Earlier today the Japan Professional Boxing Association announced the Strongest Korakuen bouts, which will take place later this year to decide the mandatory challengers for the Japanese titles in the new year, with 10 bouts being announced.
The Minimumweight bout will see WBO Asia Pacific champion Yudai Shigeoka (5-0, 3) [重岡優大] take on Tatsuro Nakashima (11-3-1, 7) [仲島辰郎], with the winner getting a show at the Japanese title, currently held by Yudai's younger brother Ginjiro Shigeoka (8-0, 6) [重岡銀次朗], who actually beat Nakashima for the title. This bout is set to take place at Korakuen Hall on November 17th.
The Light Flyweight eliminator will see Daiki Tomita (18-2, 6) [冨田大樹] battle Rikito Shiba (6-2, 3) [芝力人], though no date or venue has been announced for this bout.
At Super Flyweight we also have no date or venue set, but a mouth watering bout as Ryusei Kawaura (9-1, 6) [川浦龍生] battles Suzumi Takayama (5-0, 4) [高山涼深], in what is potentially the best looking of the bouts announced.
The Bantamweight bout bout will see Jin Minamide (6-2, 5) [南出仁] battle against Yuki Yonaha (11-3-1, 8) [与那覇勇気], in what could prove to be a very explosive bout between two flawed but hard hitting.
On the subject of interesting bouts we'll have a potentially thrilling war at Super Bantamweight as former champions Ryoichi Tamura (14-6-1, 7) [田村亮一] takes on Gakuya Furuhashi (28-9-2, 16) [古橋大輔]. Interestingly these two men also met in a Japanese title eliminator back in 2019, with Furuhashi taking a razor win over Tamura, before winning the title with a sensational battle just 4 months later.
At Featherweight former champion Ryo Sagawa (12-2, 7) [佐川遼] faces off with Daisuke Watanabe (12-5-2, 7) [渡部大介].
At Super Featherweight the hard hitting Yamato Hata (12-1, 11) [波田大和] will face Yuna Hara (11-2-1, 6) [原優奈], with this bout set to take place on October 1st at Korakuen Hall.
On paper one of the more underwhelming bouts is set to take place at Lightweight, as Shuma Nakazato (11-2-3, 7) [仲里周磨] takes on the hard hitting Ken Koibuchi (8-4-1, 7) [鯉淵健], in what might be an bout that's easy to over-look but is very likely to be an explosive encounter.
At Welterweight we're in for a treat as we get a rematch between Hironori Shigeta (8-2-1, 5) [重田裕紀] and Shoki Sakai (26-13-2, 14) [坂井祥紀], who gave us a very fan friendly bout back in 2020 with Sakai taking a clear but hard fought decision win. This bout is set to take place on October 22nd at Korakuen Hall.
At 154lbs Rei Nakajima (5-1) [中島玲] will face Koki Koshikawa (9-6, 6) [越川孝紀]. For Koshikawa he's looking to land his third shot at the Japanese 154lb title whilst Nakajima will be looking to secure his second shot at the title.
Notably there is no bout set for Flyweight, Light Welterweight or Middleweight. At the time of writing it's been reported that former world title challenger Ryota Yamauchi (8-2, 7) [山内涼太] will be getting a shot at Flyweight Cristiano Aoqui (16-9-2, 11), will get a shot at 140lbs and unfortunately there won't be a mandatory challenger for the Champion Carnival at Middleweight.
Ishii vacates Japanese Youth title
Earlier this month the talented Toshiya Ishii (4-1, 3) [石井渡士也] scored a 5th round TKO win against Jin Minamide (4-2, 3) [南出仁], in what was a fantastic performance from the youngster. Going into that bout Ishii was the Japanese Youth Bantamweight champion, though wasn't defending his title in that bout.
Earlier this week Ishii announced that that would be his final bout as the Japanese Youth champion, vacating the title.
Ishii has revealed that his future plans are to permanently fight at Super Bantamweight, the weight that he beat Minamide in, and it seems likely that his focus will be on getting a Japanese title fight at the new weight. That seems something that could happen sooner rather than later, given he was ranked by the JBC before the Minamide bout, and Minamide was himself highly ranked by the JBC.
Although not a major name outside of Japan Ishii, aged 20, is widely regarded as one of the best prospects in the country by fans who follow Japanese boxing. He's a short fighter at Super Bantamweight but a very talented and explosive one and it'll be great to see how he comes with taking on some of the top Japanese fighters at 122lbs going forward.
