Yesterday we saw heavy handed teenager Jin Sasaki (11-0, 10) [佐々木尽] successfully retain his Japanese Youth title at 140lbs, winning a thrilling 2 round shoot out with Kaiki Yuba (7-1-2, 5) [湯場海樹]. Following that win Sasaki was joined in the ring by fellow unbeaten fighter Andy Hiraoka (17-0, 12) [平岡アンディ], with the two men now set to fight for the vacant Japanese national title at 140lbs.
It's now been revealed that the date for their bout won't be September, as first anticipated, but will instead headlining a show set for October 19th.
On paper this is one of the best bouts we could get in Asia at 140lbs. Sasaki is a destructive, heavy handed, but flawed fighter. What he hits he hurts, but as we saw against Yuba he can be hurt himself and can be dropped, as he was twice at the weekend. He's incredibly dangerous, but very flawed. Hiraoka on the other hand will come in regarded as the better boxer, but will be facing a legitimate puncher for the first time in his career, and this could see him getting a genuine chin check.
Whoever wins will be expected to move on to bigger and better things in the next year or two. As for the eventual loser, they will be young enough to rebuild, develop and come again.
The bout will serve as the main event of an Ohashi promoted double header featuring a sensational co-feature between OPBF Bantamweight champion Kazuki Nakajima (10-0-1, 8) [中嶋一輝] and former champion Keita Kurihara (15-6, 13) [栗原慶太], in what should be a short lived but brutally entertaining shoot out.
The event, which will take place at Korakuen Hall and be available to watch live on Hikari TV, which is sadly only accessible within Japan
On June 19th we'll see unified Bantamweight champion Naoya Inoue (20-0, 17) [井上 尚弥] defending his WBA "Super" and IBF Bantamweight titles against Filipino fighter Michael Dasmarinas (30-2-1, 20), who enters as the IBF's mandatory challenger. Today, ahead of that bout, Inoue and promoter Hideyuki Ohashi attended a virtual press conference to talk about that contest, the future and Nonito Donaire.
It was revealed at the press conference that sparring for the bout finished on May 29th, with the focus now being on preparing final adjustments and shadow boxing. The sparring was high quality sparring with Japanese talent, such as Reiya Abe (21-3-1, 9) [阿部麗也], Ikuro Sadatsune (11-4-3, 4) [定常 育郎], Rentaro Kimura (3-0, 3) [木村蓮太朗], Jin Minamide (4-1, 3) [南出仁] and OPBF Bantamweight champion Kazuki Nakajima (10-0-1, 8) [中嶋一輝]. It should be noted that he sparred more for this bout than he usually does, and that was put down to the fact he was in better shape than usual.
It should be noted that the sparring partners, on the whole, are southpaws who are taller than Inoue, and naturally bigger. That was obviously the focus of the sparring to try and prepare directly for Dasmarinas.
The travel plan is to leave Japan for the bout on Wednesday, along with a rather sizable team, a reported 10 people in total. This should give him over a week to shake whatever jetlag he might have upon landing in the US.
Regarding weight issues, Inoue stated that he suffered from somecramps ahead of his last bout, against Jason Moloney, and will be looking to avoid them here. Though it appears there is no issues at all in making the 118lb Bantamweight limit, and that his weight loss is very much "as usual" and that he feels the same way he usually does 2 weeks before a bout.
In regards to Dasmarinas, it appears a careful, cautious gameplan has been set up for Inoue. They seem wary about Dasmarinas's size and reach, but will look to break him down slowly.
The longer term plan, after he gets past Dasmarinas, is for Inoue to attempt to unify all 4 Bantamweight world titles. He spoke aboue wanting to face recently WBC champion Nonito Donaire, and it was clear that's a bout Inoue has his eye on for the future. It was also a bout that Hideyuki Ohashi also spoke about wanting, whilst also praising Donaire's recent win over Nordine Oubaali.
One other thing that was mentioned here was that Inoue's purse for the fight was $1,000,000.
Earlier today fight fans at Korakuen Hall had the latest show in the Phoenix Battle series of shows, which will be aired this coming weekend on Fuji TV. The card featured an OPBF Bantamweight title bout, between Kai Chiba and Kazuki Nakajima as well as a regional unification bout at Featherweight between Musashi Mori and Satoshi Shimizu.
