Earlier today the Ohashi announced that they would be holding Phoenix Battle 93 on October 25th at Korakuen Hall. Along with the announcement of the when and the where of the show, they also announced the card for the show, and announced once of the strongest Phoenix Battle shows, with what can only be described as a legitimate double header.
The first of the two main bouts from the card will see OPBF Flyweight champion Giemel Magramo (26-2, 21) defending his title, for the first time, as he takes on once beaten Japanese fighter Taku Kuwahara (10-1, 6) [桑原拓], in what will be Kuwahara's second title bout. For Magramo the bout sees him return to the venue where suffered a 2020 loss to Junto Nakatani for the WBO Flyweight title. Since then he has picked up two wins, including am OPBF title win against Jayr Raquinel back in October 2021, and comes into this bout with a point to prove. As for Kuwahara he will be looking to make the most of his second crack at a title, following a 2021 loss to Japanese national champion Seigo Yuri Akui.
The other main bout will see former world IBF Super Bantamweight world champion Ryosuke Iwasa (27-4, 17) [岩佐亮佑] return to the ring for the first time since being stopped by Murodjon Akhmadaliev in April 2021. In the opposite corner to Iwasa will be former world title challenger Genesis Servania (34-3, 16), who was stopped last time out by the devastating Andres Cortes. Whilst the other bout will be for a title, this bout is actually expected to be the main event of the show, in what is scheduled to be a 10 rounder.
A third bout of real note will see young prospects collide as Toshiya Ishii (6-1, 4) [石井渡士也] faces off with Jun Ikegawa (3-0-1, 1) [池側純] in an excellently matched 8 rounder.
Earlier today the Saitama Super Arena played host to the latest win from Japanese sensation Naoya Inoue (23-0, 20) [井上 尚弥], who stopped Nonito Donaire (41-7, 27) in 2 rounds to unify his WBA "super", IBF and Ring Magazine titles with the WBC belt that Donaire won in 2021.
That however wasn't the only notable fight on the show.
The first of the notable bouts saw hard hitting youngster Kanamu Sakama (6-0, 5) [坂間 叶夢] scored his second win of the year, as he took out Fuki Ishigaki (4-5, 2) [石垣 芙季] in the second round of their scheduled 6 rounder. The hard hitting Sakama had won the 2021 All Japan Rookie of the Year at Light Flyweight and came in to this bout as the #14 ranked Light Flyweight in Japan. Whilst this win won't boost his ranking, it was a huge opportunity for him to get some experience of fighting on a major card, and he is certainly one to watch.
The second notable bout featured another talented young hopeful in action, as 21 year old hopeful Toshiya Ishii (6-1, 4) [石井 渡士也] scored a 6th round TKO win over Hikaru Fukunaga (9-3, 6) [福永 輝], in what is a really good result for Ishii. The talented Ishii, who is ranked by the JBC at Super Bantamweight, seemed incredibly strong here from the off, with a stiff and nasty jab. Fukunaga looked to fight back, and had some success in round 3, but Ishii began to have growing success, and in round 6 he landed some huge right hands that forced the referee in to save Fukunaga.
The first of the bouts shown to fans on ESPN and YouTube saw Naoya's younger brother Takuma Inoue (16-1, 3) [井上拓真] unify the WBO Asia Pacific and Japanese Super Bantamweight titles, with an impressive performance against the all action Gakuya Furuhashi (28-9-2, 16) [古橋大輔]. Through out the bout there was never any doubting Furuhashi's hunger, bravery, toughness and energy but unfortunately he was often on the wrong end of crisp, clean, accurate shots from Inoue who landed at will. The most eye catching blows from Inoue were uppercuts, which were regularly landed cleanly in combination, though he really did land everything he wanted, when he wanted. After 12 rounds it was hard to give Furuhashi a round, despite his incredibly brave effort, and the judges seemed to agree with that scoring the bout 120-108, 120-108 and 119-109.
