It's not often we see a fighter announce his gameplan at the weigh in, and then follow through on it, nearly to a T, the following day. Today however we saw one such as case OPBF and WBO Asia Pacific Welterweight champion Ryota Toyoshima (15-2-1, 9) [豊嶋亮太] did almost everything he stated he would, as he retained his titles and defeated Shoki Sakai (26-13-2, 12) [坂井 祥記]. The only thing Sakai failed to do was stop Sakai, but he gave it a good shot against one of the toughest men in world boxing.
At the weigh in Toyoshima stated that he was going to be going after the body of the challenger, and was going to try and stop him with body shots. When the fight took place, earlier today at Korakuen Hall, that's exactly what we saw from him. From round the first round to round 12, Toyoshima went after the body of Sakai, trying to chop him in half, break his ribs, and become the first man to stop Sakai, who has gone the distance with some big over the years.
The first started in a good nature as both men let shots got, Toyoshima attacking the body and Sakai trying to reply by closing the distance behind his jab, and working up close. That was the pattern for much of the fight, Toyoshima landing huge body shots, often in combinations, and Sakai trying to turn things around with a combination of shots switching between head and body. For the first few rounds Sakai had some success, but round by round that success was less and less evident, as Toyoshima's work rate, clean shots and eye catching power blows stole the show.
After 3 rounds it was a clearly Toyoshima's fight, but he also went on to show he could stand on the inside and bang, or bully Sakai, something we saw in a rather peculiar 4th round as the two men stood toe to toe and spent time wrestling, pushing, and forcing their physicality on the other. This was a round that should have suited Sakai but it didn't and it wasn't long under Toyoshima resumed total control with his body returning in round 5.
After round 5 we go the open scoring for the bout and the judges had cards of 50-45, 49-46, 48-47 all to Toyoshima. It was hard to argue with any of them, though 48-47 did seem a bit too close.
In the middle rounds Toyoshima continued to attack the body, trying to stop his man, but Sakai took the punishment, gritted his teeth and fired back, having a very solid round 8 and then having a good finish to the bout in the championship rounds, as Toyoshima took his foot off the gas. By then the bout was pretty much over, and all Sakai's late charge did was make the scorecards look respectable, with the judges turning in scores of 116-112, twice, and 117-111.
Whilst the bout was entertaining, and Toyoshima was the rightful winner, there was some very strange things about the contest. Originally it was only listed to be for the OPBF title, but in the end both of Toyoshima's regional title were on the line, and the open scoring, usually after rounds 4 and 8 in OPBF title bouts, was only used once, after round 5. Also Sakai was seemingly nit in the WBO Asia Pacific rankings.
Tomorrow at Korakuen Hall we'll see OPBF and WBO Asia Pacific Welterweight champion Ryota Toyoshima (14-2-1, 9) [豊嶋亮太] defending his OPBF title against the teak tough Shoki Sakai (26-12-2, 12) [坂井 祥記], a rare "re-imported" boxer. The match up will headline the December edition of Dynamic Glove and promises to be a very TV friendly fight for viewers of G+.
Today, ahead of their bout, the two men took part in their weigh in for the contest and both men made the 147lb limit with no issues at all.
The champion was well under the limit, hitting the scales at 146.5lbs and he looked shredded, in arguably the best condition of his career. He not only looked in great shape, and incredibly serious, but he was also full of confidence and seemed happy to be taking on someone as tough and rugged as Sakai.
Toyoshima has had a great year so far, beating Riku Nagahama and Yuki Beppu to win and unify the OPBF and WBO Asia Pacific titles, and he'll know that a win over Sakai would further boost his standing in the sport and take one step closer to a potential world title fight. Notably he spoke about wanting to stop Sakai, who has been a notoriously tough and stubborn opponent, who hasn't been stopped in his previous 40 bouts.
As for Sakai, who was bang on the 147lb limit, he spoke about wanting to win to become more well known among Japanese fans. It's worth noting that his career, for the most part, was spent fighting in the West and this is only his fourth bout in Japan, a country he hadn't fought in until last year. This will also mark his second title fight in the country, following a hotly contested loss to Keita Obara for the Japanese title back in April. He explained that he wants to win and return to a Mexican ring, which is where he has built much of his career.
For fans wanting to watch the bout it will be aired live on G+ tomorrow.
Related - Toyoshima defends OPBF title against tough guy Sakai!
Earlier today Teiken announced reigning OPBF and WBO Asia Pacific Welterweight champion Ryota Toyoshima (14-2-1, 9) [豊嶋亮太] would be returning to the ring on December 4th to take on "reimported" fighter Shoki Sakai (25-12-2, 12) [坂井 祥記], in what will be the main event of December's Dynamic Glove show.
The bout, which will take place at Korakuen Hall, will see two very interesting fighters in action. The champion, who won the OPBF title in January and unified it with the WBO Asia Pacific title in May, is an exciting and aggressive boxer puncher who has been involved in some really great fights in recent years. Although never likely to be close to a world title fight, he's a really fun fighter and Teiken's biggest hope at the weight.
