Earlier today Shinsei Gym put on their latest show, at the Central Gym in Kobe. The card wasn't the biggest Japanese show of the day, but was still a very interesting one, with several note worthy bouts on it as Japanese fighters faced off with Filipino visitors.
The first of the notable bouts on the card saw Shunpei Odagiri (1-0, 1) [小田切駿平] score a 6th round TKO win over Filipino visitor Jonathan Almacen (7-6-3, 2), to kick off his career with a good win. The talented Odagiri, who went 28-9 (5) in the amateurs, found his range in the opening round, with good 1-2's, and as the rounds went on he progressively broke down his man, whilst showing good maturity and being cautious, despite being in control. Almacen did well in surviving, looking for opening, but in round 6 a nasty cut over Almacen's left eye forced the referee to stop the bout.
In the second bout of note Kazuki Anaguchi (3-0, 2) [穴口一輝] stepped up and showed what he could do with an impressive victory over Filipino visitor Ranelio Quizo (10-3, 3). The bout started quietly, but in round 2 Anaguchi began to take control, dropping Quizo and cutting his right eye. Quizo then never really managed to get back into the bout afterwards, despite showing his toughness. Round by round Anaguchi tagged Quizo, seeking a finish, but he couldn't find it, with Quizo seeing out the 8 rounds, but losing a very wide decision. After 8 rounds the cards were 80-71, 79-72 and 78-73, all to Anaguchi.
The chief support bout saw Takahiro Tai (4-1, 4) [田井宜広] get back to winning ways as he stopped Jun Blazo (16-7-3, 12) in 3 rounds.Blazo came out swinging, and looked like a man who had momentum and self belief following 8 straight wins. Sadly for him however he struggled to connect on Tai, who show some under-rated defense and composure to blunt Blazo's attacks. That was until Tai turned things around with a left hand to the body that sent Blazo down for the count, in agony.
To complete a Japanese sweep over Filipino foes former WBO Minimumweight world champion Ryuya Yamanaka (17-3, 5) [山中 竜也] took a wide decision over the dangerous, but now something of a faded, Jonathan Taconing (29-5-1, 22). From the opening round Yamanaka looked to use his speed and foot work to keep the dangerous Taconing at safe range, and being well aware of Taconings' power and heavy hands. Yamanaka managed to get his shots off well, but most notably he was countering well, drawing errors from Taconing and landing solid right hand counters, to go with his crisp jabs, and clean right hands to the body. Round by round Yamanaka picked up points, and did really well to neutralise the power and threat of Taconing. After 8 rounds Yamanaka swept the score cards with 80-72, to record a huge wiun, and potentially earn himself a world ranking.
Back in March we saw former WBO Minimumweight world champion Ryuya Yamanaka (16-3, 5) [山中 竜也] return to the ring after more than 3 years out, due to a brain bleed, and score a 5th round TKO win over Daisuke Sudo. The win was an impressive performance from the former champion, and it seemed likely he would slowly build on that win, with progressively tougher opponents.
Today we saw Yamanaka's next bout being announced, and instead of a slightly better domestic opponent in a 6 or 8 rounder, the 27 year old will instead be returning against a former multi-time world title challenger, in the form of Filipino banger Jonathan Taconing (29-4-1, 22), who is currently world ranked by the WBC, on August 14th in Kobe ins a scheduled 10 rounds.
At his best Yamanaka was a slippery boxer, with a high boxing IQ and smart skills, with under-rated power. He scores notable wins over Merlito Sabillo, to win the OPBF Minimumweight title, Tatsuya Fukuhara, to win the WBO world title, and Moises Calleros, to defend the WBO title, all in in the space of a year and a half, before his loss to Saludar in 2018. That loss looked likely to permanently end his career, though a change in Japanese rules, and an ambition to return lead to Yamanaka being back against Sudo in March.
As for Taconing, the heavy handed Filipino is a 3 time world title challenger, with his most recently world title shot coming in July 2019 when he lost to Kenshiro Teraji. The hard hitting Filipino is now 35, and has slowed down from his prime, which included wins over Ramon Garcia, Vergilio Silvano, Warlito Parrenas and a hugely controversial technical decision loss to Kompayak Porpramook. Despite that he will be the bigger, stronger and more powerful man against Yamanaka, in what could be a battle between skills and power.
