On Saturday in Japan fight fans saw Japanese Youth champion being crowned as we got the previously delayed Japanese Youth Flyweight title bout between Yuga Inoue (12-2-1, 2) [井上夕雅] and Aoba Mori (7-3-1, 1) [森青葉].
This bout had been planned for September, but was cancelled on short notice as Mori tested positive for Covid19. Despite the delay both men were hungry to make a statement and claim the title, which is quickly becoming a major title in Japan and one that is being held by numerous fantastic prospects on their way through the ranks.
From the off Inoue was pressing forward behind a tight guard that Mori struggled to get through. To his credit was throwing some nice combinations, his shots really struggled to find the target, whilst Inoue managed to find a home for his right hands up top and some heavy body shots. As the rounds went on the pace increased round by round, giving us a very, very fan friendly and exciting back and forth, but one where Inoue just had that touch of extra class with his shots, and the fighter defense.
In round 4 Mori had his best round, as Inoue seemed to slow down and not get his shots off like he had earlier in the bout, with Mori managed to get the body of Inoue and breach the guard more consistently. It was however a round that didn't see Mori build and moment and in round 5 we saw Inoue step back up and more than hold his own.
Rounds 7 and 8 were blistering action with both men going in to top gear in an attempt to amaze the fans as well as claim the victory. It was a completely sensational round as they stood only inches apart and traded straight punches up top. Sadly though neither man had the power needed to hurt the other, and as a result we went to the final bell.
After the bell we went to the judges who gave the bout to Inoue with scores of 79-73, 77-75 and 76-76, getting him the majority decision win.
After the bout Masato Yamashita stated the plan for Inoue is to return next time out in a non-title bout, and then look to win a more notable title in the fight after that. Neither he, nor Inoue, sounded happy about his performance, and it seemed clear that more is expected of Inoue.
Mori on the other hand seemed to be encouraged by his performance, though was disappointed by the result. He explained that he would be back doing road work tomorrow and was wanting to fight for a title in the future, and that he was wanting to win one so that he could make his promoter and trainer proud.
Earlier today at the Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney Olympic Park we got the chance to see two Japanese fighters in action as the took on popular Australian fighters. Sadly for the Japanese fighters it wasn't top be their night, but they both put up genuine efforts against better men.
The first of two bouts saw Nath Nwachukwu (7-2-2, 3) [ワチュク・ナァツ] taking on IBO International Light Middleweight champion Ryan Wade (20-9, 7). Sadly for Nath he was second best through the bout, despite having some moment.
On paper it did look a good bout, but Wade was too good, too sharp and too experienced for Nath who really only had limited success. Sadly this wasn't a particularly fun bout to watch, as the technical limitations of both showed repeatedly, and neither man seemed capable of showing much genuine consistency. Wade did however land almost all the telling blows, in what became a messy, and scruffy bout in the second half.
The other bout saw former world title challenger Takeshi Inoue (17-2-1, 10) [井上 岳志] showcase his toughness, as he lost a wide and clear decision to unbeaten Australian hopeful Tim Tszyu (20-0, 15), in what was a really interesting contest and one that saw Tszyu answering some questions. Despite the fact the Australian dominated large swathes of the bout, to unify the WBO Global and WBO Asia Pacific Light Middleweight titles.
Through out the early rounds Tszyu hammered Inoue at will, landing huge shots to head and body and left Inoue swollen around the face. He had taken center ring and was pressuring the Japanese fighter, getting him on the retreat, punching through his guard and having a field day with Inoue. By round 5 it looked like Tszyu was on route to an inevitable stoppage, and rounds 6 and 7 saw him further pounding Inoue, who was some how remaining up right.
Amazingly Inoue started to show life in round 8, and it was from there that he managed to have some success, catching Tszyu with some solid shots of his own and leaving the Australian bloodied around the mouth. Tszyu was still getting the better of things, but he was slowing, and his shots were having less of an effect than they had earlier in the contest. Inoue was starting to work his way into the action more, but was still taking heavy punishment.
In round 12 Inoue started well, but late in the rounded he was put on the canvas, but he managed to hear out the bell, becoming the first man to take Tszyu the 12 round distance, albeit in a comprehensive loss with scores of 120-107, twice, and 119-108 to Tszyu. The performance of Inoue maybe deserved a round or two from the judges but he was clearly second best and Tszyu was very much the better man through out the bout.
