Earlier today Japanese fans at the Korakuen Hall, and those who use a-sign boxing, had the chance to see Japanese ranked Super Bantamweight Kinshiro Usui (27-4, 11) [臼井 欽士郎] claim a 5th round TKO win against former multi-time Japanese title challenger Hiroyasu Matsuzaki (22-8-2, 11) [松崎 博保].
Usui looked the fresher and hungrier fighter from the off, often forcing Matsuzaki on to the backfoot and. Although Usui looked hungry Matsuzaki did show his experience and forced Usui on to the retreat at times, though Usui seemed happy to hold his own and bide his time when he had to.
In round 4 it seemed like Matsuzaki was was starting to slow down and struggling with the pace he was trying to set, showing signs of having been out of the ring for close to 3 years, and was although he seemed brave he wasn't really making a mark on Usui who was boxing well on the backfoot.
In the opening seconds of round 5 a right hand from Usui dropped Matsuzauki hard and although the former title challenger got to his feet the referee had seen enough, waving off the bout just 20 seconds into the round.
The 36 year old Usui will be looking at getting a title fight in 2017, and it seems like it'll be now or never for the Yokohama Hikari. For Matsuzuaki this now has to be the end, with little reason for him to even think about continuing his career.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Earlier today the Japanese monthly boxing awards for February were awarded. The awards, for the MVP, Fighting Spirit and "State of the art" (or prospect) saw a trio of relatively expected winner.
The most obvious winner was the MVP which went to Shingo Wake who was exceptional in defending his OPBF Super Bantamweight title against Jovy Katsumata on February 10th. Wake, who is currently ranked by 3 of the big 4, seems likely to fight for a world title in the next year or two as long as he keeps winning fights like he has been recently.
The "Fight Spirit" award was given to promising youngster Rikki Naito who burst on to the title scene with an outstanding victory over the much more experienced Hiroyasu Matsuzaki. This victory, on the same card as Wake's fight, saw Naito claiming the Japanese Super Featherweight and replicating his father, Cassius Naito, who was also a Japanese national champion.
The State-of-the-art award which was awarded to Yusaku Kuga, pictured, who won the award thanks to a stoppage victory against Yuki Iwasaki on February 28th. Although it was a great win for Kuga, who does look very promising, it does need noting that Iwasaki does seem to be in a poor run of form. Saying that however he had never previously been stopped so it was a genuinely good win.
(Photo courtesy of http://watanabegym.com)
Second generation fighter Rikki Naito (9-0, 5) scored the biggest victory of his career earlier today as he stopped Hiroyasu Matsuzaki (22-7-2, 11) and successfully claimed the Japanese Super Featherweight title.
Naito, tipped by some as one of Japanese fastest rising prospects, was expected to be given the toughest test of his career by Matsuzaki but instead the 22 year old unbeaten southpaw just cruised through the gears. Naito was too fast, too skilled, too big, too power and simply too good for his game opponent.
With Matsuzaki in a deep hole after 8 rounds and being broken down with hard shots to the head and body his corner decided that enough was enough and withdrew their man from the bout to prevent him from taking any more punishment. By then it was obvious their man had no chance and the decision was a good one from a corner who knew that the bout was no longer competitive.
For Naito this seems him becoming the second fighter in the family to claim a Japanese national title, following in the footsteps of his father Cassius Naito. Cassius, who held the Japanese title twice in the 1970's later went on to win an OPBF title, may well view his son's victory here as a sign that his training is working excellently.
Whilst we wouldn't rush Naito, it's not beyond the realms of possibility that he could claim an OPBF title in the next 12-18 months. Unfortunately however he is in one of the toughest divisions in Japan with the likes of Takashi Uchiyama, Takashi Miura, Daiki Kaneko and Satoshi Hosono also fighting at 130lbs and it may be a while before Naito can break through to being one of the elite Japanese guys in the division.
Later today (February 10) sees the first Diamond Glove show of the new year. The show, also referred to as "Dangan 93", will be televised on Fuji TV Next, the sister station of Fuji TV.
Unfortunately for those international fans out there, Fuji TV Next is a premium service and it's highly unlikely that many will be able to access a stream of the action which includes 2 title fights. Thankfully there will likely be downloads of the fight available 24-48 hours after the broadcast allowing us all to watch the fights in all their glory.
