Earlier today we had live action from Hyogo courtesy of Taisei Gym and TV Osaka who managed to give us a rather fun morning of action thanks to a 2-part show that had everything, despite massive amounts of disappointment before the event had event started.
First thing this morning news broke that the anticipated Light Flyweight bout between Katsunari Takayama (31-8-0-1, 12) [高山 勝成] and Reiya Konishi (17-2, 7) [小西伶弥] had been cancelled. The bout was called off today due to Konishi testing positive for Covid19.
Thankfully that bad news was blessed with some good news and that is that the JBC will extend Takayama's license for another year due to force majeure regarding the delays to his ring return. The JBC do have a rule where they won't allow someone over the age of 37 to fight unless they meet other criteria, including fighting in the last 3 years. It's now more than 4 years since Takayama last fought, but common sense has seen them extend his license. Sadly this is the second time a bout of his has been scheduled this year, and then been cancelled with Takayama originally scheduled to fight just before his 37th birthday before Covid19 forced boxing in Japan to be put on hiatus.
The event kicked off with a female bout between Kanako Tabuchi (2-0, 1) [田淵 加奈子] and Aoi Watanabe (2-4, 1) [渡邊 葵]. This was a really fun and exciting way to start the show, with Tabuchi looking to have a fight and Watanabe responding with some big counters. In the end it was Tabuchi who got her hand raised, though she seem to be very fortunate to get a majority decision victory over 36 year old Watanabe. This was, sadly, a sign of things to come with the judging, but the action it's self was fantastic and the perfect start to the event.
The second bout on the show saw Takuya Takahashi (0-3-1) [高橋 拓也] and Takahiro Hamazaki (2-6-2, 1) [浜崎 隆広] fight to a 4 round split decision draw. The fight started slowly, and first 2 rounds seemed to be better for Takahashi than they did for Hamazaki, with Takahashi showing some very nice boxing skills. Sadly for him however Hamazaki turned the bout into a high intensity street fight in the final 2 rounds, giving us 6 minutes of absolute chaos, as he pulled a draw from the jaws of defeat. This was the real highlight of the first part of the show and a joy to watch. Blistering tempo, huge shots from both and 2 rounds of brilliantly brutal violence.
The third bout, and final, bout from the first part saw Arata Matsuoka (10-6, 4) [松岡 新] take a clear 8 round decision over Hideyuki Watanabe (8-13-3, 6) [渡邉 秀行]. Despite the scorecards being rather wide, one of which was 79-73, this was a really competitive bout with Watanabe holding his own for large swathes of the contest in a really enjoyable technical bout. In may ways this was the palette cleanser after two crazy action bouts and despite Watanabe's unappealing record he showed that he is a very, very capable fighter.
After Matsuoka's win we then saw Katsunari Takayama come to the ring, where he spoke to the fans. With a microphone in his hand Takayama stated "I was looking forward to the return fight for the first time in 4 years and 3 months, but I'm sorry to say that I want to push forward. Please wait for a while. I have been practicing in a very good environment since then. I will continue to devote myself. I will devote the energy of two bouts to the next fight"
The show then went to an intermission for around 2 hours before we returned for 3 more bouts.
The first of those bouts in the second part of the show saw us return back to in ring wars as Wataru Ikegami (8-5-1, 5) [池上 渉] and Shion Tamada (6-4, 3) [玉田 汐響] put on a sensational battle. The first 2 rounds seemed to be good ones for Tamada, who seemed too quick, big and youthful for Ikegami. And then bout turned on it's head in round 3 with Ikegami putting his foot on the gas and battering Tamada through out round 3. Tamada then tried to turn the fight around and we ended up having a war through the middle rounds. Sadly for Tamada he couldn't slow down Ikegami, who's jab was a fantastic weapon, and in round 7 the pressure from Ikegami became too much, sending Tamada to the canvas. Tamada did well to beat the count but the referee made the correct decision to save him from further punishment.
The second bout on this portion of the event was, on paper, the most interesting bout and saw former world title challenger Sho Ishida (29-2, 15) [石田 匠] take a decision win over Toshiya Ishii (3-1, 2) [石井渡士也]. This was an intriguing match through out, with Ishii pressing the action and Ishida looking to box off his long and sharp jab. We thought Ishii had done enough to take the decision, with his pressure, uppercuts and body shots catching the eye, though he ate plenty of straight shots through out and was left with a nasty cut above his eye brow, very obvious facial swelling and a bloodied nose. This was a great mix of styles, though in the end it was maybe the experience of Ishida, who stole a few rounds with late activity, that proved to be the difference. Despite the loss we wouldn't write Ishii, in fact he'll have learned a lot here. Sadly for Ishida it's another win where he showed a lot of limitations, and despite having a brilliant jab and straight right hand he simply cruises too much, and that has bit him in the past.
