Earlier today at Korakuen Hall, we had the first Japanese show of 2022, and it was a notable one with several notable domestic clashes on it, including the first Japanese title bout of the year, several bouts with notable prospects and a bout featuring a highly ranked Japanese veteran.
The first of the notable bouts saw JBC #2 ranked Super Welterweight Makoto Kawasaki (12-8-1, 2) [川崎真琴] return to the ring for the first time since September 2019. Despite the long lay off, he was in total control against Fumisuke Kimura (9-9-1, 6) [木村文祐], in a bout fought just above the Welterweight limit. Kawasaki shook off some ring rust here and took a wide, and clear, decision win, which would likely have been the plan going in. After 8 rounds the scores were 79-73, twice, and 78-74, all for Kawasaki.
In the second bout of note the unbeaten, and often over-looked, Tentaro Kimura (8-0-2) [木村天汰郎] scored an 8 round shut out win over Kaito Takeshima (6-4-1, 1) [竹嶋海刀]. This was an excellent performance from Kimura, who controlled the tempo, the range and the style of fight by using his speed, landing good counters and earned Kaito's respect. Although still without a stoppage after 10 bouts it's clear Kimura has genuine skills, and training with his cousin, the touted Rentaro Kimura, will help him develop his skillset. There are still a lot of areas he can improve but this was a very good performance and it's good to see the improvements being made fight by fight from Kimura.
The chief support bout saw the unbeaten Narumi Yukawa (4-0, 3) [湯川成美] score his latest win, as he stopped Kanta Fukui (8-5-1, 6) [福井貫太] in 6 rounds. Yukawa came with a point to prove from the off, pressing Fukui through the first round, and hitting his foe with some big body shots. Those body shots continued through round 2 and in round 3 Fukui tried to fight fire with fire, making for some great action. Sadly for Fukui he couldn't get Yukawa to respect him, and instead Yukawa had so much more in his locker. In round 6 Yukawa showed his class, and some of his more advanced tools as he turned southpaw, and hurt Fukui, before forcing the referee to step in and save Fukui. After the bout it was reported that Fukui had suffered a suspect broken jaw.
The main event saw Kai Ishizawa (10-1, 9) [石澤開] claim his biggest win to date, as he stopped the previously unbeaten Katsuki Mori (9-1, 2) [森 且貴] to claim the previously vacant Japanese Minimumweight title.
The Japanese title was vacated late last year by Masataka Taniguchi, the current WBO world champion, and it was clear that both men really wanted to claim the belt.
The fight started well for Mori who looked good through the first round with a busy jab, whilst Ishizawa brought pressure, trying to close the distance and get his uppercuts and hooks into play. Ishizawa had notable success in round 2, before Mori bounced back well in round 3, using good in and out motion, which he continued to use well in round 4. Sadly for Mori however his success was never really troubling Ishizawa who who landed several big body shots in round 5, as he slowly began to break down his younger, lighter hitting foe.
After 5 rounds we had the open scoring kick in, with all 3 judges having Ishizawa up 48-47. Despite the close scores, it seemed like Mori always had to try harder than Ishizawa, and put more energy into his success. In round 6 Ishizawa's power showed it's self for the first time, as he hurt Mori, who tried to fight back in round 7. Sadly the attempted fight back from Mori left him to close, and in round 8 Ishizawa really began to get going, unloading good shots up top and downstairs, before dropping Mori with a series of uppercuts. With Mori down and a count being given Ishizawa's team threw in the towel.
With the win Ishizawa adds the Japanese national title to a previous reign as the Japanese Youth champion. He also takes a huge stride towards getting a world title fight, and a potential rematch with Masataka Taniguchi, the only man to have beaten him in the professional ranks.
Tomorrow fight fans at Korakuen Hall will get the chance to see the first Japanese show of 2022, which will be headlined by the first Japanese title fight of the year, as Kai Ishizawa (9-1, 8) [石澤開] takes on the unbeaten Katsuki Mori (9-0, 2) [森 且貴] for the vacant Japanese Minimumweight title.
Today, ahead of their bout, the two men took part in their weigh in, and both men made weight, with no issues at all.
On the scales Ishizawa came in on the limit, and looked strong, powerful and hungry. He spoke about how he wanted to win the title here and then chase a rematch with the newly crowned WBO world champion Masataka Taniguchi, the only man to have beaten Ishizawa. Interestingly Ishizawa admitted that he hadn't seen Taniguchi's recent win over Wilfredo Mendez, though he did explain that was because he was focused on his own bout.
Mori on the other hand was well under the limit, coming in around 104.5lbs. At the weigh in he looked like he was slightly taller than Ishizawa, but only slightly. When it came to the bout Mori explained that he was focused on hitting and not being hit, and neutralising the power of Ishizawa.
For fans wanting to watch this, it will be available live on Japanese PPV and then shown on tape delay at the weekend, on Fuji TV.
Related - Ishizawa and Mori clash in first Japanese title fight of 2022!
Earlier today we saw the announcement of the first Ohashi show of 2022, which is set to take place on January 11th at Korakuen Hall. The card is a very solid one, from top to bottom, it's really the main event which will have people's attention, and will also see a new Japanese champion being crowned.
