It feels like it's been a very, very, very long time since we last had live televised Japanese boxing. We've had a few tape delay shows from Japan but it's been around a month since the All Japan Rookie of the Year final. Thankfully today we saw boxing return to Japanese TV thanks to latest Dynamic Glove show, and it was a really, really good show, with an exciting debutant, along with 3 solid, entertaining bouts. It's been too long, but it was, in the end, worth the wait!
The show began with a 4 rounder between Takumi Hashimoto (1-1) [橋本拓海] and Shogo Namiki (2-0-1, 1) [並木翔牙]. This was a really fun and exciting bout to open the show, though both men were clearly very limited fighters. Namika seemed the aggressor through much of the first round, but Hashimoto had good success in round 2 which he tried to replicate in round 3, though his accuracy let him down. In round 4 we ended up with 3 minutes of brutal violence as both men gave their all in an attempt to secure victory. After 4 rounds the judges gave the win to Namiki by majority decision.
The second bout on the show saw the long awaited debut of Kenji Fujita (1-0, 1) [藤田健児] as he scored a 6th round TKO win against the tough and very credible Motosuke Kimura (3-6-2, 1) [木村元祐].
From the off it was clear Fujita respected Kimura and his ability to counter. As a result the early going saw Fujita box patiently, used his amateur skills to keep the action at range and to win the rounds without taking too many risks. As the bout went on however he began to let heavier shots go, targetting the body of Kimura, and hurting him in round 3 before dropping him in round 4, as he systematically broke down his man. Kimura showed incredible toughness however and continued to try and fight back. In round 6 however Kimura was hurt again and Fujita didn't let off the gas, forcing the referee to step in wave this off. This was a really impressive performance by Fujita who is clearly another fantastic addition to the already packed Japanese Featherweight scene. One to keep an eye on, though that's little surprise given his incredibly amateur pedigree.
The third bout saw action pick up with a competitive, technical and exciting bout between Katsuya Fukui (3-0, 2) [福井勝也] and Hiroki Hanabusa (8-2-3, 3) [英洸貴]. This started very technical from both, as both used their jabs a lot, and despite being technical it was fought at a high pace, and very exciting. We thought Hanabusa more than held his own and his jab was again a fantastic weapon in round 2. From there on however Fukui began to find his grove, unloading sharp combinations, sneaking in and out with great success. Hanabusa continued to hold his own, and was landing a similar amount to Fukuo, but the cleaner more eye catching shots were coming from Fukui.
Through the middle rounds Hanabusa's work rate slowed as Fukui's shots took their toll on him, though to his credit Hanabusa refused to back down and go away. Instead Hanabusa dug deep and in rounds 7 and 8 the two men began to trade more regularly giving the fans a show. Sadly for Hanabusa however his shots lacked the power that Fukui's did and he could never get the respect of the unbeaten Fukui.
After 8 rounds the judges had this much, much wider than we did, scorign it 80-72, twice, and 79-73.We can't help but feel that Hanabusa deserved a bit more credit, though was certainly second best. Despite the loss we feel Hanabusa enhanced his reputation here, whilst Fukui showed he had the potential to go very far in this sport.
In the chief support bout we saw blood, and a lot of it, as Tatsuya Takahashi (32-10-6, 21) [高橋 竜也] and Ryotaro Kawabata (13-4-2, 6) [川端遼太郎] gave us something special. Really special.
The fight started with the much taller, longer and experienced Takahashi trying to box at range and control the bout with his footwork and jab whilst Kawabata looked to get inside and make this a fight. For the first round and a half Takahashi did all he could to avoid a war. Despite his effort we all knew, sooner or later, this was going to get violent and by the mid way point of round 2 Kawabata was dragging Takahashi into a firefight.
For the next few rounds Takahashi tried to give the appearance of someone who wanted to box, and not fight. Yet every round he was dragged into a slugfest up close. By the end of round 4 blood was smearing over his face from his nose, albeit from what appeared to be a headclash. From here on Takahashi gave up the pretence and turned things into an all out war, with the two men going to war on the inside, as blood began to flow. In fact was flowing so freely that both men ended up getting a doctor's inspection in rounds 5 and 7. The cuts, caused by accidental headclashes, were a result of the two men essentially standing toe to toe, head to head, and firing off shots with alarming success. Defense was a dirty word as the fighters seemed to be living by the idea that they had to stop the other
Sadly for both men's long term health a stoppage never seemed on. Both were rocked at times, and both took a lot of punishment, but neither man came close to being taken out. Instead they continued to let shots fly, with Takahashi fighting almost the entire final round with his back against the ropes. This was a sensational final round to what had been a brutal fight. Both men will be feeling this one in the morning. Thankfully for Kawabata he can at least feel good, as he picked up the victory, thanks to his relentless desire and his intense pressure. The scores cards here were 77-75, twice and 78-74, all to Kawabata.
