We've known for a while that the Ohashi Gym would be holding an event at Korakuen Hall on March 11th but until today many of the bouts on that card were unknown.
There were 3 bouts that were known. One of those was a clash between Taku Kuwahara (7-0, 4) [桑原拓] and Yoshiki Minato (9-3, 4) [湊義生], which was originally planned for January before needing to be postponed due to Kuwahara being injured. Another was a Japanese Youth Bantamweight title bout between champion Toshiya Ishii (3-1, 2) [石井渡士也] and Kaito Takeshima (6-3-1, 1) [竹嶋海刀]. The third was a bout between former world title challenger Ryo Matsumoto (24-3, 21) [松本亮] and Takashi Igarashi (13-5, 5) [五十嵐嵩視], in what is expected to be an easy win for Matsumoto, who is looking to rebuild his confidence.
Other fighters named for the card were the world ranked 140lb hopeful Andy Hiraoka (16-0, 11) [平岡アンディ], the promising Rikuto Adachi (14-2, 11) [安達陸仁] and former K-1 champion Yoshiki Takei (0-0) [武居由樹], none of whom had had their opponents named until today.
Now we know that that the 24 year old Hiraoka, who is ranked #12 by the IBF, will take on Fumisuke Kimura (9-6-1, 6) [木村 文祐] in an 8 round bout. On paper this shouldn't be a test for Hiraoka, but the reality is that it keeps him busy and sees him fight in Japan for the first time since July 2019. It seems likely that when he returns to the US, for another bout on a Top Rank show, he'll take on a more notable opponent.
We also now know that Adachi will battle against Takeru Kobata (8-5-1, 3) [小畑武尊] in an 8 rounder for the vacant Japanese Youth Welterweight title, making this show a double Youth title event. Adachi will be favoured here, though it is worth noting that he's fought since December 2019 and this will be his Ohashi Gym. Kobata on the other hand fought last December, losing a decision to Shoki Sakai on December 26th.
As for the debuting Takei, he will be up against Kazunori Takai (6-7-3, 3) [高井一憲]. On paper this looks to be somewhat underwhelming for Takei, who has looked very good in K-1 and looked very impressive in a recent spar with Tsuyoshi Tameda (21-6-2, 19) [溜田剛士]. Takai, who's a 34 year old southpaw is 0-5-1 in his last 6 dating back more than 3 years, including 2 stoppage losses.
One other bout on this card will see 18 year old Yushin Uchida (1-1, 1) [内田勇心] battle the debuting Shunsei Sawada (0-0) [澤田春聖] in a 4 rounder.
Earlier this month we reported that Taku Kuwahara (7-0, 4) [桑原拓] and Yoshiki Minato (9-3, 4) [湊義生] would clash on March 11th. Originally they were supposed to face off in January but an injury to Kuwahara saw the bout being pushed back.
Yesterday we saw another bout being added to that card, with Japanese Youth Bantamweight champion Toshiya Ishii (3-1, 2) [石井渡士也] confirmed to be defending his title against Kaito Takeshima (6-3-1, 1) [竹嶋海刀] on the same show.
Now we've seen several more additions to the event as the show has began to fill out.
One of the big announcements for the show is that Japanese Light Welterweight hopeful Andy Hiraoka (16-0, 11) [平岡アンディ] will be on the show. This will be his first bout in Japan in well over a year and see him looking to build on wins in the US. Sadly however his opponent for the show is yet to be announced. In fact there is no details at all about his bout, other than that he will be on the show.
Another fighter without an opponent is Rikuto Adachi (14-2, 11) [安達陸仁], who is scheduled for a 8 round bout, in what will actually be his Ohashi debut.
The show is also expected to feature the debut of former K-1 champion Yoshiki Takei (0-0) [武居由樹], who recently signed with the Ohashi gym and announced that he was heading to professional boxing.
One other bout that was announced was a show down between former world title challenger Ryo Matsumoto (24-3, 21) [松本亮] and Japanese domestic fighter Takashi Igarashi (13-5, 5) [五十嵐嵩視], with the two men clashing in an 8 rounder. The touted Matsumoto hasn't looked good recently, and does appear to be in with an easier opponent that he's faced in a while, though we do wonder where his head is at mentally when it comes to the sport.
Just moments ago in Las Vegas unbeaten Japanese fighter Andy Hiraoka (16-0, 11) [平岡アンディ] secured his latest win, stopping 30 year old American Rickey Edwards (12-5, 3) in the 4th round.
