Earlier today fight fans at Korakuen Hall had the latest show in the Misako promoted series of Diamond Glove shows, which will be aired this coming weekend on Fuji TV. The card featured several bouts of note, including a Japanese Welterweight title bout, between Keita Obara and Shoki Sakai as well as the Japanese debut of Go Hosaka.
For those wanting to watch this, as live, over the weekend we please note that spoilers will begin in the next paragraph, starting with the the first under-card bout, which is unlikely to be televised at all, and then moving on through the other bouts on the show. If you wish to avoid those spoilers, please stop reading now.
The show began with a 4 rounder between Koki Nakagawa (1-1-1, 1) [中川 光輝] and Seitaro Suzuki (0-1) [鈴木 誠太郎], which Nakagawa won by TKO in the 4th round. As with many 4 rounders in Japan this was well matched, fought at a great pace and was brutal, with both men taking some solid shots as they beat the fight out of each other. With just over a minute of the bout left the referee jumped in saving a damaged Suzuki from any more punishment. Whilst Western shows often kick off the events with a squash match for the local star, Japan has a knack of throwing us a fun, fan friendly war to kick things off, and this was certainly the case here.
The second bout saw something of a surprise as Yasutaka Fujita (7-1, 6) [藤田 裕崇] went the distance for the first time in his career, albeit in a winning effort as he out pointed Shun Akaiwa (5-3-1, 3) [赤岩 俊]. The exciting and explosive Fujita had made his name in 2019, reaching the All Japan Rookie of the Year final, before moving over to the Misako gym in 2020. This was just his second bout since moving gyms and he showed some genuine improvement, he picked his shots well, certainly calmed down from being the hyper aggressive fighter he once was, and even switched stances later in the bout. After 6 rounds Fujita won a clear 6 round decision and this is exactly the performance he and his team would have wanted to prove he could pace a high action bout, and could his brain as well as his brawn.
In the main support bout was saw unbeaten 24 year old Go Hosaka (5-0, 3) make his Japanese debut, having previously been fighting in the Philippines. He was given a genuine test here by Kanta Fukui (7-4-1, 5), who came into the ring as a big under-dog but came to win. From the off these two boxed at a nice range, and fought a pretty technical bout to begin with. As the bout went on Fukui made it clear he wasn't here to roll over to the talented former amateur stand out. From round 4 Fukui began to press the action more intently, using his jab really well to probe, and keep Hosaka on his toes. He then stepped up his game in rounds 5 and 6 as he really gave Hosaka problems.
Thankfully for Hosaka he still had something in the tank and pressured with more vigour in the final 2 rounds, doing just enough to secure a split decision. Judges scored this 78-74 and 77-75, in Hosaka's favour, and 77-75 to Fukui, who really gave a very good effort.
Despite the win Hosaka wasn't a happy chappy, and stated "Honestly, it was a terrible match. I regret it. There are many challenges. My goal is to remake boxing from scratch so that I can win the Japanese title."
In the main event Japanese Welterweight champion Keita Obara (24-4-1, 21) [小原 佳太] narrowly retained his title with a close win over Shoki Sakai (25-12-2, 12) [坂井 祥記]. Coming in there was a feelign this could be something a bit special, and proved to be just that.
Early on Obara tried to make an impression behind his solid jab, but Sakai used a tight guard to try and neutralise the jab whilst walking forward, pressuring Obara and trying to get up close, where he could work the body of the champion. Obara tried to turn up the tempo in round 2 but Sakai went with him, increasing his own tempo in round 3, landing some of his best shots. It really was a back and forth fight through the first 5 rounds as the two men tried to force their style on the bout, and tried to dictate the distance of the bout, with Obara wanting it at mid to long range and Sakai desperate to get inside.
After 5 rounds the judges all had this 48-47, with two favouring Obara and the other having Sakai in the lead.
Sakai's style seemed likely to have more success the longer the bout went, with his pressure expected to grind down Obara and his gas tank. It seemed that was the case in round 6 as he had some real success, however Obara wasn't there to hand over his title and he showed his class in round 8, whilst also avoiding Sakai's taunts to come and have a fight. The class of Obara continued to be the difference maker in the final rounds, as he used his reach and range to land body shots and not get involved in the wrong type of fight.
After 10 rounds we went to the judges and all 3 judges had this to Obara 96-94.
After the bout Obara stated "I'm relieved to win. I have a lot of KOs to win, so I tried to do that, but Sakai got along well and got the pace. Unfortunately, I have no choice but to expect the next KO. I've been in the best condition these days. My power and Sakai's power were in competition."
