As part of the annual Rookie of the Year the tournament is split into 4 sections, that all lead to the All Japan Final. The most notable of those sections is the East Japan side, which takes up half of the tournament bracket, and the winners of the East Japan Rookie of the Year will compete in the All Japan final.
The other 3 sections all meet to decide the West Japan representative, with the Central, West and Western Japan winners all vying for the other place in the final. As part of that we see Western and Central Japanese Rookie king's battling, with the winner than facing the West Japan king.
Today fans in Saga got the chance to see the Central Japan and Western Japan winners face off, as we move one step closer to the All Japan final. The winners from today will be facing the West Japan champion in December, with winner booking their place in the All Japan final early next year.
In total there was supposed to be 10 bouts, though a number of those were cancelled due to one fight, or the other pulling out. Before we discuss that bouts that did happen we'll look at the ones that didn't take place, and explain who will be competing in the next stage of the competition.
One of the cancelled bouts was at Super Bantamweight, where Hirohisa Fujiwara (0-1) [藤原 裕久] pulled out, allowing Ren Anzai (4-3-1, 2) [安西 蓮] to advance in the tournament. The second cancellation was at Super Featherweight, where Kenta Nakazato (3-1-1, 3) [仲里 健太] cancelled his scheduled bout with Kazuki Higuchi (5-1, 2) [樋口和輝], giving Higuchi a bye to the next stage. Hayato Fukagawa (2-2, 1) [深川 隼人] also got a bye, at Lightweight, with Keita Kamiya (2-2, 1) [神谷 啓太] pulling out of their bout. The final bye was had by 26 year old Middleweight Norifumi Hayakawa (2-0, 2) [早川 教文], who progressed due to Kazunari Okamoto (1-0, 1) [岡本 一成] pulling out.
With 4 bouts being cancelled we then ended up with just 6 bouts, sadly.
The first of the bouts saw 20 year old Light Flyweight Nozomu Wakiyama (2-1) [脇山 望] narrowly out point Kaito Kakumu (2-1, 1) [各務 海都] in a brutal fight. Kakumu was down in the first round, but battled back hard as he tried to turn things around. Wakiayama deserved the win, but it really was down to the knockdown.
Sadly the second bout on the show was a really frustrating one with Sora Sunohara (2-0-2) [春原 青空] and Naoki Nomoto (1-0-1) [野元 尚樹] fighting to an opening round technical draw. Nomoto was cut in the first round from an accidental headclash and the doctor quickly waved off the bout, resulting in the draw. Due to the special tie break rules Sunohara will progress in the tournament.
At Bantamweight Fuya Tomita (4-2, 2) [冨田 風弥] managed to take a clear decision over the previously unbeaten Hiroki Kinjo (5-1, 4) [金城 寛季]. On route to the win Tomita dropped Kinjo, helping to put this one beyond doubt, despite it going the 4 round schedule.
In the Featherweight bout Hikaru Fukunaga (7-1, 4) took a 4 round shut out over the much less experienced Masashi Tokihiro (1-1-1, 1). This was a good effort from Tokihiro but he was out done in every area, and both men looked exhausted by the end of the bout. The body shots of Fukunaga proved vital, but he will need a better performance than this to win the All Japan final next year.
We got the first stoppage of the show in the penultimate bout, all the way up at Light Welterweight, where Aito Takabatake (4-1-1, 1) [高畠 愛大] forced the referee to save Ryoki Terada (1-4, 1) [寺田 亮樹] in the 4th round. Terada was in trouble through out the bout, and Takabatake upper the pressure late and made sure to get the stoppage, the first of this career.
The final contest on the card was at Welterweight and saw Hiroya Nojima (4-1, 2) [能嶋 宏弥] take a decision over Taiki Henzan (1-1, 1) [平安山 大樹]. This was a clear decision victory for Nojima, who dropped Henzan and looked the boss through out. He was too good and too accurate, despite being tagged once or twice himself en route to his victory.
All the men progressing to the next round will be expecting to return to the ring on December 27th for their bout against the West Japan Rookie of the Year champion, and their chance tocompete in the All Japan final in 2021.
Later today at Korakuen Hall we'll see Junto Nakatani (20-0, 15) [中谷 潤人] and Giemel Magramo (24-1, 20) battle for the vacant WBO Flyweight title, in a highly anticipated bout between two young and talented fighters each looking to leave their mark at the highest level.
