In Europe and many former British colonies the day after Christmas is called "Boxing Day". Whilst certainly not a global thing it is certainly something of note and a term that a good portion of the world will be aware of. We don't that would include Japan, but for whatever reason, today been a day where Japan has provided with boxing day action, thanks to a stream from the brilliant team at A-Sign Boxing.
The event kicked off with a competitive affair as Kojiro Nishikawa (5-2-1, 2) [西川 宏次郎] battled to a draw with Daiju Kogo (4-2-1, 3) [向後 大寿] over 6 rounds.
The opening round was a good one for Nishikawa, who seemed in control though out the round. In round 2 Kogo managed to rock Nishikawa, and really went for a finish in the final 40 seconds, though sadly seemed to punch himself out. From there the pace never really recovered, and was instead white a low paced bout with Nishikawa pressing forward and Kogo moving well and countering.
After 6 rounds the judges couldn't split the men, with one judge scoring the bout a narrow win to Kogo, another having it as a win for Nishikawa, whilst the third hard it level at 57-57, to result in a draw. It wasn't the best way to kick off the show, but it was a solid 6 rounder.
In the second bout on the card we saw Takuya Yamaguchi (4-12-3, 2) [山口 拓也] and Masashi Noguchi (13-12-1, 6) [野口 将志] clash for the second time in just over 13 months.
From the off Yamaguchi was firing off wild, wide, looping hooks, and power shots. He was certainly putting in a huge effort, but was being made to miss, a lot. Noguchi, who looked the much more polished, was landing cleaner shots but wasn't letting his hands go much, and was often made to back up, despite landing some very nice, clean jabs.
The bout was a hard one to score as we went into round 6, the final round. That round ended up being sensational back and forth stanza of action, that saw both men looking about spent. Both men looked ready to go at multiple points but gritted it out, recovered and fought back, showing their will to win. After 6 rounds the judges turned in scores of 58-56, each way and 58-57 to Noguchi, giving him the split decision win, and levelling the series between the two men, who are now 1-1.
In the third bout on the show we saw bombs being traded as Kai Chiba (13-1, 8) [千葉開] over-came youngster Haruki Ishikawa (8-3, 6) [石川春樹] in a pretty one-sided, but entertaining, 8 round contest.
Through the bout it seemed Chiba did everything better than Ishikawa. He was quicker, sharper, stronger, and more accurate than Ishikawa, who struggled to get the respect of his hard hitting foe. To his credit however Ishikawa changed tactics in round 6, and tried to turn counter puncher, boxing off the ropes rather than taking center ring. The new tactics had mixed success. The change saw Ishikawa landing more often than he had earlier, but he was still being out landed every round.
The only real change was round 8, where the two men stood and traded bombs through the entire round. It was, sadly for Ishikawa, not enough and after 8 rounds it was hard to give him anything, with Chiba the clear winner. The scores here were 80-72, twice, and 79-73, all for Chiba, the worthy winner.
This was a solid win for Chiba, who looked as good as he ever has and showed good timing and understanding of the ring. He now seems ready for a title fight of some kind at 118lbs, and he really looked crisp, sharp and powerful through out. As for Ishikawa, this was a second straight loss, and he probably does need an easier fight or two to rebuild his confidence.
We saw the "reimported boxer" Shoki Sakai (25-11-2, 12) [坂井 祥記] battle against Takeru Kobata (8-5-1, 3) [小畑 武尊] in the fourth bout on the show and this was another entertaining little war, even if it was another rather one sided bout.
Sakai, fighting in Japan for just the second time, forced the action through much of the contest, pressing forward and trying to out work and out hustle Koabata. Impressively the youngster showed real maturity and composure under the pressure from Sakai, and tried to pick his spots to fight back. Sakai seemed the much stronger, more powerful and more aggressive fighter though out the bout, but credit to Kobata for holding his own in there, and not wilting under Sakai's attacks. In fact Kobata did enough to earn a round or two here and though and proved to be much better than his record suggests.
After 8 rounds Sakai took the decision with scores of 79-73, twice, and 77-75. He deserved the win, but Kobata deserves his share of plaudits, and we suspect he will learn from this loss and, one day down the line, find himself in the domestic title mxx.
