Earlier today we had the latest Dynamic Glove show, live from Korakuen Hall. The card wasn't a huge show, but was an interesting one, especially for those interesting in seeing the best of the next generation of Teiken hopefuls.
The show kicked off with a 4 round East Japan Rookie of the Year Middleweight bout between Machopapa Kazuki (0-1) [宇都宮一基] and Eigoro Akai (1-1, 1) [赤井英五郎], and despite the bout being a very low level contest it was flat out entertainment, The opening round saw a lack of skill from both with almost no defense, resulting in Akai being rocked early on from counter right hands and being left with a bloodied nose, and Kazuki barely making it out of the round. The wild, defensively poor work continued in round 2, until Akai finished things off with a brutal uppercut, to score a genuinely devastating clean KO.
Sadly we need to say that despite the win Akai, the son of the legendary Hidekazu Akai, really shouldn't stay in the sport given his performances so far. We know he can improve, but he surely has better options than being a boxer, especially due to the success of his father, who can open doors in other avenues for him.
The first of the show's 6 round bouts saw 20 year old debutant Kyosuke Takami (1-0, 1) [高見享介] shine as he quickly took care of Thai visitor Wutthichai Montri (2-1, 1). From the very early moments Takami found his range and seemed unable to miss with his right hand. After about a minute of the round, he dropped Montri with a huge counter right hand on the chin, with the Thai staying down for the count.
The second 6 rounder saw former amateur stand out Riku Masuda (1-0, 1) [増田陸] kick off his career, as he took Thailand's Worraphon Yothika (1-1, 1). Masuda was methodical in applying constant, educate pressure through the first minute, tagging Yothika to the body with single shots, before landing a huge straight left hand up top, dropping Yothika. Yothika beat the count, but was wobbly with the referee waving off the contest.
The quick blow out wins by former Japanese amateur stand outs continued with Reo Saito (1-0, 1) [齋藤麗王], who dropped the tall but incredibly poor Samart Surakhan (1-1) inside 30 seconds, and dropped him a second time soon afterwards for the count. Saito, who really can be moved quickly, did what he needed to, like Takami and Masuda, and hopefully all 3 get a test of some kind later this year.
After the debutants took care of their over-matched Thai foes we then saw Kenji Fujita (2-0, 1) [藤田健児] make his long awaited return to the ring, around 16 months after his debut, as he took on Filipino visitor Jestine Tesoro (6-4, 2). The well schooled Fujita applied intelligent pressure though the first round, showing case his boxing IQ and speed whilst Tesorio looked to land counters. Sadly the most notable thing he landed was a big headbutt, when the two came together about 2 minutes into the round, with Fujita clearly buzzed by it whilst getting time to recover. The second round was somewhat more competitive, but the cleaner, better shots continued to come from Fujita. Tesorio began to let his hand go more in round 3, likely realising he had lost the first 2 rounds, but he continued to struggle with the movement, accuracy and speed of Fujita, who again landed the better shots, including some very good body shots later in the later stages. Fujita would go on to hurt Tesorio in rounds 4 and 6, but fail to drop the Filipino who dug deep to see out the distance, but was well beaten, with the judges turning in scores of 60-55 and 59-55, twice.
The co-feature of the show saw Kento Yabusaki (9-5-2, 5) [薮﨑賢人] clash with Daiki Kameyama (9-5-1, 3) [亀山大輝] in a thrilling and action packed 8 rounder. This had a completely different feel to the bouts we'd seen earlier on the show, and was a combination of good skills and high speed from two very evenly matched young men. Through two rounds the fight was really competitive with great back and forth, but in round 3 Kameyama was clearly buzzed as Yabusaki's power showed it's self, thanks to a hard counter left hand. To his credit however Kameyama bounced back well and had a very solid round 4 before managing to hurt Yabusaki in round 5, with a huge assault in the final minute of the round. Yabusaki saw out the round, but by the end of it his face was looking a swollen mess, and the swelling got worse in round 6, which was a terrific round from both men, with both being rocked. In round 7 we saw Yabusaki taken to the doctor, to check the swelling, with the bout being allowed to continue. In round 8 the clean, accurate shots of Kameyama forced Yabusaki to stumble, and as he looked to follow up the referee quickly got between them, saving him from any more punishment and ending what had been a genuinely brilliant back and forth contest.
