Takada blows out Isa, Taniguchi claims youth title, Sasaki trades knockdowns in draw with Sekine
Earlier today we had the latest show in the Fighter Spirit Series of shows. The card wasn't a stacked one, but the show, from Hachioji Nakaya Promotions, did several notable bouts on it.
The first of 3 noteworthy bouts was the rubber bout between Yuni Takada (9-8-3, 3) [高田 勇仁] and Shunsuke Isa (9-4-1, 1) [伊佐 春輔]. The first two bouts between the men were razor thin and we were expecting a similarly competitive contest this time around. Instead Takada landed the punch of the rivalry, detonating a huge left hook on Isa which dropped him hard. The referee waved off the bout after just 41 seconds, giving Takada the last laugh in a the rivalry and his most impressive win to date.
The second bout of note was a Japanese Youth Super Featherweight title bout, which saw Hyoga Taniguchi (6-3-2, 1) [谷口 彪賀] claim the title and put a beating on Seika Fukuda (6-4, 1) [福田 星河]. Taniguchi took control almost immediately, and took the fight to Fukuda, neutralising his jab with pressure and accuracy. Taniguchi would drop Fukuda early on, and then simply out work him, out land him, and out fight him, despite Fukuda doing his best to try and turn things around. After 8 rounds it was hard to give Fukuda anything, with the judges scoring this 80-70, 80-70 and 79-71.
The main event was much, much more competitive with the heavy handed Jin Sasaki (12-1-1, 11) [佐々木 尽] being held to a draw by Kotaro Sekine (3-0-1, 3) [関根 幸太朗]. The bout had real tension at it from before the bell, with the two men trying to stare daggers into each other. Sekine started well, and looked relaxed through the opening round, fighting relaxed and out boxing Sasaki until the final seconds of the round, when he was dropped hard, securing Sasaki a 10-8 round. Had the shot come 30 seconds earlier there's a chance Sasaki would have forced a stoppage here. He was made to pay in round 3 for not being able to finish off as Sekine battled his way back in to the bout, and he dropped Sasaku in round 5, with a left hook. The second knockdown left the bout finely poised going into the final round, which was hotly contested, and saw the judges being split.
After 6 rounds the scores for this were 56-56, twice, and 57-55 to Sasaki, leading to a majority draw.
B Class license tests passed, Sasaki returns with a win, Takei destroys Kawamura
Earlier today the Ohashi Gym put on a big show at Korakuen Hall, with the showing have several notable stories from it. Here's we're going to take a look a few of those.
First before the main show there was two very notable youngster who took part in the pro-test bouts. They were Toramasa Imanaga (0-0) [今永虎雅] and Yuya Tanaka (0-0) [田中湧也] , who both passed, and both are set to make their debuts in the near future.
After passing their tests the two men spoke to the media, with Imanaga stating "From now on, I will do my best to become a world champion. I am planning to make my debut on June 29th, so I will win firmly there."
Tanaka on the other hand told reporters "I am very happy to be a long-sought professional. My goal is to continue to do my best to win the debut match."
Another notable story from the show was the ring return of hard hitting Japanese youngster Jin Sasaki (12-1, 11) [佐々木尽] who began his campaign as a Welterweight with a 5th round TKO against Japanese based American Marcus Smith (7-2-1, 7) [マーカス・スミス]. Sasaki, who hadn't fought since being stopped by Andy Hiraoka last year, struggled with his timing and range in the early going, but began to settling in round 3, with some big hooks. Round 4 was competitive but it was becoming clear that Sasaki was the fresher and better fighter and that was shown when he seemed to hurt Smith late in the round. In the following round Sasaki landed a huge left hook that hurt Smith and the referee quickly jumped in as Sasaki began to unload.
