Earlier today fight fans in Sakai City saw one of the biggest shocks on the Oriental scene this year, as defending WBO Asia Pacific Middleweight champion Yuki Nonaka (34-11-3, 10) [野中 悠樹] was shocking dethroned by the unheralded Hiroya Nojima (10-1, 5) [能嶋 宏弥], ending Nonaka's reign as the WBO regional champion, and potential his career.
Nonaka, who won the title in 2019 when he out-boxed the hard hitting Shinobu Hosokawa, was under pressure from the off as Nojima showed the 44 year old veteran no real respect. Nonaka tried to use his boxing skills and boxing brain to control the action, but Nojima fought like a man possessed and and refused to back off, using an ultra-aggressive style that saw him walk through counters when he had to,
The unexpected success of Nojima early on brought real excitement to the venue, who likely expected the challenger to look second rate, in fairness we did too. Nojima however had to prove it wasn't just nervous energy being and adrenaline being burned here. In round 4 he did slow down, and there was a chance he had potentially began to feel the tempo that he was setting.
In round 5 Nojima seemed to just prove that whilst his tempo was dropping a little bit, his success wasn's, and he landed some huge shots in round 5, that shook Nonaka up just before the bell. Had the round been just a few seconds longer there's a chance he could have gone down there and then. Sadly for Nonaka the minute between rounds 5 and 6 wasn't enough time for him, and in round 6 Nojima was again all over him, dropping him with a right hand. Nonaka got to his feet but was overwhelmed immediately with the referee forced to step in and save the veteran.
After the bout Nonaka stated that his future is unclear in the sport, and we wouldn't be surprised at all if he retires following this loss.
As for Nojima, his first defense has been pencilled in already, for November 20th in Aichi.
Tomorrow in Osaka we'll see WBO Asia Pacific Middleweight champion Yuki Nonaka (34-10-3, 10) [野中 悠樹] defending his title Rookie of the Year winner Hiroya Nojima (9-1, 4) [能嶋 宏弥].
Today, ahead of their bout, the two men took part in their weigh in for the bout.
Nonaka made the Middleweight limit of 160lbs dead on, and he looked in great shape for the bout, saying that all he has to do now is get a good result. Despite being in great condition himself, he did note that Nojima was taller than expected, and was feeling confident that Nojima might be the quicker man, given that he's a natural Welterweight who has moved up in weight.
As for Nojima he was well under the limit, weighing in at 156.1lbs, almost 4lbs under the limit. He explained that he is an aggressive, quick fighter, with good stamina and sounded confident, though he is a clear under-dog against the talented, and experienced champion.
Related - WBO Asia Pacific champion Nonaka takes on Nojima
Yesterday it was announced that WBO Asia Pacific Middleweight champion Yuki Nonaka (34-11-3, 10) [野中 悠樹] would be returning to action on July 24th, to defend his title against 2020 All Japan Rookie of the Year winner Hiroya Nojima (9-1, 4) [能嶋 宏弥].
The 44 year old Nonaka will be defending his title for the third time with this bout, which will take place at the Sakai City Industrial Promotion Center in Osaka, on July 24th. Interestingly the bout will see Nonaka fighting for the first time since last July, when he defeated Koki Koshikawa. Whilst he has been out of the ring for a prolonged period in many ways this wasn't really his fault, with his team seemingly securing a bout with a Russian fighter, but the bout failed to get approval after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and with injuries also keeping him out of the ring.
As for Nojima this will be his first title bout, and he looks to extend a 6 fight winning run, which included his All Japan Rookie of the Year win in 2020. It is however a massive step up for him, and comes only a few months after his first 8 rounder, which saw him beat Masateru Hatagami. The bout will also see him moving up in weight, and it's worth noting he has fought much of his career at Welterweight, though will be competing as a Middleweight here
Earlier today in Aichi we had the latest show that was streamed live on the internet by the wonderful sakana 1976. Whilst it certainly wasn't a big show, by any stretch of the imagine, it was a notable show with several interesting bouts taking place on it.
One of those notable bouts was the final professional bout from 36 year old Kohei Oba (37-4-1, 14) [大場 浩平], who narrowly defeated 20 year old Ryumei Nakamura (3-2-2, 1) [中村 龍明] in a 6 rounder. The bout was confirmed before hand at the final bout for Oba, who was retiring regardless of the result, and he only just managed to scrape a split decision against Nakamura, who was fighting in his first 6 rounder.
The talented Oba, once dubbed the "Mayweather of Nagoya," is a former Japanese Bantamweight champion, but he looked a shadow, of a shadow of himself here as he struggled to land clean and was caught by plenty of shots from Nakamura. In fact it's fair to say that Oba was lucky here to get the win.
Following the win Oba took part in a retirement ceremony and his career now looks like it is over for good, after a bit of a comeback last year following a previous retirement.
Another notable bout was a quick win for recent All Japan Rookie of the Year winner Hiroya Nojima (7-1, 3) [能嶋 宏弥], who made light work of Shoma Okada (4-4, 2) [岡田 翔真]. In fact Nojima needed just over a minute to take out his man thanks to a series of huge right hands that dropped Okada hard. Okada got back to his feet, quickly, but his legs were all over the place, forcing the referee to stop the contest.