The most impressive performance on the card came from the hard hitting Jin Sasaki (10-0, 9) [佐々木尽], who claimed the JBC Youth Light Welterweight title with a destructive TKO3 win over the usually tough Aso Ishiwaki (8-3-1, 6) [石脇麻生].
This was the bout we expected to be something special and it was. From the opening moments. Sasaki set off with the intention of stopping Ishiwaki, and threw bombs almost immediately. Ishiwaki, to his credit fought back, and the two men traded some heavy leather until Ishiwaki was rocked by a right hand, and then dropped by a follow up hook. Ishiwaki got back to his feet but was dropped again towards the end of the opening round as Sasaki looked for a 4th straight opening round win.
Ishiwaki managed to recover brilliantly and cleared his head as we went into round 2, which was a much quieter round until the final minute when Sasaki put his foot on the gas. Ishiwaki responded well, but it was clear that Sasaki was the much stronger, more powerful and more talented fighter. That power and strength showed it's self again in round 3, as Sasaki let Ishiwaki fight up close before decking him for a third time with a brutal flurry of big head shots. With blood coming out of his nose, and 3 knockdowns against him the referee saved Ishiwaki from further punishment, waving off the bout immediately.
This was a real statement from Sasaki. We expected this to be a real test for him, and saw this as a near 50/50 fight. Instead he made it look easy, dropping a tough guy like Ishiwaki 3 times in 3 rounds, was incredibly impressive. This sort of win, at the age of 19, surely marks Sasaki as one of the most exciting prospects in Japan, and one to keep an eye on long term. As for Ishiwaki, this is going to be a hard one to bounce back from, but he's still young and can certainly come again.
In the penultimate bout of the show we saw former 2-time world title challenger Ryo Akaho (36-2-2, 24) [赤穂亮] take on youngster Yuto Nakamura (11-6-1, 8) [中村 祐斗] in what turned out to be a massive mismatch.
After a somewhat competitive opening round we saw the two men go in to a shoot out in round 2 and that was only ever going to favour Akaho. The veteran now only had the edge in experience but also power, toughness and natural size, being a Super Bantamweight taking on a Super Flyweight. Midway through the round Nakamura was rocked by to hooks before Akaho landed a massive right uppercut that dropped Nakamura hard, forcing the bout to be stopped.
For the 34 year old Akaho this was his 40th bout and sadly we're not sure he will ever get a third shot a world title. On this performance however can still make for very fan friendly bouts and could still act as a great draw on these A-Sign cards. As for Nakamura, we really need to wonder who thought it was a good idea for him to move up to Super Bantamweight for this bout.
In the main event of the show we saw a really interesting match up at Lightweight as former WBO Super Featherweight champion Masayuki Ito (26-3-1, 14) [伊藤 雅雪]battled reigning OPBF Super Featherweight champion Hironori Mishiro (10-0-1, 3) [三代大訓] in a 10 round Lightweight bout.
From the very opening moments it was clear this was going to be a high level, high skill, high speed technical battle. The opening round saw Mishiro making the most of his excellent jab, landing it repeatedly, whilst Ito looked to land the heavier leather, from his right hand. That laid down the pattern for much of the fight, with Mishiro easily winning at range, with his jab a constant and effective weapon when he was on the move, but Ito was landing the power shots when the two exchanged, and when Mishiro held his feet.
After a few very close rounds early on, it seemed that Ito found his groove and was starting to outland Mishiro on a fairly regular basis, racking up the points through out the middle rounds. It seemed those rounds had seen him establish control on the scorecards, though the rounds were still hotly competitive, before Ito seemed to begin to tighten his grip on the bout in the second half of the fight. In round 10 the pace picked up from both, and in the final stages Ito seemed to be temporarily hurt, but shook it off quickly as we went to the final bell.
After 10 rounds it felt like Ito had done enough to take a close, competitive, but clear decision. The judges however saw it differently, with one judge scoring it 95-95, a draw, and the other two over ruling them going 96-94 in favour of Mishiro, who got the majority decision, and the notable upset victory.
