Takada blows out Isa, Taniguchi claims youth title, Sasaki trades knockdowns in draw with Sekine
Earlier today we had the latest show in the Fighter Spirit Series of shows. The card wasn't a stacked one, but the show, from Hachioji Nakaya Promotions, did several notable bouts on it.
The first of 3 noteworthy bouts was the rubber bout between Yuni Takada (9-8-3, 3) [高田 勇仁] and Shunsuke Isa (9-4-1, 1) [伊佐 春輔]. The first two bouts between the men were razor thin and we were expecting a similarly competitive contest this time around. Instead Takada landed the punch of the rivalry, detonating a huge left hook on Isa which dropped him hard. The referee waved off the bout after just 41 seconds, giving Takada the last laugh in a the rivalry and his most impressive win to date.
The second bout of note was a Japanese Youth Super Featherweight title bout, which saw Hyoga Taniguchi (6-3-2, 1) [谷口 彪賀] claim the title and put a beating on Seika Fukuda (6-4, 1) [福田 星河]. Taniguchi took control almost immediately, and took the fight to Fukuda, neutralising his jab with pressure and accuracy. Taniguchi would drop Fukuda early on, and then simply out work him, out land him, and out fight him, despite Fukuda doing his best to try and turn things around. After 8 rounds it was hard to give Fukuda anything, with the judges scoring this 80-70, 80-70 and 79-71.
The main event was much, much more competitive with the heavy handed Jin Sasaki (12-1-1, 11) [佐々木 尽] being held to a draw by Kotaro Sekine (3-0-1, 3) [関根 幸太朗]. The bout had real tension at it from before the bell, with the two men trying to stare daggers into each other. Sekine started well, and looked relaxed through the opening round, fighting relaxed and out boxing Sasaki until the final seconds of the round, when he was dropped hard, securing Sasaki a 10-8 round. Had the shot come 30 seconds earlier there's a chance Sasaki would have forced a stoppage here. He was made to pay in round 3 for not being able to finish off as Sekine battled his way back in to the bout, and he dropped Sasaku in round 5, with a left hook. The second knockdown left the bout finely poised going into the final round, which was hotly contested, and saw the judges being split.
After 6 rounds the scores for this were 56-56, twice, and 57-55 to Sasaki, leading to a majority draw.
Earlier this week it was announced that we would get the chance to see a new Japanese Youth Super Featherweight champion being crowned on July 9th at the Esforta Arena Hachioji, in city Hachioji. The bout, which has come about after Seira Kishida (6-1-2, 2) [岸田聖羅] vacated the title, will see 2019 All Japan Rookie of the Year winner Hyoga Taniguchi (5-3-2, 1) [谷口彪賀] take on Seika Fukuda (6-3, 1), who reached the 2020 All Japan Rookie of the Year final before losing to Tsubasa Narai.
For Taniguchi this will be his first shot at a title and comes almost a year to the day that he suffered his most recent loss, losing via 4th round TKO to Hiro Ichimichi. He was last seen in the ring beating Caliente Koyasu and has long promises to build on his Rookie of the Year success, but has year to really manage that, due in part to the Pandemic which really slowed his ascent. He's a technical yet aggressive young fighter, who makes for fan friendly bouts, but his lack of power is likely to be a major issue when he steps up against more physically mature and powerful men.
As for Fukuda this will actually be his second shot at the title, having lost to Kishida in May for the very title he's getting another shot at here. Sadly for him he comes in with no momentum at all, having lost his last 2 and 3 of his last 4, but he has mixed at a good level with losses to Narai, Kishida and Yuna Hara. He'll also go in to the bout as the "away" fighter, travelling from Takatsuki City to Hachioji, so will know the pressure is on Taniguchi to perform in front of his friends and family
Yesterday the Tokiwa Arena, in Kobe played host to the latest show in the Senrima Super Fight series, from Senrima Kobe Promotions. The card wasn't a super stacked one, or a deep one, but was a pretty interesting one with several fights of note on it, including a Japanese Youth title fight.
The first of the bouts of note saw Tetsuya Mimura (9-3, 2) [見村 徹弥] score a second round TKO win over Pocky Nishikawa (7-10-2, 2) [ポッキー西川]. The talented, but light punching, Mimura got through with a left hand to the body, which hurt Nishikawa, and a follow up attacked forced the referee to step in and wave the bout off, with Nishikawa offering little whilst under pressure. It should be noted this is the 5th time Nishikawa has been stopped in 10 losses, and the 34 year old is now winless in more than 8 years. As for Mimura the win ends a 2 fight slide, though he is much, much better than recent results suggest.
