Earlier today at Korakuen Hall Japanese fight fans got a stacked card from the Ohashi Gym with 4 notables on it, including a Japanese title bout, and several bouts involving promising prospects.
The first of the 4 notable bouts saw Suzumi Takayama (4-0, 4) [高山 涼深] score an opening round win over touted teenager Kosuke Tomioka (4-2, 3) [富岡 浩介]. On paper this one looked like a really interesting bout between two southpaws, but sadly for Tomioka he never even got a chance to get into the bout. After less than a minute a straight left hand from Takayama put Tomioka down. To his credit Tomioka got up, but Takayama smelled blood and jumped on his man, sending him down again. Tomioka showed how bravery by getting up again but was dropped a third time with the referee then halting the bout after just 107 seconds.
Sadly it's hard to see where Tomioka goes here, especially given his loss in the 2020 East Japan Rookie of the Year final to Shunpei Kubo.
The second bout of note saw OPBF ranked Super Flyweight Masayoshi Hashizume (18-0-2, 11) [橋詰 将義] score an 8th round TKO win over Yoshiki Minato (9-5, 4) [湊 義生]. For Hashizume this was his first bout in over 2 years and despite that he looked sharp from the off, with nice jabs, and good speed. Minato tried to fight back was cut in round around the right eye.
As the rounds went on Hashizume's natural size, strength and power played more and more of a factor, as he let his shots go more willingness and in round 8 he ended up forcing the referee in to save Minato in the first minute of round 8.
The third bout of note saw Japanese Youth Bantamweight champion Toshiya Ishii (4-1, 3) [石井渡士也] score a 5th round TKO against the heavy handed Jin Minamide (4-2, 3) [南出仁]. This was exciting from the off, with both letting heavy leather go in the first round. The power of Ishii told first as he dropped Minamide in the first round.
To his credit Minamide not only got to his feet but battled on, though was dropped again in round 3, as Ishii's power, accuracy and speed showed it's self again. Minamide again beat the count, but having been dropped twice in the first 3 rounds he was in a hole. and desperate to try and turn things around. Sadly for Minamide his aggression and hunger came back to bite him, and in round 5 a serious of big shots from Ishii forced the referee to come in and save Minamide.
The main event was a much anticipated Japanese title bout at 112ls as Japanese Flyweight champion Seigo Yuri Akui (16-2-1, 11) [阿久井政悟] made his second defense of the title, and stopped the previously unbeaten Taku Kuwahara (8-1, 4) [桑原拓] in a brilliant 10 round war.
The bout started almost perfectly for Akui who's early power saw him dropping Kuwahara with a counter right hand in the first round. It was a perfect shot and seemed to show that Akui's power could be too much for Kuwahara. That was until the challenger began to show what he could do and finding his groove through the rest of the first half of the bout. The fight back from Kuwahara was impressive, showing his guts, determination and skills as he managed to close the gap on the scorecards.
After 5 rounds we had the open scoring with scores of 47-47 on one card and 48-46 on two others, both to Akui.
Kuwahara had bounced back really well from the bad start, landing good body shots, using his amateur skills well, and showed that he belonged at this level. Akui then began to pick things up himself, applying more constant and intense pressure, trying to take the play away from Kuwahara, who continued to box and move, using his speed and accuracy to try and out work Akui and get his respect.
Going into round 10 it seemed to close to call, and then the judges cards were essentially ripped up as a huge right hand from Akui dropped Kuwahara for the second time in the bout, with just over 10 seconds of the bout left. The referee immediately waved off the bout.
After the contest Akui and his team seemed to suggest that they would be hunting a world title fight in 2022, after the Champion Carnival. That could well mean a rematch with WBO champion Junto Nakatani, who stopped Akui back in 2017.
Earlier today Japanese Flyweight champion Seigo Yuri Akui (15-2-1, 10) [阿久井政悟] took to social media to announce his second defense of the national title he won in October 2019, and it's a mouth watering clash as part of a brilliant Ohashi promoted card at Koraken Hall on July 21st.
The match up in question will see Akui defending his belt against Japanese prospect Taku Kuwahara (8-0, 4) [桑原拓], who gets his first title fight after making his debut in 2018. The touted Ohashi hopeful has long been tipped for the top but this is a legitimate step up for him against a super dangerous puncher.
Coming in the bout is a genuine toss up, the perfect 50/50 type of fight that more shows need. Akui is the more proven and the heavier handed fighter, but the skills and amateur background of Kuwhara will certainly see plenty feeling he has the tools to detrhone Akui.
