Earlier today Hideyuki Ohashi revealed his latest huge signing, as he officially announced that former Japanese amateur standout Toramasa Imanaga [今永虎雅] had signed with the Ohashi Gym, and was ending his amateur carer after 126 bouts in the unpaid ranks. As an amateur Imanaga ran up an excellent record, going 113-13 (26), whilst winning 10 major amateur titles, including success National Selection tournaments, Inter High School Championships, and National Athletic Meets, and the Taipei International Tournament.
As a professional Imanaga is expected to be fighting as a Lightweight, and will be having his career guided by some of the most notable men in Japanese boxing. Ohashi will be his promoter, he will be trained by former world champion Akira Yaegashi and former world title challenge Koji Matsumoto.
Imanaga explained that he toured several gyms, and was happy to see what was out there for him before turning professional, though it appeared that the Ohashi Gym was always going to be one of the front runners for his signature, given their talent pool, training facilities and the doors the gym can open for him. It's worth noting that whilst he was impressed you the Ohashi set up, Mr Ohashi was also impressed by Imanaga, with Ohashi explaining that Imanaga had a powerful punch and good defense. He also explained that the target for Imanaga is a world title title, and that he wants to get Imanaga a Japanese ranking by the end of the year.
The plan for Imanaga is to take part in his B class protest on April 26th before making his debut in late June, on a yet to be announced Ohashi card, likely in a 6 rounder at or around the Lightweight limit.
As well as Imanaga it was also announced that Ohashi had signed 22 year Yuya Tanaka [田中湧也] and 17 year old Kenta Yamakawa [山川健太], who will both be expected to have very bright futures in the sport, under the guidance of Ohashi.
Earlier tpoday Ohashi Gym announced their next Phoenix Battle show, Phoenix Battle 78, which will take place on July 8th at Korakuen Hall and it's a brilliant card with two Japanese Youth title bouts, as well as several other notable fighters on the lower end of the show.
The main event of the card will be a Japanese Youth Super Flyweight bout pitting two of the hottest young talented in Japan against each other, with former amateur standout Ryutaro Nakagaki (2-0, 2) [中垣龍汰朗] taking on explosive teenager Ayumu Hanada (6-0, 4) [花田 歩夢] for the vacant title, in what should be a genuinely spectacular contest.
For those who haven't seen these two Nakagaki is a brilliant pure boxer, who had issues with power in the amateurs but appears to have adapted to the professional ranks really well and is looking like a solid puncher, and a very special boxer. He was a stellar amateur and appears to be set for the hyper fast track to the top, and with his ability few can blame him for wanting to win titles as early as possible. Hanada on the other hand began his career in Mexico, where he looked exciting and talented, but incredibly young. He returned to Japan in 2019 and made his JBC debut in 2020, with an excellent performance against Ryukyu Nagamine. Hanada returned to the ring this past April, and although he wasn't punch perfect he over-came the very dangerous Mammoth Kazunori.
Whilst the men might only have 8 bouts between them this is a genuinely brilliant match up and he sort of thing that the Japanese Youth title has been giving us over the last few years.
The other Japanese Youth title bout will see Takeru Kobata (9-5-1, 4) [小畑武尊] make his first defense of the Japanese Youth Welterweight title, as he takes on Tetsuya Kondo (6-2, 4) in what should be an explosive enounter.
The under-rated Kobata won the title in March, with a big upset win against Rikuto Adachi, and will be looking to build on that win here as he returns to Korakuen Hall for just the third time in his career. A win for him would show that his victory over Adachi wasn't a fluke and was instead a sign that he's a legitimate prospect and someone to keep an eye on, despite his 5 losses. Kondo on the other hand will be getting his first title bout and continues to rebuil his career following an opening round TKO loss in 2019 to the destructive Jin Sasaki. That loss aside Kondo hasn't been stopped before but is expected to be giving natural size to Kobata.
Lower down the show we'll see hard hitting Japanese ranked Featherweight Tsuyoshi Tameda (21-6-2, 19) [溜田剛士].battle against Soreike Taichi (7-4, 5) [木村太一], as both men desperately look to bounce back from recent back to back stoppage defeats. We'll also see Japanese ranked Minimumweights collide as Katsuki Mori (8-0, 1) [森且貴] clashes with Ren Kojima (6-1-2) [小島 蓮], in a battle between two men who have won the All Japan Rookie of the Year, with Mori winning in 2019 and Kojima winning in the latest edition of the tournament.
