Earlier today the East Japan Boxing Association announced the Monthly Award winners for the month of September, with 3 fighters being recognised for their achievements.
The MVP for the month was the newly crowned OPBF Bantamweight champion Kai Chiba (14-3, 9) [千葉 開], who claimed his title with a 12th round TKO win over Keita Kurihara (16-7-1, 14) [栗原慶太] on September 22nd, in what was a career defining victory for Chiba. The 29 year old Chiba, who was tipped for big things before a number of stumbles, is expected to kick on from this win and move on to bigger and better things, with this win working as a platform for him to not only defend his title, but also build his career off.
The Fighting Spirit award was also won by a regional champion, as Japanese and WBO Asia Pacific Light Welterweight champion Andy Hiraoka (21-0, 16) [平岡アンディ] , who retained his regional title on September 13th when he defeated Filipino puncher Alvin Lagumbay (13-6-1, 11) in 2 rounds. Whilst we're not yet 100% sure on Hiraoka's next step, he is expected to return to the ring on December 13th or December 26th as part of another Ohashi promoted event.
The third award, the Newcomer award, was won by Mizuki Hiruta (3-0) [晝田瑞希], who claimed the Japanese female Flyweight title, with a decision win over Hinami Yanai (2-1, 1) [桺井妃奈実] back on September 1st.
Earlier today at Korakuen Hall fight fans saw a new OPBF Bantamweight champion being crowned, as Keita Kurihara (16-7-1, 14) [栗原慶太] was upset by Kai Chiba (14-3, 9) [千葉 開], who recorded the biggest win of his career, by far.
The bout, which was streamed on YouTube, saw the two men putting on an excellent and well matched contest.
In the early going Kurihara applied pressure, taking the middle of the ring and patiently stalking his man, whilst Chiba moved around the ring, looking for angles to let his shots off. It was tense with both men waiting for the other to make the wrong move. As the rounds went on however the action began to heat up, and things slowly became more and more interesting, with both moving through the gears. It was clear through out that Chiba was the more polished boxer, the better move and the quicker man, but Kurihara's power seemed to keep Chiba full alert, and stop him from taking too many risks.
The interesting, though somewhat tense, early rounds saw Kurihara doing enough to be in the lead when the scorecards were first announced publicly after 4 rounds, leading 39-37 on all 3 cards. He would extend that lead in round 5 before Chiba began to find his groove, feeling more relaxed and getting to work, sweeping much of the middle portion of the bout to leave the cards even after 8 rounds, with all 3 judges having the bout 76-76. Chiba had managed to not just win rounds, but also turn the style of fight around, leaving Kurihara backing up and controlling the middle of the ring himself.
With momentum on Chiba's side going into the final stages of the bout it seemed things were against Kurihara, who was looking tired and seemingly breaking down mentally and physically. He was being forced to dig deep, and his moments of success were few and far between, though with his well regarded power he remained dangerous as he showed in round 10. That was until round 11, when he ended up taking a bit of a beating, staggering through the late portion of the round. He was spent, damaged and had taken a lot of punishment down the stretch, even being backed on to the ropes, where Chiba began to land numerous big head shots. To his credit Kurihara took them, and tried to fire back, but he was unable to get Chiba's respect, with the challenger's more accurate shots taking a toll, despite some fearsome exchanges.
The damage done in round 11 was something Kurihara couldn't recover from and early in round 12 Chiba was all over him, forcing the referee to step in and save him, with the stoppage coming 50 seconds into the 12th round.
Tomorrow fight fans at Korakuen Hall will get the chance to see OPBF Bantamweight champion Keita Kurihara (16-6-1, 14) [栗原慶太] defending his title against Kai Chiba (13-3, 8) [千葉 開] in an interesting looking match up.
Today, ahead of their bout, the two men took part in their weight in for the contest, and both men made the 118lb weight limit with no issues.
On the scales the champion, who looked in excellent condition, was 118lbs and he looked really good whilst also looking naturally bigger than the challenger, who was slightly lighter at 117.8lbs. Despite being the naturally smaller man, Chiba looked in incredible shape, looking ripped and ready.
At the weigh in Kurihara explained that he was in the best shape of his career, telling the made he "finished better than ever", in regards to his preparation. He also explained that he spoke well of Chiba, and has clearly scouted his challenger, whilst also explaining that he wanted to break Chiba and leave him feeling like he can't do anything.
As for Chiba he explained that he was full of motivation for the bout, which is his second OPBF title fight following a loss in 2021 to Kazuki Nakajima. He also spoke about knowing Kurihara following sparring sessions together, and it seems like he feels that sparring will give him the edge here.
