Earlier today the East Japan Boxing Association announced their award winners for the month of February, and there was 3 award winners this month.
The MVP for the month was Keita Obara (23-4-1, 21) [小原 佳太], who claimed the Japanese Welterweight title early in the month when he stopped Yuki Nagano (17-3, 13) [永野祐樹] to become a 2-weight champion, and to kick off the 2020 Champion Carnival.
The Fighting Spirit award was won by Riku Nagahama (12-3-1, 4) [長濱 陸], the newly crowned OPBF Welterweight champion. Nagahama, who incidentally fought the last bout to be staged in Japan, won the title by out pointing the previously unbeaten Kudura Kaneko (11-1, 8) [クドゥラ 金子] towards the end of the month.
The Newcomer award was won by Nath Nwachukwu (6-0-2, 3) [ワチュク・ナァツ], who took an impressive victory over Junpei Tsujimoto (6-2-3, 4) [辻本 純兵] on the same show as Obara's win.
The three men will get the chance to take part in an award ceremony that has yet to have a confirmed date, due to the coronavirus.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Earlier today at Korakuen Hall we had the second Dynamic Glove show of the year and it was an event with very mixed fortunes for Teiken fighters, as fans at the Hall and on G+ found out.
The show began with Shinta Aihara (3-5) [藍原 伸太], one of the 7 Teiken fighters on the card, losing a clear decision to KC Prachanda (4-2-1, 3) [KC プラチャンダ]. Prachanda won every round and dropped Aihara at the very end of the 4th round to secure the win.
Things did improve for the world famous Teiken gym as two of their big hopefuls picker up wins. The first of those was Hiroto Yashiro (2-0, 2) [矢代 博斗], who took out Indonesian visitor Abdul Rauf (1-3) in round 3. Credit goes to Rauf for seeing out a massive attack in round 2, when Yashiro really went for the finish, but the pressure, and intense body work, got too much for him and he was dropped in round 3. Although Rauf beat the count the referee had seen enough and waved off the bout.
The other big hoping picking up a win was the highly regarded Kenshi Noda (2-0, 2) [野田 賢史], who took out Thomas Tope Hurek (2-5-1, 1) in the opening round. Noda, who was making his TV debut, took his chance to shine and he looked very sharp against Hurek. Hurek tried to make things ugly but took a combination, finished by a brutal shot that left him in agony for the 10 count.
Given the recent JBC rule change in regards to Indonesian fighters, these were perfect examples of why the rule is coming in. Rauf was tough but lacked skills whilst Hurek was terrible.
After back to back wins for Teiken fighters things then went down hill for Teiken fighters with back to back losses.
The first of those saw Kenta Endo (5-1-1, 4) [遠藤 健太] lose his unbeaten record to the unheralded Shun Akaiwa (5-1-1, 3) [赤岩 俊]. Heading in the hard hitting Endo was ranked by the JBC and he looked like he was heading upwards. The first round was a good one for Endo, though he did get caught by the younger, fresh Akaiwa a few times. The pace increased in round 2 as Endo tried to take the fight to Akaiwa more often, and let his powerful shots go in combinations. It made for exciting action but left Endo open as he launched some very wide looping hooks. At the very end of the round, with Akaiwa on the ropes and under pressure, a short counter left dropped Endo. Discussions about it being after the bell or on the bell were there to be had, but Endo himself was unloading when he got caught, taking away any argument he may had to being hit after the bell. Endo would beat the count but never seemed to recover and was stopped the following round in what was a genuinely fantastic little under-card bout.
Another loss for Teiken saw Junpei Tsujimoto (6-2-3, 4) [辻本 純兵] suffer a second round TKO to 22 year old Nath Nwachukwu (6-0-2, 3) [ワチュク・ナァツ], in what was surprisingly a clash of 2018 Rookie of the Year winners. Coming in both fighters had JBC rankings, with Tsujimoto being a ranked Welterweight and Nwachukwu being ranked at Middleweight, though the two men fought at Light Middleweight. After a competitive opening round Nwachukwu forced a fight and broke down Tsujimoto, who was hammered to the body early in the round and dropped from a huge right part way through the round. Tsujimoto beat the count but was still hurt and Nwachukwu went all out until the referee jumped in and saved Tsujimoto.
The hard hitting Yamato Hata (10-1, 10) [波田 大和] got Teiken's third win for the show as he stopped the game but over-powered Ryusei Ishii (8-6-1, 5) [石井龍誠] in 5 rounds to claim the Japanese Youth Super Featherweight title. This was Hata in control from early on with Ishii unable to cope with the power of Hata, and doing more to survive than try to win.
Having won a Youth title the gym had little time to celebrate and before we saw a Japanese Welterweight title fight. This fight saw defending champion Yuki Nagano (17-3, 13) [永野祐樹], himself a Teiken fighter, losing the title to former world title challenger Keita Obara (23-4-1, 21) [小原 佳太]. Nagano pressed the action but was up against a better fighter and Obara simply broke him down over 7 rounds, dropping him in round 2 and slowly breaking him down with big shots.
