Earlier today we had the latest Dynamic Glove show, live from Korakuen Hall. The card wasn't a huge show, but was an interesting one, especially for those interesting in seeing the best of the next generation of Teiken hopefuls.
The show kicked off with a 4 round East Japan Rookie of the Year Middleweight bout between Machopapa Kazuki (0-1) [宇都宮一基] and Eigoro Akai (1-1, 1) [赤井英五郎], and despite the bout being a very low level contest it was flat out entertainment, The opening round saw a lack of skill from both with almost no defense, resulting in Akai being rocked early on from counter right hands and being left with a bloodied nose, and Kazuki barely making it out of the round. The wild, defensively poor work continued in round 2, until Akai finished things off with a brutal uppercut, to score a genuinely devastating clean KO.
Sadly we need to say that despite the win Akai, the son of the legendary Hidekazu Akai, really shouldn't stay in the sport given his performances so far. We know he can improve, but he surely has better options than being a boxer, especially due to the success of his father, who can open doors in other avenues for him.
The first of the show's 6 round bouts saw 20 year old debutant Kyosuke Takami (1-0, 1) [高見享介] shine as he quickly took care of Thai visitor Wutthichai Montri (2-1, 1). From the very early moments Takami found his range and seemed unable to miss with his right hand. After about a minute of the round, he dropped Montri with a huge counter right hand on the chin, with the Thai staying down for the count.
The second 6 rounder saw former amateur stand out Riku Masuda (1-0, 1) [増田陸] kick off his career, as he took Thailand's Worraphon Yothika (1-1, 1). Masuda was methodical in applying constant, educate pressure through the first minute, tagging Yothika to the body with single shots, before landing a huge straight left hand up top, dropping Yothika. Yothika beat the count, but was wobbly with the referee waving off the contest.
The quick blow out wins by former Japanese amateur stand outs continued with Reo Saito (1-0, 1) [齋藤麗王], who dropped the tall but incredibly poor Samart Surakhan (1-1) inside 30 seconds, and dropped him a second time soon afterwards for the count. Saito, who really can be moved quickly, did what he needed to, like Takami and Masuda, and hopefully all 3 get a test of some kind later this year.
After the debutants took care of their over-matched Thai foes we then saw Kenji Fujita (2-0, 1) [藤田健児] make his long awaited return to the ring, around 16 months after his debut, as he took on Filipino visitor Jestine Tesoro (6-4, 2). The well schooled Fujita applied intelligent pressure though the first round, showing case his boxing IQ and speed whilst Tesorio looked to land counters. Sadly the most notable thing he landed was a big headbutt, when the two came together about 2 minutes into the round, with Fujita clearly buzzed by it whilst getting time to recover. The second round was somewhat more competitive, but the cleaner, better shots continued to come from Fujita. Tesorio began to let his hand go more in round 3, likely realising he had lost the first 2 rounds, but he continued to struggle with the movement, accuracy and speed of Fujita, who again landed the better shots, including some very good body shots later in the later stages. Fujita would go on to hurt Tesorio in rounds 4 and 6, but fail to drop the Filipino who dug deep to see out the distance, but was well beaten, with the judges turning in scores of 60-55 and 59-55, twice.
The co-feature of the show saw Kento Yabusaki (9-5-2, 5) [薮﨑賢人] clash with Daiki Kameyama (9-5-1, 3) [亀山大輝] in a thrilling and action packed 8 rounder. This had a completely different feel to the bouts we'd seen earlier on the show, and was a combination of good skills and high speed from two very evenly matched young men. Through two rounds the fight was really competitive with great back and forth, but in round 3 Kameyama was clearly buzzed as Yabusaki's power showed it's self, thanks to a hard counter left hand. To his credit however Kameyama bounced back well and had a very solid round 4 before managing to hurt Yabusaki in round 5, with a huge assault in the final minute of the round. Yabusaki saw out the round, but by the end of it his face was looking a swollen mess, and the swelling got worse in round 6, which was a terrific round from both men, with both being rocked. In round 7 we saw Yabusaki taken to the doctor, to check the swelling, with the bout being allowed to continue. In round 8 the clean, accurate shots of Kameyama forced Yabusaki to stumble, and as he looked to follow up the referee quickly got between them, saving him from any more punishment and ending what had been a genuinely brilliant back and forth contest.
