Back in 2013 Nihito Arakwa (32-7-2, 18) [荒川 仁人] impressed us all with his toughness and stubbornness, as he walked through hell fire to see out 12 round against the then feared and destructive Omar Figueroa. That loss earned him the nickname the "Japanese Rocky" by fans in the west.
In the years that followed that loss Arakawa remained a popular and teak tough fighter who managed to fight on until 2019, when he lost to Denys Berinchyk in Ukraine. After that loss he announced his retirement, doing so in October 2019.
Despite Arakawa retiring more than 2 years ago hasn't had a ceremonial retirement ceremony. Today it was announced that would, however, change, with Arakawa taking part in his retirement ceremony on June 14th at Korakuen Hall, with a 2 round spar against former OPBF Super Featherweight champion Hironori Mishiro (11-0-1, 4) [三代大訓].
The spar is set to be part of a Diamond Glove show, and there is a chance footage from it could end up being shown on Fuji TV.
Although not done regularly in the west, a retirement ceremony is quite common in Japan, and a chance for popular fighters to bow out, with one last appearance in the ring for fans. They often see the fighter get a chance to thank fans, update fans on their life and what’s next for the retired fighter.
Mishiro to face Chua in Australia!
Earlier today Watanabe Gym announced that former OPBF Super Featherweight champion Hironori Mishiro (11-0-1, 4) [三代大訓] would be making his international debut on May 11th, as he travels to Australia to face off with Australian fighter Francis Chua (8-2-1, 3), in Newcastle, Australia.
Mishiro has stated "I've wanted to play a match overseas since I became an oriental champion, so I'm glad that the match has been decided in Australia. This match is an 8 rounder, not a title match, but I'm not used to overseas rings. So I'm focusing my mind because I think I'll lose if I'm not careful. I'm excited and anxious about whether my boxing will work, but I'd like to adapt as usual!"
Coming in to this Mishiro is best known for securing a win in 2020 against former world champion Masayuki Ito (27-4-1, 15) [伊藤 雅雪], since that win however he has only fought once, scoring a tremendous KO win over Kazuhiro Nishitani. Notably he is world ranked coming in to this bout, and the experience of fighting on the road will hep prepare him for a potential future world title bout. As for Chua this is a solid step up in class for the Australian
It's worth noting that Mishiro won't be alone in Australia for this bout, as fellow Watanabe Gym fighter Fumiya Fuse (11-1, 1) [富施郁哉] will be facing Sam Goodman (10-0, 6) in a 10 round bout for the WBO Oriental Bantamweight title.
Earlier this month we reported that Shuichiro Yoshino (13-0, 10) [吉野 修一郎] had vacated the Japanese Lightweight title, rather than keep the title and make a mandatory defense in early 2022 against Masahiro Suzuki (7-0, 4) [鈴木 雅弘], who earned his show by winning an eliminator back in October.
At the time it seemed like Suzuki may have ended up facing former OPBF Super Featherweight champion Hironori Mishiro (11-0-1, 4) [三代大訓] for the vacant, but Mishiro obviously has his eye on bigger fights than a Japanese title and he hasn't been interested in a show down against the unheralded Suzuki.
Instead we now know that Suzuki will face fellow unbeaten fighter Shu Utsuki (9-0, 7) [宇津木 秀] for the vacant title, with their bout now scheduled February 8th at Korakeun Hall as part of a Diamond Glove show.
For Suzuki, a former Japanese champion at 140lbs, this is a great chance for him to become a 2-weight national champion, and join the relatively small list of fighters who have moved down in weight to win titles. He's a very talented technical boxer, but there are question marks about his punching power and physicality, despite his success at 140lbs.
As for Utsuki this will be his first title fight, and the heavy handed fighter from the Watanabe Gym has been impressive, with good wins against Yoji Saito, Takayuki Sakai, Masashi Wakita and Ryo Nakai. He is less polished than Suzuki, but he has very heavy hands and he is genuinely destructive at domestic.
Yoshino vacates Japanese title
Earlier today we were informed that Japanese Lightweight Shuichiro Yoshino (13-0, 10) [吉野 修一郎] had vacated one of the three titles he held.
