Yesterday A-Sign Boxing and Dangan Boxing put together a brilliant 4 card at Korakuen Hall, that was sadly hidden behind a paywall and only available on PPV. Despite the PPV, and the worrying movement in recent years to Japan having more and more boxing on PPV, the show was a major one, with prospects and a Japanese title eliminator all taking place on the event.
The show began with a bout between the heavy handed Yasutaka Fujita (8-1, 6) [藤田 裕崇] and the awkward Izuki Tomioka (7-5-1, 2) [富岡 樹]. From the off this was hotly competitive and a fight that really was a compelling stylistic match up, with Tomioka fighting behind his excellent jab and moving, whilst Fujita looked to pressure and use his physicality. This made for a really interesting bout, where both men had success in every round. In the later rounds however it was Fujita who seemed more consistent with his game plan, whilst Tomioka was under a lot of pressure.
After 8 rounds the judges scored this a split decision, in favour of Fujita. He was favoured 77-75 and 77-76 from two of the judges, whilst the third had Tomioka winning 77-75. With this win we expect to see Fujita earning a Japanese ranking, and Tomioka will certainly come again in the future.
The second bout In the second bout on the show we saw Takuya Watanabe (38-10-1, 22) [渡邉 卓也] bounce back from his vicious beating to Kosuke Saka to easily see off Kazuma Sanpei (20-7, 9) [三瓶 数馬] in just 2 rounds. The bout started with both men feeling each other out, but in round 2 a huge straight hand from Watanabe dropped his man. A follow up attack after Sanpei regained his feet forced the referee to jump in and save him from further punishment.
The third bout on the show saw youngster Suzumi Takayama (5-0, 4) [高山 涼深] get through the toughest test of his career, as he took a decision win against Kai Chiba (13-3, 8) [千葉 開]. This started with the two men battling for position early on, using their straight shots at mid range through the first round. In round 3 Takayama got a major break through, dropping Chiba, but to his credit Chiba got back to his feet, and rocked Takayama later in the round. Chiba was dropped again in round 5, as Takayama landed a gorgeous straight left counter. Chiba again got to his feet, and gave his all in the final rounds, but it wasn't enough to over-come the two knockdowns. After 8 rounds the judges had this one 77-73, 77-74 and 76-75.
The main event saw former Japanese 140lb champion Masahiro Suzuki (7-0, 4) [鈴木 雅弘] take a split decision over Seiryu Toshikawa (14-6, 8) [利川 聖隆] to become the mandatory challenger for the Japanese Lightweight title.
Toshikawa started well, using his height and reach to control the distance and made the most of his long range jab. Suzuki tried to get inside but struggled until round 2, when he managed to drop Toshikawa with a solid left hook. Following the knockdown Suzuki began to amp up his out put, though to his credit Toshikawa wasn't there to make up the numbers, and fought back hard.
We ended up with more drama in round 6 as Suzuki was dropped, and hurt. The final two rounds were great with a lot of leather thrown, it was a real back and forth as Suzuki looked to clear his hear, and Toshikawa looked to close the show.
With both men having been downed, and both having given a stellar account of themselves, this one was tough to score, though Suzuki got the nod with scores of 76-74 in his favour, twice, whilst Toshikawa was favoured by the same score by the third judge.
Earlier today the latest winners of the monthly East Japan Boxing Association Monthly awards were named, with three men picking up awards for what they did in July.
The MVP for the month was named as former WBO Super Featherweight champion Masayuki Ito (27-3-1, 15) [伊藤 雅雪], who dominated former Japanese 140lb champion Valentine Hosokawa (25-9-3, 12) [細川 バレンタイン] very early in the month. Ito, who was essentially fighting to save his career, really battered the tough Hosokawa, who took a legitimate beating until he was finally saved in round 8, having shown little more than fighting spirit and toughness. Following the bout Hosokawa announced his retirement, which is a good decision, but Ito still looked fantastic and deserves this MVP award.
The Fighting Spirit award was won by Ginjiro Shigeoka (6-0, 5) [重岡銀次朗], who successfully defended the WBO Asia Pacific Minimumweight title with an early win over the previously unbeaten Toshiki Kawamitsu (6-1, 3) [川満俊輝]. The bout was Shigeoka's first since the end of 2019, though he looked just as impressive he had before his long lay off. After the win he vacated the title, and it's clear he now wants a world title bout, something it seems likely that he will get sooner rather than later.
The third award was was the Newcomer award, which was won by the heavy handed Suzumi Takayama (4-0, 4) [高山 涼深], who blitzed Kosuke Tomioka (4-2, 3) [富岡 浩介] inside a round to show what he was capable of. This was a major set back for the talented and enigmatic Tomioka, but a real break out performance for Takayama, who we expect to see fighting for senior titles in the next 12 months or so. He is something special, and yet still flying under the radar.
