Over the weekend fight fans in Okinawa saw Ryosuke Nishida (4-0, 1) [西田凌佑] score a notable upset win, as he took a decision over former WBC Flyweight champion Daigo Higa (17-2-1, 17) [比 嘉 大吾], claiming the WBO Asia Pacific Bantamweight title with the victory. Earlier today, following that win, Nishida took part in a press in Osaka at the Mutoh gym and spoke about what he wants to do going forward and how the bout went.
Early in the event it was revealed that both Nishida and his chief trainer, Kosuke Takeichi, had been given a reward from the management of the gym, accounting for 1 million yen, a tasty reward alongside the expected payment both men were going to get for the fight anyway.
With the win Nishida tied a Japanese record of fewest fights to win a regional title, winning one in his 4th bout just like Kosei Tanaka [田中恒成] and Ginjiro Shigeoka [重岡銀次朗]
Speaking out how he feels Nishida explained "I'm really happy to win. I received a congratulatory email and gradually realized that I won." It seemed he knew he was too big for Higa, and admitted that he didn't really Higa's punching power, something he put down to the fact that he had been fighting at Super Bantamweight before moving down in weight for this bout.
Whilst Nishida's performance was excellent it also needs to be said that Takeichi's gameplan was fantastic, and Nishida fought it fantastically well, keeping the range that Takeichi has been wanting from his star student, and controlling the bout at both range and up close.
It was Mr Takeichi that spoke about the future plans. He explained that not too much can be said, given Nishida has just won the title, but "I think he proved his ability because he beat Omori (Shohei Omori) and Higa, but he still only has 4 bouts, and I think there are some parts that aren't recognized by the people around him, so I'd like to take steps one by one. However, if we have a chance, we'd like to actively aim for the top." It should be noted that Nishida himself suggested that he wanted to face WBO Bantamweight champion Johnriel Casimero if he could get the chance. It should also be noted that Mutoh gym are quoted in the Japanese press that "there is a possibility of world challenge overseas", adding further to the idea he and his team will begin to target Casimero. Given that Higa was ranked #6 by the WBO going into this bout, Nishida is expected to take a top 10 WBO ranking on the back of the result.
Mr Takeichi also went into detail about Nishida's biggest strengths and explained "Even on the big stage, there are few emotional ups and downs. No matter who the other party is, he has a good sense of normality." That was something Nishida himself spoke about, explaining he's never been a nervous guy, even since he was an amateur, and that level of composure has shown it's self since he turned professional. He's always looked incredibly relaxed in the ring, event when under pressure.
As for how the two men intent to spend their new bonus. Nishida will be spending some on home appliances, and saving the rest, whilst his trainer explained he has to consult his wife. It is worth noting that this is the second time Takeichi has received such an award from the gym, previously winning it when he guided Yuki Strong Kobayashi [ストロング小林佑樹] to winning the WBO Asia Pacific Bantamweight title, and he has his eyes on another one when Riku Kunimoto (4-0, 2) [国本陸] challenges Japanese Middleweight champion Kazuto Takesako (11-0-1, 11) [竹迫司登] in May.
Earlier today fight fans in Okinawa got a rare show of note, headlined by a former world champion taking on a rising star of Japanese boxing. The show wasn't a big one, but the main was certainly a huge bout worthy of attention, and the under-card had several fighters of interest on it.
The show opened up with a 4 rounder between 22 year hold Kanta Yamauchi (3-2-1, 2) [山内 寛太] and 19 year old Nagi Sudo (2-2-1) [須藤 凪]. This was all action from the off and although Yamauchi was the better fighter through out there was no questioning Sudo's effort, with the youngster playing his part in a 4 round fire cracker. After 4 rounds the judges turned in cards of 40-36 and 39-37, twice, all for Yamauchi. He was a deserved winner, but he really had to earn the win in a fantastic curtain raiser.
The second bout saw touted 24 year old prospect Yusuke Mine (4-0, 1) [峯 佑輔] take a wide and clear decision over the durable Taiga Higashi (6-5, 2) [東 大河], with Mine controlling the 6 rounder without too many problems. Higashi tried to bring the action and apply pressure but the boxing IQ, footwork and movement of Mine were too much and Mine calmly controlled the action behind his jab, mixing up the action when he needed to. Higashi was never really discouraged but was also never able to really get a foothold on the bout, which was controlled by the skills of Mine.