Related - OPBF king Kurihara clashes with Chiba
Earlier today it was announced that OPBF Bantamweight champion Keita Kurihara (16-6-1, 14) [栗原慶太] would be back in the ring on September 22nd to make his first defense of the title, as he takes on Kai Chiba (13-3, 8) [千葉 開] at Korakuen Hall.
Kurihara won the title back in October, when he stopped Kazuki Nakajima, and will be making his first defense of the title. Despite not defend the title since winning it, he has fought once, a disappointing technical draw with Yukinori Oguni in May. Despite that draw Kurihara seemed to take positives from the bout, and he seems confident here, despite speaking highly of Chiba, who he is familiar with given both have been on A-Sign shows.
As for Chiba, this will be his second OPBF title fight having previously lost to Nakajima. Notably he comes in o this bout on the back of a loss to Suzumi Takayama, back in May, and another loss here will leave him in a pretty awkward position, given his recent set backs.
Interestingly the bout will be held on an event dubbed the "Ashita no Joe Memorial Match 2022", and as of yet no under-card bouts have been announced for the show.
Results from Korakuen Hall!
Yesterday A-Sign Boxing and Dangan Boxing put together a brilliant 4 card at Korakuen Hall, that was sadly hidden behind a paywall and only available on PPV. Despite the PPV, and the worrying movement in recent years to Japan having more and more boxing on PPV, the show was a major one, with prospects and a Japanese title eliminator all taking place on the event.
The show began with a bout between the heavy handed Yasutaka Fujita (8-1, 6) [藤田 裕崇] and the awkward Izuki Tomioka (7-5-1, 2) [富岡 樹]. From the off this was hotly competitive and a fight that really was a compelling stylistic match up, with Tomioka fighting behind his excellent jab and moving, whilst Fujita looked to pressure and use his physicality. This made for a really interesting bout, where both men had success in every round. In the later rounds however it was Fujita who seemed more consistent with his game plan, whilst Tomioka was under a lot of pressure.
After 8 rounds the judges scored this a split decision, in favour of Fujita. He was favoured 77-75 and 77-76 from two of the judges, whilst the third had Tomioka winning 77-75. With this win we expect to see Fujita earning a Japanese ranking, and Tomioka will certainly come again in the future.
The second bout In the second bout on the show we saw Takuya Watanabe (38-10-1, 22) [渡邉 卓也] bounce back from his vicious beating to Kosuke Saka to easily see off Kazuma Sanpei (20-7, 9) [三瓶 数馬] in just 2 rounds. The bout started with both men feeling each other out, but in round 2 a huge straight hand from Watanabe dropped his man. A follow up attack after Sanpei regained his feet forced the referee to jump in and save him from further punishment.
The third bout on the show saw youngster Suzumi Takayama (5-0, 4) [高山 涼深] get through the toughest test of his career, as he took a decision win against Kai Chiba (13-3, 8) [千葉 開]. This started with the two men battling for position early on, using their straight shots at mid range through the first round. In round 3 Takayama got a major break through, dropping Chiba, but to his credit Chiba got back to his feet, and rocked Takayama later in the round. Chiba was dropped again in round 5, as Takayama landed a gorgeous straight left counter. Chiba again got to his feet, and gave his all in the final rounds, but it wasn't enough to over-come the two knockdowns. After 8 rounds the judges had this one 77-73, 77-74 and 76-75.
The main event saw former Japanese 140lb champion Masahiro Suzuki (7-0, 4) [鈴木 雅弘] take a split decision over Seiryu Toshikawa (14-6, 8) [利川 聖隆] to become the mandatory challenger for the Japanese Lightweight title.
Toshikawa started well, using his height and reach to control the distance and made the most of his long range jab. Suzuki tried to get inside but struggled until round 2, when he managed to drop Toshikawa with a solid left hook. Following the knockdown Suzuki began to amp up his out put, though to his credit Toshikawa wasn't there to make up the numbers, and fought back hard.
We ended up with more drama in round 6 as Suzuki was dropped, and hurt. The final two rounds were great with a lot of leather thrown, it was a real back and forth as Suzuki looked to clear his hear, and Toshikawa looked to close the show.
With both men having been downed, and both having given a stellar account of themselves, this one was tough to score, though Suzuki got the nod with scores of 76-74 in his favour, twice, whilst Toshikawa was favoured by the same score by the third judge.
News! We try and give you the most interesting news stories from the Asian boxing world!