Last weekend we saw Japanese fighter Riku Nagahama (12-3-1, 4) [長濱 陸] in action, as he lost the OPBF Welterweight title to Ryota Toyoshima (13-2-1, 8) [豊嶋亮太] in a very entertaining bout. Sadly it now seems like that will be the last we'll see of Nagahama in the ring, as the fighter has now retired.
The news was broken by the JBC, who added Nagahama's name to their list of retired fighters.
The 29 year old Nagahama made his professional debut in 2015 and despite drawing on debut he managed to make his mark on the sport several times in the years that followed.
Less than 6 months after making his debut Nagahama won the All Japan Rookie of the Year at Middleweight, beating Brandon Lockhart Shane in the final. In 2016 and 2017 he moved down in weight, to fight at 154lbs. It was there that he climbed through the rankings and in August 2017, with a record of 7-0-1 (3) he got his first title fight, battling against Takeshi Inoue for the Japanese Light Middleweight title. Sadly for Nagahama he would come up short to Inoue, and then lose again the following year to Yuki Nagano at Welterweight.
Despite having two losses in the space of a year Nagahama bounced back, winning 4 in a row, including notable wins over Masaya Tamayama and Kudura Kaneko. His win over Kaneko saw him claim the OPBF Welterweight title in February 2020. Though sadly the Covid19 pandemic saw him sitting out the rest of the year, and it wasn't until January this year that he entered the ring as a champion, and then sadly lost in his first defense.
After the news broke he gave an interview with boxmob.jp, where he revealed the reason for his retirement, explaining he had had issues with his sight, and explained "I've always lost focus in my right eye, and my symptoms got worse during the match, so I thought this was the last time, whether I won or lost."
As well as explaining why he was retiring Nagahama revealed that he isn't sure what he'll be doing going forward, but that he was excited to begin a new journey.
We want to say thanks to Nagahama for some great fights during his career and his consistent determination in the ring. He wasn't a naturally great fighter, but he was the sort of fighter who trained hard, always gave his all, and was involved in some really fun fights. We're also glad he's getting out of the sport now before his eye issues get any worse and we want to wish him the best with whatever he chooses to do now that his career in the ring is over.
Earlier today the nominations for the JBC and Tokyo Athletic Press Club Boxing Subcommittee annual awards were announced, with the media being able to vote on the winners, who will be announced later this month. Unlike usual there will not be a big event ceremony, due to the ongoing Covid19 situation.
Sadly Covid19 really did destroy the boxing calendar in Japan and only a handful of top Japanese fighters managed to squeeze a fight into the year. In fact only 3 of the 7 current male world champions managed to fight, and that include a man who won his world title late year.
The fighters nominated for the "Best Fighter" award were those 3 champions that manage to fight last year:
They were WBO Super Flyweight champion Kazuto Ioka (25-2, 14) [井岡一翔]
WBO Flyweight champion Junto Nakatani (21-0, 16) [中谷 潤人]
And unified WBA "super" and IBF Bantamweight champion Naoya Inoue (20-0, 17) [井上 尚弥]
Those 3 champions are also up in the running for the "Skill Award".
The "Special Merit" award sees Junto Nakatani in the running alongside:
Masayoshi Nakatani (19-1, 13) [中谷正義]
and Hironori Mishiro (10-0-1, 3) [三代大訓]
The Effort/Fighting Award short list is
Ryoji Fukunaga (13-4, 13) [福永亮次]
and Kenichi Horikawa (41-16-1, 14) [堀川 謙一]
The KO award has 4 nominees, with Inoue, Ioka, and both Junto and Masayoshi Nakatani.
The newcomer award sees Mishiro up against:
Daishi Nagata (15-2-2, 6) [永田大士]
and Masamichi Yabuki (12-3, 11) [佐藤政道]
The best bout of the year has been split into two categories, as it has been for a while.