As well as the brilliant main event the show will also have several other match watering match ups. One of those will see Japanese Youth Bantamweight champion Toshiya Ishii (3-1, 2) [石井渡士也] battle against the heavy handed Jin Minamide (4-1, 3) [南出仁], in what should be a brutal war.
The talented Ishii really impressed in his first 3 bouts, but was out pointed last year by Sho Ishida [石田 匠] in a razor close bout. He was supposed to face Kaito Takeshima [竹嶋海刀] in March but that bout was scrapped when Takeshima's health forced him to pull out. As for Minamide he looked like a brutal puncher early on, but ran into Kazuki Nakajima [中嶋一輝] in the God's Left Bantamweight tournament in 2019, and has been inactive since then. Both men are coming in on a loss but both are exciting fighters and will be looking to get back to winning ways in a potential barn burner here.
Another supporting bout will see Yoshiki Minato (9-4, 4) [湊義生] battle against Masayoshi Hashizume (17-0-2, 10) [橋詰将義] in a bout between two former All Japan Rookie of the Year winners. This one is likely to be a high tempo war, between two men with a point to prove. Minato has lost 3 of his last 4, including losses to Kuwahara and Akui, but has shown a lot of ability and shouldn't be written off, despite his recent losses. Hashizume once seemed to be an emerging star in Osaka, but recent transferred to a gym in Tokyo, and will be looking to kick start his career after some recent setbacks and inactivity.
One other fighter worth noting on this card is once beaten teenager Kosuke Tomioka (4-1, 3) [富岡 浩介], who is in action for the first time since losing in a Rookie of the Year bout last year to Shunpei Kubo [久保 春平]. The talented charismatic and exciting Tomioka is scheduled for a 6 rounder, though his opponent has yet to be named. Interestingly Tomioka was originally supposed to be facing Kotoji Irita (0-0) [入田琴治] this coming weekend as part of a stacked weekend of boxing from Dangan, though the bout was cancelled last week due to issues with the venue. Fingers crossed Irita will be offered this new date for a bout with Tomioka.
Earlier today at Korakuen Hall we had the East Japan Rookie of the Year finals, which decide not just the East Japan Rookie of the Year winner but also the East Japan participant in the All Japan final, which will take place next year. In total there was supposed to be 12 bouts, though in the end two of the ended up cancelled giving us a total of 10 bouts in total.
Sadly the bouts haven't yet been televised, with G+ set to air them on December 27th, so for fans wanting to watch them, you want to look away now. Incidentally we will also have the West Japanese representatives decided on December 27th at a show in Osaka.
Before we talk about the bouts we got we'll quickly talk about the two we didn't get.
One of those was at Light Flyweight, where 35 year old Hayato Aoki (4-0, 3) [青木 勇人] abstained, giving 25 year old Ryota Karimata (5-0, 3) [狩俣 綾汰] a bye to the All Japan final. This bout was cancelled weeks ago, and had been listed as off since early January. The second was the Lightweight bout, which seemed to be cancelled this week and saw Ryan Joshua Yamamoto (4-3, 1) [山本ライアン ジュシュア] pull out of a bout against Hiromasa Urakawa (6-1, 4) [浦川 大将], with Urakawa getting a bye to the All Japan final.
The first bout of the show came at Minimumweight and saw Ryo Sasaki (5-2, 2) [佐々木 凌] score a 4th round TKO win over Yuji Hirai (4-1-1, 2) [平井 雄士]. The tall, rangy Sasaki towered over Hirai who struggled to get close and was dropped in round 2. A gutsy Hirai tried to fight back but was stopped on the bell to end round 4. Interestingly this was the third time Sasaki had entered Rookie of the Year, losing in qualifying bouts in 2018 and 2019, and will feel like a real relief for him after the last 2 years.
At Flyweight we saw a minor upset as Akira Hoshuyama (4-0, 2) [宝珠山 晃] defeated the hard hitting Shugo Namura (4-1, 4) [苗村 修悟]. The hard hitting Namura, who is managed by Hiroyuki Sakamoto, had endeared himself to fight fans with his story, which was very similar to that of his boxing mentor, but sadly it wasn't to be for him as Hoshuyama dropped him in the first round and went on to win the following 3, en route to a clear decision. After 4 rounds all 3 judges had this 40-35 to Hoshuyama.
