Earlier today we were informed a date has been set to fill the Japanese Middleweight title vacant.
The title, which became vacant when the unbeaten Kazuto Takesako (12-0-1, 12) [竹迫司登] vacated it in December, will be fought for on April 17th on a show at the Sumiyoshi Ward Center in Osaka, as former Takesako victim Riku Kunimoto (5-1, 2) [国本陸] takes on the light punching Mikio Sakai (4-0) [酒井 幹生].
For Kunimoto this will be a second title shot, following an opening round TKO loss to Takesako in May 2021, when he entered as the mandatory challenger. Whilst he lost to Takesako he has shown himself very capable on the domestic scene, and wins over Shoma Fukumoto and Kazuki Kyohara show he should be in the mix for a title fight. Sadly Takesako is a long way ahead of the domestic level, even if he himself is a long way behind Japan's top Middleweight Ryota Murata (16-2, 13) [村田 諒太].
Saki on the other hand will be getting his first title fight and a chance to claim a Japanese title in just his 5th professional bout. Since turning professional Sakai has been impressive, and has scored decent wins over Ran Tomomatsu and Koshinmaru Saito, whilst relying on his speed, movement and technical skills. This is however a notable step up, and he didn't look comfortable against Saito.
At the time of writing no other bouts for the card have been anounced for the show, though Kunimoto's promoter, Takashi Edagawa of Muto Promotions, will be in charge of the event, and Sakai will be fighting outside of Korakuen Hall for the first time.
Earlier this week it was announced that the hard hitting Kazuto Takesako (12-0-1, 12) [竹迫司登] had vacated the Japanese Middleweight title, having made 4 defenses of the title. The heavy handed Takesako won the title in March 2018, and defended it against Sanosuke Sasaki, Shuji Kato, twice, and Riku Kunimoto, whilst also unifying it with the OPBF title.
For now Takesako will remain the OPBF champion, and it seems like that belt will be his focus, though the option is out there for him to chase a WBO Asia Pacific title unification fight against veteran Yuki Nonaka (34-11-3, 10) [野中 悠樹].
Had he kept the title, Takesako would have been expected to defend the belt against Riku Kunimoto (4-1, 2) [国本陸], for a second time, in the new year as part of the 2022 version of the Champion Carnival. A bout that would feel rather pointless for Takesako given he stopped Kunimoto inside a round this past May.
Kunimoto will still be getting a shot at the title in this upcoming Champion Carnival, but his oppponent for that title bout has yet to be confirmed.
Earlier today fight fans at Korakuen Hall had the latest show in the Dynamic Glove series of shows, with this show set to be aired later in May on G+. The card featured a Japanese Middleweight title bout, between Kazuto Takesako and Riku Kunimoto as it's main event.
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. Due to the overall low profile of the under-card we will not be covering all the results here so the spoiler for the main event will be next. If you wish to avoid those spoilers, please stop reading now.
At Korakuen Hall today fight fans got to enjoy the first card in Tokyo for the month following a State of Emergency that ended up delaying numerous shows, in fact this one it's self was expected at the very start of the month before being pushed back. The main event it's self had already ben pushed back multiple times from a May 2020 date that was originally set for it. Sadly however the delay meant that one of the fighters had been out of the ring for around 16 months and the other for over two years. This was expected to play into the outcome of the bout, at least some what.
The bout in question saw hard hitting Japanese Middleweight champion Kazuto Takesako (12-0-1, 12) [竹迫司登] defending his title against mandatory challenger Riku Kunimoto (4-1, 2) [国本陸]. The heavy handed Takesako had fought in early 2020, adding the WBO Asia Pacific title to his collection, but had been inactive for over a year, and had suffered an injury during that time. Kunimoto on the other hand had been out of the ring since April 2019, more than 2 years. He was, as mentioned, supposed to face Takesako in May 2020, then July 2020 then November 2020. Before the bout was rescheduled to earlier this month, which was it's self delayed until today.
Sadly for Kunimoto the delay was not good for him.
He showed some ambition, in fact the the opening moments were really exciting with both men letting their hands go, but it wasn't long until a left hook from Takesako dropped Kunimoto. The challenger got to his feet quickly, and seemed to be more surprised than hurt. His response to going down was to get back on the front foot and attack the body of the champion, but ended up taking a huge body and then uppercut before coming undone by a follow up barrage of bombs from Takesako. Within moments he had gone down for the second time.
Kunimoto's heart showed, as he got to his feet again, but the referee complete the 10 count, judging him unfit to continue, and waved off the bout.
With the win Takesako recorded his 4th defense of the Japanese title.
After the bout Takesako spoke took the microphone, as is typical in Japan and explained that his father had passed away in May due to Covid19, and that he also recently become a father, with his own child being born in September, and stated that he wanted to be a father like his own father. Clearly an emotional moment for the destructive champion so soon after his father's passing.
