We've known for a while that the Ohashi Gym would be holding an event at Korakuen Hall on March 11th but until today many of the bouts on that card were unknown.
There were 3 bouts that were known. One of those was a clash between Taku Kuwahara (7-0, 4) [桑原拓] and Yoshiki Minato (9-3, 4) [湊義生], which was originally planned for January before needing to be postponed due to Kuwahara being injured. Another was a Japanese Youth Bantamweight title bout between champion Toshiya Ishii (3-1, 2) [石井渡士也] and Kaito Takeshima (6-3-1, 1) [竹嶋海刀]. The third was a bout between former world title challenger Ryo Matsumoto (24-3, 21) [松本亮] and Takashi Igarashi (13-5, 5) [五十嵐嵩視], in what is expected to be an easy win for Matsumoto, who is looking to rebuild his confidence.
Other fighters named for the card were the world ranked 140lb hopeful Andy Hiraoka (16-0, 11) [平岡アンディ], the promising Rikuto Adachi (14-2, 11) [安達陸仁] and former K-1 champion Yoshiki Takei (0-0) [武居由樹], none of whom had had their opponents named until today.
Now we know that that the 24 year old Hiraoka, who is ranked #12 by the IBF, will take on Fumisuke Kimura (9-6-1, 6) [木村 文祐] in an 8 round bout. On paper this shouldn't be a test for Hiraoka, but the reality is that it keeps him busy and sees him fight in Japan for the first time since July 2019. It seems likely that when he returns to the US, for another bout on a Top Rank show, he'll take on a more notable opponent.
We also now know that Adachi will battle against Takeru Kobata (8-5-1, 3) [小畑武尊] in an 8 rounder for the vacant Japanese Youth Welterweight title, making this show a double Youth title event. Adachi will be favoured here, though it is worth noting that he's fought since December 2019 and this will be his Ohashi Gym. Kobata on the other hand fought last December, losing a decision to Shoki Sakai on December 26th.
As for the debuting Takei, he will be up against Kazunori Takai (6-7-3, 3) [高井一憲]. On paper this looks to be somewhat underwhelming for Takei, who has looked very good in K-1 and looked very impressive in a recent spar with Tsuyoshi Tameda (21-6-2, 19) [溜田剛士]. Takai, who's a 34 year old southpaw is 0-5-1 in his last 6 dating back more than 3 years, including 2 stoppage losses.
One other bout on this card will see 18 year old Yushin Uchida (1-1, 1) [内田勇心] battle the debuting Shunsei Sawada (0-0) [澤田春聖] in a 4 rounder.
Earlier this month we reported that Taku Kuwahara (7-0, 4) [桑原拓] and Yoshiki Minato (9-3, 4) [湊義生] would clash on March 11th. Originally they were supposed to face off in January but an injury to Kuwahara saw the bout being pushed back.
Yesterday we saw another bout being added to that card, with Japanese Youth Bantamweight champion Toshiya Ishii (3-1, 2) [石井渡士也] confirmed to be defending his title against Kaito Takeshima (6-3-1, 1) [竹嶋海刀] on the same show.
Now we've seen several more additions to the event as the show has began to fill out.
One of the big announcements for the show is that Japanese Light Welterweight hopeful Andy Hiraoka (16-0, 11) [平岡アンディ] will be on the show. This will be his first bout in Japan in well over a year and see him looking to build on wins in the US. Sadly however his opponent for the show is yet to be announced. In fact there is no details at all about his bout, other than that he will be on the show.
Another fighter without an opponent is Rikuto Adachi (14-2, 11) [安達陸仁], who is scheduled for a 8 round bout, in what will actually be his Ohashi debut.
The show is also expected to feature the debut of former K-1 champion Yoshiki Takei (0-0) [武居由樹], who recently signed with the Ohashi gym and announced that he was heading to professional boxing.
One other bout that was announced was a show down between former world title challenger Ryo Matsumoto (24-3, 21) [松本亮] and Japanese domestic fighter Takashi Igarashi (13-5, 5) [五十嵐嵩視], with the two men clashing in an 8 rounder. The touted Matsumoto hasn't looked good recently, and does appear to be in with an easier opponent that he's faced in a while, though we do wonder where his head is at mentally when it comes to the sport.
At the very end of this month we'll see Naoya Inoue (19-0, 16) [井上 尚弥] defending his WBA "Super" and IBF Bantamweight titles against Australian challenger Jason Moloney (21-1, 18) in Las Vegas. Today, ahead of that bout, Hideyuki Ohashi, the Chairman of the Ohashi Gym, took part in an online interview on Inoue's behalf.
