In just over a week's time we'll see WBO Super Flyweight champion Kazuto Ioka (28-2, 15) [井岡一翔] take on Filipino great Donnie Nietes (43-1-6, 23), in what is a much anticipated rematch between two men who clashed at the end of 2018.
Today, ahead of that clash, Ioka took part in a public work out.
The session saw going through some stretches and other basic exercises, whilst ducking and moving under some ropes and showing off a sharp 1-2.
The work out was surprisingly basic and not a great example of what Ioka has got in his locker for the bout, though it's fair to say that the work has been going on behind the scenes. In fact it was revealed that he has spent over 100 rounds sparring for the bout, spending time in the ring with former WBC Flyweight champion Daigo Higa (17-2-1, 17) [比 嘉 大吾] and Jukiya Iimura (3-0, 1) [飯村樹輝弥].
Notably Ioka has been communicating online with training Ismael Salas, who will arrivie in Japan a few days before the bout, and will work his corner against Neites. We dare say that Salas and the team have set a smart game plan to over-come the intelligent, though now 40 year old Nietes.
Earlier today at Korakuen Hall Kadoebi and Dangan put on a rather small but notable show with 7 bouts in total, including a double title bout in the main event and several other noteworthy bouts featuring professional novices. For fans not at Korakuen Hall, the event was streamed online through the excellent Boxing Raise service.
The event kicked off with a 4 rounder between Temple Kamihara (3-1) [テンプル神原] and Kaito Itai (2-2, 1) [板井 海都]. Kamihara got off to the ideal start, dropping his man in the opening round, and controlled the bout through out, taking a clear and wide 4 round decision, 40-35, twice, and 39-36.
The second bout, also a 4 rounder, was a much closer contest which ended in a majority decision win for Daisuke Sumita (3-1, 1) [墨田 大祐], who over-came Fuki Ishigaki (3-3, 2) [石垣 芙季]. Sumita, returning almost almost 5 years away from the ring, looked to take control of the range and managed to ease himself into the bout. As the rounds went on the pace, from both, picked up, with Ishigaki trying to fight his way into the bout, giving us a thrilling finish. After 4 rounds this was 39-37, twice, and 38-38.
A planned 6 rounder between female fighters Megumi Hosoda (3-2) [細田めぐみ] and Honoka Kano (3-0-1, 2) [狩野ほのか] was supposed to be next, before it was cancelled in the build up to the show. As a result the third bout on the card was between Masaki Kobayashi (6-2, 3) [小林 柾貴] and Kojiro Nishikawa (5-3-1, 2) [西川 宏次郎], which saw Kobayashi taking a clear 6 round decision. Kobayashi boxed well here, countered well, and deserved the victory, his first since September 2019. The judges for this one turned in cards of 58-56, twice, and 59-55, all to Kobayashi.
The first of the standout novices to compete on this show was Josuke Nagata (1-0) [永田 丈晶] who took a 6 round decision win over Koji Tsurumi (5-4-1, 2) [鶴海 高士]. The talented Nagata, who had around 60 bouts as an amateur, started well, looked sharp and his jab seemed to land well early on, and he even dropped his man in round 3. Tsurumi however wasn't there to just make up the numbers and instead he fought like a man who was determined to score the upset and he dug deep, making Nagata work hard through the 6 round distance. In the end Nagata earned the win, with scored of 59-54, twice, and 58-55.
In a peculiar 5 round bout Ryo Shintomi (6-6-1) [新冨 凌] took a split decision over Kengo Hatsushika (3-5-2, 2) [初鹿 健吾]. This was hotly contested through out, with an exciting exchange almost at the opening bell. From there it was hard to split the two men, with Hatsushika landing some great shots up top and Shintomi attacking the body well. In the end it was the pressure and work rate of Shintomi that was just enough to earn him the decision, but this was one that could easily have swung the other way. A very tight, well fought, and well matched bout.
