Back in January we reported that former Japanese Light Welterweight champion Hiroki Okada (19-2, 13) [岡田 博喜] would be returning to the ring on March 26th at Korakuen Hall, in an 8 round bout against Korean fighter Hwang Kil Kim (11-2, 5) [김황길]. Today that bout was confirmed, with Kadoebi going further than just confirming the bout, but giving the full line up of the show, which will be SLUGFEST 14.
The card, which will feature only 8 round bouts, is a really interesting one, not just due to it being Okada's first bout in Japan in almost 2 years, but because several of the bouts are very well matched, or feature notable names.
The chief support bout will see former world title challenger Takuya Kogawa (30-6-1, 13) [粉川拓也] look to bounce back from a heavy KO defeat to Jay-R Raquinel last year. Kogawa will be up against Japanese ranked Light Flyweight Hayato Yamaguchi (15-8-1, 2) [山口隼人], in what should be a relatively safe fight for Kogawa's health, but not a gimme at all, given that Yamaguchi is a talented fighter but a light hitting one. Whilst this isn't a gimme, it is a must win for Kogawa, who turns 35 in April.
Another notable fighter on this show is OPBF Light Middleweight champion Akinori Watanabe (39-7-1, 33) [渡部あきのり], who fights in a non-title bout against Panturak Namtong (13-5-1, 9), in what looks like a stay busy bout for the Oriental champion.
In terms of more interesting fights we'll see Japanese-Brazilian Cristiano Aoqui (14-9-2, 10) [アオキ クリスチャーノ] face off with Fumisuke Kimura (9-5-1, 6) [木村文祐], in what should be a very explosive 140lb bout, between two men who are limited, but can punch. An equally interesting match up will see Yoji Saito (1-1-2, 1) [齊藤陽ニ] take on Takahiro Araki (12-9, 2) [荒木貴裕], in what should be a very brutal match up, given the styles of the two men involved.
Arguable the most interesting of the bouts will see the highly regarded Ayato Hiromoto (2-0, 1) [廣本彩刀] fight in his first 8 rounder as he takes on 2018 Rookie of the Year winner Yoshiki Minato (8-3, 3) [湊義生], in a very good looking step up for Hiromoto.
Related - Hiroki Okada to face Hwang Kil Kim
Dangan 227 is taking as we speak, and we're now through the rather exciting under-card bouts which were shown live on Boxing Raise.
The show began with an all out thriller between Teiken youngster Kento Matsuoka (1-0-1) [松岡拳人] and 31 year old Suguru Ishikawa (1-1, 1) [石川優]. The opening round saw Ishikawa hurt, and later drop, Matsuoka. The right hand of Ishikawa continued to carry serious danger but Matsuoka dug deep and our worked Ishikawa, leaving him with a bloodied nose in round 3. The final round saw the men fighting to a standstill in truly amazing round of action, with both men being rocked and biting down on their gum shields.
After 4 rounds the judges score-cards were read out, 38-38, and 38-37, twice, to give Matsuoka the majority decision win.
After the thrilling opener we then had a bit of a strange one as Takahiro Araki (12-9, 4) [荒木 貴裕] and Yuji Awata (12-6-1, 5) [粟田 祐之] saw their styles fail to gel.
The two men both adopted counter punching game plans in the opening round, which only really saw 1 notable punch being landed, a shot that forced the referee to give a count to Araki who seemed to be kept up by the ropes. The second was also mostly quiet, with Araki getting the better of it, until he took a risk too many and they two began to exchange. When that happened Araki was dropped, for the second time. He beat the 10 count but the referee seemed to be thinking about his health and waved the bout off.
Whilst Awata will be celebrating the win, especially given he was the under-dog going up against the Japanese ranked Araki, this is not a bout many will be rushing to rewatch.
The third of the under-card bouts, the final bout we're covering in this results article, saw Japanese-Afghan hopeful Kudura Kaneko (11-0, 8) [クドゥラ 金子] continue his ascent up the rankings as he stopped rugged veteran Moon Hyon Yun (18-8-3, 4) [尹 文鉉]. The bout started slowly, with Kaneko establishing total control behind his sharp, straight punches. It wasn't until the final seconds of the opening round that the touch paper seemed to be lit and we got an exchange.
Sadly for Yun he looked old, as if his long and hard career had caught up with him. His high output was none-existent and Kaneko found he was able to stop Yun in his tracks with his jab. In round 2 we found that Kaneko could also beat Yun in Yun's wheel yard, out landing him on the inside., Yun's toughness saw him eat some huge shots to head and body, including a massive uppercut, but towards the end of the round Kaneko put his foot on the gas and dropped Yun just moments before the bell. Yun would beat the count but have the bout waved off, at an official time of 3:09 of round 2
This is another good win for Kaneko and hopefully we see him in the mix for a senior title in 2020. For Yun it's time to retire. We didn't agree with the stoppage, or rather the timing of it, but it was clear that his hard and long career has caught up with him and he should think about hanging them up now, at the age of 35.
Earlier today at the Korakuen Hall fight fans saw former Japanese Super Featherweight champion Seiichi Okada (22-6-1, 13) [岡田誠一] secure his 4th straight victory, as he stopped Takahiro Araki (12-8, 4) [荒木貴裕] in 6 rounds.
The 36 Okada, who is currently going through a career resurgence, struggled when Araki managed to fight at range, and use his jab, but in round 4 he managed get inside and land short shots. Those short shots took a toll on Araki who slowed down, and began to fall apart. As Araki's movement slowed it made things much easier for Okada who turned the screw and forced the referee to save the 31 year old Araki.
Although it's unclear what Okada has left the fact he won his last 4 is a big change to how he was a few years ago, when he went 2-5-1 and his career seemed like it was going to end on a low. He has been matched easily in recent bouts, but it's hard to not see his determination and drive as an inspiration. For Araki this was a 4th career stoppage loss.
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
Earlier today we saw the Japanese boxing award winners for July being named, and in all honesty this was quite an interesting set of winners with some genuinely notable names.
The MVP for the month was the newly crowned OPBF Flyweight champion Daigo Higa (10-0, 10) [比嘉 大吾], who earned the award and the OPBF title with a sensationally destructive performance against Filipino fighter Ardin Diale. The performance was the best of Higa's young career and came against a man who hadn't just fought in world title bouts but had given Higa's own stablemate Koki Eto absolute hell. To say we were impressed is an understatement, we were amazed by the 20 year old who looks to have one of the brightest futures in boxing.
The Fighting Spirit award was won by another OPBF champion, Super Featherweight Masayuki Ito (19-1-1, 9) [伊藤 雅雪]. Ito retained his title with an 11th round TKO win over Filipino Ernie Sanchez. The win wasn't one of the most spectacular, and we didn't really agree with the stoppage, but the win was solid all round and will continue to see Ito move towards a potential world title fight, with murmurs suggesting he could be back in December against a notable opponent.
The State of the Art award Takahiro Araki (9-5, 4) [荒木 貴裕] who scored a genuinely huge upset on July 25th as he out pointed former Japanese title challenger Yuki Ogata [緒方 勇希]. Araki looked much better than his more experienced opponent and although it wasn't a flawless performance it was still an impressive one by a fighter who still has a long way to go, despite his less than flattering record.
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