It feels like it's been a very, very, very long time since we last had live televised Japanese boxing. We've had a few tape delay shows from Japan but it's been around a month since the All Japan Rookie of the Year final. Thankfully today we saw boxing return to Japanese TV thanks to latest Dynamic Glove show, and it was a really, really good show, with an exciting debutant, along with 3 solid, entertaining bouts. It's been too long, but it was, in the end, worth the wait!
The show began with a 4 rounder between Takumi Hashimoto (1-1) [橋本拓海] and Shogo Namiki (2-0-1, 1) [並木翔牙]. This was a really fun and exciting bout to open the show, though both men were clearly very limited fighters. Namika seemed the aggressor through much of the first round, but Hashimoto had good success in round 2 which he tried to replicate in round 3, though his accuracy let him down. In round 4 we ended up with 3 minutes of brutal violence as both men gave their all in an attempt to secure victory. After 4 rounds the judges gave the win to Namiki by majority decision.
The second bout on the show saw the long awaited debut of Kenji Fujita (1-0, 1) [藤田健児] as he scored a 6th round TKO win against the tough and very credible Motosuke Kimura (3-6-2, 1) [木村元祐].
From the off it was clear Fujita respected Kimura and his ability to counter. As a result the early going saw Fujita box patiently, used his amateur skills to keep the action at range and to win the rounds without taking too many risks. As the bout went on however he began to let heavier shots go, targetting the body of Kimura, and hurting him in round 3 before dropping him in round 4, as he systematically broke down his man. Kimura showed incredible toughness however and continued to try and fight back. In round 6 however Kimura was hurt again and Fujita didn't let off the gas, forcing the referee to step in wave this off. This was a really impressive performance by Fujita who is clearly another fantastic addition to the already packed Japanese Featherweight scene. One to keep an eye on, though that's little surprise given his incredibly amateur pedigree.
The third bout saw action pick up with a competitive, technical and exciting bout between Katsuya Fukui (3-0, 2) [福井勝也] and Hiroki Hanabusa (8-2-3, 3) [英洸貴]. This started very technical from both, as both used their jabs a lot, and despite being technical it was fought at a high pace, and very exciting. We thought Hanabusa more than held his own and his jab was again a fantastic weapon in round 2. From there on however Fukui began to find his grove, unloading sharp combinations, sneaking in and out with great success. Hanabusa continued to hold his own, and was landing a similar amount to Fukuo, but the cleaner more eye catching shots were coming from Fukui.
Through the middle rounds Hanabusa's work rate slowed as Fukui's shots took their toll on him, though to his credit Hanabusa refused to back down and go away. Instead Hanabusa dug deep and in rounds 7 and 8 the two men began to trade more regularly giving the fans a show. Sadly for Hanabusa however his shots lacked the power that Fukui's did and he could never get the respect of the unbeaten Fukui.
After 8 rounds the judges had this much, much wider than we did, scorign it 80-72, twice, and 79-73.We can't help but feel that Hanabusa deserved a bit more credit, though was certainly second best. Despite the loss we feel Hanabusa enhanced his reputation here, whilst Fukui showed he had the potential to go very far in this sport.
In the chief support bout we saw blood, and a lot of it, as Tatsuya Takahashi (32-10-6, 21) [高橋 竜也] and Ryotaro Kawabata (13-4-2, 6) [川端遼太郎] gave us something special. Really special.
The fight started with the much taller, longer and experienced Takahashi trying to box at range and control the bout with his footwork and jab whilst Kawabata looked to get inside and make this a fight. For the first round and a half Takahashi did all he could to avoid a war. Despite his effort we all knew, sooner or later, this was going to get violent and by the mid way point of round 2 Kawabata was dragging Takahashi into a firefight.
