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 fight fans at Korakuen Hall had the latest show in the Phoenix Battle series of shows, which will be aired this coming weekend on Fuji TV. The card featured an OPBF Bantamweight title bout, between Kai Chiba and Kazuki Nakajima as well as a regional unification bout at Featherweight between Musashi Mori and Satoshi Shimizu.
For those wanting to watch this, as live, when it's finally aired, we have included this spoiler warning introduction. Please note that spoilers will begin in the paragraph after the next one. We will include the full undercard results for this show as well as the two main bouts.
The show kicked off with a 6 round bout in the Super Featherweight division which saw the unbeaten Shun Sekine (5-0-1, 3) [関根 駿] battle against Atsuyuki Sato (5-3-2, 3) [佐藤 諄幸] in what was a very hotly contested match up, though that was to be expected given they fought to a draw last November. From the opening round this was a hard one to call, with fantastic back and forth, and every time one man got the advantage the other came back strongly, and turned the tidein what was a genuinely brilliant way to open the show. After 6 rounds the judges were required and they narrowly gave the bout to Sekine, with the unbeaten Sekine taking a majority decision over his foe, with scores of 57-57, 58-57 and 58-56.
The second bout on the show saw JBC ranked Lightweights clash, as the unbeaten Katsuya Yasuda (8-0, 5) [保田 克也] faced off with Tomoki Takada (8-6-2, 5) [高田 朋城]. On paper this looked liek a mismatch, but interestingly Takada had come into the bout higher ranked by the JBC amd Yasuda was regarded as the man stepping up in class, and getting his first real chance to prove himself. And boy did he ever prove what he could do. From the opening round Yasuda looked relaxed, took his time to get a read on Takada and then went to work from round 2, out landing his foe. Takada was put on the back foot, and looked like he was getting the worse of things, though he did land a good counter in round 4. Despite Takada having some success with counters he was left cut later in that round with a straight left hand. That cut caused the bout to be stopped just a round later, following a doctor's inspection. Due to the cut Yasuda got the 5th round TKO at an official time of 2:12.
The third bout on the show saw talented youngster Keisuke Matsumoto (3-0, 3) [松本 圭佑] put in a career best showing, as he destroyed Hiromu Murota (6-5-2, 4) [室田 拡夢] in just 128 seconds. The highly promising Matsumoto had looked shaky in his first two bouts, but looked in control here from the off with sharp 1-2's and some cracking body work. Murota fought back but a 1-2 from Matsumoto dropped his man. To his credit Murota got back to his feet but was dropped again from a hard counter right hand. After the bout he spoke about being happy with his performance, after a bad aftertaste from his first two bouts.
The first of two title bouts on the show saw a new OPBF Bantamweight champion being crowned as Kazuki Nakajima (10-0-1, 8) [中嶋一輝] out pointed Kai Chiba (13-2, 8) [千葉開] over 12 rounds, in a surprisingly dull fight.
Nakajima settled quicker, getting his powerful left hand into play early on. Chiba on the other hand used his footwork, to try and create some space, but struggled to get his own offense off, and looked negative whilst Nakajiam seemed to be the one force the action. What little there was. After 4 rounds the open scoring was announced, with two judges having Nakajima up 40-36 and the third having the bout 39-37.
Knowing he was behind Chiba began to let his hands go more in the middle rounds, in an attempt to swing things his way. Sadly though Nakajima's work increased as Chiba threw more and Chiba's attempt to turn the bout around was essentially sniffed out by the taller, heavier handed Nakajima, who's 1-2 and right hook were telling punches. The attempted fight back from Chiba didn't really close the scores down when they were announced after 8 rounds, with scores of 79-73, twice, and 77-75 all in favour of Nakajima.
Knowing the bout was pretty much in the bag Nakajima began to play safe in the finals stages, whilst Chiba became more aggressive, giving his all in rounds 9, 10 and 11, before Nakajima regained his composure and and took the final round. After 12 rounds the bout was a clear Nakajima win, with scores of 1119-109, 117-111 and 116-112.
The second title bout saw the heavy handed Satoshi Shimizu (10-1, 9) [清水 聡] unify his OPBF Featherweight title with the WBO Asia Pacific title, as he defeated Musashi Mori (12-1, 7) [森 武蔵] and took his first decision victory since turning professional.
Morie started well, getting his jab going, but Shimizu was equal to it, and and as the early stages got going the men regularly exchanged punches up close, in some thrilling moments of action. right through the first third of the fight this was high tempo, and high tension, with Shimizu's power always giving a sense that anything could happen. After 4 rounds the judges were all over the place, with scores of 39-37, each way, and 38-38.
Mori started to go inside and attack the tall body of Shimizu in round 5 but Shimizu was equal to it, responding with his own body shot, as the phone booth war continued. By round 7 however it seemed Shimizu's power was starting to take a toll on Mori and in round 8 Mori was starting to bleed from the nose. After 8 rounds Shimizu was starting to establish himself on the scorecards, leading 78-74, twice, and 77-75, giving him the edge as we went into the final rounds.