We got a big surprised at Super Flyweight as the much fancied Kosuke Tomioka (4-1, 3) [富岡 浩介] came up short against Shunpei Kubo (6-1-1, 4) [久保 春平]. Tomioka got off to a good start, and dropped Kubo with a hard straight left hand, and looked to be on the verge of a win in round 2. Kubo however gritted it out and landed a huge right hand in round 3, sending Tomioka down. Tomioka beat the count but was unsteady on his legs, and the referee waved the bout off. This is a big set back for Tomioka, but at just 18 years old we suspect he will bounce back, as for Kubo this was a great win and he will be buoyed big time going into the All-Japan final.
We got another upset of sorts at Bantamweight, as Ryuki Sudo (2-0, 1) [須藤 龍揮], fighting for just the second time, stopped Norichika Kozu (6-2, 1) [神津 徳臣] in the opening round. The fight started with Kozu pressing forward and he seemed to have Sudo under plenty of pressure before Sudo landed a peach of a left hook, dropping Kozu hard. As with Tomioka we saw Sudo get to his feet but he was gone and the referee wisely stopped this from continuing.
At Super Bantamweight we saw Yuki Yazan (7-2, 4) [矢斬 佑季] take a 5 round decision win over Ryuya Nihei (5-1-1, 1) [二瓶 竜弥]. Yazan looked too set the pace early, and boxed well at range with his straight shots. Nihei, to his credit, looked to slowly build some momentum with his pressure and had moments, particularly in rounds 2 and 3, before Yazan used his speed and impressed in the final 2 rounds. This was never a result in doubt and Yazan won with scores of 49-46 from all 3 judges.
We got another short bout at Featherweight as Kazunori Hirano (4-0, 4) [平野 和憲] simply hit too hard for Ryo Yoshida (3-1, 1) [吉田 諒]. Yoshida was down early, left with a bloodied nose and repeatedly hurt until the referee stepped in and saved him from further punishment at just over 2 minutes into the opening round. This was basic stuff from Hirano, but his rock hands really were just too much for Yoshida.
Unbeaten 21 year old puncher Tsubasa Narai (6-0, 5) [奈良井 翼] extended his excellent start as he stopped American born Japanese based fighter Dominique Kenshin (5-2, 2) [ドミニク謙心] at Super Featherweight. Narai pressed this from the off and looked like a man with a point to prove as he dropped Keshin in the first round. Kenshin managed to be saved by the bell in the opening round but was still looking hurt as we entered round 2, and Narai wasn't going to let him off the hook again, dropping him after about a minute of the round. This time the referee waved off the bout, giving the impressive Narai his third straight early win.
At 140lbs 21 year old novice Reiji Kodama (2-0, 1) [兒玉 麗司] impressed, stopping Takuro Narumi (3-2, 2) [鳴海 拓郎] in 4 rounds. Just seconds into the bout Kodama dropped Narumi with a 1-2. Although Narumi beat the count he didn't look comfortable through the round. To his credit in round 2 Narumi did start to find some success of his own, but in round 4 Kodama began to hammer his body and forced the referee to save Narumi, who was pinned on the ropes and being broken up by body shots.
At Welterweight Kaichi Yamazaki (2-2, 2) [山﨑 海知] scored a 3rd round TKO win against Yudai Saito (0-2) [齊藤 裕大]. Saito started well, using his jab, but it wasn't long until Yamazaki got into the pocket and began working up close, scoring a knockdown with a right hand. The second round was a battle up close before Yamazaki scored a second knockdown right at the end of round 3, forcing the referee to stop the bout. After the bout images of Saito sat on his stool showed him with a badly swollen right eye, and potential fracture as a result of Yamazaki's power.
The final bout on the show was at Middleweight and saw Kenji Yoshino (1-2-1, 2) [吉野 健二] and Eiki Kani (2-1-2) [可兒 栄樹] face off for the second time in their career. In 2019 the two men clashed, with Yoshino stopping Kani, this time however we saw the two men going the distance in a very, close, competitive and punishing 4 round war that saw neither man get much of an upperhand over the other. This was a thrilling action bout and saw the two men match each other all the way, resulting in a 4 round majority draw. Due to the tie breaker rules however it was Kani who progressed to the All-Japan final, in a result which will go some way to avenge his 2019 loss.
After the even there was 3 award winners named. Kubo was the MVP, following his win over Tomioka at Super Flyweight, Sudo won the Skill award following his win over Kozu at Bantamweight and Hirano won the Fighting Spirit Award following his win over Yoshida at Featherweight.