Earlier today at Korakuen Hall Japanese fight fans got a stacked card from the Ohashi Gym with 4 notables on it, including a Japanese title bout, and several bouts involving promising prospects.
The first of the 4 notable bouts saw Suzumi Takayama (4-0, 4) [高山 涼深] score an opening round win over touted teenager Kosuke Tomioka (4-2, 3) [富岡 浩介]. On paper this one looked like a really interesting bout between two southpaws, but sadly for Tomioka he never even got a chance to get into the bout. After less than a minute a straight left hand from Takayama put Tomioka down. To his credit Tomioka got up, but Takayama smelled blood and jumped on his man, sending him down again. Tomioka showed how bravery by getting up again but was dropped a third time with the referee then halting the bout after just 107 seconds.
Sadly it's hard to see where Tomioka goes here, especially given his loss in the 2020 East Japan Rookie of the Year final to Shunpei Kubo.
The second bout of note saw OPBF ranked Super Flyweight Masayoshi Hashizume (18-0-2, 11) [橋詰 将義] score an 8th round TKO win over Yoshiki Minato (9-5, 4) [湊 義生]. For Hashizume this was his first bout in over 2 years and despite that he looked sharp from the off, with nice jabs, and good speed. Minato tried to fight back was cut in round around the right eye.
As the rounds went on Hashizume's natural size, strength and power played more and more of a factor, as he let his shots go more willingness and in round 8 he ended up forcing the referee in to save Minato in the first minute of round 8.
The third bout of note saw Japanese Youth Bantamweight champion Toshiya Ishii (4-1, 3) [石井渡士也] score a 5th round TKO against the heavy handed Jin Minamide (4-2, 3) [南出仁]. This was exciting from the off, with both letting heavy leather go in the first round. The power of Ishii told first as he dropped Minamide in the first round.
To his credit Minamide not only got to his feet but battled on, though was dropped again in round 3, as Ishii's power, accuracy and speed showed it's self again. Minamide again beat the count, but having been dropped twice in the first 3 rounds he was in a hole. and desperate to try and turn things around. Sadly for Minamide his aggression and hunger came back to bite him, and in round 5 a serious of big shots from Ishii forced the referee to come in and save Minamide.
The main event was a much anticipated Japanese title bout at 112ls as Japanese Flyweight champion Seigo Yuri Akui (16-2-1, 11) [阿久井政悟] made his second defense of the title, and stopped the previously unbeaten Taku Kuwahara (8-1, 4) [桑原拓] in a brilliant 10 round war.
The bout started almost perfectly for Akui who's early power saw him dropping Kuwahara with a counter right hand in the first round. It was a perfect shot and seemed to show that Akui's power could be too much for Kuwahara. That was until the challenger began to show what he could do and finding his groove through the rest of the first half of the bout. The fight back from Kuwahara was impressive, showing his guts, determination and skills as he managed to close the gap on the scorecards.
After 5 rounds we had the open scoring with scores of 47-47 on one card and 48-46 on two others, both to Akui.
Kuwahara had bounced back really well from the bad start, landing good body shots, using his amateur skills well, and showed that he belonged at this level. Akui then began to pick things up himself, applying more constant and intense pressure, trying to take the play away from Kuwahara, who continued to box and move, using his speed and accuracy to try and out work Akui and get his respect.
Going into round 10 it seemed to close to call, and then the judges cards were essentially ripped up as a huge right hand from Akui dropped Kuwahara for the second time in the bout, with just over 10 seconds of the bout left. The referee immediately waved off the bout.
After the contest Akui and his team seemed to suggest that they would be hunting a world title fight in 2022, after the Champion Carnival. That could well mean a rematch with WBO champion Junto Nakatani, who stopped Akui back in 2017.
On June 19th we'll see unified Bantamweight champion Naoya Inoue (20-0, 17) [井上 尚弥] defending his WBA "Super" and IBF Bantamweight titles against Filipino fighter Michael Dasmarinas (30-2-1, 20), who enters as the IBF's mandatory challenger. Today, ahead of that bout, Inoue and promoter Hideyuki Ohashi attended a virtual press conference to talk about that contest, the future and Nonito Donaire.