In the Japanese Youth Title fight Seira Kishida (6-1-2, 2) [岸田 聖羅] took an 8 round decision over Seika Fukuda (6-3, 1) [福田 星河], to become the new Japanese Youth Super Featherweight champion. The bout was an interesting one from the off, with Fukuda trying to close the distance, and Kishida trying to create space, which he did well in round 2, before Fukuda closed the range more effectively in round in the middle rounds, particularly rounds 4 and 5. Sadly for Fukuda his success was coming at a cost, and he was putting a lot into trying to make the fight his style, whilst Kishida seemed more relaxed, picked his spots well and finished really well by boxing at range, and making the most of the slowing legs of his foe. After 8 rounds all 3 judges had Kishida winning 78-74, and all of the judges gave him the final 3 rounds as he eased his way to victory.
The chief support bout saw Shun Kosaka (17-8, 4) [小坂 駿] ending a 3 fight losing streak as he took a comfortable 8 round decision over Sho Omote (9-4, 3) [表 祥]. Kosaka set the tempo with his jab, controlling the range and action earlier on whilst Omote tried to land the bigger, more eye catching shots. Sadly for Omote however he really had no sustained success, and every time he did get something going, Kosaka got back on the jab, create space and re-established his control of the bout, before letting heavier shots go. Omote put in a fair effort, but was consistently second best here, with the judges scoring the bout 79-75, 78-74 and 77-76, a score that was far too close to reflect the nature of the bout.
The main event of the show was the real highlight of the event, with Keisuke Iwasaki (7-3-2, 2) [岩﨑 圭祐] taking a majority decision win over Hiroki Tokuyama (11-4-1, 2) [徳山 洋輝]. The fight started with the two men fighting at mid range and letting their hands and from there we saw a really interesting bout, with both men having success. Iwaksaki seemed to land the cleaner, more eye catching shots, but the naturally bigger Tokuyama seemed to the heavier blows overall. Despite that it was a right hand from Iwasaki that proved to be the most meaningful punch of the fight, as he dropped his man in the fights only knockdown. Tokuyama looked to rebuild from the knockdown, and had a solid 4th round, but couldn't drop Iwasaki, who countered well, and stood his ground when under pressure in round 8. After 8 rounds the judges had this one 78-73, twice, to Iwaksai, and 76-76, to secure him a majority decision win and keep him in line for a Japanese title fight later in the year
After an incredibly busy Saturday of action globally for fight fans, the action continued into Sunday as we turned our attention to Japan and the Korakuen Hall for the 2020 All Japan Rookie of the Year.
The tournament, now in it's 67th edition, was delayed due to Covid19 and was, sadly, held without an audience at Korakuen Hall, though was thankfully aired live on G+ and provided a lot of fantastic, thrilling, 2-way action as fighters battled to be crowned the All Japan Rookie of the Year.
In the show opener we saw teenager Ren Kojima (6-1-2) [小島 蓮] etch his name into the history books as he took the Minimumweight crown, out pointing Ryo Sasaki (5-3, 2) [佐々木 凌] over 5 rounds. Through out the bout Kojima simply out worked, out boxed, out sped and out manoeuvred Sasaki, who was often chasing but rarely cutting off the ring. Real credit needs to go to Kojima for his energy, and his movement, which were impressive through out. After 5 rounds the judges had this one 50-45, twice, and 49-47 all to Kojima who becomes the first fighter from the Emi Gym to win Rookie of the Year.
The second bout was something truly special as we saw Ryota Karimata (6-0, 3) [狩俣 綾汰] narrowly outpoint Hyogo Kimura (6-2-1, 1) [木村 彪吾] to be crowned the Light Flyweight Rookie of the Year. This was just an amazing bout, fought at a high pace from the off, with neither man letting the other get their nose in front. It was toe to toe action from the first round to the final bell and really hard to split the two men, who gave everything they had. After 5 rounds the judges had this 48-47, twice, and 48-48 to give Karimata a razor thin decision. This is one that fans need to go back and give a watch to as soon as they can as it was tremendous action and the perfectly balanced, 50/50 type bout that we always hope to see in Rookie of Year finals.
