Today fight fans at the EDION Arena Osaka had the chance to see a Japanese title double header. One of those fighters was for the vacant Japanese Super Flyweight title, and saw former 4-time world title challenger Hiroyuki Kudaka (26-17-2, 11) [久高寛之] battle against fellow veteran Go Onaga (28-4-4, 19) [翁長 吾央]. Both men wre looking to record their biggest winand claim their first title, despite both having been professionals for well over 10 years.
The two men had fought last year in a Japanese title determination bout, essentially a final eliminator, and fought to a draw. Despite that draw both men were ordered to rematch for the title afater Ryuichi Funai vacated the belt and it was clear the bout meant so much to both men.
Kudaka started well, landing his straight right hand though Onaga quickly found success with his jab as the two men seemed to cancel each other othe with good boxingr.
Amazingly after 5 rounds, when the scores were announced, one judge had the bout a shut out to Onaga, though was over-ruled by the other judges who had it 48-47 and 49-47 to Kudaka. It's hard to explain how a judge had the bout a shut out after the mid way point, but the scores of all 3 judges seemed to inspire the fighters to pick up the pace, with both knowing the contest was in the balance.
With the pace picking up the two men began to trade shots more freely in round 7, with a headbutt in the second half of the fight leaving Onaga cut around the left eye. The cut could have began the downfall of Onaga but it didn't and he had a realy strong finish to the fight. It was however too little too late for the 37 year old, who would lose the decision with scores of 97-94, 97-94 and 95-95, resulting in a majority decision for Kudaka.
With the win Kudaka claims his first major title and he looked incredibly glad to have scored such a significant victory. Sadly for Onaga it's hard to see where he goes from here, and retirement might well be looming for him.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Tomorrow Japanese fight fans at the EDION Arena in Osaka will get the chance to see a Japanese title double header. One of those bouts will be for the currently vacant Japanese Super Flyweight, as veterans Hiroyuki Kudaka (25-17-2, 11) [久高寛之] and Go Onaga (28-3-4, 19) [翁長 吾央] face off in their second bout, following a technical draw last year.
Today the two men took part in the weight in for the bout, and both fighters made weight for what could be a bit of an over-looked war.
On the scales both men made weight with no issue.
Kudaka, a 4-time world title challenger, looked in sensational shape at the weigh in. He looked really calm and confident and was clearly happy to make weight, and get one more shot to claim a major career honour. At the age of 33 Kudaka does have a little bit of time left in his career, but with his style and the damage he's taken through his career this is probably going to be his final big bout.
As for Onaga he stated he would do his best and rely on his boxing. He was calm though with his 38th birthday just around the corner he knows this really will be his final shot at a title.
Related - Kudaka and Onaga go again, this time for Japanese title!
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
One of the key parts of the Japanese boxing calendar is the Champion Carnival, which takes place over the first 6 months of the year and sees the national champions defending their titles against their mandatory challengers.
Today we saw the bouts being announced for the 2018 Champion Carnival at a huge press confeence, and as with every year, there were some brilliant bouts being announced.
At Minimumweight we'll see Ryoki Hirai (10-4-1, 4) [平井亮輝] and Shin Ono (21-9-3, 5) [小野 心] battle for the vacant title, which was given up by Reiya Konishi (15-0, 5) [小西伶弥] a few days ago. The bout will be Hirai's first title bout, whilst the experienced Ono will be getting his 4th shot at a Japanese title, having previously won an OPBF title and having several world title bouts. This bout will take place in Kobe on April 22nd and should be a very, very good match up.
The Light Flyweight bout will see defending champion Tetsuya Hisada (30-9-2, 19) [久田 哲也] make his 3rd defense of the title, as he takes on Koji Itagaki (18-11-3, 7) [板垣幸司]. This looks like a mismatch on paper, but it will be Itagaki's first, and likely last, shot at a domestic title and he sounded determined and confident at today's event. This contest has been pencilled in for April 19th and will take place in Osaka.
Although a number of bouts were announced today, some were already known about. One such bout was the Flyweight contest, which will see Masayuki Kuroda (28-7-3, 16) [黒田 雅之] defending his title against the exciting Katsunori Nagamine (14-1-1, 10) [長嶺克則. This will be Kuroda's third defense of the title, whilst Nagamine will be having his first challenge, and the bout really does have the potential to be a real thriller. As mentioned this bout was already known about, and will take place on March 3rd, as previously reported.