The match up at the top of the card will see hard hitting Japanese destroyer Kai Ishizawa (9-1, 8) [石澤開] take on the unbeaten Katsuki Mori (9-0, 2) [森 且貴] for the vacant Japanese Minimumweight title, which was vacated by Masataka Taniguchi (14-3, 9) [谷口将隆] ahead of his upcoming WBO world title fight. This should be a fantastic match up pitting Ishizawa's pressure, power and aggression, against the speed, movement, and skills of Mori, who is stepping up massively for the contest.
For both men it will be their first bout for a Japanese title, though Ishizawa has won, and defended, the Japanese Youth title in the past, and is more proven and battled hardened fighter. Despite that it's Mori's promoter in charge of the show, and we suspect Mori and his team wouldn't have raced into a fight with Ishizawa unless they felt ready to face the feared 24, soon to be 25, year old.
Whilst the main event is the major talking point for this card, it will be packed with notable names. These include young hopefuls like Rikuto Adachi (15-3, 11) [安達 陸虎], Tentaro Kimura (7-0-2) [木村天汰郎] and Narumi Yukawa (3-0, 2) [湯川成美] as well as veterans like Makoto Kawasaki (11-8-1, 2) [川崎 真琴].
Over the weekend we reported that the WBO had ordered purse bids for a bout between their Minimumweight champion Wilfredo Mendez (16-1, 6) and mandatory challenger Masataka Taniguchi (14-3, 9) [谷口将隆], as the two men failed to agree terms within a 10 day negotiation window. As reported previous the purse bids for the bout are now set for October 20th.
Today, following that news, Taniguchi revealed that he had vacated the Japanese national title, with the clear indication being that he would indeed make the most of his mandatory position, rather than focus on defending his national title next year in the Champion Carnival. Had he decided to instead defend the Japanese title and wait longer for a world title fighter he would have been expected to face Kai Ishizawa (9-1, 8) [石澤開], who booked his place in a Japanese mandatory title fight a few days ago.
With Taniguchi vacating the national title, for obvious reasons, it's unclear who Ishizawa will face for the vacant title, though names that are in the running are Ginjiro Shigeoka (6-0, 5) [重岡銀次朗], who is expected to pass on the chance as he begin to focus on a world title fight of his own, and Katsuki Mori (9-0, 2) [森 且貴], who is more likely to take the opportunity.
In regards to Mendez Vs Taniguchi, it's expected that teams for both fighters will be putting in strong bids, with Taniguchi's team potentially looking to have the bout on New Year's Eve in Tokyo as part of TBS's big year ending event.
Earlier today at Korakuen Hall fight fans had the chance to see the latest show from the MT Gym, who had some of their most notable fighters in action.
Before we look at the results from the two main bouts, we do need to quickly touch on a man who was at the venue, but not in action. That was WBO Flyweight champion Junto Nakatani (22-0, 17) [中谷 潤人], who took to the ring to talk about his first world title defense, a stoppage win a few weeks ago against Angel Acosta, and the fact he wants to face WBC champion Julio Cesar Martinez. He re-iterated the fact he wanted to defend his title again this year, though it does seem like a decision will need to be made quickly if Nakatani is going to fight again in 2021.
So on to the bouts, the first of two notable contests was an 8 rounder between Shigetoshi Kotari (2-1-1, 1) [神足茂利] and Jun Ikegawa (2-0-1) [池側純], which promised a lot between two very technically skilled and capable fighters. Sadly the bout failed to reach the expectations we, and others hand, and also left us with a disappointing result.
The bout started as expected, with both men looking to use their strong amateur fundamentals to begin with, and it seemed like we were going to get the bout we all expected. That continued into round 5, with Ikegawa dropping Kotari with a great counter punch. Sadly though a cut, caused by a headclash, forced the bout to be stopped at the very start of round 6, curtailing what has began to warm up in to something very interesting.
Sadly the the cut forced us to go to the judges at 3 seconds of round 6, resulting in a 6th round technical draw
Thankfully the main event saw a decisive conclusion as Kai Ishizawa (9-1, 8) [石澤開] stopped Naoya Haruguchi (18-12, 7) [春口直也], to become the mandatory challenger for the Japanese Minimumweight title in 2022. Ishizawa looked to force the bout from the off, but credit has to go to Haruguchi early on for thwarting the pressure, aggression and power of Ishizawa, even if it did take some holding, spoiling and wrestling from Haruguchi to blunt Ishizawa's attacks in the opening two rounds. In round 3 however Ishizawa began to turn up the heat, landing heavy left hooks and right uppercuts, getting to his man. That was the start of the end and the following round Ishizawa's aggression got too much, forcing the referee to get in between the men and save Haruguchi from further punishment.
With the win Ishizawa does book himself a title shot, though it's unclear if that will be against current champion Masataka Taniguchi (14-3, 9) [谷口将隆] or for the vacant title instead as Taniguchi is expected to vacate the belt and fight for the WBO world title in the near future.
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