Earlier today at Korakuen Hall we had the latest round of East Japan Rookie of the Year bouts, with the show hosting the first set of semi-finals. The bouts, which will be made available on Boxing Raise, have all finished and we now know a good number of the fighters set to compete in the East Japan final.
The first fighter to go through to the final was Minimumweight Ryo Sasaki (4-2, 1) [佐々木 凌] who qualified after 20 year old Tatsuki Fujioka (0-1-1) [藤岡 立樹] abstained from the contest.
The first actual fight on the show saw 35 year old Hayato Aoki (4-0, 3) [青木 勇人] score a 4th round TKO win over 27 year old Yota Mihara (3-1, 3) [三原 陽太] at Light Flyweight. Mihara started this one one well, but Aoki found his groove and then forced a stoppage in mid-way into round 4 to secure his place in the East Japan final.
A second bout between unbeaten men came at Flyweight, and this was a blink and you miss it affair. The bout saw the hard hitting Shugo Namura (4-0, 4) [苗村 修悟] defeat 20 year old Teppei Saito (3-1, 2) [齋藤 哲平] in just 53 seconds! Saito was down within seconds. He got back to his feet but was down again soon afterwards and the referee waved this one off. This was a statement from Namura who looks like he will be a genuine handful.
Another man who looks a genuine handful is Super Flyweight sensation Kosuke Tomioka (4-0, 3) [富岡 浩介] who needed just 43 seconds to defeat Yota Sato (2-1, 2) [佐藤 陽太]. The 18 year old Tomioka landed a sensational left hook that forced the referee to wave this one off very early on. Tomioka, regarded as one of the favourites for the All Japan Rookie of the Year, really couldn't have asked for a better outcome today and we're looking forward to seeing him back in the ring in the East Japan final.
After a string of stoppages the crowd saw a bout go the distance at Bantamweight, as the light punching Norichika Kozu (6-1, 1) [神津 徳臣] took a 4 round majority decision win over Asato Mori (4-3, 3) [森 朝登]. This bout was scored rather oddly, with one judge having it a shut out and another having it even. Kozu used his reach well to control the action at times, but Mori came to win and gave a genuine account, even if he was on the wrong end of Kozu's long, straight shots on a regular basis.
At Super Bantamweight we also had a decision with Ryuya Nihei (5-0-1, 1) [二瓶 竜弥] narrowly defeating Arata Yoshioka (2-3-1, 2) [吉岡 新]. The unbeaten Nihei found himself in a real tough one here as Yoshioka came to win and gave him hell. Yoshioka was persistent, and stubborn, but in the end the judges, narrowly, favoured Nihei to give him the split decision victory. This was a very close bout.
In the penultimate bout of the show Kazunori Hirano (3-0, 3) [平野 和憲] extended his unbeaten record with a 4th round TKO win over Ren Kakimoto (3-2) [柿元 蓮] in a Featherweight bout. This was a war, with bombs being thrown by both, particularly in round 3. Sadly for Kakimoto his great effort early on came for nought when the referee was forced to save him mid-way through round 4.
The final bout came at Super Featherweight and saw Dominique Kenshin (5-1, 2) [ドミニク謙心] take a clear decision win over Nobuo Maruoka (4-3, 2) [丸岡 宣男]. This wasn't the best of bouts. The younger, fresher, faster Kenshin tried to keep this at range, whilst Maruoka tried to get the fight on the inside. As a result there was a lot of clinching and a lot of messiness. Despite that it ended up being a rather clear and straight forward win for Kenshin.
The winners are all expected to return to the ring on December 20th in the East Japan Rookie of the Year Final, and a win there will take them to the All Japan in the new year.
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