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].
Earlier today at Korakuen Hall fight fans had the chance to see 3 God's Left tournament quarter final bouts as well as some very interesting up and comers not involved in the tournament.
Among those up and comers was Kaiki Yuba (5-0-2, 3) [湯場海樹], who scored his latest win as he stopped Korean Jin Su Kim (3-3, 1) early in round 2. The visitor looked totally out of hi depth from early on and was dropped in the opening minute from a straight left of Yuba.
To his credit Kim managed to get back up and tried to continue the fight, making things messy, but was stopped again early in round 2 before doctor stopped the fight due to a bad cut above the Korean's left eye. For Yuba this was a welcome return to winning ways after a technical draw in March with He Lu, and despite the two draws on his record he really cannot be written off as he is a very promising young fighter who has boxing running through his blood thanks to his legendary father Tadashi Yuba.
The second of the notable prospects on this card was the once beaten Masanori Rikiishi (6-1, 4) [佐藤政法], who scored his 4th straight win as he defeated Shogo Yamaguchi (11-5-3, 6) [山口祥吾]. Rokiishi seemed far too good for Yamaguchi from the early going, and was being broken down in rounds 3 and 4 before a really bad 5th. With their man out of his depth and cut Yamaguchi's corner pulled him from the bout between rounds 5 and 6, rather than throwing him out for 1 more round in a bout that was well out of reach.
After his win Rikkiishi announced that his next bout was set and will see him take on WBA ranked Super Featherweight Freddy Fonseca (27-3-1, 18) from Nicaragua. The bout between Rikiishi and Fonseca will take place on September 15th in the Aioi Hall and will be a huge step up in class for Rikiishi, who has never been afraid of taking risks since turning professional just over 2 years ago.
(Jmage courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Earlier today saw Ohashi gym announce two bits of information regarding their March 27th card, "Phoenix Battle 59".
One of those those things was that Quaye Peter (9-8-2, 5) has seen his opponent for the show change. Originally the Japanese based Ghana born fighter was set to face the 32 year old Yusuke Konno (11-3, 5) in a relatively interesting match up. Now however Konno is out of the bout and in his place is recent Japanese title challenger Valentine Hosokawa (20-6-3, 9) [細川バレンタイン], who will be risking his JBC ranking as he takes on Peter.
The reason for the change wasn't announce but if we're being honest the move seems like a positive change with Hosokawa being a much bigger name than Konno, and also being a man who will be fighting with a point to prove following his controversial loss last year to Hiroki Okada. Peter is a decent fighter but a win over Hosokawa would be a huge ask for the Ohashi man.
The other announcement was the poster, which Ohashi put on their website. It's not an amazing poster by any means but it features the 6 Ohashi fighters on the show and makes it clear that this card is an Ohashi event where their fighters will be the key. The poster could have featured some of the opponents, such as Hideo Sakamoto (17-3-3, 5) [坂本 英生], Shogo Yamaguchi (10-2-1, 5) [山口 祥吾] or Mitsuyoshi Fujita (10-2, 3) [藤田 光良], but it didn't need to as the Ohashi gym members were the key selling point of the show, and they all have their faces on the poster.
It's notable that the poster doesn't confirm whether or not some of the show will feature on Fuji TV, though the expectation is that it will indeed be covered on a tape delay broadcast, either on Fuji or a sister channel such as Fuji BS, giving fans a chance to follow the careers of the hopefuls on the card, such as Ryo Matsumoto (18-1, 16) [松本 亮], Koki Inoue (6-0, 5) [浩樹井上] and Andy Hiraoka (8-0, 5) [平岡アンディ.
We've known for a while that Ohashi would be holding one of their next "small" cards on March 27th at the Korakuen Hall, and last week we saw a number of bouts for that card being announced, including the very interesting match ups between Ryo Matsumoto (18-1, 16) [松本 亮] and Hideo Sakamoto (17-3-3, 5) [坂本 英生] as well the bout between Andy Hiraoka (8-0, 5) [平岡アンディ] and Shogo Yamaguchi (10-2-1, 5) [山口 祥吾].
Today we saw some more bouts from that show announced.
One of those will see Japanese ranked Light Welterweight hopeful Koki Inoue (6-0, 5) [浩樹井上] battle against fellow Japanese ranked Light Welterweight Mitsuyoshi Fujita (10-2, 3) [藤田 光良] in a very good match up, which will boost the winner towards a Japanese title fight later this year. For Inoue this will be a second straight fight against a Japanese ranked foe, following a win over Futoshi Usami back in December. Although not as well known Fujita is a talented southpaw who has run up 8 straight wins and looks to be full of confidence following that run. Despite being in good form Fujita is taking a huge step up in class here.
Another bout announced today will see former Japanese Super Featherweight champion Seiichi Okada (19-6-1, 11) [岡田 誠一] battle against Kentaro Yamada (8-7-1, 6) [山田 健太郎]. Okada was the Japanese champiuon back in 2011, and recorded 3 successful defenses in a career defining year, but has since gone 3-5-1 and his career is clearly winding down. Although Okada is struggling he's doing much better than Yamada, who has lost his last6 and is now more than 4 years removed from his last win.
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