Japanese boxing is known for it's warriors and it's exciting fighters. Today fans at the Korakuen Hall saw two such warriors collide in what was yet another thrilling contest on the domestic scene, and further proof that the Japanese fans really are among the luckiest in all of boxing.
On paper the match up didn't look amazing, as Akihiro Kondo (29-6-1, 16) [近藤 明広] scored an expected win over Yuya Okazaki (12-10-2, 4) [岡崎 祐也], but how Kondo got to that win was nothing short of thrilling.
From the opening moments the two men found each other and although Kondo showed more defensive nous it was clear that near man was going to back off for long, and instead they traded blows up close. Okazaki brought much of the early pessure but that played into Kondo's hands, with the veteran landing counters on a regular basis.
In round 4 the accumulation of Kondo's shots took their toll on Okazaki who suffered a cut around the left eye. Okazaki wasn't going to give up just because of the cut and gritted his teeth the following round, taking the bout back to Kondo, but was eventually stopped in round 6 with Kondo picking up the pace and landing with a worrying success rate that forced the referee to stop the action.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Earlier today fight fans in Aichi had an interesting, but small, card promoted by Midori Promotions.
In the main event fight fans saw Yuya Okazaki (12-9-2, 4) [岡崎 祐也] take a narrow decision win over Daiki Koide (22-9-2, 9) [小出 大貴] to keep alive his hopes of getting another title fight. Coming into this Okazaki had gone 0-2-1 in his previous 3 bouts, and was win-less in almost 2 years. Whilst Okazaki's career has taken a huge boost here it does seem like Koide's career is now pretty much over, with this being his third loss in 4 bouts, and he is 0-2 since returning from a 19 month lay off.
As well as the main event the card had two other notable bouts on it. One of those saw recently Japanese Light Middleweight title challenger Ryosuke Maruki (13-4-1, 8) [丸木 凌介] score a 6th round TKO win over Elfelos Vega (6-5, 4) [エルフェロス・ベガ]. For Maruki the win was a good comeback victory following his controversial loss to Yuki Nonaka earlier this year, whilst Vega has now lost 4 of his last 5 bouts.
Despite the win for Ryosuke Maruki it was mixed fortunes for the Maruki family with Kazuya Maruki (19-5, 12) [丸木 和也] suffering a narrow loss to Dai Taoka (9-3, 5) [田岡 大]. For Maruki this was a second straight loss, and a major set back given that Taoka had lost his previous 2 bouts.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Earlier today Japanese fans in Tokyo had the chance to see former world title challenger Motoki Sasaki (41-10-1, 25) [佐々木基樹] battle against Japanese ranked Yuya Okazaki (11-9-2, 4) [岡崎 祐也]. On paper the bout might not make for interesting reading but Sasaki, a 40 year old fighting for just the second time in 3 years, was taking on a real challenge and a man who recently challenged for an OPBF title, and given that Sasaki is still a popular fighter the bout was a notable one in Japan.
Given that Okazaki was several inches taller and 11 years younger than Sasaki something this would be too much for the veteran. In the end however it was Sasaki's toughness that took him to a victory in an 8 round slugfest,
The fight started relatively controlled but round by round the action became hotter and more violent, with Sasaki cutting the distance and forcing the fight up close, whilst Okazaki responded with hooks and uppercuts. At the end however their was no doubting that Sasaki landed the better shots, forced the action and controlled the bout whilst Okazaki was being forced to respond to the aggression of Sasaki.
After 8 rounds all 3 judges scored the bout for the veteran with cards of 78-75, twice, and 78-74 who we suspect will be rewarded with a Japanese ranking when the rankings are next published, towards the end of this month. For Okzaki however this likely pushes him well away from a title fight, and leaves him 0-2-1 in his last 3 bouts.
For fans wishing to watch this bout, it will be on Boxingraise tomorrow.
Tomorrow Japanese fans will see popular 40 year old Motoki Sasaki (40-10-1, 25) [佐々木基樹] face off against Japanese ranked Yuya Okazaki (11-8-2, 4) [岡崎 祐也]. The two men, fighting at Light Welterweight, both made weight today for what is a genuinely intriguing bout.
On paper Sasaki should be the favourite, just from comparing records, however he is 40 years old and has only fought 6 professional rounds in the last 3 years, easily seeing off Tatsuya Miyazaki back in February. The veteran is also the naturally smaller man, as seen by the fact Okazaki towered over him at the weigh in.
Whilst Sasaki is an inactive old man he is a teak tough fighter who gives anyone problems and won't be coming in to the bout intimidated, in fact he seems to be viewing this bout as a potential stepping stone towards a title bout.
Okazaki amazingly began his career as a very tall Featherweight but quickly grew into his body and has fought as high as Welterweight. His crowning achievement so far is beating Daiki Koide and he has also fought for an OPBF title, losing to Keita Obara last year. Aged 29 he's much younger than Sasaki but given his his losses through his career he is limited and hasn't won a bout since November 2014.
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
Over the next 7 days Japanese fans, and those who manage to watch Japanese TV from around the world, will get the chance to see 5 title fights, including 3 world title fights, on free to air terrestrial TV. For those who are interested in seeing some of the top fighters in the country this is the perfect week to tune in to some Japanese TV, but when and what channels?
The first show of note comes on Thursday and will be shown in NTV between 19:56 and 20:54 local time. The main event of this show will see unbeaten WBC Bantamweight champion Shinsuke Yamanaka (22-0-2, 16) defending his title for the 8th time as he takes on unbeaten Argentinian challenger Diego Ricardo Santillan (23-0, 15).
On Saturday we then get a title double on Fuji TV as we get tape delay footage of the recent Dangan show. The bouts here will see Kantaro Masuda defending the Japanese Bantamweight title against the much touted Shohei Omori and the very heavy handed Keita Obara defending his OPBF Light Welterweight title against Yuya Okazaki. The bouts, which took place this past Monday, were both high quality match ups and are well worth tuning in at. For Japanese fans these will be shown at 26:40 local time on Saturday night and the telecast is set to end at 28:00. For those from the west wondering about the times, it's essentially 2:40AM to 4:00AM though the Japanese TV times is slightly different to how some western countries do things.
Next Wednesday fans will then have the chance to see a world title double courtesy of the gigantic TBS. One of the bouts being shown here is the IBF Minimumweight title bout between the always exciting champion Katsunari Takayama (28-7-0-1, 11) and second generation Thai Fahlan Sakkreerin Jr (27-3-1, 15), who is hoping to claim the same title his father held more than 20 years ago. The other fight is the mouth watering clash between WBA Flyweight champion Juan Carlos Reveco (35-1, 19) and Japanese star Kazuto Ioka (16-1, 10), who will be hoping to become the second ever 3-weight world champion from Japan. The bout, which was mooted a lot last year, looks likely to be a bit special and it'll be well worth tuning into TBS at 19:59 local time. With this show set to feature world title bouts the timeslot is set for almost 2 hours and will end at 21:56.
If you have a way to watch Japanese TV there is little excuse not to be tuning into these bouts all of which are well worth watching if you're a boxing fan.
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