In the chief support bout we saw the talented Jukiya Iimura (2-0, 1) [飯村 樹輝弥] take a very hotly contest decision over former amateur stand out Tomoki Kawasaki (0-1) [川崎 智輝], who was unsuccessful on his professional debut. This was high level boxing from both from the opening moments. both men showed solid understanding of the ring, and the sport, using their jabs well, setting traps and fighting at mid range. Despite boxing well at mid-distance Kawasaki fell behind, with Iimura landing the better shots, and in the later stages Kawasaki began to take more risks, getting close, and pressing more. Despite that pressure he couldn't do enough to turn the bout around, and after 6 rounds all 3 judges had this 58-56 to Iimura. Although Kawasaki lost here he has a very bright future ahead of him, and Iimura is someone we were impressed by in his debut. Keep an eye out for both of these men going forward.
In the main event we saw Ryoji Fukunaga (14-4, 14) [福永亮次] retain his WBO Asia Pacific and JBC Super Flyweight titles as he stopped the under-sized Takahiro Fujii (12-7-1, 3) [藤井貴博]. From the off this was a case of seeing how much Fujii could withstand, and credit to him for trying to fight the much bigger, better, stronger Fukunaga. Sadly however Fujii's resistance couldn't last forever and in round 8 the power shots of Fukunaga took their toll, dropping him hard with a brutal 1-2. The referee needed no time to stop this one, waving the bout off before Fujii began to get medical help.
Although the main event was a mismatch, it was actually good to see Fukunaga in a bout where he didn't have to walk through fire to pick up a win, and given his last two bouts were punishing wars it's hard to complain about him getting an easy amd less punishing bout here.
Earlier this week we reported that triple crown champion Ryoji Fukunaga (13-4, 13) [福永亮次], would be defending his WBO Asia Pacific, OPBF and Japanese Super Flyweight titles on May 22nd against Takahiro Fujii (12-6-1, 3) [藤井貴博]. It's now been announced that that bout will be one off two title bouts on the show, with the other being a Japanese female title bout.
That second title bout will see Kanako Taniyama (3-1-1, 1) [谷山佳菜子] and Yuko Henzan (8-10-4, 2) [平安山裕子] battle for the Japanese female Bantamweight title.
Entering the bout Taniyama, a 34 year old fighter from the Watanabe gym, will be the #1 ranked contender for the belt whilst Henzan, who is slightly younger at 33, will enter as the #3 ranked contender.
Taniyama turned professional in 2018, following a career in Karate and Kickboxing, and the expectations were high for her. So high in fact that she fought for the Japanese and OPBF female titles in just her third fight, battling to a draw with Tomoko Okuda. A rematch with Okuda soon afterward resulted in a narrow technical decision loss for Taniyama. On paper her 3-1-1 (1) record is underwhelming, but given Okuda has since gone on to win the WBO female Super Flyweight title the sets are nothing to be ashamed by. In fact it was Okuda vacating the title that has left it open for this bout to take place.
Henzan on the other hand has been a professional since 2010. She failed to win any of her first 4 bouts, going 0-3-1, and was 1-5-2 after 8 bouts. Since then she has managed to turn things around somewhat, going 7-5-2, but she has also lost her last 3 bouts.
Whilst not the greatest match up out there it's not a terrible bout to add to a card that already features Jukiya Iimura (1-0, 1) [飯村 樹輝弥] against Tomoki Kawasaki (0-0) [川崎 智輝] and Mikio Sakai (3-0) [酒井 幹生] taking on veteran Koshinmaru Saito (24-10-2, 13) [斉藤伸介].
A week or so ago it was revealed that DANGAN would be promoting 3 events over 2 days in May, with the dates of May 22nd and May 23rd being set for the events. Other than those minor details little was know about the 3 shows.
Today DANGAN went on to announce the details of the first of those 3 shows, which will take place on May 22nd at the Sumida City Gymnasium, will heavily feature Kadoebi promoted fighters and will be promoted as "Dangan 239 & Slugfest".
The show will be headlined by triple crown champion Ryoji Fukunaga (13-4, 13) [福永亮次], who will be defending his WBO Asia Pacific, OPBF and Japanese Super Flyweight titles against the unheralded Takahiro Fujii (12-6-1, 3) [藤井貴博], who has won hid last 3 and over the likes of Tatsuya Terada and Sonin Nihei during his current run.
