Earlier today Japanese fans at the Korakuen Hall had the chance to attend "Fighting Bee 16", the latest in the Ichiriki series of shows. The card wasn't a high profile show but was one that looked fantastic for a Japanese domestic card with several well matched bouts, at least on paper. The bouts ended up giving the fans excitement, action and a genuinely notable upset.
The main event of the card was an 8 round bout between the world ranked Akihiro Kondo (24-6-1, 11) [近藤 明広] and the previously unbeaten Shogo Yamaguchi (9-1-1, 4) [山口 祥吾]. The bout looked like a big test for Yamaguchi and to begin with he looked up for the test with the youngster having a good start. In fact a strong case could be made for Yamaguchi winning the first 3 rounds. From then however Kondo turned things around, using his experience to up the tempo and take the fight to Yamaguchi who's lack of experience, especially at this sort of level, told. For the final 5 rounds Kondo bossed the action, though there were some competitive moments, with rounds 6 and 7 being particularly good for the former Japanese Lightweight champion. Despite the loss for Yamaguchi he did receive a lot of praise and it seems clear he will come again.
In an action packed support bout fans saw former amateur standout Naoto Uebayashi (9-1-1, 5) [上林 巨人] score a 3rd round TKO win against Naoaki Kumagai (7-4, 4) [熊谷 直昭]. On paper the result wasn't a shock but one against Uebayashi found himself on the canvas before fighting back to earn himself a win. Although he was a former amateur star the 29 year old Uebayashi has shown too many frailties to reach the heady heights expected of him, however he does seem to be in fun fights and will never be short of a fan given the way he fights, and the way he can be dropped by almost anyone who catches him. Although dropped in round in the opening round Uebayashi dropped Kumagai in round 2 and forced the finish in the third.
In a genuine upset we saw Uebayashi's stablemate Hikaru Marugame (5-1-1, 3)[丸亀 光] suffer his first defeat in an upset loss to Reiya Abe (11-2, 5) [阿部 麗也]. This bout was fought at a hectic pace with Abe throwing a lot of leather and leaving Marugame with a very nasty cut. Although cut Marugame's heart showed as he tried to turn the bout around but surprisingly looked out of his depth against the busier Abe, who scored a major win. For Marugame there is a good chance he'll bounce back but this is a second successive setback, following a draw to Jonathan Baat last year, and it may be fair to say that he's going to fall short of expectations.
Another bloody battle saw Yudai Arai (8-3-3, 4) [新井 雄大] score a 7th round TKO win over the gutsy Tatsuya Kaneko (7-12-3, 1) [金子 達也], with Kaneko suffering a badly bloodied nose along with other cuts, including a nasty one above hsi right eye.
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