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.
Tomorrow fight fans in Japan will get the chance to see Japanese Featherweight champion Takenori Ohashi (15-4-2, 10) [大橋健典] defending his title against mandatory challenger Taiki Minamoto (14-5, 11) [源大輝], with the bout being shown on G+.
Today the tw omen weighed in for the bout and both fighters made the 126lb limit for the contest.
The champion for the bout was 125.88lbs on the scales,making the weight with some room to spare. Despite looking a little bit fleshy the champion looked solid and will be looking to build on his 2017 upset win over Kosuke Saka [坂晃典]. The champion spoke about being wary ofthe challenger and mentioned he felt when he challenged Saka, as if to suggest that he know how Minamoto will feel coming in to this bout.
The champion, who has previously challengedfor the Super Bantamweight title, was bang on the 126lb limit. He seemed tofeel that his boxing skills were the key to winning, and while Ohashi can punch, Minamoto seems to feel his speed and jab will be his keys to victory in this bout.
Asmentionedthe boutwill be aired in full on G+ and will come with a pretty interesting under-card, well worthy of a watch if you get the channel.
Related - Ohashi seeks first defense, takes on big punching Minamoto
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Every country gets bad decisions, some more than others. Often those bad decisions are in international bouts with a local fighter beating an import courtesy of questionable scorecards. It's less common to see a domestic title fight end with a robbery but today that certainly seemed to be the case today as Hiroki Okada (14-0, 10) [岡田 博喜] scored a very fortunate defense of his Japanese 140lb title, with a wide decision over Valentine Hosokawa (20-6-3, 9) [細川バレンタイン].
On paper the bout looked a straight forward win for the unbeaten Okada, who was making his 6th defense of the title. He was a vaunted puncher going up against a man who had been stopped in 2 of his 5 losses, both in title fights, and the 35 year old Hosokawa had been out worked last time out by novice Noriaki Sato. And if you look at the scores for the bout it also looked like a straight forward defense for Okada, with the judges scoring the bout 99-91 and 98–92, twice, for Okada. The reality however was that Valentine Hosokawa was given no credit for his work, which really was enough to claim the win.
From the opening round it was clear Hosokawa was up for the fight, taking the action to Okada from the opening seconds and forcing Okada on to the back foot. Okada had moments, using his jab and right hand with good success, but never managed to gain Hosokawa's respect as the challenger marched forward and out worked the champion, switching between head and body and forcing Okada to back track.
Round after round Hosokawa's pressure forced the action and troubled the champion, who was hurt on multiple occasions. At the end of round 3 the pressure seemed to have Okada doubting himself in his corner and although the champion seemed to have a good round 4 it was another that saw Hosokawa force the action and have a great finish. If any of the first 5 rounds was Okada's it was that 4th round as Hosokawa came roaring back in the following round and seemed to be clearly leading at the mid way point. Sadly the judges didn't agree, some how having the bout 50-45, twice, and 49-46 to Okada, with some raising their eye brows at the open scoring.
Knowing he was well behind on the cards Hosokawa seemed to have gas thrown on the fire and he fought round 6 even hard than he'd fought the previous rounds, being in Okada's face through out and giving the champion a really tough time, whilst Okada did little offensively. The success of round 6 bred more success and Hosokawa grew more through rounds 7 and 8 as Okada became progressively more negative.
It seemed going into round 9 that Hosokawa could actually end up breaking down the champion and he continued his pursuit of a now tiring Okada, who had success with his shots during the round but was being out landed through out by a challenger who knew that he had to throw everything at the champion. That same mentality showed in round 10 with Hosokawa looking to land huge hooks on Okada who finally responded by going to toe toe with Hosokawa.
Sadly for the challenger the judges seemed to be against him from the off and it would have taken a knockout for him to win. It seemed the judges liked something that Okada did, but the reality is that the champion was very lucky to retain his title and fans in the venue even question their own eye sight at one point.
For Okada this was a second disappointing performance, along with July's technical decision win over Cristiano Aoqui, but it has seen him record his 6th defense. For Hosokawa this was a third defeat in a title bout, and at 35 it's likely to be his final title opportunity, unless he face Koichi Aso next year for the title that we're expecting to see Okada vacate.
On paper a lot of today's bouts were mismatches, though one contest did stand out as being very competitive on paper and very well matched, in fact on another day it was a bout that could have headlined on a really good domestic Japanese card, rather than been 4th down the billing of a super card.
That bout was a Japanese Featherweight title bout between defending champion Satoshi Hosono (30-2-1, 20) and former Super Bantamweight world champion Akifumi Shimoda (30-5-2, 13). It was competitive on paper, with both being in or around the world rankings and both having similar records, and it was just as competitive in the ring with neither man doing quite enough to take charge of bout in a back-and-forth battle.
The fight started fast with Hosono unable to apply his usual intense pressure and with Shimoda using his feet and speed to great effect to neutralise the aggresive champion. Both had their moments though it was clear, even early on that the judges were going to struggle to separate the two fighters. That was shown when the cards were announced after round 5 with the judges split. The of them had Hosono in a narrow 48-47 lead whilst the third judge had Shimoda in charge 49-47.
