Earlier today the Japan Professional Boxing Association announced the Strongest Korakuen bouts, which will take place later this year to decide the mandatory challengers for the Japanese titles in the new year, with 10 bouts being announced.
The Minimumweight bout will see WBO Asia Pacific champion Yudai Shigeoka (5-0, 3) [重岡優大] take on Tatsuro Nakashima (11-3-1, 7) [仲島辰郎], with the winner getting a show at the Japanese title, currently held by Yudai's younger brother Ginjiro Shigeoka (8-0, 6) [重岡銀次朗], who actually beat Nakashima for the title. This bout is set to take place at Korakuen Hall on November 17th.
The Light Flyweight eliminator will see Daiki Tomita (18-2, 6) [冨田大樹] battle Rikito Shiba (6-2, 3) [芝力人], though no date or venue has been announced for this bout.
At Super Flyweight we also have no date or venue set, but a mouth watering bout as Ryusei Kawaura (9-1, 6) [川浦龍生] battles Suzumi Takayama (5-0, 4) [高山涼深], in what is potentially the best looking of the bouts announced.
The Bantamweight bout bout will see Jin Minamide (6-2, 5) [南出仁] battle against Yuki Yonaha (11-3-1, 8) [与那覇勇気], in what could prove to be a very explosive bout between two flawed but hard hitting.
On the subject of interesting bouts we'll have a potentially thrilling war at Super Bantamweight as former champions Ryoichi Tamura (14-6-1, 7) [田村亮一] takes on Gakuya Furuhashi (28-9-2, 16) [古橋大輔]. Interestingly these two men also met in a Japanese title eliminator back in 2019, with Furuhashi taking a razor win over Tamura, before winning the title with a sensational battle just 4 months later.
At Featherweight former champion Ryo Sagawa (12-2, 7) [佐川遼] faces off with Daisuke Watanabe (12-5-2, 7) [渡部大介].
At Super Featherweight the hard hitting Yamato Hata (12-1, 11) [波田大和] will face Yuna Hara (11-2-1, 6) [原優奈], with this bout set to take place on October 1st at Korakuen Hall.
On paper one of the more underwhelming bouts is set to take place at Lightweight, as Shuma Nakazato (11-2-3, 7) [仲里周磨] takes on the hard hitting Ken Koibuchi (8-4-1, 7) [鯉淵健], in what might be an bout that's easy to over-look but is very likely to be an explosive encounter.
At Welterweight we're in for a treat as we get a rematch between Hironori Shigeta (8-2-1, 5) [重田裕紀] and Shoki Sakai (26-13-2, 14) [坂井祥紀], who gave us a very fan friendly bout back in 2020 with Sakai taking a clear but hard fought decision win. This bout is set to take place on October 22nd at Korakuen Hall.
At 154lbs Rei Nakajima (5-1) [中島玲] will face Koki Koshikawa (9-6, 6) [越川孝紀]. For Koshikawa he's looking to land his third shot at the Japanese 154lb title whilst Nakajima will be looking to secure his second shot at the title.
Notably there is no bout set for Flyweight, Light Welterweight or Middleweight. At the time of writing it's been reported that former world title challenger Ryota Yamauchi (8-2, 7) [山内涼太] will be getting a shot at Flyweight Cristiano Aoqui (16-9-2, 11), will get a shot at 140lbs and unfortunately there won't be a mandatory challenger for the Champion Carnival at Middleweight.
Earlier today A-Sign boxing presented their latest show, live on YouTube, with the show featuring 6 bouts in total. The event wasn't a massive one, but was a notable one, and one that delivered good action, for the most part. It had Rookie of the Year action, some notable prospects and the Japanese debut of a man who's career, so far, had fought entirely away from the country of his birth.
With that said lets look at how the bouts went.
Sadly the show began with a rare stinker as a Rookie of the Year bout between the talented Kosuke Tomioka (3-0, 2) [富岡浩介] and the timid Shota Hara (2-3-1) [原翔太] never got going. Tomioka controlled the bout from the opening round with his speed and jab and Hara did little to try and win. This really was an underwhelming way to start the show, and it seemed it even annoyed Tomioka who tried to wave in Hara, who declined. After 4 rounds there was no doubting the result.
The second bout on the show saw significantly better action as Ryugo Ushijima (4-1-2, 2) [牛島 龍吾] over-came Ryukyu Oho (6-4, 3) [大保 龍球] in a bout that saw more action in the opening round than the entire first fight. The round saw Oho come out fast, so fast in fact that he ended up slipping in one of his first offensive charges. Later in the round Oho did drop Ushijima, but was down himself towards the end of the round. Ushijima also scored a second knockdown in round 2.
After Ushijima scored his second knockdown he did seem to become a little too safety conscious, and held too much for our liking, but when forced to dig in he did respond as we got some brilliant little exchanges. Ono continually pressed forward, but failing to have any sustained success, and simply didn't let his hands go enough to bother Ushijima.
After 6 rounds the scores we went to the scorecards, which were 58-56, twice and 59-54 all in favour of Ushijima.
