Whilst most fight fans who follow the Japanese domestic scene were focused on the action at the Sumida City Gymnasium today there was a second card taking place, over the Aioi Hall in Kariya. It was a less notable show, but still one with a very notable main event.
The main event saw Japanese Light Flyweight champion Masamichi Yabuki (12-3, 11) [佐藤政道] successfully defending his title for the first time, as he out pointed Toshimasa Ouchi (22-10-3, 8) [大内 淳雅] over 10 rounds. The win not only securing his first defense, but also his first decision win.
In the first round the challenger looked to get his jab to the body going, in an attempt to take some steam out of Yabuki's work. Sadly for him however the challenger couldn't unsettle the champion who began to find his groove in round 2, poking away with a crisp, clean left jab from range. From there on Yabuki took control, using his reach, speed and crispness to out box Ouchi with ease.
After 5 rounds we got the open scoring kick in and Yabuki was winning a shut out, 50-45 from all 3 judges.
It ended up taking until round 9 for Ouchi to really have any moments of success, as he began to try and take out Yabuki, with some big left hands. He was however struggling to land and had to take more risks in round 10, where he landed some of his best shots, not enough to have Yabuki in any real danager.
After 10 rounds we went to the judges who turned in scores of 100-90, and 99-91, twice, to give Yabuki the decision win, the first decision win of his career, and his first defense.
Interestingly there was only 1 other bout on this card and that was a 6 round Super Bantamweight bout between Teru Nobita (6-3-1, 3) [テルのび太] score a last moment KO win over John Yano (5-7, 2) [ヤノ・ ジョン]. In fact the KO here came at the 3:01 mark of round 6!
The fight had been a solid action fight, with Nobita generally getting the better of things until he landed a right hook in the final moments. Nobita bout the count but was out on his feet when the referee waved off the bout, just after the final bell.
Earlier today at Korakuen Hall we got a sensational triple title unification bout at Super Flyweight as the OPBF, WBO Asia Pacific and Japanese titles were unified in an instant Classic! And not only were fans in the Hall treat to it, but saw was a wider audience as the bout was shown live on the brilliant Boxing Raise.
The match up in question saw the hard hitting Ryoji Fukunaga (13-4, 13) [福永亮次], who entered as the WBO Asia Pacific champion, taking on defending Japanese champion Kenta Nakagawa (19-4-1, 12) [中川 健太]. Not only were their titles on the line but so too was the vacant OPBF title.
With 3 titles on the line, the bout had a big fight feel, at least a big domestic fight feel, and it quickly delivered as we got a real fun opening round that set the tone for the early going. Fukunaga, the bigger puncher with the more durable chin, took the center of the ring and managed to land some solid shots whilst Nakagawa looked to take outside of the ring, using his speed and movement. For almost the first 3 rounds we saw Fukunaga pressing, and Nakagawa trying to box and move, with both men having moments. Then we got to the end of round 3 that saw both men land some huge head shots, giving us a taster of what was to come later in the bout.
In round 4 Fukunaga's power proved it's self, as he landed a hard right hook that dropped Nakagawa. Following the knockdown the tempo rose again, with Fukunaga going all out for the stoppage, then seemingly punching himself out as Nakagawa ended the round strong. It was a huge round, but it came at a cost to Fukunaga who seemed sluggish in the following few rounds as Nakagawa managed his best run of success, using his footwork well, and landed some really clean head shots whilst Fukunaga seemed to be visibly tiring.
Despite the success of Nakagawa after after being dropped his inability to really hurt Fukunaga was an an issue and and by round 8 it seemed like Fukunaga was getting his second wind and the round was something else, with both men unloading through out the round. Nakagawa was in trouble early in the round, and took some massive headshots as Fukunaga hunted a finish, and again ended up exhausting himself in an attempt to score a KO. Nakagawa then roared back, unloading himself, before the two just let huge shots go, with Nakagawa luck to see out the round, an amazing round.
After 4 rounds the scores were 39-36, twice, and 40-35, all in favour of Fukunaga, after 8 rounds Nakagawa had fought his was back into the fight. Despite that Fukunaga was still in the lead with scores of 77-74 across the board,
Sadly for Nakagawa any hope at edging closer in round 9 was destroyed as he was rocked and staggered numerous times by the heavy hands of Fukunaga. Even though Nakagawa had real success of his own, it was clear he simply couldn't rock his foe, whilst Fukunaga rocked him repeatedly through a tense, brutal and damaging round. By the end of the round it was clear that Nakagawa was running on fumes, and his shots, which had been crisp though the bout, were looking slow and tired. He still had hunger, but his body was letting him down and he was taking real punishment.
After two tough, brutal and hard rounds it seemed impossible to think this bout could go much longer. Both men were looking tired, but Fukunaga's heavy hands still looked damaging and they proved it in round 10 when he rocked Nakagawa to his core, forcing him to stumble. The referee knew it was time, and quickly stepped in, saving him from further harm.
Given the punishment both men took here, they should both be looking at a lengthy break from the ring. We wouldn't be surprised if Nakagawa, following this loss, calls time on his career. He's currently 35, and has taken a lot of damage in recent years. As for Fukunaga he'll likely look to either defend all 3 titles next year or potentially look to move towards a world title fight, allowing him a chance at the top before calling time on his short, but dramatic, and entertaining, career.
