Earlier today it was reported in Japan that former Japanese Light Middleweight champion Hironobu Matsunaga (18-1, 11) [松永 宏信] will be returning to the ring on April 30th, to compete in his 4th bout away from home. The talented, and exciting Japanese fighter will be travelling to Mexico later this month to face Mexican veteran Jhony Navarrete (34-17-2, 15), the older brother of WBO Featherweight world champion Emanuel Navarrete.
The bout, which will be held in Puebla, Mexico, will be Matsunaga's second in Mexico, following a 2021 win over Isidro Toala, who he stopped inside a round, and will see him build on other away wins over Patomsuk Pathompothong, aka Komsan Polsan, in Thailand and Je Ni Ma in south Korea. The exciting 34 year old is looking to build his name internationally with this bout, and their could end up being a minor WBC title on the line as well, which would help the winner boost their ranking with in the WBC.
To prepare for the bout it's been revealed that Matsunaga has been training at altitude, in Meno City, with Shoki Sakai (26-13-2, 14) [坂井 祥記], who has a lot of experience of fighting in Mexico himself.
As for Navarette, he has, notably, been away from the ring since March 2020, when he lost to Jose Luis Rodriguez Guerrero, and is 1-3 in his last 4 bouts dating back more than 3 years. He is however someone who has faced a relative who's who with bouts against the likes of Jame Munguia, Kerman Lejarraga, Ghislain Maduma, Sadriddin Akhmedov, Custio Clayton. He's experienced and will bring somethign different to the ring, that Matsunaga hasn't seen before.
It's not often we see a fighter announce his gameplan at the weigh in, and then follow through on it, nearly to a T, the following day. Today however we saw one such as case OPBF and WBO Asia Pacific Welterweight champion Ryota Toyoshima (15-2-1, 9) [豊嶋亮太] did almost everything he stated he would, as he retained his titles and defeated Shoki Sakai (26-13-2, 12) [坂井 祥記]. The only thing Sakai failed to do was stop Sakai, but he gave it a good shot against one of the toughest men in world boxing.
At the weigh in Toyoshima stated that he was going to be going after the body of the challenger, and was going to try and stop him with body shots. When the fight took place, earlier today at Korakuen Hall, that's exactly what we saw from him. From round the first round to round 12, Toyoshima went after the body of Sakai, trying to chop him in half, break his ribs, and become the first man to stop Sakai, who has gone the distance with some big over the years.
The first started in a good nature as both men let shots got, Toyoshima attacking the body and Sakai trying to reply by closing the distance behind his jab, and working up close. That was the pattern for much of the fight, Toyoshima landing huge body shots, often in combinations, and Sakai trying to turn things around with a combination of shots switching between head and body. For the first few rounds Sakai had some success, but round by round that success was less and less evident, as Toyoshima's work rate, clean shots and eye catching power blows stole the show.
After 3 rounds it was a clearly Toyoshima's fight, but he also went on to show he could stand on the inside and bang, or bully Sakai, something we saw in a rather peculiar 4th round as the two men stood toe to toe and spent time wrestling, pushing, and forcing their physicality on the other. This was a round that should have suited Sakai but it didn't and it wasn't long under Toyoshima resumed total control with his body returning in round 5.
After round 5 we go the open scoring for the bout and the judges had cards of 50-45, 49-46, 48-47 all to Toyoshima. It was hard to argue with any of them, though 48-47 did seem a bit too close.
In the middle rounds Toyoshima continued to attack the body, trying to stop his man, but Sakai took the punishment, gritted his teeth and fired back, having a very solid round 8 and then having a good finish to the bout in the championship rounds, as Toyoshima took his foot off the gas. By then the bout was pretty much over, and all Sakai's late charge did was make the scorecards look respectable, with the judges turning in scores of 116-112, twice, and 117-111.
Whilst the bout was entertaining, and Toyoshima was the rightful winner, there was some very strange things about the contest. Originally it was only listed to be for the OPBF title, but in the end both of Toyoshima's regional title were on the line, and the open scoring, usually after rounds 4 and 8 in OPBF title bouts, was only used once, after round 5. Also Sakai was seemingly nit in the WBO Asia Pacific rankings.
