Earlier today at Korakuen Hall fans were able to attend the latest show in the "Dynamic Young Fight" series of shows from Yamaguchi Tsuchiura Promotions.
The card was originally planned to have 5 bouts, but a contest featuring veteran Tatsuya Takahashi (32-9-6, 21) [高橋 竜也] was scrapped earlier this month, leaving us with just 4 contests in total. The reason for the cancellation was never made public, though it is worth noting that Takahashi's original opponent had been replaced before the bout was scrapped.
The first bout on the show was a blink and you miss it affair, as Masaya Suga (1-0, 1) [須賀 将哉] got rid of Tatsuhiko Kumada (0-1) [熊田 龍彦] in just 27 seconds. Despite this being a super short bout, Suga dropped Kumada twice in 27 seconds, with the referee waving off the bout after the second knockdown.
The second bout saw the unbeaten Shingo Koyasu (2-0, 2) [小安 愼悟] score his second professional win, as he stopped the debuting Rikita Negishi (0-1) [根岸 力太] in the second round. Koyasu made the most of a 15cm height advantage early on, using his his reach an range well in the opening round. In the second round Negishi managed to get close and tried to force a war up and neutralise the the reach of Koyasu. Sadly being for Negishi that back fired, and uppercut from Koyasu dropped his man. Negishi beat the count but was under pressure straight away as Koyasu forced the stoppage.
The penultimate bout on the show saw 23 year old hopeful Tetsuya Kondo (6-2, 4) score his latest win, as he knocked out Yuya Nemoto (6-10-3, 1) in the second round. Kondo dropped his man just before the end of the opening round, after landing some solid shots through the round. Nemoto tried to get a foot hold in the bout in round 2, but was dropped from a right hook late in the round, and he failed to beat the count.
The main event saw two Japanese ranked Featherweights clash as Daisuke Watanabe (12-4-2, 7) [渡部大介] battled against Yosuke Kawano (14-10-2, 8) [河野洋佑] in a scheduled 8 rounder. This started at a good pace at mid range, before Watanabe started to close the distance in round 2, breaking Kawano down with body shots. To his credit Kawano tried to respond with right hands and had moments of his own, but seemed to be taking more than he was giving. In round 7 however Watanabe put a close to the bout, as he rocked Kawano with a right hand, then followed up whilst Kawano was retreating.
For Watanbe, who entered tanked #3 by the JBC, this is another good win in an 8 fight unbeaten run which has seen him over-come Dai Iwai, Richard Pumicpic and Shingo Kusano, as well as winning the Hajime No Ippo 30th Anniversary tournament. That winning run has very much left him banging on the door for his first title fight, and in fairness he deserves one, despite having 4 losses to his name. As for Kawano he will likely find himself dropping out of the JBC rankings.
Tomorrow at Korakuen Hall Japanese fight fans will get the next show under the "Dynamic Young Fight" series. The card, although a small one, does have a mouth watering main event as Yosuke Kawano (14-9-2, 8) [河野洋佑] takes on Daisuke Watanabe (11-4-2, 6) [渡部大介] in a very good looking 8 rounder at Featherweight.
Today the two fighters took part in their weigh in for the bout, and both made the divisional limit with ease.
On the scales Watanabe was 125.7lbs, and he looked in solid shape. Coming into the bout he is ranked #3 by the JBC at Featherweight, and could well be in line for a shot at the Japanese title, held by Ryo Sagawa, in the near future if he can score a win tomorrow. Despite his sketchy looking record he is unbeaten since 2018, when he lost to Reiya Abe, and is 5-0-2 (3) since with wins over Dai Iwai, Richard Pumipic and Shingo Kusano, and he managed to win the Hajime No Ippo 30th anniversary tournament in 2020.
Kowano on the other hand was even further under the limit, weighing in at 125.2lbs. As with Watanabe he looked in solid shape himself. Entering this bout he is ranked #17 by the JBC and a win here would see him shoot up the rankings towards a title fight, however he is the big under-dog. Despite being the under-dog he does have some momentum himself, following a win in September over Daichi Matsuura, and given his style and toughness he will certainly not be an easy opponent for Watanabe, despite what his record might suggest, and he'll know that a win will open up serious doors for him on the domestic scene.
Earlier today we got a card from Korakuen Hall live streamed on subscription service Boxing Raise. The event was a Dangan card that only featured 4 bouts but was brilliant from start to end, with 7 knockdowns from those 4 bouts, and some amazing action.
The event, which was headlined by the Hajime No Ippo 30th Anniversary tournament final was staged in a rather unique environment. Although the event was at Korakuen Hall it was a venue that mixed fans and cardboard cut outs of Hajime No Ippo Characters, in an attempt to fill out the venue and force social distancing. It gave the show a weird look, but one we liked, and one that we want to see replicated in the future, given how this actually did get social distancing to work, something that has failed in some recent shows at Korakuen Hall.
With that said lets go through the action.
In the opening bout we saw knockdowns being traded as Hiro Ichimichi (4-0-1, 3) [一道 宏] battled against Hajime Matsushita (3-4, 2) [松下 一]. The fight wasn't a technically sound fight, but was an entertaining one, with Ichimichi showing real belief in his aggression. The first round was crude and messy but there was a sense of tension with both men having solid fire power. That fire power was seen in round 2 when Matsushita dropped Ichimichi with a clear right hand.
Sadly for Matsushita the knockdown only seemed to fire up Ichimichi, who came out firing in round 3 and pretty much beat the fight out of him. In round 4 Ichimichi dropped Matsushita, who spent much of the round in survival mode.
Despite his moment of success in round 2 this wasn't Matsushita's fight, and he did little other than score the knockdown, making the scoring easy for the judges, who all had it 38-36 to Ichimichi.
