Earlier today the East Japan Boxing Association announced the winners of their monthly awards for the month of February.
The MVP for the month is the newly crowned Japanese Lightweight champion Shu Utsuki (10-0, 8) [宇津木秀], following his impressive 9th round TKO win over Masahiro Suzuki back on February 8th. The win saw Utsuki net his first professional title, and it seems clear that, given his power and technical ability, he has the tools to go a long, long way in the sport, though of course is still a work in progress and it's going to be exciting to see what he does to build on the win over Suzuki.
The Fighting Spirit Award was also won by a newly crowned Japanese national champion, as Kyosuke Sawada (15-2-2, 6) [澤田京介] added the award to the Japanese Bantamweight title, which he won back on February 5th with a technical decision win over Kenshin Oshima. This was the second show at the title for Sawada, who had previously been denied by a technical draw. Whilst his win wasn't pretty, it was a meaningful one for the talented fighter, who started his career with back to back losses, but has rebuilt in very impressive fashion to claim the Japanese title.
The Newcomer Award was won by Shinba Yamaguchi (2-0-1, 2) [山口臣馬], who earned the award for his February 5th win over Ren Kobayashi, which saw him stopping Kobayashi in 6 rounds, and need to battle through some real problems from Kobayashi.
Earlier today we had the first live televised card of the Japanese boxing calender, as we got the latest episode of Dynamic Glove. On paper the card didn't really grab the attention too much, but it genuinely over-delivered, giving us one of the better Dynamic Glove shows of recent years, with a bit of everything. We had action, excitement, guts, determination, controversy and a new Japanese champion being crowned on a show that was, arguably, worth the wait.
The show kicked off with a low level novice bout between Keigo Nakayama (4-2, 3) [中山慶伍] and Akira Nakajima (2-3, 1) [中島彬] and in all honesty this is how we love to see shows starting. The fight was sloppy at times, but all 4 rounds were exciting, with Nakayama bossing things for the most part, but taking his lumps through out the bout. After 4 rounds Nakayama got the deserved decision, but both men were left bloodied in a compelling 4 rounder.
We got another compelling 4 rounder afterwards as Kisato Nakaya (1-0) [中谷清彩人] took a questionable decision over fellow debutant Ryu Suzuki (0-1) [鈴木龍]. Through the bout Suzuki applied pressure, and seemed to have consistent success with that pressure, despite taking some good counter shots from Nakaya, who worked hard to make Suzuki chase him. In round 4 Nakaya looked spent, and even stumbled after the bell as his energy was running on empty, though the judges, somehow, gave him the decision. Whilst we don't agree with the decision this was a fantastic 4 rounder, and we'd love to see more of both men, especially Suzuki.
The third bout on the card was the most one-sided on the show, but some how saw both men coming out with their reputations enhanced. That was in part due to the brave determination of Sho Nagata (9-6, 2) [永田翔] who somehow managed to go the distance against Ryota Ishida (11-2, 6) [石田凌太]. That was despite being dropped within the first 20 seconds and looking like he was going to have his internal organs needing to be replace by the end of the first round. After a great start from Ishida he struggled to keep up the intensity as Nagata found space and his jab. At range Nagata had success and almost always did enough to keep Ishida honest. We say almost as there were some hairy moments late on for Nagata as he tired, but he saw out the storm and survived to the final bell. A good performance from both, and a well earned win for Ishida.
Another really interesting bout saw the determined Ren Kobayashi (4-2-1, 2) [小林廉] give second generation fighter Shinba Yamaguchi (2-0-1, 2) [山口臣馬] a really tough bout, despite the eventual result.
Yamaguchi managed to drop Kobayashi in the first, third and sixth round, with the referee stopping the bout after the third knockdown. However the fight wasn't as easy as that sounds and Yamaguchi was under intense pressure in every round, and was lucky his natural size and power could help him out here. He's clearly a very talented young fighter, but the result does cover up the trouble he had against Kobayashi's pressure, which saw Yamaguchi have problems in every round. Despite the loss we're hoping to see more of Kobayashi in the coming years, whilst Yamaguchi is likely to more into title level before his career is over, though clearly needs to make some significant tweaks to his style.
In the chief support bout we saw another bout where the loser arguably came off looking better than the winner. The bout saw Kaiki Yuba (8-1-2, 5) [湯場海樹] take an 8 round decision win over Tetsuya Kondo (6-5, 4) [近藤哲哉], but Kondo was the one who really caught the eye with his intense pressure, and determination making life very tricky for the talented Yuba.