Sakai on the other hand was a man who first made his name fighting in Mexico before proving himself to be a tough test case for prospects in the US, and then he returned to Japan last year, making his Japanese debut in the process. Earlier this year he challenged Keita Obara, the Japanese national champion, and gave Obara a really tough test before losing a hotly contested decision. In the ring he's all about pressure, coming forward behind a tight guard and making a fight of things. His style should make life very tough for Toyoshima.
Sadly the bout won't be for both of Toyoshima's titles, instead he'll only be defending the OPBF title, for the second time. Thankfully though, that won't take away from the action in the ring, which we expect to be thrilling as the styles of the two men really should gel to give us something very special.
At the time of writing no other bouts for this show have been announced, though with it being in December that's not too much of a surprise. We do however expect at least one other bout of note to be on the show.
Earlier today the East Japan Boxing Association announced their monthly award winners for May, wiith 3 winners being confirmed.
The MVP award, the most notable of the three awards, was won by the now unified OPBF and WBO Asia Pacific Featherweight champion Satoshi Shimizu (10-1, 9) [清水 聡] following his victory over Musashi Mori (12-1, 7) [森 武蔵] on May 21st. The win was, by far, the biggest of his professional career and gave the 2012 Olympic Bronze medal winner a real step in the right direction, towards a world title fight. Although he would be the under-dog against any of the current champions at 126lbs he is a genuine threat due to his freakish dimensions at the weight and the brutal power he has in his left hand.
In regards to the MVP award Shimizu was the clear front runner and a very worthy winner.
The Fight Spirit award was also won by a now unified OPBFand WBO Asia Pacific champion, with Welterweight Ryota Toyoshima (14-2-1, 9) [豊嶋亮太] taking the honours, after his excellent win over Yuki Beppu (21-2-1, 20) [別府優樹] on May 20th. That bout had the potential to be somethign a little bit special, but ended up being fairly one sided, with Toyoshima in control for much of the bout before breaking down Beppu and forcing the "Tyson of Kyushu" to be stopped by the referee in round 10.
The Newcomer award was won by Keisuke Matsumoto (3-0, 3) [松本 圭佑], following his destructive performance against Hiromu Murota (6-5-2, 4) [室田 拡夢], on the same card as Shimizu's botu with Mori. On paper this was a step up for Matsumoto, but he looked better than he had in his first two bouts and actually seemed to be looking like a more confident, accomplished and polished professional. The youngster, who had had questions following his first two bouts, really did look tremendous here and is certainly a new comer to keep an eye on long term.
(Image credit - Boxingnews.jp)
Earlier today we got a midweek treat from G+ who televised the latest in their Dynamic Glove series of shows. The event was a special show, celebrating the 600th Dynamic Glove event and mixed in the live fights with a lot of archive footage, adding the sense of the event being something genuinely worth watching.
Sadly the in ring action wasn't as good as we've seen in the past from the Dynamic Glove series, but it was certainly not a bad show, even if we did end up with just 4 televised bouts.
Unfortuntely the originally scheduled show opener, a 4 rounder between Teiken fighter Munetaka Kihara (3-2-1, 1) [木原 宗孝] and the unbeaten Reiji Kodama (2-0, 1) [兒玉 麗司 was cancelled, due to Kihara pulling out. Despite that we still ended up getting a really, really good show.
The event kicked off with a much anticipated 6 round bout between the debuting Junya Shimada (1-0) [嶋田 淳也] and the touted Shigetoshi Kotari (2-1, 1) [神足 茂利], both of whom were solid amateur fighters and both of them were out there looking to make an impression in what looked like a very tough match up on paper. At least if you were aware of their amateur pedigree.
The bout lived up to the expectations, despite a rather ugly and slow paced opening round. From 2 to round 6 this was thoroughly entertaining action with Kotari trying to box and move, using his more fluid and natural looking boxing skills, to try and neutralise the pressure and aggression of Shimada. The pressure of Shimada began to have success in round 2 and from there on his pressure always looked like it was chipping away at Kotari who held up close and looked to try and create space to work. Altough he wasn't able to fight his fight Kotari did land some gorgeous uppercuts, but was never able to sustained things for long. Instead we saw him being chipped away at by Shimada's nasty body shots, especially in round 4, and he never really managed to turn things around afterwards.
For fans who missed this one it is, genuinely, worthy of a watch. A very, very entertaining 6 rounder, fought at a good pace, with styles that gelled really well.
Sadly the second bout was a much different affair to the first bout. Whilst the first was high tempo, exciting battle the second was a rather tedious, slow paced contest that saw the heavy handed but vulnerable Junpei Tsujimoto (8-2-3, 6) [辻本 純兵] easily defeat Hideo Mikan (9-14-2, 2) [美柑 英男] in what was a bout that struggled to come alive. Mikan was there to win early on, but had nothing to really test Tsujimoto with, whilst Tsujimoto seemed determined to not give Mikan chances to land anything clean.
