Earlier today at Korakuen Hall, we had the first Japanese show of 2022, and it was a notable one with several notable domestic clashes on it, including the first Japanese title bout of the year, several bouts with notable prospects and a bout featuring a highly ranked Japanese veteran.
The first of the notable bouts saw JBC #2 ranked Super Welterweight Makoto Kawasaki (12-8-1, 2) [川崎真琴] return to the ring for the first time since September 2019. Despite the long lay off, he was in total control against Fumisuke Kimura (9-9-1, 6) [木村文祐], in a bout fought just above the Welterweight limit. Kawasaki shook off some ring rust here and took a wide, and clear, decision win, which would likely have been the plan going in. After 8 rounds the scores were 79-73, twice, and 78-74, all for Kawasaki.
In the second bout of note the unbeaten, and often over-looked, Tentaro Kimura (8-0-2) [木村天汰郎] scored an 8 round shut out win over Kaito Takeshima (6-4-1, 1) [竹嶋海刀]. This was an excellent performance from Kimura, who controlled the tempo, the range and the style of fight by using his speed, landing good counters and earned Kaito's respect. Although still without a stoppage after 10 bouts it's clear Kimura has genuine skills, and training with his cousin, the touted Rentaro Kimura, will help him develop his skillset. There are still a lot of areas he can improve but this was a very good performance and it's good to see the improvements being made fight by fight from Kimura.
The chief support bout saw the unbeaten Narumi Yukawa (4-0, 3) [湯川成美] score his latest win, as he stopped Kanta Fukui (8-5-1, 6) [福井貫太] in 6 rounds. Yukawa came with a point to prove from the off, pressing Fukui through the first round, and hitting his foe with some big body shots. Those body shots continued through round 2 and in round 3 Fukui tried to fight fire with fire, making for some great action. Sadly for Fukui he couldn't get Yukawa to respect him, and instead Yukawa had so much more in his locker. In round 6 Yukawa showed his class, and some of his more advanced tools as he turned southpaw, and hurt Fukui, before forcing the referee to step in and save Fukui. After the bout it was reported that Fukui had suffered a suspect broken jaw.
The main event saw Kai Ishizawa (10-1, 9) [石澤開] claim his biggest win to date, as he stopped the previously unbeaten Katsuki Mori (9-1, 2) [森 且貴] to claim the previously vacant Japanese Minimumweight title.
The Japanese title was vacated late last year by Masataka Taniguchi, the current WBO world champion, and it was clear that both men really wanted to claim the belt.
The fight started well for Mori who looked good through the first round with a busy jab, whilst Ishizawa brought pressure, trying to close the distance and get his uppercuts and hooks into play. Ishizawa had notable success in round 2, before Mori bounced back well in round 3, using good in and out motion, which he continued to use well in round 4. Sadly for Mori however his success was never really troubling Ishizawa who who landed several big body shots in round 5, as he slowly began to break down his younger, lighter hitting foe.
After 5 rounds we had the open scoring kick in, with all 3 judges having Ishizawa up 48-47. Despite the close scores, it seemed like Mori always had to try harder than Ishizawa, and put more energy into his success. In round 6 Ishizawa's power showed it's self for the first time, as he hurt Mori, who tried to fight back in round 7. Sadly the attempted fight back from Mori left him to close, and in round 8 Ishizawa really began to get going, unloading good shots up top and downstairs, before dropping Mori with a series of uppercuts. With Mori down and a count being given Ishizawa's team threw in the towel.
With the win Ishizawa adds the Japanese national title to a previous reign as the Japanese Youth champion. He also takes a huge stride towards getting a world title fight, and a potential rematch with Masataka Taniguchi, the only man to have beaten him in the professional ranks.
Earlier today we saw the announcement of the first Ohashi show of 2022, which is set to take place on January 11th at Korakuen Hall. The card is a very solid one, from top to bottom, it's really the main event which will have people's attention, and will also see a new Japanese champion being crowned.
