Earlier today we saw the first Japanese card of 2020 and whilst it wasn't a sensational card, it did featuring some interesting match ups, and notable fighters.
Prior to the first punches being thrown the Korakuen Hall hosted a ceremonial pray, for the safety and success of the fighters. After that the card began to get under way.
The opening couple of bouts didn't feature anyone too notable, with the first notable names being former Japanese Lightweight champion Shuhei Tsuchiya (23-5, 18) [土屋 修平] and current OPBF, WBO Asia Pacific and Japanese Lightweight champion Shuichiro Yoshino (11-0, 9) [吉野 修一郎], who took part in a 2 round spar. This exhibition, which was put together at late notice against Tsuchiya's original opponent failed to secure a visa in time.
After that we saw former world title challenger Shohei Omori (21-3, 16) [大森 将平] stop Filipino Danny Tampipi (9-11-2, 5) in the 5th round. This was expected to be a blow out, but credit to Tampipi who took his shots like a champion and stayed in their until the final round. He was punished by the much bigger Omori but showed how game he was until the referee had finally seen enough.
We then moved onto the main section of the show, the Knock Out Dynamite Tournament finals.
Unfortunately the first of the finals had been cancelled, when Yuki Yamauchi (4-0, 3) [山内祐希] pulled out of his bout with Ren Sasaki (10-0, 6) [佐々木蓮]. Sasaki became the winner by default and collected his award in the ring.
We then got the first of two tournament finals, and action suddenly heated up. The final, at 60KG's, saw Filipino slugger Marvin Esquierdo (16-2-1, 10) stop Japanese veteran Ribo Takahata (16-9-1, 6) [高畑里望]. in the 4th round. Takahata had been dropped hard in round 2, but had fought back well until going down a second time late in round 4, and forcing the referee to wave off the bout. This win netted Esquierdo a very nice bonus for scoring a stoppage.
The final bout was less explosive, but even more interesting as Mongolian novice Tuguldur Byambatsogt (2-0) defeated Japanese based Dominican Vladimir Baez (26-6-2, 24) in the 65KG final. Byambatsogt out boxed Baez easily in the first 3 rounds, fighting behind his jab and footwork, but seemed to slow down in the 4th round as Baez began to mount something of a comeback. Baez's comeback was however short lived with Byambatsogt showing a more aggressive side in round 5, dropping Baez to secure a clear decision win. The young Mongolian looks like a real potential star, and has shown he can box and fight, but he will need to temper his negativity if he's to become a big name. Despite the negativity Byambatsogt has the talent to go a very long way.
Give that financial bonuses were on the card for early stoppages this wasn't the explosive event we were hoping to see. Despite that there was enough to take away from the card to be entertained, with out being thrilled. Fingers crossed next weekend's Dynamic Glove card is a little bit more explosive and exciting than this was.
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
Tomorrow fight fans at Korakuen Hall will see Japanese Light Flyweight champion Kenichi Horikawa (40-15-1, 13) [堀川 謙一] make his next defense, as he takes on the unheralded Yuto Takahashi (10-4, 5) [高橋悠斗].
The bout was made at relatively short notice, with Horikawa having a bout cancelled in August and Takahashi planning a different bout for this month, against Horikawa's stablemate Norihito Tanaka. Despite that it looks likely to be a very interesting bout, between two men with very under-rated records.
Today the two men took part in their weigh in, and both fighters made the 108lb limit with no issues.
At the weigh in Horikawa spoke about the short notice for the fight. He revealed that back in August, when his bout with Ryuto Oho (12-5-1, 4) [大保 龍斗] fell through on the day of the weigh in, he was offered an October bout, this one. He immediately jumped at the opportunity.
Horikawa is currently ranked in the top 5 by 2 of the world title bodies and the feeling is that if he wins here he will be looking to make the most of those rankings and get a world title fight in 2020.
Takahashi was full of confidence, he spoke excitedly about the opportunity of becoming a champion and stated that he will fight like a challenger. There was a clear desire running through his veins and he's certainly not going to be there to just make up the numbers.