On December 26th we'll see former WBO Super Featherweight champion Masayuki Ito (26-2-1, 14) [伊藤 雅雪] battling current OPBF champion Hironori Mishiro (9-0-1, 3) [三代大訓], in a bout at Lightweight. The contest is one of the most interesting on the Japanese schedule at the moment, and today we learned a lot more about the event as a whole.
The big story for those in Japan is that former Japanese baseball player and current actor and commentator Kazushige Nagashima will feature as a special guest at the event, along with former WBC Bantamweight champion Shinsuke Yamanaka [山中慎介]. Although we're not 100% it would make sense for the two to do guest commentary given that both have done commentary in recent years.
For our readers however we suspect the more important thing isn't the commentary and guests but the under-card and it turns out that it's going to be a decent one, with out being a spectacular one.
In a low level under-card bout will see Kojiro Nishikawa (5-2, 2) [西川宏次郎] battle Daiju Kogo (4-2, 3) [向後大寿] in the curtain raising 6 rounder. Neither of these men are really too notable, but they should be evenly matched and should make for an interesting contest to kick the event off.
In another of the lower level under-card bouts we'll see cult hero Takuya Yamaguchi (4-12-2, 2) [山口拓也] take on former Japanese Lightweight title contender Masashi Noguchi (12-12-1, 6) [野口将志]. On paper this is maybe not a great fight, but sometimes paper, and records aren't worth anything. Yamaguchi is a 35 year old, naturally charismatic fighter who made a star of himself earlier year when a documentary filmed by the A-Sign team showed the conditions he lived him, and saw him raise a huge amount of money through crowd funding set up by the promoter. Noguchi on the other hand is a struggling fighter who has lost his last 7, and this is a real chance for him to turn around his fortune. It's also a chance for Yamaguchi to get a feel good win to end the year.
The show will also feature the rescheduled bout between Kai Chiba (12-1, 8) [千葉開] and Haruki Ishikawa (8-2, 6) [石川春樹], who were supposed to fight in October before Ishikawa was forced to cancel the bout due to a Covid19 infection. Given how excited we were about the bout in October this is a brilliant addition to the card, and one we are still really looking forward to. Expect fireworks!
"Reimported boxer" Shoki Sakai (24-11-2, 12) [坂井 祥記], who had previously been confirmed for the card, had his opponent named as 22 year old Takeru Kobata (8-4-1, 3) [小畑 武尊], who is looking to build on wins over Wellem Reyk and Change Hamashima. Coming in to this Sakai will be the huge favourite, but given how he looked on his Japanese debut earlier this year we can't wait to see him in the ring. His style, aggression and tenacity are great to watch and should make this a fan friendly bout, even if it is a mismatch.
Also previously confirmed for this show was Ryo Akaho (35-2-2, 23) [赤穂亮] who has had his opponent for the show named as Japanese ranked Super Flyweight Yuto Nakamura (11-5-1, 8) [中村 祐斗]. Akaho, a former 2-time world title challenger and world ranked Super Bantamweight will be expected to take an easy win here, though it will be his first bout in 14 months and the 34 year old veteran really is in need of activity if he's to land a third shot at a world title. As for Nakamura he's a former Japanese Youth Champion, and we don't see him having the size, or power to compete with Akaho at 122lbs, which is where this bout will be taking place.
Earlier today A-Sign boxing presented their latest show, live on YouTube, with the show featuring 6 bouts in total. The event wasn't a massive one, but was a notable one, and one that delivered good action, for the most part. It had Rookie of the Year action, some notable prospects and the Japanese debut of a man who's career, so far, had fought entirely away from the country of his birth.
With that said lets look at how the bouts went.
Sadly the show began with a rare stinker as a Rookie of the Year bout between the talented Kosuke Tomioka (3-0, 2) [富岡浩介] and the timid Shota Hara (2-3-1) [原翔太] never got going. Tomioka controlled the bout from the opening round with his speed and jab and Hara did little to try and win. This really was an underwhelming way to start the show, and it seemed it even annoyed Tomioka who tried to wave in Hara, who declined. After 4 rounds there was no doubting the result.
