Earlier today we had the first live televised card in Japan since the sport restarted, and it was a genuine mixed bag with some low level action, some fighters that didn't click, a sensational bout in the middle of the show, an intriguing Japanese title bout in the main event.
In the opening bout of the show the debuting Kodai Kobayashi (1-0) [小林 航大], from the E&J Cassius Gym, took a clear decision win over the win-less Shunsuke Miyauchi (0-2) [宮内 俊亮]. This was a real low level bout from both men, with Miyauchi pressing forward in the early rounds but showing very limited skills and Kobayashi needing time to shake the nervous energy. Thankfully for Kobayashi he seemed to land the better shots and did the cleaner work. After 4 rounds this was scored 40-36, twice, and 39-38 in favour of Kobayashi.
The second bout saw the touted Shigetoshi Kotari (2-0, 1) [神足 茂利] take on southpaw Motosuke Kimura (3-5-2, 1) [木村 元祐]. On paper this was supposed to be an easy second win for Kotari but in reality this didn't go as expected, at all. Kotari was dropped in the opening round from a round house left hand from Kimura, who seemed to land a shot that should never have caught a former amateur standout lime Kimura. The punch wasn't just looping, but was thrown with the back hand and looper around half the ring.
Sadly the knockdown made Kotari super cautious in rounds 2 and 3 and they were rounds that really lacked anything worthy of talking about. Kotari did seem to do enough to take them, but certainly didn't shine. He was caught with a number of clean counters in round 4, the round where be decided he needed to put his foot on the gas, and the counters seemed to take the wind out of his aggression. That lead to a rather dreary ending to the fight, with rounds 5 and 6 both being dull and tiresome.
After 6 rounds Kotari took the decision, but in reality he looked exposed. He wasn't just dropped but he also looked confused, never managed to figure Kimura out, and looked terrified of Kimura's counter's. He tried to draw leads and failed to land his own counter shots and failed to show the confidence needed to let his own hands go. The officials cards were 57-56 and 58-55, twice, but that can't cover over the fact Kotari did not look good.
After some pretty poor action, if we're being honest, to begin the show we got something spectacular in bout #3 as Toshiki Kawamitsu (5-0, 2) [川満 俊輝] and Kenshi Noda (2-1, 2) [野田 賢史] waged war in a sensational back and forth thriller. The fight didn't need a feeling out round, they just got to it, and let their shots go. From the off it looked like both men had a point to prove and they were putting on a high skilled, inside, action war. On paper that was expected to favour Noda, the bigger puncher, but it was Kawamitsu who seemed to be landing the cleaner, better blows.
The intensity continued in round 2 as both men tried to break the other down with great inside action and good work at range, when they were at range. Sadly for Noda however round 3 was a torrid one for him as his stamina, heart and durability were seriously questioned. He started the round well, but his inability to hurt Kawamitsu whilst Kawamitsu fought like a buzzsaw, seemed to drain the legs and belief from Noda, who slipped to the canvas numerous times. He was finally, officially, given a count late in the round, but by then he was looking very, very spent. He went out for round 4,looking to turn things around, but once again Kawamitsu simply showed that he wasn't going to be denied and forced the referee to finally jump in and save an exhausted looking Noda late on.
This was brilliant. The final round and a half might have been a bit too one sided, but the action, the intensity, the and the excitement was relentless. Absolute exhilarating contest between two young men desperate for victory. This was what we needed, this was what Japanese boxing needed back on TV. This was special!
In the co-feature we saw former world title challenger Ryohei Takahashi (19-4-1, 8) [高橋 竜平] taking a very debatable decision win over the Kiyohei Endo (3-4, 3) [遠藤 清平], in a bout that we felt Endo deserved. And we don't think we were the only ones. Endo started aggressively and was unfortunate to have a knockdown scored against him after he was caught on the back of the head.
Endo would continue to press, and pressure and seemed to easily out land Takahashi, but it was Takahashi with the cleaner, more telling single connects. Whilst we under-stand the quality Vs quantity argument we didn't feel the quality of Takahashi's single shots made up for how clearly out landed he was. There was also confusion after Endo seemed to score a knockdown of his own, though we're not totally sure if the referee told the judges to ignore it, as there was some instruction to the judges from the referee in round 6. Whether it was counted or not Endo certainly seemed to have taken the round.
Going into the final round it seemed like Endo was well and truly in it, if not in a slight lead. That wasn't something that Takahashi seemed to believe, with the former world title challenger doing little offensively for the first 2 minutes of the round before landing the two best shots of the round late on, in an attempt to steal it.