Related - Horikawa defends Japanese title against Takahashi in a battle of circumstance
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Last year we saw Takenori Ohashi (15-5-2, 10) [大橋健典] claim the Japanese Featherweight title with a surprising win over Kosuke Saka. The bout had a rather peculiar ending, with Saka being stopped when he mistook the clacker for the bell, but it had looked like Ohashi was getting the better of it well before the stoppage. Today Ohashi retuned to the ring to defend that title, but instead of scoring his first defense he was given a real beating by mandatory challenger Taiki Minamoto (15-5, 12) [源大輝].
At the weigh in for the bout Minamoto boasted that his speed would be the difference, and it immediately seemed to b the case. The challenger was bouncing in and out of range, skipping around Ohashi and landing shots at will, with out Ohashi managing to respond. Ohashi looked lost and confused by the speed and movement of Minamoto who ended the round with some huge shots to the body and a massive left hand up top. Things went from bad to worse for Ohashi, who was hurt and wobbled at the end of round 2. It looked it looked like Minamoto was there to make a statement.
Ohashi managed to have moments in round 3, but those moments were over shadowed by the challenger who not only continued to dominate but came close to scoring a knockdown at the end of the round from a nasty 1-2 that left Ohashi wobbling before the bell. The champion was given the benefit of the doubt and managed to get some success in round 4, though every time he did he was forced to take return fire, with interest. The success of Minamoto was mentally damaging to Ohashi, who was forced backwards when they traded, and was unable to ever hurt the challenger, who looked to be having a lot of fun in there.
Things went from bad to worse for Ohashi, who was cut early in round 5 and seemed to become immediately desperate, throwing wild shots. Those shots almost all missed as Minamoto pressed forward and landed a number of big shots, rocking the champion again as we went to the bell.
After 5 rounds the scores were announced. Some how two of the judges had given a round to Ohashi, to have the scores at 49-46 to Minamoto, the third however had it 50-44, giving a 10-8 round for Minamoto's domination. Despite the judges being at ring side, they didn't really seem like they would be needed. Minamoto continued to dominate through round 6, shaking Ohashi in the final 20 seconds of the round. The referee looked ready to step in, but wait,and waited,before the bell run, and not for the first time Ohashi's beating was prolonged by the bell.
Given how badly stunned Ohashi looked to end round 6 a wise corner would have pulled their man out. Instead they sent him back out and he took yet further punishment as Minamoto continued to hammer him until the referee, after what felt like an eternity, jumped in and saved Ohashi, who was a beaten, bloodied, battered man.
With the win Minamoto scores a career defining victory and with the performance he put on he looks like a potential domestic star. For Ohashi his reign comes to a short conclusion, and it's hard to imagine him bouncing back from this defeat in a hurry.
Earlier today Japanese fight fans at the Korakuen Hall saw Kenta Nakagawa (13-2-1, 9) [中川 健太] become the new Japanese Super Flyweight champion, with the heavy handed southpaw claiming a split decision win over Hayato Kimura (25-9, 16) [木村 隼人所属].
The fight started off with a tense feeling and it seemed that both men were trying to feel out the other without committing too much. It was clear that each man knew their opponents strengths, something that had been documented going into the bout, and wanted to neutralise them whilst fighting to their own strong points. For Kimura that was a case of using his superior speed whilst Nakagawa looked to land his powerful left hand.
After a tame opening round the action began to pick up and the two were happier at a closer distance in the second round, with Nakagawa applying intelligent pressure with his footwork, and trying to open up Kimura. The tactic helped Nakagawa get a foothold in the bout but it was another round that lacked drama for the most part, and could have been scored either way, with Kimura being busier but Nakagawa getting through with most of the better shots.
By round 3 it seemed like both men were beginning to feel confident and the action did pick up notably with both having more success. Although the action was picking up, and the crowd was coming alive, the clean shots were still lacking with many being glancing blows, or missing the target altogether.
Thankfully the pace continued to build and the big shorts started to be thrown more freely with the crowd, and the atmosphere, raising the fighters who seemed more willing to exchange in round 4 as we had some great moments. The action still lacked in quality but was becoming more intriguing with every passing minute and this continued through round 5 with the styles beginning to gel, though the stances were leading to the occasional head clash and Nakagawa did seem to show some frustration at times in the final stages of the 5th round as he suffered a cut around he left eye.
After 5 rounds the open scoring was announce, giving Kimura a narrow lead, with cards of 48-47, twice to Kimura, and 48-48.
