Earlier this week 2-time world title challenger Reiya Konishi (17-3, 7) [小西伶弥] took to social media to announce that he was retiring from professional boxing at the age of 27, ending what had been a genuinely fun to watch career.
Konishi made his professional debut in 2013 and went on to win the All Japan Rookie of the Year crown in 2014, before winning the Japanese Minimumweight title in 2017, with a win over Masataka Taniguchi and would defend it twice. He gave up the title, and moved up in weight, to face Carlos Canizales in a hotly contested bout for the WBA "regular" Light Flyweight title, though sadly for him lost a very close decision to the hard hitting "CCC".
Following the loss to Canizales we saw Konishi bounce back, winning the WBO Asia Pacific title in July 2018 when he stopped Orlie Silvestre and he would defend the belt once before challenging IBF Light Flyweight champion Felix Alvarado in 2019. Sadly for Konishi he was dominated by Alvarado who was too good, too big, too busy and too strong. Credit goes to Konishi for surviving the 12 rounds, but he was a clear loser here in his second world title fight.
Like many fighters Konishi was affected by the issues of 2020, in fact he would test positive for Covid19 late in the year, forcing a scheduled bout against Katsunari Takayama (32-8-0-1, 12) [高山 勝成] to be delayed. That bout ended up taking place a few weeks after the originally planned date, when Konishi took a series of extra tests and it was suggested that his positive was probably a false positive. Sadly for him however he was easily out pointed and out boxed by Takayama who took a clear decision over him.
That bout will be his last as Konishi revealed he was done with in ring competition.
Going forward Konishi will remain in sport, and he plans to become a sports instructor. We want to wish Konishi all the best in his post boxing career.
Earlier today at the EDION Arena Osaka we got the latest show from Green Tsuda and surprisingly it was a card packed with upsets and surprises. In fact the 3 main bouts all went against the favourites, giving the show a genuine surprise feel.
The show kicked off with a opening round TKO win by Ryuichi Kitazono (1-0, 1) [北園 龍一] who stopped the limited Hummer Taku (1-3, 1) [ハンマータク] with 2:36 of round 1 gone. Kitazono dropped Taku with a 1-2 and although Taku got to his feet the bout was stopped.
The second bout on the show as also a short one, as Sho Hatsuda (3-1, 1) [初田 翔] scored a 2nd round TKO win over Ryusuke Harada (1-2-1) [原田 竜輔]. This started calmly but quickly caught fire and the two men were trading solid shots in round 2, before an uppercut from Hatsuda shook Harada, and a stoppage came soon afterwards. This was a good bounce back for Hatsuda who hadn't been seen in the rung since a November 2019 loss to Takumi Chono.
Another 2nd round TKO saw the brilliantly talented and fast rising Jinki Maeda (6-0, 4) [前田 稔輝] continue to impress, as he took out Kaito Okubo (5-2, 2) [大久保 海都]. This was really competitive in the opening round, but a straight left hand from Maeda in round 2 landed perfectly, dropping Okubo who's corner had seen enough. This was a second solid win for Maeda since winning the 2019 All Japan Rookie of the Year and we expect to see big things from him next year.
The first of the upsets saw Katsunari Takayama (32-8-0-1, 12) [高山 勝成] return to the ring after more than 4 years away and defeat 2-time world title challenger Reiya Konishi (17-3, 7) [小西伶弥]. Takayama started brightly, and fulkl of energy, despite his 37 year old legs. He boxed well at range, looked sharp through out the opening round, and looked quick, using his legs brilliantly. In round 4 he began to slow his footwork and increase his output, which should have suited Konishi, but still it was Takayama out working the younger man, winning round after round.
After 6 rounds Takayama had impressed all 3 judges, winning with scores of 60-54, 60-55 and 59-55, to take the decision and move towards another potential world title fight. After the bout he spoke to fans and stated "I enjoyed the fight. I want to show a better move in the next one. First of all, my goal was to enter the world ranking, so I want to aim for even higher next year." [Translated]
The second upset saw former Japanese Super Flyweight champion Takayuki Okumoto (23-10-4, 11) [奥本貴之] come up short against big under-dog Akio Furutani (9-4, 3) [古谷昭男]. The inform Furutani looked to take the fight to Okumoto, getting on the front foot and causing Okumoto problems almost from the off. Okumoto, to his credit, tried to fight back and had success in rounds 2 and 3, but Furutani wasn't to be denied and he began to move through the gears, despite suffering a cut from a clash of heads. In the later rounds Furutani again showed his aggression, and it forced Okumoto into a fire fight in the final rounds, by then however it was too little too late for Okumoto.
After 8 rounds the judges turned in scores of 76-76, even, and 77-75, twice, to give Furutani the upset decision win. It's worth noting he was a 9/2 under-dog yesterday with some betting companies in Europe!
The main was also a major upset, in fact this was the biggest upset of the day, by far.
This one saw "Naniwa Terminator" Ryota Yada (20-7, 17) [矢田良太] lose a shock decision to veteran Yuichi Ideta (14-15-1, 7) [出田裕一]. In fact this should go down as one of the biggest upsets of the year, though we didn't see odds of it.
