Yesterday in China fight fans had a small but notable card in Diaobingshan.
The main event of this card was an solid looking match up between Chinese local Jun Zhao (12-2-1, 9) [赵君] and Japanese visitor Sonin Nihei (9-5-2, 1) [仁平 宗忍]. It didn't scream amazing bout on paper, but the styles of the two always made it seem likely that the bout would be action packed and exciting. And it delivered!
After a relatively quiet feeling out round the two men really began to go through the gears by the end of round 2 they were trading on the inside in a pulsating war. Nihei was the one coming inside, getting close and working the higher tempo. Zhao was being dragged into Nihei's fight, though tried to create space. It was space that Zhao needed, being the bigger puncher he was struggling to work up close and was having his power smothered, time and time again by the visitor.
Nihei's effort and pressure did catch the eye, a lot, but it came at a cost and in the later rounds his pace did slow slightly and his energy became an issue. As his energy faded it allowed Zhao the space he needed to work and get full extension on his shots. With a tiring Nihei on the ropes and Zhao having space to work with the Chinese fighter turned on the heat and forced Nihei to be save with the referee and Nihei's corner jumping in to stop the punishment.
In the chief support bout Mongolian hopeful Erkhembayar Batbayar (6-0, 4) stopped Korean Middleweight Jun Yong Lee (6-6-4, 3) in the 7th of a scheduled 10 rounds. This was the first time Batbayar had actually fought at Middleweight having fought as high as Cruiserweight, and it did seem like the 160lb weight class was more suited to him. It's rare to talk about a Mongolian fighter, but Batbayar is certainly worthy of some attention with his aggression and power.
Tomorrow in China fight fans will see hard hitting local hopeful Jun Zhao (11-2-1, 8) [赵君] battle against under-rated Japanese fighter Sonin Nihei (9-4-2, 1) [仁平 宗忍] in Diaobingshan.
The bout, which will see the two men battle for the the WBA Asia Bantamweight title, had it's weigh in earlier today and both men comfortably made the 118lb limit.
The Chinese fighter came in at 117.75lbs and looked good on the scales, though looked somewhat nervous at times.
Nihei was slightly lighter, weighing in at 117.5lbs, and whilst he looked more confident he also looked just a touch fleshy for what is his second bout outside of Japan.
Back in February Japanese Yuki Nonaka (33-10-3, 10) [野中 悠樹] rolled back the clock and defeated hard hitting Shinobu Charlie Hosokawa (11-4, 10) [細川チャーリー忍], at the age of 41. With the win Nonaka claimed both the OPBF and WBO Asia Pacific Middleweight titles, dethroning Hosokawa and proving there is still life left in his career.
Today we were informed that the two men will be meeting once again on July 9th, with Hosokawa looking to reclaim his titles.
Their first bout took pace in Osaka, giving Nonaka the home advantage. This rematch however will take place at the Korakuen Hall in Tokyo, giving the former champion the advantage, with what will be his 15th bout in the Holy Land of Japanese boxing. That advantage for Hosokawa is really worth noting when you consider that Nonaka is 3-3 at the venue through his long career.
A win for Nonaka is expected to give his career a real push towards one final big bout, though it's fair to suggest that he would have preferred to have avoided a rematch to have a big fight instead if one was available. For Hosokawa it's a chance to reclaim the gold he lost to Nonaka, and avenge a loss. Interestingly this will be the second time Hosokawa has rematched someone he has previously been beaten by, with his previous rematch being a stoppage win over Yasuyuki Akiyama, who had beaten him in 2017.
The under-card for this show will include Kazuki Saito (6-1, 5) [斎藤一貴] and Sonin Nihei (9-3-2, 1) [仁平 宗忍]
Earlier today fight fans in Osaka got an amazing card courtesy of the Ioka gym. One of the many supporting bouts on the card saw a minor upset, as Sonin Nihei (9-3-2, 1) [仁平 宗忍] took a close decision win over Tatsuya Ikemizu (19-3, 7) [池水達也].
Coming in to this bout both men really needed a win, after having seen early career success falter. The success of both men earlier in their careers had seen Ikemizu win the Rookie of the Year in 2013 and Nihei reach the East Japan Rookie of the Year final the following year.
Sadly coming in to this Ikemizu had gone 7-2 but lacked any sort of a notable win in over 4 years, defeating mostly limited Thai imports during that 9 fight stretch. Nihei on the other hand had been stopped twice in 22016, by Takayuki Okumoto and Keita Kurihara, and hadn't fought in close to 2 years.
The break from the ring seemingly hadn't done Nihei any harm, as he kept pace with Ikemizu through out a razor thin, nip and tuck bout. It always seemed like Nihei was doing just that touch more to impress, and showing a bit more variation to his work, but there was little to separate the fighters who both boxed well.
With so little to split the men we went to judges, who scored the bout 77-76, twice, to Nihei and 76-76. The win should see Nihei emerge in the Japanese rankings in the new year, though leave Ikemizu's career in a really awful place.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Due to various changes in the line up for today's "Crash Boxing Vol 7" the main event of the show ended up being a bout between Takayuki Okumoto (17-7-2, 7) [奥本 貴之] and Sonin Nihei (8-2-2, 1) [仁平 宗忍]. On paper it was a good match up but in the ring it was a surprisingly disappointing.
The opening round was messy with both men getting low and and stances of the men caused several headclashes in what wasn't a great round. In the second round the southpaw Okumoto landed a big left hand that dropped Nihei. The 22 year old recovered to his feet but a follow up attack from Okumoto forced the referee to stop the bout, giving Nihei his first stoppage loss.
For Okumoto the win sees him bounce back following a split decision loss earlier this year to Thai visitor Eaktwan Mor Krunthepthonburi and potentially puts him in the frame for a Japanese Super Flyweight title fight in the near future.
Sadly for Nihei the loss is a major set back. He had won 3 in a row since suffering a loss to Kenya Yamashita and a draw with Tae Woon Jun but this loss will be a hard one to bounce back from given the nature of the defeat.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
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