Fukunaga had a brilliant 2020, a career defining year in fact. He began the year with a brilliant win over Froilan Saludar, in February, to claim the WBO Asia Pacific title, then beat down Kenta Nakagawa in December to win the Japanese and OPBF titles, to become a triple crown winner. Given those two bouts, which were tough, damaging and punishing battles, we can hardly complain about him having an easier one here against Fujii. As for Fujii this is a massive step up in class, however he may well be getting a shot at Fukunaga at the right time, given the incredible punishment Fukunaga has gone through in his last few bouts.
On the under-card for this show will be a bout between talented 27 year old hopeful Mikio Sakai (3-0) [酒井 幹生] and veteran Koshinmaru Saito (24-10-2, 13) [斉藤伸介], in a big step up bout for Saito. A win for Saito will likely result in him moving into the Japanese rankings, but Saito is true veteran and will not be there to roll over for the skilled Sakai, despite a staggering 15 year age difference between the two men.
Another under-card bout will be a 6 rounders between Jukiya Iimura (1-0, 1) [飯村 樹輝弥] and Tomoki Kawasaki (0-0) [川崎 智輝], which was originally planned for later this month but appears to have been delayed for 2 months to fit on this show instead. Despite the delay we're really looking forward to this one, and we were really impressed by Iimura's debut earlier this year.
A final under-card bout for this show will be a 6 rounder between 23 year old puncher Hiroto Hoshi (4-2-2, 3) [星大翔] and 32 year old Kojiro Nishikawa (5-2-1, 2) [西川宏次郎] in what should a pretty competitive show opener.
Although yet to be officially confirmed, it is expected that this will be available on Boxing Raise, potentially as a live show, as DANGAN look to fill up the scheduled for the service, which has been lacking to begin this year.
The usually brilliant Boxing Raise has had a notable downturn this year, with no new shows at all in February and until today they also had nothing official on their schedule for March.
Thankfully that changed today when they revealed their schedule for the month, and it's a mix bag.
Firstly it appears they won't have any live streams this month, which is a massive shame and a real negative for the service. Second they only have 3 shows the entire month. Thankfully however they are all good shows, and the first of those is already available for fans.
The first of those shows, the one now online, was Green Dream Vol 14, headlined by a Japanese Super Bantamweight youth title fight between Satoru Hoshiba [干場悟] and Tom Mizokoshi [溝越 斗夢]. This was a genuine great fight and for those with the service this is well worth watching.
The second show will be Victoriva 6, which takes place on March 18th. This card will be headlined by the much anticipated IBF Atomweight title bout, pitting champion Saemi Hanagata (16-7-4, 7) [田中冴美] against the skilled Eri Matsuda (4-0, 1) [松田恵里] and will also feature the long awaited debut of Narumi Yukawa (0-0) [湯川成美].
The final show on the service this month will be Slugfest 18 from Kadoebi Gym. This will be headlined by a contest between Seiya Tsutsumi (5-0-2, 4) [堤聖也] and Tulio Kuwabata (3-1-1, 2) [桑畑凜生] and will feature a genuine who's who of the Kadoebi Gym, including Yuichiro Kasuya (13-3-2, 4) [粕谷 雄一郎], Takuya Kogawa (30-5-1, 13) [粉川拓也], Yoji Saito (2-1-2, 2) [齊藤陽ニ] and Jukiya Iimura (1-0, 1) [飯村 樹輝弥].
For subscribers it's a decent line up, though it's a huge shame that nothing is being shown live.
Outside of Boxing Raise Japanese fan will have plenty to watch over the remained of the month with the Splendid Boxing show on March 21st being shown live on YouTube via Sakana and Seki Chan, with a live feed here, the March 25th Dynamic Glove card will be live on premium Japanese TV channel G+ and the March 28th "Real Spirits 71" from Shinsei Gym being shown live on YouTube channel BOXING REAL.
(Image credit - Boxing Raise)
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