The main event of the card saw Japanese Light Flyweight champion Shokichi Iwata (9-0, 6) [岩田 翔吉] have his toughest test so far, as he battled OPBF champion Kenichi Horikawa (41-17-1, 14) [堀川 謙一], with the two men also fighting for the WBO Asia Pacific title. On paper it seemed very much a case of a young lion taking on a faded veteran, there for the taking, especially given Horikawa hadn't fought since 2019 and was now the wrong side of 40. What we got however was a genuine test for Iwata who had to prove his toughness, mentally and physically, as well as his gas tank in what was a really interesting fight.
Early on it seemed like the speed, youth and energy of Iwata was going to be too much, and he seemed to be to sharp and too quick for the veteran. In round 4 however we began to see Horikawa wake up a bit and he managed to back Iwata up following a body shot, before letting his shots go. Iwata saw out the storm, but was given a clear reminder that Horikawa was there to win, and not just make up the numbers.
After 4 rounds we got the open scoring, 39-37, twice, and 40-36 all to Iwata. Iwata continued to build on his success in the middle portion of the bout, but there was moments where Horikawa had real success, including some great counter shots in round 6. The veteran was on the wrong end of most of the bigger shots, but sent constant reminders to Iwata that he deserved respect, and that Iwata wouldn't get things all his own way. After 8 rounds we got the open scoring again, and scores were 79-73, twice, and 78-74.
Sadly for Horikawa his face was beginning to swell by this point, a result of big, clean right hands up top from Iwata and some nasty uppercuts. Despite that Horikawa gritted his teeth and continued to dig deep, looking to force a fire fight on the youngster, who finally obliged in the final stages, with rounds 10, 11 and 12 each being better than what had preceded it. It was Horikawa's will forcing a war on to Iwata, who's skill was winning him rounds, but he was being pushed every second of those final rounds.
By the time we reached the final bell there was no doubting who had won. There wasn't even a suggestion it was close, and Horikawa seemed to know it when the cards were being read out, but this was a bout where the cards didn't really matter. The fight had served it's purpose in giving Iwata a real gut check, and one that he passed, with scores of 116-112, 117-111 and 118-110 in his favour. He had taken the decision, he had taken some big shots, he had gone 12 rounds for the first time, and had unified the Japanese, OPBF and WBO Asia Pacific titles in a career best win.
It's clear that Iwata's potential will see him getting world title fights in the near future, and this was a great was to prepare him for that level of bout. As for Horikawa, he might be the wrong side of 40, but on the back of this he is still one of the best Light Flyweights on the Oriental scene and hopefully this won't be the end of him, as he could certainly push a lot of other promising young fighters, and give them very real tests, as he did with Iwata here.
Earlier today the East Japan Boxing Association announced their award winners for the Month of December, which was a surprisingly busy month for Japanese boxing given the increasing number of Covid19 cases in the country.
The MVP for the month was named as Ryoji Fukunaga (13-4, 13) [福永亮次], who unified the WBO Asia Pacific, Japanese and OPBF Super Flyweight titles with an excellent 10th round TKO win over Kenta Nakagawa (19-4-1, 12) [中川 健太] on December 14th. The bout, an hellacious war, was one of the best fights in Japan during the year and Fukunaga's performance and victory really did leaving deserving of this award,
The Fighting Spirit award was won by new crowned Japanese Minimumweight champion Masataka Taniguchi (13-3, 8) [谷口将隆], who claimed the title on December 3rd when he stopped Hizuki Saso (12-7-2, 4) [佐宗 緋月]. The plan now seems to be for Taniguchi to defend his title during 2021 and move towards a second world title fight in the future.
The Newcomer award was won by Kento Yabusaki (8-4-1, 5) [薮﨑賢人] for his shock upset win over 2-time Minimumweight world title challenger Shin Ono (24-11-3, 6) [小野心] on December 8th. This win was a real surprise and help put Yabusaki on the map, though likely was just as much a case of Ono being very much past his prime.
Earlier today at Korakuen Hall fight fans were able to see the latest event under the rather misleading "The Greatest Boxing" series of shows. The event wasn't a big one, by any stretch of the imagination, but it was a somewhat notable one with a very interesting main event between a former 2-time world title challenger and a 23 year old in real need of a notable win.
