Earlier today it was announced that Japanese Youth Light Welterweight champion Andy Hiraoka (14-0, 9) [平岡アンディ] had vacated the title, rather than make a defence against Takahiko Kobayashi (9-3, 7) [小林孝彦].
Kobayashi had been pressing for a title shot, and whilst this could look like Hiraoka ducking a challenger it is worth noting that Hiraoka did beat Kobayashi in 2017 and has his eyes on much bigger fights, following an excellent win over Akihiro Kondo.
As a result of Hiraoka's decision Kobayashi will be getting a fight for the title next, though his opponent for that bout and that date of the bout are currently undecided.
Hiraoka on the other hand is rumoured to be set for a high profile bout later in the year, with talk of the youngster making his US debut before the end of 2019, showing he really does have other options than a rematch with Kobayashi.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Earlier today at the Korakuen Hall fans saw a Japan Vs South Korea show, with 4 bouts pitting fighters from the two countries against each other. Sadly for the visitors from the Korean peninsula, it was a show to forget with all 4 visitors picking up losses.
The first bout saw Korean teenager In Soo Jang (5-2-1) [장인수] suffer an opening round stoppage loss to Japanese professional novice Suzumi Takayama (2-0, 2) [高山涼深]. Takayama took control very early on, catching the visitor coming in and dropping him after about 90 seconds. Takayama would then continue on the foot and force the referee to step in after just 2 minutes and 6 seconds.
The second bout went the distance as Mirai Naito (8-1, 3) [内藤未来] took a 6 round decision over Do Jin Lee (6-2-3) [이도진]. On paper this looked a competitive match up, but Naito proved to be far too good, shutting out the Korean on 2 of the 3 cards, whilst the third had it 58-56 to the Japanese local.
The bout that did end up being the most competitive came at Light Middleweight and saw Ran Tomomatsu (1-0) [友松藍], narrowly over-came the hard hitting Sang Geun Lee (6-1, 4) [이상근], over 6 hotly contested rounds. The Japanese debutant, a former All Japan national amateur champion, was in a war here with both men letting shots go in a fantastic back and forth. Lee, a big puncher, gave as good as he got, but just came up short against Tonomatsu, who got a baptism of fire and only just came out without being burnt. Given how Watanabe have fast tracked prospects a win here really is a sign that they will push him, and push him hard. Don't be surprised to see him in another tough bout later in the year.
The final bout pitting the two nations against each other saw Korean prospect Jeong Han Cha (5-1, 5) [차정한] will suffer his first loss, coming up short against Japanese puncher Takahiko Kobayashi (9-3, 7) [小林孝彦]. Cha was hurt in round 2 then dropped at the end of the round. Had the round gone on much longer the Korean could have been stopped there. He was hurt again in round 3, before being saved by the referee late in round 4.
Sadly this will be a show for Korean fighters to forget, whilst the Japanese will clearly have a reason to celebrate.
Tomorrow we'll see a solid Japan Vs Korea show at the Korakuen Hall.
For us, the most interesting of the bouts on the card features Korean teenager Jeong Han Cha (5-0, 5) [차정한] taking on Japan's Takahiko Kobayashi (8-3, 6) [小林孝彦]. On paper both of these guys can punch, both are exciting and both come to fight. Whilst they each have their limitations they should make for a fantastic, fan friendly contest between themselves when they get in the ring.
Today the two men took part in their weigh in and both men made the 140lbs Light Welterweight limit.
On the scales the local was the heavier man, coming in around 139.7lbs whilst the Korean visitor was slightly lighter, at a little over 139.3lbs.
Both fighters looked in good condition, both seemed to be confident and it seems like both will be going for an early finish. Kobayashi suggested he would finish the bout within 2 rounds, whilst Cha hasn't got a reputation as exciting puncher for no reason, so we may well end up with something very, very special here.
Related - Jeon Han Cha - The Teenage Hope of Korea
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Earlier today Japanese fight fans at the Korakuen Hall, along with those watching on either Boxingraise or Boxmob, had the chance to see an interesting Dangan card with 3 title bouts.
One of those title bouts was a bout for the Japanese Light Welterweight Youth title, and saw the unbeaten Andy Hiraoka (11-0, 8) [平岡アンディ] take on big punching foe Takahiko Kobayashi (7-3, 5) [小林孝彦], in what was a good match up on paper.
Sadly the fight failed to be as exciting as it looked going in, but it was always a compelling fight, that saw both men asking the other questions.
To begin with the two fighters tried to figure each other out with the jab. This seemed to suit Kobayashi better, and in rounds 2 and 3 he couldn't miss with the straight right hand, which had Hiraoka in all sorts of trouble. The consistency of Kobayashi's shots was a serious worry for Hiraoka, who to have no answer, and was shaken at lest once.
In round 4 Hiraoka finally managed to change the tempo of the fight, and it was clear that Kobayashi was beginning to feel the pace. Kobayashi hadn't thrown a lot in the earlier rounds, but when he threw he really put everything into them. With the pace changing Hiraoka managed to come into the bout more, and in round 5 he had a needed break through, seriously shaking Kobayashi. A follow up forced the referee to step in and give Hiraoka the stoppage win, and the new title.
During the fight stablemate Naoya Inoue gave Hiraoka advice, which the youngster said helped change the bout. The reality though is that the touted Hiraoka had a number of flaws shown up here, that he will need to work on back at the Ohashi gym.
For Kobayashi the performance was a solid one, until round 4, and it showed that at his level he can be a nightmare, and maybe he'll be best off moving up to Welterweight, which should help with his stamina in the future.
(Image courtesy of daily.co.jp)
Earlier today Japanese fight fans at the Korakuen Hall saw the very last Youth Tournament Semi-final bouts of 2017, with both of them taking place at 140lbs, setting up the final later in the year.
The first of those bouts saw scores being settled as Takahiko Kobayashi (7-2, 5) [小林孝彦] took a majority decision win over fellow puncher Hayato Ono (5-2, 5) [大野俊人]. This was a second meeting between the two heavy handed sluggers, with Ono having stopped Kobayashi last year, though this time Kobayashi showed his maturity to take the win, though he did look exhausted in the later stages.
The other semi final saw the unbeaten Andy Hiraoka (10-0, 7) [平岡アンディ] shine, with a stoppage win over 2016 Rookie of the Year Ukyo Yoshigai (5-2, 4) [吉開右京]. The tall and rangy Hiraoka showed why many in Japan rate him so highly, as he controlled the range and tempo of the bout, before a perfectly simed left hand in round 3 closed the show.
The twomen will now face off on November 11th decide the first Japanese Light Welterweight Youth Champion, and it's fair to say that whilst Hiraoka will be the favourite, the bout is a mouth watering one, and one that fans should be looking forward to.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
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