Earlier today Misako announced the details of a show set for April 8th under the Diamond Glove banner, and although 3 bouts have been announced all 3 of those bouts are very interesting ones worthy attention.
The main event of the show will see Japanese Welterweight champion Keita Obara (23-4-1, 21) [小原 佳太] making his first defense of the title, which he won last year when he stopped Yuki Nagano. In the opposite corner to the former world title challenger will be "reimported boxer" Shoki Sakai (25-11-2, 12) [坂井 祥記], who will be fighting in Japan for the third time.
Of the two men Obara is the more well known. He's a former Japanese and OPBF champion at 140lbs, where he also challenged for the IBF world title, who also made his name on the regional scene at Welterweight, where he has won the WBO Asia Pacific and Japanese titles. At the age of 34 however there is a feeling his best years are behind him, and he was easily out-pointed in 2019 by Uzbek fighter Kudratillo Abdukakhorov in an IBF world title eliminator. Despite that loss he has bounced back with 3 wins, all by stoppage, including his TKO win over Nagano for the title in February 2020.
Sakai on the other hand has fought much of his career in Mexico and the US, before making his Japanese debut last August, with a win over Hironori Shigeta, and ended the year with a win over Takeru Kobata, in December. For him this will be his first bout for a Japanese national title, though he has previously fought for a variety of titles, and even won the WBC Youth title at 140lbs. Despite his record having double figure losses on it he has never been stopped and has shared the ring with some very names, including Gor Yeritsyan, Alexis Rocha and Eddie Gomez. His toughness should see him testing Obara, in what could be a very interesting match up.
In the chief support bout we'll see the Japanese debut of Go Hosaka (4-0, 3) [保坂 剛], who has fought his entire professional career in the Philippines. The talented 24 year old Hosaka will be up against Kanta Fukui (7-3-1, 5) [福井 貫太] in an 8 round bout.
Hosaka is one of those fighters who hasn't had the attention he deserves. He was with ALA Gym until it closed, and sadly was one of the fighters who ALA let down in some ways, despite the clear potential and talent he had. Before turning professional he had amassed a 50-13 amateur record and was viewed as someone to keep an eye on, but was out of the ring for the entire of 2020. Since ALA closed he has signed with the well established Misako Gym in Japan and this will be his first bout as a Misako Gym fighter. As for Fukui this will be his first bout since beating Mikado Konishi last August, and Fukui should serve as a solid test for Hosaka here.
The third bout announced for this show will see 2019 All Japan Rookie of the Year runner up Yasutaka Fujita (6-1, 6) [藤田裕崇] take on Shun Akaiwa (5-2-1, 3) [赤岩 俊] in what should be an explosive encounter. Although Fujita isn't the most polished fighter he is a destructive and exciting force, and a must watch fighter, who throws bomb after bomb after bomb. Akaiwa on the other hand will be looking to bounce back from a 45 second blow out to Jin Sasaki. With that loss for Akaiwa in mind and the exciting style of Fujita this might be a "blink and you miss it" bout.
In one of the biggest Filipino boxing related news stories ever, promotional giant ALA Boxing have announced that they are closing as a promotional company and boxing gym, with the shutters being pulled on ALA Promotions and ALA Gym after 35 years.
In recent times ALA boxing had faltered somewhat and the last few years have been frustrating ones for Filipino fans, who have failed to see prospects kick on and have sat watching Donnie Nietes (42-1-5, 23) waste what could have been the final years of his career. The stable had also seen fighters like Mark Magsayo (20-0, 14)leave in the pursuit of opportunities that ALA were unable to deliver and had seen it's big hopes falling short on their way up.
Whilst it had faltered the assumption was that it would rebuild, come back and be strong once again. Those hopes were dashed earlier this year with a combination of the current global situation as well as things closer to home, with ABS-CBN being forced to close due to political reasons.
The gym have released a statement regarding the closure, which can be read below, which includes thanking the support of fighters, staff, fans, media, sponsors and boxing organisations.
We want to say thank you to ALA for all the great memories and time they have brought us over the years. This is a huge loss for Filipino boxing, even with the recent down turn in success that ALA have had. They have been integral to the success of Filipino boxing for decades and them bowing out will leave a huge hole in the sport in the country, that may take years to fill.
