Yesterday in Japan fight fans saw former IBF Super Bantamweight champion Yukinori Oguni (21-2-2, 8) [小國以載] battle with OPBF Bantamweight Keita Kurihara (16-6-1, 14) [栗原慶太], in a bout that ended up being anti-climactic and under-whelming.
The bout started well, with Oguni using his clean accurate punches well, and going to the body of Kurihara, who looked to return fire with bigger, heavier shots. Through the first 3 rounds Oguni's skills and technical ability proved to be the difference between the two men, whilst Kurihara struggled to land much clean. It was a huge surprise given how Oguni had been out of the ring for more than 3 years and had suffered with a number of injuries during the later part of his career.
Sadly though in round 4 a headclash burst Oguni open, and the ringside doctor to stop the bout, resulting in a technical draw, despite the fact Oguni was up 30-27, twice, and 29-28 at the time of the stoppage
After the bout Oguni joked that this was just his luck, and even joked about having to retire if he'd lost, but was given the go-ahead to continue given the technical draw result.
As for Kurihara he seemed to feel he was going to come on strong in the second half of the fight, and was starting to read Oguni's movements better round by round. He did also admit that he'd learned from Oguni.
Tomorrow fight fans in Japan will be able to see former IBF Super Bantamweight champion Yukinori Oguni (21-2-1, 8) [小國以載] take on OPBF Bantamweight Keita Kurihara (16-6, 14) [栗原慶太], in a non-title bout. The bout, Oguni's first in over 3 years, is regarded as a major bout for both men, with Oguni knowing he needs a win to keep his career alive, and Kurihara knowing a win takes him to within touching distance of a world title bout.
Today, ahead of their clash, the two men took part in their weigh in with both men making the agreed Super Bantamweight limit with no issues at all. In fact both men came in at an identical 121.7lbs.
After making weight both men spoke to the Japanese press. During that Oguni spoke about the numerous injuries he's had in recent years, which played a major part in his inactivity with notably injuries to his right hand, which required an operation. His hand is said to be fully healed now, and he has worked on using his left hand in the build up to this fight. He also knows a win here would help him reclaim a world ranking, and potentially set up a chance to fight for another world title.
As for Kurihara, who is moving up in weight for this bout, he thanked his gym chairman for securing the bout, which he admitted was a surprise until he was told the bout had been made. He explained that he had scouted Oguni and was aware that Oguni was good at neutralising fighters, but he seemed confident that he would have too much for Oguni.
Interestingly, for those wanting to watch, the show will be aired on PPV through Zaiko, in what we believe will be their first boxing broadcast, costing 1,480 Yen.
Earlier today new broke from Japan of a very interesting bout set for May 20th at Korakuen Hall, as part of an A-Sign boxing card.
The bout in question will see former IBF Super Bantamweight champion Yukinori Oguni (21-2-1, 8) [小國以載] return to the ring, for the first time in over 3 years, as he takes on OPBF Bantamweight Keita Kurihara (16-6, 14) [栗原慶太], who moves up in weight for the bout.
The talented Oguni is best known for his huge 2016 upset win over Jonathan Guzman for the IBF Super Bantamweight title, in what was one of the very last bouts of the year. Sadly for him he lost the title in his first defense, losing Ryosuke Iwasa, before retiring. His retirement ended a year later, but he has only fought twice since that loss, and a scheduled bout with Shingo Wake fall through due to injury. That bout, had it taken place, would have given Oguni a chance to avenge one of his two losses.
Kurihara on the other hand will be getting his first bout against a former world champion, and see him look to build on his October 2021 win over Kazuki Nakajima, which saw him claim the OPBF Bantamweight title, for the second time. The hard hitting fighter will be moving up, from Bantamweight to Super Bantamweight, but will feel confident his power, youth and more recent activity will prove to be a difference making against the talented, but inactive, Oguni.
At the moment other bout for this show has been announced, though similar A-Sign shows have often had a solid co-feature, alongside a big main event, so fingers crossed this show follows what we've seen from the promoter in the past.
Earlier today the Ohashi gym announced their third show of the year, which is set for March 8th at Korakuen Hall, and will see two men look to bounce back from recent losses, and will also feature a Japanese Youth title fight.
One of the fighters looking to bounce back is former OPBF Bantamweight champion Kazuki Nakajima (10-1-1, 8) [中嶋一輝], who will be up against Shohei Kawashima (18-6-2, 4) [川島翔平]. For Nakajima this will be his first bout since losing the OPBF title to Keita Kurihara (16-6, 14) [栗原慶太] back in October. On paper this should be an easy win for Nakajima, who has the edge in youth, power, and natural size, but Kawashima has got the skills to at least ask some questions of Nakajima, if Nakajima is questioning himself after the Kurihara bout.
