Earlier today at Korakuen Hall fight fans saw a new Japanese Light Middleweight champion being crowned, as Hironobu Matsunaga (15-1, 9) [松永 宏信] shocked Nobuyuki Shindo (20-5-2, 8) [新藤寛之].
The bout, the final of the 2019 Champion Carnival bouts, looked like a really interesting one on paper. In the end however it was was rather less competitive than most would have assumed.
The opening round saw the lanky Shindo show off his skills and movement. He looked good, fighting to his strengths as the shorty, some what clumsier, Matsunaga came forward looking to apply pressure. In round 2 however Matsunaga began to close the distance with more ease and landed a great right hook late in the round.
With Matsunaga being able to cut the distance he was able to grind down Shindo, who struggled to respond to the pressure. Shindo did have moments of success, when Matsunaga pushed forward, but for the most part it was the challenger who was dictating the tempo of the fight and breaking down the defending champion, who was backed up against the ropes on a regular basis.
After 5 rounds the scores were announced, with the Matsunaga in the lead on all 3 cards, 48-47, twice, and 49-46. Shindo tried to turn it around in round 6, but couldn't stop Matsunaga from coming forward, and by the end of the round Shindo was looking like a clearly beaten man. His team knew it an pulled him out between rounds 6 and 7, saving him from further punishment.
For Shindo this could be the bout that sends that him into retirement, and he has taken a lot of damage in his last few bouts. As for Matsunaga this is a career defining win, and could help set up some very interesting domestic bouts down the line.
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
Earlier this week Dangan announced that the Japanese Bantamweight title unification bout between Yuta Saito (11-9-3, 8) [齊藤裕太] and Hayato Kimura (28-10, 19) [木村隼人] will take place on April 18th at the Korakuen Hall.
The bout will be Saito's first defense of the regular title, which he won on September 1st when he stopped Eita Kikuchi. Sadly since winning the title he has been ill and been kept out of the ring on health grounds, which forced him to cancel a scheduled December defense. Likewise it will be Kimura's first defense of the Interim title, which he won in December when he stopped Seizo Kono.
This is a Champion Carnival Bout, and was the only bout not to be given a date at the start of the year. Originally it was assumed that that may have been due to it landing on a big show, though it now seems like it was being held off until Saito was healthy enough to fight.
At the moment there are no other details of this show available, though it wouldn't be a huge surprise if it was made available live through the Boxingraise service.
Earlier today at the Korakuen Hall Japanese fight fans had a chance to see a Japanese Middleweight title bout, as unbeaten champion Kazuto Takesako (10-0-1, 10) [竹迫司登] took on mandatory challenger Shuji Kato (10-1-2, 6) [加藤収二]. On paper the bout looked really interesting, with Takesako being a rising hopeful and destructive puncher on the domestic scene whilst Kato was a tricky, rangy boxer who had won the 2017 Rookie of the Year.
Despite looking good on paper, we, and we assume many others, strongly favoured the champion to come out on top. He had looked fantastic in a number of bouts and despite being the smaller man was a serious punch. Kato though had other plans and showed what he could do early on, boxing to a game plan, keeping the bout at range and using his movement, southpaw jab and reach brilliantly. Even when Takesako was under pressure his footwork was really smart, escaping from the corner and getting back to his fighting.
Although Kato was the under-dog he seemed to be in control by the mid-way point. When the scores were announced after 5 rounds the judges had the bout 48-47, twice, and 49-46 all in favour of the challenger. The challenger really seemed to have neutralised Takesako's power, shown his smart boxing brain and stamped his foot on the bout and it was clear Takesako had to get back into the bout.
To his credit Takesako began to try and drag the bout back into his favour, he was still struggling to pin down Kato, but was starting to have more success in round 6, before having a fantastic round 7 and it was there that he began to finally get his hands going. That round began a real fight back from Takesako who knew his title was at risk. He pushed hard, really drew on what energy he had and did just enough to earn a draw on the scorecards, with scores of 96-94, in his favour, 95-95 and 96-94 to Kato.
After the bout Takesako apologised and admitted that the bout was disappointing and that he wasn't good with southpaws. He also stated that he wanted a rematch with Kato and expressed some self doubt about winning a world title if he can't win here. He seemed genuinely deflated. Kato, although disappointed himself, didn't seem to feel like the judges had robbed him, and he also seemed to want a rematch, something that could well happen later this year.
Tomorrow we see the 2019 Champion Carnival roll on once again, as fans at the Korakuen Hall see Japanese Middleweight champion Kazuto Takesako (10-0, 10) [竹迫司登] defending his title against mandatory challenger Shuji Kato (10-1-1, 6) [加藤収二]. The bout will be Takesako's second defense and Kato's first title fight.
Today the two fighters took part in their weigh in and both men made weight for the Middleweight clash.
On the scales both fighters were 159.4lbs, comfortably under the limit.
Takesako, who has never resembled a cut Greek god, was a little bit fleshy and the notably shorter man. Kato on the other hand looked in amazing shape and has clearly done everything he can to get into tip top shape for the biggest fight of his career.
Sadly the bout won't be aired live, it will however be shown on Monday on G+, as part of their Dynamic Glove coverage.
Related - Japanese king Takesako faces mandatory challenger!
Earlier today we saw a new Japanese Flyweight champion being crowned as Junto Nakatani (18-0, 13) [中谷 潤人] and Naoki Mochizuki (15-4, 8) [望月直樹] battled to fill the vacancy left by Masayuki Kuroda at the end of 2018. Both men were fighting in their first Japanese title bout, as part of the Champion Carnival, and it was an excellent match up on paper. The unbeaten wonder kid, who has a wonder boxer-puncher style, against the grizzled pressure fighter.
The fight looked one sided through the opening few rounds, with Mochizuki's pressure being ineffective and leading to him being blasted by straight shots from Nakatani, who looked sharp, crisp and effective. The gameplan from Mochizuki was simple, "get inside and take away Nakatani's reach", it was however a gameplan that was really tricky to put into effect, with Nakatani using his movement well, and often connecting clean as Mochizuki rushed in. Mochizuki was forced to pay for his aggression in round 3, when he was hurt late, and in round 4 Nakatani began to sit on his punches more, but couldn't stop the charge of Mochizuki.
In round 5 we saw Mochizuki have his best round, seemingly picking it up as Nakatani began to look a little tired. The pressure perhaps paying off at last. It was however a momentary blip and the following round Nakatani would slowly ramp things back up before having a dominant round 7, as he began to accept Mochizuki's pressure and return fire with uppercuts. They were the Achilles heel for Mochizuki who ate so many uppercuts in round 7 that he face began to really show the damage that he was taking.
By the end of round 7 Mochizuki would be bleeding from the nose, have a bad swelling around his right eye and look like a man who was too tough for his own good. That proved to be the case even more in round 8, when Nakatani continued to wail away with uppercuts, essentially telling Mochizuki that his only tactic wasn't going to be a smart one.
Mochizuki probably should have been saved by his corner between rounds 8 and 9 but instead he was sent out for 9, and ended up being stopped early in the round, with the referee essentially pulling the plug on his bout as soon as Mochizuki looked hurt. It was, perhaps, a poorly timed stoppage as Mochizuki had looked more hurt earlier in the bout, but in reality it was a perfect stoppage, knowing the bout was too one sided to allow it to continue.
It had been compelling, and competitive at times, but never did Nakatani look like he was going to lose. Instead this was his coronation and his next step towards a world title fight.
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