With the win Tszyu is now expected to get a WBO world title fight in 2022. As for Inoue, who got plaudits from the Australian fans and media for his toughness, it's likely to be a case of returning to Japan and continuing to ply his trade against regional and domestic opponents. Hopefully a 2022 showdown with Japanese champion Hironobu Matsunaga, could be made, as that would be a really fun one to watch.
Earlier today the EDION Arena Osaka, played host to a small, but notable, upset as fans saws hard hitting youngster Kyonosuke Kameda (7-3-1, 6) [亀田 京之介] fail in his first defense of the Japanese Youth Featherweight title, losing a decision to under-dog Hiroki Hanabusa (9-2-3, 3) [英洸貴].
Heading in to the bout it seemed like Kameda had all the moment. He had won the title in impressive fashion, stopping Tsubasa Narai, and and had looked like someone proving himself as a talented boxer himself, not just a man with a famous boxing famile. Hanabusa on the other hand had lost his last two bouts, and had done little to even deserve a shot here. In fact it looked like he had been hand selected as an easy first defense.
No one told Hanabusa he wasn't supposed to be there to win, or that he was supposed to make up the numbers however.
From the opening moments Hanabusa came out aggressively, closing the distance and taking the fight to Kameda, who looked to fight as a counter puncher and make the most of his heavier hands. Kameda had success at times with his counter shots, particularly in round 2, but he was always under pressure and Hanabusa responded to everything with more output, more pressure and more aggression.
The pressure and aggression of Hanabusa wasn't just winning him rounds, but also frustrating and stifling Kameda, who was deducted a point in round 6 for pushing Hanabusa away. A point that left him in a bit of a hole. Hanabusa knew he was away from home, on a show promoted by Kameda's promoter, Harada Gym, and knew that he couldn't give the judges a chance to deny him a victory, and kept the pressure up in the final rounds. Kameda tried to have a war in round 8, giving his all, but it was too little too late and he couldn't break the will or spirit of Hanabusa.
After 8 rounds the judges had this 77-75, and 76-75, twice, all in favour of Hanabusa who scored the biggest win of his career, and took home the Japanese Youth Featherweight title.
At the same event in Osaka we also had the retirement ceremony of Japanese veteran Tetsuya Hisada (34-11-2, 20) [久田 哲也], who officially hung up the gloves earlier this year. Hisada, who began his career in 2003, was emotional as he thanked the Harada a gym for their support, and the way they had helped him come back from defeats and continue to fight on and develop. He also teared up whilst reading a letter from his eldest daughter.
Hisada described Takeshi Harada, the chairman of the Harada gym, as being like a big brother and explained that he is now working as a video creator, doing advertising videos.
We would like to wish Hisada all the best in his post boxing career.
Earlier today at Korakuen Hall fight fans had the chance to see a new WBO Asia Pacific champion being crowned as unbeaten youngster Yudai Shigeoka (4-0, 2) [重岡優大] faced off with former OPBF Minimumweight champion Tsubasa Koura (15-2, 10) [小浦 翼] in a mouth watering match up.
On paper it was a massive leap up in class for Shigeoka, in his first 12 rounder, and it was a chance for the once touted Koura to get his career back on track following a shock 2019 loss to Lito Dante and 21 months of inactivity due to the pandemic. For both men it was expected to be a bout where they each had to prove themselves and show what they were capable of, answer some serious questions and move their career onwards and upwards towards a potential world title fight.
Whilst it was interesting on paper, it proved to be even more interesting in the ring.
From the opening round we saw both men showing technical skills and patience, as they looked to figure each other out. Koura's jab seemed to be the key punch through the opening round, but Shigeoka got through with the odd solid shot himself, including a very good body shot. It wasn't the most action packed of opening rounds, but it was a tense one, with both men showing a lot of respect to the other. Despite the tempo being slow in the opening round things began to step up in round 2 as both men began to feel more comfortable and let their shots go. It was Shigeoka who seemed to land the better shots during rounds 2, 3 and 4. Despite Shigeoka landing the better shots, Koura was always in the bout, landing his share of right hands through the round. Sadly for him however he looked rusty and like a man who probably needed a tune up bout before this one.
After 4 rounds Shigeoka was leading 39-36 on two of the cards, whilst the third judge had it 39-36 in favour of Koura.
