The first bout of the show saw former female All Japan Amateur Champion Satsuki Ito (1-0) [伊藤 沙月] kick off her professional campaign with a straight forward victory over Thai visitor Saowaluk Nareepangsri (11-19, 5), who is trained by former world champion Sirimongkol Singwancha. From the off Ito was measured, fighting behind her jab, and looking to land right hands against her smaller foe. The Thai proved to tag clean, due to her diminutive stature, but she also provided little offense. By round 4 Ito decided to change tactics, going to the body more, and having success as a result. Knowing she was behind Saowaluk came out swinging more in round 6, but that gave Ito more chances as she eased to a clear victory on debut.
The second bout also saw a successful debut for a Japanese fighter as former amateur star Hayato Tsutsumi (1-0) [堤 駿斗] took a wide 8 round decision over upset minded Filipino fighter Jhon Gemino (23-14-1, 13). On paper this was a serious test for Tsutsumi, against a man with a reputation for destroying unbeaten records. Tsutsumi seemed to be aware of Gemino's reputation and boxed well using crisp, clean punches to get Geminoi's respect, including a nasty straight right in the opening round, and several solid left hooks in round 2. Gemino began to get going in round 3, though struggled to land much clean as Tsutsumi's guard did well, and he also managed to land some good body shots through the round. Gemino continued to try and press the action in round 4, though got caught by some nasty shots as Tsutusmi showed great composure and a good boxing brain. The final rounds saw Tsutsumi slow down somewhat, but still pick apart Gemino with clean, effective, counter shots, especially right hands. Gemino took them without ever looking hurt, but he was also never really competitive. After 8 rounds two judges had this a shut out, whilst the third judge gave Gemino a single round, as Tsutusmi got his professional career off to a very good start, against the #5 ranked OPBF Featherweight contender.
The third bout also went the distance, and saw Japan go 2-0 against the Philippines, as Musashi Mori (13-1, 7) [森 武蔵] took a hard fought 8 round decision against the hard hitting Presco Carcosia (10-2-1, 9). Mori seemed to start well, getting into a groove early on and showed an educated lead hand. He was however under pressure with Carcosia having moments through out the middle portion of the bout, and looking very dangerous with his over-hand rights. Mori, to his credit, never seemed in too much trouble, but Carcosia seemed like the type of fighter who only needed to land clean once to cause problems, and Mori know it. In the 8th round Carcosia found out he wasn't the only one with some power, as Mori managed to drop the Filipino in the later stages of the fight, to score the only knockdown of the bout. The knockdown came from an attack to the body, but their wasn't enough time after the knockdown for Mori to jump on Carcosia, who looked about spent. After 8 rounds the scored were 80-71, 78-73 and 77-74 all in favour of Mori.
Things were much, much, much tougher for former WBC Flyweight champion Daigo Higa (18-2-1, 17) [比 嘉 大吾], who narrowly over-came former world title challenger Froilan Saludar (32-6-1, 22), and had to go through hell to take home the win with a split decision. Higa looked aggressive early on, but it wasn't long until Saludar began to relax, create space and landed some clean shots of his own, showing that he wasn't there to just make up the numbers. Higa's aggression would see the two men come close, and in round 3 that left him suffering a cut over the right eye from a clash of heads, that seemed to bother him as Saludar landed some solid shots through the round.
Things went from bad to worse for Higa who would find himself on the canvas in round 4, as a huge right hook dropped the former champion, who barely survived the round, and was forced to hold on. Had the knockdown happened early in the round there is a real chance Higa would have ended up being dropped a second time, but he gritted it out. From there on he seemed to become more defensively responsible, whilst pressing, using his stamina and hunger to try and turn things around. That drive from Higa was incredible and in round 7 he had Saludar in all sorts of trouble, as the Filipino seemed to be running close to empty. Saludar was again under intense pressure in the final round, as Saludar did what he could to survive the whirlwind assault of Higa. After 8 rounds it felt incredibly close, with a real sense that Higa might have lost. On the scorecards one judge had the bout 77-75 to Saludar, though thankfully for Higa that judge was over-ruled by scores of 76-75 and 76-74 in favour of Higa.