Ohashi revealed that his star fighter is currently sparring 4 or 5 rounds a day and that he was improving, stating "The development of techniques such as footwork and steps to the side is remarkable,". Ohashi also stated that Inoue hasn't lost any motivation, despite the way 2020 has gone and the cancellation of his planned bout with WBO champion John Riel Casimero.
One of the big talking points from Ohashi's comments wasn't how Inoue is training, but how much he is being paid, with Ohashi stating that his man would get $1,000,000. He even stated that that was more than expected, explaining, "I thought it was unavoidable that the opponent changed and it would be 30% to 50% down in the unattended game, but it is as it is" . Ohashi revealed that Inoue is getting that same amount that he was going to get for a bout with Casimero.
Interestingly Naoya won't be the only member of the family travelling from Japan to the US. Among other members of the Inoue family travelling is former fighter, and Naoya's cousin, Koki Inoue, with the plan being to try and keep a comfortable environment in the US, just as they'd have had in Japan.
As for sparring that has proven trickier than usual, with no sparring partners being flown in, however he has been sparring with fighters from the Ohashi gym. This has included Taku Kuwahara (7-0, 4) [桑原拓], Ryo Matsumoto (24-3, 21) [松本亮] and Keisuke Matsumoto (1-0, 1) [松本圭佑]. From outside of the Ohashi Gym Inoue has sparred with former 2-time world title challenger Masayuki Kuroda (30-8-3, 16) [黒田雅之] and is also planning to spar with Japanese Youth Bantamweight champion Toshiya Ishii (3-0, 2) [石井渡士也] next week.
The hope is to still unify all 4 world titles in 2021, with the plan being to get ast Moloney and then have the long awaited bout with Casimero in the new year, then face the winner of the WBC title bout between Nordine Oubaali and Nonito Donaire, with Ohashi stating "Next year, we will unify the four groups. We intend to do so".
One final thing to add, is it's now confirmed that Inoue will leave Japan in October 18th, with the plan being to enter the MGM Grand a few days before the bout.
Earlier today at Korakuen Hall former world title challenger Ryo Matsumoto (24-3, 21) [松本亮] continued his rebuilding process as he took his third straight win and defeated domestic rival Takuya Mizuno (17-3-1, 14) [水野拓哉] in a hotly contested 8 round bout.
This bout very much had the feeling of a must win for both men who had suffered recent losses. Matsumoto suffered back to back defeats in 2018, losing to Danny Roman and Ryo Sagawa, whilst Mizuno was beaten last time out by Musashi Mori. That tension seemed to play through early on, with neither man really landing much in the first round, as neither wanted to take any risks that early.
The pace would then begin to increase and from round 5 the bout become something thrilling with both men fighting hard to win, this saw the bout become absolutely thrilling, with fantastic 2-way action. This was intensified by Matsumoto scoring a questionable knockdown, which was ruled a knockdown but Mizuno certainly didn't seem hurt.
At the end of 8 rounds we went to the scorecards with both men likely unsure if they'd done enough. At the end the knockdown proved vital, with Matsumoto winning 76-75, twice, and 77-74.
It's hard to really know what Matsumoto has in the tank. On his way up through the rankings he looked brilliant, sharp and heavy handed. That was at Super Flyweight, and he's now fighting at Featherweight where his size and power doesn't seem as good as it once did. He still looks a talent, but sadly not the talent many had expected.
As for Mizuno this is a second straight loss and it's hard to know where the 25 year old goes from here. He needs to rebuild, and he needs tough competition, but he also can't afford another defeat if he's to work his way back into a title fight in the near future.
For fans wanting to watch this it will be aired at the weekend on Fuji TV.
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
Tomorrow at Korakuen Hall former world title challenger Ryo Matsumoto (23-3, 21) [松本亮] will face off with domestic rival Takuya Mizuno (17-2-1, 14) [水野拓哉] in the 8 round main event of an Ohashi promoted event.
The bout, being fought at Featherweight, saw the two men weigh in on Sunday and both men made the limit with no issues at all.
On the scales Matsunoto was bang on the limit whilst Mizuno was 125.5lbs, comfortably under.
Despite both men being in their mid 20's the bout really is regarded as an incredibly important one for both men. For Matsumoto, who suffered two losses in 2018, another defeat here would be his third in 5 bouts and he'd find himself a long, long way from a second world title shot. In fact he would also likely find himself a long, long way from even a Japanese fight.
As for Mizuno he was beaten last time out in a regional title fight, and would be a long way from getting another bout of note, if he lost tomorrow.
For fans unable to get to the Korakuen Hall but wanting to watch this one, the bout will be aired on Fuji TV over the weekend on tape delay.
(Image credit - Ohashi Gym)
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