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.
Back in January Hideyuki Ohashi announced that 21 year old amateur stand out Kaiyu Toyoshima [豊嶋海優] was turning professional and would be one of the latest amateurs to join up with the Ohashi stable. Today Toyoshima took the next step towards making his professional debut.
Toyoshima took part in his pro-test bout yesterday, sparring with Taku Kuwahara (8-0, 4) [桑原拓]. Today it was confirmed that he had passed the tests required of him to earn a B class license. This means he'll be able to compete in 6 round bouts from his debut.
The talented Toyoshima was the captain of the Toyo University team as an amateur and at 21 years old is still a very young prospect who turns professional with quite a lot of expectations on his shoulders.
Toyoshima wasn't the only member of the Ohashi gym to move his boxing career on to the next chapter recently. He was actually joined by former professional soccer player Dan Howbert [ハウバート・ダン], who passed his test to gain a C class license, letting him box in 4 round bouts.
Dan, who is half Liberian by birth, played professional football in Japan before later becoming a model.
Whilst the long term prospect in boxing of Dan is less exciting than it is of Toyoshima it is interesting to note that Dan is a big lad for a Japanese fighter, standing at around 6'2", and is expected to compete at Middleweight.
On Friday the official blog of Hideyuki Ohashi announced that 21 year old amateur stand out Kaiyu Toyoshima [豊嶋海優] had decided to turn professional and would do so at the Ohashi Gym, following a very impressive run as an amateur.
Although not one of the biggest names in amateur boxing in Japan Toyoshima competed in numerous notable tournaments, he was the captain of the Toyo University team and even featured on some of the posters used to market some of the university league shows.
At the moment it's unclear when he will begin his professional journey, with the date of his debut yet to be decided, though it's expected that he will begin climbing up the professional ranks before the end of 2021.
Interestingly the amateur boxing record site on Strefa sadly only has 1 recorded bout for him, and incidentally that's a loss against Ryutaro Nakagaki (1-0, 1) [中垣龍汰朗] in the 2018 Japanese National Championships. Going forward the two men will now be Ohashi Gym stablemates and it'll be interesting to see if that bout plays as something of a factor in the two youngsters trying to out do each now they are both professional fighters.
Notably that fight between Toyoshima and Nakagaki can be seen below thanks to the brilliant sakana 1976, who uploaded the bout after it took place in 2018, and who should be subscribed to by every fan who wants to get an insight in the Japanese amateur scene. For those wanting to watch Toyoshima is in red and Nakagaki is in blue.
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