For those wanting to watch this, as live, when it's finally aired, we have included this spoiler warning introduction. Please note that spoilers will begin in the paragraph after the next one. We will include the full undercard results for this show as well as the two main bouts.
The show kicked off with a 6 round bout in the Super Featherweight division which saw the unbeaten Shun Sekine (5-0-1, 3) [関根 駿] battle against Atsuyuki Sato (5-3-2, 3) [佐藤 諄幸] in what was a very hotly contested match up, though that was to be expected given they fought to a draw last November. From the opening round this was a hard one to call, with fantastic back and forth, and every time one man got the advantage the other came back strongly, and turned the tidein what was a genuinely brilliant way to open the show. After 6 rounds the judges were required and they narrowly gave the bout to Sekine, with the unbeaten Sekine taking a majority decision over his foe, with scores of 57-57, 58-57 and 58-56.
The second bout on the show saw JBC ranked Lightweights clash, as the unbeaten Katsuya Yasuda (8-0, 5) [保田 克也] faced off with Tomoki Takada (8-6-2, 5) [高田 朋城]. On paper this looked liek a mismatch, but interestingly Takada had come into the bout higher ranked by the JBC amd Yasuda was regarded as the man stepping up in class, and getting his first real chance to prove himself. And boy did he ever prove what he could do. From the opening round Yasuda looked relaxed, took his time to get a read on Takada and then went to work from round 2, out landing his foe. Takada was put on the back foot, and looked like he was getting the worse of things, though he did land a good counter in round 4. Despite Takada having some success with counters he was left cut later in that round with a straight left hand. That cut caused the bout to be stopped just a round later, following a doctor's inspection. Due to the cut Yasuda got the 5th round TKO at an official time of 2:12.
The third bout on the show saw talented youngster Keisuke Matsumoto (3-0, 3) [松本 圭佑] put in a career best showing, as he destroyed Hiromu Murota (6-5-2, 4) [室田 拡夢] in just 128 seconds. The highly promising Matsumoto had looked shaky in his first two bouts, but looked in control here from the off with sharp 1-2's and some cracking body work. Murota fought back but a 1-2 from Matsumoto dropped his man. To his credit Murota got back to his feet but was dropped again from a hard counter right hand. After the bout he spoke about being happy with his performance, after a bad aftertaste from his first two bouts.
The first of two title bouts on the show saw a new OPBF Bantamweight champion being crowned as Kazuki Nakajima (10-0-1, 8) [中嶋一輝] out pointed Kai Chiba (13-2, 8) [千葉開] over 12 rounds, in a surprisingly dull fight.
Nakajima settled quicker, getting his powerful left hand into play early on. Chiba on the other hand used his footwork, to try and create some space, but struggled to get his own offense off, and looked negative whilst Nakajiam seemed to be the one force the action. What little there was. After 4 rounds the open scoring was announced, with two judges having Nakajima up 40-36 and the third having the bout 39-37.
Knowing he was behind Chiba began to let his hands go more in the middle rounds, in an attempt to swing things his way. Sadly though Nakajima's work increased as Chiba threw more and Chiba's attempt to turn the bout around was essentially sniffed out by the taller, heavier handed Nakajima, who's 1-2 and right hook were telling punches. The attempted fight back from Chiba didn't really close the scores down when they were announced after 8 rounds, with scores of 79-73, twice, and 77-75 all in favour of Nakajima.
Knowing the bout was pretty much in the bag Nakajima began to play safe in the finals stages, whilst Chiba became more aggressive, giving his all in rounds 9, 10 and 11, before Nakajima regained his composure and and took the final round. After 12 rounds the bout was a clear Nakajima win, with scores of 1119-109, 117-111 and 116-112.
The second title bout saw the heavy handed Satoshi Shimizu (10-1, 9) [清水 聡] unify his OPBF Featherweight title with the WBO Asia Pacific title, as he defeated Musashi Mori (12-1, 7) [森 武蔵] and took his first decision victory since turning professional.
