Earlier today it was reported that former WBO Flyweight champion Sho Kimura (19-3-2, 12) [木村翔] would be returning to the ring on May 9th, has the main event of DANGAN 249, where he will be facing talented youngster Ryu Horikawa (3-1-1, 1) [堀川龍], in a scheduled 8 round Flyweight bout.
The bout will be Kimura's first professional boxing contest since he stopped Merlito Sabillo in 2 rounds back in February 2020. Since then he has taken part in some exhibitions, including one in China where he was dropped on his head in a weird display that really went all against the ideas of what an exhibition is.
As for Horikawa it will be his first bout since February 2021, when he was stopped in a Japanese Youth Light Flyweight title bout against Yudai Shigeoka. The talented former amateur standout is only 21, and this is a huge step up in class, but a win here would potentially see him secure a regional ranking. He will feel he has the speed, youth and sharpness to take the fight to the 33 year old Kimua, but he will, clearly, be the under-dog.
Also set for this card are bouts featuring former Japanese title challenger Ryoichi Tamura (14-6-1, 7) [田村亮一], talented prospect Ayato Hiromoto (4-2, 1) [廣本彩刀] and the incredibly fun to watch Seigo Hanamori (7-4, 5) [花森成吾]
Earlier today at Korakuen Hall fight fan got a very entertaining show thanks to the Kawasaki Nitta Gym, with two title fights taking place on the show.
In the main event fight fans saw a genuinely thrilling bout as the always fun to watch Gakuya Furuhashi (28-8-1, 16) [古橋大輔] retained the Japanese Super Bantamweight title with a 3rd round TKO win against gutsy challenger Seigo Hanamori (7-4, 5) [花森 成吾].
From the opening bell Hanamori, who was stepping up massive, looked to take center ring and press Furuhashi, who started the bout trying to box, move and show some movement. Within a minute however the champion seemed to change tactics, and seemed to make it clear that he was willing to engage in the fight Hanamori wanted and the two just went to war on the inside, unloading shots up close. These show Hanamori getting dropped, and instead of backing off he took the fight back to Furuhashi as the action continued to be up close and brutal, making for a brilliant opening round, with intense action a lot of leather being thrown.
Having had an amazing opening 3 minutes we wouldn't have been surprised by the action slowing down in round 2. Instead however the second round was just as action packed and brutal as the first as Hanamori landed great shots at mid range and Furuhashi tried to barrel through it and turn it into an inside war. This made for 3 minutes for none stop action, fought at an incredible tempo, with huge shots from both men. Sadly for Hanamori his moments of success were never enough to see him hurt Furuhashi, who seemed to be enjoying having such a willing opponent.
In round 3 we again saw Furuhashi looking to get inside and Hanamori being happy enough to trade shots up close. Sadly for Hanamori he couldn't withstand the the incessant Furuhashi pressure, wobbling several times, backing him on to the ropes and forced the referee to step in and save Hanamori who was eating a lot of leather at that point.
The other title bout was a Japanese Youth title fight at Minimumweight, and this one was much, much more competitive as Shunsuke Isa (9-3-1, 1) [伊佐 春輔] took a razor thin split decision over Yuni Takada (8-8-2, 3) [高田 勇仁], avenging a 2019 loss in the process.
This was close and competitive from the off, with both men having arguments in every round. Takada was looking to close the distance, make the most of his toughness and aggression, with Isa was happy to use his speed and movement. This made for a compelling back and forth. As the bout went on Isa's movement became less of a factor, as he began to hold his feet and let his hands go more, and the final round 3 rounds were sense, punch for punch action, with neither man managing to hurt the other.
After 8 rounds the judges all turned in 77-75 cards, though thankfully for Isa two of the 3 cards went his way, enough for him to take the split decision.
Way back in January we saw Gakuya Furuhashi (27-8-1, 15) [古橋大輔] put in a career defining performance to stop Yusaku Kuga (19-5-1, 13) [久我勇作], and win the Japanese Super Bantamweight title. It was one of the best fights of the year and was a genuine all out war, with Furuhashi simply grinding down and breaking Kuga up.
Since then Furuhashi has been out of the ring, getting the long rest he deserved after such a brutal war.
Today however news finally broke of the champion's first defense, which will come on August 2nd as he takes on Seigo Hanamori (7-3, 5) [花森 成吾], who is ranked #5 by the JBC, at Korakuen Hall in the main event of "Hoepful Fight Vol 35".
Today, to announce the bout, the two men and their teams took part in a online press conference.
At the press conference Furuhashi stated "I started boxing after reading the manga "Hajime no Ippo", but it is an honor to be able to compete in a title match with Chairman Morikawa's gym player in the next round." And he added that he wanted to double hius gratitude with this bout.
Although complimentary of Mr Morikawa, who runs the JB Sports Gym, Furuhashi didn't seem like he was in generous mood to Hanamori, "It is said that we will play an interesting match, but this time we will not let the opponent show good points and end it with a crisp. I want to betray the expectations of others in a good way" and he seemed to suggest that Hanamori wasn't yet ready to over-take stablemate Ryoichi Tamura [田村 亮一]
As for Hanamori, who recorded an impressive win over Naoto Mizutani [水谷 直人] last time out to earn a high JBCranking, he came across as being confident, though feeling no pressure. He seems to know he's being over-looked, massively, and is there as easy first defense, but is hungry to prove that wrong. That was a sentiment echoed by his trainer, who stated "Even if you look at the super bantamweight ranking, I think our Hanamori is the weakest. I think he was chosen for the role of a biting dog, but I'm thinking of doing a good bite. Mr. Morikawa said, "I want you to show your courage." " For those unaware a "biting dog" is a term used for a fighter who's there to test someone, without being a major threat, like a dog there to help train a fighting dog.
Interestingly Hanamori also suggested that the wars and tough battles of Furuhashi may have caught up with him, and that this might be the right time to face the all action champion.
Earlier today the East Japan Boxing Association announced their monthly award winners for the month of January, with 3 winners being announced.
The MVP for the month was the newly crowned OPBF Bantamweight champion Takuma Inoue (14-1, 3) [井上拓真] who earned the award for his technical decision win against Keita Kurihara (15-6, 13) [栗原慶太] back on January 14th. During the bout Inoue looked in control through out, and showed his speed, movement and boxing IQ in one of, if not the, best performance of his career.
The Fighting Spirit award was also won by a new champion, with Gakuya Furuhashi (27-8-1, 15) [古橋大輔] picking up the award for his amazing win over Yusaku Kuga (19-5-1, 13) [久我勇作], which saw him claim the Japanese Super Bantamweight title. The bout was Furuhashi's third for the title and he really did show incredible fighting spirit to take a 9th round TKO win over Kuga back on January 22nd.
The Newcomer award was won by the hard hitting Seigo Hanamori (7-3, 5) [花森 成吾], who recorded an impressive win over #7 JBC ranked Super Bantamweight Naoto Mizutani (7-7-2, 2) [水谷 直人], in what was the most meaningful win of his career, by far.
As we've seen in recent months there will not be a physical award ceremony, due to the ongoing pandemic, but the fighters will be able to take part in a online ceremony.
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