Earlier today fight fans at Korakuen Hall had the chance to see a new Japanese Lightweight champion being crowned as the heavy handed Shu Utsuki (10-0, 8) [宇津木 秀] faced off with former Japanese Light Welterweight champion Masahiro Suzuki (7-1, 4) [鈴木 雅弘] for the vacant title. On paper the match up looked like a brilliant one, and had all the makings of something special. It featured two fighters who entered the bout with unbeaten records, fighting to get themselves in the mix in the talent laden Japanese Lightweight scene, it also featured two men with some history, with the two having fought 3 times in the amateurs, and it featured two men with very different styles, pitching a boxer-mover against a boxer-puncher.
Sadly for Suzuki the move down in weight, from 140lbs to 135lbs, turned out not to be a great one. On the scales he admitted he had struggled to make weight, but even if he had made weight easily it's hard to imagine what he could have done here against a man who simply seemed to have his number.
In the opening round Suzuki had success with his jab setting up his straights and hooks, whilst Utsuki tried to close the distance and came forward behind a tight guard, looking to see what Suzuki had to offer whilst looking to land to the body. Utsuki then began to come forward with more intent, and began to let his hands go in round 2, landing some heavier artillery, which he continued to have success with in round 3, as he started to really find his groove. In round 4 things went from bad to worse for Suzuki, who was cut over the right eye from an uppercut and then dropped from a left hook later in the round. Suzuki recovered from the knockdown but was on the back foot, and took some big shots on the ropes as Suzuki sought an early finish. To his credit Suzuki survived the round, but seemed to be running out of ideas as Utsuki began to break him down in round 5, landing good uppercuts and heavy body shots.
After 5 rounds the scorecards were announced, as part of an open scoring system used in Japan, with Utsuki leading 50-44, 49-45 and 48-44. Not only washe in the lead however, but he was also looking incredibly strong, comfortable, and like the man in total control. To his credit however Suzuki put in an excellent effort in round 6, using his jab well to try and mount something of a fight back. It was however a short lived fight back, and Utsuki would quickly resume control on the action, and make the most of his body at the same time, taking the fight out of Suzuki, and taking away Suzuki's legs in the process. In the 9th round Utsuki would hurt Suzuki and follow up, forcing the referee to step in and save Suzuki after 44 seconds of the round.
The show didn't just have a huge main event but also an excellent co-feature, as the very highly regarded Rentaro Kimura (5-1, 3) [木村蓮太朗] faced off with former Rookie of the Year winner Jinki Maeda (9-0, 4) [前田 稔輝]. On paper this looked like an excellent match up, and it delivered everything, including a genuine upset as the highly fancied Kimura suffered his first loss, in a very hard fought bout.
From the off Maeda showed no real concern of Kimura's reputation, or of fighting in front of Kimura's fans at Korakuen Hall. Instead he stuck to his boxing, his and fought his style of fight, showing great patience, and looking to counter on the mistakes of Kimura. Whilst Maeda was showing patience, Kimura was looking to fight behind his sharp, crisp jab and make the most of his very well polished boxing skills. In round 2 the patience of Maeda paid off as he landed a counter left hand, and dropped Kimura for the bouts first knockdown. This lead to a change in tempo, with rounds 3 and 4 being very exciting and much higher tempo than the first one. Sadly for Kimura it seemed like Maeda's tempo, speed and accuracy was catching the eye in round 5, before Kimura began his fight back, having some of his best success in round 6 and 7, despite Maeda giving a really gutsy account and landing some classy shots of his own, even when he was under pressure. The final round saw both men looking exhausted, and it was a round that saw little action, a lot of clinching as both looked to bully the other physically, and not take much out of themselves. It was a tough, and rough, round but one that lacked in terms of quality. After 8 rounds we went to the score cards, which reflected the wonderfully competitive, back and forth nature of the fight. After 8 rounds the scores were 76-75, 75-76 and 76-75 to give Maeda the upset split decision win, and a massive boost to his career.
Tomorrow Korakuen Hall will see an excellent card with not just a Japanese title fight in the main event but an excellent chief support bout between two highly regarded and very talented prospects, each looking to take a huge step towards a title fight in the near future.
That bout pits the very highly regarded Rentaro Kimura (5-0, 3) [木村蓮太朗] against former Rookie of the Year winner Jinki Maeda (8-0, 4) [前田 稔輝], in what is regarded as a major bout for both of the talented youngsters, and a clash between East and West Japanese hopefuls.
