Earlier today Japanese fans at the Korakuen Hall had the chance to attend "Fighting Bee 16", the latest in the Ichiriki series of shows. The card wasn't a high profile show but was one that looked fantastic for a Japanese domestic card with several well matched bouts, at least on paper. The bouts ended up giving the fans excitement, action and a genuinely notable upset.
The main event of the card was an 8 round bout between the world ranked Akihiro Kondo (24-6-1, 11) [近藤 明広] and the previously unbeaten Shogo Yamaguchi (9-1-1, 4) [山口 祥吾]. The bout looked like a big test for Yamaguchi and to begin with he looked up for the test with the youngster having a good start. In fact a strong case could be made for Yamaguchi winning the first 3 rounds. From then however Kondo turned things around, using his experience to up the tempo and take the fight to Yamaguchi who's lack of experience, especially at this sort of level, told. For the final 5 rounds Kondo bossed the action, though there were some competitive moments, with rounds 6 and 7 being particularly good for the former Japanese Lightweight champion. Despite the loss for Yamaguchi he did receive a lot of praise and it seems clear he will come again.
In an action packed support bout fans saw former amateur standout Naoto Uebayashi (9-1-1, 5) [上林 巨人] score a 3rd round TKO win against Naoaki Kumagai (7-4, 4) [熊谷 直昭]. On paper the result wasn't a shock but one against Uebayashi found himself on the canvas before fighting back to earn himself a win. Although he was a former amateur star the 29 year old Uebayashi has shown too many frailties to reach the heady heights expected of him, however he does seem to be in fun fights and will never be short of a fan given the way he fights, and the way he can be dropped by almost anyone who catches him. Although dropped in round in the opening round Uebayashi dropped Kumagai in round 2 and forced the finish in the third.
In a genuine upset we saw Uebayashi's stablemate Hikaru Marugame (5-1-1, 3)[丸亀 光] suffer his first defeat in an upset loss to Reiya Abe (11-2, 5) [阿部 麗也]. This bout was fought at a hectic pace with Abe throwing a lot of leather and leaving Marugame with a very nasty cut. Although cut Marugame's heart showed as he tried to turn the bout around but surprisingly looked out of his depth against the busier Abe, who scored a major win. For Marugame there is a good chance he'll bounce back but this is a second successive setback, following a draw to Jonathan Baat last year, and it may be fair to say that he's going to fall short of expectations.
Another bloody battle saw Yudai Arai (8-3-3, 4) [新井 雄大] score a 7th round TKO win over the gutsy Tatsuya Kaneko (7-12-3, 1) [金子 達也], with Kaneko suffering a badly bloodied nose along with other cuts, including a nasty one above hsi right eye.
Earlier this year we saw touted Japanese fighter Naoto Uebayashi (7-1-1, 4) suffer his first defeat, as he was stopped in the 8th round of a bout with tough Filipino Giovanni Escaner. The loss ended an 8 fight unbeaten run from Uebayashi, who had been a standout Japanese amateur, though more worryingly it showed serious flaws in Uebayashi's approach to action in the ring as well raising questions about his stamina and durability.
The loss was a serious set back for Uebayashi but it wasn't the end of the world, nor the end of his boxing career.
Today it was announced that Uebayashi would be returning, for his first fight since the loss, on October 19th in a bout with the limited and light hitting Atsushi Hosogai (7-9). The bout has clearly been organised to give Uebayashi a chance to rebuild his confidence against a relatively poor and safe opponent. It is however a must win for Uebayashi.
This bout has been the third announced for the show. The main event of the card will be a WBO female Bantamweight title fight, between Naoko Fujioka (13-1, 6) and South Korean visitor, Hee Jung Yuh (15-2, 6) whilst another bout will see prospect Hikaru Marugame (5-0, 3) face off against Japanese based Filipino veteran Jonathan Baat (29-6-3, 14).
For those who missed Uebayashi's loss to Escaner, it can be seen below, and if you did see it it's well worth another watch.
Hikaru Margume to put unbeaten record on the line against Jonathan Baat!
Naoko Fujioka's opponent for October 19th named!
It's fair to say almost every boxing fan was focusing on the action in Osaka earlier today, however there was also a show that took place in Tokyo, at the Korakuen Hall. This card didn't feature any world title bouts, in fact it featured no title bouts at all, however it did feature a number of really interesting match ups across a variety of levels.
One of those bouts saw unheralded Filipino Giovanni Escander (13-3, 9), who was ranked #3 by the OPBF at Flyweight, battle against touted Japanese prospect Naoto Uebayashi (7-1-1, 4), who was ranked #13 by the OPBF at Bantamweight.
