In a surprisingly early show at Korakuen Hall today, starting at 11AM local time, fight fans were able to attend a short but notable card with 3 professional bouts and an exhibition.
The exhibition saw former 3-weight world champion Akira Yaegashi (28-7, 16) [八重樫 東] spar with rising contender Taku Kuwahara (7-0, 4) [桑原拓], in a 2 round spar featuring rounds of 2 minutes. This was a bit of fun between two members of the Ohashi gym, which was very much fan service.
With big gloves on the two men let shots fly in an entertaining affair before Yaegashi spoke to the fans. He spoke about his retirement in September, how he was out of breath and had a laugh with Kuwahara before speaking highly about the youngster and explaining that he sees him as a future world champion.
Kuwahara was also respectful of Yaegashi and it seemed clear this was focused on him getting some ring time after a lengthy inactive period. Thankfully Kuwahara will be back in the ring for an actual fight on January 14th, and the hope is that he will have a much better 2021 than his 2020. His eyes seem to be on titles for the new year, and it's going to be interesting to see which belt he ends up aiming for.
The first official bout on the card saw Japanese #1 ranked Lightweight contender Seiryu Toshikawa (13-5, 8) [利川聖隆] test the waters at 140lbs and stop Takahiko Kobayashi (9-4, 7) [小林孝彦] in the 5th round. Kobyashi showed ambition early on, landing some good body shots and a solid jab, he also cut Toshikawa in round 3. It wasn't until round 4 that Toshikawa finally came alive, putting the pressure on and forcing the fight. This pressure began to turn the tide and Kobayashi was dropped in round 4, and then needed to be saved by the bell late on. Although the bell came to Kobayashi's aid in the 4th round he was still there for the taking in round 5, and Toshikawa managed to close the show in the opening minute of the round.
The second bout saw former Japanese Super Featherweight champion Seiichi Okada (22-7-2, 13) [岡田誠一] fight to a draw with Hiromu Murota (6-4-3, 4) [室田拡夢]. Although not the best bout fans in the venue will see this was a pretty technical and solid contender between someone in good form, Murota, and someone who has seen much better days, but continues to be a capable fighter. The now 38 year old Okada is winless since December 2018, but still showing that he's a capable fighter and still putting on decent performances like this, but we wonder just how much longer he'll continue. Interesting Akira Yaegashi was as Murota's chief second here, making it the first time Yaegashi has worked the role, though he has worked as a second in the past.
We then got the main event, and boy was this an interesting on. In one corner was WBO Asia Pacific Featherweight champion Musashi Mori (12-0, 7) [森 武蔵] ,who was seeking his third defense of the title. His challenger today was the heavy handed Tsuyoshi Tameda (21-6-2, 19) [溜田剛士]. On paper this looked like a true test for Mori, who is ranked #4 by the WBO, and it proved to be the test he needed to really prove what eh could do.
From the off Tameda looked dangerous and hungry. There was pressure and desire from Tameda who took the first round and establish a clear lead on 2 of the 3 scorecards in the first 4 rounds. His pressure, power, tenacity and work rate. This was a sensational start to the bout for Tameda who got off to the dream start.
Mori began to find his groove in round 5, using his jab and footwork establish some control on the action, and then began to turn the screw, pressing forward on a tiring Tameda with straight shots, uppercuts, and short, crisp, clean work. Tameda was still in there, but he was no on the receiving end of damaging shots, and had to dig deep to try and stop the champion's momentum. He did that in round 8, but it was merely a temporary break.
After 8 rounds the scorecard, although not announced, were finely balanced. One judge had it 77-75 to Mori, and had it even at 76-76 and the third judge had Tameda in the lead 78-74. The momentum however was now well and truly on Mori's side, and had been through the middle portion of the fight.
In round 9 Mori got on his toes, boxed, moved and used the ring, then managed to cut Tameda around the right eye with a straight left hand. The cut was a bad one and the doctor took a look, before allowing the bout to continue. After the restart Mori jumped on his man, letting shots go until the referee waved off the bout 1:39 into round 11.
(Image courtesy of Boxmob.jp)
Whilst most Japan TV channels have been quiet since boxing returned to the country following it's hiatus Fuji TV have been regularly broadcasting tape delay coverage of shows, under both the Diamond Glove banner and the Phoenix Battle banner.
Over the last day or so the channel has confirmed that they will be showing tomorrow's Phoenix Battle show from Korakuen Hall, broadcasting all 3 noteworthy bouts, as well as talking about the recent retirement of former 3-weight world champion Akira Yaegashi (28-7, 16) [八重樫 東] and the upcoming bout featuring WBA and IBF Bantamweight champion Naoya Inoue (19-0, 16) [井上 尚弥].
The broadcast will be on Saturday night/Sunday morning, with the broadcast running from 26:45 Saturday night local time, though to 27:50.
For those who don't understand the Japanese TV times this means 2:45 on Sunday morning to 3:50 Sunday morning.
