Earlier today fight fans in Osaka saw a really intriguing match up between former amateur stand outs Kazuki Tanaka (8-1, 6) [田中 一樹] and Hikaru Marugame (6-3-1, 4) [丸亀 光], with both men essentially fighting for their careers, and both knowing that hey desperately needed a win.
The two men seemed to be fully aware of how important the bout was and both looked sharp from the off, with Tanaka using his feet and jab brilliant, whilst Marugame looked to get inside and work the body. The pace picked up as the bout went on, and Tanaka managed to get a big break through in round 5 when he managed to drop Marugame.
Marugame recovered from the knockdown and looked like aman who was fine as he attacked, and then gritted his teeth through round 6, knowing that he had to turn things around. Sadly for Marugame his heart and determination wasn't enough and in round 7 Tanaka rocked him, and went for the finish, until the referee finally saved Marugame.
For Tanaka the 7th round TKO win helps him put a shock loss to Ryohei Takahashi behind him whilst Marugame has now loss 3 of his last 4 bouts and seems like a man who's once promising career is now hanging by a thread.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Earlier today Japanese fans at the Korakuen Hall had an interesting card, "Fighting Bee Vol 19", put on by Ichi Riki promotions. The card wasn't stacked with top names but featured a good combination of name talent and decent domestic match ups to give fans both some blow outs and some competitive action.
The chief support bout from the show saw the struggling Takafumi Nakajima (26-9-1, 11) [中嶋 孝文] score an opening round blow out against a Thai foe in a massive mismatch. Coming into this Nakajima had lost his previous 2 bouts, including suffering an 88 second blow out to the frighteningly exciting Kosuke Saka back in September.
Nakajima showed little sign of any hangover from that loss to Saka as he dropped the Thai foe foe the full 10 count in a quick and efficient victoryto reinstill some confidence.
Another man picking up a confidence building win was fellow struggler Hikaru Marugame (6-2-1 4) [丸亀 光]. who had failed to win in his previous 3. Marugame, a former amateur stand out, took out Pepsi Sithluangporphun (1-1, 1) in the second round to record his first win in alos 17 months!
Another stoppage saw the big punching Keita Kurihara (8-4, 7) [栗原 慶太] score a 3rd round win over the talented but light punching Sonin Nihei (8-3-2, 1) [仁平 宗忍. Whilst not a huge shock this was a minor upset with Nihei having once looked like a really promising fighter, that promise however couldn't cope with the heavy hands of Kurihara.
A good, and competitive, bout that did see the final bell saw Junki Sasaki (17-3, 6) [佐々木 洵樹] claim a clear, but hard fought, 8 round decision win over Yudai Tamagawa (9-8-1, 3) [玉川 裕大]. Sasaki, ranked in the top 15 by the JBC at Featherweight, always seemed that little bit better than Tamagawa, but the under-dog refused to bow down and Sasaki certainly got forced to work for his win.
Another that went the distance saw Tasuku Nakagawa (6-1-1, 2) [中川 祐] take a dominant and clear 6 round win over Toshizane Kinoda (5-3, 1) [木野田 俊翔] in a bout that looked very, very, competitive on paper. Nakagawa won every round, and was never in trouble during the 6 rounder.
(Images courtesy of boxingnews.jp and boxmob.jp)
Today pay service Asign streamed their first boxing card, "Dynamite Punch 101", the latest Hikari Yokohama card from the Korakuen Hall.
The bout was streamed in full and featured some brilliant match ups that ended in some upsets and some excellent performances.
One fighter who impressed was Ryohei Takahashi (9-2-1, 2) [高橋 竜平] who proved he could punch as he made light work of Thailand's Yodsing Padjaigym (0-2) with a 2nd round TKO. On paper this watch a complete mismatch but it was Takahashi's first bout since he was beaten in Australia by Andrew Moloney back in March.
A really impressive performance came from Masashi Noguchi (11-5-1, 5) [野口 将志] who took out the usually durable Kazuya Soma (7-10-2, 6) [相馬 一哉] inside a round. Although Noguchi's record may not impress 5th straight win and saw him extending his unbeaten run to 8 fights and it seems like he is generating some real career momentum.
Another man building momentum is Reiya Abe (12-2, 6) [阿部 麗也] who scored a 5th round TKO win over Shingo Kusano (11-5, 4) [草野 慎悟]. The win was Abe's 4th straight win and so him build from a shock win over Hikaru Marugame last time out. For Kusano this was his first stoppage loss and unfortunately for him it saw Abe avenging a narrow decision defeat from last year.
