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)
Over the last 24 hours or so the schedule on the JOSC (JBC Official Supporters Club) website has revealed a new bout set for April 21st, as part of a Yokohama Hikari show at Korakuen Hall.
The bout in question will see Japanese Youth Minimumweight champion Kai Ishizawa (7-1, 7) [石澤開] defending his title, for the first time, as he takes on Yuni Takada (8-6-2, 3) [高田勇仁], in a bout scheduled for 8 rounds.
The talented and hard hitting Ishizawa won the belt back in 2018, when he stopped Yuga Inoue in a sensational bout. The following year the title seemed to be forgotten as Ishizawa focused on securing a Japanese title fight, losing in an eliminator against Masataka Taniguchi. Sadly 2020 was a bit of a write off for Ishizawa, who only squeezed one bout into the year, though did shake off some ring rust with a TKO in over Masashi Tada.
On paper Takada looks like a poor challenger, especially given that he's win-less in his last 3 and is 2-4-1 in his last 7, however he's not a push over. Last year he fought to a draw with Hizuki Saso and suffered a competitive loss to former Japanese champion Norihito Tanaka, and in 2019 he gave the exciting Toshiki Kawamitsu arguably his toughest bout to date.
Ishizawa should have too much for Takada, but we certainly won't be complain about seeing the heavy handed youngster back in action, with bigger and better things surely on the horizon for him.
The bout will be on a show, headlined by Japanese Light Middleweight champion Hironobu Matsunaga (17-1, 11) [松永 宏信] defending his title his title against Rei Nakajima (4-0) [中島玲] and will also feature Reiya Abe (20-3-1, 9) [阿部麗也] battling Koshin Takeshima (4-1-1, 3) [竹嶋宏心].
A week ago we reported that Japanese Light Middleweight champion Hironobu Matsunaga (17-1, 11) [松永 宏信] would be back in the ring on April 21st to defend his title against Rei Nakajima (4-0) [中島玲] at Korakuen Hall. At the time that was the only bout announced for the show, though with it being a show from Yokohama Hikari we did expect other notable fighters to be added to the event.
Today we were informed of a second bout on the card, and it's another really interesting one, as two men with JBC and OPBF rankings clash in a well matched 8 round.
That bout is one which will see the fantastically talented Reiya Abe (20-3-1, 9) [阿部麗也] take on the once beaten Koshin Takeshima (4-1-1, 3) [竹嶋宏心] in an 8 rounder at 58KG's, or around 128lbs.
The talented Abe is 1-1-1 in his last 3, though they include a draw with the then Japanese Featherweight champion Taiki Minamoto, a razor thin loss to Ryo Sagawa and a very good win over the then 10-0 Ren Sasaki. At his best he is one of the smartest and most talented fighters in Japan, though at times he has been a touch lazy and too patient, so hopefully we will begin to see a more aggressive side to him here.
Takeshima on the other hand turned professional after a very promising amateur career Like Abe he is 1-1-1 in his last 3, with his loss coming last time out to Yamato Hata, at Super Featherweight, his draw being a technical draw to Daisuke Watanabe in the Hajime No Ippo 30th Anniversary tournament, and his win came against big punching Filipino Jon Jon Estrada. With his loss last time out we're expecting to see more aggression from Takeshima here, especially given how timid he looked against Hata.
Here we're expecting a really technical and tactical bout, but one that may have more action than typical bouts involving these two men.
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