Morie started well, getting his jab going, but Shimizu was equal to it, and and as the early stages got going the men regularly exchanged punches up close, in some thrilling moments of action. right through the first third of the fight this was high tempo, and high tension, with Shimizu's power always giving a sense that anything could happen. After 4 rounds the judges were all over the place, with scores of 39-37, each way, and 38-38.
Mori started to go inside and attack the tall body of Shimizu in round 5 but Shimizu was equal to it, responding with his own body shot, as the phone booth war continued. By round 7 however it seemed Shimizu's power was starting to take a toll on Mori and in round 8 Mori was starting to bleed from the nose. After 8 rounds Shimizu was starting to establish himself on the scorecards, leading 78-74, twice, and 77-75, giving him the edge as we went into the final rounds.
It was then that the pace started to slow, as Shimizu started to use his jab, yes he does actually have one!, and conttrolled the range. He was keeping Mori at range, and kept the bout long, which really did neeutralise Mori and his inside work. As a result of this control Shimizu ended up taking a clear decision, with scores of 118-110, twice, and 116-112 to unify the regional titles and move towards a potential world title fight. As for Mori this is a major set back, but at just 21 years old he really does have time on his side to rebuild and come again.
Tomorrow at Korakuen Hall we'll see a new OPBF Bantamweight champion being crowned as Kazuki Nakajima (9-0-1, 8) [中嶋一輝] and Kai Chiba (13-1, 8) [千葉開] battle for the vacant title, which was handed back by Takuma Inoue earlier this year.
The bout, which promises fireworks, is the co-feature of an Ohashi promoted event and could well end up stealing the show given the flaws of the two men, with Nakajima being a very basic puncher and Chiba having question marks about his chin. It's unlikely the winner will move into the world title picture any time soon, but it's a bout that could well set pulses racing, and set up some brilliant regional showdowns later in the year. The winner against Ryosuke Nishida or Keita Kurihara for example.
Today, ahead of their bout, the two men took part in their weigh in and both men made weight on their first attempt.
On the scales Nakajima was 117.7lbs. He looked the taller man, but also like the weight loss process had drained him somewhat and he seemed the less natural Bantamweight. That however should be of little surprise given that he is seemingly more of a natural Super Bantamweight, who can fight at Bantamweight. Rather than a natural Bantamweight. Chiba on the other hand was bang on the limit, and looked comfortable on the scales, like a man at his natural weight.
In the build up to this one Nakajima has been a busy boy, sparring with the likes of Naoya Inoue, Toshiya Ishii and Daigo Higa, with a reported 60 to 70 rounds of sparring for the contest. Not a huge amount, but very high level sparring. He came across as massively confident and suggested that he was going for a KO win tomorrow.
Chiba on the other hand didn't reveal his sparring partners but spoke confidently and seemed to suggest that he was in fantastic condition for the bout.
Sadly for fans unable to get to the Korakuen Hall tomorrow the bout may not end up getting much TV exposure. The bout is expected to havehighlights shown on Fuji TV this coming weekend, but there is no live broadcast, and the best we can expect are highlights from the bout, with Fuji focusing on the show's main event and discussing Naoya Inoue's bout in June agaonst Michael Dasmarinas.
Related - Nakajima and Chiba clash for Oriental crown!
(Photo credit - Ohashi Gym)
Earlier today it was announced that the scheduled May 13th show by Ohashi Gym was set to be postponed by 8 days, pushing it from May 13th to May 21st, due to the on going State of Emergency in Tokyo.
The exact announcement stated "We have decided to change the date and time in consideration of the extension in the recent situation." It was also confirmed that tickets will not be available for purchase on the day of the event due.
Despite the delay the show is a really interesting one. It will be headlined by a regional Featherweight unification bout between WBO Asia Pacific champion Musashi Mori (12-0, 7) [森 武蔵] and OPBF champion Satoshi Shimizu (9-1, 9) [清水 聡]. As well as the main event we also get an excellent chief support bout was Kazuki Nakajima (9-0-1, 8) [中嶋一輝] battles Kai Chiba (13-1, 8) [千葉開] for the vacant OPBF Bantamweight title.
Whilst fans will be wanting to watch, sadly the show won't be available to watch live. It will, however, be expected to be shown on tape delay by Fuji TV, who have a distribution deal with Ohashi and show tape delay broadcasts of many of their shows.
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