Earlier today we saw Japanese Lightweight champion Shu Utsuki (11-0, 9) [宇津木秀] announce his second defense, which we now know will take place on November 17th at Korakuen Hall with Utsuki taking on Jirolian Riku (14-3, 13) [高橋陸].
The champion, who won the title earlier this year when he stopped Masahiro Suzuki for the vacant title in February, looked fantastic in June, when he defended the belt against the awkward Izuki Tomioka. Those bouts both came against talented, this bout however will see him take on a heavy-handed puncher, in what looks likely to be a genuine shoot out.
Aged 28 Utsuki seems like a potential star for the Watanabe Gym, with a heavy handed yet technical style, somewhat similar to Watanabe Gym legend Takashi Uchiyama. Like Uchiyama he is well schooled, a former stand out amateur, and someone with naturally brutish punching power. He will know that a win here will see him keep the title and move him on to bigger and better fights in the near future. He's a long way from a world title fight, but could land either an OPBF or WBO Asia Pacific title fight in the next 12 months, and perhaps use one of those titles to climb into the world rankings, towards a potential world title fight in 2024 or 2025.
The 34 year old Riku is certainly no sensational boxer, but he is a brutish puncher, who has improved significantly from his early days as a fighter. Amazingly he lost on debut to Japanese comedic actor Robert Yamamoto, but since then has carved out a solid career for himself, reaching the 2017 All Japan Rookie of the Year, losing in the final to Musashi Mori, and winning his last 6 bouts, with 5 KO's. This is, however, a massive step up in class for him, and he will need to show some improvements since his recent win over Yuichiro Kasuya.
Earlier today the East Japan Boxing Association announced the monthly award winners for the month of June, announcing 3 winners.
The MVP for the month was Japanese Lightweight champion Shu Utsuki (11-0, 9) [宇津木秀] who score his first defense on June 14th, when he stopped the tricky Izuki Tomioka (7-6-1, 2) [富岡 樹] in 8 rounds. The hard hitting Utsuki is expected to move on to bigger and better things that just the Japanese title, and the 28 year old managed to take the next step towards big things with this win.
Another man who took huge steps towards big thing was the Fight Spirit award winner, and newly crowned Japanese Bantamweight champion, Seiya Tsutsumi (6-0-2, 5) [堤聖也], who won the title on June 23rd, when he stopped Kyosuke Sawada (15-3-2, 6) [澤田京介] in a very fan friendly 8 rounder. Given Tsutsumi's previous set backs this was the huge win he needed to get things back on track and win his first title.
The Newcomer Award was won by 37 year old Hisashi Kato (11-10-2, 7) [加藤 寿] who scored a massive upset win over Rikuto Adachi (16-4, 12) [安達 陸虎] on June 29th, when he stopped Adachi in 2 rounds.
Results from Korakuen Hall!
Earlier today Korakuen Hall played host to the latest Diamond Glove show, which was shown live on Fuji's FOD service. The show wasn't a massive one, but was a notable one with two title bouts and two fighters featuring notable hopefuls.
The first of the notable bouts on the card saw something of an upset as former amateur standout Ryusei Baba (1-1) [馬場龍成] was stopped in 3 rounds by hard hitting 27 year old Shugo Namura (6-1, 6) [苗村修悟]. Baba looked good in the opening round, but in round 3 the power of Namura proved it's self as he rocked Baba with a right hand. A follow up saw Baba being wobbled hard from a brutal left hook with the referee stepping in to save the former amateur star.
The second notable bout on the show saw Go Hosaka (6-1, 3) [保坂 剛] defeat Japanese ranked Super Featherweight Kazuma Sanpei (20-8, 9) [三瓶 数馬], and record the biggest win of his career. The bout saw both men looking to control the action early on, but the crisp skills and more polished technical abilities saw Hosaka landing the more meaningful blows. Sanpei was looking to land his own shots in the first 3 rounds, but in round 4 a series of jabs and a solid right hook, left Sanpei looking hurt and forced the referee to jump in and save him.
