In just over 2 weeks we'll see Masayoshi Nakatani (19-1, 13) [中谷正義] battle against Ukrainian star Vasyl Lomachenko (14-2, 10) on a major Top Rank show. Today, ahead of that bout, a confident Nakatani took part in an online press conference and spoke about his game plan and his plans for the future.
It as revealed that to prepare for Lomachenko the Japanese giant has been sparring with former amateur stabndout Kenji Fujita (1-0, 1) [藤田健児], who Nakatani stated was the "closest" style wise to Lomachenko that he could get. It appears that Fujita has been used as a sparring partner due to hi footwork, size and southpaw stance. Interesting Nakatani also revealed that Lomachenko's footwork, movement and skills inside are strengths for the Ukrainian, so Nakatani wants to limit the inside fighting as much as possible.
It was also noted that Nakatanid doesn't feel Lightweight is Lomachenko's best weight class, and that he has a huge advantag in terms of size. There is around 12cm (about 5") height difference between the two men, and it's clear that if Nakatani can get his jab into play he could really frustrate Lomachenko.
Whilst Fujita has been the main sparring partner he's not the only guy that Nakatani has been learning from. He's also been speaking to former Lomachenko opponent Jorge Linares (47-6, 29), who has been giving advice about Lomachenko, and some areas to take specific counter measures.
When it was brought up that Lomachenko was regarded as one of the best boxers, Nakatani notably mentioned that his two previous bouts in the US both saw him entering as a major under-dog, and proving himself as a very capable fighter, referencing his bouts with Teofimo Lopez and Felix Verdejo.
Nakatani also stated that if he wins here, it'll lead to him getting a world title fight. It seems clear he is focused on doing just that and earning himself a shot at a world title.
One other thing that was confirmed was that he would be departing Japan on June 19th, the same day that fellow Japanese star Naoya Inoue (20-0, 17) [井上 尚弥] defends his Bantamweight world titles against Michael Dasmarinas (30-2-1, 20).
Last week All Star Boxing announced that they had signed a co-promotional deal with Teiken to promote Mikito Nakano (5-0, 4) [中野幹士], Kenji Fujita (1-0, 1) [藤田健児] and Subaru Murata (0-0) [村田昴], with the hope being for the trio to be in action in the near fuutre.
Now it's been reported that the trio will be fighting on May 21st on an All Star Boxing show set to take place on May 21st, as part of the "Boxeo Telemundo" series.
At the moment none of the trio have got opponents confirmed for the show, though the event it set to be staged at the Bryan Glazer Family JCC Auditorium, in Tampa, Florida.
For Murata this will be his professional debut, following a long and successful amateur career, whilst Fujita will be looking to build on an impressive performance back in his debut, which took place in March, whilst Fujita will be looking to move his career forward with his 6th professional bout.
Whilst none of the Japanese trio have had their opponents announced the main event of the card is known, and that will see former world title challenger Jonathan Gonzalez takes on Mexican veteran Armando Torres. Incidentally both of these man are known in Japan. Gonzalez famously challenged Kosei Tanaka, who was the WBO Flyweight champion at the time, whilst Torres fought his first 13 bouts in Japan, and later returned to the country for a one off bout in 2009.
Miami, FL; On early Thursday morning President of All Star Boxing, Inc Felix "Tuto" Zabala Jr has announced he has signed a trio of Japanese prospects to an exclusive multi-year promotional agreement. Mikito Nakano (5-0 4 KO's), Kenji Fugita (1-0 1 KO) & Subaru Murata (Pro Debut) will look to invade the U.S this coming spring where they will make regular appearances on Zabala's long running hispanic boxing series " Boxeo Telemundo" which is slated to commence May 7th in Kissimmee, FL.
Mikito Nakano, 25, of Hiroshima, Japan but now residing in Tokyo were he represented Tokyo University of Agriculture during his amateur career, compiling a record of 68 wins with only 8 loses and multiple amateur crowns. Nakano has jumpstarted his career displaying great power with 4 knockouts in 5 fights, his trainer Carlos Linares of Venezuela has nicknamed the young phenom "Manos De Acero" meaning "Iron Fist".
"I am ready to invade the U.S and be Japans biggest boxing star" stated a Jubilant Mikito Nakano "Soon the World will see my Iron Fist"
Kenji Fujita, 27, of Kurashiki, Okoyama, Japan but also residing in Tokyo were he trains under the Teiken Boxing Gym. Fujita, is one of Japans best amateurs out of the bantamweight division were he had accomplished over 150 wins and traveled to multiple boxing tournaments including countries like Kazakhstan, Philippines and Aremnia amongst others. Fujita made his much anticipated pro debut at the famed Korakuen Hall this past March, stopping Motosuke Kimura in the 6th round.
"We are happy with our pro debut win this past march under Teiken promotions" noted Kenji Fujita " I am excited to soon be able to fight and train in the United States were I can acquire great experience for my professional career.