In the middle rounds Koura's experience began to show as the two men spent more time fighting close up, with Koura holding, fighting on the inside and trying to rough up Shigeoka, with some good success. Shigeoka looked the heavier handed fighter, and the one landing the better quality blows for the most part, but Koura was backing him up, and getting to him more and more success. It seemed as if the bout was turning, and by the end of round 8 there was very, very little in it. Koura had closed the gap on to of the score cards, which were now 76-76, and was leading on the third card. It looked like his experience was going to be the difference maker.
Going into the final 4 rounds it seemed the momentum was with Koura and that looked even more like the case when Koura took round 9. Amazingly however Shigeoka gritted his teeth and knowing he was behind he began to do what fighters do, and made it his fight. He changed things up, upped the tempo in the final quarter of the fight and fought like a man desperate to prove himself. Sadly round 10 was marred by some ugly action, headclashes and general stop-start fighting, but the quality shots almost all came from Shigeoka, who was bullying Koura at times. It was messy, but it had moments, including a gorgeous left hand from Shigeoka that seemed to buckle the legs of Koura. Koura tried to make things dirty late in round 11, but he seemed desperately was was struggling to actually land anything of note during the round, instead he looked wild, tired and like a man who had given his all to fight his way back into the bout, but had little left to offer against the more physical Shigeoka. That showed to be the case again in rounds 12 as Shigeoka again landed the few telling blows, and pushed Koura around in the many clinches.
This was interesting, it was competitive, and at times it was incredibly ugly. It lacked quality in the later stages, it showed that both men were still very flawed, and that while talented both have a lot of work to do. It showed that Shigeoka's lack of experience, especially in terms of rounds, was a major issue whilst Koura's lack of stamina and recent activity was also a problem.
After 12 rounds we went to the scorecards, and the judges turned in scores of 115-113, twice, in favour of Shigeoka whilst the third judge had the bout even, giving Shigeoka the majority decision win, the WBO Asia Pacific title, and a really hard fought, character experience.
After the bout Koura stated he wanted a rematch, and we suspect that could happen down the line.
As for Shigeoka he seemed a little bit frustrated at his performance, but he seemed to take a lot of positives from the victory as well, and it does need to be said that he had never gone beyond 6 rounds prior to this bout, showing just how much of a step up in class this was for him.
Earlier today at Korakuen Hall fight fans saw Takuma Inoue (15-1, 3) [井上拓真] become a 3-weight OPBF champion, as he claimed the OPBF Super Bantamweight title and scored one of the best wins of his career.
The talented Inoue, the younger brother the Monster Naoya Inoue, was moving up in weight to take on on former Super Bantamweight title challenger Shingo Wake (27-7-2, 19) [和氣 慎吾], and made it look surprisingly easy against a very talented, sharp shooting southpaw.
From the off Inoue looked the smaller, but sharper fighter, and managed to avoid Wake's heavy straight left hand whilst getting in and out and getting his own shots off. It was tense to begin with, with neither landing anything too meaningful, but it was as if Inoue was that bit sharper, and his youth was showing against the 34 year old Wake. The first real punch of world quality landed in round 4, and it was a hard right hand from Inoue, which dropped Wake on to the seat of his pants. Wake got to his feet, and Inoue tried to close the show, though Wake saw out the storm and got Inoue's respect, whilst seeing out the round.
Following the knockdown Inoue seemed to grow in confidence whilst Wake struggled to get going. The body shots from Inoue were eye catching, and he managed to avoid much of the return fire, as Wake looked like a man who just second best. Inoue was too smart, defensively and offensively, for Wake who tried to get things off, but just never had the success he was expecting, or that he had had against fighters earlier in his career. It was often like Inoue was one, if not two steps ahead of him.
After 12 rounds there was no doubting the winner, with Inoue getting his hand raised, and all 3 judges scoring the bout 117-110 in his favour, with Wake having some success late in the bout as Inoue cruised to the final bell, though still landed some good counter hooks. Interestingly there wasn't a single round given to Wake by all 3 judges.
Following the bout Inoue explained that he was convinced he'd win, and didn't feel different fighting at 122lbs to how he had in other weight classes. His father and trainer, Shingo, spoke highly of his son, but it was Hideyuki Ohashi who was the most glowing, giving him a "perfect score of 100" for the performance, and how he shut down Wake.
Wake was also complimentary of Inoue, explaining that Inoue's defense was good and that it was hard to get him where he wanted. Aged 34 it's hard to see where Wake goes next, though for Inoue there is talk about him being moved towards a second world title shot in 2022.
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