The match up at the top of the card will see hard hitting Japanese destroyer Kai Ishizawa (9-1, 8) [石澤開] take on the unbeaten Katsuki Mori (9-0, 2) [森 且貴] for the vacant Japanese Minimumweight title, which was vacated by Masataka Taniguchi (14-3, 9) [谷口将隆] ahead of his upcoming WBO world title fight. This should be a fantastic match up pitting Ishizawa's pressure, power and aggression, against the speed, movement, and skills of Mori, who is stepping up massively for the contest.
For both men it will be their first bout for a Japanese title, though Ishizawa has won, and defended, the Japanese Youth title in the past, and is more proven and battled hardened fighter. Despite that it's Mori's promoter in charge of the show, and we suspect Mori and his team wouldn't have raced into a fight with Ishizawa unless they felt ready to face the feared 24, soon to be 25, year old.
Whilst the main event is the major talking point for this card, it will be packed with notable names. These include young hopefuls like Rikuto Adachi (15-3, 11) [安達 陸虎], Tentaro Kimura (7-0-2) [木村天汰郎] and Narumi Yukawa (3-0, 2) [湯川成美] as well as veterans like Makoto Kawasaki (11-8-1, 2) [川崎 真琴].
Earlier today Japanese fight fans in Shizuoka got the latest show from Suruga Danji and his promotional stable. The event wasn't a huge one, but it was certainly a very interesting one with a lot of notable Japanese prospects on the card, including some who are tipped as future stars and world champions.
With that show now over, we're going to look over the show and cover the results from the event.
The show kicked off with an 8 round bout between the talented, but often over-looked, Tentaro Kimura (7-0-2) [木村 天汰郎] and the "better than his record suggests" Satoru Hoshiba (7-6, 2) [干場悟]. Kimura made this look easy as he controlled the distance and tempo, making the most of his left hook at range and right uppercuts up close. Hoshiba tried to turn things around, coming forward and pressing, but his tactics really were well neutralised by the movement of Kimura who was a ver clear winner, though did seem exhausted in round 8, when he held on a little bit too much for our liking.
After 8 rounds the scores here were 80-72, 79-73 and 77-75.
The second bout on the show saw Narumi Yukawa (3-0, 2) [湯川 成美] score his biggest win since turning professional as he stopped the experienced Yuji Awata (12-9-1, 5) [粟田 祐之] in 4 rounds. Yukawa pressed from the off, and constantly looked to close the distance. The pressure from Yukawa came at a cost early on, as he was dropped from a counter in the opening round, and took a lot of shots as a result of his desire to come forward, but he kept pressing and managed to get a real break through in round 3, when he got inside and started to work the body of Awata. The pressure of Yukawa worked again in round 4, as he hurt his man, backing him up and dropping him with a big left hook.
Whilst it's a worry to see Yukawa being dropped, and we do wonder whether his style is going to be suited to a successful and long career, it's great to see him rebound from a knockdown, stick to his game plan and stopping his man. He needs to tighten up defensively going forward, but there is no doubting how fun he's going to be to watch over the coming years.
The shows first real surprise came in it's third bout as JBC #5 ranked Super Flyweight Tsubasa Murachi (7-1-1, 3) [村地 翼] struggled to a draw against Yuto Nakamura (11-6-2, 8) [中村 祐斗], who had no momentum coming in to the bout. Murachi made a good start, boxing well behind his jab and landing some good right hands to control the first 4 rounds. Despite being out boxed early on Nakamura showed no fear and looked to apply pressure through the bout, pressing and pressuring the touted Murachi, and looking to cut the ring off. In the second half of the fight that pressure began to tell as Nakamura racked up the later rounds, making up for losing the earlier ones. After 8 rounds this was a hard one to call, and it showed on the scorecards which were 78-74, Murachi, 77-75 Nakamura, and 76-76, resulting in a split decision draw.
The chief support bout saw second generation fighter Kento Hatanaka (12-0, 9) [畑中 建人] score his latest win as he took an 8 round decision over the tough Daisuke Sudo (7-8-3) [須藤大介]. Hatanaka, who hadn't fought since February 2020, looked to land crisp left uppercuts up close. Sudo, who likely knew he wouldn't be able to compete with Hatanaka in a boxing contest, looked to make this a war, getting inside when he could and attacking the body in the pocket. That style made this an exciting bout, but Hatanaka's uppercutts up close, and good combinations caught the eye, even if the fight was fought where Sudo wanted it. After 8 rounds Sudo had done enough to take a few rounds, but not make it competitive, and the scorecards were 79-73, twice, and 78-74 all to Hatanaka, who we suspect will be looking to land a Japanese title fight in 2022.