Surprisingly it was the 23 year old who picked up the victory with a shock unanimous decision.
The bout in question saw former 2-time Minimumweight world title challenger Shin Ono (24-11-3, 6) [小野心] come up short in an 8 round bout against Kento Yabusaki (8-4-1, 5) [薮﨑賢人], who had lost his last two and didn't appear to have any momentum coming in to this one.
The 37 year old Ono used the ring well early on, moving around a lot, and trying to control the distance. Despite the movement and experience of Ono it was the power of Yabusaki which told early on and he dropped Ono with a straight left hand. Ono recovered well, but was under pressure in round 3, and pretty much lost every exchange afterwards with Yabusaki being too big, too strong and too power for him. Ono tried, as a veteran would, to try and control the tempo and distance of the bout but Yabusaki kept coming forward, kept landing the heavier blows and refused to left Ono settle.
After 8 rounds the judges all had the bout to Yabusaki, with scores of 77-74, twice, and 78-73, who takes a huge win over Ono, a former OPBF and Japanese champion.
Right now it's really hard to see where Ono goes next. He's 38 later this month and unless he come more back down in weight, to Light Flyweight at the very least, he will struggle with these younger, hungrier, bigger fighters. It may well be that rather than continue he hangs them up, ending his lengthy career.
As for Yabusaki this win is a huge one for his career, and will certainly help him rebuild his career after back to back losses to Michael Mendoza and Mirai Imagawa in 2019.
Tomorrow fight fans at Korakuen Hall will get the chance to see former 2-time world title challenger Shin Ono (24-10-3, 6) [小野心] return to the ring for his first bout in over a year, as he takes on youngster Kento Yabusaki (7-4-1, 5) [薮﨑賢人].
The fight, which will headline Hideki Todaka's "The Greatest Boxing Vol 36", is an 8 round Flyweight bout and today, ahead of their bout, the two men took part in their weigh in.
On the scales the 37 year old Ono was the slightly heavier man, comin in at around 111.8lbs for the bout, comfortably under the limit. Notably this is one of the heaviest weights of his career, and he has really made his name at Minimumweight, where he has challenged Katsunari Takayama and Knockout CP Freshmart in world title bouts. Notably he turned 38 later this month and it's hard to see where he goes if he can't get past Yabusaki here. Despite his age he looked in fantastic shape at the weigh in and it's clear he doesn't want to end his career here.
Yabusaki, who is just 23 years old, came in at 111.6lbs, which is among the lighter weights of his career, and around 2lbs lighter than he was last time out, when he lost a close decision to Mirai Imagawa. Notably he has lost his last 2, but will know that a win here against Ono would help resurrect his faltering career.
Sadly we didn't get to see how Yabusaki looked on the scales.
Rather disappointingly it doesn't appear that there will be any way to watch this outside of the venue, and sites like Boxing Raise don't have it listed as being part of their service.
Yabusaki stops Akabane in 3!
Last year we saw youngster Retsu Akabane [赤羽根 烈] (4-2, 2) reach the All Japan Rookie of the Year final at Minimumweight losing to the talented Yuga Inoue. We also saw Kento Yabusaki (6-2-1, 4) [薮﨑 賢人] on the same Rookie of the Year card, and he came up short in the Flyweight final to Joe Shiraishi. Today they faced off, with Akabane moving up to Flyweight to take on Yabusaki in a brilliant all-southpaw match up.
The fight started at a great tempo, and it seemed like Akabane was the bigger puncher, finding a home for stiff straight left hands, though Yabusaki did have moments, including a brilliant uppercut in the opening round. The second round saw Yabusaki look to pick up the pace, and he seemed to out land Akabane but it was against a round that Akabane seemed to land the better shots.
In round 3 Akabane came out with bad intentions and tried to back up Yabusaki and up the pace. It came at a cost however and the two began to trade as Yabusaki tried to avoid being trapped on the ropes, his shots landed cleanly and seemed to daze Akabane who couldn't avoid a clean and hurtful straight left hand that dropped him. Akabane got back to his feet but was hurt again moments later as his team through in the towel.
For Akabane this will be a set back, but at the age of 19 he has time to rebuild, for Yabusaki however this is a great win and we expect to see a lot more of the 21 year old, as he continues to build on his successes since the Rookie of the Year set back.
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