Tomorrow at Korakuen Hall we'll see OPBF and WBO Asia Pacific Welterweight champion Ryota Toyoshima (14-2-1, 9) [豊嶋亮太] defending his OPBF title against the teak tough Shoki Sakai (26-12-2, 12) [坂井 祥記], a rare "re-imported" boxer. The match up will headline the December edition of Dynamic Glove and promises to be a very TV friendly fight for viewers of G+.
Today, ahead of their bout, the two men took part in their weigh in for the contest and both men made the 147lb limit with no issues at all.
The champion was well under the limit, hitting the scales at 146.5lbs and he looked shredded, in arguably the best condition of his career. He not only looked in great shape, and incredibly serious, but he was also full of confidence and seemed happy to be taking on someone as tough and rugged as Sakai.
Toyoshima has had a great year so far, beating Riku Nagahama and Yuki Beppu to win and unify the OPBF and WBO Asia Pacific titles, and he'll know that a win over Sakai would further boost his standing in the sport and take one step closer to a potential world title fight. Notably he spoke about wanting to stop Sakai, who has been a notoriously tough and stubborn opponent, who hasn't been stopped in his previous 40 bouts.
As for Sakai, who was bang on the 147lb limit, he spoke about wanting to win to become more well known among Japanese fans. It's worth noting that his career, for the most part, was spent fighting in the West and this is only his fourth bout in Japan, a country he hadn't fought in until last year. This will also mark his second title fight in the country, following a hotly contested loss to Keita Obara for the Japanese title back in April. He explained that he wants to win and return to a Mexican ring, which is where he has built much of his career.
For fans wanting to watch the bout it will be aired live on G+ tomorrow.
Related - Toyoshima defends OPBF title against tough guy Sakai!
Earlier today Teiken announced reigning OPBF and WBO Asia Pacific Welterweight champion Ryota Toyoshima (14-2-1, 9) [豊嶋亮太] would be returning to the ring on December 4th to take on "reimported" fighter Shoki Sakai (25-12-2, 12) [坂井 祥記], in what will be the main event of December's Dynamic Glove show.
The bout, which will take place at Korakuen Hall, will see two very interesting fighters in action. The champion, who won the OPBF title in January and unified it with the WBO Asia Pacific title in May, is an exciting and aggressive boxer puncher who has been involved in some really great fights in recent years. Although never likely to be close to a world title fight, he's a really fun fighter and Teiken's biggest hope at the weight.
Sakai on the other hand was a man who first made his name fighting in Mexico before proving himself to be a tough test case for prospects in the US, and then he returned to Japan last year, making his Japanese debut in the process. Earlier this year he challenged Keita Obara, the Japanese national champion, and gave Obara a really tough test before losing a hotly contested decision. In the ring he's all about pressure, coming forward behind a tight guard and making a fight of things. His style should make life very tough for Toyoshima.
Sadly the bout won't be for both of Toyoshima's titles, instead he'll only be defending the OPBF title, for the second time. Thankfully though, that won't take away from the action in the ring, which we expect to be thrilling as the styles of the two men really should gel to give us something very special.
At the time of writing no other bouts for this show have been announced, though with it being in December that's not too much of a surprise. We do however expect at least one other bout of note to be on the show.
Earlier today fight fans at Korakuen Hall had the latest show in the Misako promoted series of Diamond Glove shows, which will be aired this coming weekend on Fuji TV. The card featured several bouts of note, including a Japanese Welterweight title bout, between Keita Obara and Shoki Sakai as well as the Japanese debut of Go Hosaka.
For those wanting to watch this, as live, over the weekend we please note that spoilers will begin in the next paragraph, starting with the the first under-card bout, which is unlikely to be televised at all, and then moving on through the other bouts on the show. If you wish to avoid those spoilers, please stop reading now.
