The first bout of the show saw former female All Japan Amateur Champion Satsuki Ito (1-0) [伊藤 沙月] kick off her professional campaign with a straight forward victory over Thai visitor Saowaluk Nareepangsri (11-19, 5), who is trained by former world champion Sirimongkol Singwancha. From the off Ito was measured, fighting behind her jab, and looking to land right hands against her smaller foe. The Thai proved to tag clean, due to her diminutive stature, but she also provided little offense. By round 4 Ito decided to change tactics, going to the body more, and having success as a result. Knowing she was behind Saowaluk came out swinging more in round 6, but that gave Ito more chances as she eased to a clear victory on debut.
The second bout also saw a successful debut for a Japanese fighter as former amateur star Hayato Tsutsumi (1-0) [堤 駿斗] took a wide 8 round decision over upset minded Filipino fighter Jhon Gemino (23-14-1, 13). On paper this was a serious test for Tsutsumi, against a man with a reputation for destroying unbeaten records. Tsutsumi seemed to be aware of Gemino's reputation and boxed well using crisp, clean punches to get Geminoi's respect, including a nasty straight right in the opening round, and several solid left hooks in round 2. Gemino began to get going in round 3, though struggled to land much clean as Tsutsumi's guard did well, and he also managed to land some good body shots through the round. Gemino continued to try and press the action in round 4, though got caught by some nasty shots as Tsutusmi showed great composure and a good boxing brain. The final rounds saw Tsutsumi slow down somewhat, but still pick apart Gemino with clean, effective, counter shots, especially right hands. Gemino took them without ever looking hurt, but he was also never really competitive. After 8 rounds two judges had this a shut out, whilst the third judge gave Gemino a single round, as Tsutusmi got his professional career off to a very good start, against the #5 ranked OPBF Featherweight contender.
The third bout also went the distance, and saw Japan go 2-0 against the Philippines, as Musashi Mori (13-1, 7) [森 武蔵] took a hard fought 8 round decision against the hard hitting Presco Carcosia (10-2-1, 9). Mori seemed to start well, getting into a groove early on and showed an educated lead hand. He was however under pressure with Carcosia having moments through out the middle portion of the bout, and looking very dangerous with his over-hand rights. Mori, to his credit, never seemed in too much trouble, but Carcosia seemed like the type of fighter who only needed to land clean once to cause problems, and Mori know it. In the 8th round Carcosia found out he wasn't the only one with some power, as Mori managed to drop the Filipino in the later stages of the fight, to score the only knockdown of the bout. The knockdown came from an attack to the body, but their wasn't enough time after the knockdown for Mori to jump on Carcosia, who looked about spent. After 8 rounds the scored were 80-71, 78-73 and 77-74 all in favour of Mori.
Things were much, much, much tougher for former WBC Flyweight champion Daigo Higa (18-2-1, 17) [比 嘉 大吾], who narrowly over-came former world title challenger Froilan Saludar (32-6-1, 22), and had to go through hell to take home the win with a split decision. Higa looked aggressive early on, but it wasn't long until Saludar began to relax, create space and landed some clean shots of his own, showing that he wasn't there to just make up the numbers. Higa's aggression would see the two men come close, and in round 3 that left him suffering a cut over the right eye from a clash of heads, that seemed to bother him as Saludar landed some solid shots through the round.
Things went from bad to worse for Higa who would find himself on the canvas in round 4, as a huge right hook dropped the former champion, who barely survived the round, and was forced to hold on. Had the knockdown happened early in the round there is a real chance Higa would have ended up being dropped a second time, but he gritted it out. From there on he seemed to become more defensively responsible, whilst pressing, using his stamina and hunger to try and turn things around. That drive from Higa was incredible and in round 7 he had Saludar in all sorts of trouble, as the Filipino seemed to be running close to empty. Saludar was again under intense pressure in the final round, as Saludar did what he could to survive the whirlwind assault of Higa. After 8 rounds it felt incredibly close, with a real sense that Higa might have lost. On the scorecards one judge had the bout 77-75 to Saludar, though thankfully for Higa that judge was over-ruled by scores of 76-75 and 76-74 in favour of Higa.
