Earlier today at Korakuen Hall Japanese fight fans saw triple crown winner Shuichiro Yoshino (12-0, 10) [吉野 修一郎] defending his Japanese Lightweight national title against mandatory challenger Izuki Tomioka (7-3-1, 2) [富岡樹] as part of the 2020 Champion Carnival.
The fight started with Yoshino on the front foot looking to press the speedier, and sharper Tomioka. Despite being the aggressor Yoshino was surprisingly dropped from a counter right hand that netted the challenger the early momentum. Despite the fact Tomioka is very much a light punching the shot was was a beauty and the skills of the challenger were on show with the timing and delivery of the punch. The knockdown was a genuine surprise, and secured Tomioka the big start he would have wanted, with a 10-8 round in his favour.
Having been dropped in the opening round round 2 Yoshino got some revenge as he amped up his pressure and tagged Tomioka with some heavy leather, cutting the youngster around the right eye. The skills from Tonmioka did however show again in round 3 as he made Yoshino miss, and tagged with counters, using his jab an excellent weapon. Sadly for Tomioka he did lack the power to get Yoshino's respect, despite the knockdown, whilst Yoshino's shots seemed to really rock the challenger when they landed.
After 5 rounds Yoshino had fought himself back on to level pegging, with the judges having the bout as a split decision when the scores were announced at the mid-way point. The judges had the bout 48-46 to Tomioka, 48-46 to Yoshino and 47-47, even.
In the second half Tomioka's jab continued to be a brilliant weapon, landing time and time again on Yoshino, and keeping the champion at range. The jab, along with Tomioka's fleet foot work, was exactly what Tomioka needed to do, and seemed to allow him to control rounds 6 and 7, as he began to build some momentum and find his rhythm.
Despite the success of Tomioka there was always the worry that Yoshino's power was going to be too much at some point. Yoshino's power had act as a neutraliser in the past, and that's exactly what ended up happening here in round 8, when he landed a huge left hook. He then cut the distance, finally shutting down the jab of Tomioka's.
With Tomioka hurt Yoshino refused to let off, and jumped over his man, forcing the referee to save the challenger at the 1:55 mark of round 8.
For Yoshino this was his 5th defense of the title, and the toughest since he won the belt. He was out sped, out skilled and out jabbed by the talented Tomioka. As for Tomioka this is the second time he has been stopped in a title bout after having shown his skills, with his other stoppage coming in round 11 against Masayoshi Nakatani.
The win proved that Yoshino still had areas to work on, and although he may have been a little bit guilty of over-looking Tomioka he's a long way from the finished article. He is looking to make his US debut later this year, and will clearly need to be careful when he does return to the ring.
As for Tomioka few can deny his skills. He's a genuinely excellent boxer. However his lack of power and relative lack of physicality is going to be an issue. It's going to be a problem for him going forward, and he's always going to have to work hard for any success he gets. He has the potential to bounce back and win this title down the line, but for now he and his team do need to look on making tweaks to how he fights going forward.
Tomorrow at Korakuen Hall we'll see OPBF, WBO Asia Pacific and Japanese Lightweight champion Shuichiro Yoshino (11-0, 9) [吉野 修一郎] making a mandatory defense of his title.
The unbeaten champion will be up against the skilled and quick Izuki Tomioka (7-2-1, 2) [富岡樹] as part of the Champion Carnival series of fights, in fact it will be the second in the series this year.
Today the two men made weight for the contest, with both men coming in on the 135lb limit. Both looked in good shape, but neither looked totally shredded.
At the weigh in today Yoshino stated that he was the best in Asia and that today's fight would be a chance to prove he was still the best in Japan. He seemed to be aiming for a KO, to continue a current run of them, though it is worth noting that Tomioka is certainly no push over. If he wins however the talk is that he will look to make his US debut later in the year and make strides towards getting a world title fight.
Tomioka, a former Japanese Youth Champion, explained that he was feeling like a child before Christmas, and was really excited about tomorrow's fight. He stated that he knew Yoshino was good fighter, but stated that he was better.
For fans unable to make it to the Korakuen Hall tomorrow the bout is also going to be televised, in some form, on delay this weekend on Fuji TV.
Related - Yoshino defends against mandatory Tomioka!
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
According to multiple Korean sources we'll see Japanese Heavyweight champion Ryu Ueda (9-1-1, 5) [上田龍] defending his belt on March 10th in an at Korakuen Hall, albeit not against a Japanese challenger.
The sources from Korea have explained that Sung Min Lee (7-1, 2) [이성민], the former KBM Heavyweight champion, will be the one challenging Ueda. With the bout coming under the same rule that will allow Lito Dante (16-11-4, 8) to fight for the Japanese Minimumweight title against Masataka Taniguchi (12-3, 7) [谷口将隆] on March 17th.
This bout comes under a rule that allows fighters from one OPBF affiliated country to fight for the national titles of other OPBF countries.
For Ueda this will be his first defense, following his victory in December over the now retired Kotatsu Takehara (15-13-3, 8) [竹原真敬], whilst Lee will be looking to claim his biggest win to date.
