On July 31st former world title challenger Hirofumi Mukai (16-6-3, 6) [向井 寛史] quietly announced his retirement, almost 3 years after his last professional contest, a loss to Akira Yaegashi [八重樫 東] in a thrilling 7 round shoot out.
Mukai, who spoke to Boxmob.jp, explain that he had discussed things with the Mutoh Gym multiple times since that bout, before finally deciding that he was hanging them up.
It appears that part of the reason for his retirement has been repeated injuries. He suffered a knee injury after the bout with Yaegashi, then suffered a thumb injury whilst training for a ring return in 2019. With those injuries, the time out of the ring and the birth of his second child he decided that it was time to walk away from in ring action.
Although never a huge name Mukai is a two-time world title challenger, who faced of the most notable Thai world champions in recent years, fighting to a technical draw with Pongsaklek Wonjongkam and losing via TKO to Srisaket Sor Rungvisai. He also won the WBO Asia Pacific Super Flyweight title, twice.
Despite retiring from in ring action it seems like Mukai will remain involved in the sport, and is actually training 3 young prospects at the Mutoh Gym, something he will continue to do going forward.
Back in August we saw former 3-weight world champion Akira Yaegashi [八重樫 東] score a TKO win over former world title challenger Hirofumi Mukai (16-6-3, 6) [向井 寛史] in a Japanese FOTY contender. The bout saw both men digging incredibly deep, and taking significant punishment, before Mukai was eventually broken down in the 7th round.
Since that bout neither man has actually fought, though Yaegashi was expected to be back in the ring in 2019 and had been in training for a while.
Today Mukai posted on his blog announcing that he too would be back in the ring in the future, expressing that he would be continuing his career.
At the moment there is no indication of when the Osakan will be back in the ring, but it is great to hear that he will be back, and he given us some real treats over the years, with his 2017 contest against Rex Tso [曹星如] being another sensational fight. We'll be looking forward to his next bout, even if he does end up facing some weak import to try and rebuild some of his confidence
Today at the Korakuen Hall fight fans got a treat as former 3-weight world champion Akira Yaegashi (27-6, 15) [八重樫 東] engaged in a back and forth war with Hirofumi Mukai (16-6-3, 6) [向井 寛史]. The bout, which was Yaegashi's first real test as a Super Flyweight, was regarded as a must win for both men, and that showed in how both gritted their teeth and engaged in something a little bit special.
Mukai got off to a great start, getting his sharp southpaw jab into play early on and lining up his straight left hand. His jab was always going to be the key to any successful gameplan but it was taken away from him in round 2 as Yaegashi cut the distance and attacked the body of Mukai, working away at the mid-section of the taller man.
Yaegashi continued to cut the distance in round 3 but Mukai fought back, gritting his teeth and began to try fight Yaegashi off. The intensity grew as the crowd got behind both fighters in what was becoming a war. The crowd managed to spur Mukai on massively in round 5 as he began to turn the fight around, and looked to hurt Yaegashi with some notable body work.
With Mukai having success in round 5 he seemed to try and build on it in round 6, but that just drew the fire out of Yaegashi who stepped on the gas and dragged Mukai into an all out fight. It was the best round of the fight and had the crowd on their feet as the two men began to really hurt the other and Mukai looked to have been rocked on the bell.
The all action battle of round 6 continued into round 7, with the fight swinging one way, and then the other, with Yaegashi finally getting the better of it and rocking Mukai who was unable to fight off Yaegashi as he followed up and forced the referee to stop the action.
At the end of the bout both men were swollen, and marked up around the face, but both had given the fans something very special to watch and it's fair to say that those not at the venue have got something to look forward to on Saturday when Fuji TV air the bout.
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
Tomorrow fight fans at the Korakuen Hall, the holy land of Japanese boxing, will get the chance to see 3-weight world champion Akira Yaegashi (26-6, 14) [八重樫 東] battle against former 2-time world title challenger Hirofumi Mukai (16-5-3, 6) [向井 寛史].
Today the two men took part in their weigh in for the bout, which has been set at Super Flyweight, and both fighters made weight.
On the scales the taller, younger Mukai was bang on the Super Flyweight limit. That should come as no real surprise given he's been fighting at 115lbs for much of his career, and is the current WBO Asia Pacific at Super Flyweight, though won't be defending that title here.
Yaegashi on the other hand was slightly under the limit, at 114.4lbs. Of course it's little surprise for Yaegashi to be the lighter man given that much of his career was fought at Minimumweight and he has fluidly moved between weights over the last few years.
Interestingly Yaegashi spoke at the weigh in about the upcoming return of Kazuto Ioka (22-1, 13) [井岡一翔], who will be in action on September 8th in the US. He suggested that there was some possibility of having their long awaited rematch, but seemed to realise it was unlikely. He also seemed to have felt Ioka's comeback was inevitable and no real surprise.
Although the winner of this bout won't be regarded as a real elite contender the winner will certainly find themselves in the world title mix and that has seemingly appealed to Mukai, who is looking to get a third world title shot if he can pick up a win here.
(Image courtesy of daily.co.jp)
We've known for almost a month that Satoshi Shimizu (6-0, 6) [清水 聡] would be defending his OPBF title against Shingo Kawamura (16-3-1, 8) [河村真吾] and former 3-weight world champion Akira Yaegashi (26-6, 14) [八重樫 東] would be taking on Hirofumi Mukai (16-5-3, 6) [向井 寛史] in a very attractive double header on August 17th. That card has now had some other notable names added to it.
One of those fighters is the once touted Sho Nakazawa (10-2, 4) [中澤奨], who is yet to have his opponent named. He'll be having his first fight as a Ohashi Gym fighter, and will be looking to get his career back on track after suffering 2 losses in his last 4.
A more interesting bit of news for the card is that very exciting Japanese ranked Featherweight Tsuyoshi Tameda (17-3-2, 15) [溜田 剛士] will facing offf with Japanese based Korean fighter Tae Il Atsumi (14-2, 7).
The hard hitting Tameda joined the Ohashi gym last year, when the Yonekura gym closed it's doors, and has scored 4 straight stoppage wins coming in to this bout. He's been looking for a big bout since claiming a Japanese Youth title last August and this is certainly a big bout with a lot, given he will be risking his ranking, and potentially taking a huge step towards a title fight with a win. As for Atsumi, who has also fought Teiru Atsumi in recent bouts, he will be coming in to this on the back of a quick blow out win against Katsuhiko Kanno, though was beaten back in December against Shingo Kawamura.
Given the styles of Tameda and Atsumi we're expecting a genuine thrilling, with both men havign spiteful power and aggresive mentalities. This really could turn out to be the best fight of the card.
News! We try and give you the most interesting news stories from the Asian boxing world!