Coming in this was expected to be a blow out for Yada, a former Japanese national champion, after all the 36 year old Ideta hadn't scored a win since February 2011. Instead of rolling over and suffering another loss Ideta fought like a man with a point to prove, with the two men trading straight shots in the first round. A big right hand from Yada connected in round 2 but Ideta took it well and began to try and break Yada mentally, something he continued to try in round 3, as he slowly crushed the distance and landed some solid right hands of his own, despite suffering a cut from a clash of heads.
In round 4 Yada landed another big right, but he failed to dissuade Ideta who was coming forward with a persistent mindset and forcing his fight. He backed up Yada, got him on the ropes and out worked him, something he did again in round 8.
After 8 rounds the scores came in, once again we had a 76-76 card, but that was over-ruled by scores of 77-75 and 78-74 to Ideta who scored one of the biggest show wins of 2020 in one of the final shows of the year.
Tomorrow at the EDION Arena Osaka we'll see the rescheduled match up between Katsunari Takayama (31-8-0-1, 12) [高山 勝成] and Reiya Konishi (17-2, 7) [小西伶弥].
The contested is widely seen as something that could be an all action spectacular and should provide real fireworks through the 6 rounds that it's scheduled for.
Interestingly STSbet have got this bout priced up for those wanting to gamble on it and have made Konishi the very clear favourite, priced at 1/2 to take home the victory. Konishi on the other hand is priced as a 5/4 under-dog.
Interestingly, for those wanting to know what Japanese fight fans think of the outcome, ~64% of those to predict the outcome on Boxmob have favoured Konishi, with ~32% going with Takayama and ~5% predicting a draw.
The bout, which was originally supposed to take place in November but got delayed due to a false-positive Covid19 test, will be available to watch on demand on Boxing Raise in the coming days for those wanting to watch it.
Note - The poll gives 101% due to issue with rounding.
Back in November we had been hoping to see a brilliant matchup between former multi-time world champion Katsunari Takayama (31-8-0-1, 12) [高山 勝成] and 2-time world title challenger Reiya Konishi (17-2, 7) [小西伶弥]. Sadly however that bout was cancelled at the 11th hour when Konishi had a positive Covid19 test.
That test was later shown to be a false positive, with Konishi going through a battery of other tests, to show he wasn't ill, but by then the bout had been cancelled. Thankfully that cancellation quickly became a postponement, and the two men swiftly agreed a new date for the bout. December 27th.
Today, ahead of their no re-arranged bout, the two men took part in their weigh in and both fighters made the Light Flyweight limit with no issues.
On the scales Takayama was comfortably under the limit, weighting around 107.75lbs. For a man who hasn't stepped into the ring for a professional boxing bout in well over 4 years, and is now 37, he looked in solid condition. He didn't look as good as he did 5 or 6 years ago, but he was in very impressive shape.
Konishi on the other hand came in bang on the limit and looked shredded. He looked like a man with a point to prove and was arguably in the shape and condition of his career. He spoke like a man in joy at being able to fight again, something he's not done since a 2019 loss to IBF world champion Felix Alvarado.
Notably there is still a case of PCR test results coming back, which will happen tomorrow, though both men are expected to come back negative, especially given the situation regarding their November date.
For fans wanting to watch this one in person it will be at the EDION Arena Osaka, and not in Hirakata as first planned. For those without a ticket the bout will be added to the Boxing Raise on their "On Demand" section over the coming days.
During the past week we saw the cancellation of the scheduled WBC Bantamweight title fight between Nonito Donaire (40-6, 26) and Emmanuel Rodriguez (19-1, 12) due to Donaire testing positive for Covid19.
Since then however things have developed quickly, with Rodriguez now being switched to face Reymart Gaballo (23-0, 20) for the WBC interim title and Donaire getting the results of a confirmatory test that he paid for out of his own pocket. That test came back negative. In fact that was the latest in a long, long line of negative tests from Donaire and his team.
As well as the test result above Donaire's wife, Rachel Donaire, has gone to social media to speak about the situation in great detail, explaining not just the situation, the previous negative tests but the entire series of events since November 25th (in an excellent facebook post that can be read in full here).
At the moment it's very unclear on what will happen with the fight. It seems unlikely we'll see Donaire Vs Rodriguez re-made, though what we could end up seeing is Donaire against original opponent Nordine Oubaali (17-0, 12) in 2021, with Oubaali himself testing positive for Covid19 in November, which would likely be a workable solution. Then the winners potentially clash in at some point in the new year.
This is again a case of how tricky testing for Covid19 can be in boxing, and runs along side a similar issue from November that forced the postponement of a Light Flyweight bout between Katsunari Takayama (31-8-0-1, 12) [高山 勝成] and Reiya Konishi (17-2, 7) [小西伶弥], after Konishi also ended up having what was a false positive, with Konishi paying out of pocket for additional testing.
It's really hard to say what should happen here. We are all for extra caution and safety in the sport, however it does seem very odd that confirmatory tests are not being done as standard, and they are relying on a single positive test.
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