Earlier today we had live action from Hyogo courtesy of Taisei Gym and TV Osaka who managed to give us a rather fun morning of action thanks to a 2-part show that had everything, despite massive amounts of disappointment before the event had event started.
First thing this morning news broke that the anticipated Light Flyweight bout between Katsunari Takayama (31-8-0-1, 12) [高山 勝成] and Reiya Konishi (17-2, 7) [小西伶弥] had been cancelled. The bout was called off today due to Konishi testing positive for Covid19.
Thankfully that bad news was blessed with some good news and that is that the JBC will extend Takayama's license for another year due to force majeure regarding the delays to his ring return. The JBC do have a rule where they won't allow someone over the age of 37 to fight unless they meet other criteria, including fighting in the last 3 years. It's now more than 4 years since Takayama last fought, but common sense has seen them extend his license. Sadly this is the second time a bout of his has been scheduled this year, and then been cancelled with Takayama originally scheduled to fight just before his 37th birthday before Covid19 forced boxing in Japan to be put on hiatus.
The event kicked off with a female bout between Kanako Tabuchi (2-0, 1) [田淵 加奈子] and Aoi Watanabe (2-4, 1) [渡邊 葵]. This was a really fun and exciting way to start the show, with Tabuchi looking to have a fight and Watanabe responding with some big counters. In the end it was Tabuchi who got her hand raised, though she seem to be very fortunate to get a majority decision victory over 36 year old Watanabe. This was, sadly, a sign of things to come with the judging, but the action it's self was fantastic and the perfect start to the event.
The second bout on the show saw Takuya Takahashi (0-3-1) [高橋 拓也] and Takahiro Hamazaki (2-6-2, 1) [浜崎 隆広] fight to a 4 round split decision draw. The fight started slowly, and first 2 rounds seemed to be better for Takahashi than they did for Hamazaki, with Takahashi showing some very nice boxing skills. Sadly for him however Hamazaki turned the bout into a high intensity street fight in the final 2 rounds, giving us 6 minutes of absolute chaos, as he pulled a draw from the jaws of defeat. This was the real highlight of the first part of the show and a joy to watch. Blistering tempo, huge shots from both and 2 rounds of brilliantly brutal violence.
The third bout, and final, bout from the first part saw Arata Matsuoka (10-6, 4) [松岡 新] take a clear 8 round decision over Hideyuki Watanabe (8-13-3, 6) [渡邉 秀行]. Despite the scorecards being rather wide, one of which was 79-73, this was a really competitive bout with Watanabe holding his own for large swathes of the contest in a really enjoyable technical bout. In may ways this was the palette cleanser after two crazy action bouts and despite Watanabe's unappealing record he showed that he is a very, very capable fighter.
After Matsuoka's win we then saw Katsunari Takayama come to the ring, where he spoke to the fans. With a microphone in his hand Takayama stated "I was looking forward to the return fight for the first time in 4 years and 3 months, but I'm sorry to say that I want to push forward. Please wait for a while. I have been practicing in a very good environment since then. I will continue to devote myself. I will devote the energy of two bouts to the next fight"
The show then went to an intermission for around 2 hours before we returned for 3 more bouts.
The first of those bouts in the second part of the show saw us return back to in ring wars as Wataru Ikegami (8-5-1, 5) [池上 渉] and Shion Tamada (6-4, 3) [玉田 汐響] put on a sensational battle. The first 2 rounds seemed to be good ones for Tamada, who seemed too quick, big and youthful for Ikegami. And then bout turned on it's head in round 3 with Ikegami putting his foot on the gas and battering Tamada through out round 3. Tamada then tried to turn the fight around and we ended up having a war through the middle rounds. Sadly for Tamada he couldn't slow down Ikegami, who's jab was a fantastic weapon, and in round 7 the pressure from Ikegami became too much, sending Tamada to the canvas. Tamada did well to beat the count but the referee made the correct decision to save him from further punishment.