For fans wanting to watch this will be aired on Monday from 5:30 local time.
(Image courtesy of Boxingnews.jp)
Tomorrow at Korakuen Hall fight fans will Japanese Middleweight champion Kazuto Takesako (11-0-1, 11) [竹迫司登] defending his title in a long over-due mandatory title defense against the unbeaten Riku Kunimoto (4-0, 2) [国本陸].
The bout was originally pencilled in for May 2020 before Covid19 and injuries forced plans to change several times. This saw the bout being delayed by around a year from it's originally planned date, and has seen neither man in action for quite some time. In fact it's more than 2 years since Kunimoto last fought and around 16 months since Takesako last fought.
Despite the long lay offs both men looked in great shape today as they took part in their weigh in for the bout, in fact both men came in comfortably under the Middleweight limit as they both weighed 159.2lbs.
Whilst both came in at the same weight it should be noted that the two men had very different body types. The champion was the much shorter man, with a thicker torso and a naturally powerful look to him. The challenger on the other hand looked significantly longer and taller, and it seems clear that Kunimoto has an obviously reach and height difference. That advantage however doesn't make up for the gulf in professional experience between the two men, and Takesako will go into the bout as the clear favourite.
Notably this will be the first event at Korakuen Hall for almost a month, due to the recent State of Emergency, and we're glad to see boxing back in Tokyo after quite a lengthy break. Notably thw bout falls on the 69th anniversary of when Yoshio Shirai became Japan's first ever boxing world champion.
For fans unable to attend the show will be aired on tape delaye on G+, with the event being shown on May 24th at 5:30PM local time and having a 3 hour broadcast window.
Related - Power punching Takesako takes on unbeaten challenger Kunimoto in over-due fight!
(Image credit World Sport Boxing Gym)
Over the weekend fight fans in Okinawa saw Ryosuke Nishida (4-0, 1) [西田凌佑] score a notable upset win, as he took a decision over former WBC Flyweight champion Daigo Higa (17-2-1, 17) [比 嘉 大吾], claiming the WBO Asia Pacific Bantamweight title with the victory. Earlier today, following that win, Nishida took part in a press in Osaka at the Mutoh gym and spoke about what he wants to do going forward and how the bout went.
Early in the event it was revealed that both Nishida and his chief trainer, Kosuke Takeichi, had been given a reward from the management of the gym, accounting for 1 million yen, a tasty reward alongside the expected payment both men were going to get for the fight anyway.
With the win Nishida tied a Japanese record of fewest fights to win a regional title, winning one in his 4th bout just like Kosei Tanaka [田中恒成] and Ginjiro Shigeoka [重岡銀次朗]
Speaking out how he feels Nishida explained "I'm really happy to win. I received a congratulatory email and gradually realized that I won." It seemed he knew he was too big for Higa, and admitted that he didn't really Higa's punching power, something he put down to the fact that he had been fighting at Super Bantamweight before moving down in weight for this bout.
Whilst Nishida's performance was excellent it also needs to be said that Takeichi's gameplan was fantastic, and Nishida fought it fantastically well, keeping the range that Takeichi has been wanting from his star student, and controlling the bout at both range and up close.
It was Mr Takeichi that spoke about the future plans. He explained that not too much can be said, given Nishida has just won the title, but "I think he proved his ability because he beat Omori (Shohei Omori) and Higa, but he still only has 4 bouts, and I think there are some parts that aren't recognized by the people around him, so I'd like to take steps one by one. However, if we have a chance, we'd like to actively aim for the top." It should be noted that Nishida himself suggested that he wanted to face WBO Bantamweight champion Johnriel Casimero if he could get the chance. It should also be noted that Mutoh gym are quoted in the Japanese press that "there is a possibility of world challenge overseas", adding further to the idea he and his team will begin to target Casimero. Given that Higa was ranked #6 by the WBO going into this bout, Nishida is expected to take a top 10 WBO ranking on the back of the result.
Mr Takeichi also went into detail about Nishida's biggest strengths and explained "Even on the big stage, there are few emotional ups and downs. No matter who the other party is, he has a good sense of normality." That was something Nishida himself spoke about, explaining he's never been a nervous guy, even since he was an amateur, and that level of composure has shown it's self since he turned professional. He's always looked incredibly relaxed in the ring, event when under pressure.
As for how the two men intent to spend their new bonus. Nishida will be spending some on home appliances, and saving the rest, whilst his trainer explained he has to consult his wife. It is worth noting that this is the second time Takeichi has received such an award from the gym, previously winning it when he guided Yuki Strong Kobayashi [ストロング小林佑樹] to winning the WBO Asia Pacific Bantamweight title, and he has his eyes on another one when Riku Kunimoto (4-0, 2) [国本陸] challenges Japanese Middleweight champion Kazuto Takesako (11-0-1, 11) [竹迫司登] in May.
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