Worrying for Higa this bout, like his loss to Ryosuke Nishida, shows he's not a natural Bantamweight, and his future really is limited at the weight. As for Saludar this performance was a really solid one, and despite losing 3 of his last 4, he is still very much a gate keeper, and we wouldn't be surprised to see him landing more notable bouts on the back of this performance.
At the start of June WBO Super Flyweight champion Kazuto Ioka (28-2, 15) [井岡一翔] held a press conference and announced the date of his rematch with Filipino great Donnie Nietes (43-1-6, 23), which we know is now set for July 13th. Today we saw the main under-card for the show being announced and unsurprisingly the show will act as a showcase of Shisei Gym fighters.
The chief support bout for the show will see former WBC Flyweight champion Daigo Higa (17-2-1, 17) [比 嘉 大吾] take on former world title challenger Froilan Saludar (32-5-1, 22) in a scheduled 8 rounder at Bantamweight. For Higa this is a must win after losing his most recent bout against Ryosuke Nishida, and knowing that another loss, especially to someone like Saludar, would end any hopes of him getting another world title fight. Sadly for Higa he is a long way removed to the fighter who was 15-0 (15) and much of his appeal has faded since losing the WBC Flyweight title to Cristofer Rosales. As for Saludar he's still very serviceable as a regional contender, and even with 5 losses he's proven his worth, only losing to Andrew Moloney, Ryoji Fukunaga, Sho Kimura, who was the then WBO Flyweight champion, Takuma Inoue and McWilliams Arroyo. Saludar is no push over but will go into this as the clear under-dog.
Another major supporting bout will see former regional champion Musashi Mori (12-1, 7) [森 武蔵] take on big punching Filipino Presco Carcosia (10-1-1, 9) in a really solid 8 round Super Featherweight match up. For Mori the bout marks his first since a May 2021 loss to Satoshi Shimizu, in what was a well contested bout against the Olympic Bronze medal winner, and it'll be interesting to see how he looks after more than a year of inactivity. As for Carcosia his wins have come at a low level, on the domestic Filipino scene, but he did show how good he was in his sole defeat, losing a split decision in Australia to Jai Alexander. The bout should serve as a genuine test for both men, and a good chance to see what Mori is like at 130lbs.
The real talking point for this card, other than the main event, is the highly anticipated debut of former Japanese amateur standout Hayato Tsutsumi (0-0) [堤駿斗]. Tsutsumi will begin his career in an 8 round Featherweight clash against well travelled Filipino Jhon Gemino (23-13-1, 13). Tsutusmi was a genuinely sensational Japanese amateur, and will go in to this bout with a lot of pressure on him to not just win, but to win in style. Gemnino on the other hand will look to play his usual role of upset minded nightmare. Although his record might not suggest it, Gemnino is a genuine banana skin for really good fighters, and he has upset fighters on the road before with wins against the likes of Arnold Alejandro (then 11-0), Carlos Ornelas (then 22-1), Sho Nakazawa (then 11-2), Toka Kahn Clary (then 19-0), Toto Helebe (then 17-6). This is a dangerous debut for Tsutsumi, but a win immediately puts him in the mix for regional titles, with Gemino entering ranked highly by the OPBF.
One man who seems impossible to get a read on at times is Filipino fighter Froilan Saludar (31-4-1, 22) who looked fantastic early in his career, and had been expected to go all the way to the top. He then suffered losses in big fights to McWilliams Arroyo, Takuma Inoue and Sho Kimura. Those were understandable, coming against world class opponents.
Since his latest loss however Saludar had strung together 3 wins, stopping the touted Tsubasa Murachi in the third of those bouts, and had claimed the WBO Asia Pacific Super Flyweight title. It seemed that he had turned a corner with his career and was heading in the right direction. Today that changed as he suffered his most disappointing loss to date.
At Korakuen Hall earlier Saludar was looking to make his first defense of the WBO Asia Pacific Super Flyweight title as he took on Japan's Ryoji Fukunaga (12-4, 12) [福永亮次], a heavy handed fighter but a limited one. For Fukunaga this was seen as a step up in class, taking on a fringe world class guy.