The second bout on this portion of the event was, on paper, the most interesting bout and saw former world title challenger Sho Ishida (29-2, 15) [石田 匠] take a decision win over Toshiya Ishii (3-1, 2) [石井渡士也]. This was an intriguing match through out, with Ishii pressing the action and Ishida looking to box off his long and sharp jab. We thought Ishii had done enough to take the decision, with his pressure, uppercuts and body shots catching the eye, though he ate plenty of straight shots through out and was left with a nasty cut above his eye brow, very obvious facial swelling and a bloodied nose. This was a great mix of styles, though in the end it was maybe the experience of Ishida, who stole a few rounds with late activity, that proved to be the difference. Despite the loss we wouldn't write Ishii, in fact he'll have learned a lot here. Sadly for Ishida it's another win where he showed a lot of limitations, and despite having a brilliant jab and straight right hand he simply cruises too much, and that has bit him in the past.
The main event of the 2-part show saw former world title challenger Riku Kano (17-4-1, 8) [加納 陸] over-come Ryoki Hirai (13-7-1, 4) [平井亮輝] to claim the WBO Asia Pacific Light Flyweight title. This one promises a lot but never really delivered. It started very, very slowly, as both men took a long time to figure the other out, boxing at range and being very cautious. In round 3 we got the first flash point of the right, with Hirai dumping Kano down with a right hand, but he failed to build on it. From round 5 the bout did pick up, becoming more of an inside war, but it was often messy action, with a lot of holding, heads coming together, and limited clean action. Both men had moments in these messy rounds, but neither could land a fight changing blow. In the end the judges were called on, again, and favoured Kano with a split decision. Given how little there was to split the two men it was hard to argue with the call here, and despite it being a close bout it's certainly not one we want to see re-run.
In a week where British fans are discussing the PPV price of upcoming shows, and promoters are defending those prices, it was great to see TV Osaka give us this show for free. It had several great action bouts on it and even with the disappointment of Takayama Vs Konishi the shows over-delivered. Well done to those involved in putting this together!
Earlier today fans were able to see the popular Takuya Kogawa (30-5-1, 13) [粉川拓也] claim his 30th professional win, as he over-came Hideyuki Watanabe (8-12-3, 6) [渡邉秀行].
Despite the win it wasn't a day to remember for Kogawa, in fact it was a day with a lot of luck and he was incredibly fortunate to avoid a shock loss here.
Kogawa looked sharp early on, and not like a man who had been out of the ring since last July. Sadly that sharpness didn't last and Watanabe was the aggressor, landing southpaw left hands on a regular basis and making Kogawa look horribly limited at times. Kogawa was often on the back foot, trying to avoid the pressure of Watanabe and often came off looking second best.
After 6 rounds it was really hard to make a case for Kogawa, who hadn't been totally out classed but had been getting out landed, out worked and out boxed at times. Thankfully for Kogawa his experience showed through in the end as he gritted his teeth, fought hard and managed to win the last 2 rounds. They proved incredibly vital, with Kogawa needing them to pull out the win.
After 8 rounds the scores were 77-75 and 77-76 to Kogawa and 77-76 to Watanabe. The final 2 rounds were the difference between a win and a huge upset loss for Kogawa, who didn't shine on his debut as a Kadoebi fighter.
For Watanabe the loss will be a hard one to take, he did more than anyone would have have expected and fingers crossed he bounces back from this defeat, a defeat that obviously hurt given how he had performed. For Kogawa the future doesn't look good, and it's hard to know what he still has left in the tank after a very, very hard and long career. He's a long way removed from the fighter he once way, and looks a shadow of the fighter he was just a few years ago. Inactivity won't have helped Kogawa here, but he's an old fighter who has taken a lot of punishment and maybe, just maybe, that has all caught up with him.
For fans wanting to watch this bout, it's available on Boxing Raise.
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
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