Earlier today the Shinjuku FACE played host to the latest show under the A-Sign Boxing banner, thanks to Hachioji Nakaya gym and Ichitaro Ishii, from Yokohama Hikari, who streamed the bout on the A-Sign Boxing YouTube channel.
Originally planned as a small, 4 bout, card the show was down a bout before it even began. That was due to 2019 Rookie of the Year winner Hyoga Taniguchi (4-2-2, 1) [谷口彪賀] being forced out of his scheduled bout with Hiro Ichimichi (4-0-1, 3) [一道宏] due to motor vehicle accident. Sadly that left us with just 3 bouts on the show, though credit to everyone involved in going ahead with the show and delivering us a memorable card.
The show began with a genuine upset, as Ryugo Ushijima (4-2-2, 2) [牛島龍吾] suffered a surprise defeat at the hands of the experienced Hyuma Fujioka (11-10-1, 1) [藤岡飛雄馬]. Sadly for Ushijima he never got a handle on Fujioka at all, with the veteran being too crafty, too smart, too quick and too experienced. After 6 rounds there was only one winner, and it wasn't Ushijima. To his credit Ushijima never stopped trying, but he had very little success, and one judge managed to give all 6 rounds to Fujioka. That seemed harsh, but there no doubt about the rightful victor.
The second bout on the show saw Tetsuya Kondo (5-2, 3) [近藤 哲哉] take a majority decision win over Ken Koibuchi (6-5, 5) [鯉渕 健] in a bout that started slowly, but ended up getting super exciting in the middle stages. The first two rounds were some what quiet, with Kondo taking the first and Koibuchi taking the second. Then the touch paper was lit in round 3 and Koibuchi dropped Kondo. He then went all out looking for the finish, unloading everything he had as Kondo did everything he could to survive. Somehow Kondo saw off the storm, and sadly for Koibuchi he pretty much went all in, failing to follow up in round 4. The exhaustion of Koibuchi allowed Kondo back into the bout and in the final 2 rounds. Going to the bell this was a hard one to call, with Kondo getting the nod on the cards. We feel it went the wrong way, but wouldn't argue too much here, very close and well matched bout.
There was no need for judges in the main event as rising star Jin Sasaki (9-0, 8) [佐々木尽] scored his latest win, stopping Tatsuya Miyazaki (9-14-1, 9) [宮崎辰也] in the opening round. Miyazaki went out looking for the upset before being dropped mid-way through the round. Despite the knockdown he got back to his feet, and pressed forward before being knocked loopy in the final seconds of the round, and dangling over the ropes before the referee jumped in.
Following his win it was announced that Sasaki would clash with Aso Ishiwaki (8-2-1, 6) [石脇麻生] on December 26th. The bout is expected to be a JBC Youth title bout at 140lbs. Given the styles of the two men this has the hall marks of a brutal and thrilling bout, and a potential late contender for Fight of the Year. The styles and mentalities of the two should gel and we can't help but think this has the ingredients to be something very special.
Earlier today A-Sign boxing presented their latest show, live on YouTube, with the show featuring 6 bouts in total. The event wasn't a massive one, but was a notable one, and one that delivered good action, for the most part. It had Rookie of the Year action, some notable prospects and the Japanese debut of a man who's career, so far, had fought entirely away from the country of his birth.
With that said lets look at how the bouts went.
Sadly the show began with a rare stinker as a Rookie of the Year bout between the talented Kosuke Tomioka (3-0, 2) [富岡浩介] and the timid Shota Hara (2-3-1) [原翔太] never got going. Tomioka controlled the bout from the opening round with his speed and jab and Hara did little to try and win. This really was an underwhelming way to start the show, and it seemed it even annoyed Tomioka who tried to wave in Hara, who declined. After 4 rounds there was no doubting the result.
The second bout on the show saw significantly better action as Ryugo Ushijima (4-1-2, 2) [牛島 龍吾] over-came Ryukyu Oho (6-4, 3) [大保 龍球] in a bout that saw more action in the opening round than the entire first fight. The round saw Oho come out fast, so fast in fact that he ended up slipping in one of his first offensive charges. Later in the round Oho did drop Ushijima, but was down himself towards the end of the round. Ushijima also scored a second knockdown in round 2.
After Ushijima scored his second knockdown he did seem to become a little too safety conscious, and held too much for our liking, but when forced to dig in he did respond as we got some brilliant little exchanges. Ono continually pressed forward, but failing to have any sustained success, and simply didn't let his hands go enough to bother Ushijima.
After 6 rounds the scores we went to the scorecards, which were 58-56, twice and 59-54 all in favour of Ushijima.