Yuba seemed quite gun shy at times, likely the result of his TKO loss in 2021 to Jin Sasaki, and this allowed Kondo to pressure a little bit too easily at times. When Yuba did let his shots fly they looked the heavier and more eye catching, but the pressure of Kondo made him really uncomfortable and forced him to hold a lot on the inside. Thankfully for Yuba the middle rounds saw him finding his groove, and dropping Kondo in round 5, as well as hurting him several other times. This showed the effect of Yuba's power, and seemed like he was going to turn it on and take Kondo out, but Kondo gritted it out and made life tough for Yuba in the final stages, leaving the talented Yuba with a swollen left eye. The scores here, 79-72, 78-73 and 78-74, really don't reflect how competitive the bout was, and Yuba really hard to work hard for the win.
The main event of the show was expected to be something of a technical chess match as former amateur stand out Kyosuke Sawada (15-2-2, 6) [澤田京介] faced off with Kenshin Oshima (7-2-1, 3) [大嶋剣心] for the Japanese title fight. Surprisingly however it ended up being a thrilling, brutal, blood bath with both men left bloodied and bruised.
The fight started well, though it was clear looking at the two men that Oshima was the bigger man, in fact he looked 2 weight classes bigger than Sawada, however Sawada seemed the crisper, sharper boxer. The sharpness of Sawada showed through in the first minute or saw before Oshima tried to get phsyical and left us with a really exciting final 30 seconds, as he let his shots go and Sawada tried to respond.
In round 2 exchanges became a frequent thing between the two men, with both being hurt. Sawada was rocked early on, but Oshima couldn't jump on him, and soon afterwards Sawada responded, taking the fight to him, and looking genuinely pissed about being hurt. Sawada's amateur class began to shine through as he landed some excellent combinations and went hunting, finally sending Oshima stumbling into the ropes, and landing a combination before the referee could get between them to issue a count, as the ropes had clearly kept him up.
Sadly was was warming into a really good fight had a moment that changed everything in round 3 when a clash of heads left Sawada's head with a gash that immediately flowed with claret. It seemed as if the bout was, inevitably, going to be stopped, but the doctor let it continue before the two men went back to trading some big shots. Sawada landed a massive left hook, before eating an uppercut on the bell as the two men seemed to both be aware this could stop at any moment. Round 4 saw Sawada trying to change tactics and box more, brawl less, but Oshima didn't want to let Sawada fight his fight and instead did what he could to get up close, rough up Sawada, and further mess up the cut, which was turning the bout into something of a blood bath. The doctor inspected the cut again with about 80 seconds of the round left and let it continue, whilst Oshima continued to play rough.
In round 5 the cut finally forced the doctor to say enough was enough, and in fairness it did look like Sawada's corner had a pool of blood where he stool would have been. It was the right decision front he doctor, and took us to the scorecards.
The cards, which were to include the first 27 seconds of round 5, saw Oshima get the first one, 48-47, Sawada get the second, 48-46, and Sawada get the third, 48-47, to take the split decision win, and a win that will mean so much to him after the way things have gone for him in the last year, including a technical draw in a previous title fight against Ikuro Sadatsune and the cancelation of a rematch with Sadatsune.
Earlier today Japanese youngster Shinba Yamaguchi (1-0, 1) [山口臣馬] made his professional debut, following in the footsteps of father Keiji Yamaguchi [山口圭司], a former WBA Light Flyweight champion.
The 19 year old debutant came forward early and it didn't take long at all for him to land a huge right hand to Thai visitor Buncha Natheekeereekan (1-3), who was dropped hard.
With Buncha down, and looking like he was out cold, the referee did away with the count and waved the bout off. A stretcher was brought into the ring for the Thai, though it appeared he did revive without any issues, and was seen on his stool following the knockout.
Yamaguchi, who needed just 40 seconds for today's win, had gone 29-14 (7) in the amateurs and although that's not an amazing record he did look promising in today's cameo. His win over Buncha was the quickest loss of the Thai's career, though unfortunately it was also his third stoppage loss in as many visits to Japan for the Thai, who has yet to win outside of Thailand.
For those who can't remember Keiji Yamaguchi, he fought as a professional from 1992 to 2002 and ran up a 30-8-1 (11) record. During his career he would win the Japanese and WBA Light Flyweight titles, whilst famously scoring 2 wins over Carlos Murillo. Sadly for him he did suffer defeats to the likes of Hi-Yong Choi, Pichitnoi Sithbanprachan, Jose Bonilla, In Joo Cho and Gerry Penalosa.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
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