The other fighting looking to bounce back is Taku Kuwahara (8-1, 4) [桑原拓], who is looking to rebuild after a 10th round TKO loss to Japanese Flyweight champion Seigo Yuri Akui (16-2-1, 11) [阿久井政悟] last summer. Kuwahara is, understandably, in a bit soft here after that loss as he takes on Takashi Hisano (6-5-1, 3) [久野喬]. This really should be a straight forward win for Kuwahara, but it's clear his team will want to see how he responds to the loss to Akui, especially given how brutal and tough that bout off.
In a Japanese Youth Super Bantamweight title fight we'll see Haruki Ishikawa (9-3, 7) [石川春樹] make his first defense of the title, as he takes on Ryuya Tsugawa (8-1, 4) [津川龍也]. On paper this is a really good match up, and although it'll be third from top on the card, it could end up being the show stealing bout.
Other fighters on the card include Ryutaro Nakagaki (2-0-1, 2) [中垣龍汰朗] and Rikuto Adachi (15-3, 11) [安達陸仁].
Earlier today at Korakuen Hall Japanese fight fans has an excellent double header thanks to the Ohashi Gym.
The first of the two major bouts on the card was an OPBF Bantamweight title fight, as defending champion Kazuki Nakajima (10-1-1, 8) [中嶋一輝] faced off with former champion Keita Kurihara (16-6, 14) [栗原慶太] in what looked like a thrilling match up on paper.
Going in to this one, we, and plenty of others, anticipated a potential shoot out between two heavy handed guys who likely believed their power would be the difference maker.
In the opening round Nakajima looked to use his more polished skills and southpaw stance to his advantage. It worked well, and he seemed to get respect form Kurihara through the opening round. In round 2 however the challenger began to find his groove, and pressed, getting closer to Nakajima and finding the room for the occasional left hook. In round three Kurihara's power showed what it could do as he backed Nakajima on the ropes and landed a brutal right hand that dropped Nakajima. To his credit Nakajima beat the count and looked to continue the fight but was dropped again, from another right hand.
After the bout Kurihara spoke about landing the left hook in round 2, and how it played a factor in the finish, forcing Nakajima to keep an eye on his left hand left the door open to landing the heavy rights that closed the show.
The second of the major bouts saw Andy Hiraoka (18-0, 13) [平岡アンディ] extend his unbeaten run and claim the Japanese and WBO Asia Pacific titles at 140lbs, as he stopped Jin Sasaki (11-1, 10) [佐々木尽] in 11 rounds. The bout was highly anticipated, despite Sasaki missing weight yesterday, but turned out to be rather one sided with Sasaki struggling to ever get into the fight.
The early going saw Hiraoka's jab proving to be a brilliant tool, neutralising the power and style that Sasaki wanted. To his credit Sasaki pressed, and proved he was there to fight, but struggled to close the distance and struggled to get close enough to sustained any sort of an attack. After 5 rounds the judges all had the bout in favour of Hiraoka, with two scores of 49-46 and one having it 48-47, giving Sasaki more credit than he deserved.
By round 6 Sasaki was starting to slow down, his pressure less intense his output less notable and his speed slowing. That left Hiraoka in even more control and in round 7 he landed a right hook followed by a left hand for the first knockdown of the fight. Later that same round Sasaki was put down for a second time and he was in survival mode for the rest of the round.
Sasaki tried to will his way back into the fight in round 8, but it wasn't enough as Hiraoka used his speed, movement and reach well to land body shots on his dangerous, but faded, foe. He let Sasaki use his energy trying to turn the bout around, but it wasn't enough and in the 11th round Sasaki was dropped for the third time, with an uppercut. This timet the referee decided enough was enough and stopped the bout, giving Hiraoka the TKO win.
At the time of the stoppage Hiraoka was up 99-89 on two of the cards, and 98-90 on the other with round 11 having not been scored.
Other bouts on the card saw a successful debut for former amateur standout Kaiyu Toyoshima (1-0) [豊嶋 海優], who took a 6 round decision win over Shohei Horii (3-7-2, 2) [堀井 翔平], and a victory for 42 year old veteran Ribo Takahata (17-9-1, 7) [高畑 里望], who stopped Katsunori Endo (7-4-1, 4) [遠藤 勝則] in the 6th round of a scheduled 8 rounder.
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