Earlier today Korakuen Hall played host to the latest show from the Ohashi Gym.
The show featured a host of notable bouts on it including notable debutants, several bouts with prospects and a Japanese title fight.
The show started with one of the debutants, as Kenta Yamakawa (1-0) [山川 健太] took a 4 round shut out over Zapp Morimoto (1-2, 1) [ザップ森本] in the opening bout of the show. The bout saw Yamakawa show his jab, his movement, and his variation though out the contest, with Morimoto playing the role of the ideal foil for Yamakawa who looked like a very promising young prospect.
Another debutant on this card was 23 year old Yuya Tanaka (1-0) [田中 湧也], who had to work for a win over 5'11" southpaw Fuya Tomita (7-5, 2) [冨田 風弥]. Tanaka struggled early on with the saw of Tomita and was dropped in round 2 from a right hook of Tomita's. He did however show good composure and rebuilt from the knockdown to control much of the fight on route to taking a decision. It was however a hard earned victory and one that saw a good test for Tanaka, following a 53 amateur career. He learned plenty here, over-came a tough foe and did well against someone who isn't easy to look good against.
Another promising prospect on this card was Ryutaro Nakagaki (2-0-2, 2) [中垣 龍汰朗], who was surprisingly held to a draw by Toma Kondo (8-7-2, 1) [近藤 冬真]. From the off Kondo tried to press the action, and by doing saw he really limited the success Nakagaki could get. Nakagaki looked the better boxer through out, but the pressure and relentlessness of Kondo really stopped the younger man from controlling the action behind his jab, and forced him to fight Kondo's fight. After 8 rounds this was a tough one to score, and that was shown on the scorecards with a card of 78-74 to Nakagaki, a score of 77-75 to Kondo and a 76-76, resulting in a split decision draw.
The first of 3 Japan Vs Thailand bouts saw the once beaten Katsuya Yasuda (9-1, 5) [保田 克也] score a 6th round TKO win over Thai veteran Krai Setthaphon (29-9, 19). The bout was a tough one for Yasuda, who was dropped in the first round, and really struggled to get going early on. Thankfully for him however things did get better for him, and in round 5 he dropped his foe with a right hook. He then closed the show at the start or round 6 with a straight left hand that dropped Krai for a second time and forced the referee to wave the bout off.
The second Japan Vs Thailand bout was more straight forward for the local, as Taku Kuwahara (10-1, 6) [桑原 拓] blasted out Parinya Khaikanha (4-1, 4) in 2 rounds. From the off Kuwahara was quicker, sharper and more accurate, and looked to make the most of his speed. The Thai came to fight however and looked to press the action a lot more in round 2, whilst let him open to a brutal uppercut that dropped him hard, with the referee immediately waving this one off. After the bout Parinya was take out of the ring on a stretcher, whilst Kuwahara revealed he was wanting to fight for a title next, and potentially rematch Japanese champion Seigo Yuri Akui (17-2-1, 11) [阿久井政悟].
The third and final bout in the Japan Vs Thailand match ups saw Japan go 3-0, with Kazuki Nakajima (12-1-1, 10) [嶋 一輝] scoring a 5th round TKO win over former world title challenger Karoon Jarupianlerd (49-12, 23), aka Petchbarngborn Kokietgym. From the opening round Nakajima seemed in control, but took his time, trying to get a read on what the visitor had to offer. In round 5 Nakajima opened up with a series of clean punches, including some big uppercuts, which forced the referee to step in and save the Thai, who has now been stopped 3 times in his career, all in Japan.
In the main event we saw Japanese Light Middleweight champion Makoto Kawasaki (13-8-2, 2) [川崎真琴] retain his title, and record his first defense, as he fought to a draw with Ryosuke Maruki (18-7-2, 13) [丸木凌介]. This really was a bout of two halves, with Kawasaki dominating the early going, using his jab to control the action and the tempo, whilst Maruki had a horribly slow start. This lead to Kawasaki leading the bout 49-46, twice, and 48-47 when the scores were announced after round 5. From round 6 however things really flipped and Maruki pressed the action more, forcing the fight and clawing his way back into the bout, though he did too little to take the win, with all 3 judges scoring this 95-95.