Today, ahead of their bout, the two men took part in their weigh in for the contest
On the scales Kimura was the heavier man, coming in on the divisional limit of 130lbs for the bout, and looked in incredibly shape. He explained that the original plan for the bout, which was scheduled for December, had had to be delayed due to an eye injury, though he has now healed from it and had time to think about boxing. He has also scouted Maeda, explaining that he had to be wary of Maeda's straight counter shots. As well as being wary of Maeda, he went on to explain that he will show his boxing skills and especially his movement here.
Maeda on the other hand was comfortably under the limit, weighing in at 129.2lbs and looked even better than Kimura, showing a really impressive physique. He explained that despite the postponement he was able to maintain a good weight and would use his advantages here, including fighting at his rhythm for what is the most important fight of his career. He also stated that he wanted fans at Korakuen Hall to remember his name.
Back in October we reported that Rentaro Kimura (5-0, 3) [木村蓮太朗] would be to the ring for his next bout in December, scheduled contest against Jinki Maeda (8-0, 4) [前田 稔輝] at Korakuen Hall on December 9th. Sadly however that bout was cancelled earlier today when it was revealed Kimura had been injured in training, with the Misako gym reporting the injury.
Sadly the full details of the injury haven't been widely reported yet, neither has the expected recovery time for Kimura, though hopefully it won't be too much of a break for the talented youngster, who looks like he has the tools to be a major star for Japanese boxing.
The bout had been scheduled as the chief support bout for December's Diamond Glove show. That card will still go ahead, and will be headlined by a really good looking Japanese title bout, as Japanese Welterweight champion Keita Obara (24-4-1, 21) [小原 佳太] defends his belt against Masaya Tamayama (14-2, 8) [玉山 将也] in what should be a genuine barn burner. It is however a shame the mouth watering Kimura Vs Maeda bout is off.
Earlier today saw the announcement of the December Diamond Glove card, and it's been revealed that that show will have two genuinely excellent bouts on it, with one being a Japanese title fight and one being a sensational bout between two talented young prospects, each looking to end 2021 in style.
The title bout in question will see Japanese Welterweight champion Keita Obara (24-4-1, 21) [小原 佳太] defending his belt against Masaya Tamayama (14-2, 8) [玉山 将也].
Obara, seeking his second defense, will be the big favourite here however the 34 year old is certainly on the back end of his career and is coming in on the back of a very, very, tough bout with Shoki Sakai earlier this year. Tamayama on the other hand is 27, coming in to his prime, hasn't had the wars that Obara has had will feel it's his time to shine, and take the title from the heavy handed veteran.
The other bout, on paper an even better bout, will see unbeaten prospects collide as the very highly regarded Rentaro Kimura (5-0, 3) [木村蓮太朗] takes on Jinki Maeda (8-0, 4) [前田 稔輝] in a genuinely mouth watering match up.
Of the two men Kimura is the more well regarded fighter, and a man tipped for huge things, but he was dropped twice in his last bout as he narrowly over-came Yoji Saito, in a barn burner. Maeda on the other hand has won Rookie of the Year and holds a very notable win over current Japanese Youth Champion Kyonosuke Kameda. The winner of this will be chasing a title fight of their own in 2022.
The show will also feature a Japanese female title bout, as Sayo Segawa (1-1, 1) [瀬川 紗代] clashes with Nanako Suzuki (5-2, 1) [鈴木なな子], for the Japanese female Minimumweight title, and bouts featuring Akira Hoshuyama (6-0, 3) [宝珠山晃] and Ryota Karimata (7-0, 3) [狩俣綾汰].
The show in question will take place at Korakuen Hall on December 9th, and will be aired on tape delay on Fuji TV.
Earlier today Japanese fight fans in Shizuoka got the latest show from Suruga Danji and his promotional stable. The event wasn't a huge one, but it was certainly a very interesting one with a lot of notable Japanese prospects on the card, including some who are tipped as future stars and world champions.
With that show now over, we're going to look over the show and cover the results from the event.
The show kicked off with an 8 round bout between the talented, but often over-looked, Tentaro Kimura (7-0-2) [木村 天汰郎] and the "better than his record suggests" Satoru Hoshiba (7-6, 2) [干場悟]. Kimura made this look easy as he controlled the distance and tempo, making the most of his left hook at range and right uppercuts up close. Hoshiba tried to turn things around, coming forward and pressing, but his tactics really were well neutralised by the movement of Kimura who was a ver clear winner, though did seem exhausted in round 8, when he held on a little bit too much for our liking.