Sadly Ken Koibuchi (6-4, 5) [鯉渕 健] didn't feel in the need to help cult hero Takuya Yamaguchi (4-12-2, 2) [山口拓也] build on his growing profile. Yamaguchi came out ultra aggressive early on, but ran out of steam quickly and in round 2 Koibuchi dropped him twice to force the finish. Sadly for the 35 year old Yamaguchi this is probably the end, but it is a great story he's had in recent months, and his success in terms of crowd funding, and telling his story with the team from A-Sign has been amazing. We really hope that he remain in the sport, even if it's just as a mentor, or a commentator.
As for Koibuchi, the big bully, this is a much needed win after losses in 3 of his last 4.
In the fourth bout of the show we saw Hyoga Taniguchi (4-2-2, 1) [谷口 彪賀] face off with Yoshiki Tatsukami (4-7-1) [山本佳輝], in what was Taniguchi's first bout since winning the 2019 Rookie of the Year. To begin with Taniguchi looked very timid, but as the rounds went on he settled, found his range and began to land his left hand with growing frequency. Sadly whilst Taniguchi did take the clear win it was clear there the bout lacked drama and excitement, but was a good learning experience for Taniguchi.
After 6 rounds we went to the scorecards and there no real doubting the result, with scores of 58-56, twice, and 59-55 for Taniguchi.
We do like Taniguchi, but do feel he's years away from being the complete product, and we suspect he will need a lot more bouts like this before being in the title mix.
In the most impressive performance of the show the touted Jin Sasaki (8-0, 7) [佐々木 尽] wasted no time in blowing out Japanese ranked foe Shun Akaiwa (5-2-1, 3) inside a minute. Akaiwa was dropped from a left hook, and despite beating the count the referee knew he was in no fit state to continue. This was a real statement from Sasaki, who will find himself in the Japanese rankings at 140lbs when the rankings are update. A sensational result.
The final bout of the show saw "reimported boxer" Shoki Sakai (24-11-2, 12) [坂井 祥記] make his Japanese debut in what was a genuine cracking bout against 2017 All Japan Rookie of the Year winner Hironori Shigeta (6-2-1, 3) [重田裕紀]. This started with Shigeta boxing well, but as the rounds went on Sakai made the fight an inside battle, and stopped Shigeta using the ring. When that happened, there was only going to be one winner.
Shigeta always tried, he always had moments, and repeatedly landed some massive single shots, but Sakai had consistency, used his experience well, blocked plenty that came his way and landed some brutal shots through the 8 round contest.
This one was real fun, and saw both men landing monstrous shots, but it was clear that Sakai was doing the better work. This was shown not just in the ring, but also on the faces of the two men, with Shigeta being bruised early on, and the score-cards, which all turned in identical scored of 78-74 to Sakai.
Although the show was a low profile one it was a solid one and had a nice mix of things, from the skills of Tomioka and Taniguchi, the explosive power of Sasaki and the vicious war to end the show. The pacing of the event was good through out and the only real break came between the co-feature and main event. Even that wasn't a waste of time however as it was used to announce the next bout of former WBO Super Featherweight champion Masayuki Ito (26-2-1, 14) [伊藤 雅雪], who we now know will return on November 5th to face off with OPBF Super Featherweight champion Hironori Mishiro (9-0-1, 3) [三代大訓].
One again A-Sign, and Ichitaro Ishii especially, have delivered a brilliant show and it's great to see them having solid bouts across multiple levels of the sport. Fingers crossed they continue to provide live streams like this, as this was fantastic.
Tomorrow in Tokyo we'll see the next show promoted by Hachioji Nakaya, who will be promoting the event under the "First Raight Presents A-Sign Boxing" banner, following the new sponsorship deal between A-Sign and First Raight. The event, at the Shinjuku FACE in Tokyo, will be streamed for free over YouTube with all the bouts being aired by A-Sign Boxing.
Today, ahead of the event, the fighters took part in their weigh ins with all 12 men on the show making weight with no issues at all.
The card will begin with an East Japan Rookie of the Year bout at Super Flyweight between touted teenager Kosuke Tomioka (2-0, 2) [富岡浩介] and Shota Hara (2-2-1) [原翔太]. Both of these men came in comfortably under the limit, at around 114lbs. Notably Hara towered over Tomioka, and looked the naturally bigger fighter.
The second bout on the show will see Ryugo Ushijima (3-1-2, 2) [牛島 龍吾] clash with Ryukyu Oho (6-3, 3) [大保 龍球], in what should be a very entertaining contest. On the scales Ushijima was 125.6lbs whilst Oho was notably lighter, coming in at 124.3lbs. Notably both men were easily under the Featherweight limit for this one, which was the contracted weight for the bout.