We went to the scorecards believing this one was razor thin, but the judges thought other wise, scoring it 78-73 and 77-74, twice, in favour of Takahashi. Those scores however do not reflect the nature of a very, very close bout that could easily have gone the other way.
In the main event we saw Japanese Light Middleweight champion Hironobu Matsunaga (17-1, 11) [松永 宏信] successfully defend his title, for the second time, as he over-came mandatory challenger Yuto Shimizu (14-5-2, 5) [清水優人]. The styles of these two men made for an interesting dynamic on paper, with Matsunaga being a bull like aggressive fighter, who's short in stature but aggressive, busy and strong, and Shimizu being a tall, rangy technical counter puncher. Early on however it took time for either man to find their groove.
The slow going saw Matsunaga taking the early rounds on work rate, whilst Shimizu looked to figure out what the champion brought. This lead to Matsunaga building momentum and in rounds 4 and 5 the champion began to turn the screw, landing clean left hands with alarming regularity. The aggression of the champion gave the challenger chances, and the accurate straight shots of Shimizu left the champion with a cut on the bridge of his nose.
After 5 rounds we had the open scoring and the scores were 50-45, 49-46 and 48-47, all in favour of Matsunaga. That should have made Shimizu feel like he was in with a chance, but instead it seemed to fire up Matsunaga, who had a point to prove and put his foot on the gas again. Shimizu finished round 6 with a nice flash of what he could do, in what seemed like an attempt to steal the round, but it was too little too late.
In round 7 the pressure of Matsunaga finally told. Early in the round he left the challenger with a huge cut over his left eye. Later in the round Matsunaga rocked Shimizu, before pinning him on the ropes and going into over drive, letting shots fly whilst Shimizu tried to clear his head. The shots kept coming and the referee took a close look several times. Finally enough was enough and the referee stepped in, saving the challenger.
For Matsunaga the win is a huge one, and sees him get through his Champion Carnival bout as the champion as he we head towards 2021. As for Shimizu this maybe his one and only chance given he turns 33 in January and he will have a long road back to a second title shot.
At the end of July we saw Teiken announce their next card, set for September 5th at Korakuen Hall. At the time only 2 bouts for the show were announce, but today we were informed of more details relating to the event, which will have 6 bouts on it and will be shown live on G+, as part of their Dynamic Glove series, from Korakuen Hall.
As previously reported the main event will see Kenichi Ogawa (24-1-1-1, 18) [尾川 堅一] take on Kazuhiro Nishitani (21-4-1, 12) [西谷和宏] in a bout between for Japanese champions who are both currently world ranked and both are looking to get a shot at a world title in the near future.
The chief support bout was also previously announced, and will see the highly touted Shokichi Iwata (4-0, 3) [岩田翔吉] taking on Ryo Narizuka (9-9-1) [成塚亮] in an 8 rounder.
A second 8 rounder on this show will see Hikari Mineta (8-1, 5) [峯田 光] take on Ryuya Tsugawa (7-1, 3) [津川 龍也] in a mouth watering 8 round Featherweight bout. Mineta lost in the 2018 Rookie of the Year final, losing to Yuri Takemoto, whilst Tsugawa won the Rookie of the Year last year. This is a brilliant match up, and could end up the most interesting of the bouts on the card.
Another interesting bout on the card will see the unbeaten pairing of Kenshi Noda (2-0, 2) [野田 賢史] and Toshiki Kawamitsu (4-0, 1) [川満 俊輝] face off in a really mouth watering bout. This will be a 6 round Light Flyweight bout and is a fantastic match up, worthy of real attention.
Another unbeaten hopeful announced for this card is Shigetoshi Kotari (1-0, 1) [神足 茂利], who will be up against Motosuke Kimura (3-4-2, 1) [木村 元祐], in a 6 round Featherweight bout.
The opening bout on the show will see Takayoshi Suzuki (5-1-1, 1) [鈴木 敬祥] take on Tamaki Miwa (6-6-1, 1) [干場 悟] in a 6 round Super Bantamweight bout.
Given this event will be the first live televised show in Japan since February this is a key show and we're glad that it has so many interesting bouts on it.
Earlier today fight fans at Korakuen Hall had an interesting card with several notable names involved. Sadly however the show won't be televised until this coming Tuesday, when G+ air it on delay. For those wanting to watch as live this warning is for you, however, if you're not interested in watching as live the result, and spoilers will be below.
The main event of the card saw former Japanese Flyweight champion Junto Nakatani (20-0, 15) [中谷 潤人] score his biggest win to date as he stopped former Light Flyweight world champion Milan Melindo (37-5, 13) in the 6th round of their contest.