The main event was another compelling bout as former amateur standout Gonte Lee (3-0-1, 1) [李 健太], who has previously been referred to as "Kuntae Lee" and was today shown on screen as "Gonte Ri", took on fan favourite Aso Ishiwaki (8-4-1, 6) [石脇麻生]. On paper this probably didn't grab too much attention internationally, especially given Ishiwaki's 2020 loss to Jin Sasaki and the technical draw that Lee suffered last time out. Despite that fans of the Japanese scene would have known that the styles here were going to mesh really well, with Lee's technical boxing being matched with the hunger and desire of Ishiwaki.
From the off the styles played out as expected, with Lee boxing, moving, and showing the brilliance that took him to a 62 fight winning streak in the amateurs. He looked fantastic. Whilst Ishiwaki fought like a bull in a china shop. He refused to back down, he refused to let Lee have time and space to think, and kept coming forward, putting his head down and chasing Lee around the ring.
At times Lee looked far, far too good for his man, particularly in the opening round and round 3 where he was almost scored a knock down with a body shot, but Ishiwaki proved himself to be dangerous having success in round 2 and holding his own in many rounds. As the bout went on however Ishiwaki's pressure generated more and more success, with round 6 being one of his best rounds. He even managed to drag Lee into a firefight in round 7, as Lee got his first chin check in the professional ranks.
With Ishiwaki creating some momentum we saw Lee put his foot on the gas in round 8, as he landed some fantastic counters early in the round before a vicious combination later one, that Ishiwaki somehow took without dropping. Ishiwaki knew he needed a knockout in the final round, he pushed for it, but he could never have the sustained success he needed.
For Lee this was a big step up in class and he passed it, winning with scores of 79-73, and 78-74, twice. He was forced to work every round and this was exactly what he needed. As for Ishiwaki this is a second successive loss for the youngster, but another performance that would have won fans over. Do not write him off for his record as he is one of the most fan friendly fighters out there and someone always worth watching.
Earlier today at Korakuen Hall fans were able to attend the latest show in the "Dynamic Young Fight" series of shows from Yamaguchi Tsuchiura Promotions.
The card was originally planned to have 5 bouts, but a contest featuring veteran Tatsuya Takahashi (32-9-6, 21) [高橋 竜也] was scrapped earlier this month, leaving us with just 4 contests in total. The reason for the cancellation was never made public, though it is worth noting that Takahashi's original opponent had been replaced before the bout was scrapped.
The first bout on the show was a blink and you miss it affair, as Masaya Suga (1-0, 1) [須賀 将哉] got rid of Tatsuhiko Kumada (0-1) [熊田 龍彦] in just 27 seconds. Despite this being a super short bout, Suga dropped Kumada twice in 27 seconds, with the referee waving off the bout after the second knockdown.
The second bout saw the unbeaten Shingo Koyasu (2-0, 2) [小安 愼悟] score his second professional win, as he stopped the debuting Rikita Negishi (0-1) [根岸 力太] in the second round. Koyasu made the most of a 15cm height advantage early on, using his his reach an range well in the opening round. In the second round Negishi managed to get close and tried to force a war up and neutralise the the reach of Koyasu. Sadly being for Negishi that back fired, and uppercut from Koyasu dropped his man. Negishi beat the count but was under pressure straight away as Koyasu forced the stoppage.
The penultimate bout on the show saw 23 year old hopeful Tetsuya Kondo (6-2, 4) score his latest win, as he knocked out Yuya Nemoto (6-10-3, 1) in the second round. Kondo dropped his man just before the end of the opening round, after landing some solid shots through the round. Nemoto tried to get a foot hold in the bout in round 2, but was dropped from a right hook late in the round, and he failed to beat the count.
The main event saw two Japanese ranked Featherweights clash as Daisuke Watanabe (12-4-2, 7) [渡部大介] battled against Yosuke Kawano (14-10-2, 8) [河野洋佑] in a scheduled 8 rounder. This started at a good pace at mid range, before Watanabe started to close the distance in round 2, breaking Kawano down with body shots. To his credit Kawano tried to respond with right hands and had moments of his own, but seemed to be taking more than he was giving. In round 7 however Watanabe put a close to the bout, as he rocked Kawano with a right hand, then followed up whilst Kawano was retreating.
For Watanbe, who entered tanked #3 by the JBC, this is another good win in an 8 fight unbeaten run which has seen him over-come Dai Iwai, Richard Pumicpic and Shingo Kusano, as well as winning the Hajime No Ippo 30th Anniversary tournament. That winning run has very much left him banging on the door for his first title fight, and in fairness he deserves one, despite having 4 losses to his name. As for Kawano he will likely find himself dropping out of the JBC rankings.
Earlier today at the Capio in Tsukuba we had the latest show from Yamamguchi Tsuchiura Promotions. The card wasn't a huge one but did feature several fighters of note on it, including a former Japanese title challenger, one of the best young prospects in the sport and a very entertaining, though much more limited fighter.