The main event saw the talented Rentaro Kimura (5-0, 3) [木村蓮太朗] get the biggest test of his career, and narrowly come away with a win as he over-came the huge punching Yoji Saito (3-2-2, 3) [齊藤陽ニ] in a hotly contested 8 rounder.
In the opening round Saito's power was the telling fact as he landed a huge right hook, dropping Kimura for the first time in his career. The knockdown was the perfect start for Saito, and a wake up call to Kimura, who realised that he couldn't take risks with someone as heavy handed as Saito. In rounds 2 and 3 Kimura battled back well, winning both rounds with his boxing, speed and skills, to essentially undo the 10-8 opening round. Sadly for Kimura he was dropped again towards the end of round 4, as he found himself in a hole for the second time in the fight.
In round 5 Kimura, who knew he couldn't afford any more slip ups, changed tactics, and rather than boxing, he took the fight to Saito, neutralising the power but smothering the heavy handed Saito. Saito had some success up close, but it was Kimura was regularly getting the better of things, whilst also preventing Saito from getting full purchase on his shots. The final 4 rounds were brilliant, and showed that there was a real fighter in Kimura, who did just enough to earn the decision, with scores of 76-74, twice, and 75-75, to get the majority decision.
The plan for Kimura is to get a title fight next year, and this was the perfect gut check for him before a title bout. He needs to tighten up his defense, he needs to appreciate opponents, like Saito, who are dangerous, but there is no doubting his heart, determination and skills. As for Saito he's one of those fighters with a very misleading record, and he is a devastating puncher, who is a threat to anyone at 130 or 135 in Japan.
Yesterday at Korakeun Hall fight fans saw touted super prospect Rentaro Kimura (4-0, 3) [木村蓮太朗] score his most latest win as he out pointed Hikaru Fukunaga (8-2, 5) [福永輝] in a 6 round contest, in the chief support bout of a Diamond Glove show. Today, just a day after that win, Kimura's next bout has been announced, and it's a really good one as he takes on the hard hitting Yoji Saito (3-1-2, 3) [齊藤陽ニ] in an 8 rounder at Super Featherweight.
For Kimura this is another step up in class and another step in the right direction. This will be the first time he's been scheduled for 8 rounders and the first time he's taken on a genuine puncher and Saito, for all his flaws, is a rock handed handed fighter, with a solid chin, a hunger to win and has been building his confidence in recent bouts. On paper Kimura will be the favourite, and is certainly the more skilled fighter, but he will certainly be in with an opponent capable of hurting him, and he will need to keep his defense sharp here to neutralise the power of Saito.
The bout will headline a "Desafio" show put on by Suruga Danji from the Fujisan Messe in Shizuoka, scheduled September 5th, and is one of three contests that have been announced for the show.
Another bout on the card will see Rentaro's cousin Tentaro Kimura (6-0-2) [木村 天汰郎] battling against the limited Satoru Hoshiba (7-5, 2) [干場悟] in an 8 rounder at 122lbs. The other bout announced for the show will see second generation fighter Kento Hatanaka (11-0, 9) [畑中 建人] battling against Daisuke Sudo (7-7-3) [須藤大介] in an 8 rounder at Flyweight.
Earlier today we got the latest “Dangan” show, live on the excellent Boxing Raise service. It was a card that promised a lot and despite not quite delivering what was expected of it, it was still a very, very enjoyable show, thanks to a sensational main event. But more about that a little bit later.
The show kicked off with a B-Class tournament final between youngsters Koki Mioya (8-2-2, 2) [三尾谷 昂希] and Tentaro Kimura (6-0-2) [木村 天汰郎], the cousin of the touted Rentaro Kimura. This one started off with both men struggling to find their range a little bit, and despite both letting shots go neither managed to land too frequently. What was landed in the opening round however did seem to favour Mioya, who seemed to be a touch crisper out of the blocks.