The one positive, if we can say that, is that ALA have released all their fighters who are now free agents and able to sign with any other promoters. This means the likes of KJ Cataraja (11-0 9), Go Hosaka (4-0, 3), Albert Pagara (32-1, 23), Melvin Jerusalem (15-2, 9), Esneth Domingo (13-1, 7)and even Donnie Nietes, if he does return to the ring, have no issues standing in their way when it comes to signing with a new promotional outfit. Fingers crossed that those fighters do get opportunities sooner rather than later and other promoters do pick them up, as there really is some incredible free agents no on the market.
With boxing's return to the Philippines still uncertain this really is dreadful news for fighters, fans, and everyone concerned with the Filipino boxing scene.
Earlier today ALA held a small, yet notable, card in Bohol where a number of top prospects picked up their latest wins.
The least experienced of the prospects to pick up a win was 22 year old Regie Suganob (3-0, 1), who over-came fellow young hopeful John Paul Gabunilas (2-1, 1) with a 6 round unanimous decision. Suganob had won the Philippine National Games title last year as an amateur and is regarded as a genuinely promising youngster and taking on a fellow unbeaten this early shows the belief his team have in him.
The very highly regarded Japanese-Filipino Go Hosaka (4-0, 3) scored his latest win as he took out the over-matched Kim Lindog (5-8-1, 4) in 3 rounds. Whilst this was a mismatch the result is a very impressive one for Hosaka given that Lindog had only been stopped once before in his career. Coming in to this Lindog had lost his previous 4, but had gone the distance with the likes of Ben Mananquil and Ronnie Baldonado, so for Hosaka to stop him this early in his career is noteworthy to say the least.
Another mismatch saw the incredibly talented KJ Cataraja (11-0, 8) score a 3rd round TKO over the experienced, but limited, Crison Omayao (24-21-5, 8). The talented Cataraja was fighting for the second time this year and this bout was more a case of keeping him busy rather than developing on what he'd done last year, including an excellent win over Victor Hugo Reyes. For Omayao this was an 10th stoppage loss in 50 bouts, and we really need to wonder why his team keep allowing him in with fighters who are so out of his depth.
An even bigger mismatch saw the world ranked Christian Bacolod (12-0, 9) take out domestic journeyman Michael Camelion (10-13-2, 8) inside a round. Despite Bacolod struggling past Christoval Furog last November we don't see any excuse for him to be taking on an opponent like Camelion, who has now been stopped 8 times in his 13 losses.
Earlier today Japanese-Filipino Go Hosaka (2-0, 1) [保坂剛] took a major step up in class, in just his second bout as he took on Jason Tinampay (8-12-1, 7) at "Pinoy Pride 45: Quest for Greatness". Despite the step up the former amateur stand out immediately impressed, forcing Tinampay on to the ropes from the opening seconds.
Tinampay was forced onto the ropes almost immediately and the entire first round saw Hosaka dominate with the more experienced man doing little more than surviving from behind a tight defense. The second round was similar with Tinampay doing more to survive than put up a real fight, though he did land a good counter or two. The game plan of Tinampay was obvious, trying to catch Hosaka as he came in, but Hosaka was wise to it, and used a sharp jab and brutal straight left hands to stop Tinampay from getting much success. Tinampay played the fool through the second round however, taunting and playing to the crowd, trying to get into Hosaka's head.
In round 3 Hosaka picked up his body attack and started to find holes to hurt his man to the midsection. Tinampay, to his credit, took the blows well, but did little offensively as Hosaka got to control the tempo and had fun doing so, knowing that there was very little coming back at him. Round 4 again saw Hosaka in control, as Tinampay played to the crowd, trying to lure Hosaka into a mistake for him to capitalise on.
In round 5 the tempo slowed drastically. It seemed like Hosaka was accepting he wasn't going to take Tinampay out with volume and began setting his feet for heavier single shots. Tinampay seemed to take that as a sign of tiredness from Hosaka and he came forward, eating a brilliant left hand from Hosaka as a result.
The slower, more deliberate, attack from Hosaka continued in round 6, as he looked to pick the blows that would take his man out. Tinampay however fired back enough to back up Hosaka, landing a very notable low blow that saw Hosaka walk off for a few seconds.
At the end Tinampay had seen off the 6 round distance, but had been clearly beaten, with all 3 judges scoring the bout for Hosaka.
Hosaka, who looked in control from round 1, would have been unhappy to not get the stoppage, but going 6 rounds, at a good tempo, will have done him a lot of good and it's clear that after an opening round blow out on debut this will have done him a lot of good. For Tinampay surviving 6 rounds will have been a moral victory, but that was about all he had to take away from the bout, other than some clear facial swelling.
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