Earlier today we got the chance to enjoy a live stream from the Suruga Boys show in Shizuoka. Whilst not a big card it was an interesting one. Among the bouts on the card were a former Japanese national champion, an unbeaten prospect and a former WBO Asia Pacific title challenger.
The show kicked off with a really crude bout between novices, as Prince Fujiwara (2-0-1, 2) [プリンス 藤原] and the debuting Masaya Aizu (0-1) [会津 聖哉] clashed in a Super Bantamweight bout. The fight was certainly not a high level one, but was an entertaining way to kick the show off with both men having their flaws on show and both being tagged as a result. Aizu looked to use his long arms to establish range, but Fujiwara seemed like he believed in his power, even when he was being tagged. In round 3 that power proved to be the difference maker, with Fujiwara rocking his man late in the round before dropping him only moments later. Aizu got to his feet but was rightfully stopped by the referee who put Aizu's health first.
The second bout on the show went the distance as Tentaro Kimura (5-0-2) [木村 天汰郎] out pointed Wataru Yokoyama (4-9-1, 3) [横山 渉] in a rather forgettable encounter. Kimura fought almost all the fight as a back foot counter puncher, which wouldn't have been a problem, but for the fact he couldn't draw many leads from Yokoyama, who cautiously pressed forward. Kimura did land solid shots every round, but they were few and far between whilst Yokoyama rarely landed anything of note. The drama was lacking here, and the most notable moment was Kimura making Yokoyama stumble, though he failed to follow up on the moment with any sort of sustained attack.
In the third bout we saw former Japanese 140lb champion Koichi Aso (24-9-1, 15) [麻生 興一] and Shogo Yamaguchi (12-6-3, 7) [山口 祥吾] put on a war, as many had expected. From the opening round it was clear that both men had the same mentality, winning a fight. This wasn't boxing, this wasn't point pinching. This was a fight. Aso's trademark pressure, behind a high guard, forced the action to be close and personal. Yamaguchi tried to avoid a war in the opening round, but was quickly forced to rethink things, and from round 2 to round 8 we got some great action up close as both men unleashed uppercuts and hooks.
Not only was the action exciting but it was wonderfully captivating, with each man giving as good as they got, and each man needing to deep incredibly deep. By round 5 it seemed like Aso was tiring, wearing out and showing his age, before he gritted his teeth and fought back, then it seemed like Yamaguchi was tiring, before he turned it around.
After 8 rounds it was almost impossible to call, with the judges turning in scores of 77-75, twice, and 76-76, to give Aso the majority decision victory. Sadly it does look like retirement is looming for Aso, with the 34 year old looking very much like an old fighter who has lost several steps since his prime years. Saying that however he still knows how to put on a show.
In the chief support bout we saw a master at work as Rentaro Kimura (2-0, 2) [木村蓮太朗] put on a virtuoso performance against the insanely tough Takafumi Iwaya (4-4) [岩屋卓史]. Kimura used Iwaya as a human punch bag in the first 2 rounds, landing pretty much every punch in the book. He showed a double handed attack to the body and head of Iwaya who some how stayed up right, despite being hammered. Time and time against Kimura would land shots that looked like they should put Iwaya down, but he stayed up.
Sadly for Iwaya he wasn't just being beaten up, but at times he was being toyed with as Kimura ducked, dodged, slipped and seemed to avoid almost everything Iwaya threw at him. It was a showcase of a young talent who appears to have it all.
After seeing their man take a shellacking for 4 rounds it seemed Iwaya's team were keeping a closer eye on things in round 5, and when Kimura began to put the jets on they wisely threw in the towel, realising their man was too tough for his own good. For those who haven't seen Rentaro Kimura we seriously suggesting making a big effort to see him as soon as you can. He is a very, very special talent, and he showed it here. Yes, Iwaya is nothing special, except in terms of toughness, but Kimura was showing things that were incredibly to see in such a novice professional. In many ways he appears to be Japan's Vasyl Lomachenko, with some very similar footwork, angles and movement. He's a sensational talent, and should be watched very carefully over the coming years.
In the main event we saw the talented Tsubasa Murachi (5-1, 3) [村地翼] bounce back from his 2019 loss to Froilan Saludar as he easily beat the tough Ryotaro Kawabata (12-4-2, 6) [川端遼太郎].From the opening round it was clear Murachi was out to make a statement, and he was hammering Kawabata with some huge right hands within seconds of the bout beginning. Somehow Kawabata was taking the shots, and kept marching forward.