Subaru Murata, 23, from Iwade City, Japan represented Nihon University as a boxer were he has much success as an amatuer, in 2018 he won the All Japan Championship and the following year he took the "Excellent Fighter" award in Japans annual boxing award ceremony. Murata also fought in AIBA Youth Championships amongst other competitions where he finished 68-12 as an amateur and will now make the leap into the pro ranks.
"It is truly an honor for me to continue my career as a professional with such a legendary promotional company in Teiken" stated Murata " I can't wait to fight in the United States and show my skills at the International level"
We are delighted to continue our longstanding relationship with Mr. Akihiko Honda of Teiken Promotions as we welcome this new generation of Teiken fighters" stated Felix Zabala " We look to showcase these prospects on our Boxeo Telemundo series which will help them grow a fanbase in the United States" Zabala added " The goal is for them to become International stars"
Teiken is the oldest Boxing club in Japan dating back to 1926, some of its world champions are Ryota Murata, Shisuke Yamanaka, Jorge "El Nino De Oro" Linares, Toshiaki Nishioka, Roman "Chocolatito" Gonzalez, Toshiyuki Igarashi, Genaro "Chicanito" Hernandez RIP, David Griman, Eloy Rojas, Takahiro Ao, Jose Luis Bueno, Takashi Miura, amongst others.
Earlier today the East Japan Boxing Association announced the award winners for the month of March, naming 3 award winners for the month, though strangely one of the regular awards didn't actually have a winner.
The Fighting Spirit award winner was Katsuya Fukui (3-0, 2) [福井勝也], who earned the award for his impressive performance on March 25th, when he defeated Hiroki Hanabusa (8-2-3, 3) [英洸貴] in a very good 8 rounder. Although not a fight of the year contender, it was a really good bout, and Fukui really did show very good tools for a man fighting in just his third professional bout.
Interestingly there were two winners of the Newcomer award for the month.
One of those was former K-1 champion Yoshiki Takei (1-0, 1) [武居由樹], who kicked off his professional career back on March 11th with an eye catching performance against Kazunori Takai (6-8-3, 3) [高井一憲]. Takei showed off what he could do in stopping his man inside 2 minutes, and making a real statement of intent about his future in the sport. Fingers crossed his next opponent will be more testing, but this was still a very good performance.
The other winner was former amateur standout Kenji Fujita (1-0, 1) [藤田健児], who scored a 6th round TKO win on March 25th against Motosuke Kimura (3-6-2, 1) [木村元祐]. Hw showed composure and poise here and it's clear he has a lot to give the sport, though will clearly need to face bigger and better tests than Kimura in the near future. He has so much potential, and looked so good as an amateur, that there really is no need to hold him on a leash. Instead Teiken should be looking to move him very quickly.
Strangely there was no MVP for the month, which is a bit strange, though in fairness there was very, very little action in Japan last month, likely explaining why no fighter was picked here.
It feels like it's been a very, very, very long time since we last had live televised Japanese boxing. We've had a few tape delay shows from Japan but it's been around a month since the All Japan Rookie of the Year final. Thankfully today we saw boxing return to Japanese TV thanks to latest Dynamic Glove show, and it was a really, really good show, with an exciting debutant, along with 3 solid, entertaining bouts. It's been too long, but it was, in the end, worth the wait!
The show began with a 4 rounder between Takumi Hashimoto (1-1) [橋本拓海] and Shogo Namiki (2-0-1, 1) [並木翔牙]. This was a really fun and exciting bout to open the show, though both men were clearly very limited fighters. Namika seemed the aggressor through much of the first round, but Hashimoto had good success in round 2 which he tried to replicate in round 3, though his accuracy let him down. In round 4 we ended up with 3 minutes of brutal violence as both men gave their all in an attempt to secure victory. After 4 rounds the judges gave the win to Namiki by majority decision.
The second bout on the show saw the long awaited debut of Kenji Fujita (1-0, 1) [藤田健児] as he scored a 6th round TKO win against the tough and very credible Motosuke Kimura (3-6-2, 1) [木村元祐].
From the off it was clear Fujita respected Kimura and his ability to counter. As a result the early going saw Fujita box patiently, used his amateur skills to keep the action at range and to win the rounds without taking too many risks. As the bout went on however he began to let heavier shots go, targetting the body of Kimura, and hurting him in round 3 before dropping him in round 4, as he systematically broke down his man. Kimura showed incredible toughness however and continued to try and fight back. In round 6 however Kimura was hurt again and Fujita didn't let off the gas, forcing the referee to step in wave this off. This was a really impressive performance by Fujita who is clearly another fantastic addition to the already packed Japanese Featherweight scene. One to keep an eye on, though that's little surprise given his incredibly amateur pedigree.
