Earlier today the Korakuen Hall played host the the East Japan Rookie of the Year finals, with 11 bouts taking place between Minimumweight and Middleweight. Whilst the show it's self won't be televised until next weekend, when G+ broadcast the event on a tape delay basis, the results and award winners are now well known.
For those wanting to watch the event "as live" next weekend this is your chance to stop reading, as results will begin in the next paragraph, starting with the Minimumweight division.
The first bout on the show was a rematch between Ohashi teenager Katsuki Mori (5-0, 1) [森且貴] and the aggressive Shu Nawai (3-2, 2) [縄井愁], from the Watanabe gym. These two faces over a year ago, with Mori taking a very well earned decision over Nawai, and did the same here, shutting out the bigger punching Nawai in an excellent performance of accurate and crisp punching. The performance saw Mori take the Skills Award, an award he is well deserving off.
At Light Flyweight Kosuke Ando (7-1, 3) [安藤教祐] took a 5 round decision win over Hidetoshi Takane (4-1, 1) [高根秀寿], scoring a knockdown on route to the win in round 2. Takane, to his credit, was in there to win, but lacked the tools needed to over-come Ando, who looked rather good, despite being on the back foot for large portions of the bout.
In the Flyweight bout Haruki Usui (5-0-2, 1) [臼井春樹] did what was needed to neutralise the power of the flawed, but heavy handed, Kodai Gushiken (4-6, 3) [具志堅広大]. The 20 year old Usui used his reach and size advantages well, to keep Gushiken at range, and left Gushiken with swelling under his left eye. To his credit Gushiken never gave up, but as shut out over the 5 rounds.
One of the most competitive bouts took place at Super Flyweight, where Seiya Meguro (5-0, 3) [目黒聖也] narrowly over-come Satoshi Iriinafuku (5-5, 4) [入稲福敬]. On paper this looked a mismatch, but Iriinafuku's power made this very interesting. The two men engaged in a bit of a war, though the skills of Meguro were the difference in the end, with the unbeaten man taking a very narrow unanimous decision win.
One bout that wasn't competitive was the Bantamweight bout, which saw Shota Ogasawara (5-2, 3) [小笠原梢太] score a 4 round shut out win over Kanji Nagatomi (1-1-1) [永冨寛治]. Whilst Ogasawara is best known for his 2 round thriller back in February, with Ryugo Ushijima up at Featherweight, Ogasawara is a good Bantamweight and that showed as he easily out boxed Nagatomi to secure his second win of the year.
We had the first stoppage of the show at Super Bantamweight where Takeshi Takehara (5-0, 1) [竹原毅] extended his unbeaten record with a 3rd round TKO win against Kotaka Umemoto (5-3, 1) [梅本耕孝]. The bout saw Takehara looking too smart and too technically sound for Umemoto, who was hurt in round 3 and Takehara stepped on the gas, forcing the referee to move in and stop the contest. Although not a puncher the 24 year old unbeaten southpaw did show more than enough to get excited about here, and he looks like a genuine talent.
We had another stoppage at Featherweight, as Kyonosuke Kameda (5-1-1, 4) [亀田京之介] stopped the previously unbeaten Daiki Imanari (5-1, 3) [今成太希]. The 21 year old Kameda, the cousin of the Kameda brothers, over-came a cut right eye brow to stop Imanari in brutal fashion with a huge right hook. Imanari hit the canvas hard, with the referee quickly stopping the contest. Given how Kameda was stopped on his debut at the start of 2018 this is a remarkable achievement and saw him take home not only the East Japan Rookie of the Year medal but also the MVP award.
In an upset the 20 year old Hyoga Taniguchi (3-2-1, 1) [谷口彪賀] defeated Atsuyuki Sato (5-2-1, 3) [佐藤諄幸] with a hard fought majority decision at Super Featherweight. This was a really exciting, action packed back and forth, with Taniguchi's stamina playing a factor in the final round to secure him the win. This wasn't the most technically pleasant bout, but was thrilling and high intensity action.
At Lightweight Shinnosuke Saito (5-3, 2) [齋藤眞之助] took home the Rookie medal after unbeaten teenager Jin Sasaki (7-0, 6) [佐々木尽] was unable to fight.
We had another stoppage win at 140lbs where Kodai Honda (4-1, 3) [本多航大] stopped the previously unbeaten Masaki Kobayashi (5-1, 3) [小林柾貴] in 3 rounds. This was one of the fights of the show, with both unloading bombs from the off, in a clash of 20 years. Both let their bombs fly through out, with Kobayashi being dropped in round 2. Honda tried to avenge the knockdown the following round, but was dropped again, with the referee then interjecting and stopping the contest. This win saw Honda take the Fighting Spirit Award.
At Welterweight Yuta Ashina (4-1) [足名優太] took a clear 4 round decision win over Shodai Nagata (4-6) [永田勝大]. The talented Ashina was too quick, too sharp and too skilled for Nagata, who was game but second best through out the contest.
At Middleweight, the highest weight category competed at in the Japanese Rookie of the Year tournaments, Takumi Yuzawa (3-0-1, 1) [湯澤卓巳] took a majority decision over Jun Funatsu (5-4-2, 3) [舟津純]. On paper this looked like a mismatch, pitting the unbeaten fighter against a man with 3 losses, but Funatsu had momentum with a 4-0-2 record in his previous 6 bouts. That run of Funatsu's failed to help here as Yuzawa proved to be too accurate and too consistent, as he earned to attention of the judges.
The winners of the East Japan Rookie of the Year will return to the ring on December 22nd, where they will clash with the West Japan Rookie of the Year winners, in the All-Japan final. The West finals take place next Sunday, and will be televised the following weekend.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
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