For the next few rounds Takahashi tried to give the appearance of someone who wanted to box, and not fight. Yet every round he was dragged into a slugfest up close. By the end of round 4 blood was smearing over his face from his nose, albeit from what appeared to be a headclash. From here on Takahashi gave up the pretence and turned things into an all out war, with the two men going to war on the inside, as blood began to flow. In fact was flowing so freely that both men ended up getting a doctor's inspection in rounds 5 and 7. The cuts, caused by accidental headclashes, were a result of the two men essentially standing toe to toe, head to head, and firing off shots with alarming success. Defense was a dirty word as the fighters seemed to be living by the idea that they had to stop the other
Sadly for both men's long term health a stoppage never seemed on. Both were rocked at times, and both took a lot of punishment, but neither man came close to being taken out. Instead they continued to let shots fly, with Takahashi fighting almost the entire final round with his back against the ropes. This was a sensational final round to what had been a brutal fight. Both men will be feeling this one in the morning. Thankfully for Kawabata he can at least feel good, as he picked up the victory, thanks to his relentless desire and his intense pressure. The scores cards here were 77-75, twice and 78-74, all to Kawabata.
The main event was another compelling bout as former amateur standout Gonte Lee (3-0-1, 1) [李 健太], who has previously been referred to as "Kuntae Lee" and was today shown on screen as "Gonte Ri", took on fan favourite Aso Ishiwaki (8-4-1, 6) [石脇麻生]. On paper this probably didn't grab too much attention internationally, especially given Ishiwaki's 2020 loss to Jin Sasaki and the technical draw that Lee suffered last time out. Despite that fans of the Japanese scene would have known that the styles here were going to mesh really well, with Lee's technical boxing being matched with the hunger and desire of Ishiwaki.
From the off the styles played out as expected, with Lee boxing, moving, and showing the brilliance that took him to a 62 fight winning streak in the amateurs. He looked fantastic. Whilst Ishiwaki fought like a bull in a china shop. He refused to back down, he refused to let Lee have time and space to think, and kept coming forward, putting his head down and chasing Lee around the ring.
At times Lee looked far, far too good for his man, particularly in the opening round and round 3 where he was almost scored a knock down with a body shot, but Ishiwaki proved himself to be dangerous having success in round 2 and holding his own in many rounds. As the bout went on however Ishiwaki's pressure generated more and more success, with round 6 being one of his best rounds. He even managed to drag Lee into a firefight in round 7, as Lee got his first chin check in the professional ranks.
With Ishiwaki creating some momentum we saw Lee put his foot on the gas in round 8, as he landed some fantastic counters early in the round before a vicious combination later one, that Ishiwaki somehow took without dropping. Ishiwaki knew he needed a knockout in the final round, he pushed for it, but he could never have the sustained success he needed.
For Lee this was a big step up in class and he passed it, winning with scores of 79-73, and 78-74, twice. He was forced to work every round and this was exactly what he needed. As for Ishiwaki this is a second successive loss for the youngster, but another performance that would have won fans over. Do not write him off for his record as he is one of the most fan friendly fighters out there and someone always worth watching.
Earlier today the "BOXING REAL" YouTube channel streamed 3 bouts from the Green Tsuda promoted "Crash Boxing Vol 20 in Hirakata". Although those 3 bouts didn't last long they were all notable, and all allowed a different fighter to shine, and managed to all be rather entertaining bouts.
The first of the 3 bouts to be shown was a show between 2019 All Japan Rookie of the Year winner Jinki Maeda (5-0, 3) [前田稔輝] and the hard hitting Arashi Iimi (7-3, 7) [飯見嵐]. On paper this looked an excellent test for for Maeda, but in turned into a show case of his speed, movement and timing.
The unbeaten southpaw dropped Iimi in the first round with a gorgeous. short left hand, and showed the skills that had seen him shine in the Rookie of the Year last year. Iimi wasn't hurt by the knockdown, but it showed that Maeda had the tools to shine. Iimi got back to his feet and saw out the round with no issues. Unfortunately for him the same couldn't be said for round 2. He was dropped again by a left hand early in the round and then dropped a third time later in the round 2, before the referee decided enough was enough.
