Earlier today we got the first televised Japanese sow of the year, thanks to promotional outfit Kadoebi and satellite TV channel G+. The show was earlier than we usually get for G+ cards due to the ongoing state of emergency through parts of Kanto, but still felt somewhat special, and something to look forward to in a year where boxing really has stuttered, and struggled to get going globally.
The show kicked off with an all debutant bout over 4 rounds with Yudai Murakami (1-0) [村上 雄大] facing off with Naoki Shimizu (0-1) [清水 直樹] in front of a very sparse crowd at the iconic Korakuen Hall.
On paper this looked good but sadly, for the first televised bout of the year in Japan, the contest struggled to get going. Part of that was due to the fact Murakami was a southpaw and Shimizu wasn't, causing the two men to tangle up and clash heads several times in the opening round, with inexperience exacerbating the problems. Despite that the bout did begin to tidy up in round 2, with Murakami having success at range and countering Shimizu well. Shimizu managed to get a toe hold in the bout in round 3, but Murakami managed to turn the screw in round 4 and out worked his man in a very messy round that left him cut around the right eye. After 4 rounds we went to the judges, who all scored the bout 39-37 to Murakami.
The second bout on the show saw Yugo Kon (0-1) [今 優吾] kick off his professional career with a tough loss as he was stopped by Koji Tsurumi (5-3-1, 2) [鶴海 高士] in a 6 round bout at a contracted 54.5KG's, which is just over 120lbs.
Unlike the first bout this was really engaging with Kon boxing well behind his jab early on before Tsurumi's pressure began to build and we ended up getting a really solid fight, with Kon's boxing skills going up against Tsurumi's fighting will. By round 5 the action was starting to get genuinely intense, with Kon trying to take his man out with some huge right hands and Tsurumi trying to break his foe with pressure, forcing him on to the ropes several times. To his credit Tsurumi proved to be tough, and kept coming, even when it was clear he was tiring and it was that toughness that proved vital in round 6. It was in round 6 that a tired Kon began to trade with Tsurumi. A combination up top from Tsurumi wobbled Kon and with Kon's defenses falling apart the referee jumped in to save the debutant with just 50 seconds left.
We'll admit on first viewing the stoppage seemed a bit hasty, but on replay it was certainly not among the worst stoppages we've seen. Perhaps a touch early, but no real complaints from us, though we suspect Kon will feel somewhat aggrieved he wasn't given a few more seconds to try and ride out the storm. On the other hand this was a great example of a fighter not giving up until the final bell and the tenacity of Tsurmi was a key to his victory.
The third bout on the show was the event’s only 8 rounder and saw Chikato Sumida (9-3-1, 1) [住田 愛斗] and Ken Achiwa (12-15-6, 4) [阿知和 賢] clash in a battle of top 20 ranked Japanese Super Flyweights. On paper this looked like a bit of a mismatch, but in reality Achiwa is far better than his record indicates, and is a grizzled veteran as he showed again here.
The fight wasn’t the best to watch but was an engaging one, as Sumida looked to come out of the blocks quickly, and had success in round 2 with body shots. As the rounds went on however Achiwa did well to take the sting out of a lot of Sumida’s work, and by round 4 the experience and ring craft of Achiwa was showing itself as he landed counters, and boxed smartly against Sumida. Head clashes, in rounds 5 and 6, left Sumida in agony and by round 7 Sumida looked like a desperate and exhausted fighter whilst Achiwa was landing clean shots and still had snap in his punches. That exhaustion showed again in round 8, but Sumida did his best to hold and spoil through the round.
After 8 rounds the bout seemed a nightmare to score, with both men having some clear rounds, and others being a complete toss up. That was shown on the scorecards with scores of 77-75 to Sumida, 77-75 to Achiwa and 76-76, giving us a draw.
Following the draw we saw the anticipated debut of Jun Ikegawa (1-0) [池側 純], who turned professional after going 51-15 in the amateur ranks. He was up against Kakeru Yoshikawa (4-2-2) [吉川 翔].