The bout started with Saludar quickly showing his ability and power, taking control early on. The heavy hands of Saludar saw him controlling the pace and tempo, and leaving Fukunaga with some serious swelling under his right eye. The swelling was making things incredibly difficult for Fukunaga, who was needing to rely on his toughness.
In round 5 Fukunaga finally had some moments, landing a big left hand to the body which seemed to hurt Saludar. Despite the success, Fukunaga's eye was getting worse. The following round Fukunaga managed to back up Saludar, and get him on to the ropes, though he failed to have much success as Saludar's defenses skills shined. Whilst defensively smart Saludar was slowing down and in round 7 a series of body shots sent down the Filipino.
Saludar beat the count but was spend when Fukunaga rushed in and unloaded, forcing the referee to wave off the bout and save the Filipino, at an official time of 1:40 into round 7.
For Fukunaga this win is a career defining victory, a genuine surprise, and gives his career a launchpad, of sorts, going forward. He will however have a target on his back, and isn't likely to be a long term champion.
As for Saludar this is almost certainly the end for him. It's really hard to see him bouncing back from a win here. The other losses are ones that are to world class fighters, this however is something else. Fukunaga is decent, heavy handed, dangerous and tough, but isn't going to be a test for anyone making their mark at world level and for Saludar this almost certainly ends his dreams of getting a second world title fight.
(Photo by A.McGovern)
Tomorrow at Korakuen Hall we'll see the next Kadoebi card, under their brilliant "Slugfest" banner.
The main event of the card will see WBO Asia Pacific Super Flyweight champion Froilan Saludar (31-3-1, 22) defending his title against Japanese puncher Ryoji Fukunaga (11-4, 11) [福永亮次], in a potentially very explosive match up.
Today, ahead of their bout, the two men took part in their weigh in and both fighters made weight.
On the scales Fukunaga was bang on the 115lb limit, and was the heavier man, whilst Saludar was significantly lighter, coming in around 114.5lbs.
At the weigh in both men spoke to the media and both sounding very confident.
Fukunaga explained that he was aware of Saludar's power and experience, but stated he was unwilling to lose. Saludar on the other hand seemed away that Fukunaga had power, but again sounded confident of victory, and giving fans a good fight.
Related - Saludar returns to Japan to defend regional title against hard hitting Fukunaga!
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Earlier today online subscription service Boxing Raise revealed their schedule for February and sadly it's rather lacking with only 3 shows in total, and only 1 live one. That is however a sign of a quiet February in Japan more than anything, with only 7 shows scheduled for the entire month, including the February 1st card which was shown on G+.
The first of the Boxing Raise cards is actually available already and took place today at Korakuen Hall. The card was a rather small and low key one, featuring only 4 round bouts. Whilst the show didn't get much attention it is good to see the service uploading the bouts on the same day which hasn't always been the case.
The next show to be including on the service this month is the February 14th Kadoebi card. This will be headlined by Froilan Saludar (31-3-1, 22) defending the WBO Asia Pacific Super Flyweight title against Ryoji Fukunaga (11-4, 11) [福永亮次] in what looks likely to be an explosive match up. Other bouts of note on this card will include Ryota Yamauchi (5-1, 4) [山内涼太] facing off with Filipino MJ Bo (8-3-2, 4) and a brilliant match up between Yuki Nakajima (3-1, 3) [中嶋憂輝] and Shisui Kawabata (2-1, 2) [川畑嗣穂].
The only live card for the month will take place on February 27th and is an excellent looking card, headlined by an OPBF Welterweight title bout between Riku Nagahama (11-2-1, 4) [長濱 陸] and Kudura Kaneko (11-0, 8) [クドゥラ 金子] and also featuring the Hajime No Ippo 30th anniversary tournament semi finals. Those semi-finals will see Jae Woo Lee (7-2, 6) [이재우] taking on Shingo Kusano (12-8-1, 5) [草野慎悟] and Richard Pumicpic (21-10-2, 6) clashing with Daisuke Watanabe (9-4-2, 6) [渡部大介].
Whilst it's a shame there's so little content this month, it is impressive that Boxing Raise do have 3 of the 7 Japanese cards from the entire month.
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