The first of the two title bouts on the show saw Koichi Aso (25-10-1, 16) [麻生 興一] suffer a surprisingly early loss to Akihiro Kondo (33-11-2, 18) [近藤 明広], with Kondo claiming the OPBF title from Aso as a result. On paper this bout promised a lot, given the styles and mentalities of the two men, and it delivered, albeit in a very abridged fashion. From the off both men were looking to get close and go to work, though it was the cleaner, more accurate shots of Kondo that caught the eye, and in round 2 those clean shots sent Aso down. Aso got to his feet but never seemed to recover with Kondo stopping him just moments later to claim the OPBF title. Sadly for Aso this ends a very short reign that began when he upset Rikki Naito last year, and it's likely to be a reign that is quickly forgotten due to how easily he lost the belt here.
The other title bout saw Japanese Lightweight champion Shu Utsuki (11-0, 9) [宇津木秀] record his first defense, as he stopped the tricky and quick Izuki Tomioka (7-6-1, 2) [富岡 樹]. Tomioka, as expected, had success early in the bout using his footwork, sharp boxing skills and speed to take advantage of Utsuki's slow footwork. Utsuki looked to pressure his challenger, but early on he struggled with tying his man down, and after 5 rounds Tomioka was leading on all 3 cards. Sadly for Tomioka however as his feet slowed, notably in round 5, Utsuki began to get more and more success, attacking the body well and taking the legs away from Tomioka. In round 8 the power of Utsuki hurt Tomioka, who was forced to retreat to the corner, but he continued taking shots until the referee stepped in and save him from further punishment.
Tomorrow we'll get a title double header from Korakuen Hall, with a potentially mouth watering OPBF title fight and a really intriguing Japanese title bout. Today, ahead of that show, the fighters on the event took part in their weigh in.
The OPBF title bout will see defending Light Welterweight champion Koichi Aso (25-9-1, 16) [麻生 興一] make his first defense, as he takes on veteran Akihiro Kondo (33-10-2, 18) [近藤 明広].
On the scales the champion was around 139.5lbs, comfortably under the limit. Despite being the champion Aso downplayed himself, and almost seemed to suggest that he was the under-dog given Kondo has previous competed in a world title bout. As for Kondo he was slightly heavier, at 139.7lbs, and he explained that he was able to make weight without draining.
Interestingly both of those men made their debuts way back in 2006, and despite often competing in and around the same weight classes, and both fighting regularly at Korakuen Hall, this will be the first time they've fought.
The other title bout on this show, and the nominal main event, will see Japanese Lightweight champion Shu Utsuki (10-0, 8) [宇津木秀] make his first defense, as he goes up against the tricky and quick Izuki Tomioka (7-5-1, 2) [富岡 樹].
On the scales Utsuki, a stablemate of Hiroto Kyoguchi's at the Watanabe Gym, came in comfortably under the limit at 134.8lbs, and stated he was inspired by Kyoguchi's recent win, but was under some pressure to succeed in his first defense. As for Tomioka he came in bang on the 135lb weight limit for the bout, which will be his third title shot having previously come up short against Masayoshi Nakatani and Shuichiro Yoshino.
OPBF king Aso takes on tough veteran Kondo!
Utsuki seeks first defense of Japanese title as he takes on Tomioka
Earlier today Misako Gym announced that OPBF Light Welterweight champion Koichi Aso (25-9-1, 16) [麻生 興一] would be making his first defense of the title on June 14th at Korakuen Hall, as he takes on Akihiro Kondo (33-10-2, 18) [近藤 明広], in a clash between two highly experienced fighters.
Aso won the title last year, when he scored a huge upset win over Rikki Naito (25-3, 8) [内藤 律樹], ending Naito's reign as the OPBF champion. That win saw Aso scoring one of, if not the, biggest win of his career despite being 35 years old. Despite that win it's hard to know what the well-respected, and always entertaining, warrior has left in the tank.
Kondo on the other hand, now aged 37, is looking to add one more title to a collection that already includes the Japanese Lightweight title and the WBO Asia Pacific Light Welterweight title. Despite his success at home, he is best known, internationally, for his 2017 bout against Sergey Lipinets. Since then, he has gone 4-3-1 and another loss here will likely spell the end of his career.
This bout will serve as the chief support bout on a card that is set to be headlined by Lightweight champion Shu Utsuki (10-0, 8) [宇津木秀] defending his title against Izuki Tomioka (7-5-1, 2) [富岡 樹].
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