WBC Youth Flyweight champion Kento Hatanaka (11-0, 9) [畑中 建人] might have been the star of today's Soul Fighting card, which was streamed globally by CBC, but he also ended up having more questioned asked of him than anyone would have anticipated.
The exciting youngster, the son of former world champion Kiyoshi Hatanaka, was expected to have a relatively easy time with Filipino challenger Roland Jay Biendima (15-6-1, 8). He was supposed to shine after being given a real tough test by rugged veteran Jaysever Abcede last year. Instead of shining and dominating Hatanaka again found himself in a tough, testing, damaging war that was a lot more competitive than the score-cards suggested.
The first round went with the script, with Hatanaka looking too good, too crisp, too sharp and too busy for the Filipino. As it turned out however Biendima was merely playing possum and in round 2 he started to come alive, although he was only really winging in wild punches during the second round it was clear he wasn't there to just make up the numbers.
From round 3 the bout began to turn into a genuine war, with the two men trading blows on the inside and Hatanaka being left bloodied around the nose. The Japanese fighter was still doing enough to pick up the rounds, but he was suddenly needing to work hard for them, and that hard work just got harder, and harder as Biendima moved began to put his foot on the gas.
As is typical in Japan for WBC Youth title bouts the scores were announced after 4 rounds, and Hatanaka was in a comfortable lead, 40-36, twice, and 39-37. The action continued to be tough, gruelling stuff through the middle rounds, with Biendima's toughness shining through as he continued to try and force an inside fire fight. That inside battling ended up with Hatanaka suffering a nasty cut over his left eye, from an accidental headclash, which along with his nose was certainly more damage than he'd have anticipated when the bell went to start the bout.
After 8 rounds Hatanaka was in a very comfortable lead on the official cards, 79-72, twice, and 78-73, but was certainly under pressure from Biendima in round 9, as the Filipino got through Hatanaka's sloppy defense regularly. The challenger would have been aware that he was behind, and likely needed a KO, despite having had moments in every round apart from the first one. The effort from the challenger wasn't able to be replicated in the final round as both men looked tired, as we went to the final bell.
After 10 rounds, of almost constant head to head battling and teeing off with power shots, we went to the score cards which had Hatanaka comfortably in the lead with scores of 99-90, twice, and 98-91.
Despite the win Hatanaka had to work for this, and the scorecards really don't tell the full extent of how competitive this was. Hatanaka certainly deserved the win, but he had to work hard and fight through adversity in one of the best fights we've seen this year. Sadly for someone with his natural gifts he does seem too willing to give up his size, speed and reach, preferring to have a war, rather than use his boxing skills. Finger crossed, for his longevity in the sport, that he does begin to tweak his tactics, and begin boxing and move more, rather than having too many of these types of wars.
As for Biendima we suspect he did enough here to get invited back to Japan to take on some of the other rising prospects from the country. He acquitted himself well, and despite losing, wide, he showed a lot more than we'd expected of him.
As for the under-card the real standout was Hiroki Hanabusa (8-0-3, 3) [英洸貴], who blasted out Thai foe Sorawit Bamrungrai (6-3, 3) with a brutal left hook to the body, in one of the best body shots we've seen this year. The 2018 Rookie of the Year winner will be in tough bouts than this later in the year, but a shot like the one he landed would put anyone on their knees. An absolute beauty of a shot.
Whilst Kosei Tanaka [田中恒成] may be the proverbial boxing king of the Chukyo region at the moment he's certainly not alone in trying to put the region on the boxing map once again. Another fighting to do the same is his young stable mate Kento Hatanaka (10-0, 9) [畑中 建人].
Hatanaka, the son former world champion Kiyoshi Hatanaka, is the current WBC Youth Flyweight champion and is regarded as a truly exciting action fighter. He's proven to be quick, heavy handed and fantastic fun to watch, with his career already generating some genuine buzz, not just in the local area but wider afield. He's not a star, like Tanaka, just yet, but certainly seems to be heading towards the top.
We've known for a whilst that Tanaka would be defending his WBC Youth Flyweight title against fellow youngster Roland Jay Biendima (15-5-1, 8) on February 11th at the Aioi Hall in Kariya, and today we can confirm there will be a legal, live feed available for the contest through CBC's High Five!! WEB youtube channel.
This is the same channel that has a video Hatanaka's previous fight, a brilliant and hotly contested battle with Jaysever Abcede, and is part of CBC's impressive online presence.
For those wanting to watch the bout the live stream for the event will be available here.
The bout is set to begin at around 13:00 local time on February 11th, and the link above will show the fight live and globally.
(Image - CBC High Five Web)
Sources in Japan have informed us that rising Japanese youngster Kento Hatanaka (10-0, 9) [畑中 建人] has now got his next bout set!
The talented and heavy handed puncher was given a serious test in August, when he took a decision over Jaysever Abcede in a bout that saw both men being dropped, and it seems that his team are set to keep him fighting at the same type of level.
The source has informed us that the youngster will be defending his WBC Youth Flyweight title against fellow youngster Roland Jay Biendima (15-5-1, 8), on February 11th, on the next "Soul Fighting" show from Hatanaka promotions, run by Kento's father Kiyoshi Hatanaka.
Hatanaka is looking to follow in his father's footsteps, with his father being a former world champion. To date he has looked incredibly talented, but the win over Abcede saw real questions being asked of him, and it will be interesting to see how he responds to such a tough fight.
As for Biendima hos most notable results are all losses, losing a split decision to Taiyo Inoue in November 2018, a loss to upcoming world title challenger Wulan Tuolehazi this past January and losing a decision to talented Chinese fighter Bin Zhou in May of this year. He will be a clear under-dog but will enter the bout knowing that the pressure is on Hatanaka, and not himself.
At the moment no other bouts for the show have been announced, though it's always great to see Hatanaka in action, and he is genuinely one of the most exciting young Japanese fighters out there.
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