Given this looked like a genuine test for Maeda on paper this was a really impressive result, and it's maybe time to sit and take notice of a really promising young fighter from the Green Tsuda gym. He looked truly brilliant here.
Talking about looking brilliant we really doubt we have enough superlatives to explain how sensational Japanese Youth Super Bantamweight champion Toshiki Shimomachi (12-1-2, 8) [下町俊貴] looked. Shimomachi was making the first defense of his title and was supposed to be given pushed hard by the unbeaten Hiroki Hanabusa (8-1-3, 3) [英洸貴]. Instead the bout was a showcase for Shimomachi who dazzled with his movement, and looked as slippery as an oiled up eel swimming through KY Jelly.
The first round was a rather slow one, with both men showing off some great skills, but little of value being landed. From there on however it became Shimomachi's time to shine, with the 23 year old showing off what a brilliant, smart, educated defensive fighter he was. He was making Hanabusa miss time and time again, landing his own shots in response and showing a slick style we don't often see in Japan. This almost like he'd be spending time at a Cuban boxing school with some of the moves he was showcasing, and was totally befuddling Hanabusa with. To his credit Hanabusa was coming forward and applying pressure, but was left looking like an amateur at times due to the defense of Shimomachi.
By round 4 it was clear Shimomachi could toy with his challenger. That however would have gotten dull, and instead he stopped playing with his food in round 5. Part way through the round a brilliant body shot from Shimomachi dropped Hanabusa. The bout could probably have been waved off there, but Hanabusa's fighting heart saw him beat the count. Soon after the mandatory 8 counter Shimomachi jumped on his man and forced the finish.
We really can't explain how impressed we were by what we saw from Shimomachi here, and those who like slick, defensive fighters need to give him a watch. We knew he was good, but today he took it to a new level. Fingers crossed we see him take another step forward later in the year.
The final bout saw former Japanese Welterweight champion Ryota Yada (20-6, 17) [矢田良太] sending the local fans home happy with a win over Takuya Fujii (7-6, 3) [藤井 拓也].
Yada, who was born in Hirakata, started slowly, but rocked Fuji with pretty much every punch he landed. He threw very little in the first 3 rounds, with Fujii being allowed to come forward, but what he did throw landed and landed hard.
In round 4 we began to see the "Terminator of Naniwa", as Yada moved out of first gear and dropped Fuji hard towards the end of the round. Fujii got to his feet, but ended up bundled down moments fore the bell. It seemed like the bell hadn't so much saved him, was delaying the inevitable.
After the bell to start round 5 Fujii was inspected by the doctor, who ruled that Fujii wasn't fit to continue. The stoppage was down to an injury with Fujii's left leg, that had occurred when he he was knocked down. To his credit it seemed Fujii tried to hide it, but it was clear after the stoppage that the referee made the right call, and Fujii did have a very clear hobble in the moments that followed.
Whilst Yada's bout wasn't expected to be competitive it was great to see him shaking the demons of his 2019 loss to Yuki Beppu, in what was an instant classic. As for Maeda and Shimomachi, they looked brilliant and Green Tsuda have two potential stars of the future there, both of the youngsters looked tremendous and we are really looking forward to seeing them both back in the ring as soon as possible.
Tomorrow we'll all be able to see Japanese Youth Super Bantamweight champion Toshiki Shimomachi (11-1-2, 7) [下町俊貴] make his first defense, as he takes on unbeaten challenger Hiroki Hanabusa (8-0-3, 3) [英洸貴] at the City Sogo Gym in Hirakata.
Today, ahead of their bout, the two men took part in their weigh in, and both men made weight, with no issue at all.
On the scales the champion, looking to defend the belt for the first time was 121.7lbs, comfortably under the 122lb Super Bantamweight limit. He looked in amazing condition and had clearly been working hard to get into the shape of his career ahead of his first defense. He sounded confident that he'd win the bout by fighting his fight and continue his 11 fight unbeaten run.
Despite being the shorter man Hanabusa was the heavier man, hitting the scales pretty much on the divisional limit. He stated he was in the best condition he's ever been in and that he was going to take the title home with him. He sounded confident, as we would expect of an unbeaten challenger, though this is a step up in class for him.
