Earlier today fight fans at Koraskuen Hall got a treat as they got a thrilling card headlined by a Japanese Super Bantamweight title bout, and also featuring several other bouts of note. The card wasn't a massive one, not by any stretch, but was a very good domestic level show.
The first bout of note saw former 2-time world title challenger Masayuki Kuroda (30-9-3, 16) [黒田雅之] return to the ring for the first time since May 2019, when he lost to Moruti Mthalane. Sadly for him however it wasn't a happy return as he was out boxed by unbeaten youngster Kantaro Juri (4-0, 2) [重里侃太朗] in an 8 rounder at Super Flyweight. Throughout the fight Juri proved to be too big, too quick, too sharp and too accurate, especially with his jab. Kuroda had moments, here and there, but they were few and far between and after 8 rounds there no questioning the decision. The judges all sided with Juri, with scores of 79-73, 78-74 and 77-75.
The second bout of note on this card ended with a genuine upset as the unheralded Taison Mukaiyama (7-2, 4) [向山太尊] scored a stoppage win over the ranked Toru Kiyota (11-5, 8) [清田亨], who entered with top 10 rankings with the JBC, OPBF and WBO Asia Pacific. Mukaiyama looked crude at times, being made to miss and losing balance early on, but in round 2 a left straight left hand stopped Kiyota. Kiyota recovered to his feet but was instantly under pressure and the referee was forced to save him just moments later. Notably Kiyota was ranked #4 in the WBO Asia Pacific rankings and this win will put Mukaiyama on the verge of a title fight of some kind.
On the subject of title fights the main event of the show as a Japanese Super Bantamweight title bout, as defending champion Gakuya Furuhashi (28-8-2, 16) [古橋大輔] faced off with Yusaku Kuga (20-5-2, 13) [久我勇作], the man he beat for the title last year. From the off this was a great fight, living up to the high expectations fans had of it. Kuga got the better of the early going, jabbing well and moving well, but Furuhashi, like he did in their first bout, kept coming forward and showed little respect to Kuga's much touted power. This lead to Furuhashi forcing Kuga to fight at a high pace, somethign that was expected to take the gas out of Kuga's tank.
In round 4 Furuhashi was left with a cut eye, from an uppercut, and after 5 rounds Kuga was leading on all 3 cards, 48-47, twice, and 49-46.
It was there that Furuhashi began to make the most of his aggression, his pressure and his work rate, as he started to get up close and get to the body of Kuga. He forced Luga to clinch, spoil and try to slow the tempo of the bout, but Furuhashi was incredibly determined to turn the bout his way, and he really got his way back in to the bout in the middle rounds, taking the lead on two of the scorecards as we went into round round 10. It was there that Kuga dug incredibly deeply and managed to narrowly out work and out battle Furuhashi. Sadly for him however it wasn't enough to take home the win.
The scores, after 10 rounds, were 95-95, twice, and 96-94 to Kuga, resulting in a majority draw, and leaving the door open to a third bout between two two men, who have know given us two amazing bouts around a year apart.
Earlier today we learned that the East Japan Boxing Association Monthly Award Selection Committee had announced their award winners for the month of June, naming winners for the 3 awards.
The MVP for the month was the excellent Masahiro Suzuki (6-0, 4) [鈴木 雅弘], who impressively stopped Daishi Nagata (15-3-2, 6) [永田大士] on June 10th to become the Japanese national champion at 140lbs. Whilst his reign was a short one, vacating the title less than a week after winning it, there was no doubting that his performance was a brilliant one and he was very deserving of this award on the back of it. It's going to be really exciting to see what he does next, given he's stated his intention is to move back down and fight at his more natural weight of 135lbs.
The Fighting Sprit award was won by the hard hitting Ryoji Fukunaga (14-4, 14) [福永亮次], who retained his WBO Asia Pacific and JBC Super Flyweight titles by stopping Takahiro Fujii (12-7-1, 3) [藤井貴博] on June 21st. This was really a disappointingly easy fight for Fukunaga, though he had gone through wars in his previous two bouts, and we expect he will have another war in the near future, so it's hard to complain about him winning this award.
The Newcomer award was won by 26 year old Toru Kiyota (11-4, 8) [清田亨] following his huge upset win over Tatsuya Yanagi (17-7-2, 7) [柳達也] on June 11th. Going in to that bout Yanagi was ranked in the top 5 by the JBC who are likely to put Kiyota into the rankings following his TKO victory.
Earlier today the Korakuen Hall played host to a show promoted by Hideyuki Ohashi, and featured several interesting match ups.