The bout, set for 10 rounds at 114lbs, was regarded as a big step up for Nakatani, but it seemed like he was getting to Melindo at the right time. The Filipino visitor was the older, smaller man who had had 3 very tough bouts in recent times, and had been damaged in all 3. That damage was expected to be a major issue here, though we ended up seeing the size and physical attributes of Nakatani being a bigger issue. Early on Nakatani established his jab, and used his reach, before pressing the bout closer and beating up on the smaller Filipino, who was stopped in the 6th round when the referee needed to come in and save him.
The win for Nakatani is likely to see him moving towards a world title fight in the near future, whilst the end must surely be nigh for the talented, but shop worn, Filipino.
Another 6 round stoppage saw former world title challenger Ryo Akaho (35-2-2, 23) [赤穂亮] defeat Korean visitor Kyung Min Kwon (7-6, 3) [권경민]. Kwon had come to win, and credit to him, but he was unable to match the skills of Akaho, who's jab landed controlled the early part of the fight. As the fight went on Akaho began to land more telling power shots, and in round 6 he hurt Kwon, who was saved by the referee soon afterwards when Akaho went for the finish.
It was an easy day for the often under-rated Ikuro Sadatsune (10-4-3, 4) [定常 育郎], who ended a 2 fight losing streak by beating Filipino Robin Langres (10-4, 4). Langres was coming off second best through the first 2 rounds before a left eye injury caused the doctor to pull him out at the start of round 3.
Former amateur standout Shigetoshi Kotari (1-0, 1) [神足 茂利] made a successful debut stopping Lasben Sinaba (3-3, 3) in round 2. The promising Kotari dropped his man with a right hand and looked really promising, but Sinaba really wasn't up to much and we wouldn't be surprised to see him getting his name added to the JBC's invitation prohibited boxer's list.
At the end of July Shigetoshi Kotari (0-0) [神足 茂利] took part in his pro-test bout, sparring with Japanese Flyweight champion Junto Nakatani (19-0, 14) [中谷 潤人]. Since then he has had his debut bout announced, and it's been added to a big card at Korakuen Hall.
The card in question is the October Dynamic Glove card, which will take place on October 5th and will be headlined by Nakatani, who takes on former world champion Milan Melindo (37-4, 13) in a big step up.
At the moment Kotari's opponent hasn't been named, but the bout will be a 6 round bout at Featherweight, and is likely to come against an international opponent.
As an amateur Kotari went 50-23 and competed in the final stages of numerous national tournaments, though did tend to fall short in the later stages of major competitions.
The card will also feature a string of other noteworthy fighters. These include former world title challenger Ryo Akaho (34-2-2, 22) [赤穂亮], who faces off with Korean foe Kyung Min Kwon (7-5, 3), who returns to Japan for the first time since his 8th round TKO loss to Satoshi Shimizu, back in a 2018 OPBF title fight. This bout will be fought over 10 rounds and is the show's main support bout.
Another notable fighter on this card is the under-rated Ikuro Sadatsune (9-4-3, 3) [定常 育郎], who looks to bounce back from a loss to former world title challenger Sho Ishida. Sadatsune will be up against Filipino Robin Langres (10-3, 4), in an a very good looking 8 round match up at Bantamweight.
Earlier today we reported that Yudai Shigeoka [重岡優大] was heading to the professional ranks, following his younger brother, Ginjiro. As it turns he's not the only former amateur standout hanging up the vest and turning professional, with Kotari Shigetoshi [神足 茂利] doing the same.
Shigetoshi isn't as well regarded as the two Shigeoka but that doesn't mean he's not a very accomplished fighter from his day's in the unpaid ranks. As an amateur he amassed an excellent 50-23 record and is experienced in national tournaments.
Unlike the Shigeoka brothers, who are both Watanabe gym fighters Shigetoshi has signed his professional contract with the MT gym and his B License test earlier today saw him sparring with former Japanese Flyweight champion Junto Nakatani.
The MT Gym isn't one of the more well known gyms internationally but with Nakatani, Kai Ishizawa and now Shigetoshi the gym is amassing some quality young talent which could secure their place among the likes of Watanabe, Teiken and Ohashi.
Aged 22 and fighting at Featherweight Shigetoshi is going to be in one of the most interesting division's domestically, but is young enough develop rather than rush into the big fights.
At the moment Shigetoshi's debut hasn't been set in stone, but it's expected to be a 6 round bout in October, with Shigetoshi expected to feature on some notable cards in 2020.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
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