Earlier today at Korakuen Hall Japanese fight fans got a stacked card from the Ohashi Gym with 4 notables on it, including a Japanese title bout, and several bouts involving promising prospects.
The first of the 4 notable bouts saw Suzumi Takayama (4-0, 4) [高山 涼深] score an opening round win over touted teenager Kosuke Tomioka (4-2, 3) [富岡 浩介]. On paper this one looked like a really interesting bout between two southpaws, but sadly for Tomioka he never even got a chance to get into the bout. After less than a minute a straight left hand from Takayama put Tomioka down. To his credit Tomioka got up, but Takayama smelled blood and jumped on his man, sending him down again. Tomioka showed how bravery by getting up again but was dropped a third time with the referee then halting the bout after just 107 seconds.
Sadly it's hard to see where Tomioka goes here, especially given his loss in the 2020 East Japan Rookie of the Year final to Shunpei Kubo.
The second bout of note saw OPBF ranked Super Flyweight Masayoshi Hashizume (18-0-2, 11) [橋詰 将義] score an 8th round TKO win over Yoshiki Minato (9-5, 4) [湊 義生]. For Hashizume this was his first bout in over 2 years and despite that he looked sharp from the off, with nice jabs, and good speed. Minato tried to fight back was cut in round around the right eye.
As the rounds went on Hashizume's natural size, strength and power played more and more of a factor, as he let his shots go more willingness and in round 8 he ended up forcing the referee in to save Minato in the first minute of round 8.
The third bout of note saw Japanese Youth Bantamweight champion Toshiya Ishii (4-1, 3) [石井渡士也] score a 5th round TKO against the heavy handed Jin Minamide (4-2, 3) [南出仁]. This was exciting from the off, with both letting heavy leather go in the first round. The power of Ishii told first as he dropped Minamide in the first round.
To his credit Minamide not only got to his feet but battled on, though was dropped again in round 3, as Ishii's power, accuracy and speed showed it's self again. Minamide again beat the count, but having been dropped twice in the first 3 rounds he was in a hole. and desperate to try and turn things around. Sadly for Minamide his aggression and hunger came back to bite him, and in round 5 a serious of big shots from Ishii forced the referee to come in and save Minamide.
The main event was a much anticipated Japanese title bout at 112ls as Japanese Flyweight champion Seigo Yuri Akui (16-2-1, 11) [阿久井政悟] made his second defense of the title, and stopped the previously unbeaten Taku Kuwahara (8-1, 4) [桑原拓] in a brilliant 10 round war.
The bout started almost perfectly for Akui who's early power saw him dropping Kuwahara with a counter right hand in the first round. It was a perfect shot and seemed to show that Akui's power could be too much for Kuwahara. That was until the challenger began to show what he could do and finding his groove through the rest of the first half of the bout. The fight back from Kuwahara was impressive, showing his guts, determination and skills as he managed to close the gap on the scorecards.
After 5 rounds we had the open scoring with scores of 47-47 on one card and 48-46 on two others, both to Akui.
Kuwahara had bounced back really well from the bad start, landing good body shots, using his amateur skills well, and showed that he belonged at this level. Akui then began to pick things up himself, applying more constant and intense pressure, trying to take the play away from Kuwahara, who continued to box and move, using his speed and accuracy to try and out work Akui and get his respect.
Going into round 10 it seemed to close to call, and then the judges cards were essentially ripped up as a huge right hand from Akui dropped Kuwahara for the second time in the bout, with just over 10 seconds of the bout left. The referee immediately waved off the bout.
After the contest Akui and his team seemed to suggest that they would be hunting a world title fight in 2022, after the Champion Carnival. That could well mean a rematch with WBO champion Junto Nakatani, who stopped Akui back in 2017.
A few days ago we reported that Takuma Inoue (14-1, 3) [井上拓真] had vacated the OPBF Bantamweight title that he had won in January against Keita Kurihara (15-6, 13) [栗原慶太]. Interesting he is one of three Japanese men to vacate titles recently.
One of those other men to vacate was Suzumi Takayama (3-0, 3) [高山涼深], who officially vacated the Japanese Youth Super Flyweight title a few days ago. Sadly for Takayama he never actually defended the belt, which he won in October 2019,. He was scheduled to defend it last November, but opponent Hiroto Yashiro (2-0, 2) [矢代博斗] was forced to pull out of the bout, forcing it to be cancelled at short notice.
It should be noted that Takayama is 24 years old and that the limit for a Japanese Youth champion, so him vacating isn't much of a surprise.
The other man to vacate was a bit of a surprise and that was OPBF Super Featherweight champion Hironori Mishiro (10-0-1, 3) [三代大訓], who has given up the title after 4 defenses. He won the belt in 2018, when he defeated Carlo Magali, and defended it against solid competition in the form of Masaru Sueyoshi, Takuya Watanabe, Ryo Takenaka and Yoshimitsu Kimura.