Among those on the card was hard hitting Japanese hopeful Tsuyoshi Tameda (21-4-2, 19) [溜田剛士] who scored his latest win by stopping Filipino Joe Tejones (13-7, 7). On paper this looks like a straight forward win for Tameda but in reality we had expected to see Tameda being tested, with Tejones being better than his record suggests. Instead however the power of Tameda was too much and he took out Tejones in the 5th round, dropping the Filipino who took the count on his backside.
Tameda's Ohashi stablemate Katsuya Yasuda (5-0, 3) [保田克也] also picked up a win, as he stopped Indonesian foe Jack Dolu (4-5, 4) in the second round. A right uppercut took out Dolu for the 10 count.
It wasn't all good news for Ohashi fighters however, as Toru Kiyota (9-4, 7) [清田亨] was beaten Kazuma Sanpei (18-5, 7) [三瓶数馬]. The Japanese ranked Sanpei took a split decision over 8 rounds, in what was the most competitive and interesting bout on the show, despite the limitations of both fighters.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Earlier today the Ohashi Gym announced their next Phoenix Battle show, which we now know will take place on September 17th at Korakuen Hall.
The main event for the card was announced as a being a bout between the fast rising Taku Kuwahara (5-0, 4) [桑原拓] and world ranked Filipino Jonathan Refugio (21-6-5, 7), who is currently ranked #15 by the WBC at Minimumweight.
The talented Kuwahara, who has been dubbed "Ioka II", made his debut in May 2018 and and has been tipped for major success since announcing that he was heading to the professional ranks. In just his third bout he was fighting in 8 round bouts but this is a huge step up in class against a man who has over 230 rounds as a professional.
The 26 year old Refugio has been a professional since June 2010 and whilst he hasn't yet scored a world class win he has mixed with good company with losses to Wanheng Menayothin, Merlito Sabillo, Knockout CP Freshmart, Melvin Jerusalem and Hiroto Kyoguchi in recent years. He's no world beater, but a stoppage against him would be very, very impressive.
In the chief support we'll see Japanese ranked Super Featherweight Kazuma Sanpei (17-5, 7) [三瓶数馬] will take on Toru Kiyota (9-3, 7) [清田亨] in what should be a very competitive and interesting 8 round bout. Sanpei has the edge in experience and achievement but with 4 stoppages against him Kiyota will enter the bout with the belief that he has the power to stop his man.
Another good bout announced for this card will see JBC and WBO Asia Pacific ranked fighter Tsuyoshi Tameda (20-4-2, 18) [溜田剛士] take on Filipino Joe Tejones (13-6, 7), who fights in Japan for the third time, following losses to Hinata Maruta and Tenta Kiyose in previous Japanese bouts. Coming into this bout Tameda is riding high following a really good win over Tae Il Atsumi whilst Tejones recently took the unbeaten record of KJ Natuplag.
One other talented hopeful booked for this is Katsuya Yasuda (4-0, 2) [保田克也], though he is yet to have his opponent for the card announced. Given he took a step up in class in July, when he beat Jerry Castroverde, we would hope for another step up for the 27 year old, however it does seem more likely to be a tick over for the Lightweight hopeful.
Introducing... Taku Kuwahara
Introducing... Katsuya Yasuda
The Kadoebi Gym may not have had great performance from some of their most notable fighters today, but a trio of their prospects did shine picking up wins on their latest "Slugfest" card.
One of those was the very exciting Yuki Nakajima (2-0, 2) [中嶋憂輝], who scored a 4th round TKO win against Manop Audomphanawari (1-2, 1). The Thai had come to win, pressing Nakajima, letting his hands go and having some success in round 4 as Nakajima began to soak up the pressure. Sadly for him however when Nakajima turned things around he hurt the Thai and forced the referee to save the visitor.
Another who picked up a stoppage was the hard hitting Ryoji Fukunaga (11-4, 11) [福永亮次], who needed less than a round to take out Thai visitor Kittipong Jareonroy (3-3). This is pretty pretty given that Kittipong had gone 3 rounds with Teiru Kinoshita and saw the final bell, albeit in a very 1-sided bout, with Kenta Nakagawa. The ending came when Fukunaga dropped the Thai with a massive body shot and left him in absolute agony on the canvas.
The only prospect who didn't really shine was the talented Yuichiro Kasuya (12-2-1, 3) [粕谷雄一郎], who could only manage a narrow majority decision over Toru Kiyota (9-3, 7) [清田亨]. On paper Kasuya had the toughest task of the three Kadoebi hopefuls, but was still expected to win without too many problems, given how Ren Sasaki had stopped Kiyota back in 2017. Still getting the win was the key for Kasuya, who had fought only 3 rounds since the start of 2018.
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