Worrying for Higa this bout, like his loss to Ryosuke Nishida, shows he's not a natural Bantamweight, and his future really is limited at the weight. As for Saludar this performance was a really solid one, and despite losing 3 of his last 4, he is still very much a gate keeper, and we wouldn't be surprised to see him landing more notable bouts on the back of this performance.
Ioka Vs Nietes II under-card announced, featuring Higa, Mori and Tsutsumi's debut!
At the start of June WBO Super Flyweight champion Kazuto Ioka (28-2, 15) [井岡一翔] held a press conference and announced the date of his rematch with Filipino great Donnie Nietes (43-1-6, 23), which we know is now set for July 13th. Today we saw the main under-card for the show being announced and unsurprisingly the show will act as a showcase of Shisei Gym fighters.
The chief support bout for the show will see former WBC Flyweight champion Daigo Higa (17-2-1, 17) [比 嘉 大吾] take on former world title challenger Froilan Saludar (32-5-1, 22) in a scheduled 8 rounder at Bantamweight. For Higa this is a must win after losing his most recent bout against Ryosuke Nishida, and knowing that another loss, especially to someone like Saludar, would end any hopes of him getting another world title fight. Sadly for Higa he is a long way removed to the fighter who was 15-0 (15) and much of his appeal has faded since losing the WBC Flyweight title to Cristofer Rosales. As for Saludar he's still very serviceable as a regional contender, and even with 5 losses he's proven his worth, only losing to Andrew Moloney, Ryoji Fukunaga, Sho Kimura, who was the then WBO Flyweight champion, Takuma Inoue and McWilliams Arroyo. Saludar is no push over but will go into this as the clear under-dog.
Another major supporting bout will see former regional champion Musashi Mori (12-1, 7) [森 武蔵] take on big punching Filipino Presco Carcosia (10-1-1, 9) in a really solid 8 round Super Featherweight match up. For Mori the bout marks his first since a May 2021 loss to Satoshi Shimizu, in what was a well contested bout against the Olympic Bronze medal winner, and it'll be interesting to see how he looks after more than a year of inactivity. As for Carcosia his wins have come at a low level, on the domestic Filipino scene, but he did show how good he was in his sole defeat, losing a split decision in Australia to Jai Alexander. The bout should serve as a genuine test for both men, and a good chance to see what Mori is like at 130lbs.
The real talking point for this card, other than the main event, is the highly anticipated debut of former Japanese amateur standout Hayato Tsutsumi (0-0) [堤駿斗]. Tsutsumi will begin his career in an 8 round Featherweight clash against well travelled Filipino Jhon Gemino (23-13-1, 13). Tsutusmi was a genuinely sensational Japanese amateur, and will go in to this bout with a lot of pressure on him to not just win, but to win in style. Gemnino on the other hand will look to play his usual role of upset minded nightmare. Although his record might not suggest it, Gemnino is a genuine banana skin for really good fighters, and he has upset fighters on the road before with wins against the likes of Arnold Alejandro (then 11-0), Carlos Ornelas (then 22-1), Sho Nakazawa (then 11-2), Toka Kahn Clary (then 19-0), Toto Helebe (then 17-6). This is a dangerous debut for Tsutsumi, but a win immediately puts him in the mix for regional titles, with Gemino entering ranked highly by the OPBF.
Earlier today former Japanese amateur virtuoso Hayato Tsutsumi [堤駿斗] took part in his B-class pro-test bout at Korakuen Hall, sparring 3 rounds with former WBO Asia Pacific Featherweight champion Musashi Mori (12-1, 7) [森武蔵].