In a solid performance Okinawa local Ryuto Owan (7-1, 5) [大湾 硫斗] dominated the tough, but limited, Takafumi Iwaya (4-5) [岩屋 卓史] who ended up being saved by his corner. Iwaya looked to start fast but Owan settled quickly, began to box his fight, using his movement and clean punching and began to control the bout from midway through the opening round. From there on Owan was in control, and he went through the gears, battering Iwaya, who was saved by his corner in round 4, whilst on the wrong end of a beating.
Sadly for Iwaya this is the second time in as many bouts that his toughness has been his worst enemy as he also took a pounding last September against Rentaro Kimura and it's hard to see his career continuing for much longer.
In the main event fans saw local favourite Daigo Higa (17-2-1, 17) [比 嘉 大吾] suffer a notable upset loss to the unbeaten Ryosuke Nishida (4-0, 1) [西田凌佑], with Nishida dethroning Higa of the WBO Asia Pacific Bantamweight title.
From the off the size and stance of Nishida seemed to be a problem for Higa, who had real issues getting inside and working up close. Nishida seemed smooth, calm and soaked up the pressure well, whilst also landing plenty of leather himself. He was making Higa miss, and making Higa look like a Big Flyweight fighting against a Bantamweight. What didn't help Higa was when he did get inside Nishida clinched, using his natural size and strength advantages to stop Higa from getting shots off. Amazingly we also saw Nishida willing letting shots go up close, especially to the body.
The crowd, which were expected to be getting behind Higa, were nearly silent as their man struggled for any kind of sustained success. He had moments, but they were few and far between with Nishida having sustained success through all of the early rounds, dictating the action and the tempo without too many problems.
Higa began to find something of a groove in round 4, as he upped his pressure and work rate and began to fight with much more urgency. It was clear he felt he was in a hole and had to try and turn things around. He continued to be more aggressive in round 5 as well, landing some of his best shots, but it seemed like even his best shots didn't hurt Nishida who was standing his ground and landing his own leather whilst also trying to bully Higa physically when he had to.
After a few solid rounds from Higa he really did begin to look tired in the later stages, whilst Nishida seemed to have energy to burn and in the second half of the fight Nishida really started to beat up Higa who had to hold and spoil and do what he could to slow the offense of the challenger. Sadly for Higa he looked out of his depth at times, as well as out of his weight class. To his credit Higa was tough, rugged and hungry, but that was about it in stages as Nishida took total control of the action.
After 12 rounds the scores were read out, and they all favoured the challenger, widely. They were 117-111, twice, and 118-110, all in favour of Nishida who has now scored two big wins in back to back bouts, having beaten Shohei Omori last year.
For Higa this is a painful loss. He took a beating. At home. In front of the fans in Okinawa. He was dominated and shown, very clearly, that he is not a Bantamweight. Sadly however the JBC don't seem to be willing to risk seeing Higa miss weight again, as he did against Cristofer Rosales when he was the WBC Flyweight champion. He will need to go back to the drawing board, and learn to adapt to fighting as a Bantamweight, which we suspect will be incredibly tough for him.
As for Nishida, he's now beaten a former world title challenger and a former world champion. It's hard to imagine that he's not now looking for a world title fight sooner rather than later. This win was a stellar performance. It was a performance that showed how good he was, how composed he is, and how, even after just 4 bouts, he is already ready for major contests against top level fighters.
Earlier today the media in Okinawa had the chance to see the weigh for the very interesting match up between Daigo Higa (17-1-1, 17) [比 嘉 大吾] and Ryosuke Nishida (3-0, 1) [西田凌佑], who clash for the WBO Asia Pacific title tomorrow.
At the weigh in both men made the 118lb limit bang on and both looked in fantastic shape, with their bodies looking ripped to shreds.
Following the weigh in both men spoke to the media via remote interviews.
Higa, a former WBC Flyweight champion, seemed really happy to be fighting in Okinawa, his hometown, and it's clear he'll be getting a lot of fan support tomorrow for their most successful current boxing son. He seemed confident that he was going to be too good for Nishida. He explained that he's not set any specific gameplan for for the bout, but will fight his style, and bring the aggression, no matter what Nishida decides to do. He also wanted to give local fans a bout that ended with a KO, making it clear that he still doesn't want to pick up a decision win.
Nishida, who has typically been fighting at Super Bantamweight, had no issues at all in making weight here, explaining "I lost weight little by little using the usual weight loss method and finished well." He also explained that he has spoke to former stablemate Yuki Strong Kobayashi and was told to be careful of Higa's feints.
Nishida also mentioned that he had been working on stamina, something he might need here given he has never been beyond 8 rounds before.
