Just moments ago we finished the first of two shows from the Sangyo Shinko Center, in Sakai City, Osaka Prefecture. The show, a rare all female card, was streamed live on Boxing Real and featured 6 bouts in total. Lets take a look through those 6 bouts, and the action we got to kick off Sunday in Japan.
The opening bout saw teenage hopeful Sumire Yamanaka (2-0) [山中 菫] score her second victory as she took a majority decision over the debuting Natsuki Yamada (0-1) [山田 夏冴]. This was certainly not an explosive contest, but was an interesting one.
Yamanaka, the youngster sister of former world champion Ryuya Yamanaka, looked the much quicker woman, but was struggling with the size of Yamada, who was much taller and longer. Yamada on the other hand struggled in letting her hands go, and seemed happier to keep it at range with as little output as possible, rather than trying to get Yamanaka's respect with a a powerful jab. After 4 rounds
Unfortunately for Yamanaka her diminutive size is going to be an issue as she steps up and takes on better competition. But in terms of skills it's clear there is something there, and she looks like she has the technical tools to become a very good boxer, somewhere down the line. As for this bout, it's clear she needs more time and experience. As for Yamada, we wouldn't write her off, and it's clear she too, has genuine potential, though again needs to be given time to develop.
The second bout saw Japanese ranked Flyweight Aoi Watanabe (3-4, 1) [渡邊 葵] take a hard fought decision over the hungry Sarasa Ichimura (3-8-1) [一村 更紗]
To begin with here Ichimura started fast and landed a handful of blows early on, before Watanabe got the chance to settle. Watanabe tried to fight back through the opening round but Ichimura just seemed busier and hungrier throughout the round. Watanabe did however come back very well in round 2, landing some excellent single shots that rocked Ichimura. The accurate, hurtful, clean shorts of Watanabe continued to catch the eye in round 3, forcing Ichimura to try and chase the bout in the final round.
After 4 rounds we went to the judges who all had this one 39-37 to Watanabe.
The third bout on the card was an all debutant bout, as Mika Yagio (0-1) [柳尾 美佳] and Aka Ringo (1-0, 1) [赤 林檎] clashed in a Super Bantamweight bout. And it was a really, really fun, bout.
This was a rough and entertaining battle from the off, and the with Ringo landing the better shots through much of the round, before pushing Yagio over at the bell, trying to show that she was the stronger fighter. Round 2 was another tough one, this time with Ringo being pushed about a bit.
The fight really came alive in round 3 when the two ladies spent more time holding their feet and letting their shots fly. This resulted in Ringo getting the much better of things, staggering Yagio with two clean headshots. After those landed the referee jumped in and saved Yagio from further punishment. Whilst both of these women were raw it was clear to see that there was something about Ringo that stood out. Fingers crossed her team can develop on the skills she showed here, as there is genuine potential here. Just very, very raw potential
In the fourth bout on the show we saw Japanese ranked fighters clash, as Flyweight fighter Sachiko Kondo (2-6-2) [近藤 佐知子] faced off with Atomweight Kaoru Iga (4-1-1) [伊賀 薫], in a 6 rounder.
Iga looked the much smaller woman in the ring, but was the hungrier, more determined fighter, and kept coming forward, working on her way in and letting her hands fly, landing flurries before Kondo could respond. Kondo failed to make any real use of her size advantages and instead seemed to fight Iga's fight, which didn't fare well for her. By round 6 both women looked exhausted, but it was stilled the drive and desire of Iga that shine and she refused to back off.
After 6 rounds all 3 judges had this one 59-55 to Iga, who really did deserve the victory.
The penultimate bout on the show was also a battle between ranked fighters, with ranked Atomweight Reika Kawaguchi (1-1-1, 1) [川口 玲可] facing ranked Minimumweight Riyuna Yoshikawa (1-1-1, 1) [吉川 梨優那].
This was one of the best bouts on the show, with genuine 2 way action. Yoshikawa seemed to make the better start, winning the early part of the fight, but Kawaguchi wasn't there to make up the numbers and fought back really well in rounds 3 and 4, hurting Yoshikawa several times during the bout. We then ended with one of the best exchanges of the year, with both women holding their feet and letting leather fly as we went to the final bell.
After 4 rounds, which had swung one way, then the other, we went to the scorecards with the 3 judges scoring this one 38-39, Yoshikawa, and 38-38, twice, to give us a majority draw. We would genuinely love to see the two fighters run this one back, it was a genuine joy to watch and the rounds flew by.
In the main event of the show JBC Atomweight champion Kaori Nagai (6-2-3, 2) [長井香織] successfully defended her title, taking a 6 round majority decision over Natsuki Tarui (4-7-2) [樽井捺月]
From the off Nagai was the one bringing the pressure, though credit to Tarui, who used her feet well and tried to control the bout using her movement. As the bout went on Nagai slowly began to find more and more success, landing the clean, eye catching blows. Tarui tried to turn things around late, but as she came forward she left herself open to counters, which Nagai landed, punishing Tarui with.