The third bout saw action pick up with a competitive, technical and exciting bout between Katsuya Fukui (3-0, 2) [福井勝也] and Hiroki Hanabusa (8-2-3, 3) [英洸貴]. This started very technical from both, as both used their jabs a lot, and despite being technical it was fought at a high pace, and very exciting. We thought Hanabusa more than held his own and his jab was again a fantastic weapon in round 2. From there on however Fukui began to find his grove, unloading sharp combinations, sneaking in and out with great success. Hanabusa continued to hold his own, and was landing a similar amount to Fukuo, but the cleaner more eye catching shots were coming from Fukui.
Through the middle rounds Hanabusa's work rate slowed as Fukui's shots took their toll on him, though to his credit Hanabusa refused to back down and go away. Instead Hanabusa dug deep and in rounds 7 and 8 the two men began to trade more regularly giving the fans a show. Sadly for Hanabusa however his shots lacked the power that Fukui's did and he could never get the respect of the unbeaten Fukui.
After 8 rounds the judges had this much, much wider than we did, scorign it 80-72, twice, and 79-73.We can't help but feel that Hanabusa deserved a bit more credit, though was certainly second best. Despite the loss we feel Hanabusa enhanced his reputation here, whilst Fukui showed he had the potential to go very far in this sport.
In the chief support bout we saw blood, and a lot of it, as Tatsuya Takahashi (32-10-6, 21) [高橋 竜也] and Ryotaro Kawabata (13-4-2, 6) [川端遼太郎] gave us something special. Really special.
The fight started with the much taller, longer and experienced Takahashi trying to box at range and control the bout with his footwork and jab whilst Kawabata looked to get inside and make this a fight. For the first round and a half Takahashi did all he could to avoid a war. Despite his effort we all knew, sooner or later, this was going to get violent and by the mid way point of round 2 Kawabata was dragging Takahashi into a firefight.
For the next few rounds Takahashi tried to give the appearance of someone who wanted to box, and not fight. Yet every round he was dragged into a slugfest up close. By the end of round 4 blood was smearing over his face from his nose, albeit from what appeared to be a headclash. From here on Takahashi gave up the pretence and turned things into an all out war, with the two men going to war on the inside, as blood began to flow. In fact was flowing so freely that both men ended up getting a doctor's inspection in rounds 5 and 7. The cuts, caused by accidental headclashes, were a result of the two men essentially standing toe to toe, head to head, and firing off shots with alarming success. Defense was a dirty word as the fighters seemed to be living by the idea that they had to stop the other
Sadly for both men's long term health a stoppage never seemed on. Both were rocked at times, and both took a lot of punishment, but neither man came close to being taken out. Instead they continued to let shots fly, with Takahashi fighting almost the entire final round with his back against the ropes. This was a sensational final round to what had been a brutal fight. Both men will be feeling this one in the morning. Thankfully for Kawabata he can at least feel good, as he picked up the victory, thanks to his relentless desire and his intense pressure. The scores cards here were 77-75, twice and 78-74, all to Kawabata.
The main event was another compelling bout as former amateur standout Gonte Lee (3-0-1, 1) [李 健太], who has previously been referred to as "Kuntae Lee" and was today shown on screen as "Gonte Ri", took on fan favourite Aso Ishiwaki (8-4-1, 6) [石脇麻生]. On paper this probably didn't grab too much attention internationally, especially given Ishiwaki's 2020 loss to Jin Sasaki and the technical draw that Lee suffered last time out. Despite that fans of the Japanese scene would have known that the styles here were going to mesh really well, with Lee's technical boxing being matched with the hunger and desire of Ishiwaki.
From the off the styles played out as expected, with Lee boxing, moving, and showing the brilliance that took him to a 62 fight winning streak in the amateurs. He looked fantastic. Whilst Ishiwaki fought like a bull in a china shop. He refused to back down, he refused to let Lee have time and space to think, and kept coming forward, putting his head down and chasing Lee around the ring.
At times Lee looked far, far too good for his man, particularly in the opening round and round 3 where he was almost scored a knock down with a body shot, but Ishiwaki proved himself to be dangerous having success in round 2 and holding his own in many rounds. As the bout went on however Ishiwaki's pressure generated more and more success, with round 6 being one of his best rounds. He even managed to drag Lee into a firefight in round 7, as Lee got his first chin check in the professional ranks.
With Ishiwaki creating some momentum we saw Lee put his foot on the gas in round 8, as he landed some fantastic counters early in the round before a vicious combination later one, that Ishiwaki somehow took without dropping. Ishiwaki knew he needed a knockout in the final round, he pushed for it, but he could never have the sustained success he needed.
For Lee this was a big step up in class and he passed it, winning with scores of 79-73, and 78-74, twice. He was forced to work every round and this was exactly what he needed. As for Ishiwaki this is a second successive loss for the youngster, but another performance that would have won fans over. Do not write him off for his record as he is one of the most fan friendly fighters out there and someone always worth watching.
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