Earlier today our attention turned to South Korea for a WBA Asia title double header.
One of those bouts was a domestic clash for the WBA Asia Lightweight title, which ended with Hwang Kil Kim (10-1, 5) taking a decision over Ki Soo Lee (8-4, 1) to record his first defense of the title. Despite being an all-Korean regional title bout it wasn't the bout that really got the attention, that was instead the second regional title bout.
The attention grabbing bout saw highly skilled Korean enigma Ye Joon Kim (18-1-2, 10) [김예준] take on Japanese visitor Ryo Kosaka (17-5-1, 8) [小坂遼] for the WBA Asia Super Bantamweight title. This was regarded as a much, much better bout than the all Korean contest, and with Kim being widely regarded as the most promising Korean talent it was the bout that was worthy of additional attention.
Kosaka, fighting outside of Japan for the first time, showed confidence early and tried to walk down Kim, who was able to show off his defensive skills. The defense of Kim blunted the attacks of Kosaka, who was putting a lot in for little result, the story for much of the fight. What made things worse for Kosaka was that when Kim let his shots go he really seemed to look like he could hurt Kosaka as and when he wanted. That was seen at the end of round 2 and 3, as Kim moved through the gears and showed touches of real class.
Sadly the class from Kim only came in spurts, and their was little sustained effort from the Korea, who appeared to be toying with Kosaka at times. It was as it the Japanese fighter was giving his all, whilst Kim was looking to show case his skills on the back foot, using the bout to sharpen his tools, rather than really going to work. It made things a little monotonous at times, and almost as if Kim was carrying Kosaka, when he should have really been turning the screw.
Thankfully Kim did began to show his vicious side in round 6, dropping Kosaka. The Japanese fighter got to his feet but was given a beating through the rest of the round, with Kim landing lefts hands at will. The Korean would keep up the work rate in round 7, looking to close the show, but to his credit Kosaka refused to go down, and saw out the storm. He did so by taking a lot of punches, but still managed to tough out the most damaging round of the fight.
Kim further turned the screw in rounds 8 and 9, not as impressive as he had in 6 and 7 but enough to make it clear he had too much, still, for the visitor and it seemed like Kosaka's corner it as they seemingly pulled their man from the bout at the end of round 9. A decision he didn't look best pleased about, though one that did make sense.
Kim, despite looking in total control, showed a lack of real fire at times, which was rather disappointing and it seemed like he was happy to play with his food. Against Kosaka that was fine, but it did make the bout drag. When he let his hands go he looked a sensationally talented fighter though, and fingers crossed we'll see him step up and what he can do in a much tougher bout than this next time out. He's not the man to save Korean boxing, but he is clearly their biggest hope and their best natural talent, and could be the man they need to kick start a Korean boxing revival.
Tomorrow in Korea local hopeful Ye Joon Kim (17-1-2, 9) [김예준] battle against Japan's Ryo Kosaka (17-4-1, 8) [小坂遼] in a battle for the vacant WBA Asia Super Bantamweight title.
Today, ahead of their bout, the two fighters took part in their weigh in, and both men came in under the 122lb limit for the bout.
On the scales Kim was bang on 122lbs and looked confident, calm and relaxed. Kosaka on the other hand was 121.8lbs.
Coming in to this bout Kim is riding a 13 fight winning run, including wins against the likes of Yuki Strong Kobayashi, Angky Angkotta and Sa Myung Noh. On the other hand Kosaka is looking to secure a second straight win following a 2018 loss to the then Japanese Super Bantamweight champion Yusaku Kuga.
Earlier today at the EDION Arena Osaka fans saw former Japanese title challenger Ryo Kosaka (17-4-1, 8) [小坂遼] record a decision win over domestic foe Jinya Ito (7-5-1, 2).
Kosaka, who is ranked by the JBC and OPBF, started the year in terrible fashion, being blasted out inside a round by the then Japanese Super Bantamweight champion Yusaku Kuga in 133 seconds. That bout was way back in March and he remained out of the ring until today. With around 9 months out of the ring, and just 2 rounds in almost 18 months, he didn't look as sharp as he had done in the past and it was clear there was ring rust on him during the performance.
Ito, who was last seen being stopped inside a round by Takuya Mizuno in July, started well, taking advantages of Kosaka's rustiness and and took the fight to his more accomplished foe to begin with. As the fight went on however Ito began to slow and Kosaka found his timing, range and smoothness, landing some very solid body shots whilst starting to press the action.
Ito knew his good start wasn't enough as the two men went into the 8th round, and Ito picked up the tempo, looking to drop his foe, and turn the bout around. It was however too little too late, with Kosaka taking the unanimous decision, with scores of 78-75 from all 3 judges
Given the early rust it's clear that Kosaka needs to be busier in 2019. For Ito this was a second straight loss, and a 5th loss in 8 which is worrying for his career, though at 23 years old he does have time to rebuild. This performance was promising for Ito, but there is a lot of work to do if he's ever going to make an actual mark on the domestic scene.
Earlier today fight fans at the Korakuen Hall saw Japanese Super Bantamweight champion Yusaka Kuga (16-2-1, 11) [久我勇作] record his second title defense, as be blitzed mandatory challenger Ryo Kosaka (16-4-1, 7) [小坂遼] in just 133 seconds.
Kosaka looked like he was there to win and started looking for body shots, but had no answer to Kuga's power, and was dropped after about 90 seconds. Kosaka got back to his feet but was down again only moments later with a left , forcing the referee to stop the bout with Kosaka back on his feet but lookihookng like a fighter who needed saving before Kuga got the chance to land another bomb.
Having blown away his over-matched challenger Kuga's attention turned towards the future and he's now being linked to his third defense, which is looking likely to take place in Summer and could be against former world title challenger Shingo Wake (23-5-2, 15) [和氣 慎吾]. That bout would essentially act as not only a Japanese title fight but also a worldtitle eliminator, with both men holding a number of world rankings.
Interestingly before Kuga's bout Wake was involved in a public exhibition with another former world title challenger, Shohei Omori (18-2, 13) [大森 将平] who was supposed to fight on the card, before his opponent Coach Hiroto (13-2-2, 4) [小内義人] failed to make weight, resulting in the exhibition bout.
(Image coutesy of boxmob.jp)
Tomorrow fight fans in Japan will get the chance to see Japanese Super Bantamweight champion Yusaka Kuga (15-2-1, 10) [久我勇作] defend his title against mandatory challenger Ryo Kosaka (16-3-1, 7) [小坂遼]. The bout, held at the Korakuen Hall, will be shown on Wednesday on tape delay on TBS and promises to be an explosive clash as Kuga attempts to make a statement and move towards a world title fight.
Today the two men took part in their weigh in for the contest.
On the scales both men were just under the limit, by 100g, or around .2lbs and both looked in good shape.
For Kuga the weight is pretty much the same as he was in his title win, last February against Yasutaka Ishimoto in their second meeting. As for Kosaka the weight is the same as he has been in his last 3 bouts. Kuga looked relaxed through out the weigh in whilst Kosaka looked a big more tense than the champion, though it should be noted than the challenger really is stepping up massively for this bout, and is ony really getting the shot due to Ishimoto retiring, rather than taking on the mandatory position he earned last year.
As mentioned, fans wanting to watch this one won't need to wait long as it will be aired on Wednesday night.
Kuga and Kosaka Clash for Japanese crown!
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
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