In the Flyweight bout Akira Hoshuyama (5-0, 2) [宝珠山 晃] narrowly over-came Yasuhiro Kanzaki (6-2, 2) [神崎 靖浩] . The early going saw Hoshuyama look to box at range, fighting off his southpaw jab though Kanzaki managed to counter him, and shook him with about 2 minutes of the opening round gone. Hoshuyama managed to regroup well and found his range in round 2 before being dropped by a left hook late in the round. Rather interestingly Hoshuyama got to his feet quickly, whilst the ref was out of range, and ate a huge uppercut straight afterwards, and was sent back down. It was only 1 knockdown, officially, but it was still an interesting moment and not something we see often. Sadly for Kanzaki it did result in him being deducted a point, which ended up being vital on the cards. Hoshuyama recovered well from the knockdown and hurt Kanzaki in round 3, as he began to land some huge straight left hands. The success of Hoshuyama's from round 3 continued into round 4 as he began to break down Kanzaki who ended up with a bloodied nose in round 5.
We went to the scorecards at the end of this one, and the scores were 47-46 from all 3 judges, sadly for Kanzaki two of those judges went with Hoshuyama. The point deduction essentially costing Kanzaki the draw.
At Super Flyweight we got the hugely anticipated clash between Shunpei Kubo (7-1-1, 5) [久保 春平], who had upset Kosuke Tomioka in the East Japan final, and the unbeaten Taichi Sugimoto (6-1-1, 1) [杉本 太一]. The opening round saw Sugimoto rocked to his core late in the round, though to his credit he gutted it out and fought back well in round 2 as regrouped and cleared his head. Sadly however Sugimoto was hurt again in round 3, and was rocked repeatedly in round 4 as Kubo began to use his head head for target practice, finally forcing a stoppage with just over 30 seconds of the round remaining. With the win Kubo scored the first stoppage of the day, and took the Super Flyweight crown, with a very impressive performance.
The fifth bout on the show was the Bantamweight bout and saw Ryuki Sudo (2-1, 1) [須藤 龍揮] take a beating at the hands of southpaw Fuya Tomita (6-2, 2) [冨田 風弥]. This was explosive from the off with both men landing some big shots in the first 90 seconds, and both showcased some solid whiskers through out the first round. Sadly for Sudo he seemed to be on the receiving end a lot of the time and he was tagged early in round 2, before being dropped about a minute into the round. Sudo beat the count but took a beating through what was left of the round, and narrowly made it into round 3. Tomita was genuinely looking for a finish through the third, though Sudo did just enough to avoid the referee jumping in. Tomita's hunt for a finish continued through the final round, though to his credit Sudo managed to do enough to see out the round and hear the final bell.
After 4 rounds the judges had this 40-35 and 38-37, twice, with Tomita taking the unanimous decision. We really do wonder how the judges found 2 rounds to give to Sudo, though credit where it's due, he showed surprising durability.
At Super Bantamweight we saw Yuki Yazan (7-3, 4) [矢斬 佑季] suffer a clear decision loss to the unbeaten Sora Fukunaga (9-0, 4) [福永 宇宙]. This was an interesting match up, with Yazan looking the much bigger man, but the clean, hurtful, accurate shots were pretty much all from Fukunaga, who had Yazan in all sorts of trouble in round 5. Credit goes to Yazan for always trying to win here, but round after round he seemed to be on the wrong end of things. After 5 rounds the judges had this one 50-45 and 49-46, twice, all in favour of Fukunaga.
The first bout that was scheduled for the show but didn't take place was the Featherweight bout, which was scheduled to be between Kazunori Hirano (4-0, 4) [平野和憲] and Hikaru Fukunaga (8-1, 5) [福永輝]. Sadly this was cancelled when Fukunaga had a positive PCR test, giving Hirano the Rookie crown by default. Fukunaga was suffering from fever and was said to be genuinely quite unwell.
We returned to in ring action at Super Featherweight, as the hard hitting Tsubasa Narai (7-0, 6) [奈良井 翼] took on Seika Fukuda (5-1, 1) [福田 星河]. On paper this one looked really interesting, but Narai took all the interest away rather quickly. Within the first minute Marai made it clear he didn't want to drag it out, and landed some solid bombs. Fukuda showed some heart and desire but was dropped mid-way through the round. Narai, knowing his man was hurt, went on the hunt and dropped Fukuda for a second time with the referee quickly waving off the contest.
