Earlier today the Korakuen Hall played host to the latest All Japan Rookie of the Year final, ending last year's tournament. The show was scheduled to have 12 bouts in total, though sadly 4 of those were cancelled before hand giving us just 8 bouts.
Before we look at the bouts we did get, we'll quickly talk about the 4 bouts we didn't get. They were the Flyweight, Super Flyweight, Welterweight and Middleweight bouts. Despite not taking place, the man who didn't pull out of the bouts all had to take part in a weigh in to win the tournament, which they did. The lead to Daichi Morino (3-1, 2) [森野大地] being crowned the Flyweight Rookie of the Year; Masato Shinoda (4-0, 3) [篠田将人] winning at Super Flyweight; Taiki Henzan (5-1, 4) [平安山大樹] winning at Welterweight; and Kohei Miyamoto (5-1-1, 5) [宮本康平] winning the tournament at Middleweight.
The first of the 8 bouts was a hotly contested bout at Minimumweight as Daisuke Sumita (6-1, 3) [墨田 大祐] took a very competitive split decision over Sho Hatsuda (6-2, 2) [初田 翔]. This was high level and intense, with good work rate from both men, but sadly neither man had had the power to hurt the other leading to a bout that was entertaining, but very hard to call either way. Both men a card of 48-47 in their favour with the deciding judge having it 49-47 to Sumita.
The Light Flyweight bout was much less competitive, and saw the coming out part of a teenager well worthy of attention. That was Kanamu Sakama (5-0, 4) [坂間 叶夢] who took his first decision win as he dominated Takuma Kamigaki (2-1-1) [神垣 拓磨]. Sakama was aggressive from the off, using an excellent jab, particularly to the body. Kamigaki had a good round 3 but was back under pressure in the final round as Sakama announced himself as one to watch going forward.
Another heavy handed fighter who heard the final bell for the first time was Shori Umezu (7-0, 6) who claimed the Bantamweight crown with a hard fought decision win over Daichi Hirai (5-2, 1). Umezu looked to make the fight a fire fight from the opening moments and had Hirai backing up, but to his credit Hirai saw out the storm and rocked Umezu who ended up in all sorts of trouble in the middle of the opening round, but remained up right, regained his composure and cleared his head. After the tough start for Umezu he managed to bully his way through the rest of the bout, using his physicality to wear down Hirai and secure a very hard earned decision.
At Super Bantamweight Retsu Takahashi (4-1, 2) [高橋 烈] suffered his first loss, as he was narrowly beaten by Misaki Hirano (6-1, 2) [平野 岬]. This was technical early on but it did seem like the men were too similar at times, with both men waiting for the other and offer a counter opportunity. As a result the bout never really caught fire and was a bit of a frustrating affair all round. It was close, but Hirano took the decision 48-47 on all 3 cards.
At Featherweight we had another close one, in fact it was so close that the judges failed to split the two men. This was a bout between Kai Watanabe (6-0-1, 2) [渡邊 海] and Chihiro Iwashita (3-0-1, 2) [岩下 千紘] that resulted in a draw between the two men, with two judges scoring it even. The bout was a really interesting one with with Iwashita pressing the action and Watanabe showing some lovely movement, to make his man miss, but rarely make him really pay. To his credit when he did make him pay he looked really good, but it did feel like he could have let his hands go more at times. In round 3 Iwasahita landed the most notable shot of the fight, staggering Watanabe into the ropes and touching down. Despite the knockdown it wasn't enough for Iwashita to earn the victory.
At Super Featherweight we got the first stoppage of the show as the talented Jinu Lee (8-0, 4) [李 鎮宇] stopped Seiryu Yamana (2-1, 1) [山名 生竜] in 2 rounds. Yamana had a good start and looked the equal of Lee at times in the opening minute. Sadly however a headclash midway into the round seemed to rattle Yamana, who looked in genuine pain afterwards. Yamana did regain his composure afterwards and fought well to the end of the round. As the round was coming to a close Lee was tagged and he looked to hold, accidentally stumbling into Yamana and headbutting him in his crotch. As a result of the accidental, and freak, incident Yamana was given a chance to recover. At the start of round 2 Lee tried to manhandle his man and he dropped him in the corner with a huge overhand right. Yamana beat the count but Lee smelled blood and went hunting, dropping his man a second time with a left hook, causing the referee to wave the bout off.
