Earlier today it was reported in Japan that former Japanese Light Middleweight champion Hironobu Matsunaga (18-1, 11) [松永 宏信] will be returning to the ring on April 30th, to compete in his 4th bout away from home. The talented, and exciting Japanese fighter will be travelling to Mexico later this month to face Mexican veteran Jhony Navarrete (34-17-2, 15), the older brother of WBO Featherweight world champion Emanuel Navarrete.
The bout, which will be held in Puebla, Mexico, will be Matsunaga's second in Mexico, following a 2021 win over Isidro Toala, who he stopped inside a round, and will see him build on other away wins over Patomsuk Pathompothong, aka Komsan Polsan, in Thailand and Je Ni Ma in south Korea. The exciting 34 year old is looking to build his name internationally with this bout, and their could end up being a minor WBC title on the line as well, which would help the winner boost their ranking with in the WBC.
To prepare for the bout it's been revealed that Matsunaga has been training at altitude, in Meno City, with Shoki Sakai (26-13-2, 14) [坂井 祥記], who has a lot of experience of fighting in Mexico himself.
As for Navarette, he has, notably, been away from the ring since March 2020, when he lost to Jose Luis Rodriguez Guerrero, and is 1-3 in his last 4 bouts dating back more than 3 years. He is however someone who has faced a relative who's who with bouts against the likes of Jame Munguia, Kerman Lejarraga, Ghislain Maduma, Sadriddin Akhmedov, Custio Clayton. He's experienced and will bring somethign different to the ring, that Matsunaga hasn't seen before.
Earlier today A-Sign boxing announced that Japanese Light Middleweight champion Hironobu Matsunaga (18-1, 11) [松永 宏信] would be returning to the ring on November 26th in a non-title bout, The exciting, and very in form, champion will be up against former Japanese Welterweight champion Ryota Yada (20-7, 17) [矢田良太], in an 8 round bout at a contracted 70.4KG's (155.2lbs).
The bout, which will be the main event of an A-Sign show, is expected to be full of fire works given the styles of the two men involved.
Interestingly it was reported that Yada had considered retirement late last year, when he was upset by Yuichi Ideta, but has decided to continue his career after the birth of his child in January. He returned to the gym in March, and stated the he wanted to face a strong opponent, with Matsunaga fitting the bill perfectly.
Rather peculiarly these two were meant to fight back in May 2017, but their bout was cancelled back then due to Matsunaga needing to pull out. Given the long wait, it's nice to see these two finally facing off.
Earlier today the East Japan Professional Boxing Assocation announced the monthly award winners for the month of April, announcing winners of the 3 usual awards, the MVP, the Fighting Spirit and the New Comer.
The MVP for the month is Japanese Welterweight champion Keita Obara (24-4-1, 21) [小原 佳太], who retained his title with a narrow decision win over Shoki Sakai (25-12-2, 12) [坂井 祥記] back on April 8th. The bout was a hotly competitive one, with Sakai pressing Obara through out, but the champion showed his class to take home the win and record his first defense of the title, which he won in 2020.
The Fighting Spirit award was won by another Japanese champion, this time Light Middleweight champion Hironobu Matsunaga (18-1, 11) [松永 宏信], who recorded his third defense on April 21st when he over-came Rei Nakajima (4-1) [中島玲]. The aggressive and exciting Matsunaga had to work hard for this win, but was the deserving victor and it's clear.
The Newcomer award was won by rising Super Flyweight Ryusei Kawaura (9-0, 6) [川浦 龍生], who stopped Joe Tanooka (15-8-5, 1) [田之岡 条] on April 14th in a big step up in class. The win seems to put Kawaura right in the mix for a title fight, and it's obvious he and his team are eying up a potential bout with Ryuji Fukunaga, the triple crown champion.
Earlier today fight fans at Korakuen Hall had the latest show in the Dynamic Glove series of shows, with this show set to be aired in May on G+. The card featured several bouts of note, including a Japanese Light Middleweight title bout, between Hironobu Matsunaga and Rei Nakajima.
For those wanting to watch this, as live, when it's finally aired, we have included this spoiler warning introduction. Please note that spoilers will begin in the next paragraph, starting with the the first under-card bout, and then moving on through the other bouts on the show. If you wish to avoid those spoilers, please stop reading now.
The show began with a 4 round bout between unbeaten novices Taichi Mano (1-0-2) [真野 泰地] and Kanta Kawamura (1-0-1, 1) [川村 栞汰], who both managed to remain unbeaten as they fought to a 4 round split decision draw. This was a good back and forth to kick the show off, and neither man ever really seemed to take control. A good, solid, honest bout to kick off the event, and one that neither man deserved to lose.
The second bout saw teenage Kai Watanabe (1-0) [渡邉 海] kick off his professional career in successful manner, as he out pointed 33 year old Hikaro Sato (2-6-1) [佐藤 光] over 4 rounds. Watanabe was too good from the off. He backed well behind his long reach and whilst Sato tried to turn things around he just walked into shots, taking a lot of punishment, and being cut in round 2. This really was a one sided show case of Watanabe's ability, and a very solid performance from the teenager.