The third bout of note saw former Japanese title challenger Ryosuke Maruki (18-7-1, 13) [丸木 凌介] score a brilliant 4th round KO win against the game and aggressive Masateru Hatagami (6-3-1, 2) [畑上 昌輝].
Hatagami came out with an ultra aggressive, come forward gameplan and regularly pressed Maruki on to the back foot, pushing him on to the ropes. It was a thrilling game plan from Hatagami, but one that left him open to counters and right at the end of round 4 a left hook from Maruki caught his man clean, dropping Hatagami on to his back. To his credit Hatagami, who should have been out cold from the shoot, tried to battle to his feet but his legs were gone and he was stumbling over himself as the referee called a halt to the fight.
After an incredibly busy Saturday of action globally for fight fans, the action continued into Sunday as we turned our attention to Japan and the Korakuen Hall for the 2020 All Japan Rookie of the Year.
The tournament, now in it's 67th edition, was delayed due to Covid19 and was, sadly, held without an audience at Korakuen Hall, though was thankfully aired live on G+ and provided a lot of fantastic, thrilling, 2-way action as fighters battled to be crowned the All Japan Rookie of the Year.
In the show opener we saw teenager Ren Kojima (6-1-2) [小島 蓮] etch his name into the history books as he took the Minimumweight crown, out pointing Ryo Sasaki (5-3, 2) [佐々木 凌] over 5 rounds. Through out the bout Kojima simply out worked, out boxed, out sped and out manoeuvred Sasaki, who was often chasing but rarely cutting off the ring. Real credit needs to go to Kojima for his energy, and his movement, which were impressive through out. After 5 rounds the judges had this one 50-45, twice, and 49-47 all to Kojima who becomes the first fighter from the Emi Gym to win Rookie of the Year.
The second bout was something truly special as we saw Ryota Karimata (6-0, 3) [狩俣 綾汰] narrowly outpoint Hyogo Kimura (6-2-1, 1) [木村 彪吾] to be crowned the Light Flyweight Rookie of the Year. This was just an amazing bout, fought at a high pace from the off, with neither man letting the other get their nose in front. It was toe to toe action from the first round to the final bell and really hard to split the two men, who gave everything they had. After 5 rounds the judges had this 48-47, twice, and 48-48 to give Karimata a razor thin decision. This is one that fans need to go back and give a watch to as soon as they can as it was tremendous action and the perfectly balanced, 50/50 type bout that we always hope to see in Rookie of Year finals.
In the Flyweight bout Akira Hoshuyama (5-0, 2) [宝珠山 晃] narrowly over-came Yasuhiro Kanzaki (6-2, 2) [神崎 靖浩] . The early going saw Hoshuyama look to box at range, fighting off his southpaw jab though Kanzaki managed to counter him, and shook him with about 2 minutes of the opening round gone. Hoshuyama managed to regroup well and found his range in round 2 before being dropped by a left hook late in the round. Rather interestingly Hoshuyama got to his feet quickly, whilst the ref was out of range, and ate a huge uppercut straight afterwards, and was sent back down. It was only 1 knockdown, officially, but it was still an interesting moment and not something we see often. Sadly for Kanzaki it did result in him being deducted a point, which ended up being vital on the cards. Hoshuyama recovered well from the knockdown and hurt Kanzaki in round 3, as he began to land some huge straight left hands. The success of Hoshuyama's from round 3 continued into round 4 as he began to break down Kanzaki who ended up with a bloodied nose in round 5.
We went to the scorecards at the end of this one, and the scores were 47-46 from all 3 judges, sadly for Kanzaki two of those judges went with Hoshuyama. The point deduction essentially costing Kanzaki the draw.
At Super Flyweight we got the hugely anticipated clash between Shunpei Kubo (7-1-1, 5) [久保 春平], who had upset Kosuke Tomioka in the East Japan final, and the unbeaten Taichi Sugimoto (6-1-1, 1) [杉本 太一]. The opening round saw Sugimoto rocked to his core late in the round, though to his credit he gutted it out and fought back well in round 2 as regrouped and cleared his head. Sadly however Sugimoto was hurt again in round 3, and was rocked repeatedly in round 4 as Kubo began to use his head head for target practice, finally forcing a stoppage with just over 30 seconds of the round remaining. With the win Kubo scored the first stoppage of the day, and took the Super Flyweight crown, with a very impressive performance.
The fifth bout on the show was the Bantamweight bout and saw Ryuki Sudo (2-1, 1) [須藤 龍揮] take a beating at the hands of southpaw Fuya Tomita (6-2, 2) [冨田 風弥]. This was explosive from the off with both men landing some big shots in the first 90 seconds, and both showcased some solid whiskers through out the first round. Sadly for Sudo he seemed to be on the receiving end a lot of the time and he was tagged early in round 2, before being dropped about a minute into the round. Sudo beat the count but took a beating through what was left of the round, and narrowly made it into round 3. Tomita was genuinely looking for a finish through the third, though Sudo did just enough to avoid the referee jumping in. Tomita's hunt for a finish continued through the final round, though to his credit Sudo managed to do enough to see out the round and hear the final bell.
