Tournaments in Japanese boxing are a common occurrence, and today we saw one of those come to the end, as we got the God's Left Bantamweight Tournament final.
After brilliant bouts through out the tournament, with almost all the bouts ending inside the distance, we were left with a bad taste in our mouths at the final, with scorecards we can't understand.
On paper the final looked sensational, as the seeded Seiya Tsutsumi (5-0-1, 4) [堤聖也] faced off with Kazuki Nakajima (8-0-1, 7) [中嶋一輝]. This had dynamite written all over it, with both men being big punchers, with different, yet exciting styles.
To reach the final Tsutsumi had essentially gotten a bye then a walk over. Nakajiam on the other hand had reached the final on the back of two successive opening round wins. It seemed we were going to get excitement from the offer, but instead we got controversy.
At the weigh in Tsutsumi spoke about having a game plan to deal with Nakajima and that gameplan was put into effect from the opening round. He was on his toes, moving, hitting raiding attacks and making Nakajima look slow and rigid. This was really smart from Tsutsumi who used the tactics through the first 3 rounds with little being landed on him.
Tsutsumi's gameplan relied on two things, movement used for distraction, unsettling Nakajima with excessive arm movement, and sharp raids. It was a brilliant way to neutralise Nakajima's straight punching, and get him to question everything Tsutsumi did. It was however a high energy gameplan and in round 4 the movement began to slow and we began to see a war break out between the two fighters. This was where the excitement increased almost instantly.
The minute of round 4 was exhilarating as both unloaded bit shots. The change in tactics from Tsutsumi brought Nakajima back into the bout, but it seemed a clear attempt to establish that Tsutsumoi had power. The action continued to be intense and exciting in rounds 5 and 6, with Tsutsumi giving away his movement to trade and war with Nakajima. Nakajima however began to put his foot on the gas and seemed too do enough to take round 6, arguably the first round he'd managed to take.
Refusing to let Nakajima get any momentum Tsutsumi roared out of his corner in round 7 with a huge burst of aggression. Nakajima would fire back, but failed to match Tsutsumi in terms of output, effectiveness and intensity. Even when Nakajima did have his moments, Tsutusmi would just recent and pay it back with interest, cutting Nakajima late in the round.
With Nakajima looking like he would need a KO in the final round he went out swinging, and seemed to rock Tsutsumi early on. Tsutsumi recovered quickly and fired off a big assault. He was rocked again and again came firing back. It was Nakajima's best round, but one that he barely did enough to win.
After the 8th round we went to the scorecards, not something anyone would have anticipated, and we were told the bout was a draw. Two of the judges had scored the bout level, 76-76. The third judge, somehow, had the bout 77-75 to Nakajima, giving the Ohashi Gym fighter the tournament win on the majority point rule.
It was hard to see how the bout could even be scored level, never mind a judge having it to Nakajima. Thankfully Tsutsumi doesn't suffer a loss, but he genuinely deserved the win and the tournament victory. Nakajima was very, very fortunate.
Sadly this was a card marred with questionable judging. Not only did we feel Nakajima deserved the win here, but that Ayaka Miyao deserved the win over Etsuko Tada and Kanako Taniyama over Tomoko Okuda. Fingers crossed this was just one of those cards where the judging doesn't match up to what we see, rather than a sign of what's to come from Japanese judging this year.
Tomorrow at Korakuen Hall we see the conclusion of the brilliant God's Left Bantamweight Tournament, which began last year with 7 fighters and has been a fantastic, if short, tournament packed with excitement. Tomorrow's final will see unbeaten men colliding as the seeded Seiya Tsutsumi (5-0, 4) [堤聖也] takes on Kazuki Nakajima (8-0, 7) [中嶋一輝].
Today the two men took part in their weigh in and neither man had any issues at all in hitting 118lbs.
On the scales Nakajima, the taller of the two men, was bang on the Bantamweight limit. He has reached the final having scored two opening round wins and explained that he has been working on polishing his style, which is that of a heavy handed boxer-puncher. He has looked fantastic in his first two bouts in the tournament and a win her would be massive for his career.
Tsutsumi was around 117.75lbs on the scales and has sadly reached the final without fighting. He got a bye in quarter final stage, due to being the seed, and they got a walk over in the semi final when his opponent was forced to pull out. He spoke about being the under-dog here, but seemed confident that he had a strategy to beat the talented Nakajima.
For fans who can't make their way to Tokyo tomorrow, the fight will be shown live on subscription service Boxing Raise.
