Back in the summer of 2017 former Japanese Lightweight champion Shuhei Tsuchiya (23-5, 18) [土屋 修平] announced his retirement, following a poor performance against Shota Suito [水藤 翔太]. Tsuchiya won the bout but was unhappy with his performance and suggested that he wasn't able to perform to the standard that he had in the past.
It now appears that that retirement is over, and last night Dangan announced that Tsuchiya would be back in action on January 12th in Tokyo, in a 5 round bout as part of their Knock Out Dynamite Tournament final show.
At the moment the details are unclear on who Tsuchiya will be up against, though it has been confirmed that he will be promoted by the people behind the Dangan shows, Reason, and has officially left former promotional outfit Kadoebi.
With the announcement we now know the dates of two Dangan cards for January. There's this Knock Out Dynamite Tournament show on January 12th and we also know that the God's Left Tournament final will be held just 12 days later, on January 24th, where we will see Seiya Tsutsumi (5-0, 4) take on Kazuki Nakajima (8-0, 7) [中嶋一輝].
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Earlier today we got the semi-finals of the inaugural Knockout Dynamite Tournament, with 6 bouts taking place across 3 divisions, with each of the bouts scheduled for 5 rounds. The competition, is designed with financial rewards for scoring early stoppages so is expected to deliver short but exciting fights. We got several of those short thrillers, along with some prolonged action.
The first weight class to be covered was the 60KG one, and began with an all slugfest between OPBF ranked Filipino Marvin Esquierdo (15-2-1, 9) and Japan's very own Koichi Ito (11-8-3, 10) [伊藤弘一]. This bout very much fit the script of what we were expecting from the tournament and from the off the two men just traded bombs in a short but thrilling war. That war came to an end when Ito was dropped, and although he beat the 10 count he was still wobbling when the referee waved it off.
The second bout, also at 60KG's, saw Mongolian novice Tsendsuren Bat-Ireedui (0-1-1) take on 40 year old veteran Ribo Takahata (16-8-1, 6) [高畑里望]. The Mongolian came out swinging, looking to claim the full bonus, whilst Takahata played the longer game. After trying to score a stoppage in the first 2 rounds the Mongolian looked tired and hurt in round 3, as Takahata's body shots began to pay dividends. Tsendsuren would however bounce back in round 4. The best round of the fight was the 5th round with both letting shots go on the inside, in what was a really good round to watch, but neither man could stop the other leading to a decision. After the 5 rounds the judges gave the decision to Takahata, in a decision we're not totally behind, and now he will face Esquierdo in the weight class' final.
The second weight class to be covered was the 56KG one, and began with a bout between the hotly tipped Yuki Yamauchi (4-0, 3) [山内祐希] and veteran Ryuta Wakamatsu (12-15-1, 9) [若松竜太]. The first round was almost a plain boxing round, with neither man going for the bonus money, but the pace did pick up in round 2 and Wakamatsu was dropped and cut midway into the round. The following round saw Yamauchi continue to press and record a 3rd round TKO to pick up his bonus.
The second 56KG semi final saw 2017 Rookie of the Year winner Ren Sasaki (10-0, 6) [佐々木蓮] battle against Morihisa Iju (11-5, 9) [伊集盛尚]. Although not a noted puncher Sasaki went for the opening round KO with some very clean straight left hands as Iju came forward, though was dropped himself towards the end of the opening round. Iju continued to press in round 2, trying to get to Sasaki before the youngster could regain his composure. By the end of the round however Sasaki seemed to have regrouped, despite the continuing pressure from Iju. The pressure continued when Iju jumped all over Sasaki to start round 3. Sasaki took down Iju, in a desperation wrestling move, but only gave Sasaki a short respite before Iju was back on the offensive and refusing to give Sasaki any room to work with.
Round 4 was a better one for Sasaki, as Iju began to run out of steam a little bit, but in round 5 Iju was back full steam ahead and forcing the unbeaten youngster to get on his toes. Remarkably two of the judges gave it to Sasaki, with scores of 48-46, twice in his favour and once against. Meaning two of the judges gave Iju only the first round. For the second time in the card we were left with a very questionable decision, though it does lead to Yamauchi and Sasaki in the final.
The first of the two 65KG bouts saw Mongolian debutant Byambatsogt Tuguldur (1-0) go up against Shusaku Fujinaka (16-12-2, 11) [藤中周作]. This bout was hot from the off, with Tuguldur pressing Fujinaka straight away. Fujinaka was repeatedly backed up and Tuguldur made it very clear he wanted the top bonus for an opening round victory. The second round saw Fujinaka having more success and forcing the Mongolian on to the back foot, though Tuguldur managed to have moments of success himself. At times things got a bit messy as the fight went on, though it was hard not to be impressed by Tuguldur, with this being his debut, he did however show a bit too much of his amateur background and occasionally seemed too negative and too conservative.
When the Mongolian let his hands go he looked really good, but seemed to be happy fiddling his way through things, and was warned for numerous minor fouls through the bout, before leaving Fujinaka with a cut eye, from a head clash. The cut didn't risk an early conclusion to the bout and instead we saw the 5 rounds being complete before Tuguldur got his arm around for the decision win.
Tuguldar's win saw him move into the final, where he will face Vladimir Baez (26-5-2, 24), who took home the maximum bonus for an openign round win over Tatsuya Miyazaki (9-13-1, 9) [宮崎辰也]. Unsurprisingly this turned out to be a total mismatch with Baez all over Miyazaki form the off and dropping him in the opening seconds. Despite being down Miyazaki got up and ended up playing his part in a slugfest, firing back whilst eating heavy leather from Baez. After being dropped a second time Miyazaki was saved by the referee. With this win BAez netted himself a cool bonus, much like Esquierdo did in the first bout of the tournament.
One thing that was really notable about the event was the TMT logo all over today's press conference, possibly meaning this will be a TMT and Dangan go-promoted event. Floyd Mayweather has spoken about promoting in Japan under the TMT vehicle and with so much TMT branding here it finally seems like TMT Tokyo is going to become a reality in October with this show, potentially, being their first in Japan.
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