The main event of the card saw Japanese Light Flyweight champion Shokichi Iwata (9-0, 6) [岩田 翔吉] have his toughest test so far, as he battled OPBF champion Kenichi Horikawa (41-17-1, 14) [堀川 謙一], with the two men also fighting for the WBO Asia Pacific title. On paper it seemed very much a case of a young lion taking on a faded veteran, there for the taking, especially given Horikawa hadn't fought since 2019 and was now the wrong side of 40. What we got however was a genuine test for Iwata who had to prove his toughness, mentally and physically, as well as his gas tank in what was a really interesting fight.
Early on it seemed like the speed, youth and energy of Iwata was going to be too much, and he seemed to be to sharp and too quick for the veteran. In round 4 however we began to see Horikawa wake up a bit and he managed to back Iwata up following a body shot, before letting his shots go. Iwata saw out the storm, but was given a clear reminder that Horikawa was there to win, and not just make up the numbers.
After 4 rounds we got the open scoring, 39-37, twice, and 40-36 all to Iwata. Iwata continued to build on his success in the middle portion of the bout, but there was moments where Horikawa had real success, including some great counter shots in round 6. The veteran was on the wrong end of most of the bigger shots, but sent constant reminders to Iwata that he deserved respect, and that Iwata wouldn't get things all his own way. After 8 rounds we got the open scoring again, and scores were 79-73, twice, and 78-74.
Sadly for Horikawa his face was beginning to swell by this point, a result of big, clean right hands up top from Iwata and some nasty uppercuts. Despite that Horikawa gritted his teeth and continued to dig deep, looking to force a fire fight on the youngster, who finally obliged in the final stages, with rounds 10, 11 and 12 each being better than what had preceded it. It was Horikawa's will forcing a war on to Iwata, who's skill was winning him rounds, but he was being pushed every second of those final rounds.
By the time we reached the final bell there was no doubting who had won. There wasn't even a suggestion it was close, and Horikawa seemed to know it when the cards were being read out, but this was a bout where the cards didn't really matter. The fight had served it's purpose in giving Iwata a real gut check, and one that he passed, with scores of 116-112, 117-111 and 118-110 in his favour. He had taken the decision, he had taken some big shots, he had gone 12 rounds for the first time, and had unified the Japanese, OPBF and WBO Asia Pacific titles in a career best win.
It's clear that Iwata's potential will see him getting world title fights in the near future, and this was a great was to prepare him for that level of bout. As for Horikawa, he might be the wrong side of 40, but on the back of this he is still one of the best Light Flyweights on the Oriental scene and hopefully this won't be the end of him, as he could certainly push a lot of other promising young fighters, and give them very real tests, as he did with Iwata here.
Earlier today we had one of the strangest ever editions of Dynamic Glove. The long running series, held in conjunction with TV channel G+, was originally scheduled to feature 5 bouts, but due to injuries and Covid19 those 5 bout ended up reduced to just 2 contests, with the planned main event and planned chief support bout being cancelled in the weeks leading up to the show.
Due to the TV commitments, and the late notice cancellation of the main event, the promoter, Teiken, went on to hold the show, but refunded the cost of tickets to all the fans as an apology.
Despite only two bouts taking place the event was a notable one as both fights had genuine significance.
The first of the two contests was an East Japan Rookie of the Year contest between Eigoro Akai (0-1) [赤井英五郎] and Yasunori Okamura (1-0, 1) [岡村弥徳]. By it's self this was notable due to the Rookie of the Year aspect, but it was even more notable as it featured Akai, the son of the very popular Hidekazu Akai, who was a massive fan favourite back in the 1980's, before later becoming a successful actor following an in ring injury.
Sadly for Eigoro he was unable to take home a victory, and was instead stopped after just 84 seconds as Okamura's power was too much. Eigoro was rocked and hurt before being saved by the referee.
The second bout was a Japanese Welterweight title eliminator, as a rematch between Yuki Nagano (19-3, 15) [永野祐樹] and Yuki Beppu (21-3-1, 20) [別府優樹]. These two had fought back in 2018, when Nagano took a decision win over Beppu. Following their first bout both men had achieved their biggest success, with Nagano winning the Japanese national title and Beppu winning the WBO Asia Pacific title, but both had also suffered stoppage losses since their 2018 clash, and both had certainly taken a lot of punishment in recent contests. Coming in it seemed less of a case of who was the better fighter, but who had more left in the tank.