Sadly whilst it was clear Ikegawa was a very talented fighter, this bout was not one that will live in the memory. Ikegawa looked like an excellent counter puncher, but someone who needs to learn to adapt a more offensive style in the professional ranks. Unfortunately Yoshikawa gave very, very few countering opportunities to Ikegawa, in one of the tamest efforts we’ve ever seen from a Japanese fighter. Much of this bout was spent with the two men fencing with their lead hands, and very, very little drama. Ikegawa won pretty much by default, as Yoshikawa did so little. In fact it seemed like Yoshikawa’s only gameplan for 5 rounds was to box with a much, much better boxer.
Thankfully Yoshikawa did show some ambition, but it wasn’t until round 6, and that ambition seemed to be focused on not being shut out on the scorecards, rather than actively trying to win. Sadly for Yoshikawa the judges didn’t make much of his late effort and still scored this a shut out for Ikegawa.
In the penultimate bout of the show we saw Jukiya Iimura (1-0, 1) [飯村 樹輝弥], who went 68-13 in the amateurs, make his debut against the 35 year old Daisuke Yamada (6-6, 1) [山田大輔].
Yamada looked to begin with a high energy style which was a stark difference to what we had seen from Yoshikawa just moments earlier. Iimura on the other hand looked like a solid professional, with a pressure style, a tight guard and very nice composure. Around the mid-way point of the round Iimura landed a gorgeous right hand that put his man down, the first knockdown of the show. Yamada beat the count, but was down again soon afterwards from another short right hand counter. He tried to beat the count, and got to his feet, but had no idea where he was and the referee quickly waved off the contest before Yamada was back on the canvas, and later stretchered out of the ring.
Compared to all the other debutants on this show Iimura stood out like a sore thumb. He looked like a special talent. Not just a good boxer, but a genuine special talent.
The main event of the card saw Riku Nagahama (12-3-1, 4) [長濱 陸] lose a decision as he attempted to make his first defense of the OPBF Welterweight title, taking on the hard hitting Ryota Toyoshima (13-2-1, 8) [豊嶋亮太].
From the off Toyoshima looked to set the tempo and make a statement, landing heavy shots early on, and establishing his tempo, range and style on the fight. Nagahama seemed to start very slowly and struggled to get Toyoshima’s respect through the first few rounds, despite having some flurries of success, particularly with his right hand. The solid jab of Nagahama’s, one of his best weapons, regularly went under-utilised and by the time he started using it regularly it seemed that he was already in a hole, especially given the body shots he was being forced to take.
Somehow though the judges were less harsh than we were and after 4 rounds the scores were 39-37, 38-38 and 37-39, leading to a draw at that point on the cards. We sided with the judge who had it 39-37 to Toyoshima.
It seemed like those cards offended Toyoshima who really upped the tempo in rounds 6 and 7 as he began to give Nagahama a battering, dropping the defending champion in round 7 with a monstrous right hand, and pinning him against the ropes for large portions of the round. It seemed, going into round 8, that Toyoshima was on the verge of a stoppage, but Nagahama gritted it out through the round, showing his toughness and will to win.
After 8 rounds the open scoring now all favoured Toyoshima, with scores of 77-74 and two scores of 78-73, the same as how we had it, having given Nagahama rounds 3 and 5.
In round 9 Nagahama was taking punishment before landing his most telling shot of the fight, a nasty low blow. The shot saw Nagahama getting a breather and Toyoshima losing some of his momentum and composure, and he seemed too eager to continue fighting. When the fight resumed Toyoshima had Nagahama in trouble, before taking some solid blows himself as Nagahama tried to fight fire with fire, giving us a brilliant final 20 seconds or so to the round.
By round 10 both men began to look tired, and the tempo began to ease off. That favoured Nagahama who began to land plenty of body shots on Toyoshima, who responded with shots up top. Round 11 saw the pace further slow down, though Toyoshima’s power and work rate was continuing to carry the fight his way. Given the slowdown in the previous two rounds we expected round 12 to be a rather tired round from both mne, but instead Toyoshima fought like a man who didn’t just want to win, but wanted to stop his man, and fought at a frightening pace, as Nagahama took a beating once again. In the final minute it seemed certain that Nagahama was going to hit the canvas again, if not be stopped standing, but he somehow did enough to see out the round, and hear the final bell.
As we went to the scorecards it was clear there was only one man who could have won, and that was Toyoshima, who was declared the winner with scores of 117-110, 116-111 and 115-112.
