Yesterday A-Sign Boxing and Dangan Boxing put together a brilliant 4 card at Korakuen Hall, that was sadly hidden behind a paywall and only available on PPV. Despite the PPV, and the worrying movement in recent years to Japan having more and more boxing on PPV, the show was a major one, with prospects and a Japanese title eliminator all taking place on the event.
The show began with a bout between the heavy handed Yasutaka Fujita (8-1, 6) [藤田 裕崇] and the awkward Izuki Tomioka (7-5-1, 2) [富岡 樹]. From the off this was hotly competitive and a fight that really was a compelling stylistic match up, with Tomioka fighting behind his excellent jab and moving, whilst Fujita looked to pressure and use his physicality. This made for a really interesting bout, where both men had success in every round. In the later rounds however it was Fujita who seemed more consistent with his game plan, whilst Tomioka was under a lot of pressure.
After 8 rounds the judges scored this a split decision, in favour of Fujita. He was favoured 77-75 and 77-76 from two of the judges, whilst the third had Tomioka winning 77-75. With this win we expect to see Fujita earning a Japanese ranking, and Tomioka will certainly come again in the future.
The second bout In the second bout on the show we saw Takuya Watanabe (38-10-1, 22) [渡邉 卓也] bounce back from his vicious beating to Kosuke Saka to easily see off Kazuma Sanpei (20-7, 9) [三瓶 数馬] in just 2 rounds. The bout started with both men feeling each other out, but in round 2 a huge straight hand from Watanabe dropped his man. A follow up attack after Sanpei regained his feet forced the referee to jump in and save him from further punishment.
The third bout on the show saw youngster Suzumi Takayama (5-0, 4) [高山 涼深] get through the toughest test of his career, as he took a decision win against Kai Chiba (13-3, 8) [千葉 開]. This started with the two men battling for position early on, using their straight shots at mid range through the first round. In round 3 Takayama got a major break through, dropping Chiba, but to his credit Chiba got back to his feet, and rocked Takayama later in the round. Chiba was dropped again in round 5, as Takayama landed a gorgeous straight left counter. Chiba again got to his feet, and gave his all in the final rounds, but it wasn't enough to over-come the two knockdowns. After 8 rounds the judges had this one 77-73, 77-74 and 76-75.
The main event saw former Japanese 140lb champion Masahiro Suzuki (7-0, 4) [鈴木 雅弘] take a split decision over Seiryu Toshikawa (14-6, 8) [利川 聖隆] to become the mandatory challenger for the Japanese Lightweight title.
Toshikawa started well, using his height and reach to control the distance and made the most of his long range jab. Suzuki tried to get inside but struggled until round 2, when he managed to drop Toshikawa with a solid left hook. Following the knockdown Suzuki began to amp up his out put, though to his credit Toshikawa wasn't there to make up the numbers, and fought back hard.
We ended up with more drama in round 6 as Suzuki was dropped, and hurt. The final two rounds were great with a lot of leather thrown, it was a real back and forth as Suzuki looked to clear his hear, and Toshikawa looked to close the show.
With both men having been downed, and both having given a stellar account of themselves, this one was tough to score, though Suzuki got the nod with scores of 76-74 in his favour, twice, whilst Toshikawa was favoured by the same score by the third judge.
Last night fight fans tuning into the Top Rank broadcast got an unexpected Fight of the Year contender as Filipino fighter Jonas Sultan (18-5, 11) over-came Puerto Rican puncher Carlos Caraballo (14-1, 14), and announced himself as a contender on the Bantamweight scene.
The bout started quite technically with both men being patient, looking to see what the other had. Sultan was the man on the front foot, but Caraballo certainly had plenty of moments boxing on the back foot out of the southpaw stance. Within a minute of round 2 Caraballo was dropped, in the first of 5 knockdowns in the fight!
Caraballo beat the count but was under pressure as Sultan looked to try and close the show, but Carraballo showed his toughness and went on to hurt Sultan with a hard left, getting the Filipino fighter's respect. Sultan would finish the round well, but is was clear that Caraballo's reputation as a heavy handed fighter was a legit one, and Sultan was cautious after being tagged, even if he was the man who seemed happier on the front foot.
