In Europe and many former British colonies the day after Christmas is called "Boxing Day". Whilst certainly not a global thing it is certainly something of note and a term that a good portion of the world will be aware of. We don't that would include Japan, but for whatever reason, today been a day where Japan has provided with boxing day action, thanks to a stream from the brilliant team at A-Sign Boxing.
The event kicked off with a competitive affair as Kojiro Nishikawa (5-2-1, 2) [西川 宏次郎] battled to a draw with Daiju Kogo (4-2-1, 3) [向後 大寿] over 6 rounds.
The opening round was a good one for Nishikawa, who seemed in control though out the round. In round 2 Kogo managed to rock Nishikawa, and really went for a finish in the final 40 seconds, though sadly seemed to punch himself out. From there the pace never really recovered, and was instead white a low paced bout with Nishikawa pressing forward and Kogo moving well and countering.
After 6 rounds the judges couldn't split the men, with one judge scoring the bout a narrow win to Kogo, another having it as a win for Nishikawa, whilst the third hard it level at 57-57, to result in a draw. It wasn't the best way to kick off the show, but it was a solid 6 rounder.
In the second bout on the card we saw Takuya Yamaguchi (4-12-3, 2) [山口 拓也] and Masashi Noguchi (13-12-1, 6) [野口 将志] clash for the second time in just over 13 months.
From the off Yamaguchi was firing off wild, wide, looping hooks, and power shots. He was certainly putting in a huge effort, but was being made to miss, a lot. Noguchi, who looked the much more polished, was landing cleaner shots but wasn't letting his hands go much, and was often made to back up, despite landing some very nice, clean jabs.
The bout was a hard one to score as we went into round 6, the final round. That round ended up being sensational back and forth stanza of action, that saw both men looking about spent. Both men looked ready to go at multiple points but gritted it out, recovered and fought back, showing their will to win. After 6 rounds the judges turned in scores of 58-56, each way and 58-57 to Noguchi, giving him the split decision win, and levelling the series between the two men, who are now 1-1.
In the third bout on the show we saw bombs being traded as Kai Chiba (13-1, 8) [千葉開] over-came youngster Haruki Ishikawa (8-3, 6) [石川春樹] in a pretty one-sided, but entertaining, 8 round contest.
Through the bout it seemed Chiba did everything better than Ishikawa. He was quicker, sharper, stronger, and more accurate than Ishikawa, who struggled to get the respect of his hard hitting foe. To his credit however Ishikawa changed tactics in round 6, and tried to turn counter puncher, boxing off the ropes rather than taking center ring. The new tactics had mixed success. The change saw Ishikawa landing more often than he had earlier, but he was still being out landed every round.
The only real change was round 8, where the two men stood and traded bombs through the entire round. It was, sadly for Ishikawa, not enough and after 8 rounds it was hard to give him anything, with Chiba the clear winner. The scores here were 80-72, twice, and 79-73, all for Chiba, the worthy winner.
This was a solid win for Chiba, who looked as good as he ever has and showed good timing and understanding of the ring. He now seems ready for a title fight of some kind at 118lbs, and he really looked crisp, sharp and powerful through out. As for Ishikawa, this was a second straight loss, and he probably does need an easier fight or two to rebuild his confidence.
We saw the "reimported boxer" Shoki Sakai (25-11-2, 12) [坂井 祥記] battle against Takeru Kobata (8-5-1, 3) [小畑 武尊] in the fourth bout on the show and this was another entertaining little war, even if it was another rather one sided bout.
Sakai, fighting in Japan for just the second time, forced the action through much of the contest, pressing forward and trying to out work and out hustle Koabata. Impressively the youngster showed real maturity and composure under the pressure from Sakai, and tried to pick his spots to fight back. Sakai seemed the much stronger, more powerful and more aggressive fighter though out the bout, but credit to Kobata for holding his own in there, and not wilting under Sakai's attacks. In fact Kobata did enough to earn a round or two here and though and proved to be much better than his record suggests.