The Lightweight bout saw Ryugo Yanagibori (8-2, 1) [栁堀 隆吾] take a clear decision over Ran Ijuin (3-2-1, 1) [伊集院 嵐]. The first round saw the two men battle for range and distance, but in round 2 a right hand from Yanagibori dropped Ijuin. He recovered from the knock down but struggled to work his way back into the fight, which quickly got messy, as Yanagibori looked to keep range and tie up up close, whilst Ijuin looked to force a fire fight. After 4 rounds there no argument about the winner, with Yanagibori taking a clear win.
The final bout on the show was at 140lbs, and saw the hard hitting Kotaro Sekine (3-0, 3) [関根 幸太朗] score a second round TKO win over Genki Yamashita (4-1-2, 2) [山下 玄輝]. This was messy to begin with as Sekine came forward, looking to land heavy leather and Yamashita trying to neutralise the power differential between the two men, by holding and spoiling. The spoiling of Yamashita saw him see out the first round but in round 2 Sekine got to his man, upped his intensity, and broke down Yamashita, who had no answer to the sustained pressure of his foe. With Yamashita taking bombs it was only time until a monster close the show, and mid way through the round that's exactly what happened, with Sekine dropping Yamashita with a short left hook, forcing an end to the bout.
Yesterday news broke from the West Japan Boxing Association that the planed West Japan Rookie of the Year qualifying even, scheduled for June 12th in Sakai City, had been postponed.
Thankfully the delay here isn't too bad, pushing the show back by just over 2 weeks, from June 12th to June 28th, though it will still take place in the same venue, and with the same fighters.
The delay has been caused by the extended state of delat in Osaka Prefecture, as they continue to try and get on top of the on going increase in Covid19 cases, the same issue that has caused a number of other shows in Osaka prefecture to be postponed in recent weeks.
As we write this there is still a chance of other delays to the Japanese boxing schedule, though fingers crossed we're heading towards plain sailing, especially as their Covid vaccine program takes some big steps forward over the next few months. The plan seems to be for the country to innoculate much of the population by September. If that happens we should be back to boxing as normal towards the end of the year. Fingers crossed!
Eigoro Akai's debut opponent set!
Earlier today the Sports Hochi reported that Eigoro Akai (0-0) [赤井英五郎] now has an opponent set for his professional debut, as he follows in the footsteps of his hugely popular father Hidekazu Akai [赤井英和], aka the "Rocky of Naniwa".
The paper reports that Akai, who is fighting out of the Teiken Gym, will be competing in the East Japan Rookie of the Year and will be battling against Yasunori Okamura (0-0) [岡村弥徳], who makes his debut on May 22nd and will then enter the East Japan Rookie of the Year tournament.
In the news article Eigoro has stated that wants to beat the KO streak of his father, who notched 12 successive KO's whilst coming through the ranks. The younger Akai explained "I want to pass my father's 12 consecutive KOs, even if it's just by one."
Although we've not yet been sent the full schedule or line up the fighters involved in this year's East Japan Rookie of the Year we have been told that there is 6 people in the Middleweight tournament, the least of any division. The most for any division this year is the Super Bantamweight division, with a staggering 24 participants!
When the details of the bouts are revealed, and the dates are set in stone we'll share those!
At the EDION Arena Osaka earlier today we saw the first set of bouts from the West Japan Rookie of the Year, with 9 bout taking place in the qualifying stages of the tournament.
The first two bouts took place at Minimumweight. The first of those saw Daiki Fujimoto (3-0-1, 1) [藤本 大輝] make light work of the debuting Yuki Yamamoto (0-1) [山本 優希]. Fujimoto scored a knockdown late in the round, and then knockout Fujimoto out after the bout resume, with another solid right hand.
The second bout resulted in a draw as the judges failed to split Makishi Hattori (0-0-1) [服部 真騎士] and Hiroki Masukawa (0-2-3) [増川 博紀]. Through 4 rounds the two men fought incredibly evenly, with neither managing to get much of an upper hand. After 4 rounds the scores were 39-37, to Hattori, and 38-38, twice. Due to special tie breaker rules, Hattori progresses in the tournament.
After the two Minimumweight bouts fans then had three successive Super Bantamweight bouts.
The first of the bouts at 122lbs was an all debutant bout that saw 17 year old Bakuto Nakahara (1-0, 1) [中原 博斗] stop Yasunori Ueda (0-1) [上田 奏徳] in just 81 seconds. Nakahara dropped his man with a straight right hand and although Ueda tried to beat the count his team waved the towel to stop the bout.
