Earlier today the East Japan Boxing Association announced their monthly award winners for May, wiith 3 winners being confirmed.
The MVP award, the most notable of the three awards, was won by the now unified OPBF and WBO Asia Pacific Featherweight champion Satoshi Shimizu (10-1, 9) [清水 聡] following his victory over Musashi Mori (12-1, 7) [森 武蔵] on May 21st. The win was, by far, the biggest of his professional career and gave the 2012 Olympic Bronze medal winner a real step in the right direction, towards a world title fight. Although he would be the under-dog against any of the current champions at 126lbs he is a genuine threat due to his freakish dimensions at the weight and the brutal power he has in his left hand.
In regards to the MVP award Shimizu was the clear front runner and a very worthy winner.
The Fight Spirit award was also won by a now unified OPBFand WBO Asia Pacific champion, with Welterweight Ryota Toyoshima (14-2-1, 9) [豊嶋亮太] taking the honours, after his excellent win over Yuki Beppu (21-2-1, 20) [別府優樹] on May 20th. That bout had the potential to be somethign a little bit special, but ended up being fairly one sided, with Toyoshima in control for much of the bout before breaking down Beppu and forcing the "Tyson of Kyushu" to be stopped by the referee in round 10.
The Newcomer award was won by Keisuke Matsumoto (3-0, 3) [松本 圭佑], following his destructive performance against Hiromu Murota (6-5-2, 4) [室田 拡夢], on the same card as Shimizu's botu with Mori. On paper this was a step up for Matsumoto, but he looked better than he had in his first two bouts and actually seemed to be looking like a more confident, accomplished and polished professional. The youngster, who had had questions following his first two bouts, really did look tremendous here and is certainly a new comer to keep an eye on long term.
(Image credit - Boxingnews.jp)
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.
On May 13th we'll see a brilliant unification bout at Featherweight, as WBO Asia Pacific champion Musashi Mori (12-0, 7) [森 武蔵] takes on OPBF champion Satoshi Shimizu (9-1, 9) [清水 聡]. The bout is one of the best all-Japanese bouts we could get this year, and it's fair to say that Japanese national champion Hinata Maruta (11-1-1, 9) [丸田陽七太] will be waiting in the wings for the winner, in a potential triple title unification bout.
Whilst that is a great match up there wasn't really any details regarding the under-card. That was until today, when the under-card was officially announced, with 3 bouts being confirmed for the show, along with the main event.
The opening bout for the show will see the unbeaten Shun Sekine (4-0-1, 3) [関根 駿] clash with Atsuyuki Sato (5-2-2, 3) [佐藤諄幸], in what will be the second meeting between the two men. These two fought to a 6 round draw last November, and will be hoping to avoid the same result here, in another scheduled 6 rounders.
The second bout on the show is a very interesting one between Katsuya Yasuda (7-0, 4) [保田 克也] and Tomoki Takada (8-5-2, 5) [高田朋城], who are scheduled for 8 rounds. These wo men both enter the bout with JBC rankings, with Takadda being ranked #8 and Yasuda #18, and the winner will take huge strides towards getting a Japanese title fight. Of the two men Yasuda is the more classically skilled, with smart defense and a good amateur pedigree, however Takada bring a lot of pressure, has solid power and enters on the back of some good form and 2 opening round blow outs.
The chief support bout will see Keisuke Matsumoto (2-0, 2) [松本圭佑] compete in his first 8 round bout as he battles Hiromu Murota (6-4-3, 4) [室田拡夢]. On paper this looks like a straight forward win for the unbeaten prospect but Murota is no push over, he's unbeaten in his last 5 and fought to a draw recently with former Japanese national champion Seiichi Okada. He'll be in the ring looking to upset the youngster, and should serve as a genuine test for the talented, though still somewhat raw, Matsumoto.
Earlier today saw Japanese fans enjoy their first show of 2021 as Korakuen Hall hosted an Ohashi promoted event featuring a number of excellent prospects, as well as a highly anticipated OPBF Bantamweight title fight.
Sadly the event wasn't televised, and won't be aired until the weekend. With that in mind please only read ahead if you want spoilers as all 4 bouts on the card will be covered in the coming paragraphs, including the result of the OPBF title bout between Keita Kurihara [栗原慶太] and Takuma Inoue [井上拓真].
In the first bout of the show former amateur standout Ryutaro Nakagaki (2-0, 2) [中垣龍汰朗] claimed his second professional victory as he defeated Yuji Okinori (10-6-2, 3) [興法祐二] in 4 rounds. From the off both Nakagaki was looking to line up southpaw left hands, whilst trying to use his right jab to line up his man. Okinori on the other hand looked to try land right hooks, though he often threw them whilst out of range and rarely landed. It was relatively quiet in the first 2 rounds. In round 3 Okinori managed to have some success, with a good overhand left but was punished soon afterwards with a good left uppercut.
In round 4 Nakagaki moved up a gear and began to press the action. He found found a home for his body shots and dropped his man following a sustained body attack. Okinori was in agony when he went down and was unable to beat the 10 count. The official time of the ending here was 2:26 in round 4.
The second bout of the show featured another former amateur standout as Keisuke Matsumoto (2-0, 2) [松本圭佑] took on Bejita Ishikawa (3-13-2, 1) [石川一彦]. This was a short bout, but one with some early drama. Ishikawa landed the first big punch of the bout, catching Matsumoto with a big left hand. That however was about his only success with Matsumoto finding his groove soon afterwards, then dropping Ishikawa with a solid right hand. Ishikawa got back to his feet, but was then under pressure as the Matsumoto went to work.
This one was over at 1:26 of round 1.