Another notable bout on this card saw former K-1 World Grand Prix Super Bantamweight Champion Yoshiki Takei (4-0, 4) [武居由樹] make a statement as he layed out Shingo Kawamura (15-9-4, 8) [河村真吾] in 2 rounds. Takei was the big favourite here, despite taking a huge step up from his first 3 bouts, and he showed his class, strength and skills through the first round, despite Kawamura trying to close the distance behind a high guard. It was clear Takei wasn't looking for rounds, and early in round 2 he landed some good body shots before detonating with a right hook that dropped Kawamura hard. The referee immediately waved the action off, with Kawamura being taken from the ring on a stretcher.
Earlier today Hideyuki Ohashi held a press conference to announce the April edition of Phoenix Battle, and it's a brilliant one, with an all Japanese world title fight headlining the show, and several notable Japanese prospects taking steps up in class on the under-card.
The main event will see WBO Minimumweight champion Masataka Taniguchi (15-3, 10) [谷口将隆] make his first defense, following his title win late last year. The talented champion will be taking on former foe Kai Ishizawa (10-1, 9) [石澤開] in a much anticipated rematch between the two men.
These two first fought back in September 2019, when Taniguchi recovered from a knockdown to defeat Ishizawa, becoming the mandatory challenger for the Japanese title as a result. Since then Tanuguchi has gone 3-0 (3), winning the Japanese title in 2020 and the WBO title in 2021, living up to the potential many in Japan knew he had. Ishizawa himself bounced back from the loss to Taniguchi, the only loss of his career, by defending the Japanese Youth title, before claiming the Japanese senior title in January. It was clear when Ishizawa won the title title that he would be targeting Taniguchi, and this bout was seemingly an obvious one to make.
At the press conference today the two men involved in the world title fight both spoke confidently, with Ishizawa stating he wanted to "humiliate" Taniguchi here, and that seemed to be more of his focus than actually becoming a world champion.
The chief support bout for the show will see the unbeaten Yoshiki Takei (3-0, 3) [武居由樹] take on JBC ranked Shingo Kawamura (15-8-4, 8) [河村真吾], in a real step up for Takei. Despite this being a step up Takei and his team are confident of not just winning, but doing so in spectacular fashion, with Mr Ohashi giving Takei a target of an opening round win. Despite the hope for a blow out victory, it should be noted this is scheduled as a 10 rounder.
In another support bout we'll see the hard hitting the Jin Sasaki (11-1, 10) [佐々木尽] officially begin his campaign as a Welterweight, as he takes on Japanese based American Marcus Smith (7-1-1, 7) [マーカス・スミス], in what will be Sasaki's first bout since losing to Andy Hiraoka (18-0, 13) [平岡アンディ] last year.
Another supporting bout will see youngster Keisuke Matsumoto (3-0, 3) [松本圭佑] step up to take on Morihisa Iju (11-5, 9) [伊集盛尚], in a scheduled 8 rounder. Notably this bout was schediled for February 28th, but has now been rescheduled to April 22nd.
Over the last few weeks technical issues has prevented us from reporting as much news as we usually. Despite that there is obvious still a lot going on in the world of Asian boxing. With that in mind we've decided to put a few stories together here rather than battling too much with the technological issues thwarting us.
The first two small stories concern heavy handed youngster Jin Sasaki (11-1, 10) [佐々木尽], who failed to make weight for his recent bout with Andy Hiraoka (18-0, 13) [平岡アンディ]. Firstly Sasaki has vacated the Japanese Youth title at 140lbs, something he did following his loss to Hiraoka, and second he has been handed a 6 month suspension, for failing to make weight for his bout with Hiraoka, which he lost in 11 rounds. As a result he will be out of the ring until Spring 2022.
Former Japanese title challenger Satoru Sugita (15-6-2, 10) [杉田聖] has announced his retirement, and has handed in his retirement notice to the JBC, with that retirement dated October 20th. His retirement is not a huge surprise, given he hasn't fought since December 2019, but it was interesting to learn that he has also had a problem with his leg and began to start a family. We want to wish Sugita all the best in his post boxing career.