Sadly Ken Koibuchi (6-4, 5) [鯉渕 健] didn't feel in the need to help cult hero Takuya Yamaguchi (4-12-2, 2) [山口拓也] build on his growing profile. Yamaguchi came out ultra aggressive early on, but ran out of steam quickly and in round 2 Koibuchi dropped him twice to force the finish. Sadly for the 35 year old Yamaguchi this is probably the end, but it is a great story he's had in recent months, and his success in terms of crowd funding, and telling his story with the team from A-Sign has been amazing. We really hope that he remain in the sport, even if it's just as a mentor, or a commentator.
As for Koibuchi, the big bully, this is a much needed win after losses in 3 of his last 4.
In the fourth bout of the show we saw Hyoga Taniguchi (4-2-2, 1) [谷口 彪賀] face off with Yoshiki Tatsukami (4-7-1) [山本佳輝], in what was Taniguchi's first bout since winning the 2019 Rookie of the Year. To begin with Taniguchi looked very timid, but as the rounds went on he settled, found his range and began to land his left hand with growing frequency. Sadly whilst Taniguchi did take the clear win it was clear there the bout lacked drama and excitement, but was a good learning experience for Taniguchi.
After 6 rounds we went to the scorecards and there no real doubting the result, with scores of 58-56, twice, and 59-55 for Taniguchi.
We do like Taniguchi, but do feel he's years away from being the complete product, and we suspect he will need a lot more bouts like this before being in the title mix.
In the most impressive performance of the show the touted Jin Sasaki (8-0, 7) [佐々木 尽] wasted no time in blowing out Japanese ranked foe Shun Akaiwa (5-2-1, 3) inside a minute. Akaiwa was dropped from a left hook, and despite beating the count the referee knew he was in no fit state to continue. This was a real statement from Sasaki, who will find himself in the Japanese rankings at 140lbs when the rankings are update. A sensational result.
The final bout of the show saw "reimported boxer" Shoki Sakai (24-11-2, 12) [坂井 祥記] make his Japanese debut in what was a genuine cracking bout against 2017 All Japan Rookie of the Year winner Hironori Shigeta (6-2-1, 3) [重田裕紀]. This started with Shigeta boxing well, but as the rounds went on Sakai made the fight an inside battle, and stopped Shigeta using the ring. When that happened, there was only going to be one winner.
Shigeta always tried, he always had moments, and repeatedly landed some massive single shots, but Sakai had consistency, used his experience well, blocked plenty that came his way and landed some brutal shots through the 8 round contest.
This one was real fun, and saw both men landing monstrous shots, but it was clear that Sakai was doing the better work. This was shown not just in the ring, but also on the faces of the two men, with Shigeta being bruised early on, and the score-cards, which all turned in identical scored of 78-74 to Sakai.
Although the show was a low profile one it was a solid one and had a nice mix of things, from the skills of Tomioka and Taniguchi, the explosive power of Sasaki and the vicious war to end the show. The pacing of the event was good through out and the only real break came between the co-feature and main event. Even that wasn't a waste of time however as it was used to announce the next bout of former WBO Super Featherweight champion Masayuki Ito (26-2-1, 14) [伊藤 雅雪], who we now know will return on November 5th to face off with OPBF Super Featherweight champion Hironori Mishiro (9-0-1, 3) [三代大訓].
One again A-Sign, and Ichitaro Ishii especially, have delivered a brilliant show and it's great to see them having solid bouts across multiple levels of the sport. Fingers crossed they continue to provide live streams like this, as this was fantastic.
Tomorrow in Tokyo we'll see the next show promoted by Hachioji Nakaya, who will be promoting the event under the "First Raight Presents A-Sign Boxing" banner, following the new sponsorship deal between A-Sign and First Raight. The event, at the Shinjuku FACE in Tokyo, will be streamed for free over YouTube with all the bouts being aired by A-Sign Boxing.
Today, ahead of the event, the fighters took part in their weigh ins with all 12 men on the show making weight with no issues at all.
The card will begin with an East Japan Rookie of the Year bout at Super Flyweight between touted teenager Kosuke Tomioka (2-0, 2) [富岡浩介] and Shota Hara (2-2-1) [原翔太]. Both of these men came in comfortably under the limit, at around 114lbs. Notably Hara towered over Tomioka, and looked the naturally bigger fighter.
The second bout on the show will see Ryugo Ushijima (3-1-2, 2) [牛島 龍吾] clash with Ryukyu Oho (6-3, 3) [大保 龍球], in what should be a very entertaining contest. On the scales Ushijima was 125.6lbs whilst Oho was notably lighter, coming in at 124.3lbs. Notably both men were easily under the Featherweight limit for this one, which was the contracted weight for the bout.
The third bout on the show will see Ken Koibuchi (5-4, 4) [鯉渕 健] take on cult hero Takuya Yamaguchi (4-11-2, 2) [山口拓也], who's become the real star of show in the build up to the event. Before we get on to the weights we need to quickly explain that in the build up to the event A-Sign have done some mini-documentaries and crowd funding, and Yamaguchi has been the big success story of this campaign, drawing in a huge amount of money from crowd funding, which he has pledged to use towards repairing toilets at a gym. On the scales Yamaguchi was 136.2lbs and Koibuchi was far heavier at 138.7lbs. Notable this bout was agreed at 63KG, which is around 138.9lbs, so despite the clear weight difference both men were under the limit.