In round 3 Caraballo was down for the second time, again early in the round, and once again Sultan went in for the finish, but Caraballo survived the storm, tried to turn the tide and saw off Sultan's charge. It was clear that Caraballo was proving his heart and determination, but was struggling with the accurate shots of Sultan and his timing. He was making Caraballo pay for small mistakes. Sadly for him however he made a mistake late in the round himself, and was rocked, touching down himself as Caraballo's power showed it's self right on the bell. The late surge from Caraballo not only saw him getting a KD awarded his way, but he also cut Sultan and made it clear that he could turn the tide.
In round 4 Caraballo has real success as his aggression and power began pay off in a thrilling round that saw both men exchanging shots, and Caraballo getting the best of things, including a brutal left hand that landed around the neck of Sultan. It seemed like the tide was changing. The high octane action continued in round 5, this time with Sultan getting the better of things early on, but taking big shots through the round himself. It was brilliant two way action with the momentum shifting time and again and one that felt like it could turn completely in an instant.
In round 6 Caraballo landed a great combination early in the round, but Sultan responded well, pressing and then taking the play away from Caraballo with a gorgeous counter right hand that dropped Caraballo for the third time in the fight. Sultan again looked to try and finish off Caraballo who showed good footwork and movement to avoid a tear up with Sultan and recover his sense. It was a real credit to Caraballo that he saw out the round, and showed his toughness, especially given he had never previously gone beyond 6 rounds, and was now in a hole. That hole grew in round 7 as Sultan bullied his way through the early part of the round, forcing Caraballo to grit it out, before having success himself in the later part of the round, with some big left hands that landed clean on Sultan, who took them amazingly well.
Sultan seemed to be dropped mid way into round 8, but the referee ruled it a slip or a push. Sadly for Caraballo he had hurt Sultan enough from the moment to really jump on him, though he did manage to press his advantage through the round, land his heavy leather and wobbling Sultan who seemed close to going through the final minute of the round. Sultan was left bloodied, hurt and wobbling to the bell, which he really needed. The big effort from Caraballo had certainly closed the gap between the men, and showed he was very much still in the fight, despite being down 3 times in the first 8 rounds.
Caraballo continues to shine early in rounds 9, sending Sultan reeling in the first minute of the round. Sultan however gutted out the storm and turned the tide once again by dropping Caraballo with a straight right hand, completely against the tide of the round. It was a huge momentum shift that saw Sultan looking like a man on the verge of being stopped himself to dropping Caraballo and leaving the Puerto Rican hurt.
Going into round 10 it was a close one, despite Caraballo being down 4 times, and Sultan likely knew he couldn't relax and rely on his laurels. Instead he took the fight to Caraballo, giving us a brilliant 10th round, even though both men were clearly tired and worn out.
After 10 brilliant rounds we went to the scorecards, with Sultan getting his hand raised thanks to scores of 94-93 from all 3 judges.
Despite the loss Caraballo will almost certainly comeback from this, and hopefully he looks at the way his countryman Subriel Matias has comeback from his first loss. As for Sultan this puts him right in the mix for a world title fight at Bantamweight. Hopefully another big fight on a Top Rank show down the line will come for both men after this fantastic war.
On Friday in the UK we saw a notable upset as touted Kazakh hopeful Tursynbay Kulakhmet (4-1, 3) [Турсынбай Кулахмет] suffered a surprise loss to Dominican puncher Juan Carlos Abreu (24-6-1, 22).
The bout was, on paper, a good step up for Kulakhmet who was looking to make his second defense of the WBC International title at 154lbs, the title he had won just under a year ago when he beat Macaulay McGowan. It was a step up, but it seemed a very reasonable one from his victories over McGowan and Aleksei Evchenko.
It seemed even more reasonable in round 2 when Kulakhmet dropped Abreu, and seemed well on the way to a victory. In fact after dropping his man he went for the finish, tagging Abreu on the restart before taking a hard counter shot himself, which buckled his legs and really seemed to destroy a lot of his confidence. The swagger that we had seen from him in the past seemed to sap out of him, and although he looked the better boxer in rounds 3, and 4, he looked different. He looked timid and unsure of himself.