The second Super Bantamweight bout didn't last much longer than the first, ending after 83 seconds, with Ren Nishimura (3-2, 1) [西村 連] stopping the debuting Shui Kawato (0-1) [川登 朱惟]. Nishimura started fast, cornered his man and unloaded, forcing the referee to save Kawato, who looked out gunned from the off.
The final of the Super Bantamweight bouts saw Kazuki Kojima (5-2, 3) [小島 一希] score a 4th round TKO win over the debuting Kotaro Ura (0-1) [浦 虎太郎]. Ura was game early on, but Kojima looked the more aggressive, stronger and better fighter and seemed hungry to make a statement. In round 4 that hunger of Kojima shone through and he landed a really good flurry that forced the referee to save the debutant.
We also had three bouts at Super Featherweight.
The first of those saw Ryuichi Sakamoto (1-0, 1) [酒本 龍一] score an opening round win over Yusuke Okimoto (1-2, 1) [沖本 雄輔], in 78 seconds. The debuting Sakamoto dropped his man with a huge straight right hand, with Okimoto hitting the canvas hard. The referee quickly waved this one out, with out a count. This was a real statement from the 21 year old Sakamoto.
The second Super Featherweight bout ended in a draw as Takehiro Ogawa (0-0-1) [小川 雄弘] and Takuro Maekawa (0-1-1) [前川 琢朗] fought in a hotly contested 4 rounder. There was very little to separate between these two men who matched up almost perfectly over the 4 round distance. The scores, of 38-38, twice, and 39-37 to Ogawa saw the debutant progress in the tournament on the tie breaker rules.
The final of the three Super Featherweight bouts was an all debutant contest that saw Ryuki Tokunaga (1-0) [徳永 竜己] take a unanimous decision over Shun Fujisaki (0-1) [藤崎 隼]. From the off Tokunaga pressed and he scored a knockdown in the opening round. Fujisaki tried to fight back, but always seemed to struggle to get much success as Tokunaga snuffed out his attempts to turn the bout around. After 4 rounds we went to the scorecards, which were 40-35, 39-36 and 38-37 all in favour of Tokunaga.
The final bout on the card came at 140lbs and was the was a close and compelling bout with the debuting Arata Shimizu (1-0) [清水 新] taking a split decision against Takahiro Tsuruta (0-3-1) [鶴田 貴大]. Tsuruta looked to close the distance early on, but but Shimizu countered well, used the right hook cleverly and managed to have success with his footwork. Tsuruta tried to up the tempo but was met by more intelligent footwork by Shimizu as the bout went on, with Shimizu boxing well on the move, whilst Tsuruta pressured.
After 4 rounds the scores were 40-36, Shimizu, 39-37 to Tsuruta and 39-37 to Shimizu, who progresses to the next round of the competition.
Earlier today at the Sun Rise Park Gym in Saga we saw the Western Japan Rookie of the Year kick off with a small show, featuring just 3 bouts in total. Although a small card, featuring only novices, it was an important show as it began the Rookie of the Year journey for several fighters.
The event kicked off at Super Bantamweight, where Misaki Hirano (2-1, 1) [平野 岬] scored a clear 4 round decision over Satoru Nakamine (0-1-2) [仲嶺 悟]. The 4 round bout saw Hirano control the action behind his jab, and his control of distance. Nakamine tried to turn things around in round 4 bout failed to cut the distance as Hirano smartly used his feet to control the action.
A second planned Super Bantamweight bout, between Shinsaku Sato (0-4) [佐藤 晋作] and Tatsuya Oda (1-0-1, 1) [小田 竜也], was cancelled when Sato had to pull out of the bout. As a result Oda will clash with Hirano in the Western Japan final on June 20th.
The other two bouts both took place at Welterweight.
The first of those saw Rintaro Shiojiri (1-1, 1) [塩尻りんたろう] score his first professional win, as he stopped Ryoji Matsumoto (0-2) [松本 亮治] mid-way into round 4. Shiojiri got off to a good start but Matsumoto fought back well in round 2 before being cut by the punches of Shiojiri. In round 4 the cut got worse and the referee saved a bloodied Matsumoto.
Shojiri will return on June 20 to face Taiki Henzan (2-1, 1) [平安山 太樹], who took a 4 decision win against Tomotaka Noda (2-4) [野田 知鷹], in what was a second clash between the two men. Noda fought well here, with a nice jab to begin with, but Henzan landed the better shots, and picked his moments well, boxing smartly when he needed to in what was a really competitive contest. After 4 rounds however Henzan took the decision on all 3 cards, to secure his place in the Western Japan final in June.
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