The third bout on the show will see Ken Koibuchi (5-4, 4) [鯉渕 健] take on cult hero Takuya Yamaguchi (4-11-2, 2) [山口拓也], who's become the real star of show in the build up to the event. Before we get on to the weights we need to quickly explain that in the build up to the event A-Sign have done some mini-documentaries and crowd funding, and Yamaguchi has been the big success story of this campaign, drawing in a huge amount of money from crowd funding, which he has pledged to use towards repairing toilets at a gym. On the scales Yamaguchi was 136.2lbs and Koibuchi was far heavier at 138.7lbs. Notable this bout was agreed at 63KG, which is around 138.9lbs, so despite the clear weight difference both men were under the limit.
The 2019 Rookie of the Year winner Hyoga Taniguchi (3-2-2, 1) [谷口 彪賀] will take on Yoshiki Tatsukami (4-6-1) [山本佳輝] in the 4th bout of the show. This bout was agreed at 60KG's, with both men making the weight with no issues, coming in at 131.8lbs, around .5lbs under the agreed limit. This will be Taniguchi's first since winning Rookie of the Year, and he will be the favourite here, though this isn't a gimme for the 21 year old.
The chief support bout is potentially the pick of the bunch as teenage hopeful Jin Sasaki (7-0, 6) [佐々木 尽]. takes on Shun Akaiwa (5-1-1, 3) [赤岩俊]. The talented Sasaki is regarded as one of the brightest hopefuls for the Japanese scene at 140lbs whilst Akaiwa is coming into this with a JBC ranking and 4 straight wins, including an upset last time out against Kenta Endo. On the scales Sasaki was the heavier man, coming in at 139.6lbs, whilst Akaiwa was 139.1lbs, with the bout being fought at Light Welterweight the two men again made weight with no issues at all.
The main event will see the "reimported boxer" Shoki Sakai (23-11-2, 12) [坂井 祥記] make his Japanese debut, after fighting his entire career in the West. Sakai, who has mostly fought out of Mexico, will be up against 2017 All Japan Rookie of the Year winner Hironori Shigeta (6-1-1, 3) [重田裕紀] in a Welterweight contest. On the scales Sakai was 146.4lbs whilst Shigeta was 146.2lbs.
Following his weigh in Sakai spoke about fighting in Mexico, and some of the shenanigans he went through, such as weights being changed at short notices. He spoke about wanting to fight in Mexico in the future, but also wanted to win the Japanese or OPBF titles.
For fans wanting to watch this event there will be a live stream available here.
*Note - All weights were recorded in KG's and converted into lbs, and rounded to the nearest .1lb.
The A-Sign brand has come a very, very long way since it first began. Originally it was set up to allowed fans a chance to see cards that lacked TV exposure via what was essentially a pay per view basis. Today it stands as one of the key resources for those who follow Japanese boxing.
Gone are the days of regularly paying to watch the bouts, with events now put on to youtube, and instead we now get a community with things like blogs, a crowd funding scheme, interviews, and genuine build up to events.
Although still small scale compared to some of the more well known promotional outfits A-Sign have been one of the ones who have looked to get ahead of the curve and use social media and technology so show that there is more the sport can do to promote events.
Today they made their next announcements in their journey to grow and become a more well established brand, and continued building towards their August 31st show from Korakuen Hall.
Firstly they have announce a new sponsorship deal with real estate company "First Raight", who will be recognised on A-sign shows by having the events named on their behalf. The events will now be known as "First Raight Presents A-Sign Boxing".
Secondly, and we dare say more interestingly for fans, is their announcement that they will show a special sparring event from the Hachioji Nakaya Gym on Friday from 19:00 local time. The event will be streamed on the A-Sign youtube channel for those wanting to watch.
The sparring bouts will be
Kosuke Tomioka (2-0, 2) [富岡浩介] against Ryugo Ushijima (3-1-2, 2) [牛島龍吾],
Ken Koibuchi (5-4, 4) [鯉 渕 健] against Ryuku Oho (6-3, 3) [大保能球],
Toshiya Ishii (3-0, 2) [石井渡士也] against Hyoga Taniguchi (3-2-2, 1) [谷口彪賀]
and Shoki Sakai (23-11-2, 13) [坂井祥紀] against Jin Sasaki (7-0, 6) [佐々木尽]
Of the 8 men involved in these spars 7 will be in action on the first "First Raight Presents A-Sign Boxing" show, on August 31st.
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