Earlier today in Korea there was a rush for gold with a trio of WBA Asia titles on the line in Jeonju. The titles might not mean much in the grand scheme of things, but for many of the fighters fighting for them today they are seen as stepping stones towards bigger bouts, and in Korea any sort of stepping stone towards a bout is significant.
The first of 3 WBA title fights came at Super Bantamweight and pit local fighter Min Jang (10-0-2, 2) [장민] Chinese visitor Junhui Zhao (4-6-2 1).
The 19 year old Jang looked the faster, smoother man from the off and controlled swathes of the bout behind his speed and his movement. To his credit Zhao marched forward through out the bout but was made to look slow and clumsy but the local teenager who piled up the rounds without ever really needing to move into any high gears.
After 10 rounds here there was no questioning the decision, with Jang taking the win on the scorecards and claiming his first international title, having previously held one of the Korean Super Flyweight titles last year. On paper this was a good learning experience for the local, though we do wonder whether he has the power to move up through the levels as he matures.
The second WBA Asia title fight was another victory for the Korean fans to celebrate, with 22 year old Woo Hyun Kim (9-1, 1) [김우현] taking a decision win over former OPBF Flyweight champion Keisuke Nakayama (11-6-2, 5) [中山佳祐] for the WBA Asia Super Flyweight title. This was much more competitive than the Super Bantamweight bout and Nakayama was there to win, having genuine moments through out. Kim though played safe, boxed and moved and racked up the rounds, whilst picking his moments carefully. This was a really mature and level headed performance against a good opponent and it's clear Kim has got the potential to go far.
Sadly at the time of writing this bout between Kim and Nakayama is the only one we have scorecards for, with the judging going with Kim 97-93, twice, and 96-94. Those score did reflect the competitive nature of the bout, and like the judges we felt Kim did enough to take the victory.
The third WBA Asia bout sadly didn't go Korea's way with defending WBA Asia Middleweight champion Min Hyun Yang (9-4, 8) [양현민] being out pointed by skilful Italian born Australian based fighter Danilo Creati (6-0, 1) . The very talented Creati dominated much of the bout with his crisp clean punching, quicker hands and smart footwork.
Creati controlled the distance and tempo through out, and limited Yang's success to flashes. The rugged Yang struggled to move through the gears, and despite the occasional clean and solid shot he could never follow up with Creati regaining control quickly every time Yang seemed ready do build some momentum.
After 10 rounds there was no doubting the decision, with Creati the very worthy winner here.
Tomorrow in Jeonju fans will be able to see former OPBF Flyweight champion Keisuke Nakayama (11-5-2, 5) [中山佳祐] battle against once beaten Korean fighter Woo Hyun Kim (8-1, 1) [김우현] in a bout for the WBA Asia Super Flyweight title.
Today the two men weighed in at the Grand Hillstone hotel in Jeonju and both men made the 115lb limit with no issues.
On the scales the local fighter was the heavier man, coming in at 114.73lbs and looked in amazing physical shape. The 22 year old hopeful, who is fighting for just the second time since the end of 2016, genuinely looked amazing and despite having had a lengthy break from the ring it's clear he has the desire to make up for lost time.
On the other hand Nakayama, a natural Flyweight, looked just a touch fleshy was 114.25lbs. He didn't looked ripped like the local fighter but has certainly fought at a higher level, having won and lost the OPBF title. Despite fighting at a higher level during his career Nakayama is currently finding himself in a rough run of results, winning just 1 of his last 5. Worse yet he has lost 3 of his last 4, with 2 of those coming inside the distance.
This looks to be a must win for Nakayama, given recent results, but Kim will know a win here not only nets him the WBA Asia title but a career best win over a former OPBF title holder and would see him take a huge step towards some much bigger international fights.
For fans wanting to tune into this it will be aired over the SPOTV service, as part of a 4 hour broadcast.
(Image courtesy of BoxingM)
Over the weekend news broke from Korea that former OPBF Flyweight champion Keisuke Nakayama (11-5-2, 5) [中山佳祐] would be facing Korea's very own Woo Hyun Kim (8-1, 1) [김우현] in the new year. In what is a really interesting match up pitting a former OPBF champion against a former interim PABA champion.
