Earlier this year fight fans who follow the Japanese scene got a genuine treat as Gakuya Furuhashi (28-8-1, 16) [古橋大輔] claimed the Japanese Super Bantamweight title, and stopped Yusaku Kuga (20-5-1, 13) [久我勇作] in a genuine fight of the year contender.
That bout saw Furuhashi break down Kuga and stop him in 9 rounds, of a scintillating, back and forth war that saw both men take a lot of punishment, but in the end Kuga ran out of gas whilst Furuhashi was like a man possessed, and put in the performance of his career.
Since then both men have picked up a single win, with Furushashi defending his title in a thrilling bout in August against Seigo Hanamori [花森 成吾] and Kuga beating former Japanese champion Ryoichi Tamura [田村亮一], in what was the third bout between the two men. Those win have ended up working out nicely for fans wanting to see Furuhashi and Kuga go again.
Over the weekend it was announced we would see a rematch between the two men on January 25th 2022 on a Phoenix Battle show, promoted by Hideyuki Ohashi, at Korakuen Hall. With the bout serving as Furuhashi's second defense of the title.
Given the punishment both men have taken over their careers, including their war against each other, it's hard to see where the loser would go, but the winner would potentially move towards a regional title fight later in the year.
The card, which will be shown in Hikari TV, will also feature touted prospect Junki Shirasaki (1-0) [白崎隼樹], the long awaited debut of Kotoji Irita (0-0) [入田 琴司], and the return of former 2-time world title challenger Masayuki Kuroda (30-8-3, 16) [黒田雅之], who hasn't fought in over 2 years due to recurring injury woes.
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.
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