For 2 rounds it was slow paced but competitive. In round 3 however Tsujimoto landed some big body shots and Mikan never really showed too much ambition afterwards, as Tsujimoto controlled the bout and came close to dropping his man in round 5. Mikan some how survived but seemed about done and in round 6 the referee stepped between the two men. It was an oddly timed stoppage, but one Mikan didn't complain about, and one that seemed to end what was a very dull one sided bout.
We would complain about this one, but it seems that Tsujimoto was working on being more cautious after two damaging bouts in 2020, a loss to Nath Nwachukwu and a shoot out with Daiki Ogura. We can't begrudge him an easy one after the punishment he took in those bouts.
We ended up getting the chance to see some dynamite in the third bout as Masaya Tamayama (14-2, 8) [玉山 将也] destroyed veteran Hisashi Kato (10-10-2, 6) [加藤 寿] in 2 rounds.
This started slowly, with Kato getting on his bike, moving around the ring, trying to use his southpaw jab and legs to create space. Tamayama on the other hand pressed forward, looking to break Kato down with body shots and take his legs away. In round two the firepower of Tamayama was on show, as he dropped Kato with gorgeous uppercut. Kato beat the count but was dropped again soon afterwards, with the referee immediately waving this off following crisp counter left hook that dropped Kato hard.
We were legitimately expecting an all out war in the main event as OPBF Welterweight champion Ryota Toyoshima (14-2-1, 9) [豊嶋亮太] faced off with WBO Asia Pacific champion Yuki Beppu (21-2-1, 20) [別府優樹] in a unification bout of their titles. Sadly this never really caught fire as expected, though was still a solid bout, if somewhat one sided.
The opening couple of rounds were well contested and pretty evenly fought. Beppu used his footwork well, picked his spots and landed some really nice single shots, whilst Toyoshima pressured and landed some of his own single shots. The tempo was strangely low and neither man seemed to put any shots together at all, it was all single shots, with no real risks being taken. Despite the low tempo of the action there was a strange tension, as if something big could happen.
In rounds 3 and 4 Toyoshima began to take control of the action, landing some really good left hooks, and body shots. It was still a low tempo affair, but it was picking up, and Toyoshima was starting to look a lot more consistent with his shots, especially his body work and jab. In fact it was that jab of Toyoshima's that began to really unsettle Beppu, and make the "Tyson of Kyushu" a lot more apprehensive, allowing Toyoshima to have an easier time in controlling his foe. That showed particularly well in round 4, as he began to physically deflate in front of our eyes.
After 4 rounds the open scoring kicked in and had Toyoshima up 40-36, twice, and 39-37. The shut outs seemed very harsh but it was clear that Toyoshima was starting to take over, and the first two rounds were close in fairness to the judges.
Toyoshima seemed to slow down in round 5, cruising at times, but Beppu failed to make him pay. In fact if anything Toyoshima managed to win the round by doing very little. What he did well was land the eye catching shots late in the round, notably a good jab and a couple of good body shots. Beppu seemed to be running out of ideas an that was particularly notable in rounds 6 as he began to look tired, was falling well behind on the scorecards, and was unwilling, or unable, to sell out and go for it. The body shots had taken some of the fight out of him, and the jabs had repeatedly take the play away from him when he did manage to have moments.
In round 7 things went from bad to worse for Beppu who was dropped from a fantastic uppercut. Prior to which he had taken more body shots, and looked to be a man physically wilting, and being broken down. He got up from the knockdown, but seemed hurt again late in the round, as Toyoshima's body work continued.
Beppu tried to turn things around in round 8, but it was too little too late and he really didn't come close to doing enough to take the round from a man who looked bigger, stronger, fresher, hungrier andmore powerful than himself. In fact if anything Beppu looked like he was needing to work incredibly hard for any success, whilst Toyoshima seemed to be relaxed, landing at will and having more consistent success.
After 8 rounds we saw the open scoring again, with scores of 80-71, twice, and 78-73, all in favour of Toyoshima who was in complete control of the bout and was bossing it with ease.
Toyoshima seemed to take round 9 off, not doing much at all, and allowing Beppu the chance to let his shots off. It was clear that Beppu needed to massively turn things around and it seemed a good idea from Toyoshima to not take any risks if he didn't need to. He was going to win as long as he stayed on his feet and Beppu had to gamble. And gamble he did, with Beppu trying to turn things around in rounds 9 and 10. Sadly however Beppu's gamble failed to payoff and in round 10 he was broken up by body shots, badly hurt, and forced on to the retreat. A jab forced Beppu to stumbles towards his own corner, and a left hook followed, sending Beppu down. To his credit Beppu managed to get to his feet, but the referee finished the count, saving Beppu from further punishment.
What promised to be a great fight heading in, was strangely one sided, and it seemed clear that Beppu's problems, including a lack od sparring a late flight to Tokyo and more than a year of inactivity, did him no favours at all here. As for Toyoshima this is a second big win for him in 2021 and he has really been one of the few big success stories from Japan this year, due to a very scattered calendar of fights. There's a good chance he'll squeeze in another and could be one of the run away fighters for Japanese domestic fighter of the year at this rate.
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