The show began with a 4 rounder between Koki Nakagawa (1-1-1, 1) [中川 光輝] and Seitaro Suzuki (0-1) [鈴木 誠太郎], which Nakagawa won by TKO in the 4th round. As with many 4 rounders in Japan this was well matched, fought at a great pace and was brutal, with both men taking some solid shots as they beat the fight out of each other. With just over a minute of the bout left the referee jumped in saving a damaged Suzuki from any more punishment. Whilst Western shows often kick off the events with a squash match for the local star, Japan has a knack of throwing us a fun, fan friendly war to kick things off, and this was certainly the case here.
The second bout saw something of a surprise as Yasutaka Fujita (7-1, 6) [藤田 裕崇] went the distance for the first time in his career, albeit in a winning effort as he out pointed Shun Akaiwa (5-3-1, 3) [赤岩 俊]. The exciting and explosive Fujita had made his name in 2019, reaching the All Japan Rookie of the Year final, before moving over to the Misako gym in 2020. This was just his second bout since moving gyms and he showed some genuine improvement, he picked his shots well, certainly calmed down from being the hyper aggressive fighter he once was, and even switched stances later in the bout. After 6 rounds Fujita won a clear 6 round decision and this is exactly the performance he and his team would have wanted to prove he could pace a high action bout, and could his brain as well as his brawn.
In the main support bout was saw unbeaten 24 year old Go Hosaka (5-0, 3) make his Japanese debut, having previously been fighting in the Philippines. He was given a genuine test here by Kanta Fukui (7-4-1, 5), who came into the ring as a big under-dog but came to win. From the off these two boxed at a nice range, and fought a pretty technical bout to begin with. As the bout went on Fukui made it clear he wasn't here to roll over to the talented former amateur stand out. From round 4 Fukui began to press the action more intently, using his jab really well to probe, and keep Hosaka on his toes. He then stepped up his game in rounds 5 and 6 as he really gave Hosaka problems.
Thankfully for Hosaka he still had something in the tank and pressured with more vigour in the final 2 rounds, doing just enough to secure a split decision. Judges scored this 78-74 and 77-75, in Hosaka's favour, and 77-75 to Fukui, who really gave a very good effort.
Despite the win Hosaka wasn't a happy chappy, and stated "Honestly, it was a terrible match. I regret it. There are many challenges. My goal is to remake boxing from scratch so that I can win the Japanese title."
In the main event Japanese Welterweight champion Keita Obara (24-4-1, 21) [小原 佳太] narrowly retained his title with a close win over Shoki Sakai (25-12-2, 12) [坂井 祥記]. Coming in there was a feelign this could be something a bit special, and proved to be just that.
Early on Obara tried to make an impression behind his solid jab, but Sakai used a tight guard to try and neutralise the jab whilst walking forward, pressuring Obara and trying to get up close, where he could work the body of the champion. Obara tried to turn up the tempo in round 2 but Sakai went with him, increasing his own tempo in round 3, landing some of his best shots. It really was a back and forth fight through the first 5 rounds as the two men tried to force their style on the bout, and tried to dictate the distance of the bout, with Obara wanting it at mid to long range and Sakai desperate to get inside.
After 5 rounds the judges all had this 48-47, with two favouring Obara and the other having Sakai in the lead.
Sakai's style seemed likely to have more success the longer the bout went, with his pressure expected to grind down Obara and his gas tank. It seemed that was the case in round 6 as he had some real success, however Obara wasn't there to hand over his title and he showed his class in round 8, whilst also avoiding Sakai's taunts to come and have a fight. The class of Obara continued to be the difference maker in the final rounds, as he used his reach and range to land body shots and not get involved in the wrong type of fight.
After 10 rounds we went to the judges and all 3 judges had this to Obara 96-94.
After the bout Obara stated "I'm relieved to win. I have a lot of KOs to win, so I tried to do that, but Sakai got along well and got the pace. Unfortunately, I have no choice but to expect the next KO. I've been in the best condition these days. My power and Sakai's power were in competition."
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