After two relatively short bouts we then got a bout that went the distance, as many had anticipated. That was the bout between former Rookie of the Year winners Katsuki Mori (8-0, 1) [森且貴] and Sora Takeda (6-2, 1) [竹田宙], who clashed in a scheduled 8 rounder at Minimumweight.
Mori made a good start, taking the opening round, before Takeda began to find his rhythm in round 2. From there on the action became hotly competitive with neither man managing to clear distance themselves from the other, with tit for tat action. Takeda was looking to land his hook up top, whilst Mori was repeatedly looking to crack his man to body. Despite the great back and forth neither man seemed to hurt the other through the first 5 rounds.
In round 6 Mori seemed to have a break through, as he landed a solid straight right hand that buzzed. That seemed to be the turning point with Mori going on to out work Takeda in the following round. The final round was something special, as both men gave their all right through the round, in a thrilling 3 minutes of action, but in the end it was Mori's work in rounds 6 and 7 that helped him secure a decision win, with scores of 77-75 from all 3 judges.
Fans in the venue pretty much universally praised both of these talented 20 years for what was a thrilling, high tempo contest, and despite the loss few had any negatives about Takeda who really did perform excellently. In the end however it was the speed, movement, and limitless energy of Mori that secured him the victory. Given that both men are so young it'd be great to see them face off again in the future, potentially in a title bout in a few year's time.
In the fourth, and final, bout we saw the highly anticipated OPBF Bantamweight title bout, pitting hard hitting champion Keita Kurihara (15-6, 13) [栗原慶太] against former WBC "interim" Bantamweight champion Takuma Inoue (14-1, 3) [井上拓真].
In the ring Kurihara looked notably bigger than Inoue though that didn’t help him early on and it was Inoue who had early success.
The fight started with early drama as Kurihara suffered a cut from a clash of heads in round 1, a round that was a good one for Inoue, who looked quicker, sharp and much more technically sound. In round 2 Kurihara’s cut worsened as he struggled to get his own offense going. The cut worsened to the point where Kurihara was inspected by the ringside doctor in round 3, who allowed the bout to continue, but it was clear that the cut was a massive problem, and did run a serious risk of leaving us with an early, and inconclusive result.
Thankfully the fighters managed to get through round 4, guaranteeing a result to the bout. Sadly for Kurihara he was not only badly cut but also down on all 4 cards with the open scoring announcing that Inoue was leading 40-36, twice, and 39-37. By then it was clear that Kurihara wasn’t even thinking about winning a decision, but was aiming only for a KO win.
With a KO in his mind Kurihara was struggling to set up his shows, whilst Inoue worked the champions body well, and made the most of his sharp footwork, preventing Kurihara from having any sort of sustained success. In round 6 the cut seemed to leave Kurihara unable to see some of Inoue’s shots, with the blood becoming a bigger issue, especially with Inoue tagging the cut with short, clean, compact shots, worsening the damage and further extending his lead whilst Kurihara was getting more and more desperate to land something big.
After 8 rounds the open scoring was announced again, with the scores again heavily in favour of Inoue, with one judge having it 80-72 and the other two judges scoring it 79-73, all in favour of the challenger.
In round 9 there was a second check on the cut and this time the bout was stopped, after 2 minutes 25 seconds of the round, with Inoue taking the very, very wide technical decision win and becoming the new OPBF Bantamweight champion.
The win for Inoue was an important one, especially given his 2019 loss to Nordine Oubaali in a WBC title fight and this was a great comeback performance following that defeat. Sadly for Kurihara this is a major setback, and given how he was cut pretty much the entire fight he will certainly feel like he was hindered from the early going.
The speed, accuracy and clean punching of Inoue was his key to victory here, and he fought his fight, something he said he was going to do. With Kurihara’s cut being as bad as it was, it made life easier for Inoue to control the bout the way he did. At times he was making things look too easy, and given that Kurihara was essentially fighting through an eye full of blood he often failed to see shots coming.
For Inoue this will push him to the verge of a second world title fight, potentially a WBO or a WBC title bout. As for Kurihara it’s back to the drawing board and time for him to work on having a back up gameplan for when his power shots don’t land, and really work on his jab.
For those wanting to see the main event, it will be aired on Tape Delay on Saturday night/Sunday morning from 27:35 to 28:40 local time on Saturday, which is 3:35 to 4:40 on Fuji TV. The broadcast is also expected to show some of the highlights from the under-card.
Tomorrow at Korakuen Hall fight fans will get the chance to see Keisuke Matsumoto (1-0, 1) [松本圭佑] compete in his second professional bout, as he takes on 34 year old domestic foe Bejita Ishikawa (3-12-2, 1) [石川一彦].
The bout, fought at a contracted 58KG, which is 127.8lbs, saw the two men weigh in earlier today and both men made the weight limit with no issues at all.
On the scales the dark haired Matsumoto made the contracted limit by weighing bang on the 58KG contract. Ishikawa however was well under the allowed weight, coming in at 127lbs.
Matsumoto, a highly touted prospect, is a third generation fighter who has been creating a buzz since he was a teenager fighting in the under 15's in Japan. On debut he was dropped, but stormed back to stop Hironori Miyake back in August. A win here could end up seeing him move to 8 rounders very soon.
Ishikawa on the other hand is a popular and unique fighter who is well known for dressing in cosplay of Vegeta from Dragonball Z in his ring entrances/ Sadly for him he has been piling up losses in recent years, though has often been fighting at Lightweight or Light Welterweight.
The bout, a 6 rounder, will be held on the under-card of the OPBF Bantamweight bout, between defending champion Keita Kurihara (15-5, 13) [栗原慶太] and once beaten challenger Takuma Inoue (13-1, 3) [井上拓真].
(Photo credit - Ohashi Gym)
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