The 31 year old Nakayama, from the Watanabe gym in Japan, was the OPBF Flyweight champion back in 2017 and early 2018. His reign was a short one, and since then his career has struggled, with the fighter now desperately needing a win to resurrect his badly faltering career. It's faltered to the point where he has gone 1-3-1 in his last 5, with stoppage losses to Jayr Raquinel and Yusuke Sakashita.
At 22 year old Kim is seen one of the brightest hopes in Korean boxing. His sole defeat happened more than 4 years ago, when he was still a teenager, and he subsequently went on to win the interim PABA title. Sadly Kim, like many Korean hopefuls, vanished from boxing we close to 3 years before returning this year and beating Junhui Zhao in June. That is his only bout since September 2016, when he beat Jong Min Jung.
Despite the stop start nature of the Korean's career those in Korean boxing see the youngster as one of their best hopes for the future and taking on Nakayama, even an out of form Nakayama, is a clear sign that they want Kim to make up for lost time with this bout, which will be for the WBA Asia Super Flyweight title.
Interestingly their may be a second title on the line here, with the KBM revealing they were in talks with the JBC to also have the vacant KBM title on the line for the bout, which is possible following a rule change earlier this year, and could see the winner becoming a double champion.
(Image courtesy of boxing M)
Whilst many of today's bouts at the Korakuen Hall went the way everyone expected there was one standout upset.
That upset saw former OPBF Flyweight champion Keisuke Nakayama (11-5-2, 5) [中山佳祐] coming up on the losing end of a majority decision against the unheralded Akio Furutani (8-4, 3) [古谷昭男].
The fight started well for Furutani, who got behind his jab in the opening round and found some space for his straight right hand. Nakayama managed to get going in round 2, but met real resistance from Furutani, who landed some eye catching body body blows.
As the bout went in to the middle rounds we saw more from Nakayama, but he always struggled to get Furutani's respect, as Furutani bound forward, looking to set the pace. The aggression of Furutani saw him walking onto some big head shots, but Nakayama rarely followed up after landing clean and was regularly forced to give ground.
Although looking the better pure boxer it wasn't until late in the bout that Nakayama managed to make that pay off, and by then he was in a bit of a hole, needing to do more than he was able to do. It was in the later stages that his experience over 12 rounds began to show, but it really was too little too late for the talented yet frustrating Nakayama.
After 8 rounders the judges scored this 77-75, twice, in favour of Furutani and one score of 76-76.
For Nakayama this sees him sliding to 1-3-1 over his last 5 bouts whilst Furutani has now reeled of 4 straight wins since a split decision loss to Yoshiki Minato in the 2018 Rookie of the Year .
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
On October 30th the Watanabe Gym will hold a small but notable show at Korakuen Hall. The card, which will be feature the retirement ceremony of former world title challenger Ryuichi Funai (31-8, 22) [船井 龍一], hasn't been fully announced but a number of fighters involved on the show have been announced including the several former amateur outs.
One of those former amateur standouts is Yudai Shigeoka (0-0) [重岡優大], who will make his debut on the card. The 22 year old Shigeoka is the older brother of WBO Asia Pacific Minimumweight champion Ginjiro Shigeoka (4-0, 3) [重岡銀次朗], and had planned to compete at the 2020 Olympics, until his weight class was removed the games.
At the moment the full details of Shigeoka's bout have yet be announced, though it's expected to be a 6 rounder fought just above the Minimumweight limit against an imported opponent.
Another amateur standout set for the card is Shu Utsuki (5-0, 4) [宇津木秀], who is listed as being in the main event. Utsuki's opponent hasn't been named yet, but we do know his bout will be an 8 rounder. So too will be a bout involving Motoki Osanai (4-2, 1) [小山内幹], who is looking for his 4th straight win as looks to build some momentum with his career.
One bout that has been confirmed for the show will see former OPBF Flyweight champion Keisuke Nakayama (11-4-2, 5) [中山佳祐] battle against Akio Furutani (7-4, 3) [古谷昭男]. This bout is also schedule for 8 rounds and is a must win for Nakayama who has struggled massively in recent bouts.
Full details of this show are expected in the coming week or two as Watanabe look to bring on their next wave of promising fighters.
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