Mioya also seemed to take the advantage early in round 2, though it was a better round for Kimura who managed to land several clean right hands. Despite the success for Kimura he struggled to build on his success and due to the speed, reach and southpaw stance of Mioya, who looked just that bit sharper throughout. Kimura however refused to come second and kept landing solid counters, luring Mioya in and landing clean right hands as Mioya came forward, through the middle portion of the fight. It wasn’t a counter punching masterclass, but it was a great example of what timing, and accuracy can do. In round 6 Mioya looked to put his foot on the gas, but failed to turn the tide.
After 6 rounds Kimura did just enough to edge a split decision, with scores of 58-56, twice, in his favour, against a score of 58-57 to Mioya.
Although both men were clearly talented youngsters, it did feel, at times, like they were almost too similar. Things were also not helped by the stances, with Mioya being a southpaw and Kimura being orthodox, which resulted in some messy coming togethers. Despite that it’s clear that both men have a lot of untapped potential, and hopefully we will see that being developed over the next few years.
The second bout was an A-Class tournament final at Lightweight, as Shu Utsuki (8-0, 7) [宇津木 秀] took on Masashi Wakita (10-11-2, 5) [脇田 将士]. On paper this was a total mismatch, though those who had seen a bit of Wakita before were expecting him to at least ask some questions of the talented and touted Utsuki.
From the off Utsuki came forward, applying intelligent pressure, but struggled to get around the long southpaw jab of Wakita, who used his height, reach and stance well to avoid Utsuki from getting too close. Utsuki became more aggressive in round 2, as he put his foot on the gas and began to land some more telling leather. Credit however to Wakita who took the shots well and tried to cope with the increasing pressure of the unbeaten man, who landed a big body shot and a big headshot just before the bell. In round 3 we saw Wakita trying to fight fire with fire, and letting his hands go more often, landing the occasional solid shot of his own in the most competitive round of the fight. The same ambition was shown from Wakita early in round 4 as well, before he got dumped on the seat of his pants part way through the round. From there on Utsuki went into seek and destroy mode. With Wakita hurt and not really doing much in terms of firing back, the referee stepped in and saved Wakita from further punishment.
On paper this is “another stoppage loss for Wakita” but we really need to give him credit here. He gave Utsuki a decent test, he asked plenty of the unbeaten puncher, and really exceeded expectations whilst also showing he is genuinely a decent boxer, who is being matched too tough at times. As for Utsuki bigger and better fights will come, and this 4 rounds he had here will do him no harm at all and we are expecting to see him fight in a title bout either later this year or at some point in 2022.
Talking about title bouts, this show had two of them. The first of was was a Japanese Super Featherweight title bout, pitting champion Kosuke Saka (21-5, 18) [坂晃典] against his mandatory challenger Takuya Watanabe (37-10-1, 21) [渡邉卓也].
From the off Saka looked the bigger, stronger and more powerful fighter, pressing forward and landing the more telling blows through much of rounds 1 and 2, with Watanabe struggling to get much going other than his jab. Despite being limited in what he was landing Watanabe’s jab was landing very clean and in rounds 3 and 4 he did well in getting Saka’s respect and cutting Saka around the left eye as it seemed he was perhaps on the verge of getting a toe hold in the bout.
Sadly for Watanabe a doctor’s inspection, in round 5, on the cut seemed to make Saka put his foot on the gas and soon after the doctor allowed the bout to continue Saka began to unload his heavier artillery. Watanabe managed to connect with one or two counters, getting Saka’s respect, but not doing anything close to hurt Saka who was beginning to chip away at the challenger.
After 5 rounds we got the open scoring, as is normal for Japanese title fights, and all 3 judges favoured Saka with scores of 49-46 from all 3 judges.
Knowing he was behind was perhaps not an advantage for Watanabe who looked to try and turn the tables in round 6 as he began to come forward. Saka remained composed and landed a monstrous right hand that shook Watanabe and then unloaded on the challenger who finally hit the canvas. The referee instantly waved this off with Watanabe on his hands and knees.