The 2019 Rookie of the Year winner Hyoga Taniguchi (3-2-2, 1) [谷口 彪賀] will take on Yoshiki Tatsukami (4-6-1) [山本佳輝] in the 4th bout of the show. This bout was agreed at 60KG's, with both men making the weight with no issues, coming in at 131.8lbs, around .5lbs under the agreed limit. This will be Taniguchi's first since winning Rookie of the Year, and he will be the favourite here, though this isn't a gimme for the 21 year old.
The chief support bout is potentially the pick of the bunch as teenage hopeful Jin Sasaki (7-0, 6) [佐々木 尽]. takes on Shun Akaiwa (5-1-1, 3) [赤岩俊]. The talented Sasaki is regarded as one of the brightest hopefuls for the Japanese scene at 140lbs whilst Akaiwa is coming into this with a JBC ranking and 4 straight wins, including an upset last time out against Kenta Endo. On the scales Sasaki was the heavier man, coming in at 139.6lbs, whilst Akaiwa was 139.1lbs, with the bout being fought at Light Welterweight the two men again made weight with no issues at all.
The main event will see the "reimported boxer" Shoki Sakai (23-11-2, 12) [坂井 祥記] make his Japanese debut, after fighting his entire career in the West. Sakai, who has mostly fought out of Mexico, will be up against 2017 All Japan Rookie of the Year winner Hironori Shigeta (6-1-1, 3) [重田裕紀] in a Welterweight contest. On the scales Sakai was 146.4lbs whilst Shigeta was 146.2lbs.
Following his weigh in Sakai spoke about fighting in Mexico, and some of the shenanigans he went through, such as weights being changed at short notices. He spoke about wanting to fight in Mexico in the future, but also wanted to win the Japanese or OPBF titles.
For fans wanting to watch this event there will be a live stream available here.
*Note - All weights were recorded in KG's and converted into lbs, and rounded to the nearest .1lb.
Over the last few weeks the A-Sign team, who are behind the August 31st show at Korakuen Hall, were looking for a suitable opponent for teenage hopeful Jin Sasaki (7-0, 6) [佐々木 尽]. Today they finally announced his opponent and it's a surprisingly decent fighter for Sasaki this early in his career.
The opponent for Sasaki has been named as Japanese Light Welterweight ranked fighter Shun Akaiwa (5-1-1, 3) [赤岩俊], who recently made a name for himself with an impressive domestic level win against Kenta Endo, who he stopped in February.
Although Sasaki isn't too well known in the west he has been impressive winning not only domestically but also getting some international experience under his belt. There was a genuine campaign in Japan to find him an opponent for the August 31st date, with his team apparently struggling to get a decent opponent. That was a shame as Sasaki had been out of the ring since last September, when he blasted out Tetsuya Kondo. In Akaiwa they have got a very suitable opponent, who has momentum, a Japanese ranking, under-rated power and genuine toughness.
The bout is added to a card that also includes the Japanese debut of Shoki Sakai (23-11-2, 12) [坂井 祥記], who will take on 2017 All Japan Rookie of the Year winner Hironori Shigeta (6-1-1, 3) [重田裕紀], and the really highly regarded teenager Kosuke Tomioka (2-0, 2) [富岡浩介], who fights in a Rookie of the Year bout.
For fans wanting to watch this bout it will be aired live on Youtube, through the A-Sign boxing channel.
We've known for a while now that Shoki Sakai (23-11-2, 12) [坂井 祥記] would be making his Japanese debut on August 31st, following a long career spent in the West, on an A-Sign show. Despite knowing the when and where, Korakuen Hall, there was still a major question mark as to who Sakai would be facing.
After a bit of a wait Sakai's opponent was named yesterday, as being 2017 All Japan Rookie of the Year winner Hironori Shigeta (6-1-1, 3) [重田裕紀], who will be looking to extend his current 7 fight unbeaten run.
The 29 year old Sakai has fought almost all of his career in Mexico, being one of the few Japanese fighters better known away from home. In recent years he has surfaced in the US as well as Mexico and has mixed with some pretty well known fighters, such as Nery Saguilan, Ashley Theophane, Eddie Gomez, Alexis Rocha and Gor Yeritsyan. Although no world beater Sakai is a really tough fighter who is very under-rated but has struggled recently and is win-less in his last 5.
Shigeta on the other hand has fought all but one bout in Japan, with his only excursion being a draw in South Korea back in 2018. Sadly despite looking good at the 2017 Rookie of the Year he has been relatively inactive, with just a single bout in both 2018 and 2019.
Rather interestingly the card still isn't actually complete and those behind the card are currently searching, quite publicly, for an opponent to face teenage hopeful Jin Sasaki (7-0, 6) [佐々木 尽]. Fingers crossed Sasaki gets an interesting opponent for the date, with the show set to be a great window to expose what a fighter can do in what will be a show that will be streamed for free on Youtube.
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