For fans in Okinawa this will be televised locally, however for the rest of us the bout won't be televised for a few days, with TBS airing it on tape delay in a few days time.
Related - Higa returns to Okinawa to take on unheralded Nishida!
Earlier today in Japan we saw news announced regarding former WBC Flyweight champion Daigo Higa (17-1-1, 17) [比嘉 大吾] and his first defense of the WBO Asia Pacific Bantamweight title.
The heavy handed Higa will be taking on fast rising prospect Ryosuke Nishida (3-0, 1) [西田凌佑], with their bout set to take place on April 24th at the Okinawa Convention center.
We last saw Higa in action in February, when he took part in "LEGEND" and shared the ring with Bantamweight king Naoya Inoue (20-0, 17) [井上 尚弥] in an exhibition. Prior to that the last actual bout for Higa came on New Year's Eve, when he stopped Yuki Strong Kobayashi for the title.
Notably this isn't just Higa's first bout since that win over Kobayashi, which took place on the undercard of Kazuto Ioka's [井岡一翔] bout with Kosei Tanaka [田中恒成], but will also be his first bout in Okinawa in more than 3 years!
Today at an online press conference to announce the bout Higa stated "I'm happy to be able to play a match locally. Since my opponent is a southpaw, I will take proper measures and defeat it."
"I'm happy to be able to play the title in Okinawa. If I defeat it and win, I think the customers will be happy,"
Higa also stated his target for the future, explaining, "the current bantamweight situation, it's quite difficult to get into this. It's a defense of the WBO Asia Pacific Championship, so the ranking will inevitably rise. I think I want to aim for the WBO champion Casimero"
As for Nishida this is a massive step up in class. A leap up in class in fact. The unbeaten prospect from the Mutoh gym made his debut in October 2019, in Thailand, and returned to Japan for his second bout just months later, both against limited fighters. He generated a lot of buzz last year however with a break out performance against former world title challenger Shohei Omori, where he out boxed Omori over 8 rounds in a fantastic performance.
Despite that showing this is still a gigantic step up for Nishida, who is fighting at Bantamweight for the first time.
The venue for the bout is expected to be set up to accommodate around 2,000 fans and tickets will go on sale from April 6th. For fans unable to attend the contest will be aired live on RBC (Ryukyu Broadcasting Corporation), for those in Okinawa. For those not in Okinawa the bout will later be televised on TBS as part of their "Guts Fighting" series. Though a date hasn't been set for the airing of the bout.
For those upset about not being able to watch live, it is worth noting that the live event will over-lap with the WBC Light Flyweight title bout between Kenshiro Teraji (17-0, 10) [寺地 拳四朗] and Tetsuya Hisada (34-10-2, 20) [久田 哲也], which is expected to be streamed live on Youtube.
At the time of writing there has only been one under-card bout confirmed for the show, and that is a 6 round match up between Ryuto Owan (6-1, 4) [大湾 硫斗] and Takafumi Iwaya (4-4) [岩屋 卓史].
To kick off a complete brilliant Saturday of boxing our attention was focused on the EDION Arena Osaka, as Shinsei gym put on their latest show, with just 5 bouts on it. Despite it being a small card, it was certainly one worth watching, with two brutal knockouts, a sensational coming out performance a very solid main event bout.
Not only was the show a good one for fans in attendance but also globally, with the whole show being streamed live on the excellent Boxing Real YouTube channel.
The show kicked off with a real fun battle between the debuting Towa Tsuji (1-0, 1) [辻 永遠] and the win-less Kairi Suetsugu (0-2-1) [末継 海里]. The opening round saw Tuji getting rocked early on, and he seemed in quit a bit of trouble before creating space and getting a moment to clear his head. In round 2 Tsuji turned the tables, rocking Suetsugu with right hands and bursting his his nose, in what was a really fun 3 minutes of action. With Suetsugu taking punishment in round 2 he came out aggressively in the third and rocked Tsuji, who recovered well. Just moments later the two men were trading in center ring when Tsuji landed a perfect left hook, sending Suetsugu down hard. He wasn't beating the count and the referee quickly waved it off, giving Tsuji a highlight reel KO to begin his career.
The second bout didn't last long at all as Kohei Miyamoto (4-1-1, 4) [宮本 康平] came out with a point to prove. Within in the opening seconds he rocked Tetsuya Kawabata (5-13-1, 1) [川端 哲也] and he kept the pressure on through the round. He rocked him again with a right hand, and piled on the punches until Kawabata hit the canvas. The fighting spirit of Kawabata saw him try to beat the count, but he stumbled back down mid count forcing the referee to wave off the bout.