Staying on the theme of momentum it's fair to say that former amateur stand out Hikaru Marugame's (5-2-1, 3) [丸亀 光] has completely lost it's moment. He suffered a third successive set back today when he lost a wide decision to to 36 year old veteran Kinshiro Usui (26-4, 10) [臼井 欽士郎]. The last 12 months have been a nightmare for Marugame who seemed really promising when he turned professional but a draw with Jonathan Baat has been followed by decision losses to Abe and now Usui. For Usui this bout may well help him move towards a Japanese or OPBF title fight and is a 7th win in 8 for the Yokohama Hikari fighter.
In the main event former Japanese Middleweight Tomohiro Ebisu (16-4, 16) [胡 朋宏] scored an 8th round stoppage win over recent title challenger Yasuyuki Akiyama (10-7-1, 8) [秋山 泰幸]. Akiyama will almost certain turn his attention to fighting for either an OPBF or a Japanese title in the next 12 months, and he is ranked very highly by both organisations.
Earlier today Japanese fans at the Korakuen Hall had the chance to attend "Fighting Bee 16", the latest in the Ichiriki series of shows. The card wasn't a high profile show but was one that looked fantastic for a Japanese domestic card with several well matched bouts, at least on paper. The bouts ended up giving the fans excitement, action and a genuinely notable upset.
The main event of the card was an 8 round bout between the world ranked Akihiro Kondo (24-6-1, 11) [近藤 明広] and the previously unbeaten Shogo Yamaguchi (9-1-1, 4) [山口 祥吾]. The bout looked like a big test for Yamaguchi and to begin with he looked up for the test with the youngster having a good start. In fact a strong case could be made for Yamaguchi winning the first 3 rounds. From then however Kondo turned things around, using his experience to up the tempo and take the fight to Yamaguchi who's lack of experience, especially at this sort of level, told. For the final 5 rounds Kondo bossed the action, though there were some competitive moments, with rounds 6 and 7 being particularly good for the former Japanese Lightweight champion. Despite the loss for Yamaguchi he did receive a lot of praise and it seems clear he will come again.
In an action packed support bout fans saw former amateur standout Naoto Uebayashi (9-1-1, 5) [上林 巨人] score a 3rd round TKO win against Naoaki Kumagai (7-4, 4) [熊谷 直昭]. On paper the result wasn't a shock but one against Uebayashi found himself on the canvas before fighting back to earn himself a win. Although he was a former amateur star the 29 year old Uebayashi has shown too many frailties to reach the heady heights expected of him, however he does seem to be in fun fights and will never be short of a fan given the way he fights, and the way he can be dropped by almost anyone who catches him. Although dropped in round in the opening round Uebayashi dropped Kumagai in round 2 and forced the finish in the third.
In a genuine upset we saw Uebayashi's stablemate Hikaru Marugame (5-1-1, 3)[丸亀 光] suffer his first defeat in an upset loss to Reiya Abe (11-2, 5) [阿部 麗也]. This bout was fought at a hectic pace with Abe throwing a lot of leather and leaving Marugame with a very nasty cut. Although cut Marugame's heart showed as he tried to turn the bout around but surprisingly looked out of his depth against the busier Abe, who scored a major win. For Marugame there is a good chance he'll bounce back but this is a second successive setback, following a draw to Jonathan Baat last year, and it may be fair to say that he's going to fall short of expectations.
Another bloody battle saw Yudai Arai (8-3-3, 4) [新井 雄大] score a 7th round TKO win over the gutsy Tatsuya Kaneko (7-12-3, 1) [金子 達也], with Kaneko suffering a badly bloodied nose along with other cuts, including a nasty one above hsi right eye.
Earlier this year we saw touted Japanese fighter Naoto Uebayashi (7-1-1, 4) suffer his first defeat, as he was stopped in the 8th round of a bout with tough Filipino Giovanni Escaner. The loss ended an 8 fight unbeaten run from Uebayashi, who had been a standout Japanese amateur, though more worryingly it showed serious flaws in Uebayashi's approach to action in the ring as well raising questions about his stamina and durability.
The loss was a serious set back for Uebayashi but it wasn't the end of the world, nor the end of his boxing career.
Today it was announced that Uebayashi would be returning, for his first fight since the loss, on October 19th in a bout with the limited and light hitting Atsushi Hosogai (7-9). The bout has clearly been organised to give Uebayashi a chance to rebuild his confidence against a relatively poor and safe opponent. It is however a must win for Uebayashi.
This bout has been the third announced for the show. The main event of the card will be a WBO female Bantamweight title fight, between Naoko Fujioka (13-1, 6) and South Korean visitor, Hee Jung Yuh (15-2, 6) whilst another bout will see prospect Hikaru Marugame (5-0, 3) face off against Japanese based Filipino veteran Jonathan Baat (29-6-3, 14).
For those who missed Uebayashi's loss to Escaner, it can be seen below, and if you did see it it's well worth another watch.
Hikaru Margume to put unbeaten record on the line against Jonathan Baat!
Naoko Fujioka's opponent for October 19th named!
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