After the 7 bouts Teiken went 3-4, on a show they'll want to forget.
The 2020 version of the Champion Carnival kicked off earlier today with a Japanese Welterweight title fight pitting defending champion Yuki Nagano (17-3, 13) [永野祐樹] against former world title challenger Keita Obara (23-4-1, 21) [小原 佳太]. Like all the Champion Carnival bouts, this was a mandatory for Nagano and promise a lot.
On paper it promised explosive action, with neither man being a fan of the judges, and it also seemed like a must win for Obara, who's hopes of getting another shot at a world title would be over with a loss here. On the other hand a win for Nagano would help elevate him to the fringes of the world rankings.
From the opening round the tactics of the two men were obvious. Obara was the boxer, moving, jabbing, and looking to create space. Nagano was the opposite, the pressure fighter, looking to crowd Obara, take away his legs and break him down up close. Nagano's gameplan seemed to be based around losing the early rounds and coming on strong late on. The key for Nagano was not taking too much punishment too early.
Sadly for the defending champion he couldn't apply his pressure with out taking shots in return. Obara tried to jump on Nagano in the opening seconds, before boxing and moving his jab, finding room for power shots and rocking Nagano late in the round.
Nagano's pressure seemed to have some success in round 2, and at one point he seemed to rock Obara, who fired back instantly and dropped Nagano, who was hurt as the bell rang. Nagano was in trouble again in round 3, and credit needs to be given to his desire and toughness as it seemed like he was on the verge of being stopped. Obara seemed completely in control at this point but in round 4 we started to finally see Nagano's pressure having some effect as Obara began to slow down late in the round.
With Nagano finishing round 4 well it was little surprise to see him starting round 5 well. Sadly for him however Obara moved through the gears as the round went on and finished the round with a brutal flurry that rocked Nagano, leaving the champion in surviving on reflexes and bravery alone. We've seen bouts stopped for less than we saw Nagano take in the final minute here. It was a real surprise that Nagano didn't at least get dropped again here, though he did fall to the canvas it wasn't a knockdown.
After having taken an absolute pounding in the later stages of round 5 Nagano seemed there for the taking in round 6, but Obara looked like he was too tired to capitalise on the champion. Instead the round was a slow one. Nagano finally found something in the middle of the round, and seemed to do just enough to win the round, though was rocked seconds before the bell, as Obara proved he still has real power, even if his work rate was dropping.
In round 7 the resistance that Nagano had shown finally came undone as Obara put his foot on the gas and unloaded again, rocking the defending champion and following up. Not everything was landing but enough landed for the referee to step in and save Nagano from his own toughness.
With the win Obara becomes a 2-weight Japanese champion whilst Nagano loses his title in his second defense. It's hard to imagine any of the domestic fighters beating him, however we've already seen Obara fail when he's stepped up. He will likely want to give world class one more shot, but
Tomorrow we see the 2020 edition of the Champion Carnival, the 41st Champion Carnival, kick off. The first bout of this year's champion Carnival will see Japanese Welterweight champion Yuki Nagano (17-2, 13) [永野祐樹] defending his title against mandatory challenger Keita Obara (22-4-1, 20) [小原 佳太], with their bout taking place at Korakuen Hall as part of a Dynamic Glove card which will be televised live on G+.
Today the two fighters took part in their weigh in for the contest and both fighters easily made weight, coming in at around 146.5lbs for the contest.
For Nagano this will be his second defense of the title that he won last year, when he stopped Ryota Yada. Although not a notable name outside of Japan Nagano is currently riding a 15 fight winning run, with 11 stoppages. That impressive winning run has included notable wins over Giraffe Kirin Kanda, in the 2015 All Japan Rookie of the Year, upcoming OPBF title challenger Riku Nagahama, current WBO Asia Pacific champion Yuki Beppu and the aforementioned Yada. He spoke confidently, and it seems like he is seeing this as a chance to move from Japanese domestic level and head into world level.
On the other hand Obara is very well known though is better known for his losses than his wins, including stoppages to Eduard Troyanovsky, Alvin Lagumbay and Kudratillo Abdukakhorov. He's looking to become a 2-weight Japanese champion, having previously held the Japanese Light Welterweight title, and has won 2 bouts since losing in a world title eliminator against Kudratillo Abdukakhorov. He suggested that a loss here is probably the end of his career, and it's clear that he does not want to risk a defeat to Nagano.
Interestingly Obara has only lost once to a Japanese opponent, and that was in his 2010 debut, when he was stopped in 5 rounds by Kazuyoshi Kumano.