The first round started slowly, with both men looking to feel the other out in the opening round, and in round 2 Beppu seemed to find his groove before Nagano, with Beppu using his legs well to control the tempo and distance. Sadly for Beppu his success didn't last long, and in round 3 a straight left hand dropped him, really late in the round. Beppu came out for round 4 looking to get momentum back on his side, but he struggled to break through the guard of Nagano. In round 5 a right hook from Nagano saw him dropping Beppu for the second time. Beppu beat the count but was under intense pressure immediately, and was down again just moments later, and then down again, for a 4th time in the fight. That was it, with the referee finally stoppign the action and saving Beppu.
With the win Nagano has earned himself a Japanese title fight for next year, whilst Beppu, who has taken a lot of punishment in his last 3 fights, maybe needs to consider retiring from the sport on grounds of his physical well being.
On Saturday in Japan we were expecting to see a new Japanese Light Flyweight champion being crowned as Rikito Shiba (5-1, 3) [芝力人] and Shokichi Iwata (6-0, 4) [岩田翔吉] were set to face off for the currently vacant title.
Sadly that bout was cancelled today when Iwata's PCR test came back as being positive for Covid19, forcing the contest to be pulled from the show at the 11th hour.
Upon the announce Iwata gave comment to the media, stating: "I received a positive coronavirus test in the PCR test the day before the match. I'm really sorry to everyone who was planning to come to the venue to support me. I sincerely apologize for the inconvenience and concern. "
This was the second notable bout to be pulled from the show, following Juiki Tatsuyoshi (13-0-1, 9) [辰吉寿以輝] pulling out of a scheduled bout against Norris Yano (6-2-1, 1) [矢野乃莉守], with that bout falling through in late August.
As a result the show has been left with just 2 bouts, a Japanese Welterweight title eliminator between Yuki Nagano (18-3, 14) [永野祐樹]and Yuki Beppu (21-2-1, 20) [別府優樹], and an East Japan Rookie of the Year bout between Eigoro Akai (0-0) [赤井英五郎] and Yasunori Okamura (0-0) [岡村弥徳].
Due to the very poor quality of what's left of the card it's been confirmed that those with tickets will be refunded, and are still allowed to attend the event.
Earlier today the Sports Hochi reported that Eigoro Akai (0-0) [赤井英五郎] now has an opponent set for his professional debut, as he follows in the footsteps of his hugely popular father Hidekazu Akai [赤井英和], aka the "Rocky of Naniwa".
The paper reports that Akai, who is fighting out of the Teiken Gym, will be competing in the East Japan Rookie of the Year and will be battling against Yasunori Okamura (0-0) [岡村弥徳], who makes his debut on May 22nd and will then enter the East Japan Rookie of the Year tournament.
In the news article Eigoro has stated that wants to beat the KO streak of his father, who notched 12 successive KO's whilst coming through the ranks. The younger Akai explained "I want to pass my father's 12 consecutive KOs, even if it's just by one."
Although we've not yet been sent the full schedule or line up the fighters involved in this year's East Japan Rookie of the Year we have been told that there is 6 people in the Middleweight tournament, the least of any division. The most for any division this year is the Super Bantamweight division, with a staggering 24 participants!
When the details of the bouts are revealed, and the dates are set in stone we'll share those!
Earlier today it was revealed that Eigoro Akai [赤井英五郎], the eldest son of former world title challenger Hidekazu Akai [赤井英和] was turning professional, and would be doing so under the Teiken banner.
Akai senior was one of the most popular Japanese fighters of his time and was dubbed the "Rocky of Naniwa" for his exciting style and aggression. Sadly his career came to an end when he was just 25 years old due to an in ring brain injury. Despite his injury Hidekazu Akai has managed to reinvent himself and become a prominent "talent" and actor in Japan with a host of acting credits, and is now often thought of as an actor first rather than a boxer.
Eigoro on the other hand didn't seem likely to follow in his father's footsteps. In fact the youngsters didn't really begin to until 2012, when he was 19, and inspired by the success of Ryota Murata at the 2012 London Olympics. At that point in time Eigoro was in the US and began to train, before returning to Japan when he was at University and continued with the sport, winning a national championship. The aim was to compete at the Tokyo Olympics, but that dream died, and instead of staying as an amateur he has decided to turn professional.
The plan going forward is for Eigoro to compete this year in the Rookie of the Year, and he seems to have real hunger for the sport.
Given how popular his father was in the ring having the Akai surname could be great for his profile and make it easy for him to get attention. Sadly however it will also put a lot of pressure on his shoulders and give a level of expectation on how he fights. Thankfully however with Teiken guiding his career we suspect he'll be fine and will be allowed to develop his own style in the gym.
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