The final 4 rounder saw Teppei Saito (4-1, 2) [齋藤 哲平] take a majority decision against Ayumu Komoto (2-2-1, 2) [河本 歩夢]. Like the bout that opened the event this was really competitive, but it always seemed that Saito was just a touch more eye catching with his work in the first 3 rounds. Komoto was always in the bout, but didn't do quite enough to earn the draw.
The first of 3 notable bouts saw Reiya Abe (21-3-1, 9) [阿部麗也] take a technical decision win over Koshin Takeshima (4-2-1, 3) [竹嶋宏心]. Takeshima started well, and seemed to take the first round, but he was cut in round 2 from an accidental headclash and never seemed to settle after that. In fact Abe seemed to build from knowing Takeshima was a wounded fighter, and he dropped Takeshima in round 3. Takeshima would then suffer another cut, again from an accidental headclash, as his face became a genuine mess.
Knowing he was behind Takeshima tried to turn things around in round 4, and has some success, but Abe's clever boxing saw him take rounds 5 and 6. In round 7 Takeshimna was deducted a point for holding, and late saw the bout being stopped due to his cuts.
At an official time of 2:42 in round 7 the bout was stopped with Abe taking the decision thanks to scores of 67-64, 68-64 and 68-63.
In the second notably bout Japanese Youth Minimumweight champion Kai Ishizawa (8-1, 7) [石澤開] successfully defended his title with a majority decision win over Yuni Takada (8-7-2, 3) [高田勇仁]. This was surprisingly competitive, with Takada really performing much better than expected.
Early on Takada used his speed well and let his hands go whilst moving and stopped Ishizawa from setting his feet. It was the perfect game plan to neutralise Ishizawa's pressure. Sadly however that was an energy sapping gameplan from Takada and one that was not going to be easy to do for 8 rounds against someone as aggressive, strong and powerful as Ishizawa.
In the later rounds Ishizawa's pressure finally started to break through as he got cl0se and got his shots off, doing what he needed to win. After 8 rounds we went to the scorecards with scores of 76-76, 78-74 and 79-73, giving Ishizawa his first decision wins as a professional.
In the main event Japanese Light Middleweight champion Hironobu Matsunaga (18-1, 11) [松永 宏信] recorded his third defense, but really hard to work for it as he narrowly over-came Rei Nakajima (4-1) [中島玲].
Nakajima made the most of his speed advantage early on, and seemed to look confident in the early round, but Matsunaga did what he has been doing for years, and began to find his rhythm in round 2, coming forward behind his jab. In rounds 3 and 4 he began to force his fight, and Nakajima really was made to feel somewhat uncomfortable due to the aggression and pressure of Matsunaga.
After 5 rounds Matsunaga was leading on all 3 cards, 48-47, twice and 49-46.
Knowing he was behind Nakajima looked to change things around, but Matsunaga wasn't having it and looked to tighten his stranglehold on the action. That was despite some really good moments from Nakajima, who really tried to change the tide of the bout, especially in round 9.It was, however, too little too late.
After 10 rounds the two men seemed to have some real respect for each other, following what was a well contested bout. Sadly for Nakajima however he did come up short on all 3 cards, with scores of 97-93, twice and 96-94 all in favour of Nakajima.
Again for those wanting to watch, the show will be televised on G+ on May. A disappointingly long wait for a show that took place with more than a week of April still remaining.
Tomorrow fight fans at Korakuen Hall will get the chance to see Japanese Light Middleweight champion Hironobu Matsunaga (17-1, 11) [松永 宏信] defending his title his title against the unbeaten Rei Nakajima (4-0) [中島玲], in what is a very interesting match up between an aggressive champion and a slippery challenger.
Today, ahead of that bout, the two men took part in their weigh in and neither man had any issues at all with making the 154lb weight limit, in fact both men came in around 153.6lbs for the bout, well under the limit.
Matsunaga, seeking his 3rd defense of the title, stated he excited about the fight and whilst he wasn't focusing on a KO he was made away that he had won his last 6 inside the distance. His focus was simple, winning. A win tomorrow, he admitted, would help him move on to regional titles and potentially a world title bout, though he admitted he had to improve before getting a shot at the top table.
Nakajima spoke a lot more confidently, explaining that "I wanted to be the Japanese champion soon, but I didn't expect it to go so well," as if surprised at how quickly he's managed to land this opportunity. He also explained that he had long been wanting to face Matsunaga, who in fairness is a tough champion for someone with the limited professional experience of Nakajima. Despite this being a step up he stated that he wanted to prove he was superior in every aspect.
Interesting for Nakajima there is a little bit of extra history to this bout, as he explained "I heard that Chairman Ishida was the first to wrap the Japanese championship belt with a new design. I want to bring that belt back to the gym.". Here he was referring to his gym Chairman Nobuhiro Ishida and the new design of the Japanese titles, which Ishida was the first to win. Ishida is now the man in charge of Nakajima's professional career.
For fans wanting to watch this, and can't make it to the venue, the bout will be aired on G+ on May 10th on a pretty late tape delay.
Related - Japanese champion Matsunaga clashes with Nakajima
(Image credit - Yokohama Hikari Gym)
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