Earlier today at Korakuen Hall we had the first Japanese female bout since boxing's restart in the country almost 2 weeks ago. The bout wasn't a high profile one, but was a notable one as two JBC ranked female Flyweight's clashed in a 4 rounder.
The bout saw the younger, taller Nanako Suzuki (4-2, 1) [鈴木なな子] take a clear and dominant decision win over Aoi Watanabe (2-3, 1) [渡邉葵], and successful bounce back with a win more than 14 months after her last bout.
Prior to today Suzuki was last seen losing in Hong Kong to Renz Dacquel, in a bout that saw her being dropped. That was in May 2019, and following that loss it was unclear what Suzuki was going to look like when she returned to the ring, and what her confidence was like.
Today she answered those questions with a smooth, controlled and polished performance that saw her dictating the tempo from the off, counter well and attack the body. Watanabe was dropped before trying to turn the bout around later on. By then it was too little too later and she was in too much of a hole.
After 4 rounds the judges had this one 40-35, twice, and 39-36 to Suzuki who now looks to be closing in on a JBC title fight.
Earlier today we were informed that the 3 bout card at Korakuen Hall would go ahead with no issues at all after the fighters, their chief seconds and the referees all tested negative for anything related to the "current situation".
The event, which will be behind closed doors, will feature Kenta Nakagawa (18-3-1, 12) [中川 健太] defending Japanese Super Flyweight title in a Champion Carnival bout against Yuta Matsuo (15-4-2, 8) [松尾雄太], as the main event. The bout will be televised at the weekend on Fuji TV.
As well the title bout the show will also feature the debut of amateur standout Rentaro Kimura (0-0) [木村蓮太朗], who is up against Yuya Azuma (5-3-1, 1) [東祐也], in a bout we suspect could be tougher than it looks.
The other bout on the card will see Nanako Suzuki (3-2, 1) [鈴木なな子] take on Aoi Watanabe (2-2, 1) [渡邉葵] in what will be the first female bout in Japan since the restart of boxing.
As mentioned all 6 fighters are clear of any issues relating to the ongoing crisis.
Related - Nakagawa takes on Matsuo in first defense!
Tomorrow there will be a show at Korakuen Hall under the Diamond Glove banner. The she is a small one with just 3 bouts on it. One of those bouts is a female contest which will see Nanako Suzuki (3-2, 1) [鈴木なな子] take on Aoi Watanabe (2-2, 1) [渡邉葵] in a 4 round Light Flyweight bout.
On the scales Suzuki, the taller and younger woman, came in at 107.4lbs and looked in good shape as she looks to bounce back from a loss last year to Filipino Renz Dacquel in Hong Kong.
Watanabe came in slightly heavier, at around 107.6lbs, and is looking to build on her December win over Riyuna Yoshikawa. Interestingly both of her wins, so far, have come against debutants, and at the age of 36 she really needs a solid performance if she's to make a mark on the higher ends of the domestic scene.
Interestingly both women are Japanese fighters. Suzuki is ranked #3 by the JBC at Flyweight whilst Watanabe is ranked #6 at Flyweight. Despite their rankings both women are fighting at Light Flyweight here.
DEF Promotions, the Hong Kong based outfit that helped make Rex Tso a star, streamed their latest show through their Facebook account and it was an interesting one with a real international flavour thanks to fighters from across Asia.
Although much of the card was low level action it was entertaining and gave us some fantastic action.
The first bout saw 17 year old debutant Zhiqiang Zhuo (1-0) take a 4 round decision win over Chuan Hsun Hong (2-1, 1), with Hone being dropped twice, en route to to the loss. Zhuo would take the decision 38-36 on all 3 cards.
The second bout saw revenge, as Tom Taw (5-1, 2) avenged his 2017 loss to Tsun Yin Jeremy Lee (1-1), with the 4 round decision, in a very entertaining bout. Lee was dropped in round 2, from a series of hooks, and although he saw out the distance it was clear he was second best. A third bout, a rubber bout, between the two, maybe over 6 rounds, could be very worth making.
The third bout saw talented 21 year old local Lennon Tsoi (5-1, 4) bounce back from his first loss to stop Thai visitor Wichet Sengprakhon (8-6, 3). Tsoi dropped his man who retired in the corner between rounds 4 and 5 to give Tsoi the win.
One man who couldn't bounce back from a recent loss was Japan's Shogo Yamamoto (4-4, 1), who suffered a second successive stoppage loss. The Japanese visitor was beaten, bruised, busted open and then dropped by Napalese born Hong Kong based Nibesh Ghale (5-1, 4), with Yamamoto's team stopping the bout during the count. Ghale, who has now reeled off 5 straight wins since losing to Kuok Kun Ng way back in 2013, looked really fun to watch, but he clearly needs to be kept in these lower level bouts for quite some time due to his technical deficiencies.
Filipino Renz Dacquel (2-1, 1) made things worse for the travelling Japanese contingent as she beat 19 year old Nanako Suzuki (3-2, 1) in an entertaining 4 round female bout. Suzuki, who had been one of the focal points of the promotion, came out swinging, but was dropped in the first round and seemed to be under a lot of pressure in the early going. Likely feeling a lot of expectation on her shoulders. In round 4 Suzuki managed to have her best success, hurting Dacquel, but she was unable to drop the Filipino, who earned the win with scores of 39-36. This is a big win for Dacquel but also an excellent learning experience for Suzuki who showed improvement through out the bout, and had it been a 6 rounder may well have dropped Dacquel and managed to pull out a result. A rematch of this, down the line, makes a lot of sense.