After 8 rounds Sakai took the decision with scores of 79-73, twice, and 77-75. He deserved the win, but Kobata deserves his share of plaudits, and we suspect he will learn from this loss and, one day down the line, find himself in the domestic title mxx.
The most impressive performance on the card came from the hard hitting Jin Sasaki (10-0, 9) [佐々木尽], who claimed the JBC Youth Light Welterweight title with a destructive TKO3 win over the usually tough Aso Ishiwaki (8-3-1, 6) [石脇麻生].
This was the bout we expected to be something special and it was. From the opening moments. Sasaki set off with the intention of stopping Ishiwaki, and threw bombs almost immediately. Ishiwaki, to his credit fought back, and the two men traded some heavy leather until Ishiwaki was rocked by a right hand, and then dropped by a follow up hook. Ishiwaki got back to his feet but was dropped again towards the end of the opening round as Sasaki looked for a 4th straight opening round win.
Ishiwaki managed to recover brilliantly and cleared his head as we went into round 2, which was a much quieter round until the final minute when Sasaki put his foot on the gas. Ishiwaki responded well, but it was clear that Sasaki was the much stronger, more powerful and more talented fighter. That power and strength showed it's self again in round 3, as Sasaki let Ishiwaki fight up close before decking him for a third time with a brutal flurry of big head shots. With blood coming out of his nose, and 3 knockdowns against him the referee saved Ishiwaki from further punishment, waving off the bout immediately.
This was a real statement from Sasaki. We expected this to be a real test for him, and saw this as a near 50/50 fight. Instead he made it look easy, dropping a tough guy like Ishiwaki 3 times in 3 rounds, was incredibly impressive. This sort of win, at the age of 19, surely marks Sasaki as one of the most exciting prospects in Japan, and one to keep an eye on long term. As for Ishiwaki, this is going to be a hard one to bounce back from, but he's still young and can certainly come again.
In the penultimate bout of the show we saw former 2-time world title challenger Ryo Akaho (36-2-2, 24) [赤穂亮] take on youngster Yuto Nakamura (11-6-1, 8) [中村 祐斗] in what turned out to be a massive mismatch.
After a somewhat competitive opening round we saw the two men go in to a shoot out in round 2 and that was only ever going to favour Akaho. The veteran now only had the edge in experience but also power, toughness and natural size, being a Super Bantamweight taking on a Super Flyweight. Midway through the round Nakamura was rocked by to hooks before Akaho landed a massive right uppercut that dropped Nakamura hard, forcing the bout to be stopped.
For the 34 year old Akaho this was his 40th bout and sadly we're not sure he will ever get a third shot a world title. On this performance however can still make for very fan friendly bouts and could still act as a great draw on these A-Sign cards. As for Nakamura, we really need to wonder who thought it was a good idea for him to move up to Super Bantamweight for this bout.
In the main event of the show we saw a really interesting match up at Lightweight as former WBO Super Featherweight champion Masayuki Ito (26-3-1, 14) [伊藤 雅雪]battled reigning OPBF Super Featherweight champion Hironori Mishiro (10-0-1, 3) [三代大訓] in a 10 round Lightweight bout.
From the very opening moments it was clear this was going to be a high level, high skill, high speed technical battle. The opening round saw Mishiro making the most of his excellent jab, landing it repeatedly, whilst Ito looked to land the heavier leather, from his right hand. That laid down the pattern for much of the fight, with Mishiro easily winning at range, with his jab a constant and effective weapon when he was on the move, but Ito was landing the power shots when the two exchanged, and when Mishiro held his feet.
After a few very close rounds early on, it seemed that Ito found his groove and was starting to outland Mishiro on a fairly regular basis, racking up the points through out the middle rounds. It seemed those rounds had seen him establish control on the scorecards, though the rounds were still hotly competitive, before Ito seemed to begin to tighten his grip on the bout in the second half of the fight. In round 10 the pace picked up from both, and in the final stages Ito seemed to be temporarily hurt, but shook it off quickly as we went to the final bell.