Earlier today at Korakuen Hall we had the latest round of East Japan Rookie of the Year bouts, with the show hosting the first set of semi-finals. The bouts, which will be made available on Boxing Raise, have all finished and we now know a good number of the fighters set to compete in the East Japan final.
The first fighter to go through to the final was Minimumweight Ryo Sasaki (4-2, 1) [佐々木 凌] who qualified after 20 year old Tatsuki Fujioka (0-1-1) [藤岡 立樹] abstained from the contest.
The first actual fight on the show saw 35 year old Hayato Aoki (4-0, 3) [青木 勇人] score a 4th round TKO win over 27 year old Yota Mihara (3-1, 3) [三原 陽太] at Light Flyweight. Mihara started this one one well, but Aoki found his groove and then forced a stoppage in mid-way into round 4 to secure his place in the East Japan final.
A second bout between unbeaten men came at Flyweight, and this was a blink and you miss it affair. The bout saw the hard hitting Shugo Namura (4-0, 4) [苗村 修悟] defeat 20 year old Teppei Saito (3-1, 2) [齋藤 哲平] in just 53 seconds! Saito was down within seconds. He got back to his feet but was down again soon afterwards and the referee waved this one off. This was a statement from Namura who looks like he will be a genuine handful.
Another man who looks a genuine handful is Super Flyweight sensation Kosuke Tomioka (4-0, 3) [富岡 浩介] who needed just 43 seconds to defeat Yota Sato (2-1, 2) [佐藤 陽太]. The 18 year old Tomioka landed a sensational left hook that forced the referee to wave this one off very early on. Tomioka, regarded as one of the favourites for the All Japan Rookie of the Year, really couldn't have asked for a better outcome today and we're looking forward to seeing him back in the ring in the East Japan final.
After a string of stoppages the crowd saw a bout go the distance at Bantamweight, as the light punching Norichika Kozu (6-1, 1) [神津 徳臣] took a 4 round majority decision win over Asato Mori (4-3, 3) [森 朝登]. This bout was scored rather oddly, with one judge having it a shut out and another having it even. Kozu used his reach well to control the action at times, but Mori came to win and gave a genuine account, even if he was on the wrong end of Kozu's long, straight shots on a regular basis.
At Super Bantamweight we also had a decision with Ryuya Nihei (5-0-1, 1) [二瓶 竜弥] narrowly defeating Arata Yoshioka (2-3-1, 2) [吉岡 新]. The unbeaten Nihei found himself in a real tough one here as Yoshioka came to win and gave him hell. Yoshioka was persistent, and stubborn, but in the end the judges, narrowly, favoured Nihei to give him the split decision victory. This was a very close bout.
In the penultimate bout of the show Kazunori Hirano (3-0, 3) [平野 和憲] extended his unbeaten record with a 4th round TKO win over Ren Kakimoto (3-2) [柿元 蓮] in a Featherweight bout. This was a war, with bombs being thrown by both, particularly in round 3. Sadly for Kakimoto his great effort early on came for nought when the referee was forced to save him mid-way through round 4.
The final bout came at Super Featherweight and saw Dominique Kenshin (5-1, 2) [ドミニク謙心] take a clear decision win over Nobuo Maruoka (4-3, 2) [丸岡 宣男]. This wasn't the best of bouts. The younger, fresher, faster Kenshin tried to keep this at range, whilst Maruoka tried to get the fight on the inside. As a result there was a lot of clinching and a lot of messiness. Despite that it ended up being a rather clear and straight forward win for Kenshin.
The winners are all expected to return to the ring on December 20th in the East Japan Rookie of the Year Final, and a win there will take them to the All Japan in the new year.
Earlier today A-Sign boxing presented their latest show, live on YouTube, with the show featuring 6 bouts in total. The event wasn't a massive one, but was a notable one, and one that delivered good action, for the most part. It had Rookie of the Year action, some notable prospects and the Japanese debut of a man who's career, so far, had fought entirely away from the country of his birth.
With that said lets look at how the bouts went.
Sadly the show began with a rare stinker as a Rookie of the Year bout between the talented Kosuke Tomioka (3-0, 2) [富岡浩介] and the timid Shota Hara (2-3-1) [原翔太] never got going. Tomioka controlled the bout from the opening round with his speed and jab and Hara did little to try and win. This really was an underwhelming way to start the show, and it seemed it even annoyed Tomioka who tried to wave in Hara, who declined. After 4 rounds there was no doubting the result.