On paper this was supposed to be another win for Uebayashi. He was "the bigger man" and had been hyped from early in his career following a notable amateur career that had seen him compile an excellent record of 88-14 (47) record. On paper Escaner was going to be the smaller, lighter, weaker fighter and the "designated loser" if you will
In reality however things couldn't have been much different to the expectations as Escaner proved his strength and ability. Instead of being respectful of his taller foe the Filipino was bullish and took the fight to Uebayashi. Almost from the off it was clear that Escaner was the stronger and more powerful man, a real worry for Uebayashi who had looked fragile at times in his career, notably being dropped by unknown Thai Imron Lookkhlongtan in his second professional bout and was also dropped by domestic foe Yusaku Kuga just 2 fights later.
Uebayashi was down again here, relatively early on before both men ended up being cut. The knockdown should have served as a reminder to Uebayashi that his chin wasn't the best and that he had to use his length advantage if he was going to win. Instead however Escaner repeatedly got inside and in round 8 he finally finished off the Japanese fighter who really has a lot of rebuilding to do if he's to even reach domestic title level.
For Escaner this was potentially a break out win. It was his second notable stoppage win in Japan, following a 7th round TKO against Junichi Ebisuoka last November. His record may not suggest it but as he proved here he's a fighter with the style, strength and toughness to really be a handful and we'd not be shocked to see him fighting in a title bout next time out, either domestically or at the OPBF level.
Much of the focus regarding tomorrow's boxing is being focused on Osaka where Japanese fans will get two world title fights as well as Japanese title fight and several other bouts of note. Whilst the Osaka card is a really exciting show it's far from the only card of the day and in Tokyo fans get another very good looking show with several intriguing match ups.
One of those bouts is a really intriguing Bantamweight clash between unbeaten Japanese prospect Naoto Uebayashi (7-0-1, 4) and promising Filipino Giovanni Escaner (12-3, 8).
Today the weigh in for that bout took place and we have been informed both men have made the weight, though no specifics have been given to us thus far.
Coming into this bout Escaner is ranked #3 by the OPBF at Flyweight, despite typically fighting as a Super Flyweight, whilst Uebayashi is ranked #13 at Bantamweight by the OPBF. Despite the difference in how they are ranked this bout is still expected to be something very exciting given Escaner's style and power and Uebayashi's fragility, that has already seen him being dropped several times in his short career.
On the same card will also be Hikaru Marugame (3-0, 2), a stable mate of Uebayashi's. From what we've been told both Marugame and his opponent, Wataru Miyasaka (9-2-1, 2), have made weight for their Super Bantamweight clash.
(Image of Uebayashi and Escaner courtesy of http://box-fitness-gym.com)
Unbeaten Japanese hopeful Naoto Uebayashi to battle highly ranked Filipino Giovanni Escaner on April 22nd
We've known for a while that Naoto Uebayashi (7-0-1, 4) would be back in the ring on April 22nd at the next "Fighting Bee" show. What we didn't know, until earlier today, is who he would be fighting. Given the fact that the show is only 4 weeks away we were fearing the worst and suspect that Uebayashi would be fighting someone with no real value, a brought in journeyman with an inflated record or a Thai body donor.
Thankfully, and surprisingly, we were informed that Uebayashi's opponent won't be a typical lesser foe, instead it will be the highly regarded Filipino punched Giovanni Escaner (12-3, 8). Not only is Escaner a good fighter but he is a man with proven quality, a record of travelling and a #4 OPBF ranking, albeit at Flyweight.
Escaner will be known by hardcore Japanese fans for his surprising 7th round TKO victory over Junichi Ebisuoka last November, giving Ebisuoka just his 5th stoppage loss in 47 fights. Whilst that is the sole standout win on Escaner's record he did run Marco Demecillo very close in a 2013 meeting and managed to go 12 rounds with former world champion Oleydong Sithsamerchai in October 2013.
On paper Escaner has gone 2-3 in his last 5 though he has been competitive in all 3 losses, including his stoppage loss to Jason Canoy and is far from a push over. Not only is her better than his record suggests but he's also a very solid puncher and we've seen Uebayashi go down several times in his career, not a good combination for the unbeaten Japanese fighter who same have tipped as a potential world title challenger.
Although Escaner is ranked at Flyweight he does seem to be a natural Super Flyweight, this bout however will be fought at Bantamweight where the size advantage could be Uebayashi's key to victory.
Promising prospect pair in action on April 22nd!
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