The second bout saw former Japanese Lightweight champion Shuhei Tsuchiya (23-7, 18) [土屋 修平] lose a 5 round decision to 2018 All Japan Rookie of the Year winner George Tachibana (9-4, 2) [橘ジョージ] in what was an entertaining little war.
The first round saw Tscuhiya boxing well behind his jab before Tachibana began to come on strong in round 2, with some hammering body shots. From there on there was always questions of whether Tsuchiya had enough left in the tank at the age of 33 to deal with the 25 year old Tachibana.
Rounds 3 to 5 were all really competitive, with each man having their moments and what were hard to score rounds. It seemed like both men had some very eye catching moments, but both struggled to get sustained success. In the end however the judges felt that Tachibana was doing enough in those close rounds to take the decision 49-46, twice, and 48-47.
Sadly for Tsuchiya, this is likely to be the end of his career and is a second loss this year for the well liked slugger. As for Tachibana it gets him back to winning ways after a loss in December to Tomoki Takada.
The third bout saw former world title challenger Shingo Wake (27-6-2, 19) [和氣 慎吾] put his 2019 upset loss to Jhunriel Ramonal behind him as he stopped Shohei Kawashima (18-5-2, 4) [川島翔平]. This was a bit of an odd one, with neither man being the most aggressive and both fighters wanting to draw leads to counter. As a result it wasn't very exciting as a spectacle, but was still an interesting bout to watch.
From the off Wake looked sharp and crisp and it in round 2 he scored the first of 4 knockdowns in Kawashinma, who was dropped again in rounds 3,4 and 6. The referee stopped the bout after Kawashima got to his feet in round, and by then was a long way down on the cards. Without the knockdowns however there was very little to talk about. It was one of those rare fights where the action was minimal, despite the knockdowns. The real talking point, maybe, was the lack of output and intensity from both men and it certainly felt like Wake could have closed the show much earlier than he did. The official time here, for those curios, was 2:44 of round 6. At the time of the stoppage we hadn't given Kawashima a single round.
The main event of the show was the Hajime No Ippo 30th Anniversary Tournament final which ended up being something truly amazing.
The bout saw Daisuke Watanabe (11-4-2, 6) [渡部大介] take a decision over Shingo Kusano (13-9-1, 5) [草野慎悟], but that really doesn't come close to summing up how great the fight was.
The opening round saw Kusano come out aggressive, but he was punished for that aggression as Watanabe countered with some solid right hands. In round 2 we saw Kusano revert to type, boxing off the back foot and being smart with his counter punching, though he was still taking more than he was giving. In rounds 3 and 4 Kusano began to build his success and after 4 rounds we had it even.
Heading into round 5 it seemed like Kusano was in the ascendancy, landing with more success and really looking like the bigger, stronger, tougher man. That was until he was dropped by a huge right hand late in the round. He got up, but the knockdown killed the momentum he had and forced him to change his tactics. That change in gameplan from Kusano saw him going punch for punch in the final 3 rounds with Watanabe on the inside.
With that gameplan change rounds 6, 7 and 8 were none-stop action with both men unloading some serious leather on one an other in 3 of the best rounds we've seen this year. It was high intensity, high drama, high action stuff, and both men seemed to be rocked at times as we got some incredible back and forth action.
Sadly for Kusano the change in tactics and the inside war wasn't his style and wasn't enough to convince the judges he deserved the win, with the judges scoring the bout 76-75, 77-74 and 78-73 all in favour of Watanabe. With the win Watanabe wins the tournament, a large financial prize and will be immortalised as a character in Hajime No Ippo.
Tomorrow at Korakuen Hall we'll get the final of the Hajime No Ippo 30th anniversary Featherweight tournament final, as Shingo Kusano (13-8-1, 5) [草野慎悟] and Daisuke Watanabe (10-4-2, 6) [渡部大介] face off in a very unexpected tournament final.
Interestingly STS have got odds available on the fight, with with Watanabe being instilled as the clear betting favourite.
The talented Watanabe is priced at 1.30 to win the bout by any method with odds of 1.9 for Watanabe to take a decision over his foe, and a huge 3.5 to score a stoppage of Kusano.
On the other hand Kusano is priced at 3.2 to win by any method, 4.5 to win a decision and a huge 9.0 to take home the victory by stoppage.
With Kusano having been stopped 3 times in his 8 losses we can't help but think that the 3.5 on a Watanabe stoppage is the value bet here.
STS also have a market available on the over/under, setting that at 5.5 rounds. The over is priced at 1.25 whilst the under is 3.5.
For fans wanting to watch the bout it will be shown live on Boxing Raise tomorrow, and the winner will not only getting bragging rights but also a sizable financial prize and will be immortalised in a future issue of Hajime No Ippo.
Tomorrow at Korakuen Hall we'll see the Hajime No Ippo 30th Anniversary Featherweight tournament final, as Shingo Kusano (13-8-1, 5) [草野慎悟] and Daisuke Watanabe (10-4-2, 6) [渡部大介] battle to win the tournament.
Today, ahead of their bout, the two men took part in their weigh in, and both men made the 126lb weight limit with no issues.
The tournament, which began last year with 7 men, was supposed to finish in May but the on going global situation say it being delayed by several months. Despite the delay the two fighters looked in great shape and hungry to win what will be a major bout for both men.
Today both men sounded confident, with Watanabe stating he was going to intelligently press forward and show his boxing brain. Kusano on the other hand declared he was going to get a KO, being with counter shots and taking out Watanabe.
The bout will have around 500 fans in attendance and will be shown on Boxing Raise for those unable to attend the venue in person.
The winner of the bout will receive a a large financial prize and will feature in Hajime No Ippo in the future, a really unique prize for the winner.
(Image below courtesy od DANGAN)
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