At Lightweight Hiromasa Urakawa (7-1, 4) [浦川 大将] managed to over-come the gutsy Eiji Togawa (6-4, 3) [戸川 叡二]. This one started slowly, with both men showing respect to the other, though the power of Urakawa showed and he left Togawa with a bloodied nose at the end of round 2. The bleeding was worsened in round 3, as Urakawa began to land with some lovely combinations up top. Knowing he was down Togawa looked to turn the bout around in the 4th round, as he increased the tempo of the fight. Sadly for Togawa it seemed like Urakawa had an answer for everything he did, and Togawa was rocked late in the round. Togawa managed to have his best round in round 5, and he managed to bloody Urakawa's nose, but it was too little too late to turn the bout around. After 5 rounds Urakawa took a clear, and well deserved, decision over the brave Togawa.
The planned Light Welterweight bout was the second bout to be cancelled, as Reiji Kodama (2-0, 1) [兒玉麗司] was forced out of his bout with Aito Takabatake (6-0-1, 1) [高畠愛大]. Kodama, like Hikaru Fukunaga, also had a positive result in his PCR test, though he was said to be asymptomatic. Sadly the positive test meant Kodama had to be pulled from the show, and as a result Takabatake won the Rookie title by default.
At Welterweight Kaichi Yamazaki (2-3, 2) [山﨑 海知] came up short against Hiroya Nojima (6-1, 2) [能嶋 宏弥]. Within a minute of the fight starting we had drama as Yamazaki was dropped from a short right hand. He popped up and got clobbered again by Nojima, who was then deducted a point for hitting a downed opponent. Sadly the early drama was about as good as it got, with Nojima happy to box and move for much of the rest of the bout as he walked his way to a clear decision win. Yamazaki came to fight, but he was second best for pretty every minute, of every round, as he lost a wide 4 round decision here. All 3 judges turned in identical cards of 39-35 to Nojima.
The final bout on the show was the Middleweight bout, between teenager Eiki Kani (3-1-2, 1) [可兒 栄樹] and the hard hitting Katsuhiro Nakata (6-0, 4) [中田 勝浩]. From the off it was hard to ignore the clear size difference between the two men, with Nakata towering over Kani. Despite being the much, much taller man Nakata rarely used his size and instead allowed Kani to fight on the inside, giving us a brilliant action war pretty much from the off. With Nakata willing to standing his ground, and Kani marching forward, we ended up with a bout packed uppercuts, which left both men bloody messes by the mid-way point of round 3, though there was no quit with either man. Despite both men wearing claret across their faces as we entered round 4, neither man showed any intention to change their tactics and the round was another brutal one with both taking a lot of leather, and at various points both men seemed to be hurt during a sensational 3 minutes of violence. That was then followed by an equally punishing fifth round as we ended up getting a genuine treat to close the show.
After 5 rounds this was an incredibly tough one to score and that showed on the scorecards with the first judge giving it 48-47 to Kani. He was over-ruled however by the other two judges who both had it 48-47 to Nakata. It was hard to argue either way, and hopefully, one day down the line, we see these two re-run the bout over a longer distance. It was brutal, it was exciting, competitive and a fantastic way to end the show.
Results from Rookie of the Year
Earlier today at the EDION Arena Osaka we had the penultimate set of fights from this year Rookie of the Year, with the show deciding the West Japan representatives for the All Japan final. In total there were 12 bouts, with bouts taking place at every where from Minimumweight to Middleweight, except for 154lbs.
The show kicked off with the Minimumweight bout, which saw teenager Ren Kojima (5-1-2) [小島 蓮] take a 4 round shut out win over Yosshah Matsumoto (1-2-1) [ヨッシャー松本]. Kojima was just the better man through out, he was busier, more accurate, used the ring better and even when Matsumoto had some success the play was taken away from him rather quickly.
The action was much more competitive at 108lbs, as Hyogo Kimura (6-1-1, 1) [木村 彪吾] fought to a majority draw with Nozomu Wakiyama (2-1-1) [脇山 望]. This was close through out, with the two men matching up very well. In round 2 it seemed like Kimura was getting the upper hand, but Wakiyama turned on the gas himself in round 3 before the two went to war in round 4. After the final bell two judges turned in cards of 38-38, whilst the third judge has it 40-36, giving Kimura the nod. Due to the tie breaker rules of Rookie of the Year this mean Kimura progressed to the All Japan final.
At Flyweight we had competitive action, with Yasuhiro Kanzaki (6-1, 2) [神崎 靖浩] taking a narrow unanimous decision over Takatora Suzuki (2-1-1) [鈴木 尊虎]. Suzuki seemed the more aggressive in the opening round, but Kanzaki used his jab well and began to control the ring, particularly in round 2. After that Suzuki always looked in the bout, and pressed well, but it was the clean punching and movement of Kanzaki that proved to be the difference.