On this performance Toyoshima is perhaps not going to have a particularly long reign, but it will be a fun one. As for Nagahama we can’t help but feel he got his tactics very wrong and allowed Toyoshima to control the tempo far too easily. Despite that the former champion did show incredible heart and determination late, and it was a testament to his will for him to see out the 12 rounds.
tomorrow at Korakuen Hall we'll see OPBF Welterweight champion Riku Nagahama (12-2-1, 4) [長濱 陸] defending his belt against the hard hitting challenger Ryota Toyoshima (12-2-1, 8) [豊嶋亮太]. For fans not able to make it to the venue, the bout will also be available on CS channel G+ as part of their long running Dynamic Glove series.
Today, ahead of their bout, the two men took part in their weigh in and both fighters came in well under the limit.
The champion came in around 145.7lbs, more than 1lb under the divisional limit. He explained that he did lose a little more than usual, just in case. In regards to his preparation he explained that this was the first time he had done 12 rounds of sparring in a day, and it seems the focus was on his stamina and work rate.
For the champion the bout will be his first defense following his title win in February 2020 against Kudura Kaneko, in what was regarded as a small upset.
Toyoshima, sporting pink hair, on the other hand was around 146.2lbs, close to 1lb under the limit.
The challenger went on to explain that this was the best condition he had been in, despite taking 16 months out of the ring, in part due to a dislocation he suffered in his hand in his last fight. To prepare he was training with Jorge Linares, and it seems the focus was on using Linares' experience to help develop Toyoshima's understanding of the ring and variety of attacks.
For those wanting to tune in to the event on TV, or attending in person, please be aware the event will begin earlier than usual due to the new state of emergency declared in Tokyo Metropolitan region and 3 surrounding Prefectures. With this in mind, fans watching via iSakura will need to order earlier than usual, especially given that typical iSakura orders are taking around 12 hours to process at the moment.
Preview - Potential thriller as OPBF champion Nagahama takes on Toyoshima!
(Image courtesy of Kadoebi)
Over the last few weeks we’ve been asked about the TV and broadcast details for the upcoming OPBF Bantamweight bout, between defending champion Keita Kurihara (15-5, 13) [栗原慶太] and former WBC “interim” world champion Takuma Inoue (13-1, 3) [井上拓真]. Thankfully we now have confirmation regarding the broadcast of the bout and can confirm it will be aired.
Sadly however, albeit not surprisingly, it will not be aired live.
The bout, which takes place this coming Thursday at Korakuen Hall, will be shown tape delay. Never a great thing, though thankfully it’s not going to be a lengthy delay like we’ve seen with some events. Instead the bout will be shown on Saturday night/Sunday morning, on Fuji TV as part of their semi-regular Fuji Boxing - Phoenix Battle content.
The bout will be aired from 27:35 to 28:40 local time on Saturday, which is 3:35 to 4:40 on Sunday morning for those unfamiliar with Japanese TV schedules.
At the moment it’s unclear if time will be set aside for any of the under-card bouts, though we suspect highlights from bouts featuring Keisuke Matsumoto (1-0, 1) [松本圭佑], Ryutaro Nakagaki (1-0, 1) [中垣龍汰朗] and Katsuki Mori (7-0, 1) [森且貴] will be aired, though potentially very brief highlights if the main event goes the scheduled 12 rounds.
Whilst we’re not a huge fan of tape delay boxing, a few days delay is somewhat acceptable, and beats the multi-week delay that TBS had last year for the bout between former WBC Flyweight champion Daigo Higa and Seiya Tsutsumi.
Strangely this tape delay may also work out well for those wanting to dip their toe into iSakura for a weekend, with G+ airing a live card earlier on Saturday, with that broadcast starting at 16:00 local time. That broadcast will feature a number of talented debutants as well as a mouth watering OPBF Welterweight title bout between defending champion Riku Nagahama (12-2-1, 4) [長濱 陸] and hard hitting challenger Ryota Toyoshima (12-2-1, 8) [豊嶋亮太].
Related - Keita Kurihara Vs Takuma Inoue - The first big Japanese fight of 2021!
Potential thriller as OPBF champion Nagahama takes on Toyoshima!
Earlier today the JBC and JPBA announced that boxing events with fans would have to finish before 8PM local time due to Covid19. This meant that a number of shows already arranged have had to adjust to accommodate the rules.