At Super Flyweight we'll be getting a rematch between Hiroyuki Kudaka (25-17-2, 11) [久高寛之] and Go Onaga (28-3-4, 19) [翁長 吾央], who face off following a technical draw in December. The two men will be fighting for the currently vacant title, which was given up by Ryuichi Funai (29-7, 20) [船井 龍一] earlier this week. Sadly at the time of writing this bout has no venue, or set date, but seems likely to be fought in Tokyo on either a Dangan show or an Ohashi one, potentially in April or May.
Interestingly the first Champion Carnival bout comes in just over a week's time, as Ryo Akaho (31-2-2, 20) [赤穂 亮] defends his Bantamweight title against Yusuke Suzuki (9-3, 6) [鈴木悠介] at the Korakuen Hall on January 20th, in a bout set to be televised on G+. For Akaho the bout willbe his second defense, whilst Suzuki gets his first title fight, in what looks like a really exciting way to kick off the 2018 Champion Carnival, and should be a very brutal bout.
At Super Bantamweight we'll see Ryo Kosaka (15-3-1, 7) [小坂遼] challenging champion Yusaka Kuga (15-2-1, 10) [久我勇作], with Kosaka essentially filling in for the injured Yasutaka Ishimoto (31-9, 9) [石本康隆]. The bout is a decent looking one, but it's hard to not expect a win for the champion, who has looked fantastic in a number of recent contests, and could well find himself in the world title mix later this year. This bout is scheduled for March 27th at the Korakuen Hall.
Featherweight champion Takenori Ohashi (15-4-2, 10) [大橋健典] will look to build from his dramatic 2017 win over Kosuke Saka (16-4, 13) [坂晃典] as he defends his title against fellow puncher Taiki Minamoto (14-5, 11) [源大輝]. This bout promises to be explosive, even if both are a bit crude, and Ohashi will be hoping to avoid a similar finish to his title win, where Saka turned away thinking he had heard the bell, and got iced by Ohashi in the final seconds of the round. These two will meet on April 7th at the Korakuen Hall.
In early February we'll see Ken Osato (13-1-1, 4) [大里拳] challenge Super Featherweight champion Masaru Sueyoshi (16-1, 10) [末吉 大]. For Sueyoshi this will be his first defense whilst Osato looks to build on his big 2017 win over Satoru Sugita (13-5-1, 8) [杉田聖]. The talented Sueyoshi has frustrated at times, but does look class when he gets going and should be favoured here for the February 3rd bout, but Osato is in good form and could easily spring the upset, if Sueyoshi is anything less than his best.
At Lightweight we'll see the very talented Shuichiro Yoshino (6-0, 4) [吉野修一郎] defending his title, for the first time, against Masaki Saito (14-12-6, 5) [斉藤正樹]. Yoshino has really shined so far in his short career and looks to be a star of the future for Japanese boxing, though will obviously need to get his first defense under his belt before becoming a star. Saito looks like a limited challenger, though is a very experienced fighter and should be able to give Yoshino some questions. This bout will be taking place on February 8th at the Korakuen Hall.
The Light Welterweight contests looks set to be one of the most exciting, as Valentine Hosokawa (22-6-3, 9) [細川バレンタイン] makes his first defense, and takes on the heavy handed Vladimir Baez (24-3-2-22). This bout looks likely to be a war, and whilst Baez will be the favourite, despite being the challenger, we can't rule out the champion, who hs long been under-rated. Like many this contest will take place at the Korakuen Hall and is set for May 7th.
One of the most explosive bouts on paper will see Welterweight champion Toshio Arikawa (15-4, 13) [有川 稔男] taking on fellow puncher Ryota Yada (14-4, 11) [矢田良太]. The contest might not have a future world champion or potential star in it, but given the power of both men this should be a shoot out, and could be something fvery, very special for the fans, who will be in the Korakuen Hall on April 16th.
At Light Middleweight we'll see triple crown winner Takeshi Inoue (12-0-1, 7) [井上 岳志] take on former Welterweight champion Nobuyuki Shindo (19-4-1, 8) [新藤寛之] in what should be a really good test for Inoue, who will be lookibg at bigger and better things in 2018. Shindo's reign at Welterweight was a short one, and whilst he will be hoping to become a 2-weight champion he is really up against it here against the fantastic Inoue. This bout is set to take place on April 26th at the Korakuen Hall.
