Earlier today Japanese fight fans had the chance to see rising prospect Kento Hatanaka (5-0, 5) [畑中 建人] take a huge step up in class, and shine as he stopped former Japanese title challenger Kenta Matsui (8-8, 1) [松井謙太].
The talented youngster, who had fought just 10 rounds prior to today's bout, took control of this one very early as he inflicted a cut on Matsui's left eye in the opening round.
The cut was a huge target for Hatanaka who looked sharp and accurate as he tagged at the cut with his jab. The cut worsened as the fight went on, and twice forced a doctors inspection in round 4.
The cut was clearly a growing issue for the fighter, and officials, but in the end it wasn't the key factor in the fight with Hatanaka hurting Matsui in round 5 and forcing the referee to stop the bout as Hatanaka began to unload.
This is a second straight loss for Matsui, who also lost in a Japanese Minimumweight title fight in December against champion Reiya Konish. It should be noted however that this is is only his second stoppage loss, with the other being an 8th round loss in 2016 to Tetsuya Hisada. Whilt that might sound terribe for Matsui it really does show how much promise Hatanaka has and how impressive today's win was.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Lat week there was a press conference held to announce that former WBO Minimumweight and Light Flyweight champion Kosei Tanaka (10-0, 6) [田中恒成] would be facing Filipino fighter Ronnie Baldonado (10-0-1, 7) on March 31st. At the time we knew that not only was Tanaka returning on the show, fighting for the first time since suffering two eye injuries in September, but also Yushi Tanaka (21-2-3, 14) [田中 裕士] and Kento Hatanaka (4-0, 4) [畑中 建人].
Over the last day or so we've seen more details from the card being released, along with the show's poster.
We now know that Hatanaka will battle against former Japanese title challenger Kenta Matsui (8-7, 1) [松井謙太], who will be fighting for the first time since his December loss to the then Japanese Minimumweight champion Reiya Konishi. This is a big step up in class for the 19 year old, who hasn't really been challenged since his debut back in November 2016, fighting only a combined 10 rounds. Although a step up he should still be favoured to beat Matsui, despite Matsui's 2016 win over Rikito Hatrtori and 2017 upset win over Genki Hanai.
As for Yushi Tanaka his opponent has been named as Jinya Ito (6-3-1, 1) [伊藤仁也]. Tanaka has twice fought for Japanese titles, losing to both Kentaro Masuda and Ryo Akaho, but came up short in both of those title bouts. Since losing to Akaho last year Tanaka has notched up two wins and is one his way to getting another title fight. As for Ito he has scored back to back wins, but has gone 2-3 in his last 5 and certainly looks a less than challenging opponent for Tanaka.
It should be noted that former Japanese Featherweight champion Shota Hayashi (30-7-1, 18) [林翔太] is featured on the poster. He won't actually be in action as his appearance on the card will be a retirement ceremony, as he walks away from active fighting following recent losses to to Kosuke Saka and Mark Magsayo.
Earlier today fights fan in the Japanese region of Kansai got their final show of the year, which was headlined by a Japanese Minimumweight title bout.
The bout saw defending champion Reiya Konishi (14-0, 5) [小西 伶弥] make his second defense of thr title, as he over-came #1 ranked challenger Kenta Matsui (8-7, 1) [松井謙太] in what proved to be a toroughly one-sided bout from the start to the end.
Konishi took control of the bout from the opening round, using his right hand early on to keep Matsui from openign up, mixing between the head and body of the challenger. To his credit Matsui gritted his teeth, and refused to just go away, doing enough to earn a share of round 3 on one card, but he was clearly out classed.
After 5 rounds, when the score cards were openly announced, the bout was looking like the dominant contest that fans were seeing. The judges had Konishi 50-45 up, twice, and 50-46, thanks to the 10-10 round 3 one judge had given.
If Matsui thought things were going to change the second half of the fight he was to be sorely disappointed, but Konishi simply being too good, too fast and smart. The key to his assault was a continued body attack that left Matsui with little answer and the only real grace the challenger got being a point deduction in round for Konishi, due to low blows. That point deduction resulted in two judges having the round 9-9 and one having it 10-9 to Matsui, after having scored it 10-10 before the deduction.
At the end of the bout the decision was a formality with Konishi getting the decision 99-90, 99-90 and 99-92.
The one surprise from the bout came after the contest with talk from Konishi's camp of their man vacating the title and heading up to Light Flyweight to pursue a world title. The decision to vacate will be made in the new year, and could leave the Champion Carnival bout at 105lbs being a very interesting talking point. For Matsui though this wasn't to be and he really did look out of his depth against a champion who put in a career best performance.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Tomorrow fights fans in Kansi will be able to see their final show of the year, as Japanese Minimumweight champion Reiya Konishi (13-0, 5) [小西 伶弥] defends his title against Kenta Matsui (8-6, 1) [松井謙太], in what will be Konishi's second defense of the belt.
Today the two men took part in their weigh in for the contest, and both men made the limit.
The champion was the heavier man on thescales, coming in at 105lbs dead on. He looked in great shape and like a fighter looking to make a point. He spoke about the contest as if it was a gate way to world title bouts and it's clear that that is the level he's wanting to compete at in 2018, fighting for bigger and better honours than just the Japanese crown.
Matsui on the other hand looked slightly more drained but came in well under the limit, in fact he was only 104.25lbs on the scales, and will have serious questions ro answer in regards as to why he was so light. He looked dehydrated and could certainly have been kinder on his body than he was here.
Related- Konishi battles Matsui in second title defense!
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Today saw Shinsei revealed that Japanese Minimumweight champion Reiya Konishi (13-0, 5) [小西 伶弥] would be returning to the ring on December 26th to make his next defense of the title, and continue to move towards a potential world title fight.
The unbeaten 24 year old, who won the title earlier this year with a majority decision win over Masataka Taniguchi, will be seeking his second defense when he returns and will be going up against Kenta Matsui (8-6, 1) [松井謙太], who enters as the #1 ranked Japanese challenger.
Konishi is ranked by in the top 15 by all 4 wold title bodies and is clearly approaching his first shot at a world title, which could come in early 2018. He will however need to get past Matsui and perhaps show something more than he has recently, with his last two wins both being majority decisions, over-coming Taniguchi and veteran Shin Ono. He likely needs either a dominant win or even a stoppage to convince his team that he's ready for a step upin class.
Matsui has had an interesting up-and-down career. He impressed at times, though is best known for his losses, and has come up short against the likes of Seita Ogido, Riko Kano, Jun Takigawa and Tetsuya Hisada. Although better known for those losses than his wins he does notable recent victories over Rikito Hattori and Genki Hanai, with the win over vver Hanai being the one that opened the door to this bout.
Althoigh not the greatest bout on paper we are expectng something a lot better in the ring than it looks like being. Matsui is a better fighter than his record suggests and Konishi has got his doubters.
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