The fight, which will will headline Real Spirits Vol 81, is one of a number of Japan Vs Philippines bouts on the card. Another will see the fun to watch Takahiro Tai (3-1, 3) [田井宜広] battle the hard hitting Jun Blazo (16-6-3, 12) in an 8 rounder that should provide some serious fireworks. One of the others will see 22 year old prospect Kazuki Anaguchi (2-0, 2) [穴口一輝] take a huge step up in class to face Ranelio Quizo (10-2, 3), also in an 8 rounder. Another will be a 6 rounder between the debuting Shunpei Odagiri (0-0) [小田切駿平] and Jonathan Almacen (7-5-3, 2), with Odagiri looking to build on a 28-9 amateur record here.
Earlier today former WBO Minimumweight world champion Ryuya Yamanaka (16-3, 5) [山中 竜也] announced that his career was going to restart, more than 3 years after his last bout.
Yamanaka's career was thought to be over for good in 2018, when he lost the WBO title to Vic Saludar and suffered a subdural hematoma. At the time this meant that the JBC expired his boxing licenses, and wouldn't allow him to fight. On December 9th this year however the JBC made some changes to their rules, including allowing fighters who have suffered subdural hematomas to fight, as long as other criteria are met. This has allowed Yamanaka to view his return.
He announced his plans at a Shinsei promoted show earlier today in Osaka, explaining "The rules have changed and I can return to the Shinsei gym. I would like to express my deep gratitude to Chairman Yamashita and other related parties". He also added that "I aim to be the world champion with my sister Sumire." Interestingly Yamanaka seemed to have planned a return to the ring, regardless of the JBC's rules, and would have gone overseas to fight, had the JBC rules not allowed him to, with the probability being that he would have travelled to Thailand, the Philippines or South Korea to continue his career.
Regarding the checks that Yamanaka will need to go through, it was confirmed by Masato Yamashita that the JBC are happy with Yamanaka's health, explaining "On his return, he will be able to clear all the examinations and checks and play a match in Japan. A new big step in the Japanese boxing world. I want to aim for the world with Ryuya Yamanaka again."
Interestingly Yamanaka has got a date set for his return, with the first bout of his comeback set to take place on March 6th at Light Flyweight, though no opponent or length of bout were confirmed.
This coming weekend we'll see former WBA "regular" Super Bantamweight champion Shun Kubo (13-1, 9) [久保隼] battle WBA "regular" Featherweight champion Can Xu (16-2, 2) [徐灿] in China.
Today was the day that Kubo departed from Japan to fly to China for the bout, though before leaving his homeland he spent some time speaking to the media.
The general feeling from Kubo and his promoter Masato Yamashita was one of "business as usual".
It appears that Kubo has prepared similarly to usual, though sparred less, is in a similar physical condition to usual and will fight as usual. That's despite being on the road, and having the crowd against him. Whether things go as plan in the ring are yet to be seen, though they seemed confident that fighting in China will have no impact on his performance. Though Kubo did admit that he might get nervous in the ring, he isn't at the moment
They seemed relaxed, despite heading into enemy territory, and it's clear they feel they can pick up the win against the new face of Chinese boxing.
Like we're seeing with more Japanese fighters he's taking food with him to China for this bout, and it also appears that former stablemate Ryuya Yamanaka (16-3, 5) [山中 竜也] will also be there to cheer on his friend, likely also helping with the food situation given he now runs a restaurant of his own.
Will Xu be successful in first defense as he takes on Kubo?
(Image courtesy pf boxmob.jp)
Last year we saw the retirement of former WBO Minimumweight champion Ryuya Yamanaka (16-3, 5) [山中 竜也], who hung up the gloves after suffering a brain injury in his title loss to Vic Saludar. At the age of 24 his forced retirement was an incredibly sad one, and one that ended the career of a really talented young fighter.
Today Yamanaka has been in the Japanese press as he really begins the next chapter of his life, owning a shop selling Onigiri, or balls of rice, in Osaka.
The store officially opens on Friday though today the press were able to attend a special tasting party, allowing Yamanaka to show off his skills in the kitchen and and his product.
Yamanaka told the press, "I'm scared. It's scary. In terms of spending my life, it's the same as in the world war. I want everyone to relax and become a store where customers stop. This time, I'm aiming for a rice ball champion." It's clear he's taking his new role just as seriously as he took his boxing role.
It appears that the idea to open the shop has come thanks to a conversation with former 3-weight champion Hozumi Hasegawa, and lead to Yamanaka learning to make the balls, having previously been really clumsy with kitchen knives to begin with.
The store, called "Onigiri Ryu" is in the Crystal Court Building in Kita-Ku, Osaka and will be open 6 days a week.
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