It was revealed at the press conference that sparring for the bout finished on May 29th, with the focus now being on preparing final adjustments and shadow boxing. The sparring was high quality sparring with Japanese talent, such as Reiya Abe (21-3-1, 9) [阿部麗也], Ikuro Sadatsune (11-4-3, 4) [定常 育郎], Rentaro Kimura (3-0, 3) [木村蓮太朗], Jin Minamide (4-1, 3) [南出仁] and OPBF Bantamweight champion Kazuki Nakajima (10-0-1, 8) [中嶋一輝]. It should be noted that he sparred more for this bout than he usually does, and that was put down to the fact he was in better shape than usual.
It should be noted that the sparring partners, on the whole, are southpaws who are taller than Inoue, and naturally bigger. That was obviously the focus of the sparring to try and prepare directly for Dasmarinas.
The travel plan is to leave Japan for the bout on Wednesday, along with a rather sizable team, a reported 10 people in total. This should give him over a week to shake whatever jetlag he might have upon landing in the US.
Regarding weight issues, Inoue stated that he suffered from somecramps ahead of his last bout, against Jason Moloney, and will be looking to avoid them here. Though it appears there is no issues at all in making the 118lb Bantamweight limit, and that his weight loss is very much "as usual" and that he feels the same way he usually does 2 weeks before a bout.
In regards to Dasmarinas, it appears a careful, cautious gameplan has been set up for Inoue. They seem wary about Dasmarinas's size and reach, but will look to break him down slowly.
The longer term plan, after he gets past Dasmarinas, is for Inoue to attempt to unify all 4 Bantamweight world titles. He spoke aboue wanting to face recently WBC champion Nonito Donaire, and it was clear that's a bout Inoue has his eye on for the future. It was also a bout that Hideyuki Ohashi also spoke about wanting, whilst also praising Donaire's recent win over Nordine Oubaali.
One other thing that was mentioned here was that Inoue's purse for the fight was $1,000,000.
Earlier today Japanese Flyweight champion Seigo Yuri Akui (15-2-1, 10) [阿久井政悟] took to social media to announce his second defense of the national title he won in October 2019, and it's a mouth watering clash as part of a brilliant Ohashi promoted card at Koraken Hall on July 21st.
The match up in question will see Akui defending his belt against Japanese prospect Taku Kuwahara (8-0, 4) [桑原拓], who gets his first title fight after making his debut in 2018. The touted Ohashi hopeful has long been tipped for the top but this is a legitimate step up for him against a super dangerous puncher.
Coming in the bout is a genuine toss up, the perfect 50/50 type of fight that more shows need. Akui is the more proven and the heavier handed fighter, but the skills and amateur background of Kuwhara will certainly see plenty feeling he has the tools to detrhone Akui.
As well as the brilliant main event the show will also have several other match watering match ups. One of those will see Japanese Youth Bantamweight champion Toshiya Ishii (3-1, 2) [石井渡士也] battle against the heavy handed Jin Minamide (4-1, 3) [南出仁], in what should be a brutal war.
The talented Ishii really impressed in his first 3 bouts, but was out pointed last year by Sho Ishida [石田 匠] in a razor close bout. He was supposed to face Kaito Takeshima [竹嶋海刀] in March but that bout was scrapped when Takeshima's health forced him to pull out. As for Minamide he looked like a brutal puncher early on, but ran into Kazuki Nakajima [中嶋一輝] in the God's Left Bantamweight tournament in 2019, and has been inactive since then. Both men are coming in on a loss but both are exciting fighters and will be looking to get back to winning ways in a potential barn burner here.
Another supporting bout will see Yoshiki Minato (9-4, 4) [湊義生] battle against Masayoshi Hashizume (17-0-2, 10) [橋詰将義] in a bout between two former All Japan Rookie of the Year winners. This one is likely to be a high tempo war, between two men with a point to prove. Minato has lost 3 of his last 4, including losses to Kuwahara and Akui, but has shown a lot of ability and shouldn't be written off, despite his recent losses. Hashizume once seemed to be an emerging star in Osaka, but recent transferred to a gym in Tokyo, and will be looking to kick start his career after some recent setbacks and inactivity.
One other fighter worth noting on this card is once beaten teenager Kosuke Tomioka (4-1, 3) [富岡 浩介], who is in action for the first time since losing in a Rookie of the Year bout last year to Shunpei Kubo [久保 春平]. The talented charismatic and exciting Tomioka is scheduled for a 6 rounder, though his opponent has yet to be named. Interestingly Tomioka was originally supposed to be facing Kotoji Irita (0-0) [入田琴治] this coming weekend as part of a stacked weekend of boxing from Dangan, though the bout was cancelled last week due to issues with the venue. Fingers crossed Irita will be offered this new date for a bout with Tomioka.
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