The first bout of note on thus show saw Ryu Horikawa (3-0-1, 1) [堀川 龍] take a unanimous decision win over Daiki Kameyama (7-5-1, 2) [亀山 大輝], in a competitive and solid test for the 20 year old Horikawa. The bout started with Kameyama coming forward and being aggressive, but it wasn't long until Horikawa began to control the distance, and land quick shots at range. Kameyama began to struggle with the movement and clean, effective, punching of Horikawa, who countered well when he needed to. Although always game Kameyama failed to turn things around in the later stages, with Horikawa taking the decision with scores of 59-56, 58-57 and 58-56.
Horikawa and Kameyama showing some good boxing skills we then got a bout featuring the limited but always entertaining Yuta Ashina (5-2) [足名 優太], who took a close decision over Yuya Nemoto (6-9-3, 1) [根本 裕也]. Unlike most Ashina bouts this one didn't really shine like his usual contests. Ashina, who reached the All Japan Rookie of the Year final last year, showed uncharacteristic calmness in the first round, and continually struggled to get going. What we saw was Nemoto using his experience to control portions of the action, despite being cut from a headclash early on, and what action we got was mostly slow paced, at mid range. A bit of a stinker, sadly, after a string of great bouts for Ashina. Despite the disappointing action Ashina took the win via majority decision with scores of 59-55, 58-56 and 57-57.
The main event saw the tough and rugged Tatsuya Takahashi (32-9-6, 21) [高橋 竜也] take a decision win over Hibiki Jogo (10-3, 5) [城後 響], with Takahashi moving one step close to another title fight. The bout saw Jogo look to use his speed advantage over the taller, longer Takahashi, but the clumsiness of both men saw heads come together, leaving Takahashi with a damaged eye. In round 2 Takahashi began to find his groove, using his 1-2's well at range and then began to work more on the inside in rounds 3 and 4. With the bout slipping away from him Jogo changed tactics and in round 5 he began to find the range for his straight shots and he started a fight back, the fight back was a relative short one though with Takahashi taking control back in round 7 before the two men went to an inside war in the final round.
After 8 rounds the scorecards came in, 78-74, 77-75 and 77-76 all in favour of Takahashi.
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Earlier this month we saw Korean teenager teenager Han Bin Suh (5-1-3, 4) [서한빈] suffer his first professional loss, as he was out pointed but Dong Myung Shin (3-0) [신동명]. The bout not only saw the teenager having his cherry popped but also losing the KBM Super Bantamweight title.
Rather than rebuilding with an easy fight Suh has had his next bout announced in Korea, and it's certainly not an easy one. In fact it's a marked step up in class and his first on foreign soil.
The Korean teenager will return to the ring on April 7th at Korakuen Hall as he takes on Japanese veteran Tatsuya Takahashi (31-9-6, 21) [高橋竜也] in an 8 round bout at a contracted weight of 120lbs.
As mentioned this will be Suh's first international bout, and by the time the fight comes around he will be 20 years old. The all action Korean is one of the most fun fighters to watch with his intense work rate and aggression. Sadly he is a bit raw around the edges and can be out boxed, as we saw against Shin, but he's a nightmare to fight and going toe to toe with him is usually a mistake.
Takahashi on the other hand is true veteran of the ring, with 46 bouts under his belt. Aged 30, though turning 31 come fight night, Takahashi has gained a reputation as a limited but exciting warrior. He's a bit unpredictable in terms of results, though is very tough and his 2014 bout with Kentaro Masuda saw Masuda describe him as being like a zombie in the ring, due to his toughness and work rate.
Given the styles of these two this should be an incredibly exciting war. It won't be top level action, but will be thrilling action.
Whilst much of the Japanese boxing attention on Saturday was on the action in Tokyo there was also also a show in Ibaragi, headlined by a contest between Tatsuya Takahashi (31-9-6, 21) [高橋竜也] and Renoel Pael (23-11-1, 12).
Although on paper this doesn't look like a bout to get too excited bout, it turned out to be an absolute humdinger of a back and forth war. Those who have seen Takahashi before won't be surprised to hear this was rough, tough, hard hitting and brutal. It wasn't pretty, but it was fantastically competitive and truly exciting.
From the opening round this was competitive, with both looking to get behind their jabs. As it went on though the pace increased and Pael managed to get some sustained success, leaving the local with bloodied face. Takahashi fought through the blood and managed to rack up rounds, but was never able to look comfortable.
The bout had massive drama in the final round as Takahashi was dropped and in all sorts of trouble before surviving to the bell.
The knockdown almost proved game changing on the scorecards, though Takahashi's overall work was just enough to earn a split decision, with scored of 77-75 and 76-75 in his favour, whilst the third judge gave it to Pael with a score of 75-76.
After the bout Takahashi stated he wanted to fight for a title next year. Sadly we don't think he'll to win a belt, even if he does get a title fight at some point during the year.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
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