After 10 rounds it felt like Ito had done enough to take a close, competitive, but clear decision. The judges however saw it differently, with one judge scoring it 95-95, a draw, and the other two over ruling them going 96-94 in favour of Mishiro, who got the majority decision, and the notable upset victory.
On December 26th we'll see former WBO Super Featherweight champion Masayuki Ito (26-2-1, 14) [伊藤 雅雪] battling current OPBF champion Hironori Mishiro (9-0-1, 3) [三代大訓], in a bout at Lightweight. The contest is one of the most interesting on the Japanese schedule at the moment, and today we learned a lot more about the event as a whole.
The big story for those in Japan is that former Japanese baseball player and current actor and commentator Kazushige Nagashima will feature as a special guest at the event, along with former WBC Bantamweight champion Shinsuke Yamanaka [山中慎介]. Although we're not 100% it would make sense for the two to do guest commentary given that both have done commentary in recent years.
For our readers however we suspect the more important thing isn't the commentary and guests but the under-card and it turns out that it's going to be a decent one, with out being a spectacular one.
In a low level under-card bout will see Kojiro Nishikawa (5-2, 2) [西川宏次郎] battle Daiju Kogo (4-2, 3) [向後大寿] in the curtain raising 6 rounder. Neither of these men are really too notable, but they should be evenly matched and should make for an interesting contest to kick the event off.
In another of the lower level under-card bouts we'll see cult hero Takuya Yamaguchi (4-12-2, 2) [山口拓也] take on former Japanese Lightweight title contender Masashi Noguchi (12-12-1, 6) [野口将志]. On paper this is maybe not a great fight, but sometimes paper, and records aren't worth anything. Yamaguchi is a 35 year old, naturally charismatic fighter who made a star of himself earlier year when a documentary filmed by the A-Sign team showed the conditions he lived him, and saw him raise a huge amount of money through crowd funding set up by the promoter. Noguchi on the other hand is a struggling fighter who has lost his last 7, and this is a real chance for him to turn around his fortune. It's also a chance for Yamaguchi to get a feel good win to end the year.
The show will also feature the rescheduled bout between Kai Chiba (12-1, 8) [千葉開] and Haruki Ishikawa (8-2, 6) [石川春樹], who were supposed to fight in October before Ishikawa was forced to cancel the bout due to a Covid19 infection. Given how excited we were about the bout in October this is a brilliant addition to the card, and one we are still really looking forward to. Expect fireworks!
"Reimported boxer" Shoki Sakai (24-11-2, 12) [坂井 祥記], who had previously been confirmed for the card, had his opponent named as 22 year old Takeru Kobata (8-4-1, 3) [小畑 武尊], who is looking to build on wins over Wellem Reyk and Change Hamashima. Coming in to this Sakai will be the huge favourite, but given how he looked on his Japanese debut earlier this year we can't wait to see him in the ring. His style, aggression and tenacity are great to watch and should make this a fan friendly bout, even if it is a mismatch.
Also previously confirmed for this show was Ryo Akaho (35-2-2, 23) [赤穂亮] who has had his opponent for the show named as Japanese ranked Super Flyweight Yuto Nakamura (11-5-1, 8) [中村 祐斗]. Akaho, a former 2-time world title challenger and world ranked Super Bantamweight will be expected to take an easy win here, though it will be his first bout in 14 months and the 34 year old veteran really is in need of activity if he's to land a third shot at a world title. As for Nakamura he's a former Japanese Youth Champion, and we don't see him having the size, or power to compete with Akaho at 122lbs, which is where this bout will be taking place.
Earlier today Japanese Featherweight Reiya Abe (18-2, 9) [阿部 麗也] continued his great run, as he stopped former Japanese Lightweight title challenger Masashi Noguchi (12-11-1, 6) [野口 将志] in a thoroughly one-sided contest that ended when the referee saved Noguchi.