Notably Mishiro's last bout came at Lightweight, when he defeated Masayuki Ito in December 2020, and we suspect he's vacating the title to campaign full time at Lightweight. If that's the case then we could potentially be seeing a brilliant match up between Mishiro and triple crown champion Shuichiro Yoshino (13-0, 10) [吉野 修一郎], who currently holds the JBC, OPBF and WBO Asia Pacific titles. Fingers crossed that is next for Mishiro!
Earlier today at Korakuen Hall we had the latest Dangan card, which was streamed live on Boxing Raise. The event was the biggest show of the year, but it was one that had a lot of promise, with several interesting match ups. Sadly one of those match ups was cancelled, with Hiroto Yashiro (2-0, 2) [矢代博斗] pulling out of his bout with Japanese Youth Super Flyweight champion Suzumi Takayama (3-0, 3) [高山涼深], but we still had a decent line up.
The show kicked off with a very fan friendly 4 round bout between the debuting pair of Shinya Kai (1-0) [甲斐 進也] and Kazumasa Fujiwara (0-1) [藤原 一将]. This was fun, exciting and the perfect way to kick off the show, with the action getting better as it went on. In the end Kai did just enough to earn the win, and get a W on his debut.
In the second bout Ryoichi Tamura (14-5-1, 7) [田村 亮一] took a narrow 5 round decision over Ryu Oba (5-5, 3) [大場 竜]. The bout, a 5 round "Prize Fight", saw Tamura race out and try to take Oba out early on. Oba, to his credit, saw out the storm in the first 2 rounds, and then Tamura began to tire, getting sloppy, and losing his form. This allowed Oba to box, move and make things much more competitive, though it seemed like Tamura was worth the win after the final bell. A close, but earned win in our eyes for the former Japanese Super Bantamweight champion.
Sadly after a really entertaining bout between Tamura and Oba we then saw Satoshi Kimura (4-4-2, 2) [木村 哲史] take a decision win against Takashi Hisano (5-5-2, 1) [久野 喬] in a slow burner. It took a few rounds for either man to really do anything of note, though the bout did finally get going late, with Kimura dropping Hisano in round 5. To be fair Hisano fought hard in round 6 but by then it was too little too late. The knockdown proved vital on the scorecards with two of the cards reading 57-56 in his favour, whilst the third judge had a peculiar 59-54 card to Kimura.
In the show's penultimate bout we got a legitimate treat as Yoshimitsu Kimura (12-2-1, 7) [木村吉光] and Shuma Nakazato (10-1-3, 7) [仲里周磨] fought to an 8 round draw. This was a bout that had everything, and more. It started slowly, with both men jabbing, trying to control the tempo behind their shots at mid-range. It then warmed up at the end of round 2 before going into a lull in round 3. It was the calm before the storm and at the end of round 4 a left hook, seconds before the bell, dropped Kimura hard. He got to his feet but was very lucky the bell came to his aid. Nakazato tried to jump on his man early in round 5, but failed to replicate his success as Kimura recovered his senses and then scored a knockdown of his own in round 7. It seemed nip and tuck as we entered round 8. Kimura tried to give himself the best chance of a win as he put it all on the line in the final 3 minutes, but it was just enough to earn a draw. This was the standout bout of the card and was a very, very good one for fan wanting to see the highlight of the show.
We then moved on to the main event, which promised a lot. It had OPBF Light Welterweight champion Rikki Naito (25-2, 8) [内藤 律樹] looking to defend his title for the 4th time as he took on Yusuke Konno (16-5, 9) [今野裕介]. On paper this had the ingredients to be a very interesting match up between men with very different styles. Naito being a speedy boxer and Konno being a tough and strong pressure fighter.
The bout started well enough, and saw Naito's speed being a key factor in the opening round. Then we saw Konno having success in round 2, as his pressure began to force Naito to fight his fight. Then Naito turned the bout on it's head with a string of solid rounds, using his speed, his movement and his energy to out box Konno, who's pressure was neutralised fairly easily. After 4 rounds two judges had it 40-36 with the third being 39-37, all Naito. It was easy to score, with Konno have intermittent success with right hands and Naito having regular success with his jab, hook and straights.
Naito also took round 5, and it seemed like he was going to cruise to an easy win, until round 6 when Konno forced his fight on to the champion. The entire round saw Konno being the boss, getting inside and battering the champion with hooks, uppercuts, straights. It seemed, almost in an instant, as if the bout had turned on it's head and that Naito was beginning to fall apart. And then we saw Konno fall apart, with the challenger fighting though round 7 looking tired, and exhausted, as if his effort in round 6 had taken a lot from him. Then it became apparent that it wasn't exhaustion affecting Konno, but an injury that left him unable to use his left hand, making him a one-handed fighter.
To his credit Konno did try fighting through the injury, with some mixed success in rounds 8 and 9, but was pulled out after the 9th when it was clear that he was completely unable to use his left hand. It was the right decision, and it's just a huge shame that he suffered an injury just as it seemed like he was beginning to find some success.
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