With this loss Watanabe suffers his first stoppage in 48 bouts, and given his hard career the end may be nigh for the 31 year old warhorse. As for Saka this was a statement finish, and a great way to record his first defense in a talent heavy Japanese Super Featherweight division. There are a lot of interesting bouts out there for him at 130lbs and fingers crossed we see him in some of those match ups, against the likes of Kenichi Ogawa, Yoshimitsu Kimura and Kanehiro Nakegawa.
We then moved on to the second title bout and the show's main event. This was a Japanese Super Bantamweight title bout pitting hard hitting champion Yusaku Kuga (19-5-1, 13) [久我勇作] against his mandatory challenger Gakuya Furuhashi (27-8-1, 15) [古橋大輔] in what turned out to be a sensational war.
From the off this was fought at an exceptional pace with both men looking happy to go to war, and both showing just how much the Japanese title meant to them. It seemed clear that Furuhashi had the quicker feet but the first round really was more about Kuga’s power and aggression, with the champion landing the bigger shots and dictating the action. Kuga continued to control the fight in round, despite a very spirited effort from Furuhashi who began to find his range more often, but took shots to get inside. When he was inside Furuhashi looked to make it a war, but even then he seemed to take more punishment than he was dealing out. By round 4 however Furuhashi was starting to build his momentum, forcing exchanges at his range and backing Kuga up. Kuga still had some eye-catching moments of his own, but was starting to feel the tempo more and wasn’t having the same level of success as he had had earlier on. Furuhashi’s momentum continued to grow in round 5 and for the first time in the fight it seemed like he hurt Kuga with a combination up top. He was however taking some massive shots himself, and continuing to go to war seemed a very risky strategy against someone as heavy handed as Kuga.
After 5 rounds we got the open scoring, and all 3 judges had Kuga leading, with 2 scoring it 48-47, the same as us, and one having it 49-46.
Furuhashi’s stubbornness and determination continued to shine in rounds 6 and 7, despite Kuga having a bit of a second wind. Part way through round 7 Furuhashi almost had his head spun around from a huge bomb up top from Kuga. Somehow Furuhashi didn’t just stay up right but also returned fire almost immediately as he took the fight on the inside and continued trying to grind down Kuga’s resistance.
In round 8 Furuhashi started fast, somehow finding the energy to continue to press inside and forcing a toe to toe fight with Kuga. Kuga responded to the challenge with huge bombs up close, though the volume from Furuhashi was intensem forcing Kuga to back off. Kuga was looking to catch his breath but Furuhashi refused to let him, and right on the bell Kuga was staggered as Furuhashi continued to push and landed a nasty uppercut. Had the round been 20 seconds longer Kuga would have been down, at the very least.
Thankfully for Furuhashi the minute break between rounds 8 and 9 wasn’t enough for Kuga to clear his head and Furuhashi jumped on his man right at the start of the round, eventually dropping Kuga. Kuga got back to his feet, but had no idea where he was as he stumbled around the ring, forcing the referee to wave this off, crowning a new champion.
For Furuhashi this was a defining moment in his career, which had seen him fail in two previous Japanese title fights. He really gave his all, dug incredibly deep and, at 33, finally conquered the title that he had chased for years. He took a lot of punishment himself, and there’s a chance he will never quite be the same fighter after this, but he showed just how desperate he was for the belt.
As for the 30 year old Kuga this was a 3rd stoppage loss in 6 bouts. His wars and battles are clearly catching up with him. He was leading early on, but the determination of Furuhashi did eventually break him down and we wouldn’t be surprised if this perhaps was the start of the end for Kuga, who was knocked clean out in his previous bout against Jhunriel Ramonal. This was a punishing battle, a tough one, and one that will be hard to bounce back from.
For fans the show was perhaps a bit slow to get going. The first bout never really clicked, the second seemed like a formality, and the third under-delivered, though expectations were admittedly incredibly high and the bout was a solid one. The main event however over-delivered and gave us some of the best action we’ve had so far in 2021. The styles gelled perfectly and the mentalities of the two men delivered an all action war. This was brilliant from round 1 to the eventual stoppage, and made up for the somewhat pedestrian start to the event.
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