The first promoter to announce changes to their show following the announcement was Kadoebi who have announced that their January 16th card, headlined by a brilliant match up between OPBF Welterweight champion Riku Nagahama (12-2-1, 4) [長濱 陸] and hard hitting challenger Ryota Toyoshima (12-2-1, 8) [豊嶋亮太], will start earlier than originally planned.
The doors were planned to be open at 16:45 local time, with the first bell at 17:45. Now however the doors will be opened at 15:15 with the first bell at 16:00, almost 2 hours earlier than originally planned.
The change will allow all the bouts to take place, with fans in attendance, and will be finished before the 8PM cut off time.
Kadoebi have since added that there is still of the show being cancelled all together if they can't secure a medical facility on the day, as the rules now require. The hope is that that won't be an issue, but there is always a chance.
For fans watching on TV, G+ still have the original start time set for their broadcast, with the show airing from 16:45, though it's unclear if they will show the early bouts on tape delay, after the main event, or not air them at all. Fingers crossed they do get shown or get made available through Kadoebi directly.
For those who have tickets and can't attend due to Covid19, Kadoebi have stated that you should contact them, or the fight you purchased the tickets from, to get a refund.
Earlier today at Korakuen Hall fight fans had the latest show in the Dynamic Glove series. The show, which will be aired on G+ early next week, was one that looked promising when it was first announced but ended up losing it's main event around a week before the show took place. As a result it went from looking good to a little bit under-whelming, though thankfully the fans ended up with a decent show in the end.
The event began with unbeaten prospect Takuma Takahashi (6-0, 6) [高橋 拓磨] sending 37 year old fighter Kodai Kiyota (9-7-2, 9) [清田 広大] into retirement. Kiyota, who hadn't fought in 10 years, was taken out in the first round by Takahashi, who landed a huge right hand that dropped Kiyota. The referee waved off the bout and gave Takahashi a much needed confidence boost after his ugly, controversial, and terrible performance against Leonardo Doronio back in January.
Following Takahashi's win fans then saw a really interesting match up between Shun Sekine (4-0-1, 3) [関根 駿] and Atsuyuki Sato (5-2-2, 3) [佐藤諄幸]. The two 23 year olds fought really evenly here. Sekine started well, before Sato responded, then Sekine had to step it up, before Sato matched him again. Round after round there was little to split the two men and that showed on the score-cards after 6 rounds. Two of the judges had this even, 57-57, whilst the third judge had Sekine winning 58-56, resulting in a majority decision draw.
The third bout on the card saw Shinnosuke Hasegawa (13-2-1, 9) [長谷川 慎之介] score his 12th straight win as he stopped Ikemen Atsushi (7-7-2, 2) [イケメン淳] in the 5th round of their bout. The JBC #3 ranked Super Featherweight was dropped in the opening round, but recovered well, gritted his teeth and managed turn things around. In round 5 he forced Atsushi's corner to throw in their towel and save their man.
The main event saw former world title challenger Takeshi Inoue (17-1-1, 10) [井上 岳志] battling unbeaten fighter Nath Nwachukwu (6-1-2, 3) [ワチュク・ナァツ]. On paper this was a mismatch, and the real question was whether or Nwachukwu was going to last the distance. In reality however this ended up being an interesting bout with the winner more disappointed than the loser. To his credit Inoue looked good to begin with, he looked sharp, used his jab well and like a fringe world class fighter. Nwachukwu on the other hand showed he was tough, hungry, determined and not there to lose. In round 4 Nwachukwu managed to find his groove, and managed to have some success, though the big talking point was a clash of heads that left Inoue cut and marked up around his left eye.
With his eye cut Inoue fought back the desire to have a war and stuck to his boxing, though was certainly made uncomfortable in the later rounds. He even admitted that he had had his rhythm disturbed by the headclash.
After 8 rounds Inoue took a clear decision, winning the bout 78-75, 78-74 and 79-73. Despite the win he was left a mess and after the bout he was picked with plaster covering his left eye and on the right side of his forehead.
After the bout Inoue stated he wasn't at his best and his promoter also seems to be eyeing bigger and better things, likely in an attempt to keep his man eager and hungry.
As for Nwachukwu he seemed to be looking at making the most of this, and move forward with a positive attitude, and with lessons learned from this bout.
For fans wanting to watch this it will be shown on G+ on Tuesday next week.
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
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