We are slowly seeing the boxing calendar for July and August filling up and the latest news from Japan regarding August 22nd's Hajime No Ippo 30th Anniversary tournament final.
The final will see Shingo Kusano (13-8-1, 5) [草野慎悟] and Daisuke Watanabe (10-4-2, 6) [渡部大介] battle for the tournament prize, ending the 7 man knockout competition that began last year. Originally the plan had been for the tournament to end in mid-May but due to the on going global situation the final has been pushed back and will be the headline bout of Dangan's show on August 22nd.
The under-card has now been confirmed and will feature an excellent match up between former world title challenger Shingo Wake (26-6-2, 18) [和氣 慎吾] and the talented but light punching Shohei Kawashima (18-4-2, 4) [川島翔平]. This will be Wake's first bout since being upset by Jhunriel Ramonal last year, in a massive set back.
Another of the under-card bouts will see former Japanese Lightweight champion Shuhei Tsuchiya (23-6, 18) [土屋 修平] look to salvage his career as he battles 2018 All Japan Rookie of the Year winner George Tachibana (8-4, 2) [橘ジョージ]. Coming in to this the 33 year old Tsuchiya has won just one of his last 3 fights and was shockingly upset in February against Shogo Yamaguchi.
Whilst it's great to see under-cards with notable fighters on them the best bit of news regarding the card is that the event will be able to have fans attending it! Tickets will be limited, but fans will be allowed in attendance with the show likely to be the first Dangan promoted card to have fans upon the boxing's restart in Japan.
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 we saw the first Japanese card of 2020 and whilst it wasn't a sensational card, it did featuring some interesting match ups, and notable fighters.
Prior to the first punches being thrown the Korakuen Hall hosted a ceremonial pray, for the safety and success of the fighters. After that the card began to get under way.
The opening couple of bouts didn't feature anyone too notable, with the first notable names being former Japanese Lightweight champion Shuhei Tsuchiya (23-5, 18) [土屋 修平] and current OPBF, WBO Asia Pacific and Japanese Lightweight champion Shuichiro Yoshino (11-0, 9) [吉野 修一郎], who took part in a 2 round spar. This exhibition, which was put together at late notice against Tsuchiya's original opponent failed to secure a visa in time.
After that we saw former world title challenger Shohei Omori (21-3, 16) [大森 将平] stop Filipino Danny Tampipi (9-11-2, 5) in the 5th round. This was expected to be a blow out, but credit to Tampipi who took his shots like a champion and stayed in their until the final round. He was punished by the much bigger Omori but showed how game he was until the referee had finally seen enough.
We then moved onto the main section of the show, the Knock Out Dynamite Tournament finals.
Unfortunately the first of the finals had been cancelled, when Yuki Yamauchi (4-0, 3) [山内祐希] pulled out of his bout with Ren Sasaki (10-0, 6) [佐々木蓮]. Sasaki became the winner by default and collected his award in the ring.
We then got the first of two tournament finals, and action suddenly heated up. The final, at 60KG's, saw Filipino slugger Marvin Esquierdo (16-2-1, 10) stop Japanese veteran Ribo Takahata (16-9-1, 6) [高畑里望]. in the 4th round. Takahata had been dropped hard in round 2, but had fought back well until going down a second time late in round 4, and forcing the referee to wave off the bout. This win netted Esquierdo a very nice bonus for scoring a stoppage.
The final bout was less explosive, but even more interesting as Mongolian novice Tuguldur Byambatsogt (2-0) defeated Japanese based Dominican Vladimir Baez (26-6-2, 24) in the 65KG final. Byambatsogt out boxed Baez easily in the first 3 rounds, fighting behind his jab and footwork, but seemed to slow down in the 4th round as Baez began to mount something of a comeback. Baez's comeback was however short lived with Byambatsogt showing a more aggressive side in round 5, dropping Baez to secure a clear decision win. The young Mongolian looks like a real potential star, and has shown he can box and fight, but he will need to temper his negativity if he's to become a big name. Despite the negativity Byambatsogt has the talent to go a very long way.
Give that financial bonuses were on the card for early stoppages this wasn't the explosive event we were hoping to see. Despite that there was enough to take away from the card to be entertained, with out being thrilled. Fingers crossed next weekend's Dynamic Glove card is a little bit more explosive and exciting than this was.
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
Yesterday we reported that former Japanese Lightweight champion Shuhei Tsuchiya (23-5, 18) [土屋 修平] had had his bout, set to take place tomorrow, cancelled due to visa issues with his opponent. Thankfully however Tsuchiya will still be on the show.
The fighter, who took part in a weigh in this morning, was bang on the 135lb Lightweight limit and looked to make a point about being a professional. Despite his role on the card being reduced to a spar with OPBF, WBO Asia Pacific and Japanese Lightweight champion Shuichiro Yoshino (11-0, 9) [吉野 修一郎].
At the weigh in Tsuchiya spoke about wanting to make 5 round fights popular, something that the Knock Out Dynamite Tournament is doing. It seemed he was suggesting customers want shorter bouts, like they get in K1 and RIZIN, rather than the longer bouts we get in boxing.
As for the actual spar tomorrow Tsuchiya promised to make it interest due to the fact customers had paid. It seems despite spending more than 2 years away from boxing the heavy handed Tsuchiya is back with the same mentality he had in his prime. To be fun to watch!
For fans unable to make it to the Korakuen Hall tomorrow but want to watch this spar it will be available live on Boxing Raise.
(Image courtesy of boxingbnews.jp)
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