Prior to that bout there is a 4 fight under-card split essentially into 2 parts. That under-card features 3 low level bouts, shown exclusively on G+, and then a more notable bout shown on both G+ and BS NTV.
As we write this the first part of that under-card is over, and really didn't last very long leaving a lengthy break in the broadcast, that G+ have decided to fill with highlights from Nakatani's bouts.
The show kicked off with an East Japan Rookie of the Year semi-final bout at Middleweight, with Teiken promoted Kenji Yoshino (2-1, 2) [吉野 健二] taking a 2nd round TKO win over Taiga Ito (3-2) [伊藤 大賀], with the two men meeting for the second time. In their first bout Ito had beaten Yoshino and today Yoshino got revenge, landing a sensational left hook towards the end of the second round.
A second Rookie of the Year bout was at Lightweight, where the hard hitting Hiromasa Urakawa (6-1, 4) [浦川 大将] took a technical decision in a very sloppy fight with Toshiki Tanaka (2-3) [田中 利樹]. This was messy from the off, and ended early in round 3 with Urakawa suffering a nasty cut from a head clash. He won on all 3 cards, but things were easy for him.
The third, and final bout of the first part of the show saw Junpei Tsujimoto (7-2-3, 5) [辻本 純兵] defeat Daiki Ogura (4-4-1, 4) [小倉 大樹] in a 2 round thriller. Ogura couldn't miss with his left hook, and seemed to take the first round, before dropping Tsujimoto in round 2. Tsujimoto was all over the place following the knockdown down as Ogura went for the kill and continued to land left hooks over and over. He seemed on the verge of a stoppage, and then got blasted himself by a huge right hand that seemed to be thrown in desperation by Tsujimoto. This was dramatic, exciting, and such a huge turn around. This was the one bout of the under-card that was actually worth watching.
As we write this we're set to get the second part of the under-card, which will see Juiki Tatsuyoshi (13-0, 9) [辰吉寿以輝] battle Kazuhiro Imamura (2-0, 1) [今村和寛] in a very interesting looking 8 round bout.
Earlier today at Korakuen Hall there was a host of Rookie of the Year Bouts, as we had a number of East Japan Rookie of the Year semi-final bouts. Going into their bouts the winners knew they would be back in action in December, in the East Japan final, and if they win there they will be competing the All-Japan final in the new year.
In total there was 12 bouts scheduled for today's show, though unfortunately 3 of those 12 bouts were cancelled.
Before we discuss the bouts that we did get we'll quickly go over the three that were cancelled, two of which were at Welterweight.
One of the cancelled Welterweights was supposed to feature Toshiya Kawauchi (2-3-3, 1) [川内寿也] taking on Ryota Yamazaki (1-1-1, 1) [山﨑 海知], though Kawauchi was forced to cancel the bout. As a result Yamazaki will face Yudai Saito (0-1) [齊藤 裕大], who also got a bye after Kazuki Ikeya (1-4) [池谷 一樹] was pulled out. At Middleweight the 19 year old Eiki Kani (2-1-1) [可兒 栄樹] progressed after Masanori Iwai (3-1, 3) [岩井 優典] pulled out.
As for the actual bouts themselves, the show kicked off with a very competitive Minimumweight bout between Yuji Hirai (4-0-1, 2) [平井 雄士] and Tsugaru Keiya (2-2-1) [つがる慶也]. In the end Hirai did enough to edge the decision, winning a majority verdict, but there wasn't much in this one at all, and it was a great start to the show, with both men digging especially deep in the final round.
It's fair to say that Light Flyweight Ryota Karimata (5-0, 3) [狩俣 綾汰] wasn't in the mood to wait around, and he quickly got rid of Kengo Hatsushika (3-4-2, 2) [初鹿 健吾], in just 50 seconds. Karimata came forward quickly and quickly closed the show out, dropping Karimata with a right hand to finish the bout off.
After a quick blow out at Light Flyweight we then got a very competitive Super Flyweight bout between Aito Abe (2-0-1, 2) [阿部 愛斗] and Shunpei Kubo (5-1-1, 3) [久保 春平], who couldn't be split by the judges, resulting in a split decision draw. This was a real high tempo battle between two hungry fighters looking to make a point. They were very evenly matched through out. Despite the draw Kubo got will be the one progressing on to the East Japan Rookie of the Year final.