Tomorrow at Korakuen Hall we'll get the latest show from Kadoebi and it's a really, really solid one with several bouts worthy of attention. Despite there being a number of bouts of intrigue there is one that stands out, and that's the main event which will see 3 Super Flyweight titles being unified as Japanese champion Kenta Nakagawa (19-3-1, 12) [中川 健太] battles WBO Asia Pacific champion Ryoji Fukunaga (12-4, 12) [福永亮次], unifying not just their titles but also the vacant OPBF title.
Today, ahead of their bout, the two men took part in their weigh in, and both men managed to make the 115lb weight limit whilst looking in amazing condition.
On the scales Nakagawa, who is looking to make his second successive defense of the Japanese title, came in marginally under the limit, at 114.8lbs, and showed a steely determination in his eyes. Fukunaga on the other hand came in bang on the divisional limit for what will be his first defense of the WBO Asia Pacific title.
Interestingly this is an all southpaw bout and both men have seemingly been open in admitting they aren't good against lefties. Fukunaga has however been preparing for this bout by sparring exclusively with lefties since winning the title with a TKO victory over Froilan Saludar, with it seeming almost like he was aiming for Nakagawa for some time.
Nakagawa on the other hand stated the bout was a high risk one, and it seemed very much like he had the feeling that this was high risk-high reward, with the winner potentially being on the verge of a world title fight, and the loser looking down the barrel.
For fans wanting to watch this, it will be shown globally on subscription Boxing Raise, who will be streaming the entire show live on their brilliant service.
Related - Fukunaga and Nakagawa battle for the triple at Super Flyweight!
(Photo credit - Kadoebi Gym)
Tomorrow at Korakuen Hall fight fans in Japan will be able to see Daishi Nagata (15-2-1, 6) [永田大士] make his first defense of the Japanese Light Welterweight title, as he takes on veteran Akihiro Kondo (32-9-1, 18) [近藤 明広], who is looking to add the title to his collection of titles.
Today the two men took part in their weigh in for the bout and both men made the 140lb limit with no issues, with both men hitting the scales at 139.8lb and looking in fantastic condition.
At the weigh in Nagata, who is coming in to this fight on the back of a career best win over Koki Inoue, looked in incredible shape. He spoke like a man who had a point to prove, and the same determination that he had when he was challenging for the belt. He spoke about wanting to make a meaningful bout for the fans and it seems very much like he's coming into the bout with a lot of excitement and the confidence of the Misako Gym, which has been on a great in recent years.
Kondo on the other hand spoke about how he'd prepared for the contest by losing weight earlier than usual, and as a result was in perfect shape. He seemed to suggest he had improved his strength and stamina from recent contests and had a lot of respect for Nagata. Interesting he also spoke about his experienced, citing that this his 43rd professional bout and that he had had 43 amateur bouts, with that being more than 80 bouts of experience to rely on here.
For fans wanting to watch the bout and can't make it to Korakuen Hall, it will be shown on tape delay on Fuji TV this coming weekend.
Related - Nagata seeks first defense as he goes up against tough guy Kondo
(Image credit - Misako Gym)
Earlier today at Korakuen Hall fight fans saw a new Japanese Minimumweight champion being crowned as Masataka Taniguchi (13-3, 8) [谷口将隆] scored a 10th round TKO victory over the over-matched Hizuki Saso (12-7-2, 4) [佐宗 緋月].
Taniguchi got off to the perfect start, dropping Saso with a straight left hand to the body very early on. To his credit Saso got back to is feet, but was wary of Taniguchi's power following the knockdown. Saso would then become aware of Taniguchi's skill and timing with the Watanabe gym fighter controlling the rest of the round behind his footwork, jab and excellent counter punching.
Taniguchi continued to show his class in round 2, putting his foot on the gas and getting Saso's respect with some very solid straight shots, and some wonderfully well picked uppercuts to the body. At one point Saso was caught on the ropes, though respect to him for fighting off them and not taking too much damage.
Round after round Taniguchi would look like the boss, whilst boxing well within himself. This saw him racking up rounds and when the open scoring kicked in, after 5 rounds, he was leading 50-44 on all 3 cards. It was almost impossible to make a case for giving Saso anything. Every moment of success Saso had was quickly forgotten and neutralises by the more skilled Taniguchi.
Knowing he was well behind Saso began to dig deep, then deeper, and he gave all he could in the, but he repeatedly got picked off at range and offered no real competition. In fact in round 9 Saso pressed forward, but ended up merely taking punishment for his bravery and effort. He tried, and god loves a trier, but he was easily out worked, out landed, out boxed and out classed.
In round 10 the bout came to an end when Taniguchi began to open up on Saso and the referee jumped in to wave it off. It was a soft stoppage, but in many ways it was hard to complain. Saso had been second best in every round and had eaten 4 or 5 solid shots earlier in the round.
After the bout Taniguchi admitted that the Japanese title was one he had always wanted and stated that it was heavy, he also revealed that it had helped to have his close friend and stable-mate WBA Light Flyweight "Super" champion Hiroto Kyoguchi (14-0, 9) [京口 紘人] working his corner for the bout.
The win for Taniguchi sees him adding the Japanese title to a trophy cabinet that also includes a WBO Asia Pacific title. As for Saso he will come out of this proving his heart, but he really did look out of his depth.
For those wanting to watch this is now available on Boxing Raise.
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
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