Related - Champion Nagano faces Obara in Japanese title defense
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Over the last few days we've seen a lot of Japanese title bouts being revealed as part of the Champion Carnival. Earlier today those bouts were set in stone as the Champion Carnival presentation took place, confirming the contests we'd reported and getting all the champions and challengers in one event.
The first of the bouts will take place on February 1st at the Dynamic Glove show, and will see Japanese Welterweight champion Yuki Nagano (17-2, 13) [永野祐樹] defending his title against mandatory challenger Keita Obara (22-4-1, 20) [小原 佳太]. This bout has been known about for weeks and is an exciting, and potentially very explosive, way to kick off the Champion Vs Challenger series. This bout will be at Korakuen Hall, where most of the title bouts will actually take place.
The second bout will take on February 13th, when Lightweight champion Shuichiro Yoshino (11-0, 9) [吉野 修一郎] defends his belt against Izuki Tomioka (7-2-1, 2) [富岡樹]. This is expected to bee a match up showing a lot of skills, from both men, though the power and physical edges with the champion does make him the favourite. This is another bout at Korakuen Hall.
It's then almost a month later until we get the next bout in the series. That'll be on March 7th, on the March Dynamic Glove, when Light Middleweight champion Hironobu Matsunaga (16-1, 10) [松永 宏信] defends his belt against Yuto Shimizu (14-4-2, 5) [清水優人] in a potentially enthralling bout. The champion will be seeking his second defense whilst Shimizu will be getting his first title fight. This will be the third successive bout at Tokyo's Korakuen Hall.
Just one day later, March 8th, we get the Flyweight bout with the heavy handed Seigo Yuri Akui (14-2-1, 10) [阿久井政悟] defending his title against Seiya Fujikita (13-4, 6) [藤北誠也]. Given Akui's style this should be an explosive bout, and one to look forward to. This was announced way back at the start of the year and will take place at the Aeon Mall mall in Okayama City, the first of the bouts outside of Tokyo.
Just a week later, March 15th, action turns to the Aioi Hall in Kariya as Light Flyweight champion Yuto Takahashi (11-4, 5) [高橋悠斗] defends against hard hitting challenger Masamichi Yabuki (10-3, 10) [佐藤政道]. This will be the first title defnense for Takahashi, and will see him entering enemy territory.
The following day, March 16th, Light Welterweight champion Koki Inoue (15-0, 12) [浩樹井上] will take on Daishi Nagata (14-2-1, 5) [永田大士] in the main event of a card at Korakuen Hall from Ohashi. This is one of the few shows where under-card details have been revealed, and it makes for a very decent looking card overall.
After a slew of fights in March we then have a bit of a break before returning on April 9th for a double header at Korakuen Hall. One of the bouts here will see Bantamweight champion Yusuke Suzuki (11-3, 7) [鈴木悠介] make his first defense, as he goes up against Kyosuke Sawada (14-2-1, 6) [澤田京介] in a rematch of a bout both men had back in 2013. The other bout on this card will see Featherweight champion Ryo Sagawa (9-1, 4) [佐川遼] make his second defense as he takes on Hinata Maruta (10-1-1, 8) [丸田陽七太], in what we feel is the standout bout from this year's Carnival.
On April 28th Super Bantamweight champion Yusaku Kuga (19-4-1, 13) [久我勇作] will defend his title against Gakuya Furuhashi (26-8-1, 14) [古橋大輔]. This bout will be Kuga's first defense since reclaiming the title last year and will be Furuhashi's third shot, at a third different champion. This bout is also set to be at Korakuen Hall.
Interestingly the Super Featherweight bout between hard hitting champion Kosuke Saka (20-5, 17) [坂晃典] and teak tough challenger Takuya Watanabe (37-9-1, 21) [渡邉卓也] is pencilled in for April in Osaka, though no date or specific venue was confirmed at today's event.
On May 16th we'll see the Super Flyweight title bout as defending champion Kenta Nakagawa (18-3-1, 12) [中川 健太] takes on Yuta Matsuo (15-4-2, 8) [松尾雄太] at the Sumida City Gymnasium in Tokyo.
No those who are eagle eyed will be aware there were some division's missing.
Firstly the Minimumweight bout hasn't yet been decided. The title is currently vacant, after Norihito Tanaka (19-7, 10) [田中教仁] returned the belt earlier this year. What we do know is that Masataka Taniguchi (12-3, 7) [谷口 将隆] will be involved in the title bout, though there is currently no opponent, date or venue for the bout.
The Middleweight title bout will see the hard hitting Kazuto Takesako (11-0-1, 11) [竹迫司登] defending his belt against Riku Kunimoto (4-0, 2) [国本陸] but this bout has no date or location set. This bout is likely to be scheduled following Takesako's bout this coming weekend against OPBF champion Shinobu Charlie Hosokawa (12-4-1, 11) [細川チャーリー忍].
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
News! We try and give you the most interesting news stories from the Asian boxing world!