At Bantamweight there was another very hotly contested match up, as the debuting Ryuki Sudo (1-0) [須藤 龍揮] narrowly over-came Keito Ayabe (4-2, 3) [綾部 圭人], with a split decision. This was a more cerebral bout that some of the others on the card, and lacked the action of some, but was a very close and competitive contest with Sudo just doing enough to get the decision.
In the Super Bantamweight bout Yuki Yazan (6-2, 4) [矢斬 佑季] moved in to the East Japan final with a 3rd round TKO win over Suguru Ishikawa (2-3, 2) [石川 優]. This was an explosive one, with Ishikawa dropping Yazan, then Yazan getting revenge very early in the bout. In round 3 Yazan dropped Ishikawa for the second time before forcing a stoppage later that round. This was dramatic, exciting and proof of just how good Rookie of the Year bouts can be!
We ended up with another super close bout at Featherweight, with Ryo Yoshida (3-0, 1) [吉田 諒] sneaking past Yuya Hirose (3-1-1, 2) [廣瀬 祐也]. The unbeaten Yoshida got off to the perfect start, dropping Hirose who gritted his teeth and battled his way back into the bout, though it wasn't to be enough. After 4 rounds two of the judges scored this 38-37 to Yoshida, whilst the third judge had it a round wider.
We had punchers in action at Super Featherweight as Tsubasa Narai (5-0, 4) [奈良井 翼] clashed with Hiromichi Komatsu (4-6-2, 4) [小松 裕道]. Narai managed to show that his power was more devastating towards the end of round 2, when he shook, and then dropped, Komatsu, forcing the referee to stop the bout and give Narai his second stoppage of the year.
Up at Lightweight we saw 27 year old Ryan Joshua Yamamoto (4-3, 1) [山本ライアン ジュシュア] take a unanimous decision win over 24 year old Shun Nakamura (3-2, 2) [中村 駿]. This was a real fun fight, with both men landing in a relatively even fashion, and neither getting much of an upper hand at any point. Nakamura seemed to come on stronger in the later stages, but Yamamoto did just enough earlier in the bout to take home the win.
The first of two Light Welterweight bouts saw 21 year old debutant Reiji Kodama (1-0) [兒玉 麗司] take a split decision over Koshi Fujisaki (3-3-1, 2) [藤﨑 光志], who was 10 years his senior. From the off Kodama seemed to pressure, and used his height and jab well to establish control. Neither man landed much of note, though it very much seemed like Kodama was the one trying to make things happen, with his jab being the key offensive weapon either man showed. After 4 rounds the judges turned in rather odd scores. Two of the ringside officials had this a shut out for Kodama, whilst the third judge had Fujisaki winning 39-38.
In the final bout of the card we did get another close one, again at Light Welterweight. This bout saw Takuro Narumi (3-1, 2) [鳴海 拓郎] take a majority decision over Shohei Nagashima (1-5) [永嶋 翔平]. This was a brilliant battle between two very well matched men, both of whom were shaken and hurt at various points, with Nagashima hitting the canvas, in what proved to be the vital moment. After 3 rounds the scores were 38-38, 38-37 and 39-37, giving Narumi the win. Were it not for the knockdown this could, and probably would, have been a draw.
Earlier today at the EDION Arena Osaka, in Osaka City we had the West Japan Rookie of the Year finals as we continue to move towards the All Japan Rookie of the Year finals in 2021.
In total today's show was supposed to have 11 bouts, from Minimumweight up to Middleweight. However one of was cancelled was before hand, giving us 10 bouts in in total and 11 West Japan Rookie of the Year winners, with 3 special award winners.
Before we get on to the bouts that did take place we'll quickly mention the one that didn't. This was at Featherweight where Kakeru Mio (5-2, 3) [三尾 翔] was crowned the West Japan Rookie winner after 21 year old Takato Shibata (3-0, 3) [柴田 天斗] was forced out of the bout. Sadly we weren't given the reason for the cancellation, other than Shibata abstained from the bout.