The second bout on the show saw significantly better action as Ryugo Ushijima (4-1-2, 2) [牛島 龍吾] over-came Ryukyu Oho (6-4, 3) [大保 龍球] in a bout that saw more action in the opening round than the entire first fight. The round saw Oho come out fast, so fast in fact that he ended up slipping in one of his first offensive charges. Later in the round Oho did drop Ushijima, but was down himself towards the end of the round. Ushijima also scored a second knockdown in round 2.
After Ushijima scored his second knockdown he did seem to become a little too safety conscious, and held too much for our liking, but when forced to dig in he did respond as we got some brilliant little exchanges. Ono continually pressed forward, but failing to have any sustained success, and simply didn't let his hands go enough to bother Ushijima.
After 6 rounds the scores we went to the scorecards, which were 58-56, twice and 59-54 all in favour of Ushijima.
Sadly Ken Koibuchi (6-4, 5) [鯉渕 健] didn't feel in the need to help cult hero Takuya Yamaguchi (4-12-2, 2) [山口拓也] build on his growing profile. Yamaguchi came out ultra aggressive early on, but ran out of steam quickly and in round 2 Koibuchi dropped him twice to force the finish. Sadly for the 35 year old Yamaguchi this is probably the end, but it is a great story he's had in recent months, and his success in terms of crowd funding, and telling his story with the team from A-Sign has been amazing. We really hope that he remain in the sport, even if it's just as a mentor, or a commentator.
As for Koibuchi, the big bully, this is a much needed win after losses in 3 of his last 4.
In the fourth bout of the show we saw Hyoga Taniguchi (4-2-2, 1) [谷口 彪賀] face off with Yoshiki Tatsukami (4-7-1) [山本佳輝], in what was Taniguchi's first bout since winning the 2019 Rookie of the Year. To begin with Taniguchi looked very timid, but as the rounds went on he settled, found his range and began to land his left hand with growing frequency. Sadly whilst Taniguchi did take the clear win it was clear there the bout lacked drama and excitement, but was a good learning experience for Taniguchi.
After 6 rounds we went to the scorecards and there no real doubting the result, with scores of 58-56, twice, and 59-55 for Taniguchi.
We do like Taniguchi, but do feel he's years away from being the complete product, and we suspect he will need a lot more bouts like this before being in the title mix.
In the most impressive performance of the show the touted Jin Sasaki (8-0, 7) [佐々木 尽] wasted no time in blowing out Japanese ranked foe Shun Akaiwa (5-2-1, 3) inside a minute. Akaiwa was dropped from a left hook, and despite beating the count the referee knew he was in no fit state to continue. This was a real statement from Sasaki, who will find himself in the Japanese rankings at 140lbs when the rankings are update. A sensational result.
The final bout of the show saw "reimported boxer" Shoki Sakai (24-11-2, 12) [坂井 祥記] make his Japanese debut in what was a genuine cracking bout against 2017 All Japan Rookie of the Year winner Hironori Shigeta (6-2-1, 3) [重田裕紀]. This started with Shigeta boxing well, but as the rounds went on Sakai made the fight an inside battle, and stopped Shigeta using the ring. When that happened, there was only going to be one winner.
Shigeta always tried, he always had moments, and repeatedly landed some massive single shots, but Sakai had consistency, used his experience well, blocked plenty that came his way and landed some brutal shots through the 8 round contest.
This one was real fun, and saw both men landing monstrous shots, but it was clear that Sakai was doing the better work. This was shown not just in the ring, but also on the faces of the two men, with Shigeta being bruised early on, and the score-cards, which all turned in identical scored of 78-74 to Sakai.
Although the show was a low profile one it was a solid one and had a nice mix of things, from the skills of Tomioka and Taniguchi, the explosive power of Sasaki and the vicious war to end the show. The pacing of the event was good through out and the only real break came between the co-feature and main event. Even that wasn't a waste of time however as it was used to announce the next bout of former WBO Super Featherweight champion Masayuki Ito (26-2-1, 14) [伊藤 雅雪], who we now know will return on November 5th to face off with OPBF Super Featherweight champion Hironori Mishiro (9-0-1, 3) [三代大訓].