Following the bout Kawasaki revealed he had felt under pressure for his first defense and had potentially over-trained for the bout, whilst Maruki seemed to admit that he wishes he could have started fighting the way he'd finished the bout much earlier.
Earlier today it was announced that we would see former 3 weight world champion Kosei Tanaka (16-1, 9) [田中恒成] return to the ring on June 29th, as he challenges OPBF and WBO Asia Pacific Super Flyweight champion Masayoshi Hashizume (19-0-2, 11) [橋詰 将義], with two men battling for the Hashizume's WBO Asia Pacific title.
The bout will take place at Korakuen Hall, as Tanaka returns to the hallowed venue for the first time since his 2014 win over Ryuji Hara, a win that saw him claim the OPBF Minimumweight title, and made fans really sit up and take note of him. That was just his third professional bout. Since then, he has gone on to win world titles at Minimumweight, Light Flyweight and Flyweight, and challenge for the WBO Super Flyweight title, losing to Kazuto Ioka in 2020.
Interesting this will also be the third successive bout that Ioka will have against either a current, or former, Ioka Gym fighter. Having lost to Ioka at the end of 2020, beaten Sho Ishida in 2021, and now facing Hashizume.
As for Hashizume this will be his first defense of the title he won earlier this year, when he beat Akio Furutani in a very competitive bout. A win for him here would open the door for him to potentially fight for a world title. This is, quite clearly, a huge step up in class for him, but a win would give his career a massive boost, and really push his career along. Interestingly his OPBF title isn't up for grabs here, though no reason was made clear in the announcement of the bout
Much like Tanaka's previous bout at Korakuen Hall, this will come on a Hideyuki Ohashi promoted card, with the show being held under the Phoenix Battle banner. The card will also feature a Japanese Youth Super Flyweight bout, as Yasuhiro Kanzaki (7-2-1, 2) [神崎靖浩] takes on Yoshiki Minato (10-5, 5)[湊義生] for the vacant title, in what should be a genuine barn burner.
Others scheduled for this card include former amateur standout Toramasa Imanaga (0-0) [今永虎雅] and teenage hopeful Kenta Yamakawa (0-0) [山川健太], who will both be debuting in scheduled 6 rounders.
For fans in Japan wanting to watch this show, it will be aired on Hikari TV in Japan.
Earlier today Hideyuki Ohashi revealed his latest huge signing, as he officially announced that former Japanese amateur standout Toramasa Imanaga [今永虎雅] had signed with the Ohashi Gym, and was ending his amateur carer after 126 bouts in the unpaid ranks. As an amateur Imanaga ran up an excellent record, going 113-13 (26), whilst winning 10 major amateur titles, including success National Selection tournaments, Inter High School Championships, and National Athletic Meets, and the Taipei International Tournament.
As a professional Imanaga is expected to be fighting as a Lightweight, and will be having his career guided by some of the most notable men in Japanese boxing. Ohashi will be his promoter, he will be trained by former world champion Akira Yaegashi and former world title challenge Koji Matsumoto.
Imanaga explained that he toured several gyms, and was happy to see what was out there for him before turning professional, though it appeared that the Ohashi Gym was always going to be one of the front runners for his signature, given their talent pool, training facilities and the doors the gym can open for him. It's worth noting that whilst he was impressed you the Ohashi set up, Mr Ohashi was also impressed by Imanaga, with Ohashi explaining that Imanaga had a powerful punch and good defense. He also explained that the target for Imanaga is a world title title, and that he wants to get Imanaga a Japanese ranking by the end of the year.
The plan for Imanaga is to take part in his B class protest on April 26th before making his debut in late June, on a yet to be announced Ohashi card, likely in a 6 rounder at or around the Lightweight limit.
As well as Imanaga it was also announced that Ohashi had signed 22 year Yuya Tanaka [田中湧也] and 17 year old Kenta Yamakawa [山川健太], who will both be expected to have very bright futures in the sport, under the guidance of Ohashi.
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