The unbeaten Yoshino, who had unified the WBO Asia Pacific, OPBF and Japanese Lightweight titles, has now vacated the Japanese national title, though will continue to hold his two regional titles.
Yoshino was supposed to be in action on December 29th, with a scheduled bout against former WBO Super Featherweight champion Masayuki Ito (27-3-1, 15) [伊藤 雅雪], though that bout has been postponed. The plan, it seems, is to have that bout next year and vacating the Japanese title means there is one less stumbling black, as Yoshino would have had a mandatory against Masahiro Suzuki (7-0, 4) [鈴木 雅弘] in early 2022.
At the moment it's unclear on what date Yoshino Vs Ito will now be made for, though a Spring date is expected. As for Suzuki, it seems likely that he could be facing former OPBF Super Featherweight champion Hironori Mishiro (11-0-1, 4) [三代大訓] next year for the Japanese Lightweight title.
Results from Korakuen Hall
Earlier today Korakuen Hall played host to an interesting Dangan card, that wouldn't have got much international attention, but did have a trio of noteworthy Japanese domestic clashes.
The first of the three bouts of note saw OPBF female Flyweight champion Chaoz Minowa (7-3, 6) [チャオズ箕輪] record her first defense, as she stopped Yumemi Ikemoto (7-2) [池本 夢実] in 2 rounds. Minowa, who won the title in 2016, was aggressive from the off, and dropped Imemoto early in round 2 with a left hook. Ikemoto, to her credit, beat the count, but was under intense pressure and dropped a second time soon afterwards. This time the referee waved off the bout with Ikemoto trying to get to her feet.
Minowa was once tipped to be a star, and whilst she has failed to live up to expectations, there is no denying she's a fun fighter to watch and that was shown here. Sadly for Ikemoto she had nothing to challenge Minowa with, and her lack of power was a major issue against someone like Minowa.
The second notable bout was much more competitive and compelling and saw former Japanese Featherweight champion Taiki Minamoto (17-7-1, 13) [源大輝] score a split decision win over Shingo Kusano (13-10-1, 5) [草野慎悟] in a thrilling 8 rounder. Kusano started the bout really well, and controlled the range behind his 1-2's and movement. It was the style and relaxed nature of Kusano that controlled the early portion of the bout, and saw him do what he could to neutralise Minamoto's power.
Sadly for Kusano he couldn't avoid the heavy hands of Minamoto forever and as the bout went on Minamoto gradually got success, rocking Kusano several times in the second half of the bout. Kusano took it well, and managed to continue having moments, but the pressure of Minamoto began to catch the eye and he began to wear down Kusano, who was dropped in round 7, and put into survival mode late in the round.
Despite being dropped Kusano responded well, and fought hard in round 8, and saw out the final bell, but it wasn't enough for him to impress the judges. After 8 rounds Minamoto was favoured 77-74, twice, whilst the third judge went to Kusano, with a score of 76-75.
The final bout of note, and the show's main event, saw the unbeaten Hironori Mishiro (11-0-1, 4) [三代大訓] put in, arguably, the best performance of his career, as he stopped Kazuhiro Nishitani (21-6-1, 12) [西谷和宏] in 6 rounds. This was anticipated to be a really good technical match up between two men who are skilled and intelligent fighters. Instead however Mishiro looked a class or two better than Nishitani.
The bout started with both men battling at mid range, trying to use their jabs to set more up and get a feel of their opponents. It was really good stuff from both men who showed what they could do in the ring. Sadly for Nishitani it wasn't long until Mishiro began to move through the gears, and he bagn to land good body shots with his long right hand. Mishiro would then force Nishitani to pick up the pace and although we were getting technical action it was exciting and at a good tempo.
At the end of round 5 Mishiro managed to drop Nishitani with a gorgeous series of clean shots. Sadly for Mishiro it was too late in the round to jump on Nishitani, but Nishitani hadn't recovered as we went into round 6, and Mishiro went for the kill to start the round, dropping his man with a hard counter right hand. The referee then waved off the bout, without issuing a count whilst Nishitani was flat on his back.
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