The world title bouts up for the award are:
Kazuto Ioka Vs Kosei Tanaka (15-1, 9) [田中恒成]
Naoya Inoue Vs Jason Moloney
Junto Nakatani Vs Giemel Magramo
As for the none world title bouts, the fights nominated here are:
Riku Nagahama [長濱 陸] Vs Kudura Kaneko [クドゥラ 金子]- For the OPBF Welterweight title
Kenichi Ogawa [尾川 堅一] Vs Kazuhiro Nishitani [西谷和宏] - Non title bout
Masayoshi Nakatani Vs Felix Verdejo - WBO Intercontinental Lightweight title
Ryoji Fukunaga Vs Kenta Nakagawa [中川 健太] - WBO Asia Pacific, JBC and OPBF triple title bout
and Hironori Mishiro Vs Masayuki Ito [伊藤 雅雪] - Non title bout
As for the female awards, the MVP nominess are:
WBO Atomweight champion Mika Iwakawa (10-5-1, 3) [岩川 美花]
WBO female Minimumweight champion Etsuko Tada (20-3-3, 7) [多田悦子]
and WBO female Super Flyweight champion Tomoko Okuda (7-2-2, 1) [奥田朋子]
The best bouts for female boxing are:
Mika Iwakawa Vs Nanae Suzuki [鈴木菜々江]
Etsuko Tada Vs Ayaka Miyao [宮尾 綾香]
and Tomoko Okuda Vs Miyo Yoshida [吉田 実代]
Earlier today we got the first televised Japanese sow of the year, thanks to promotional outfit Kadoebi and satellite TV channel G+. The show was earlier than we usually get for G+ cards due to the ongoing state of emergency through parts of Kanto, but still felt somewhat special, and something to look forward to in a year where boxing really has stuttered, and struggled to get going globally.
The show kicked off with an all debutant bout over 4 rounds with Yudai Murakami (1-0) [村上 雄大] facing off with Naoki Shimizu (0-1) [清水 直樹] in front of a very sparse crowd at the iconic Korakuen Hall.
On paper this looked good but sadly, for the first televised bout of the year in Japan, the contest struggled to get going. Part of that was due to the fact Murakami was a southpaw and Shimizu wasn't, causing the two men to tangle up and clash heads several times in the opening round, with inexperience exacerbating the problems. Despite that the bout did begin to tidy up in round 2, with Murakami having success at range and countering Shimizu well. Shimizu managed to get a toe hold in the bout in round 3, but Murakami managed to turn the screw in round 4 and out worked his man in a very messy round that left him cut around the right eye. After 4 rounds we went to the judges, who all scored the bout 39-37 to Murakami.
The second bout on the show saw Yugo Kon (0-1) [今 優吾] kick off his professional career with a tough loss as he was stopped by Koji Tsurumi (5-3-1, 2) [鶴海 高士] in a 6 round bout at a contracted 54.5KG's, which is just over 120lbs.
Unlike the first bout this was really engaging with Kon boxing well behind his jab early on before Tsurumi's pressure began to build and we ended up getting a really solid fight, with Kon's boxing skills going up against Tsurumi's fighting will. By round 5 the action was starting to get genuinely intense, with Kon trying to take his man out with some huge right hands and Tsurumi trying to break his foe with pressure, forcing him on to the ropes several times. To his credit Tsurumi proved to be tough, and kept coming, even when it was clear he was tiring and it was that toughness that proved vital in round 6. It was in round 6 that a tired Kon began to trade with Tsurumi. A combination up top from Tsurumi wobbled Kon and with Kon's defenses falling apart the referee jumped in to save the debutant with just 50 seconds left.
We'll admit on first viewing the stoppage seemed a bit hasty, but on replay it was certainly not among the worst stoppages we've seen. Perhaps a touch early, but no real complaints from us, though we suspect Kon will feel somewhat aggrieved he wasn't given a few more seconds to try and ride out the storm. On the other hand this was a great example of a fighter not giving up until the final bell and the tenacity of Tsurmi was a key to his victory.
The third bout on the show was the event’s only 8 rounder and saw Chikato Sumida (9-3-1, 1) [住田 愛斗] and Ken Achiwa (12-15-6, 4) [阿知和 賢] clash in a battle of top 20 ranked Japanese Super Flyweights. On paper this looked like a bit of a mismatch, but in reality Achiwa is far better than his record indicates, and is a grizzled veteran as he showed again here.
The fight wasn’t the best to watch but was an engaging one, as Sumida looked to come out of the blocks quickly, and had success in round 2 with body shots. As the rounds went on however Achiwa did well to take the sting out of a lot of Sumida’s work, and by round 4 the experience and ring craft of Achiwa was showing itself as he landed counters, and boxed smartly against Sumida. Head clashes, in rounds 5 and 6, left Sumida in agony and by round 7 Sumida looked like a desperate and exhausted fighter whilst Achiwa was landing clean shots and still had snap in his punches. That exhaustion showed again in round 8, but Sumida did his best to hold and spoil through the round.