The first bout on the show was at 105lbs and saw 19 year old Ren Kojima (4-1-2) [小島 蓮] take a majority decision win over Ayato Fukumitsu (2-3, 1) [福光 彩斗]. This was hotly contested through out and a hard one to score either way with neither man really making a case that they were the boss. With that in mind there was no surprise when the judges struggled to split them, with one judge having the bout even, 38-38, and the other two giving Kojima the nod, 39-37.
In a much less competitive bout 20 year old Light Flyweight Hyogo Kimura (6-1, 1) [木村 彪吾] easily defeated Masashi Ikeda (2-4, 2) [池田 雅史]. Although both men started somewhat competitively Kimura had managed to take over by the end of the opening round, and never looked back and he earned a well deserved 4 round shut out over Ikeda.
We got the first stoppage of the show at Flyweight , as Yasuhiro Kanzaki (5-1, 2) [神崎 靖浩] scored a 5th round TKO win over Hibiki Takano (4-3-1) [高埜 響]. Both guys looked really tall for Flyweights and understandably they looked to box at range early on, using their lengthy wingspans. By round 3 Takano was slowing and from there it all went down hill for him, before the referee saved him in round 5, in what was the only 5 round bout on the show.
For those curious about why this one was over 5 rounds and the others weren't, the Rookie of the Year will see men fighting over 5 rounds if both fighters have 4 or more wins.
At Super Flyweight we saw a razor thin decision in favour of the 22 year old Taichi Sugimoto (5-0-1, 1) [杉本 太一] took a majority decision over Yudai Yoneda (3-2, 1) [米田 優大]. The unbeaten Sugimoto was in trouble late in the bout, but recovered well and managed to do enough to just deserve this one, in what was a hotly contested bout. Sadly for Sugimoto however he is one of the toughest divisions and it's hard to imagine him taking home the All Japan crown in the final next year.
The Bantamweight bout saw Ren Kobayashi (3-0, 1) [小林 廉] take a much expected victory as he over-came Namiki Nagaoka (1-5) [長岡 波輝]. What wasn't expected was for Kobayashi to stop Nagaoka in the second round, given that Nagaoka hadn't been stopped and Kobayashi had never previously finished a bout early. Prior to the stoppage Nagaoka had been trying to return fire under pressure, but the referee jumped in after he was tagged by an excellent uppercut.
At Super Bantamweight we saw scorecards all over place as Sora Fukunaga (7-0, 3) [福永 宇宙] took a split decision over Ren Nishimura (2-2) [西村 連]. The bout saw both men having success in every round, and it certainly didn't seem like a bout that was as one sided as the records of the two men suggested. Nishimura was always very live in the bout, but Fukunaga seemed to land the harder shots. One judge had this a shut out to Fukunaga, another score it 39-37 in his favour whilst the dissenting judge had it 39-37 to Nishimura.
We previously mentioned the Featherweight bout, which was cancelled. The next bout that took place was at Super Featherweight, where we got another split decision, in a close one. This one saw Seika Fukuda (4-0, 1) [福田 星河] narrowly over-come Issei Muko (1-1-1) [武庫 一生], in a battle between unbeaten men. This was wonderfully competitive through out, with several close rounds, as well as both men having sustained success. In the end the judges really did struggle, but Fukuda managed to get two of the judges to favour him, 39-37. The third judge turned in the same score in favour of Muko.
At Lightweight Eiji Togawa (5-3, 2) [戸川 叡二] scored a 3rd round TKO win over Arashi Ijuin (1-1, 1) [伊集院 嵐]. It seemed that Ijuin had success in the opening round, with his awkward style, but sadly for him that mattered not in round 3 when a right hook dropped him. He recovered to his feet but was under pressure soon afterwards with Togawa forcing a stoppage just moments later.
We had another early conclusion at Welterweight, as Bigbaby Okamoto (2-0, 1) [ビッグベイビー岡本] scored a 3rd round TKO win over Yusa Toyonaka (1-2-1, 1) [豊中 勇左]. Toyonaka was under pressure though out and was dropped from body shots in round 2, and never recovered. He managed to make his way through the round but was in clear discomfort as we entered round 3. From there on Okamoto looked like a man on a mission and pinned Toyonaka on the ropes, where he unloaded, forcing the referee to step in.