Round after round Murachi would land some solid headshots, picking up the pace when he wanted. The shots he was connecting with included some truly massive right hands up top that really did test the chin of Kawabata, who managed to take them and continue to come forward.
As the rounds went on it seemed like the only question would be how long would Kawabata survive? Amazingly however Kawabata did more than just survive, as he began to come forward, despite his face swelling up badly, and in the final two rounds he forced Murachi to back up, though he did eat a lot of hard leather whilst pressing forward.
After 8 rounds, which was a surprise in it's self, we went to the scorecards which all had the bout a wide and clear win for Murachi, with scored of 80-72, twice, and 79-73.
For Murachi the performance was perfect, given the fact we saw him being knockout last time we saw him in the ring, though he would likely be frustrated that he couldn't force a stoppage. For Kawabata however it was a painful loss, and the clearest defeat of his career.
Back in July Suruga Boy announced that they would be putting on a show in Shizuoka on September 27th. The event wasn't set to be a huge one, but it was set to be an interesting one, whilst trying to keep boxing in Shizuoka alive in these tricky times.
The card had a number of interesting bouts confirmed for it, including an 8 round contest between Koichi Aso (23-9-1, 15) [麻生興一] and Shogo Yamaguchi (12-5-3, 7) [山口祥吾], in what we expect will be a war. As well the second pro bout of the hotly tipped Rentaro Kimura (1-0, 1) [木村蓮太朗], who will be facing off with Takafumi Iwaya (4-3) [岩屋卓史] . And the ring return of Tsubasa Murachi (4-1, 3) [村地翼], following his loss to Froilan Saludar, with Murachi battling Ryotaro Kawabata (12-3-2, 6) [川端遼太郎].
The original hope was that it would be part of the annual Suruga Boy Desafio event, which is essentially a boxing festival in Shizuoka, with the live boxing playing just a part of a much bigger event. Sadly though the plans were cancelled with just the boxing continuing.
One of the many worries for the event was that no one would be able to see it. There was real worries that it would be staged behind closed doors, and no wider access. In the end the event will have fans, but less than 100, and clearly deserves a much bigger audience than that.
Thankfully at the end of August the promoters announced that the event would be given a live stream, for free, on their YouTube channel, which can be accessed here.
At the moment the channel doesn't meet the conditions to allow tipping, so they have also set up some crowdfunding through Camp-fire.jp for those in Japan who want to financially help the promotion. For those who want to donate the link is https://camp-fire.jp/projects/view/312565. The target for the funding is ¥3,000,000, with ¥175,500 having been raised.
The money from the crowd funding will be used to pay for things like the venue, purses, sound and production and likely offset losses that the promoters were going to be making on the event given the lack of fans.
Earlier today the Suruga Boys announced their next event, revealing that it will take place at the Fujisan Messe in Shizuoka, behind closed doors on September 27th. Whilst the promotional outfit isn't a big one, this card is very much one worthy of interest with several notable fighters being featured on it.
Among the bouts confirmed for this show are an interesting 8 round contest between Koichi Aso (23-9-1, 15) [麻生興一] and Shogo Yamaguchi (12-5-3, 7) [山口祥吾]. Coming in to this bout Aso is looking to bounce back from a loss in May 2019 to Tatsuya Yanagi whilst Yamaguchi is looking to build on a February win over former Japanese Lightweight champion Shuhei Tsuchiya.
Another 8 rounder will be the main event, which will have Tsubasa Murachi (4-1, 3) [村地翼] looking to bounce back from last year's KO loss Froilan Saludar. The talented youngster, who was stopped by Saludar in a WBO Asia Pacific Flyweight title bout will be up against 29 year old Ryotaro Kawabata (12-3-2, 6) [川端遼太郎].
On paper the main event looks really good, though it should be noted that Kawabata has only fought once since the start of 2017, and that was an easy comeback win over Marihot Hutajulu last October. He looks good on paper but it could well be a bout where his recent inactivity will be an issue. Saying that that however we're really interested to see how Murachi looks after the devastating loss to Saludar.
To us the chief support bout for the event is the most interesting bout on the card. That will see the very exciting Rentaro Kimura (1-0, 1) [木村蓮太朗] facing off with Takuya Ota (8-3-1, 6) [太田卓矢].