After 8 rounds the scores here were 80-72, 79-73 and 77-75.
The second bout on the show saw Narumi Yukawa (3-0, 2) [湯川 成美] score his biggest win since turning professional as he stopped the experienced Yuji Awata (12-9-1, 5) [粟田 祐之] in 4 rounds. Yukawa pressed from the off, and constantly looked to close the distance. The pressure from Yukawa came at a cost early on, as he was dropped from a counter in the opening round, and took a lot of shots as a result of his desire to come forward, but he kept pressing and managed to get a real break through in round 3, when he got inside and started to work the body of Awata. The pressure of Yukawa worked again in round 4, as he hurt his man, backing him up and dropping him with a big left hook.
Whilst it's a worry to see Yukawa being dropped, and we do wonder whether his style is going to be suited to a successful and long career, it's great to see him rebound from a knockdown, stick to his game plan and stopping his man. He needs to tighten up defensively going forward, but there is no doubting how fun he's going to be to watch over the coming years.
The shows first real surprise came in it's third bout as JBC #5 ranked Super Flyweight Tsubasa Murachi (7-1-1, 3) [村地 翼] struggled to a draw against Yuto Nakamura (11-6-2, 8) [中村 祐斗], who had no momentum coming in to the bout. Murachi made a good start, boxing well behind his jab and landing some good right hands to control the first 4 rounds. Despite being out boxed early on Nakamura showed no fear and looked to apply pressure through the bout, pressing and pressuring the touted Murachi, and looking to cut the ring off. In the second half of the fight that pressure began to tell as Nakamura racked up the later rounds, making up for losing the earlier ones. After 8 rounds this was a hard one to call, and it showed on the scorecards which were 78-74, Murachi, 77-75 Nakamura, and 76-76, resulting in a split decision draw.
The chief support bout saw second generation fighter Kento Hatanaka (12-0, 9) [畑中 建人] score his latest win as he took an 8 round decision over the tough Daisuke Sudo (7-8-3) [須藤大介]. Hatanaka, who hadn't fought since February 2020, looked to land crisp left uppercuts up close. Sudo, who likely knew he wouldn't be able to compete with Hatanaka in a boxing contest, looked to make this a war, getting inside when he could and attacking the body in the pocket. That style made this an exciting bout, but Hatanaka's uppercutts up close, and good combinations caught the eye, even if the fight was fought where Sudo wanted it. After 8 rounds Sudo had done enough to take a few rounds, but not make it competitive, and the scorecards were 79-73, twice, and 78-74 all to Hatanaka, who we suspect will be looking to land a Japanese title fight in 2022.
The main event saw the talented Rentaro Kimura (5-0, 3) [木村蓮太朗] get the biggest test of his career, and narrowly come away with a win as he over-came the huge punching Yoji Saito (3-2-2, 3) [齊藤陽ニ] in a hotly contested 8 rounder.
In the opening round Saito's power was the telling fact as he landed a huge right hook, dropping Kimura for the first time in his career. The knockdown was the perfect start for Saito, and a wake up call to Kimura, who realised that he couldn't take risks with someone as heavy handed as Saito. In rounds 2 and 3 Kimura battled back well, winning both rounds with his boxing, speed and skills, to essentially undo the 10-8 opening round. Sadly for Kimura he was dropped again towards the end of round 4, as he found himself in a hole for the second time in the fight.
In round 5 Kimura, who knew he couldn't afford any more slip ups, changed tactics, and rather than boxing, he took the fight to Saito, neutralising the power but smothering the heavy handed Saito. Saito had some success up close, but it was Kimura was regularly getting the better of things, whilst also preventing Saito from getting full purchase on his shots. The final 4 rounds were brilliant, and showed that there was a real fighter in Kimura, who did just enough to earn the decision, with scores of 76-74, twice, and 75-75, to get the majority decision.
The plan for Kimura is to get a title fight next year, and this was the perfect gut check for him before a title bout. He needs to tighten up his defense, he needs to appreciate opponents, like Saito, who are dangerous, but there is no doubting his heart, determination and skills. As for Saito he's one of those fighters with a very misleading record, and he is a devastating puncher, who is a threat to anyone at 130 or 135 in Japan.
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