Although not a monster card, set to get massive international attention this is an incredibly good domestic card, with a number of really good bouts and a chance for the young talent in Japan to shine. The main event is a genuinely amazing bout, the co-feature should be exciting, Tameda and Taichi should be explosive and it's always a job to see Mori and Kojima in action. This is a fantastic line up from Ohashi and we really hope nothing forces any changes to what looks set to be a strong domestic card.
Earlier today it was announced that the scheduled May 13th show by Ohashi Gym was set to be postponed by 8 days, pushing it from May 13th to May 21st, due to the on going State of Emergency in Tokyo.
The exact announcement stated "We have decided to change the date and time in consideration of the extension in the recent situation." It was also confirmed that tickets will not be available for purchase on the day of the event due.
Despite the delay the show is a really interesting one. It will be headlined by a regional Featherweight unification bout between WBO Asia Pacific champion Musashi Mori (12-0, 7) [森 武蔵] and OPBF champion Satoshi Shimizu (9-1, 9) [清水 聡]. As well as the main event we also get an excellent chief support bout was Kazuki Nakajima (9-0-1, 8) [中嶋一輝] battles Kai Chiba (13-1, 8) [千葉開] for the vacant OPBF Bantamweight title.
Whilst fans will be wanting to watch, sadly the show won't be available to watch live. It will, however, be expected to be shown on tape delay by Fuji TV, who have a distribution deal with Ohashi and show tape delay broadcasts of many of their shows.
On Friday the official blog of Hideyuki Ohashi announced that 21 year old amateur stand out Kaiyu Toyoshima [豊嶋海優] had decided to turn professional and would do so at the Ohashi Gym, following a very impressive run as an amateur.
Although not one of the biggest names in amateur boxing in Japan Toyoshima competed in numerous notable tournaments, he was the captain of the Toyo University team and even featured on some of the posters used to market some of the university league shows.
At the moment it's unclear when he will begin his professional journey, with the date of his debut yet to be decided, though it's expected that he will begin climbing up the professional ranks before the end of 2021.
Interestingly the amateur boxing record site on Strefa sadly only has 1 recorded bout for him, and incidentally that's a loss against Ryutaro Nakagaki (1-0, 1) [中垣龍汰朗] in the 2018 Japanese National Championships. Going forward the two men will now be Ohashi Gym stablemates and it'll be interesting to see if that bout plays as something of a factor in the two youngsters trying to out do each now they are both professional fighters.
Notably that fight between Toyoshima and Nakagaki can be seen below thanks to the brilliant sakana 1976, who uploaded the bout after it took place in 2018, and who should be subscribed to by every fan who wants to get an insight in the Japanese amateur scene. For those wanting to watch Toyoshima is in red and Nakagaki is in blue.
Earlier today the very well regarded Ohashi Gym announced that former K-1 sensation Yoshiki Takei [武居由樹] had signed with them as he begins his professional boxing career, with the plan to debut in Spring 2021 after partaking in his pro-test in January.
The 24 year old really was a sensational kick boxer, winning both the K-1 WORLD GP super Bantamweight championship and the Krush Bantamweight title during his short but success career in kick boxing. As a professional kick boxer he fought just 25 times, though amassed a very impressive 23-2 (16) record and won 22 bouts in a row following a 1-2 start to his professional career.
Although we're not huge followers of kick boxing some of Takei's opponents are people even we recognise, such as Tenshin Nasukawa, with the two men fighting to a draw in the amateurs in 2012, and former boxer Kenji Kubo, who Takei knocked out in 2018 with a right hook. That's right, he knocked out a former professional boxer, with a punch!
From footage of Takei his boxing skills do look solid for a kick boxer, and his hands were clearly something he worked on, with very crisp punches, good understanding of punching range and timing on his punches. Obviously he was also fantastic with his kicks, but we suspect his transition to professional boxing will be a smooth one given how good his hands are.
The talented southpaw will be trained by former 3-weight world champion Akira Yaegashi and will be competing at either Bantamweight or Super Bantamweight. The hope is for him to become a world champion in professional boxing, adding to his combat sport accolades.
For those who have never seen him we have included a 2019 K-1 bout of his below, as he took on Spain's Alex Rivas.
(Image credit - Ohashi Gym)
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