The reason we're so excited about this one is the way Kimura looked in his recent debut. He blitzed Yuya Azuma last week in a sensational debut performance that was finished off with a truly brutal KO. That was a debut that left us wanting more of the young Super Featherweight and a return to the ring in September is fantastic news.
As for Ota he is no push over. He reached the All Japan Rookie of the Year final in 2018, losing a decision in the final to Yusaku Sekishima, but was stopped last time out by the talented Xiang Li in China. It's hard to imagine him pushing Kimura but it's a decent step up for the youngster.
Originally the hope had been for Murachi and Kimura to be in action in May, but issues surrounding the "on going situation" meant that wasn't possible. Despite that we're glad Kimura made his debut earlier this month, and very happy to see him scheduled to fight again so soon.
Earlier today at Korakuen Hall Japanese fight fans had their last show before the JBC suspension of all Japanese boxing comes into play, on March 1st. The show had a number of notable bouts on it, including bouts for a former OPBF Minimumweight champion and a former Japanese Lightweight champion, who had some very mixed fortunes today.
The first of the two in action was former Japanese Lightweight champion Shuhei Tsuchiya (23-6, 18) [土屋 修平] who faced off against fellow Japanese fighter Shogo Yamaguchi (12-5-3, 7) [山口祥吾] in a 5 round Prize Match. This was Tsuchiya's first bout since a June 2017 win over Shota Suito, and sadly it didn't go the way many had expected.
Tsuchiya had some real moments early on, dropping Yamaguchi in the early part of the fight, but sadly he didn't look like the fighter he once was and he once was. Instead he looked tired, sluggish and slow. His footwork was sloppy and in round 5 Yamaguchi, who had really come on strong following the knockdown, managed to force the referee in to stop the action. With the referee forced to save Tsuchiya his future really doesn't look good. As for Yamaguchi he collects a hefty bonus for scoring the stoppage win, as per the rules of the Prize Matches Dangan are running this year.
There was an even bigger bonus taken by former OPBF Minimumweight champion Tsubasa Koura (15-1, 10) [小浦 翼], who needed 3 rounds to see off Ariston Aton (9-3, 5). Koura, who was fighting for the first time since losing the OPBF title to Lito Dante last March showed some discomfort by the tactics of Aton early on, but began to find his timing and his distance, landing big shots on Aton, who was deducted a point for leading with the head. In round 3 Koura rocked his man, and forced the referee to step in. Aton was unhappy at the stoppage, but it did seem like Koura had adapted to the billy goat style of the Filipino,
We've known for a week or saw that both Shuhei Tsuchiya (23-5, 18) [土屋 修平] and Tsubasa Koura (14-1, 9) [小浦 翼] would be on the February 27th show at Korakuen Hall. The was made public when the poster was revealed a few days ago. What wasn't originally known was the opponents for the two men, which was only revealed recently.
Koura, a former OPBF Minimumweight champion who lost the title last year to Lito Dante last March, will be fighting for the first time in 11 months. Koura was supposed to fight in January, but issues with his opponent, Indonesian fighter Silem Serang, saw it falling through at short notice. He'll be up against Chinese fighter Yujie Zeng (14-10-1, 6) [曾玉洁], in what looks like an easy bout on paper, but will see Koura taking on a naturally bigger man, who has only been stopped once in his 25 fight career.
Tsuchiya, who's a former Japanese Lightweight champion, was also supposed to fight in January before his opponent, Yangyang Li (8-1-2), was unable to get a visa. That was going to be his first bout since June 2017. His opponent for February won't struggle to get a visa this time around as he takes on fellow Japanese fighter Shogo Yamaguchi (11-5-3, 6) [山口祥吾]. Given Tsuchiya's long break from the ring we didn't expect him to face someone too testing, and in Yamaguchi we see Tsuchiya in with an opponent who has failed to win his last 3 and is without a win since 2018.
These bouts will take place on the same card as the Hajime No Ippo 30th anniversary tournament semi finals, which will see Jae Woo Lee (7-2, 6) [이재우] against Shingo Kusano (12-8-1, 5) [草野慎悟] and Richard Pumicpic (21-10-2, 6) against Daisuke Watanabe (9-4-2, 6) [渡部大介]. The card will also feature an OPBF Welterweight title bout between Riku Nagahama (11-2-1, 4) [長濱 陸] and Kudura Kaneko (11-0, 8) [クドゥラ 金子].
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