The bout started slowly, with winning the first 4 rounds whilst still in first gear. Noguchi, who looked apprehensive and worried, was over cautious, negative and looked like a fighter filled with self doubt. Things didn't help when Noguchi threw shots and repeatedly missed whilst being tagged by jabs and straight shots from Abe, who looked several leagues above Noguchi.
In round 5 we finally saw Abe go through the gears and begin to put a beating on Noguchi, who's best offense through the rounds was a series of accidental headbutts. Those headbutts did little to prevent him from taking more damage as Abe began to look like the flowing fighter we had become accustomed to in recent years. The aggressive work of Abe during the round saw him drop Noguchi and really rip him a new one.
Abe continued to put a beating on Noguchi in round 6. He would drop Noguchi again before backing him on to the ropes and forcing the referee to stop the bout and save Noguchi from any further punishment, which seemed to be getting more and main hurtful by the round.
Following the bout Abe confirmed his next bout would be a Japanese title fight, and it seems almost certain that he will be facing Taiki Minamoto (16-5, 13) [源大輝] in the 2019 Champion Carnival, in what should be a really fantastic match up, and something to be very excited about.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Tomorrow fight fans in Japan will be able to see the fantastic, yet criminally under-rated, Reiya Abe (17-2, 8) [阿部 麗也] take on former Japanese title challenger Masashi Noguchi (12-10-1, 6) [野口 将志], in a bout contracted at 58.5KG's.
Today the two men took part in their weigh and both made weight whilst looking in great shape.
On the scales Abe was 58.4KG, or 128.75lbs and looked great, full of confidence and looking forward to the future. Originally he had planned to have a Japanese Featherweight title eliminator on this show, but none of the other leading contenders were happy to face him, so instead he's facing Noguchi in a bit of a stay busy fight before challenging Taiki Minamoto (16-5, 13) [源大輝] for the Japanese Featherweight title. That bout will be Abe's first title bout, and given his form it's a well over-due shot at some gold.
Noguchi, who lost in a Japanese Lightweight title fight to Shuhei Tsuchiya way back in 2016, has struggled for form coming into this bout and is riding a 5 fight losing streak. On the scales he was 128.53lbs, or 58.3KG's, and looked good on the scales. He spoke confidently of building on recent performances and getting back to winning ways, using those losses as a learning experience.
For fans who can't make it to the Korakuen Hall to watch this in the flesh, it will be televised live on G+.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
At the end of June we were informed that Yuta Saito (10-9-3, 7) [齊藤裕太] would face off with Eita Kikuchi (21-5-4, 8) [菊地永太] to fill the vacancy of the Japanese Bantamweight champion, with that bout taking place on September 1st. At the time there was no details on the under-card, though with it being the headline bout of an A-sign Bee card we did expect something of quality on the show.
This morning A-Sign took to twitter to confirm some of the details of the card.
The chief support bout was confirmed as being a contest between Reiya Abe (17-2, 8) [阿部 麗也] and Masashi Noguchi (12-10-1, 6) [野口 将志]. Originally the hope had been for Abe to fight in a Japanese challenger decision bout, a Japanese title eliminator, sadly however none of the ranked challengers wanted to face Abe so instead the Noguchi bout will take place above the divisional limit. From what we understand Abe however will not miss out on a Japanese title fight, and will instead got a shot at the Japanese Featherweight title next year at the Champion Carnival.
Another bout on this card will feature popular American born Japanese based fighter Charles Bellamy (27-3-2, 18) facing off with Yuto Shimizu (12-3-2, 5) [清水優人]. The 36 year old Bellamy has been out of the ring since January, when he took out a Thai visitor in 2 rounds, and will be looking to get his career back on track after some recent bouts of inactivity. Interestingly Shimizu has been out of the ring a little long, after having last fought in December 2017. This bout is a must win for both and should prove pretty entertaining given the styles of both fighters.
The card will also feature Ryohei Takahashi (15-3-1, 6) [高橋竜平], though his opponent is yet to be announced and will be confirmed closer to the date of the card.
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