In the Super Flyweight bout it was Taichi Sugimoto (6-0-1, 1) [杉本 太一] who came out on top in a battle of unbeaten men, out pointing Sora Sunohara (2-1-2) [春原 青空]. To begin with Sunohara looked to keep the bout cautions, but Sugimoto looked to press the action in rounds 2. This meant Sunohara was chasing the bout in the second half, which allowed Sugimoto the chance to land some solid shots and put his foot on the gas to put the decision beyond doubt at the end of 4 rounds.
We had the second shut out of the day at Bantamweight, as Fuya Tomita (5-2, 2) [冨田 風弥] popped the cherry of Ren Kobayashi (3-1, 1) [小林 廉]. Tomita used his height and reach well to begin the bout, and although Kobayashi had some success with counters it really wasn't enough to make the round seem competitive. From there on Tomita always seemed to have the last word in exchanges, mixing up his attacks well and was worthy of the decision after 4 rounds.
We got the first stoppage of the day at Super Bantamweight, as Sora Fukunaga (8-0, 4) [福永 宇宙] stopped Ren Anzai (4-4-1, 2) [安西 蓮] in round 3. This was an exciting one for 2 rounds, but in round 3 Fukunaga dropped his man. Anzai recovered to his feet but a follow up forced the referee to intervene, giving Fukunaga the stoppage victory.
We had another stoppage at Featherweight, as Hikaru Fukunaga (8-1, 5) [福永 輝] defeated Kakeru Mio (5-3, 3) [三尾 翔], thanks to a 5th round TKO win. Fukunaga dropped Mio in round 1, but was deducted a point as the shot came in the break, and Mio was giving a break to recover. From there on Mio was a trier, but Fukunaga looked too big and too strong, and in round 5 he dropped hi man for the second time. Mio beat the count but the referee waved the bout off with Mio standing.
The unbeaten Seika Fukuda (5-0, 1)[福田 星河] succeeded at Super Featherweight, as he defeated Kazuki Higuchi (5-2, 2) [樋口 和輝] in a competitive 5 rounder. This was competitive through out, with a nice mix of styles, though Fukuda got off to some notable success early, dropping Higuchi in round 2. Higuchi battled back well, but Fukuda just did enough to keep his nose in front, taking the decision with scores of 48-46 from all 3 judges.
The second stoppage of the show came at Lightweight, where Eiji Togawa (6-3, 3) [戸川 叡二] stopped Hayato Fukagawa (2-3, 1) [深川 隼人], in round 3. Togawa was aggressive early on and scored a knockdown in the opening round. Fukugawa recovered well but was hurt again in round 3 and the referee needed to save him from further punishment.
At 140lbs Aito Takabatake (5-1-1, 1) [高畠 愛大] took a razor thin majority decision over Yoshiki Takahashi (3-5, 3) [高橋 良季]. This was hotly competitive, though maybe not the most exciting of fights, with the styles not really meshing in rounds 2 and 3. After 4 rounds 1 of the judges had the two men level, but the other two gave Takabatake the win with scores of 39-37.
At Welterweight Hiroya Nojima (5-1, 2) [能嶋 宏弥] took a clear decision over Bigbaby Okamoto (2-1, 1) [ビッグベイビー岡本], thanks in part to a knockdown at the end of round 3. Okamoto tried to turn it all around in round 4, but was unable to take out Nojima, who had done enough to earn the decision.
The final bout came at Middleweight and saw Katsuhiro Nakata (5-0, 4) [中田 勝浩] score a 3rd round TKO win over Norifumi Hayakawa (2-1, 2) [早川 教文]. Hayakwawa came out offensively and seemed to been in control early on, but in round 3 a body shot from Nakata hurt Hayakawa and form there on Nakata let shots go until the referee stepped in and saved the previously unbeaten Hayakawa.
After the event the there was 3 awards given out. The MVP when to Sora Fukunaga, for his victory over Ren Anzai at Super Bantamweight. The skill award was given to Middleweight Katsuhiro Nakata, for his victory over Norifumi Hayakawa and the fighting spirit award went to Fuya Tomita, for his win over Ren Kobayashi.
The winner will back in action in the All Japan finals on February 21st, where they will clash with the East Japan winners, who were decided a week ago, with that event expected to be shown live on G+.
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