Knowing he was behind Nakagawa rallied, up the pressure and went about breaking down his faster opponent with intense pressure and was more willing to take a shot to land one. This forced some negativity from Kimura, who seemed happier to try and move, avoid a fight and stay away from the left hand of Nakagawa. The pressure had almost immediate impact and Kimura was hurt late in round 6 with Nakagawa's power and willingness to force the fight paying dividends.
The aggressive pressure of Nakagawa continued in round 7, forcing a loud “Kneta” chant and he again seemed to stagger Kimura with his power as Kimura began to be dragged into a dog fight. It seemed as if nothing Kimura could do could stop Nakagawa who was eating counters and not blinking whilst landing his own combinations and taking over the fight. The take over continued in round 8, with Kimura again unable to escape the pressure and the strength of Nakagawa who had done any to over-turn the deficit he had found himself in at the half way mark.
Kimura seemed to know he was behind at the start of round 9 and began to fight fire with fire as we got a sensational start to the round and saw both guys letting their hands go. It was much better from Kimura than the previous few rounds, and although he was forced to eat some bombs he proved he could stand and fight with Nakagawa, giving us a really thrilling 3 minutes.
Given the thrilling nature of round 9 it was clear both would be feeling the pace in the final round and it showed, with a round that lacked the intensity of the previous round. It wasn't full but it lacked the long trading sequences and instead merely gave us a few moments here and there.
By the end it seemed clear that Nakagawa had done enough to win. When he had to turn it around he did, and his domination of the second half of the fight was genuinely impressive. He didn't show the sweetest of science, or look the most defensively astute but he out landed his man with the bigger shots and was a well worthy winner.
Although the fight was hard to score early on questions do need to be asked of the judge who scored the bout to Kimura, and gave him rounds 6 and 8 to give him a 96-95 lead. Thankfully his peculiar scorecard was over ruled by scores of 97-93 and 97-95 for Nakagawa.
For Kimura this was a second loss in a Japanese title fight, though it seems likely he'll bounce back and fight again for the title down the line. For Nakagawa however this win is something that puts him on the proverbial map and shows he has more than just power going for him. He's unlikely to ever make a mark above the domestic scene, but he might be a very hard guy to dethrone at this level.
The new year may have been very slow to provide in ring action but it appears that things are warming up and today we saw the first Japanese title fight of the year as the Champion Carnival kicked off with a bout in the Super Featherweight division. More excitingly it kicked off with young and unbeaten fighters colliding in a bout that looked brilliant on paper.
The bout in question saw second generation fighter, and Japanese Super Featherweight kingpin, Rikki Naito (12-0, 5) get taken all the way by the now once defeated Masayuki Ito (16-1-1, 7) in a bout that really could have gone either way and in a bout that really did kick off the Champion Carnival in the perfect way.
From the opening round this was a highly skilled and highly sped fight with both men showing off what they had in the locker. Naito's timing did seem slightly better but Ito was well deserving of the credit he got for landing accurate counters and preventing Naito from building on any notable success.
Through the first 5 rounds the fight was impossible to call and it showed on the scorecards which had a split draw when they were announced. It was every bit as competitive as the records suggested and every big as exciting as we had all hoped.
In the second half of the fight the action picked up with Naito beginning to become more aggressive and this showed in rounds 7 and 8 as tried to force the judges into giving him rounds whilst Ito tried to answer back. It was still nip and tuck action.
Going into the final round both men seemed to think they had to up it and that left us with a thrilling finale that saw both unloading shots in the best round of the fight. Sadly however for Ito it wasn't enough and he lost his unbeaten records via a razor thin majority decision with the judges favouring Naito by scores of 96-95 and 97-94 whilst the third judge had the bout even at 95-95.
Coming into the fight we had suggest a draw was likely and considering he action in the ring a draw was perhaps the fairest result. Saying that neither man comes out badly here and given the two men are both only in their early 20's we'd not be shocked to see them both fighting at a much higher level down the line, in fact a rematch for the OPBF or even a world title wouldn't be out of the question.
Whilst Naito has retained the gold, and racked up his 3rd defense of the title we have no worries that Ito will come again and comeback stronger. For Naito the intention is clear, to move onwards and upwards as he attempts to replicate the success of his father, Cassius Naito, who was an OPBF and a Japanese champion back in the 1970's.
For those interested in seeing this bout it will be aired, in a tape delay format, on Fuji TV in a few hours time.
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
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