As mentioned will be able to watch, as the bout will be streamed on YouTube via the "Boxing Real" channel.
Related - Shimomachi takes on Hanabusa in Youth title defense!
With very few events in Japan hosting a crowd, and those that do only having limited crowds, one thing we've started to see is promoters beginning to have events streamed live on YouTube. We saw this twice in July and we're now set to get it this coming weekend with Green Tsuda today announcing some of their event "Crash Boxing Vol 20 in Hirakata" was being live streamed on August 9th.
The announcement revealed that the "BOXING REAL" channel on YouTube will show the 2 main bouts live, and one under-card bout, and will then host the under-card bouts the following day.
The bouts which will be streamed live will be the main event bout between Ryota Yada (19-6, 16) [矢田良太] and Takuya Fuji (7-5, 3) [藤井 拓也], the chief support bout, between Japanese Youth Super Bantamweight champion Toshiki Shimomachi (11-1-2, 7) [下町俊貴] and Hiroki Hanabusa (8-0-3, 3) [英洸貴] and a mouth watering match up between Jinki Maeda (4-0,2 ) [前田稔輝] and Arashi Iimi (7-2, 7) [飯見嵐],
For Yada the bout will be his first since his 2019 epic with Yuki Beppu, that saw both men being dropped, hurt, rocked and Yada being, eventually, stopped. On paper he will be the big favourite, but it's fair to say that the bout with Beppu is one that could leave him a damaged fighter. Fuji on the other hand is fighting for just the second time since 2015.
As for the title bout the contest will be Shimomachi's first defense of the title and will see Hanabusa looking to claim his first belt. We've previewed this bout in a lot more detail here "Shimomachi takes on Hanabusa in Youth title defense!"
The bout between Maeda and Iimi will see Maeda look to build on his 2019 Rookie of the Year triumph, in which he beat Kyonosuke Kameda, whilst Iimi will be hoping to bounce back from a loss last year to Kenta Nomura. For those wanting to know more about Maeda he was actually the focus of this week's "Introducing" article, which can be read here Introducing... Jinki Maeda
For those needing a link to the channel that's here, and they currently have videos from the "REAL Spirits Vol 67" show they streamed in July, for those wanting to know what the quality is going to be like.
One more thing to note bout this show is that the scheduled bout between Takayuki Okumoto (23-9-4, 11) [奥本貴之] and Tulio Kuwabata (3-1, 2) [桑畑凜生] will not be taking place, and was cancelled several weeks ago. This means the show will only have 4 under-card bouts, and not 5, as some sites list.
Earlier today fight fans around the globe had the chance to see rising youngster Hiroki Hanabusa (8-0-3, 3) [が英洸貴] score his latest win, as he took out Sorawit Bamrungrai (6-3, 3), in just over 70 seconds to kick off 2020 with a brilliant body shot KO.
As reported earlier in the year was essentially a tune up for Hanabusa, who's focus now shifts to his scheduled bout against Japanese Youth Super Bantamweight champion Toshiki Shimomachi (10-1-2, 6) [下町俊貴], which will take place on April 12th in Osaka.
After today's win Hanabusa spoke to some of the Japanese media and revealed that he's not going to take much of a break after today's win, and explained that he's going to resume training right away and will be working on counter measures for a tall southpaw, like Shimomachi.
For Hanabusa the bout with Shimomachi will be his first title bout, and will be biggest bout since the 2018 All Japan Rookie of the Year final whilst Shimomachi will be finally making his first defense of the belt, after winning the belt last August, against Kenta Nomura. He had been scheduled to defend the belt in December, but no available opponent was available at the time for the bout.
If we're being honest this ins't a huge by any stretch, but is one of the most intriguing match ups out there between two very talented young fighters, who are both going to have their eye on winning much bigger titles than the Japanese youth title before they finish their career. It's not a huge bout, but it is a compelling match up all the same.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
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