The second bout on the show saw significantly better action as Ryugo Ushijima (4-1-2, 2) [牛島 龍吾] over-came Ryukyu Oho (6-4, 3) [大保 龍球] in a bout that saw more action in the opening round than the entire first fight. The round saw Oho come out fast, so fast in fact that he ended up slipping in one of his first offensive charges. Later in the round Oho did drop Ushijima, but was down himself towards the end of the round. Ushijima also scored a second knockdown in round 2.
After Ushijima scored his second knockdown he did seem to become a little too safety conscious, and held too much for our liking, but when forced to dig in he did respond as we got some brilliant little exchanges. Ono continually pressed forward, but failing to have any sustained success, and simply didn't let his hands go enough to bother Ushijima.
After 6 rounds the scores we went to the scorecards, which were 58-56, twice and 59-54 all in favour of Ushijima.
Sadly Ken Koibuchi (6-4, 5) [鯉渕 健] didn't feel in the need to help cult hero Takuya Yamaguchi (4-12-2, 2) [山口拓也] build on his growing profile. Yamaguchi came out ultra aggressive early on, but ran out of steam quickly and in round 2 Koibuchi dropped him twice to force the finish. Sadly for the 35 year old Yamaguchi this is probably the end, but it is a great story he's had in recent months, and his success in terms of crowd funding, and telling his story with the team from A-Sign has been amazing. We really hope that he remain in the sport, even if it's just as a mentor, or a commentator.
As for Koibuchi, the big bully, this is a much needed win after losses in 3 of his last 4.
In the fourth bout of the show we saw Hyoga Taniguchi (4-2-2, 1) [谷口 彪賀] face off with Yoshiki Tatsukami (4-7-1) [山本佳輝], in what was Taniguchi's first bout since winning the 2019 Rookie of the Year. To begin with Taniguchi looked very timid, but as the rounds went on he settled, found his range and began to land his left hand with growing frequency. Sadly whilst Taniguchi did take the clear win it was clear there the bout lacked drama and excitement, but was a good learning experience for Taniguchi.
After 6 rounds we went to the scorecards and there no real doubting the result, with scores of 58-56, twice, and 59-55 for Taniguchi.
We do like Taniguchi, but do feel he's years away from being the complete product, and we suspect he will need a lot more bouts like this before being in the title mix.
In the most impressive performance of the show the touted Jin Sasaki (8-0, 7) [佐々木 尽] wasted no time in blowing out Japanese ranked foe Shun Akaiwa (5-2-1, 3) inside a minute. Akaiwa was dropped from a left hook, and despite beating the count the referee knew he was in no fit state to continue. This was a real statement from Sasaki, who will find himself in the Japanese rankings at 140lbs when the rankings are update. A sensational result.
The final bout of the show saw "reimported boxer" Shoki Sakai (24-11-2, 12) [坂井 祥記] make his Japanese debut in what was a genuine cracking bout against 2017 All Japan Rookie of the Year winner Hironori Shigeta (6-2-1, 3) [重田裕紀]. This started with Shigeta boxing well, but as the rounds went on Sakai made the fight an inside battle, and stopped Shigeta using the ring. When that happened, there was only going to be one winner.
Shigeta always tried, he always had moments, and repeatedly landed some massive single shots, but Sakai had consistency, used his experience well, blocked plenty that came his way and landed some brutal shots through the 8 round contest.
This one was real fun, and saw both men landing monstrous shots, but it was clear that Sakai was doing the better work. This was shown not just in the ring, but also on the faces of the two men, with Shigeta being bruised early on, and the score-cards, which all turned in identical scored of 78-74 to Sakai.
Although the show was a low profile one it was a solid one and had a nice mix of things, from the skills of Tomioka and Taniguchi, the explosive power of Sasaki and the vicious war to end the show. The pacing of the event was good through out and the only real break came between the co-feature and main event. Even that wasn't a waste of time however as it was used to announce the next bout of former WBO Super Featherweight champion Masayuki Ito (26-2-1, 14) [伊藤 雅雪], who we now know will return on November 5th to face off with OPBF Super Featherweight champion Hironori Mishiro (9-0-1, 3) [三代大訓].
One again A-Sign, and Ichitaro Ishii especially, have delivered a brilliant show and it's great to see them having solid bouts across multiple levels of the sport. Fingers crossed they continue to provide live streams like this, as this was fantastic.
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