It was then that the pace started to slow, as Shimizu started to use his jab, yes he does actually have one!, and conttrolled the range. He was keeping Mori at range, and kept the bout long, which really did neeutralise Mori and his inside work. As a result of this control Shimizu ended up taking a clear decision, with scores of 118-110, twice, and 116-112 to unify the regional titles and move towards a potential world title fight. As for Mori this is a major set back, but at just 21 years old he really does have time on his side to rebuild and come again.
Tomorrow at Korakuen Hall fight fans are set to get something a little bit special as WBO Asia Pacific Featherweight champion Musashi Mori (12-0, 7) [森 武蔵] takes on OPBF champion Satoshi Shimizu (9-1, 9) [清水 聡] in a mouth watering clash of regional champions.
The bout mixes not just regional champions, but also men with very, very different in ring styles, and men who are at very different points in their careers. This isn't just a regional unification bout, but it's also a legitimate must win fight for one of the fighters, and chance for both to take strides towards a potential world title fight.
Today the two men took part in their weigh in for the bout and both men came in comfortably under the 126lb limit.
On the scales the 35 year old Shimizu, the much taller and older man, was around 125.5lbs. He is a man who cannot afford a loss, and will know that if he loses here his career is essentially over. Despite know his career is on the line, he seemed really confident here, explaining he was in very good condition, had spared between 80 and 90 rounds and was able to prepare perfectly, despite the bout being delayed 8 days due to a recent state of emergency in Tokyo.
Interestingly Shimizu spoke about how this was the most important bout of his career and gives him a chance to move on to world title bouts.
Despite being the shorter man Mori was actually the heavier man, weighing in at around 125.75lbs, and he looked in really good shape and condition. He seemed fully aware of Shimizu's strengths, admitting that one mistake could be the end of his unbeaten record, and that he had to be be very careful of Shimizu's height and reach. Despute that he has been advised by trainer Ismael Salas to use a busy jab, and fight to a gameplan.
If he wins the 21 year old Mori would be knocking on the door of a world title fight, and is already ranked #4 by the WBO.
For fans wanting to watch this one, it won't be aired live, but will be shown on tape delay this coming weekend, on Fuji TV.
Related - Shimizu and Mori battle for Asian dominance in regional unification!
(Image courtesy of Ohashi Gym)
Earlier today it was announced that the scheduled May 13th show by Ohashi Gym was set to be postponed by 8 days, pushing it from May 13th to May 21st, due to the on going State of Emergency in Tokyo.
The exact announcement stated "We have decided to change the date and time in consideration of the extension in the recent situation." It was also confirmed that tickets will not be available for purchase on the day of the event due.
Despite the delay the show is a really interesting one. It will be headlined by a regional Featherweight unification bout between WBO Asia Pacific champion Musashi Mori (12-0, 7) [森 武蔵] and OPBF champion Satoshi Shimizu (9-1, 9) [清水 聡]. As well as the main event we also get an excellent chief support bout was Kazuki Nakajima (9-0-1, 8) [中嶋一輝] battles Kai Chiba (13-1, 8) [千葉開] for the vacant OPBF Bantamweight title.
Whilst fans will be wanting to watch, sadly the show won't be available to watch live. It will, however, be expected to be shown on tape delay by Fuji TV, who have a distribution deal with Ohashi and show tape delay broadcasts of many of their shows.
Back on January 14th we saw Takuma Inoue (14-1, 3) [井上拓真] score one of his best wins, as he over-came Keita Kurihara (15-6, 13) [栗原慶太] and won the OPBF Bantamweight title. Today it's been confirmed that he has vacated that title, with the aim being for him to get bigger and better fights.
Thankfully the vacancy won't last for long and we already know who will be fighting for the title, and when.
The vacancy will be filled on May 13th when the heavy handed Kazuki Nakajima (9-0-1, 8) [中嶋一輝], a stablemate of Inoue's at the Ohashi gym, takes on the once beaten Kai Chiba (13-1, 8) [千葉開] for the belt.
The hard hitting Nakajima, who is now 27 years old, has been a professional since 2017 and is regarded as a bright hopeful for the Ohashi Gym. He won his first 8 bouts in a row before fighting to a draw with Seiya Tsutsumi in the "God's Left Bantamweight tournament" in early 2020. Since then he has fought once, stopping Kenta Nomura at Super Bantamweight.
As for Chiba he's now 28 and has been a professional since 2015. He wasn't touted when he turned professional, but rose quickly through the ranks and impressed in 2017 with wins against Ikuro Sadatsune and Ryo Matsubara. He looked on the verge of a big fight in 2018 but was upset by Filipino Brian Lobetania and lost a lot of his momentum. Since that loss he has reeled off 6 wins and earned a shot at a title.
Whilst neither man will be regarded as one of the standout Bantamweights in Japan, a division that is truly stacked in the country with the likes of Naoya Inoue, Takuma Inoue and Daigo Higa, a win here would move their career forward massively and put them on the right track for a world ranking later in the year.
The bout has been added to an already solid looking Ohashi promoted show at Korakuen Hall, headlined by a Featherweight unification bout between WBO Asia Pacific champion Musashi Mori (12-0, 7) [森 武蔵] and OPBF champion Satoshi Shimizu (9-1, 9) [清水 聡]. This OPBF bout will serve as the chief support bout to Mori Vs Shimizu clash.
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