans, who have one amazing festive period to look forward to!
Earlier today Japanese fans at the Korakuen Hall had a thriller as domestic Super Bantamweight champion Yasutaka Ishimoto (28-8, 7) [石本 康隆] retained his title with a clear, but exciting, win over mandatory challenger Yosuke Fujihara (16-4, 4) [藤原 陽介].
From the off the bout was fought in a great atmosphere, with both fighters bringing very vociferous fan bases. The opening round saw Fujihara's fans being the nosier of the two with their man giving a great account of himself and landing a number of solid power shots, that intensified the noises from his supporters. In the second round it was Ishimoto's backers who were louder with the champion scoring a flash knockdown very early in the round.
The knockdown could easily have dented Fujihara's desire, but instead he tried to turn the fight into a war and through out it seemed like he was the man with the more potent fire power. Unfortunately that power was something that didn't have the skills to make the most of as Ishimoto managed to out land him and bag the rounds.
After 5 rounds the champion was was in a comfortable 49-45 lead, but Fujihara was still in the fight and the champion knew it.
Rather than letting Fujihara get a foot hold Ishimoto came out aggressive in round 6 and 7, but both men were left with cuts, with each cut from punching and each cut from what looked to be an accidental headclash. None of the cuts were deemed so bad as to need the bout to be stopped, but both men were taken to the doctor, who wiped the blood away.
Despite the cuts both men still seemed to have plenty of fight left, and round 8 saw both have success. Sadly for Fujihara he was punished the following round, with Ishimoto hammering a tired looking challenger, and scoring a second knockdown. It furthered strengthened the champion's grip on the bout and although Fujihara tried to fight back he was looking like a man who was all in.
The final round was one of the more quiet, Ishimoto began fast but seemed happy to ease off knowing that he had made his point and secured his first defense of the title, that he won late last year in his third attempt.
Following the bout a happy Ishimoto stated that he was wanting to get a world title fight. It seems unlikely that he'll get one, but with his WBO ranking there is certainly a chance. For Fujihara this was too much of a step up, but given the way he fought it seems likely he will be able to bounce back, and could well end up claiming the title in the future.
Tomorrow Japanese fans who subscribe to the G+ channel get the chance to watch a Japanese title double header. One of those bouts is a Japanese Super Bantamweight title bout between reigning champion Yasutaka Ishimoto (27-8, 7) [石本 康隆] and mandatory challenger Yosuke Fujihara (16-3, 4) [藤原 陽介], who is fighting in his most significant bout to date.
Today those two men weighed in for their bout with both men making weight on their first attempt.
On the scales Ishimoto was just inside the limit, coming in at 121.92lbs, or 55.3KG's and although not looking shredded he did appear in great shape. Unsurprisingly the champion was confident and seemed to suggest that he was still aiming at getting a world title fight, though at 34 he will know that a loss here will derail that goal.
The challenger was notably lighter at weighing 121.48lbs, or 55.1KG's though looked in great shape and didn't really appear to be the smaller man, despite having fought much of his career at Super Flyweight.
For those interested in watching, this will be televised between 17:45 and 22:00.
Yasutaka Ishimoto battles Yosuke Fujihara in first defense
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
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