Earlier today at Korakuen Hall fight fans had the chance to see the latest show in the Dangan series of cards, and it was an excellent one on paper with two major Japanese Featherweight bouts.
The first of those two bouts as a Japanese title eliminator between former 2-time title challenger Reiya Abe (22-3-1, 10) [阿部麗也] and the often under-rated Daisuke Watanabe (12-5-2, 7) [渡部大介]. These two had fought before, with Abe taking an 8 round decision, but it was expected that they would give us an interesting and competitive bout this time around, with Watanabe really going on a solid run since their first bout.
Sadly rather than an interesting bout we saw an underwhelming one.
The bout saw Watanabe trying to come forward whilst Abe looked to using his excellent footwork and smart boxing. This lead to some interesting moments, but it seemed that every time Watanabe landed, Abe would come back with something of his own, and that resulted in Watanabe being cut from a counter left hand in round 2. Abe would also land telling blows in round 3, leaving Watanabe with a swollen right eye, that forced his team to retire their man at the end of the round. This resulted in Abe picking up a TKO3 win, and securing himself a shot at the Japanese title in the new year, against the winner of the main event of the show.
That main event saw Japanese Featherweight champion Hinata Maruta (12-1-1, 9) [丸田陽七太] successfully make his first defense as he beat Ryo Hino (14-3-2, 9) [日野僚], taking a wide and clear decision over the challenger.
Hino got off to a good start, using his boxing skills well and he seemed to just about edge the first two rounds, by sneaking inside and using his southpaw stance well against the taller, faster Maruta. It was a good start for him, but one that seemed to force Maruta to plan B, and it was plan B tat saw Maruta having success and dropping Hino with a solid right hand. Hino, realising Maruta was quicker, sharper and more powerful, tried to play the counter puncher in round 4 but it wasn't hugely successful and in round 5 Maruta scored a second knockdown, this time from a gorgeous burst of clean accurate punches.
With the two knockdowns in his favour Maruta was in a comfortable lead when the scores were announced at the end of round 5, with Maruta leading 48-45, twice, and 49-44.
Hino tried to turn things around in the second half of the fight, particularly in round 7, but Maruta sniffed things out, kept it long before deciding to try and take out Hino in rounds 8 and 9. To his credit Hino saw out some torrid moments, before trying to turn things around in round 10, only for Maruta to respond with some big shots of his own as we went to the bell.
After 10 rounds there was no denying Maruta was the clear and worthy winner, taking the decision 97-91, twice, and 96-92, to set up a compelling bout with Abe, in 2022. That bout may end up being a double title bout, with the Japanese and the now vacant WBO Asia Pacific titles potentially both being on the line for the bout.
Tomorrow at Korakuen Hall fight fans will get an interesting card, with 4 of the top Featherweights in Japan in action, with a Japanese title bout, and a Japanese title eliminator both taking place on the same card. Today those 4 men all took part in their weigh in, and all 4 made weight with no issues at all.
The Japanese title eliminator will see former 2-time title challenger Reiya Abe (21-3-1, 9) [阿部麗也] battle against Daisuke Watanabe (12-4-2, 7) [渡部大介], with the men clashing to secure a shot next year during the Champion Carnival. These two have fought before, with Abe taking a decision over Watanabe, but that was more than 3 years ago and Watanabe has come a long way since then whilst Abe has failed to live up to the potential he clearly has.
At the weigh in both men came in comfortably under the 126lb limit, weighing in at an identical 125.66lbs. They both looked in great shape, though it did seem like Abe was the naturally bigger man, being several inches taller than Watanabe.
Interestingly Watanabe did mention that he was wanting to fight small here, and he'll be aggressive, whilst swearing that will avenge his loss to Abe. Abe on the other hand seemed to be focused on using his footwork and counter punching here to take the win, and secure his third shot at the Japanese title.
In the main event of the show we'll see Japanese Featherweight champion Hinata Maruta (11-1-1, 9) [丸田陽七太] make his first defense as he takes on Ryo Hino (14-2-2, 9) [日野僚], in what is expected to be a very technical match up. At the weigh in these two men also hit the scales at 125.66lbs.
After the making weight Maruta ate to some rice balls, to help recover from the weight loss, before admitting he was happy to have the press around for the fight. Notably this was the first show that reporters were allowed to do face to face interviews with fighters after weigh ins, something that had been stopped due to the pandemic. To prepare for the bout he explained that he had done a lot of sparring with southpaws and wasn't worried about the fact Hino is a lefty.
As for Hino, he seemed less confident and it appears that he knows a won against Maruta would be a big ask. Despite that it's clear he's not going in to the ring tomorrow to roll over and lose, so he could end up putting up a good effort here, in what is his second shot at the Japanese Featherweight title.
Related - Touted genius Maruta takes on Hino in first Japanese title defense!
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