The third bout on the show was the most interesting on paper and saw rising prospect Ryosuke Nishida (3-0, 1) [西田凌佑] take on former world title challenger Shohei Omori (21-4, 16) [大森 将平] in an intriguing 8 rounder. On paper this looked a rash decision for the novice to step up so much so quickly, but he impressed through out.
The opening round saw Nishida starting fast and look to get inside Omori's head almost immediately. That saw him using his speed well, making the most of his jab and his right hook, and landing several solid left hands. Omori, to his credit, looked calm and composed, and had moments himself, but seemed to clearly lose the round. In round 2 however Omori began to press more, and had more moments of success, despite taking some solid right hooks from Nishida, who also landed some nice flurries. Omori got his own moments in, particularly with some body shots, but came off second best.
In rounds 3, and more so 4, Omori began to have some sustained success. He still took some good right hooks and jabs from Nishida, but landed some eye catching left hands of his own, especially late in round 4 as he seemed to, for the first time, really get to Nishida. It seemed the momentum was shifting in favour of the veteran, who also had some moments in round 5, including a good right hook of his own.
Despite the novice in his first 8 rounder it was really the final 3 rounds where Nishida looked a class above hurting Omori badly in rounds 6, 7 and 8. In round 6 it was a huge counter left hook that rocked Omori early in the round, before a right hook, followed by a straight left did the job towards the end of the round. In round 7 it was a left hand that wobbled Omori early in the round, and a follow up had the veteran in round, whilst in round 8 Omori was in trouble through out the round after a body shot left him in agony and Nishida tagged him to gut regularly as the round went on.
Despite some trouble in the middle of the bout, there was no doubting the winner after 8 rounds, with Nishida taking the unanimous decision with scores of 79-73 and 78-74, twice. The 79-73 seems very harsh on Omori, who did have plenty of success in the middle rounds, but no one would despite the fact Nishida deserved the win, and potentially moves onto the verge of a title fight of some kind in 2021.
The penultimate bout on the card saw Kimihiro Nakagawa (7-5-2, 3) [中川 公弘] suffer a decision loss to recent OPBF title challenger Kyohei Tonomoto (10-3-1, 4) [殿本 恭平].
Sadly this felt like a massive come down from the bout that came before it, despite actually being a very competitive bout, between two well matched fighters. Both matched each other a little too well at times, and with neither man having the power to hurt the other there bout really lacked drama. There was some solid back and forth, and some nice trading sequences but by round 4 it it was feeling very much like a bout that was struggling to remain interesting.
It wasn't a bad fight, but it's place on the card, after the very solid bout between Nishida and Omori, it felt underwhelming, and even seemed to suck the life out of the fans and the show as a whole. Despite that Tonomoto's more sustained attacks, more accurate punching and more consistent success was enough for him to take the decision on all 3 scorecards, with scores of 78-74, twice, and 79-73.
The final bout on the show saw veteran Hiroyuki Kudaka (27-18-4, 11) [久高 寛之] secure a win in his 49th bout as he out-pointed youngster Tetsuro Ohashi (7-2-1, 1) [大橋 哲朗] in an 8 round bout at Bantamweight, taking a razor thin split decision.
From the off Ohashi looked the quicker man, but that wasn't an issue for Kudaka who times counters well and looked the strong, more powerful fighter. The power and timing of Kudaka pay dividends in round 2 when he dropped Ohashi with a great counter right hand. Ohashi beat the count but was still hurt as Kudaka piled on the pressure in the last minute of the round. Ohashi managed a valiant comeback in round 3, though still took the heavier blows as Kudaka tried to walk him down and use his physicality against the younger, naturally smaller, man.
Despite taking the early lead Kudaka struggled to keep up the pace, and despite Ohashi not hitting hard, he was landing regularly, regularly enough in fact that he visibly stunned Kudaka in round 6, and went out for the finish, though was unable to put his man down. Kudaka was also stunned in round 8, as Ohashi tried to drop the veteran, knowing he likely needed a knockdown to have any chance at taking the win. Kudaka was in real trouble, though he gritty determination and veteran known how saw him ride out the storm, before firing back as we went to the final bell.
After 8 rounds the judges turned in scores of 76-75, 75-76 and 76-75, giving the split decision win to Kudaka, who may well have done enough for one more title fight in 2021. As for Ohashi, this will be a hard defeat for him, especially given that he was stopped Suzumi Takayama last time out.
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