After 8 rounds the bout seemed a nightmare to score, with both men having some clear rounds, and others being a complete toss up. That was shown on the scorecards with scores of 77-75 to Sumida, 77-75 to Achiwa and 76-76, giving us a draw.
Following the draw we saw the anticipated debut of Jun Ikegawa (1-0) [池側 純], who turned professional after going 51-15 in the amateur ranks. He was up against Kakeru Yoshikawa (4-2-2) [吉川 翔].
Sadly whilst it was clear Ikegawa was a very talented fighter, this bout was not one that will live in the memory. Ikegawa looked like an excellent counter puncher, but someone who needs to learn to adapt a more offensive style in the professional ranks. Unfortunately Yoshikawa gave very, very few countering opportunities to Ikegawa, in one of the tamest efforts we’ve ever seen from a Japanese fighter. Much of this bout was spent with the two men fencing with their lead hands, and very, very little drama. Ikegawa won pretty much by default, as Yoshikawa did so little. In fact it seemed like Yoshikawa’s only gameplan for 5 rounds was to box with a much, much better boxer.
Thankfully Yoshikawa did show some ambition, but it wasn’t until round 6, and that ambition seemed to be focused on not being shut out on the scorecards, rather than actively trying to win. Sadly for Yoshikawa the judges didn’t make much of his late effort and still scored this a shut out for Ikegawa.
In the penultimate bout of the show we saw Jukiya Iimura (1-0, 1) [飯村 樹輝弥], who went 68-13 in the amateurs, make his debut against the 35 year old Daisuke Yamada (6-6, 1) [山田大輔].
Yamada looked to begin with a high energy style which was a stark difference to what we had seen from Yoshikawa just moments earlier. Iimura on the other hand looked like a solid professional, with a pressure style, a tight guard and very nice composure. Around the mid-way point of the round Iimura landed a gorgeous right hand that put his man down, the first knockdown of the show. Yamada beat the count, but was down again soon afterwards from another short right hand counter. He tried to beat the count, and got to his feet, but had no idea where he was and the referee quickly waved off the contest before Yamada was back on the canvas, and later stretchered out of the ring.
Compared to all the other debutants on this show Iimura stood out like a sore thumb. He looked like a special talent. Not just a good boxer, but a genuine special talent.
The main event of the card saw Riku Nagahama (12-3-1, 4) [長濱 陸] lose a decision as he attempted to make his first defense of the OPBF Welterweight title, taking on the hard hitting Ryota Toyoshima (13-2-1, 8) [豊嶋亮太].
From the off Toyoshima looked to set the tempo and make a statement, landing heavy shots early on, and establishing his tempo, range and style on the fight. Nagahama seemed to start very slowly and struggled to get Toyoshima’s respect through the first few rounds, despite having some flurries of success, particularly with his right hand. The solid jab of Nagahama’s, one of his best weapons, regularly went under-utilised and by the time he started using it regularly it seemed that he was already in a hole, especially given the body shots he was being forced to take.
Somehow though the judges were less harsh than we were and after 4 rounds the scores were 39-37, 38-38 and 37-39, leading to a draw at that point on the cards. We sided with the judge who had it 39-37 to Toyoshima.
It seemed like those cards offended Toyoshima who really upped the tempo in rounds 6 and 7 as he began to give Nagahama a battering, dropping the defending champion in round 7 with a monstrous right hand, and pinning him against the ropes for large portions of the round. It seemed, going into round 8, that Toyoshima was on the verge of a stoppage, but Nagahama gritted it out through the round, showing his toughness and will to win.
After 8 rounds the open scoring now all favoured Toyoshima, with scores of 77-74 and two scores of 78-73, the same as how we had it, having given Nagahama rounds 3 and 5.
In round 9 Nagahama was taking punishment before landing his most telling shot of the fight, a nasty low blow. The shot saw Nagahama getting a breather and Toyoshima losing some of his momentum and composure, and he seemed too eager to continue fighting. When the fight resumed Toyoshima had Nagahama in trouble, before taking some solid blows himself as Nagahama tried to fight fire with fire, giving us a brilliant final 20 seconds or so to the round.