Related - One to Watch - Kazuki Nakajima Vs Seiya Tsutsumi
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
The excellent streaming and Video on Demand service Boxing Raise announced their January line up early today an confirmed they would have 2 live shows and would add 3 old shows to their Video on Demand library.
The first of the live shows will take place on January 12th and will be the Knock Out Dynamite final show. It's sadly not the show that was announced originally, with 2 bouts falling through completely and one need a replacement opponent. It is however the first Japanese show of 2020 and features Marvin Esquierdo (15-2-1, 9) battling veteran Ribo Takahata (16-8-1, 6) [高畑里望] and Mongolian fighter Byambatsogt Tuguldur (1-0) taking on Vladimir Baez (26-5-2, 24), in a tough looking match up.
The other live show takes place on January 28th, despite the banner stating the 31st, and will be the God's Left Bantamweight tournament final. This features the tournament final, between tournament final between Seiya Tsutsumi (5-0, 4) [堤聖也] and Kazuki Nakajima (8-0, 7) [中嶋一輝], as well as a WBO female Minimumweight title fight between Ayaka Miyao (23-8-1, 6) [宮尾 綾香] and Etsuko Tada (19-3-2, 6) [多田悦子] and a Japanese Youth Lightweight title fight between Kaiki Yuba (6-0-2, 4) [湯場海樹] and Kanta Takenaka (7-4-1, 2) [竹中関汰].
As for the old shows these are Dangan 127, Dangan 131 and Dangan 134, all from 2015.
These shows include bouts featuring the always exciting, though now retired, Shinya Iwabuchi, a then unknown Sho Kimura, a brilliant clash between Ryoichi Tamura and Yusuku Suzuki and a Japanese title fight featuring Takuya Kogawa
It's not the strongest month from Boxing Raise, but it's not terrible, with both live cards expected to give us some thrills and a nice selection of action from the back catalogue.
Earlier today fight fans in Tokyo, as well as subscribers to the Boxing Raise service, got the chance see the lone semi-final for the God's Left Bantamweight tournament, and learn about who the second finalist would be.
We were left with one semi-final, after Seiya Tsutsumi (5-0, 4) [堤聖也] was given a bye. That happened because Kenya Yamashita (14-5, 11) [山下賢哉] was forced to abstain from the bout and was taken to hospital due to poor health, likely related to trying to make weight.
Although Tsutsumi was given a bye he was still on the show, taking part in a 3 round spar with OPBF Super Bantamweight champion Hiroaki Teshigawara (20-2-2, 13) [勅使河原 弘晶], who really dwarfed Tsutsumi.
After the public spar we then got the semi-final bout between unbeaten punchers Kazuki Nakajima (8-0, 7) [中嶋一輝] and Jin Minamide (4-1, 3) [南出仁]. This had the recipe to be something special, with both able to land dynamite blows, and both being confident and aggressive fighters.
The bout started slowly, with both looking for position, but then it ramped up from neutral to 5th gear and saw both men trading bombs. Unfortunately for Minamide it was his big shots that were his own downfall as Nakajima began to land big counters, dropping Minamide hard with one of those counters. To his credit Minamide got back to his feet and continued on but was dropped again only moments later, forcing Biney Martin, the referee, to step in and call off the bout.
We now know that Tsutsumi and Nakajima will meet in the final next year. In total the two men have fought just 2 rounds to reach the final, with Tsutsumi having byes at both the quarter-final and semi-final stages and whilst Nakajima has blitzed both of his opponents.
Tomorrow at Korakuen Hall, and live on Boxing Raise, fans will get the chance to see the next round of the God's Left Bantamweight tournament.
Today, ahead of the tournament action, we saw Kazuki Nakajima (7-0, 6) [中嶋一輝] and Jin Minamide (4-0, 3) [南出仁] take part in their weigh in, with the two men facing off in a semi-final as they look to book their place in January's final.
Both men made weight at their first attempt with out any issue.
On the scales Minamide was the slightly lighter man, coming in at 117.5lbs for the contest, whilst Nakajima was bang on the Bantamweight limit.
The winner of this bout now knows that their opponent in the final will be Seiya Tsutsumi (5-0, 4) [堤聖也], after Kenya Yamashita (14-5, 11) [山下賢哉] was forced to withdraw from their semi-final due to health issues.
For fans wanting to watch this it will be live on Boxing Raise and then left on demand some time after the event.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
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