The powerful Hiraoka looked the boss from the off, and seemed to be too strong, too powerful and too good Edwards very early on. Edwards wasn't helped by suffering a cut over his left eye in round 2, from an accidental elbow. Edwards managed to land one or two counters, but little more than that, and sadly for Edwards even when he did land he didn't get Hiraoka's respect, lacking the power to trouble the Japanese youngster.
The cut, although a hindrance for Edwards, played no real factor in the bout. What did play a factor was Hiraoka's power, and in round 3 Hiraoka scored his first knockdown, from a right hook up close. Edwards wasn't hurt, but it was clear he was being broken down, and didn't have the fire power to change the flow of the action.
In round 4 Hiraoka came out looking to make a statement and dropped Edwards early in the round. Edwards, to his credit, got back to his feet but was dropped again soon afterwards. This time the referee made it clear that if he was in trouble again he was going to be stopped. At that point there was around a minute left, and Hiraoka just kept the pressure coming, forcing Celestino Ruiz to wave off the contest.
The win for Hiraoka, his second in Las Vegas, was solid though he is still, as we've said in the past, a young fighter who very much looks like a an athlete turn boxer. There is still a real rawness to his boxing, and a lot of polishing needs doing. He's still very young however, and with more bouts at this type of level we should see him making improvement over the coming years.
Just moments ago from the Bubble at the MGM Grand we had the weigh in for the Top Rank show, set to take place tomorrow night. It was a weigh in that was streamed live on YouTube and was a notable one for us as it featured two bouts of interest to us.
The first of the bouts to have a weigh in of note for us was the bout between the unbeaten Andy Hiraoka (15-0, 10) [平岡アンディ] and 30 year old American Rickey Edwards (12-4, 3). On the scales both men were just over the 140lb Light Welterweight limit. Edwards weighed in first, weighing in at 140.7lbs whilst Hiraoka was marginally heavier, at 140.9lbs.
The second bout of note for us was the bout between WBA "Super" and IBF Bantamweight champion Naoya Inoue (19-0, 16) [井上 尚弥] and once beaten Australian challenger Jason Moloney (21-1, 18).
The challenger stepped on the scales first and came in under the Bantamweight limit, hitting 117.9lbs before Inoue weighed in and came in comfortably under the limit at 117.7lbs.
For Inoue this is pretty much he lightest he's been since moving up to Bantamweight in 2018, and is very similar to what he weighed in for his 2019 WBSS semi final bout against Emmanuel Rodriguez. As for Moloney this is pretty much the heaviest he's been in 3 years, but not by anything more than a few ounces, and he has typically been between 117lbs and 117¾lbs.
Notable all 4 men looked in fantastic shape, and it's clear that all 4 fighters were well prepared for their bouts tomorrow.
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One to Watch - Andy Hiraoka Vs Rickey Edwards
At the end of the month we'll see WBA "Super" and IBF Bantamweight champion Naoya Inoue (19-0, 16) [井上 尚弥] defending his titles in Nevada against Australian challenger Jason Moloney (21-1, 18).
That's the big highlight to end the month for us, but Inoue isn't the only Japanese fighter on that show, in fact he's not even the only Ohashi Gym fighter on that card, with Top Rank also having a place on the show for the unbeaten Andy Hiraoka (15-0, 10) [平岡アンディ].
The talented Hiraoka is a 140lb Japanese fighter who, like Inoue, is an Ohashi Gym and Top Rank fighter, who will be fighting in his second US bout here. Unlike Inoue however, Hiraoka isn't a big name but is a fighter more suited to the typical weight classes we see in the US, rather than Japan. He's a big kid at 140lbs, standing at close to 6', and is a solid punching southpaw who has been unbeaten since his 2013 debut.
We had known, for a while, that Hiraoka would be on the same card as Inoue, but what we didn't know was who he would be up against. That changed last night when it was announced that Hiraoka's opponent for the show would be 30 year old American Rickey Edwards (12-4, 3), dubbed "Superstar Rick".
Although not a well known fighter Edwards began his career well, and appears to have been 11-0 (3) at one point. Sadly however is career seems to have hit a wall in recent years and he has gone 1-4 in his last 5, including losses to then unbeaten trio of Kent Cruz, Mykquan Williams and Jesus Alejandro Ramos. On paper that sort of form doesn't bode well against a fighter like Hiraoka, though in reality this is more about getting Hiraoka some ring time, given he's not fought since November last year, rather than testing him.
Whilst we understand Inoue is the star here, we would advise fans watching this show to pay attention to Hiraoka, who looks like one of the more promising and talented Japanese 140lb fighters and at 24 years old he has a genuinely bright future in the sport.
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