The final bout of the event was up at Middleweight where we again saw a stoppage. This time it was the turn of 29 year old unbeaten Katsuhiro Nakata (4-0, 3), who stopped Mitsuyoshi Oshima (2-1). Oshima started confidently but was dropped with a big right hand in the opening round. Oshima bounced back well from the knockdown, and seemed like he was trying to turn things around, but in round 4 he was hurt and the referee stepped in after he took a big right hand from Nakata.
As for the special awards, Ren Kobayashi took home the MVP award, Sora Fukunaga won the Fighting Spirit award and Eiji Togawa was the winner of the Skill Award.
Earlier today at Korakuen Hall we had the latest round of East Japan Rookie of the Year bouts, with the show hosting the first set of semi-finals. The bouts, which will be made available on Boxing Raise, have all finished and we now know a good number of the fighters set to compete in the East Japan final.
The first fighter to go through to the final was Minimumweight Ryo Sasaki (4-2, 1) [佐々木 凌] who qualified after 20 year old Tatsuki Fujioka (0-1-1) [藤岡 立樹] abstained from the contest.
The first actual fight on the show saw 35 year old Hayato Aoki (4-0, 3) [青木 勇人] score a 4th round TKO win over 27 year old Yota Mihara (3-1, 3) [三原 陽太] at Light Flyweight. Mihara started this one one well, but Aoki found his groove and then forced a stoppage in mid-way into round 4 to secure his place in the East Japan final.
A second bout between unbeaten men came at Flyweight, and this was a blink and you miss it affair. The bout saw the hard hitting Shugo Namura (4-0, 4) [苗村 修悟] defeat 20 year old Teppei Saito (3-1, 2) [齋藤 哲平] in just 53 seconds! Saito was down within seconds. He got back to his feet but was down again soon afterwards and the referee waved this one off. This was a statement from Namura who looks like he will be a genuine handful.
Another man who looks a genuine handful is Super Flyweight sensation Kosuke Tomioka (4-0, 3) [富岡 浩介] who needed just 43 seconds to defeat Yota Sato (2-1, 2) [佐藤 陽太]. The 18 year old Tomioka landed a sensational left hook that forced the referee to wave this one off very early on. Tomioka, regarded as one of the favourites for the All Japan Rookie of the Year, really couldn't have asked for a better outcome today and we're looking forward to seeing him back in the ring in the East Japan final.
After a string of stoppages the crowd saw a bout go the distance at Bantamweight, as the light punching Norichika Kozu (6-1, 1) [神津 徳臣] took a 4 round majority decision win over Asato Mori (4-3, 3) [森 朝登]. This bout was scored rather oddly, with one judge having it a shut out and another having it even. Kozu used his reach well to control the action at times, but Mori came to win and gave a genuine account, even if he was on the wrong end of Kozu's long, straight shots on a regular basis.
At Super Bantamweight we also had a decision with Ryuya Nihei (5-0-1, 1) [二瓶 竜弥] narrowly defeating Arata Yoshioka (2-3-1, 2) [吉岡 新]. The unbeaten Nihei found himself in a real tough one here as Yoshioka came to win and gave him hell. Yoshioka was persistent, and stubborn, but in the end the judges, narrowly, favoured Nihei to give him the split decision victory. This was a very close bout.
In the penultimate bout of the show Kazunori Hirano (3-0, 3) [平野 和憲] extended his unbeaten record with a 4th round TKO win over Ren Kakimoto (3-2) [柿元 蓮] in a Featherweight bout. This was a war, with bombs being thrown by both, particularly in round 3. Sadly for Kakimoto his great effort early on came for nought when the referee was forced to save him mid-way through round 4.
The final bout came at Super Featherweight and saw Dominique Kenshin (5-1, 2) [ドミニク謙心] take a clear decision win over Nobuo Maruoka (4-3, 2) [丸岡 宣男]. This wasn't the best of bouts. The younger, fresher, faster Kenshin tried to keep this at range, whilst Maruoka tried to get the fight on the inside. As a result there was a lot of clinching and a lot of messiness. Despite that it ended up being a rather clear and straight forward win for Kenshin.
The winners are all expected to return to the ring on December 20th in the East Japan Rookie of the Year Final, and a win there will take them to the All Japan in the new year.
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