The heaviest weight being contested at this year's Champion Carnival is Middleweight, and it may well end up being the best of the bouts, as March 3rd plays host to a contest between defending champion Hikaru Nishida (17-8-1, 8) [西田 光] and the heavy handed Kazuto Takesako (7-0, 7) [竹迫司登]. Nishida is a freakishly strong fighter who brings a lot of pressure, and whilst he can be out boxed he is a tough and aggressive nightmare,. Takesako on the other hand is a really brutish puncher and this will be something very special.
The winners of the bouts will of course be the defending champion, and will also be in the running for a number of prizes, including a notable award for being crowned the MVP of the Champion Carnival, or winning either the Skill or Battle awards.
(Photographs courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Last December fight fans saw Ryuichi Funai (29-7, 20) [船井 龍一] record his second defense of the Japanese Super Flyweight title, with a quick win over the over-matched Shota Kawaguchi (21-9-1, 9) [川口勝太]. Today, only a few weeks later, we saw the announcement that Funai had now vacated the title, rather than take part in the 2018 Champion Carnival. Becoming the second fighter to vacate a Japanese belt already this year, following former Minimumweight champion Reiya Konishi (15-0, 5) [小西伶弥] vacating just a couple of days ago.
Ranked in the top 15 by both the WBA and the IBF it would seem likely that Funai would be targetting a world title fight later in the year, and has likely vacated his national title to focus on getting a world titlle fight, potentially against WBA champion Kal Yafai.
Due to the decision by both Funai and Konishi it does seem like the 2018 Champion Carnival is likely to be hit by some changes, though in some ways that could make things a bit more interesting than they probably would have been. Though those Champion carnival bouts are yet to be confirmed.
From what we understand there is a push for Konishi's vacancy to be filled by a show down between Ryoki Hirai (10-4-1, 4) [平井亮輝] and Shin Ono (21-9-3, 5) [小野 心]. This bout is likely to be confirmed shortly for the title. At Super Flyweight Hiroyuki Kudaka (25-17-2, 11) [久高寛之] will rematch Go Onaga (28-3-4, 19) [翁長 吾央], and it's so far unclear whether this will be for the vacant title or not, which Kudaka did earn the rights fo fight for at the end of 2017 courtesy of a technical draw with Onaga in a Japanese title eliminator.
(Image courtesy of Watanabe Gym)
Some bouts look like they should be real thrillers, with two guys who have styles that should gel and make for fun action. Sadly every so often things don't go as expected, and a potential war just fails to happen.
One such example of that happened earlier today at the Korakuen Hall, as the usually fantastic to watch Hiroyuki Kudaka (25-17-2, 11) [久高寛之] battled veteran Go Onaga (28-3-4, 19) [翁長 吾央] in a Japanese Super Flyweight title eliminator.
What was expected to be a war was marred by head clashes, which seemed to disrupt any sort of a fight. The two felt each other out early on, and it looked, attimes, like they were getting ready for a really thrilling fight. Onaga often pressing and southpaw fighter Kudaka countering well. Late through the opening round how ever the fighters came together in an ugly mess, a huge headclash took place and Onaga basically fell on top of Kudaka. Both men were shaken up by the clash and Onaga was taken to the ringside doctor, though passed the check.
The second round saw the two men cut the distance slightly and the pace looked to be heating up, despite another headclash. Sadly as Onaga seemed to be finding some success the heads came together again, and Onaga was taken to a ringside doctor for the second time, before Kudaka was taken to the doctor. Both men passed the test but it was clear that the Southpaw Vs Orthordox stance was causing issues for two, who would clash heads several more times before the round was over.
Kudaka came out fast in round 3 and looked like he had scored a knockdown with a body at once point. The success of Kudaka grew as the round went on and he attacked the body of Onaga and put the older man under some intense pressure. That pressure lead to some sloppy action, including another big head clash, which this time forced the bout to be stopped with Onaga badly cut.
With with only 2 rounds complete the bout was declsred a technical draw, though of the two men Kudaka will be the happier man, as he will get a Japanese title shot in 2018 thanks to the "dominant point rule", as the cards read 19-19, 19-19 and 20-18 to Kudaka. That should will see Kudaka take on Ryuichi Funai [船井 龍一], and everyone will be hoping that that bout gels much better than this one did.
(Image couirtesy of boxmob.jp)
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