By round 6 Kulakhmet looked back in control of things, and was comfortably up on the scorecards as it seemed he was going to box his way to a win. A win that Abreu was determined to deny him, and in round 7 the power of Abreu turned the fight as he dropped Kulakhmet. The Kazakh beat the count but was hurt, and Abreu smelled blood sending him down for a second time just moments later. This time the Kazakh was out, with the bout being stopped, with Abreu scoring the biggest win of his career so far, and really resurrecting his career as a contender.
Back in September Teiken announced that Kenichi Ogawa (25-1-1-1, 18) [尾川 堅一]would be facing South African fighter Azinga Fuzile (15-1, 9) for the vacant IBF Super Featherweight title, though no date or venue was announced for the bout.
On Friday night we saw confirmation of the details for the bout as Matchroom announced that they would be promoting the bout , with the contest now set to take place on November 27h at the Hulu Theater in Madison Square Garden, as part of a show headlined by Teofimo Lopez Vs George Kambosos Jr.
The bout will be the second world title bout for Ogawa, who famously fought Tevin Farmer for this title and won before being stripped for a positive drugs test. As for Fuzile this will be his first world title bout. It will also be the second bout in the US for both men, with Ogawa's bout against Farmer being in the US and Fuzile's recent win against Martin Ward also being in the US.
The match up might not pit two notable names against each other, but it does pit two guys with interesting styles. Fuzile is an incredibly slippery boxer, a real talent and one of the best pure boxers at 130lbs. He is however a little bit lazy at times, has some question marks over his stamina, and isn't a huge puncher, though he can land extremely clean and hurtful shots. As for Ogawa he's crude, clumsy at times, but heavy handed, and a clean shot from him can turn bouts around.
The bout will be shown worldwide on DAZN and should be a very good starter before the big Lightweight title clash in the main event.
Earlier today Hideyuki Ohashi helped a press conference and announced his next big show, which we now know will be a world title double header and December 14th at the Ryogoku Kokugikan. He confirmed one bout which had been widely reported over the last couple and gave us a bonus, with a second world title bout being confirmed.
The bout we knew about was the clash between WBA and IBF Bantamweight champion Naoya Inoue (21-0, 18) [井上 尚弥] and Thai fighter Aran Dipaen (12-2, 11) [แก่นนคร ศักดิ์กรีรินทร์], which was first reported by Komthai 2 weeks ago. The bout is certainly not a special bout, and should be a contest that Inoue wins without any real problems, but it's nice to see him being active, being back in the ring for a second fight this year and ticking over. It's also good to see him back in a Japanese ring for the first time since November 2019, when he beat Nonito Donaire in the WBSS Bantamweight final.
At the press conference Ohashi stated that he had hoped to get Inoue a unification bout with either John Riel Casimero or Nonito Donaire for this December bout, but was thwarted by their mandatory obligations. He also suggested that that they had tried to secure bouts with Rau'shee Warren, Gary Antonio Russell and Nikolai Potapov, but those had failed to materialise, and had essentially taken Dipaen as the best ranked contender who was available and willing to face Inoue. Whilst this will be Inoue's first bout in Japan for more than two years, it will also see him returning to the Ryogoku Kokugikan for the first time in around 8 years, with the venue being the one where he claimed the OPBF Light Flyweight title in 2013 with a win over Jerson Mancio.
It should be noted that Inoue and Ohashi have both previously suggested he will be getting a "big bout" in April 2022 in Japan.
The other world title bout will be a WBO Minimumweight title bout between defending champion Wilfredo Mendez (16-1, 6) and his mandatory challenger Masataka Taniguchi (14-3, 9) [谷口将隆]. The two men were meant to have purse bids on October 27th, but they were cancelled at the 11th hour as the teams had agreed a deal, a deal that will see them being on this card.
For Mendez the bout will be his third defense, and his first bout of any kind since beating Gabruel Mendoza back in February 2020. As for Taniguchi he's been in form and will be hoping to make the most of his second world title shot. Of the two men Mendez is probably the better pure boxer, and is quick, slippery fighter, but fighting in Japan for the first time, with the crowd against him and a long lay off, he will really be up against it here.
Also set for this card Yoshiki Takei (2-0, 2) [武居由樹], Keisuke Matsumoto (3-0, 3) [松本圭佑] and Toshiya Ishii (4-1, 3) [石井渡士也].
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