The bouts set to be aired here are the 6 rounder between Katsuki Mori (6-0, 1) [森且貴] and Yuki Uchida (7-7, 1) [内田 勇気]; the 8 rounder between Katsuya Yasuda (6-0, 4) [保田 克也] and Omrri Bolivar (8-3, 3) and the 8 round bout between Kazuki Nakajima (8-0-1, 7) [中嶋一輝] and Kenta Nomura (7-3, 3) [野村健太].
Whilst the show might not be huge a huge one, it is a great chance to see some of the more under-rated prospects in Japan and it's great to see Fuji giving Mori a platform to shine as he really does look like a future star in the making.
Earlier today former 3-weight world champion Akira Yaegashi (28-7, 16) [八重樫 東] held a special online press conference, along with promoter Hideyuki Ohashi and trainer Koji Matsumoto. The press wasn't to announce another bout, but instead to confirm, at the age of 37, that Yaegashi was to hang up the gloves, finally calling an end to his brilliant, thrilling, exciting and often dramatic career.
The former Minimumweight, Light Flyweight and Flyweight champion had been advised to call it a day by Ohashi and Matsumoto back in February, when he turned 37. He seemed to take those words and think about it for a while, before deciding they were right.
Although never a huge name in the west Yaegashi was a star in Japan and had a cult following with hardcore boxing fans. He was the fight fans fighter, who who gave us amazing wars with the likes of Pornsawan Porpramook, Kazuto Ioka, Toshiyuki Igarashi, Roman Gonzalez, Javier Mendoza, Martin Tecuapetla, Hirofumi Mukai and Moruti Mthalane. Sadly though those wars took a toll on the fighter and in later years his durability and physical toughness weren't what they once were.
At the press conference Yaegashi revealed that he will be continuing to work at a restaurant that he owns, as well as working for Fuji TV and working at the Ohashi Gym as a trainer, something he has been seen doing recently for talented prospect Ryutaro Nakagaki (1-0, 1) [中垣 龍汰朗].
My Ohashi revealed that Yaegashi has great mental strength, something we suspect everyone who has seen him fight knows, but also added that he is one of the best minds in Japan when it comes to dieting and weight loss, as well as a wealth of experience in the sport. That is obviously something they are wanting him to share in his continued work at the gym.
Ohashi also revealed that Yaegashi helped him grow as a person in the time they've known each other, and seemed genuinely proud of the relationship the two have had, watching each other grow and develop.
We want to wish Yaegashi all the best in his posting fighting career, and we really look forward to seeing him working on Fuji TV and sharing his knowledge in the corner for the new generation of fighters.
Earlier today the Japanese Boxing Federation announced that they would be doing a special competition this year due to the fact all other high school boxing events had been cancelled.
Current face to face competition isn't allowed due to the current "on going situation". As a result the Japan Boxing Federation has set up a shadow boxing challenge, asking high school student to submit videos of them shadow boxing.
The competition will run from August 1st to August 16th and will be judged by a who's who of top Japanese fighters. These include:
WBA and IBF Bantamweight champion Naoya Inoue (19-0, 16) [井上 尚弥]
WBA Middleweight champion Ryota Murata (16-2, 13) [村田 諒太]
WBO Super Flyweight champion Kazuto Ioka (25-2, 14) [井岡一翔]
WBA Light Flyweight "Super" champion Hiroto Kyoguchi (14-0, 9) [京口 紘人]
WBC Light Flyweight champion Kenshiro Teraji (17-0, 10) [寺地 拳四朗]
IBF "interim" champion Ryosuke Iwasa (27-3, 17) [岩佐 亮佑]
Former WBA Super Featherweight champion Takashi Uchiyama (24-2-1, 20) [内山 高志]
Former WBC "interim" Bantamweight champion Takuma Inoue (13-1, 3) [井上 拓真]
and former 3-weight world champion Akira Yaegashi (28-7, 16) [八重樫 東]
The judges will select a winner and the winners will be given an award on August 22nd.
Earlier today Ohashi Gym chairman Hideyuki Ohashi took to social media to explain that he had spoke to former 3-weight world champion Akira Yaegashi (28-7, 16) [八重樫 東], and advised him of what to do.
In his post on Instagram Ohashi explained "I have recommended retirement to Akira Yaegashi". Before adding that he had failed to throw in the title at the right time in an Yaegashi bout, but was doing so at the right time in regards to Yaegashi's career.
Yaegashi, who turned 37 a few days ago, hasn't made any concrete plans since losing in an IBF Flyweight title bout against Moruti Mthalane in December, though it's expected that he'll follow Mr Ohashi's advice and retire from in ring activity.
Given his success in the ring, and huge popularity there's a good chance that Yaegashi will either follow in Ohashi's footsteps and set up a gym of his own, or will continue to be involved as a team member of the Ohashi gym, perhaps as a trainer. Given his wealth of experience he would serve as a great mentor to some of the gym's young hopefuls, such as Keisuke Matsumoto [松本圭佑], Ryutaro Nakagaki [中垣 龍汰朗] and Katsuki Mori (6-0,1) [森且貴].
News! We try and give you the most interesting news stories from the Asian boxing world!