In a surprisingly early show at Korakuen Hall today, starting at 11AM local time, fight fans were able to attend a short but notable card with 3 professional bouts and an exhibition.
The exhibition saw former 3-weight world champion Akira Yaegashi (28-7, 16) [八重樫 東] spar with rising contender Taku Kuwahara (7-0, 4) [桑原拓], in a 2 round spar featuring rounds of 2 minutes. This was a bit of fun between two members of the Ohashi gym, which was very much fan service.
With big gloves on the two men let shots fly in an entertaining affair before Yaegashi spoke to the fans. He spoke about his retirement in September, how he was out of breath and had a laugh with Kuwahara before speaking highly about the youngster and explaining that he sees him as a future world champion.
Kuwahara was also respectful of Yaegashi and it seemed clear this was focused on him getting some ring time after a lengthy inactive period. Thankfully Kuwahara will be back in the ring for an actual fight on January 14th, and the hope is that he will have a much better 2021 than his 2020. His eyes seem to be on titles for the new year, and it's going to be interesting to see which belt he ends up aiming for.
The first official bout on the card saw Japanese #1 ranked Lightweight contender Seiryu Toshikawa (13-5, 8) [利川聖隆] test the waters at 140lbs and stop Takahiko Kobayashi (9-4, 7) [小林孝彦] in the 5th round. Kobyashi showed ambition early on, landing some good body shots and a solid jab, he also cut Toshikawa in round 3. It wasn't until round 4 that Toshikawa finally came alive, putting the pressure on and forcing the fight. This pressure began to turn the tide and Kobayashi was dropped in round 4, and then needed to be saved by the bell late on. Although the bell came to Kobayashi's aid in the 4th round he was still there for the taking in round 5, and Toshikawa managed to close the show in the opening minute of the round.
The second bout saw former Japanese Super Featherweight champion Seiichi Okada (22-7-2, 13) [岡田誠一] fight to a draw with Hiromu Murota (6-4-3, 4) [室田拡夢]. Although not the best bout fans in the venue will see this was a pretty technical and solid contender between someone in good form, Murota, and someone who has seen much better days, but continues to be a capable fighter. The now 38 year old Okada is winless since December 2018, but still showing that he's a capable fighter and still putting on decent performances like this, but we wonder just how much longer he'll continue. Interesting Akira Yaegashi was as Murota's chief second here, making it the first time Yaegashi has worked the role, though he has worked as a second in the past.
We then got the main event, and boy was this an interesting on. In one corner was WBO Asia Pacific Featherweight champion Musashi Mori (12-0, 7) [森 武蔵] ,who was seeking his third defense of the title. His challenger today was the heavy handed Tsuyoshi Tameda (21-6-2, 19) [溜田剛士]. On paper this looked like a true test for Mori, who is ranked #4 by the WBO, and it proved to be the test he needed to really prove what eh could do.
From the off Tameda looked dangerous and hungry. There was pressure and desire from Tameda who took the first round and establish a clear lead on 2 of the 3 scorecards in the first 4 rounds. His pressure, power, tenacity and work rate. This was a sensational start to the bout for Tameda who got off to the dream start.
Mori began to find his groove in round 5, using his jab and footwork establish some control on the action, and then began to turn the screw, pressing forward on a tiring Tameda with straight shots, uppercuts, and short, crisp, clean work. Tameda was still in there, but he was no on the receiving end of damaging shots, and had to dig deep to try and stop the champion's momentum. He did that in round 8, but it was merely a temporary break.
After 8 rounds the scorecard, although not announced, were finely balanced. One judge had it 77-75 to Mori, and had it even at 76-76 and the third judge had Tameda in the lead 78-74. The momentum however was now well and truly on Mori's side, and had been through the middle portion of the fight.
In round 9 Mori got on his toes, boxed, moved and used the ring, then managed to cut Tameda around the right eye with a straight left hand. The cut was a bad one and the doctor took a look, before allowing the bout to continue. After the restart Mori jumped on his man, letting shots go until the referee waved off the bout 1:39 into round 11.
(Image courtesy of Boxmob.jp)
Earlier today Hideyuki Ohashi took to social media to announce the full line up for the next "Phoenix Battle" card, which will take place on November 28th at Korakuen Hall.
The main event of the card will see WBO Asia Pacific Featherweight champion Musashi Mori (11-0, 6) [森 武蔵] defending his regional title against hard hitting challenger Tsuyoshi Tameda (21-5-2, 19) [溜田剛士]. This will be Mori's third defense of the title, that he won in 2018 and will be his first contest since December 2018, when he beat Takuya Mizuno. The talented youngster is tipped for big things, and had been expected to end the year on the verge of a world title fight, but 2020 hasn't exactly gone to plan. As for Tameda the bout will see him looking to bounce back from a TKO loss to Jae Woo Lee, with that defeat occurring at the Hajime No Ippo 30th Anniversary tournament last November.
The main event will see Mori enter as a clear favourite, though Tameda certainly has the power to make life difficult for the champion.
The chief support bout will be the previously reported 8 round clash between former 2-time world title challenger Masayuki Kuroda (30-8-3, 16) [黒田雅之] and unbeaten prospect Ayato Hiromoto (2-0, 1) [廣本彩刀]. This will be Kuroda's first bout in well over a year, following his defeat to Moruti Mthalane, whilst Hiromoto will be taking a massive step up in class, in what should amount to a genuine test of the talented youngster. It's worth noting that Kuroda has recently changed full time jobs and will be entertaing this bout with a new found hunger, but will also be moving up in weight for the contest. As for Hiromoto he has the natural size advantage, but obviously doesn't have anything like the experience of Kuroda.
Notable Kuroda Vs Hiromoto was originally announced for November 12th but has been pushed back by just over 2 weeks for this new date.
In an 8 round Welterweight bout Rikuto Adachi (14-2, 11) [安達陸仁] will clash with Hisashi Kato (9-9-2, 5) [加藤寿]. This will be Adachi's first bout since transferring to the Ohashi Gym in the summer and will see him looking to build on back to back wins over Change Hamashima and Masafumi Ando. The 35 year old Kato doesn't have the greatest of record but isn't a push over and his last 3 losses have all come to very solid domestic level fighters. He actually took a 3 and a half year break from the ring after his last loss, in December 2015, and has scored two wins since returning to the ring in May 2019.
One final 8 rounder announced for the card will see Seiryu Toshikawa (12-5, 7) [利川聖隆] take on Takahiko Kobayashi (9-3, 7) [小林孝彦], in a bout at 140lbs. On paper this is the least interesting bout on the show, but does promise fireworks and should be a really interesting domestic bout, with both men hungry to make an impression.
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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)
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