The sparring wasn't the most interesting and Tsutsumi himself seemed to be really honest and say he held back, a lot despite that he showed good defensive skills, and nice counter punching. Regarding the spar Tsutusmi stated "It was the second time I had sparred since the World Championships (October last year) and it was hard today. I give myself 50-60 points (out of 100). It was a decent, though not good."
Throughout the session he found a home for his straight right to the body and right uppercuts, and pressured well in the final round. He showed there was a lot on offer, but didn't give much away, explaining “Because it was a test, I showed the basics and the defense," and adding "I haven't shown anything that will lead to the finish today. I want to show it in the debut match." Notably though he did pick it up when he realised this wasn't a private session "I noticed when I went up to the ring, but I thought that it was seen by various people. When I looked up between the rounds, the reporter was looking at me. I thought that I could not show an embarrassing appearance from now on."
As for the future, Tsutusmi has stated he wants to be "A fighter who can be seen by everyone and attracts people to come to the venue. And I want to be a boxer who is highly regarded in the world."
Earlier today it was announced that former Japanese amateur stand out Hayato Tsutsumi [堤駿斗] had made his decision to hang up the vest, and head from being a star of amateur boxing to beginning his professional boxing journey.
The 22 year old held a press conference today to announced that he had signed professional papers with the Shisie Boxing Gym, the same gym that promotes WBO Super Flyweight champion Kazuto Ioka (28-2, 15) [井岡一翔], along with Featherweight contender Musashi Mori (12-1, 7) [森 武蔵] and former world champion Daigo Higa (17-2-1, 17) [比 嘉 大吾].
At the press conference the talented Tsutsumi explained that "I wanted to miss the Olympics and go to the pros sooner, but before that I decided to go to the world championships. I entrusted my dream of participating in the Paris Olympics (2024) to my brother Reito (19). I can go to the professionals refreshingly."
Notable whilst still an amateur he was regularly a sparring partner of Japanese sensation Naoya Inoue (22-0, 19) [井上 尚弥]. That led many to believe he was going to be the next notable name to join the Ohashi Gym, however Tsutsumi explained that he went to the Shisei gym due to it being "a good environment for fighting the world". He also added that "I would like advice if there is an opportunity", in regards to learning from Ioka.
There was also a third reason why he didn't sign with the Ohashi Gym, with Tsutsumi revealing that he wants to fight Inoue one day, and that's not something that happens when fighters are promoted by the same gym in Japan.
Regarding his aims in the sport, Tsutsumi explained "I want to be a world champion as soon as possible. I want to grab the world's belt and inspire my brother before he participates in the Paris Olympics". His journey to world titles will begin later this month, when he takes part in his B class pro-test, in late April. The next step after that will be his debut, which is being planned for either June or August, and could potentially take place on a Kazuto Ioka under-card.
Satoshi Shimizu vacates regional title
Earlier today we were informed by sources in Japan that hard hitting Japanese Featherweight Satoshi Shimizu (10-1, 9) [清水 聡] was no longer the unified OPBF and WBO Asia Pacific Featherweight champion, with "Diamond Fist" having now vacated his WBO regional title.
At the moment there hasn't been any word as to why Shimizu has made this decision. It is a notable move however as he only unified the regional titles earlier this year, when he beat Musashi Mori (12-1, 7) [森 武蔵] in a hotly contested bout back in May. One thing that is known is that Shimizu has long been wanting a world title fight and that's likely what he and his team are going to be looking at in 2022. At the time of writing he is ranked by both the WBO and the WBC.
The 35 year old Shimizu, who won a bronze medal at the 2012 Olympics in London, is still holding the OPBF title, and it's likely that if he can't land a world title fight, or world title eliminator next, he'll defend his Oriental title.
Interestingly Japanese Featherweight champion Hinata Maruta (11-1-1, 9) [丸田陽七太] is the #1 ranked contender for the now vacant title, whilst Reiya Abe (21-3-1, 9) [阿部麗也] is ranked #3. Both of these men fight tomorrow at Korakuen Hall, and if they both win they would likely be meeting early next year, now potentially in a double title bout.
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