The quality then took a huge step up in class, as the talented young Lap Cheong Cheong (6-0, 4), from Macau, faced Indonesian Muhammad Wahid (4-2, 1). Cheong Cheong showed his class in the opening round, showing why he is regarded as a real boxing hope for Macau, but Wahid chose to play spoiler and began making things messy the following round. Round 3 again saw the Indonesian having some great moments but Cheong's skills were still on show and he finished the round with a determined body assault. In round 4 things stepped up massively with the two trading blows towards the end of the round, with Cheong looking like he was determined to see off his man.
The determination of Cheong to stop Wahid was again on show in round 5, as he cornered his man and went to work. By this point Cheong was becoming sloppy, as his work rate was taking a toll on his crispness, but he seemed really hungry to take the Indonesian out and continued pressing hard in round 6, testing Wahid's resolve to the final bell. It was as if Cheong wouldn't accept the win without it coming by stoppage, despite clearly being up on the scorecards. Impressively Wahid survived the 6 rounds, but there was no doubting the result, with all 3 judges scoring the bout 60-54 to Cheong.
The co-feature so unbeaten men colliding, as Japan's Ren Sasaki (9-0, 6) and China's Ge An Ma (6-1, 1) faced off. From the opening bell Ma was the aggressor, trying to march down the 2017 All Japan Rookie of the Year, he had mixed success but was proving to be hungry and aggressive throughout the first 3 minutes. Sadly for Ma his aggression cost him early in round 2, as he charged in and ate counters from the more technically schooled Japanese fighter, though his continued charge through the round saw him hurting Sasaki later in round, in what was a brilliant 3 minutes of action.
Ma continued to be ultra aggressive in round 3, trudging forward behind a tight guard, before unloading with hooks when in range, catching Sasaki from some unorthodox angles. Despite continuing to be aggressive his work rate was slowing and Sasaki was getting a better read on Ma, countering well, and landing the better blows whilst maintaining his range. The exhaustion was getting Ma as the rounds went on, and more and more mistakes were being made by him, whilst his work rate was grinding to a halt. In round 6 Sasaki jump on a mistake, rocking him in the corner and leaving him cut. The referee quickly intervened and stopper the bout, saving Ma and giving Sasaki the TKO win, saving Japanese fighters from a white wash on the show.
In the main event we saw Hong Kong's top prospect Raymond Poon KaiChing (7-2, 4) take on Chinese visitor Xiang Li (7-2-1, 2) for a trio of minor regional titles. Poon,the popular local, brought the pressure to begin with, and did so in a very intelligent manner, though by the end of the round Li was starting to find his range and tagging Poon with love sharp combinations of straight shots out of the southpaw stance.
As the fight went on Li began to stay in the pocket more, and even come forward at times, but never seemed able to budge the naturally stronger Poon. Li was having moments, but they seemed to be out numbered by the more eye catching blows of Poon through the first 4 rounds.
In round 5 Li managed to have his first real break through as he picked up his output and and started to essentially suffocate Poon with his offensive work, not giving Poon any time to catch his breath. Poon would manage to create some space to work in round 6, though Li continued to press, really hammering the body of Poon up close in what was a brilliant 3 minutes of action. The incredible action continued in round 7, a round that swung one way then the other, as both men began to tire. The crowd tried to spur on the local, with a loud "Raymond" chant, but it seemed to inspire Li just as much as Poon.
Despite both having put a lot into the fight neither wanted to just accept a loss and the final rounds saw both fighters getting their second wind. The final 2 rounds were excellent, with both tiredly unloading leather, neither man willing to leave anything in the tank. Poon was the man pressing but Li was working excellently at mid range, unloading and using his speed and straight punches to try and impress the judges in the last moments of the bout.
After 10 rounds it was hard call the winner of the main event. Poon was the local, the crowd favourite and seemed likely to get the close rounds, Li had been the better boxer, landing the high volume if shots and looking the more accomplished boxer. The scores came in, 96-94, 99-91 and 97-93. The second score causing some real confusion, before Li was announced as the winner.
We had Li winning, but it was close, hotly contested and well worth a re-watch. It's one of the hidden gems of the year, and every fan owes it to themselves to give this one a watch before the year is over.
Whilst the card was certainly not a top level show, it was entertaining and DEF HK know how to put on a good lower level card or well matched bouts. Hopefully these continue, despite loss for Poon. Even in defeat his reputation was enhanced.
Over the last 24 hours sources from China have revealed that Def Promotions, the biggest promotional group in Hong Kong, are looking to promote a card in May featuring several major bouts. The details are scarce, though there some details out there suggesting talks have began to try and piece the card together and for Def Promotions to work with Watanabe Promotions and Aoki Promotions.
From what has been leaked it would be early May, with May 6th deemed the most likely date, though could be a day or two earlier. The show would take place in Hong Kong, and 3 fighters mentioned for the card.
Those fighters are Takuya Watanabe (35-8-1, 20) [渡邉卓也], who is rumoured to be fighting for the OPBF Super Featherweight title, Nanako Suzuki (3-1, 1) [鈴木なな子] and Hong Kong's very own Raymond Poon (7-1, 4) [潘啟情].
We need to state these appear to be very, very, early plans from Def, and TBS was also mentioned by the sources as being a key part of the plans, perhaps hinting at their being bigger plans involving a world title fight, though no world champion was mentioned by the sources.
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