The main event of the 2-part show saw former world title challenger Riku Kano (17-4-1, 8) [加納 陸] over-come Ryoki Hirai (13-7-1, 4) [平井亮輝] to claim the WBO Asia Pacific Light Flyweight title. This one promises a lot but never really delivered. It started very, very slowly, as both men took a long time to figure the other out, boxing at range and being very cautious. In round 3 we got the first flash point of the right, with Hirai dumping Kano down with a right hand, but he failed to build on it. From round 5 the bout did pick up, becoming more of an inside war, but it was often messy action, with a lot of holding, heads coming together, and limited clean action. Both men had moments in these messy rounds, but neither could land a fight changing blow. In the end the judges were called on, again, and favoured Kano with a split decision. Given how little there was to split the two men it was hard to argue with the call here, and despite it being a close bout it's certainly not one we want to see re-run.
In a week where British fans are discussing the PPV price of upcoming shows, and promoters are defending those prices, it was great to see TV Osaka give us this show for free. It had several great action bouts on it and even with the disappointment of Takayama Vs Konishi the shows over-delivered. Well done to those involved in putting this together!
For those getting up early in Europe this morning to watch the bouts from Hyogo we have the news we didn't want to have. The anticipated bout between former multi-time world champion Katsunari Takayama (31-8-0-1, 12) [高山 勝成] and former 2-time world title challenger Reiya Konishi (17-2, 7) [小西伶弥] has been cancelled at the last minute.
The bout, which was supposed to take place in about 3 hours time, has been called off due to Konishi testing positive for Covid19 in the PCR test he took at the weigh in, yesterday, with the results coming back today.
This situation mimics the issue that forced the cancellation of the WBA Light Flyweight "Super" title fight between Hiroto Kyoguchi (14-0, 9) [京口 紘人] and Thanongsak Simsri (14-0, 12) earlier this month and shows that the protocol used in Japan does need changing, before more events are cancelled due to this type of late-positive test. In Kyoguchi's case it was the day before that the bout was cancelled whilst this is on the day of the event
Thankfully however Konishi's positive test will not force a cancellation of the card, but instead just the single bout he was set to be on.
Konishi tested negative a week ago and it's been stated there will be discussion at an upcoming meeting regarding testing and the shows. The JBC's general secretary Tsuyoshi Yasukochi has told the media "Konishi had undergone a PCR test once a week ago (negative), and it was confirmed that both the individual players and Jim had taken considerable infection prevention measures. I have to think that it is already in a situation where anything can happen. Not only the inspection system but also the shows themselves will be discussed at the Corona Countermeasures Subcommittee on the 26th."
As is the case with all bouts in Japan Konishi did go into isolation after the weigh in, where he is awaiting instructions from the local health center.
Takayama has stated, reportedly through his lawyer, "I'm sorry to cancel the match on the day of the event, but I can't help it. I pray for Konishi and those infected with the new coronavirus. I will switch my focus towards my next bout" [Translated]. That was something was echoed by his long term trained Hiroake Nakade "I'm sorry that it was a perfect preparation, but I will change my mind and prepare for the next game." [Translated]. It is worth noting this was supposed to be his return to the professional ranks after more than 4 years away, and it's hard to see what is now planned for the 37 year old veteran
Konishi has posted on social media "The result of the weighing and PCR test of the game the other day , Since it turned out to be positive, the match was canceled. I'm really sorry. I've been told earlier, so I'll contact you again for future support. I'm really sorry." [Translated]
Those who are tuning into the event will still get the chance to see former world title challenger Sho Ishida (28-2, 15) [石田 匠] battle Japanese Youth Bantamweight champion Toshiya Ishii (3-0, 2) [石井渡士也] and the WBO Asia Pacific title bout between Riku Kano (16-4-1, 8) [加納 陸] and Ryoki Hirai (13-6-1, 4) [平井亮輝], with both bouts being live on the TV Osak live stream on YouTube and their website.
Tomorrow in Hyogo we'll see former world title challenger Riku Kano (16-4-1, 8) [加納 陸] clash with unheralded Japanese fighter Ryoki Hirai (13-6-1, 4) [平井亮輝] for the vacant WBO Asia Pacific Light Flyweight title. The bout is the headline contest from a 2-part card set to be streamed by TV Osaka and promises fireworks and excite, as the two men look to a huge mark on the WBO rankings, and move towards a bigger bout in 2021.
Today the two fighters took part in their weigh in and both made the 108lbs limit and looked in great shape.
On the scales On the scales Kano was 107.8lbs, he looked in amazing shape, as he always does, and he seemed genuinely up for this bout. He stated that he'll win without doubt and it seemed like he saw the bout as part of a journey to bigger and better things. Once touted as a wunderkind of Japanese boxing Kano's career hasn't taken off as many had hoped and anticipated and it feels like this really is a must win if he's to make a real mark at the top.