By round 10 both men began to look tired, and the tempo began to ease off. That favoured Nagahama who began to land plenty of body shots on Toyoshima, who responded with shots up top. Round 11 saw the pace further slow down, though Toyoshima’s power and work rate was continuing to carry the fight his way. Given the slowdown in the previous two rounds we expected round 12 to be a rather tired round from both mne, but instead Toyoshima fought like a man who didn’t just want to win, but wanted to stop his man, and fought at a frightening pace, as Nagahama took a beating once again. In the final minute it seemed certain that Nagahama was going to hit the canvas again, if not be stopped standing, but he somehow did enough to see out the round, and hear the final bell.
As we went to the scorecards it was clear there was only one man who could have won, and that was Toyoshima, who was declared the winner with scores of 117-110, 116-111 and 115-112.
On this performance Toyoshima is perhaps not going to have a particularly long reign, but it will be a fun one. As for Nagahama we can’t help but feel he got his tactics very wrong and allowed Toyoshima to control the tempo far too easily. Despite that the former champion did show incredible heart and determination late, and it was a testament to his will for him to see out the 12 rounds.
tomorrow at Korakuen Hall we'll see OPBF Welterweight champion Riku Nagahama (12-2-1, 4) [長濱 陸] defending his belt against the hard hitting challenger Ryota Toyoshima (12-2-1, 8) [豊嶋亮太]. For fans not able to make it to the venue, the bout will also be available on CS channel G+ as part of their long running Dynamic Glove series.
Today, ahead of their bout, the two men took part in their weigh in and both fighters came in well under the limit.
The champion came in around 145.7lbs, more than 1lb under the divisional limit. He explained that he did lose a little more than usual, just in case. In regards to his preparation he explained that this was the first time he had done 12 rounds of sparring in a day, and it seems the focus was on his stamina and work rate.
For the champion the bout will be his first defense following his title win in February 2020 against Kudura Kaneko, in what was regarded as a small upset.
Toyoshima, sporting pink hair, on the other hand was around 146.2lbs, close to 1lb under the limit.
The challenger went on to explain that this was the best condition he had been in, despite taking 16 months out of the ring, in part due to a dislocation he suffered in his hand in his last fight. To prepare he was training with Jorge Linares, and it seems the focus was on using Linares' experience to help develop Toyoshima's understanding of the ring and variety of attacks.
For those wanting to tune in to the event on TV, or attending in person, please be aware the event will begin earlier than usual due to the new state of emergency declared in Tokyo Metropolitan region and 3 surrounding Prefectures. With this in mind, fans watching via iSakura will need to order earlier than usual, especially given that typical iSakura orders are taking around 12 hours to process at the moment.
Preview - Potential thriller as OPBF champion Nagahama takes on Toyoshima!
(Image courtesy of Kadoebi)
Earlier today Polish betting company STS began to take bets on the upcoming OPBF Welterweight title bout between defending champion Riku Nagahama (12-2-1, 4) [長濱 陸], who is seeking his first defense of the belt, and hard hitting challenger Ryota Toyoshima (12-2-1, 8) [豊嶋亮太].
The opening odds here see STS favouring the champion, who they have priced at 1.6 to take home the victory and retain his title, whilst Toyoshima is priced at 2.2 as the under-dog. For a bout that we see as a fairly 50-50 match up there some value there on Toyoshima, but maybe not enough to entice the Polish bettors.
The bout also has method of victory markets, and this is where things suddenly get much, much more interesting.
The bookies see the most likely outcome as a decision win for Nagahama, pricing that outcome at just over evens, at 2.1. The second most likely outcome is the 3.0 available on a Toyoshima stoppage win. A Nagahama stoppage is a rather large 5.0 whilst a decision win for Toyoshima is a hefty 7.0, which is the outlier and with good reason given his more limited boxing skills than the champion.
The bout also has an length of bout market available, set at 7.5 rounds. The over is seen as the more likely outcome, at 1.45 whilst the under is priced at 2.52.
For fans wanting to watch this one live it will be shown live on G+ with their broadcast starting at 16:00 local time.
Preview - Potential thriller as OPBF champion Nagahama takes on Toyoshima!
News! We try and give you the most interesting news stories from the Asian boxing world!