Earlier today Hideyuki Ohashi promoted an event at Korakuen Hall, headlined by an OPBF title bout between OPBF Bantamweight champion Keita Kurihara [栗原慶太] and Takuma Inoue [井上拓真].
One of the spectators at the event was Japanese star Naoya Inoue (20-0, 17) [井上 尚弥], the current WBA "Super" and IBF Bantamweight champion, who has had many fans asking when he'll be fighting again and who against.
Today those questions as to what is next for the "Monster" ended up being asked of Ohashi who explained, that the next bout would be a mandatory defense for Inoue against Michael Dasmarinas (30-2-1, 20), a bout the IBF have now ordered.
Although Ohashi only revealed who was likely for Inoue the details regarding "where" were released by Teiken head honcho Akihiko Honda, who revealed that it was likely to be held in Japan, with Sanspo.com reporting that the bout is now "expected to be after this spring", meaning a potential early Summer bout for Inoue.
Part of the reason for the delay is the on going global situation, and travel into Japan at the moment is difficult, which is why it's expected to be summer before the bout can actually be staged.
If this bout is indeed in Japan this will be Inoue's first bout at home since his November 2019 win over Nonito Donaire in the WBSS Bantamweight final.
Rather notably Dasmarinas was in the Ohashi gym himself in 2019, where he sparred with Takuma Inoue ahead of Takuma's bout with Nordine Oubaali, a bout that served as the chief support for Naoya's bout with Donaire. That would have given Naoya and his team a good chance to get a read on Dasmarinas ahead of a potential showdown with Naoya.
As for Dasmarinas he's been out of the ring since October 2019, though that was, in part, due to the on going pandemic.
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 we'll see OPBF Bantamweight champion Keita Kurihara (15-5, 13) [栗原慶太] seek his second defense of the regional title, as he takes on former WBC "interim" Bantamweight champion Takuma Inoue (13-1, 3) [井上拓真] at Korakuen Hall.
Earlier this week we reported the various odds on the bout, which all had Inoue as the favourite. Since then money has gone on the challenger, seeing his odds shorten in various markets, such as the UK where Inoue started at 2/7 and is now best priced at 1/4.
With money going on Inoue it's worth noting that odds on Kurihara have drifted, with the champion opening at 3/1 and he's now best priced at 62/17.
The draw is still available at 22/1.
It's not just been the "To win" market which has seen money go on Inoue but also the method of victory market.
When the "Method of Victory" market opened an Inoue decision was the clear favoured result, priced at 8/13. It's still the favoured result, but the odds on it have drifted to 5/6, almost evens! The money has been dumped on an Inoue stoppage, which was 3/1 and is now 15/8, being shortened drastically.
Interestingly a Kurihara stoppage is still 6/1, as it was earlier in the week, whilst a decision for Kurihara has drifted all the way out to 10/1, having previously been 8/1
Given the money going on an Inoue stoppage it'll be little surprise to learn money has also gone on markets relating to how long the bout will go.
The "Length of Bout" remains set at 10.5 rounds, but money has piled on the "Under", with several bookies cutting the price. Despite that there are still some bookies carrying the 2/1 price that was up a few days ago. The "Over" has drifted from 4/11 up to 1/2.
Likewise the "Will the Fight The Distance?" market has also seen a shift. The bout is now 8/11 to go the scheduled 12 rounds, much shorted than the 2/5 quoted earlier in the week. The bout not to go the distance is now 7/4, having previously been 21/10.
Given Inoue's lack of power it's interesting to note how the odds have changed in the last few days, and there doesn't appear to have been anything out of Kurihara's camp to suggest he's unwell or anything like that.
Preview - Keita Kurihara Vs Takuma Inoue - The first big Japanese fight of 2021!
Tomorrow at Korakuen we'll see a clash between two Rookie of the Year winners as Katsuki Mori (7-0, 1) [森且貴] and Sora Takeda (6-1, 1) [竹田宙] clash in an excellent looking 8 round Minimumweight match up between a couple of 20 year Japanese ranked fighters each looking to take strides towards their first title fight.
Today the two fighters took part in their weigh in and both men made the Minimumweight limit with no major issues.
On the scales Mori, the 2019 All Japan Rookie of the Year winner, was bang on the 105lb Minimumweight limit. Despite being so light he looked in great shape and is looking to build not only on his Rookie of the Year win but also on an impressive 6 round decision win last September against Yuki Uchida, in what was a very fan friendly bout.
Takeda came in a little bit lighter, at around 104.8lbs, and like Mori he looked in fantastic shape. Interestingly he won Rookie of the Year in 2018, and since then has scored two more wins, though was out of the ring for the entirety of 2020, slowing his momentum. For those curious his loss came in his debut, back in 2017, and came by stoppage in a bout at Flyweight. Since then he has established himself as a promising Minimumweight hopeful and won 6 in a row.
The bout will be held as part of the Ohashi show headlined by OPBF Bantamweight champion Keita Kurihara (15-5, 13) [栗原慶太] defending his title against Takuma Inoue (13-1, 3) [井上拓真].
(Image credit - Ohashi Gym)
Tomorrow at Korakuen Hall the excellent Ryutaro Nakagaki (1-0, 1) [中垣龍汰朗] will take a credible step up in class to take on Yuji Okinori (10-5-2, 3) [興法祐二] in a 6 round Super Flyweight bout.
Today the two men took part in their weigh in and both men came in bang on the limit for the bout.
The 21 year old Nakagaki is regarded as one of the top young talents in Japan, following an amateur career that saw him claim 8 titles and score 82 amateur from 97 bouts. As an amateur the one complaint about him was his lack of power, though he seemed to go some way towards answering those issues in his debut, which saw him stopping Shohei Horii.
After making his debut the buzz around Nakagaki did grow, quite significantly, but this is a big step up from the Horii bout.
As for Okinori he's a 27 year old who has only been stopped twice in his 17 fight career, with only Isao Aoyama and Kento Yabusaki stopping him. Although no world beater he should have the tools to ask some questions of Nakagaki, albeit questions we expect the youngster to be able to answer.
The bout will be held as part of a show headlined by OPBF Bantamweight champion Keita Kurihara (15-5, 13) [栗原慶太] defending his title against Takuma Inoue (13-1, 3) [井上拓真].
(Image credit - Ohashi Gym)
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