As is the rule with this type of bout, if Ueda wins it counts as a successful defense of the title, and extends his reign. If he losses Lee will be the champion, until he leaves Japan. In theory he could defend the belt, if he wins, but in practice it would seem unlikely that he would stick around in Japan to extend his reign.
Interestingly Lee has vacated the KBM title due to this opportunity. Originally the plan had been for Lee to defend the title February 16th against Jong Kook Kim (6-1, 3) [김종국], before Sung Min Lee suffered an injury back in January.
Kim will now face off with Jae Min Kim (2-3-2, 1) [김재민] for the vacant KBM title, with their bout scheduled to take place at some point in March, though no date has yet been set aside for the bout.
The 2020 version of the Champion Carnival kicked off earlier today with a Japanese Welterweight title fight pitting defending champion Yuki Nagano (17-3, 13) [永野祐樹] against former world title challenger Keita Obara (23-4-1, 21) [小原 佳太]. Like all the Champion Carnival bouts, this was a mandatory for Nagano and promise a lot.
On paper it promised explosive action, with neither man being a fan of the judges, and it also seemed like a must win for Obara, who's hopes of getting another shot at a world title would be over with a loss here. On the other hand a win for Nagano would help elevate him to the fringes of the world rankings.
From the opening round the tactics of the two men were obvious. Obara was the boxer, moving, jabbing, and looking to create space. Nagano was the opposite, the pressure fighter, looking to crowd Obara, take away his legs and break him down up close. Nagano's gameplan seemed to be based around losing the early rounds and coming on strong late on. The key for Nagano was not taking too much punishment too early.
Sadly for the defending champion he couldn't apply his pressure with out taking shots in return. Obara tried to jump on Nagano in the opening seconds, before boxing and moving his jab, finding room for power shots and rocking Nagano late in the round.
Nagano's pressure seemed to have some success in round 2, and at one point he seemed to rock Obara, who fired back instantly and dropped Nagano, who was hurt as the bell rang. Nagano was in trouble again in round 3, and credit needs to be given to his desire and toughness as it seemed like he was on the verge of being stopped. Obara seemed completely in control at this point but in round 4 we started to finally see Nagano's pressure having some effect as Obara began to slow down late in the round.
With Nagano finishing round 4 well it was little surprise to see him starting round 5 well. Sadly for him however Obara moved through the gears as the round went on and finished the round with a brutal flurry that rocked Nagano, leaving the champion in surviving on reflexes and bravery alone. We've seen bouts stopped for less than we saw Nagano take in the final minute here. It was a real surprise that Nagano didn't at least get dropped again here, though he did fall to the canvas it wasn't a knockdown.
After having taken an absolute pounding in the later stages of round 5 Nagano seemed there for the taking in round 6, but Obara looked like he was too tired to capitalise on the champion. Instead the round was a slow one. Nagano finally found something in the middle of the round, and seemed to do just enough to win the round, though was rocked seconds before the bell, as Obara proved he still has real power, even if his work rate was dropping.
In round 7 the resistance that Nagano had shown finally came undone as Obara put his foot on the gas and unloaded again, rocking the defending champion and following up. Not everything was landing but enough landed for the referee to step in and save Nagano from his own toughness.
With the win Obara becomes a 2-weight Japanese champion whilst Nagano loses his title in his second defense. It's hard to imagine any of the domestic fighters beating him, however we've already seen Obara fail when he's stepped up. He will likely want to give world class one more shot, but
Tomorrow we see the 2020 edition of the Champion Carnival, the 41st Champion Carnival, kick off. The first bout of this year's champion Carnival will see Japanese Welterweight champion Yuki Nagano (17-2, 13) [永野祐樹] defending his title against mandatory challenger Keita Obara (22-4-1, 20) [小原 佳太], with their bout taking place at Korakuen Hall as part of a Dynamic Glove card which will be televised live on G+.
Today the two fighters took part in their weigh in for the contest and both fighters easily made weight, coming in at around 146.5lbs for the contest.
For Nagano this will be his second defense of the title that he won last year, when he stopped Ryota Yada. Although not a notable name outside of Japan Nagano is currently riding a 15 fight winning run, with 11 stoppages. That impressive winning run has included notable wins over Giraffe Kirin Kanda, in the 2015 All Japan Rookie of the Year, upcoming OPBF title challenger Riku Nagahama, current WBO Asia Pacific champion Yuki Beppu and the aforementioned Yada. He spoke confidently, and it seems like he is seeing this as a chance to move from Japanese domestic level and head into world level.
On the other hand Obara is very well known though is better known for his losses than his wins, including stoppages to Eduard Troyanovsky, Alvin Lagumbay and Kudratillo Abdukakhorov. He's looking to become a 2-weight Japanese champion, having previously held the Japanese Light Welterweight title, and has won 2 bouts since losing in a world title eliminator against Kudratillo Abdukakhorov. He suggested that a loss here is probably the end of his career, and it's clear that he does not want to risk a defeat to Nagano.
Interestingly Obara has only lost once to a Japanese opponent, and that was in his 2010 debut, when he was stopped in 5 rounds by Kazuyoshi Kumano.
Related - Champion Nagano faces Obara in Japanese title defense
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
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