With the cards close both men knew they had to turn it up in the second half in an attempt to distance themselves on the cards. This higher pace made the action even more competitive, more exciting and more intense. Sadly for Shimoda however the step up in action didn't help him as much he'd have hoped and a low blow in round 8 cost him a point. That point deduction had come at a bad time as he had seemingly had Hosono hurt and gave the champion time to regroup before the two finished with an all out brawl in the final 2 rounds.
The judges seemed to have been impressed by Hosono in the late rounds as he won it clearly one one card, 97-92, and relatively clearly on another, who had it 96-93. A dissenting judge however had Shimoda winning 96-95.
Following the bout Hosono said that he was still hoping to become a world champion, and it seems likely that the win today will help him secure a shot at one of the champions. For Shimoda this loss will be a hard one to swallow, but he'll likely know that he's able to win at this level and will almost certainly bounce back from this loss.
Earlier this month the Japanese rankings were released for March. The rankings have seen numerous changes and rather than going through all of them we will only be looking at the most notable changes. For fans wanting to see them all we have included links to the rankings released in both February and March.
The first change is at Minimumweight where we have seen Yutaka Sowano (#4) fall following his loss to defending champion Go Odaira on March 26th. Sowano's drop has seen Ryuji Hara (#1) become the top contender for his old title and, if we're being honest, a fight between Odaira and Hara certainly wouldn't be a bad fight.
In the Light Flyweight division we've seen Ken Shiro (listed as “Shiro Ken”) placed into the rankings at #7. It seems clear that the talented youngster won't be heading to Minimumweight and his highly impressive victory over Katsunori Nagamine has seen him being given a solid ranking at 108lbs. We wouldn't be shocked to see BMB push the youngster towards a national title fight later in the year and if this is the weight that suits him it may not be a bad idea to chase a title, especially given that Akira Yaegashi (#3) and Ryo Miyazaki (#4) have no intention of going after a Japanese Light Flyweight title and current champion Yu Kimura seems likely to move onto a world title fight later in the year.
In the Flyweight division the most notable change is the fact Jo Tanooka (#15) is now in the rankings. This is the second time Tanooka has found himself in the rankings and we're hoping to see more from the talented youngster this time around.
At Super Flyweight we've lost former world champion Malcolm Tunacao (previously #2), likely due to inactivity. The removal of Tuancao has seen Teiru Kinoshita (#2) and Takuma Inoue (#3) both move up a place and it seems likely that one of those two will get a shot shortly, if the two don't collide for a vacant title later in the year.
Takuma Inoue's stablemate Ryo Matsumoto (#5) has found himself on the verge of a Japanese title fight, if he wishes to focus on the domestic scene. The general view is that Matsumoto won't be looking at the winner of the upcoming title fight between Kentaro Masuda (reigning champion) and Shohei Omori (#1) though he's certainly in the mix if he chooses to be.
At Super Bantamweight we've seen no change among the top 4 contenders though we have seen Jonathan Baat (#5) boosted up the rankings following his recent victory over Kenta Onjo. Notably we've seen Nobuhisa Coronita Doi (previously #5) drop out of the rankings following his loss to Filipino prospect Alie Laurel.
Rikiya Fukuhara's (#3) recent loss to Satoshi Hosono (champion) has seen him dropping a couple of places down the Featherweight rankings. The new top contender is Daisuke Yokoyama (#1) whilst former champion Hisashi Amagasa (#2) is close behind. Whilst both Hosono and Amagasa have eyes on world honours a fight between the two would be mouth watering, and possibly even act as a world title eliminator. We know that's unlikely but we would love to see the two get it on in what would make for a great fight. Lower down the rankings Hiroshige Osawa (#11) has climbed above Mark Gil Melligen (#12) following the latter's loss in an OPBF title fight.
In the Super Featherweight division there have been no changes, at all, in the top 15.
At Lightweight the most notable changes have come a long way down the rankings. The first has been the rise up the ranks of the exciting Shuhei Tsuchiya (#10) who climbed 2 places whilst Kenta Onjo (#14) has fallen 3 places following his loss to Jonathan Baat.
The Light Welterweight division saw it's title being successfully defended on March 4th by Hiroki Okada. Okada's victory over mandatory challenger Hayato Hokazono (now retired we believe) has allowed Aso Koichi (#1), AKA “Shamgar Koichi”, to become the top contender whilst the exciting Shinya Iwabuchi (#2) sits in the wings. A bout between Koichi and Iwabuchi for the mandatory position would be brilliant though we have actually seen the two meet in a Strongest Korakuen bout already, back in 2011, with Iwabuchi blowing away Koichi.
We also saw the Japanese title at Welterweight being defended on March 4th as Suyon Takayama managed to keep a hold of his belt once again. His foe in that defense, Nobuyuki Shindo (#4), has fallen from the top spot following the loss and the new top contender is Yasuhiro Okawa (#1) whilst Akinori Watanabe (#3) would both make for a very interesting bouts with the champion.
At Light Middleweight the only major change is the removal from the rankings of Kengo Nagashima (previously #4) after having been inactive since last October. Nagashima's removal from the rankings has seen everyone below being moved up a single place.
The Middleweight rankings have seen Sogabe Marcos (previously #8) and Hisao Narita (#9) both being dropped from the rankings.
There have been no changes in the heavier weights with no rankings being provided from Super Middleweight to Cruiserweight whilst the Heavyweight rankings have, unsurprisingly, remained as they were a month ago.
For those interested in the full rankings the March ones are here whilst the February rankings can be found here.
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