Hirai came in at exactly the same weight, and stated that he had enjoyed training, whilst getting the youngsters in the gym to spar southpaw with him, to help him prepare for Kano. For Hirai this will be his first title bout, of any kind, after an 8 year career, and it's hard to not feel like this is a very clear high point for him and his career.
For those wanting to watch this bout it will be shown on Osaka TV's website or below, in the TV Osaka embed of the event.
Related - Kano and Hirai clash for WBO regional title
(Image courtesy of Taiesei Promotions)
On November 23rd we, as fight fans, get very lucky with a really brilliant show from Hyogo thanks to Taisei Promotions who put on a stacked event, in 2 parts.
The first part of the show, which begins at around 13:30 local time, will feature 4 bouts in total. The headliner from that show will be an excellent match up between former world champion Katsunari Takayama (31-8-0-1, 12) [高山 勝成] and 2-time world title challenger Reiya Konishi (17-2, 7) [小西伶弥].
At the conclusion of the Takayama Vs Konishi bout there will be an intermission, regardless of when it finishes, before get the second part of the event. That will begin at 16:30 local time, and will be a 3 fight part. Although there are fewer fights here it does have two stellar match ups on it. The first of those two bouts will see former world title challenger Sho Ishida (28-2, 15) [石田 匠] battle against Japanese Youth Bantamweight champion Toshiya Ishii (3-0, 2) [石井渡士也]. Following that bout we'll get the main event between former world title challenger Riku Kano (16-4-1, 8) [加納 陸] and Ryoki Hirai (13-6-1, 4) [平井亮輝], who battle for the WBO Asia Pacific Light Flyweight title.
Today TV Osaka confirmed both parts will be streamed, for free, on their YouTube channel, with the embedded link below.
The show will have notable commentators. The first part of the show will have former Japanese Light Flyweight champion Takayuki Korogi doing commentary whilst the second part will have commentary from Nobuhiro Ishida.
If you're free, we seriously advise tuning in here. Takayama Vs Konishi should be a sensational bout, Ishida Vs Ishii is a mouth watering test and Kano Vs Hirai is a fantastic match up.
Earlier today former world title challenger Riku Kano (16-4-1, 8) [加納 陸] was part of a press conference to announce his next bout, as part of a stacked card in Hyogo.
The 22 year old announced his next would be the main event of a Taisei promoted card on November 23rd. That bout will see him fight in a scheduled 12 round contest for the WBO Asia Pacific Light Flyweight title, as he battles Ryoki Hirai (13-6-1, 4) [平井亮輝], in a very interesting match up, for both men.
Once tipped as a prodigy Kano's career has failed to his the heights expected of it. He debuted at the age of 15, fighting not in Japan but in the Philippines. He lost a split decision on debut and was 1-1-1 after his first 3 bouts, but rebuilt his career in Thailand, with 4 wins in 5 months in 2014. Those wins resulted in him claiming the WBA Asia Minimumweight title when he was just 17. With that title around his waist Japanese media began to give him real attention ahead of his Japanese debut in 2015.
Sadly since beginning to fight in Japan Kano's career gone the way many expected. He has notched some notable wins, beating Pigmy Kokietgym and Merlito Sabillo, but he has also lost to Katsunari Takayama, in a WBO world title fight, Jerry Tomogdan, in a WBO Asia Pacific title bout, and Shin Ono, in a Japanese title fight. The bout with Takayama was particularly notable as he was attempting to set a Japanese record for winning a world title at the youngest age, and has struggled with his career ever since.
As well as his losses Kano has struggled in wins over the likes Naoya Haruguchi and Tetsuya Mimura. His early potential feels very much like it has gone unfulfilled and that he's potentially fighting for his career with every bout. Saying that however he is very talented, a a smart boxer mover, with nice hand speed and movement, though someone who doesn't really seem to like it when an opponent is coming at him and not being intimidated by him, with some of his performances showing he doesn't like it when things get tough.
As for Ryoki Hirai he was never really expected to do much in the professional ranks. He won his first 3 bouts but then failed to win any hos his following 4 contests, falling from 3-0 to 3-3-1. The rebuilding process saw him stumble and after 10 fights he was 5-4-1. Since then however he has turned things around, going 9-2. Still not ideal, but his losses have come to very capable fighters in Shin Ono, for the Japanese Miniumweight title, and Yuto Takahashi.
In regards to his wins the talented Hirai has beaten the likes of Takumi Sakae, Ryoya Ikema and Koki Ono. Solid wins on the domestic scene, but nothing outlandishly impressive, or massively attention grabbing.
In the ring Hirai is a good boxer, with nice shot selection, particularly in his body work, but he can be seen as lazy at times, and doesn't hit as hard as he perhaps thinks he does. The results against Sakae and Ikema are very good, but they both came more than 3 years ago, and he has lacked momentum since those wins.
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