After 6 rounds we went to the scorecards, for the fifth time in 6 bouts, and the judges turned in cards of 57-57, a draw and two cards of 59-55, giving Nagai the decision victory and her first defense.
Tomorrow in Sakai City we'll see JBC Atomweight champion Kaori Nagai (5-2-3, 2) [長井香織] make her first defense, as she takes on Natsuki Tarui (4-6-2) [樽井捺月]. Although not a huge bout, by any stretch of the imagination, the expectation is that the contest will be an exciting and high tempo one between two talented, though light punching, fighters.
Today the two women took part in their weigh in and both fighters made weight with no issues.
On the scales the champion was bang on the limit, weighing in at 102lbs and she really towered over her challenger. She looked a good several inches taller and like a fighter who was at least a division bigger than her challenger.
The diminutive Tarui on the other hand came in massively under the limit, weighing just 97.7lbs for the bout. One of the lightest weights of a fighter we've seen in years!
At the weigh in the champion told the press "I'm nervous every time, but this time it's especially amazing. I've been feeling pressure since the match was decided." Something we rarely actually hear from fighters.
The challenger however sounded hungry and determined, stating "I'm looking forward to tomorrow's match. Tomorrow I'll be aggressive like a challenger,"
For fans wanting to watch this it will be shown live on the Boxing Real YouTube channel.
Related -Nagai takes on Tarui in first Japanese title defense!
Over the last 24 hours or so Shinsei Gym, along with Dimante Boxing Gym, revealed a co-promoted event set to take place in Sakai City on April 4th. The show has had 6 bouts announced for it, including a Japanese title bout, and it currently appears that the show will be a female only show, the first such show in Japan in 2021.
The main event of the card will see JBC Atomweight champion Kaori Nagai (5-2-3, 2) [長井香織] making the first defense of her title, which she won last July. The 31 year old Nagai will be facing off with Natsuki Tarui (4-6-2) [樽井捺月], who has an under-whelming record but is currently on a 3 fight unbeaten run including a win over the touted Sayo Segawa last October. This bout, scheduled for 6 rounds, is the big focus of the poster.
In the main support bout we'll see more Atomweight action as JBC ranked fighters Riyuna Yoshikawa (1-1, 1) [吉川梨優那] and Reika Kawaguchi (1-1, 1) [川口玲可] clash in a 4 rounder, with the winner potentially moving towards a Japanese title fight of their own.
Whilst we won't go through all 6 bouts announced for the show it is worth noting that others announced for the card include Kaoru Iga (3-1-1) [伊賀 薫], Aoi Watanabe (2-4, 1) [渡邉葵] and Sumire Yamanaka (1-0) [山中 菫].
For fans wanting to watch this one it's expected to be streamed, for free, on the Boxing Real YouTube channel, who have a reputation for putting on excellent quality streams.
Earlier today we saw a new Japanese Atomweight champion being crowned as Kaori Nagai (5-2-3, 2) [長井香織] managed to over-come Momoko Kanda (10-13-2, 4) [神田桃子] in a razor thin bout to claim the previously vacant title.
The two women faced off last year, with Nagai taking a razor thin split decision, and she did something similar again today.
Early on Kanda tried to control the distance, keep the bout at range, and use her experience. After the first round Nagai began to pick up her tempo, and by rounds 3 and 4 the bout was being hotly contested, with neither woman doing enough to clearly differentiate themselves from the other.
Sadly for Kanda the bout was essentially decided in the 6th round, which saw her attempt to finish strong but she was actually rocked.
At the end of 6 rounds there really was almost nothing splitting the two women. That was shown on one of the cards, with that judge having the bout even at 57-57. The other two judges however had Nagai taking a razor thin 58-56 win to claim the title.
Tomorrow in Kobe we're expecting to see a new Japanese Atomweight champion being crowned as Kaori Nagai (4-2-3, 2) [長井香織] and Momoko Kanda (10-12-2, 4) [神田桃子] trade blows a bout for the belt.
The two women, who fought last year in a non-title bout, weighed in for tomorrow's bout earlier today and both fighters made the 102lb Atomweight limit with no real issues,
On the scales both women came in at 105.5lbs, well under the limit, and both seemed well trained and up the first female title fight to be held in Japan since the sport returned back on July 12th.
Last last time these two women fought it was Nagai who won, taking a razor thin split decision. She appeared confident in comments given to the media this morning. She stated her gameplan was to stick to her boxing and that she would win clearly this time around.
Kanda on the other hand stated that she had to be composed and not lose her emotions and not think about revenge too much ahead of tomorrows fight.
For fans wanting to watch this bout, the original plans to have a limited crowd have been cancelled, though the fight will be shown on the youtube channel set up for the events two main bouts. That can be accessed here.
Related - Nagai and Kanda battle for Japanese national crown!
(Image credit - Boxmob)
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