The final snippet of news for this report concerns two of the biggest names in Japanese boxing, with WBA and IBF Bantamweight champion Naoya Inoue (21-0, 18) [井上 尚弥] and former 3 weight world champion Kosei Tanaka (15-1, 9) [田中恒成] both concerned. It was reported today that the two men have been sparring with each other at the Ohashi gym in Yokohama, ahead of big December bouts for both men.
Regarding that spar Inoue was very impressed by the speed of Tanaka, suggesting that Tanaka is the fastest fighter he has ever shared the ring with. He even went on to explain that Tanaka's speed has limited his own success in their sparring. Tanaka, likewise, was impressed and explained that Inoue's technical ability was amazing, and he seemed impressed by the ring craft and distance control of "The Monster".
This was, reportedly, the first time the two men have sparred together.
Earlier today at Korakuen Hall Japanese fight fans has an excellent double header thanks to the Ohashi Gym.
The first of the two major bouts on the card was an OPBF Bantamweight title fight, as defending champion Kazuki Nakajima (10-1-1, 8) [中嶋一輝] faced off with former champion Keita Kurihara (16-6, 14) [栗原慶太] in what looked like a thrilling match up on paper.
Going in to this one, we, and plenty of others, anticipated a potential shoot out between two heavy handed guys who likely believed their power would be the difference maker.
In the opening round Nakajima looked to use his more polished skills and southpaw stance to his advantage. It worked well, and he seemed to get respect form Kurihara through the opening round. In round 2 however the challenger began to find his groove, and pressed, getting closer to Nakajima and finding the room for the occasional left hook. In round three Kurihara's power showed what it could do as he backed Nakajima on the ropes and landed a brutal right hand that dropped Nakajima. To his credit Nakajima beat the count and looked to continue the fight but was dropped again, from another right hand.
After the bout Kurihara spoke about landing the left hook in round 2, and how it played a factor in the finish, forcing Nakajima to keep an eye on his left hand left the door open to landing the heavy rights that closed the show.
The second of the major bouts saw Andy Hiraoka (18-0, 13) [平岡アンディ] extend his unbeaten run and claim the Japanese and WBO Asia Pacific titles at 140lbs, as he stopped Jin Sasaki (11-1, 10) [佐々木尽] in 11 rounds. The bout was highly anticipated, despite Sasaki missing weight yesterday, but turned out to be rather one sided with Sasaki struggling to ever get into the fight.
The early going saw Hiraoka's jab proving to be a brilliant tool, neutralising the power and style that Sasaki wanted. To his credit Sasaki pressed, and proved he was there to fight, but struggled to close the distance and struggled to get close enough to sustained any sort of an attack. After 5 rounds the judges all had the bout in favour of Hiraoka, with two scores of 49-46 and one having it 48-47, giving Sasaki more credit than he deserved.
By round 6 Sasaki was starting to slow down, his pressure less intense his output less notable and his speed slowing. That left Hiraoka in even more control and in round 7 he landed a right hook followed by a left hand for the first knockdown of the fight. Later that same round Sasaki was put down for a second time and he was in survival mode for the rest of the round.
Sasaki tried to will his way back into the fight in round 8, but it wasn't enough as Hiraoka used his speed, movement and reach well to land body shots on his dangerous, but faded, foe. He let Sasaki use his energy trying to turn the bout around, but it wasn't enough and in the 11th round Sasaki was dropped for the third time, with an uppercut. This timet the referee decided enough was enough and stopped the bout, giving Hiraoka the TKO win.
At the time of the stoppage Hiraoka was up 99-89 on two of the cards, and 98-90 on the other with round 11 having not been scored.
Other bouts on the card saw a successful debut for former amateur standout Kaiyu Toyoshima (1-0) [豊嶋 海優], who took a 6 round decision win over Shohei Horii (3-7-2, 2) [堀井 翔平], and a victory for 42 year old veteran Ribo Takahata (17-9-1, 7) [高畑 里望], who stopped Katsunori Endo (7-4-1, 4) [遠藤 勝則] in the 6th round of a scheduled 8 rounder.
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