One again A-Sign, and Ichitaro Ishii especially, have delivered a brilliant show and it's great to see them having solid bouts across multiple levels of the sport. Fingers crossed they continue to provide live streams like this, as this was fantastic.
Tomorrow in Tokyo we'll see the next show promoted by Hachioji Nakaya, who will be promoting the event under the "First Raight Presents A-Sign Boxing" banner, following the new sponsorship deal between A-Sign and First Raight. The event, at the Shinjuku FACE in Tokyo, will be streamed for free over YouTube with all the bouts being aired by A-Sign Boxing.
Today, ahead of the event, the fighters took part in their weigh ins with all 12 men on the show making weight with no issues at all.
The card will begin with an East Japan Rookie of the Year bout at Super Flyweight between touted teenager Kosuke Tomioka (2-0, 2) [富岡浩介] and Shota Hara (2-2-1) [原翔太]. Both of these men came in comfortably under the limit, at around 114lbs. Notably Hara towered over Tomioka, and looked the naturally bigger fighter.
The second bout on the show will see Ryugo Ushijima (3-1-2, 2) [牛島 龍吾] clash with Ryukyu Oho (6-3, 3) [大保 龍球], in what should be a very entertaining contest. On the scales Ushijima was 125.6lbs whilst Oho was notably lighter, coming in at 124.3lbs. Notably both men were easily under the Featherweight limit for this one, which was the contracted weight for the bout.
The third bout on the show will see Ken Koibuchi (5-4, 4) [鯉渕 健] take on cult hero Takuya Yamaguchi (4-11-2, 2) [山口拓也], who's become the real star of show in the build up to the event. Before we get on to the weights we need to quickly explain that in the build up to the event A-Sign have done some mini-documentaries and crowd funding, and Yamaguchi has been the big success story of this campaign, drawing in a huge amount of money from crowd funding, which he has pledged to use towards repairing toilets at a gym. On the scales Yamaguchi was 136.2lbs and Koibuchi was far heavier at 138.7lbs. Notable this bout was agreed at 63KG, which is around 138.9lbs, so despite the clear weight difference both men were under the limit.
The 2019 Rookie of the Year winner Hyoga Taniguchi (3-2-2, 1) [谷口 彪賀] will take on Yoshiki Tatsukami (4-6-1) [山本佳輝] in the 4th bout of the show. This bout was agreed at 60KG's, with both men making the weight with no issues, coming in at 131.8lbs, around .5lbs under the agreed limit. This will be Taniguchi's first since winning Rookie of the Year, and he will be the favourite here, though this isn't a gimme for the 21 year old.
The chief support bout is potentially the pick of the bunch as teenage hopeful Jin Sasaki (7-0, 6) [佐々木 尽]. takes on Shun Akaiwa (5-1-1, 3) [赤岩俊]. The talented Sasaki is regarded as one of the brightest hopefuls for the Japanese scene at 140lbs whilst Akaiwa is coming into this with a JBC ranking and 4 straight wins, including an upset last time out against Kenta Endo. On the scales Sasaki was the heavier man, coming in at 139.6lbs, whilst Akaiwa was 139.1lbs, with the bout being fought at Light Welterweight the two men again made weight with no issues at all.
The main event will see the "reimported boxer" Shoki Sakai (23-11-2, 12) [坂井 祥記] make his Japanese debut, after fighting his entire career in the West. Sakai, who has mostly fought out of Mexico, will be up against 2017 All Japan Rookie of the Year winner Hironori Shigeta (6-1-1, 3) [重田裕紀] in a Welterweight contest. On the scales Sakai was 146.4lbs whilst Shigeta was 146.2lbs.
Following his weigh in Sakai spoke about fighting in Mexico, and some of the shenanigans he went through, such as weights being changed at short notices. He spoke about wanting to fight in Mexico in the future, but also wanted to win the Japanese or OPBF titles.
For fans wanting to watch this event there will be a live stream available here.
*Note - All weights were recorded in KG's and converted into lbs, and rounded to the nearest .1lb.
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