According to the TV guide the broadcast will be LIVE between 7PM and 10PM Tokyo time.
The bouts on the show include Rikki Naito taking on Hiroyasu Matsuzaki for the vacant Japanese Super Featherweight title in what looks like a great contest, and the world ranked Shingo Wake defending his OPBF Super Bantamweight title against Japanese based Filipino Jovy Katsumata.
We're sorry about the fact it won't be televised on a free-to-air channel or one that can be easily watched by fans around the world, though we hope our Japanese friends can keep us all up-to-date on the action as it happens.
For those with Fuji TV Next who miss the original broadcast, it will be repeated on tuesday night/wednesday morning.
The Japanese Champions Carnival has had a number of fights around for 2014. The "Carnival", which sees the Japanese national champions fighting their mandatory challengers is an annual thing and this years looks like a genuinely exciting one with a number of fantastic looking contests.
The first, which is scheduled to take place on January 17th is for the vacant Japanese Minimumweight title as Go Odaira (8-3-3, 1) takes on Masashi Tada (11-3-1, 7). This bout, at the Korakuen Hall, headlines what is already looking like a very interesting cad.
We get the second of the title fights on February 1st when Yu Kimura (12-2-1, 2) battles the experienced Kenichi Horikawa (25-12-1, 4) for the vacant Light Flyweight title. Like the Minimumweight bout this is to be held in the Korakuen Hall, though unfortunately no card has really been really been arranged around it.
The vacant Super Featherweight title will be fought for on February 10th as Rikki Naito (8-0, 4) fights Hiroyasu Matsuzaki (22-6-2, 11). This bout, also at the Korakuen Hall, is a genuinely tough match up for the unbeaten Naito and could well be his toughest test so far.
On March 1st we get arguably the best of the bouts as Japanese Middleweight champion Daisuke Nakagawa (22-3-2, 17) fights OPBF Middleweight champion Akio Shibata (21-8-1, 9). This bout is not only a unification bout but also a rematch from 2012 when Shibata narrowly beat Nakagawa for the Japanese Light Middleweight title. This one has all the ingredients of a great fight.
Just days after the Middleweight clash we expect the Light Middleweight clash as Tadashi Yuba (45-8-2, 32), pictured above, fights against Takayuki Hosokawa (24-10-3, 8). This bout, on March 4th, looks like a mismatch on paper but Yuba will be 37 by the time this fight comes around.
March 17th will see Welterweight action as champion Suyon Takayama (19-1, 7) defends his belt against Tetsuya Suzuki (29-11, 17). This will be Takayama's 3rd defense of the belt and Suzuki's first title fight since losing the Japanese Middleweight title to Makoto Fuchigami in October 2010.
A week after the Welterweight title fight we will see Super Bantamweight Hidenori Otake (21-1-3, 9) fighting against Takafumi Nakajima (22-6-1, 9). This will see Otake looking for his 4th title defence whilst Nakajima will be looking for revenge over the man who beat him to it back in August 2012.
On March 30th the highly promising Yohei Tobe (7-1-1, 4) challenges Teiru Kinoshita (19-0-1, 3) for the Super Flyweight title. This will be Kinoshita's 6th title defense whilst Tobe, who has been unsuccessful in an OPBF title fight, wil be fighting in his first Japanese national title bout.
There are 4 other have been arranged in principle though no date has been set for either. These bouts will see Suguru Muranaka defending his newly acquired Flyweight title against former champion Masayuki Kuroda and Kentaro Masuda fighting Yu Kawaguchi for the vacant Bantamweight title. This second bout however does depend on Masuda winning his fight on December 11th. The third will see Suzuki Yuhei facing Yoshitaka Kato, if Kato defeats Masayoshi Nakatani on January 11th. We also believe that Satoshi Hosono will be fighting Yuki Ogata for the vacant Featherweight title.
As well as the bouts which have been agreed in principle their are 2 champions that don't yet have a challenger. These are Light Welterweight champion Keita Obara and Heavyweight champion Kyotaro Fujimoto. Fujimoto's bout however is expected to be on March 30
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