After 4 rounds the judges had this 40-35 and 38-37, twice, with Tomita taking the unanimous decision. We really do wonder how the judges found 2 rounds to give to Sudo, though credit where it's due, he showed surprising durability.
At Super Bantamweight we saw Yuki Yazan (7-3, 4) [矢斬 佑季] suffer a clear decision loss to the unbeaten Sora Fukunaga (9-0, 4) [福永 宇宙]. This was an interesting match up, with Yazan looking the much bigger man, but the clean, hurtful, accurate shots were pretty much all from Fukunaga, who had Yazan in all sorts of trouble in round 5. Credit goes to Yazan for always trying to win here, but round after round he seemed to be on the wrong end of things. After 5 rounds the judges had this one 50-45 and 49-46, twice, all in favour of Fukunaga.
The first bout that was scheduled for the show but didn't take place was the Featherweight bout, which was scheduled to be between Kazunori Hirano (4-0, 4) [平野和憲] and Hikaru Fukunaga (8-1, 5) [福永輝]. Sadly this was cancelled when Fukunaga had a positive PCR test, giving Hirano the Rookie crown by default. Fukunaga was suffering from fever and was said to be genuinely quite unwell.
We returned to in ring action at Super Featherweight, as the hard hitting Tsubasa Narai (7-0, 6) [奈良井 翼] took on Seika Fukuda (5-1, 1) [福田 星河]. On paper this one looked really interesting, but Narai took all the interest away rather quickly. Within the first minute Marai made it clear he didn't want to drag it out, and landed some solid bombs. Fukuda showed some heart and desire but was dropped mid-way through the round. Narai, knowing his man was hurt, went on the hunt and dropped Fukuda for a second time with the referee quickly waving off the contest.
At Lightweight Hiromasa Urakawa (7-1, 4) [浦川 大将] managed to over-come the gutsy Eiji Togawa (6-4, 3) [戸川 叡二]. This one started slowly, with both men showing respect to the other, though the power of Urakawa showed and he left Togawa with a bloodied nose at the end of round 2. The bleeding was worsened in round 3, as Urakawa began to land with some lovely combinations up top. Knowing he was down Togawa looked to turn the bout around in the 4th round, as he increased the tempo of the fight. Sadly for Togawa it seemed like Urakawa had an answer for everything he did, and Togawa was rocked late in the round. Togawa managed to have his best round in round 5, and he managed to bloody Urakawa's nose, but it was too little too late to turn the bout around. After 5 rounds Urakawa took a clear, and well deserved, decision over the brave Togawa.
The planned Light Welterweight bout was the second bout to be cancelled, as Reiji Kodama (2-0, 1) [兒玉麗司] was forced out of his bout with Aito Takabatake (6-0-1, 1) [高畠愛大]. Kodama, like Hikaru Fukunaga, also had a positive result in his PCR test, though he was said to be asymptomatic. Sadly the positive test meant Kodama had to be pulled from the show, and as a result Takabatake won the Rookie title by default.
At Welterweight Kaichi Yamazaki (2-3, 2) [山﨑 海知] came up short against Hiroya Nojima (6-1, 2) [能嶋 宏弥]. Within a minute of the fight starting we had drama as Yamazaki was dropped from a short right hand. He popped up and got clobbered again by Nojima, who was then deducted a point for hitting a downed opponent. Sadly the early drama was about as good as it got, with Nojima happy to box and move for much of the rest of the bout as he walked his way to a clear decision win. Yamazaki came to fight, but he was second best for pretty every minute, of every round, as he lost a wide 4 round decision here. All 3 judges turned in identical cards of 39-35 to Nojima.
The final bout on the show was the Middleweight bout, between teenager Eiki Kani (3-1-2, 1) [可兒 栄樹] and the hard hitting Katsuhiro Nakata (6-0, 4) [中田 勝浩]. From the off it was hard to ignore the clear size difference between the two men, with Nakata towering over Kani. Despite being the much, much taller man Nakata rarely used his size and instead allowed Kani to fight on the inside, giving us a brilliant action war pretty much from the off. With Nakata willing to standing his ground, and Kani marching forward, we ended up with a bout packed uppercuts, which left both men bloody messes by the mid-way point of round 3, though there was no quit with either man. Despite both men wearing claret across their faces as we entered round 4, neither man showed any intention to change their tactics and the round was another brutal one with both taking a lot of leather, and at various points both men seemed to be hurt during a sensational 3 minutes of violence. That was then followed by an equally punishing fifth round as we ended up getting a genuine treat to close the show.
After 5 rounds this was an incredibly tough one to score and that showed on the scorecards with the first judge giving it 48-47 to Kani. He was over-ruled however by the other two judges who both had it 48-47 to Nakata. It was hard to argue either way, and hopefully, one day down the line, we see these two re-run the bout over a longer distance. It was brutal, it was exciting, competitive and a fantastic way to end the show.
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