The second title bout on the card, in the shows chief support bout, saw Japanese and WBO Asian Pacific Light Welterweight champion Andy Hiraoka (20-0, 15) [平岡アンディ] score a decisive defense of his Japanese title against the hard hitting Shun Akaiwa (7-4-1, 5) [赤岩俊]. Early on Akaiwa seemed to be frozen by the occasion a little bit, and was put down by an uppercut in round 1 by a relaxed and confident Hiraoka. After the knockdown Akaiwa began to have moments in the fight whilst Hiraoka seemed willing to take his time and enjoy his time on the huge stage set by the Inoue Vs Donaire II main event. In round 6 however it seemed Hiraoka had tired of playing with his food and began look at hurting Akaiwa, which he did mid way through the round. A follow up assault left the referee with no real option but to step in and save Akaiwa at the 1:24 mark of the round.
Earlier today Hideyuki Ohashi helped a press conference and announced his next big show, which we now know will be a world title double header and December 14th at the Ryogoku Kokugikan. He confirmed one bout which had been widely reported over the last couple and gave us a bonus, with a second world title bout being confirmed.
The bout we knew about was the clash between WBA and IBF Bantamweight champion Naoya Inoue (21-0, 18) [井上 尚弥] and Thai fighter Aran Dipaen (12-2, 11) [แก่นนคร ศักดิ์กรีรินทร์], which was first reported by Komthai 2 weeks ago. The bout is certainly not a special bout, and should be a contest that Inoue wins without any real problems, but it's nice to see him being active, being back in the ring for a second fight this year and ticking over. It's also good to see him back in a Japanese ring for the first time since November 2019, when he beat Nonito Donaire in the WBSS Bantamweight final.
At the press conference Ohashi stated that he had hoped to get Inoue a unification bout with either John Riel Casimero or Nonito Donaire for this December bout, but was thwarted by their mandatory obligations. He also suggested that that they had tried to secure bouts with Rau'shee Warren, Gary Antonio Russell and Nikolai Potapov, but those had failed to materialise, and had essentially taken Dipaen as the best ranked contender who was available and willing to face Inoue. Whilst this will be Inoue's first bout in Japan for more than two years, it will also see him returning to the Ryogoku Kokugikan for the first time in around 8 years, with the venue being the one where he claimed the OPBF Light Flyweight title in 2013 with a win over Jerson Mancio.
It should be noted that Inoue and Ohashi have both previously suggested he will be getting a "big bout" in April 2022 in Japan.
The other world title bout will be a WBO Minimumweight title bout between defending champion Wilfredo Mendez (16-1, 6) and his mandatory challenger Masataka Taniguchi (14-3, 9) [谷口将隆]. The two men were meant to have purse bids on October 27th, but they were cancelled at the 11th hour as the teams had agreed a deal, a deal that will see them being on this card.
For Mendez the bout will be his third defense, and his first bout of any kind since beating Gabruel Mendoza back in February 2020. As for Taniguchi he's been in form and will be hoping to make the most of his second world title shot. Of the two men Mendez is probably the better pure boxer, and is quick, slippery fighter, but fighting in Japan for the first time, with the crowd against him and a long lay off, he will really be up against it here.
Also set for this card Yoshiki Takei (2-0, 2) [武居由樹], Keisuke Matsumoto (3-0, 3) [松本圭佑] and Toshiya Ishii (4-1, 3) [石井渡士也].
Ishii vacates Japanese Youth title
Earlier this month the talented Toshiya Ishii (4-1, 3) [石井渡士也] scored a 5th round TKO win against Jin Minamide (4-2, 3) [南出仁], in what was a fantastic performance from the youngster. Going into that bout Ishii was the Japanese Youth Bantamweight champion, though wasn't defending his title in that bout.
Earlier this week Ishii announced that that would be his final bout as the Japanese Youth champion, vacating the title.
Ishii has revealed that his future plans are to permanently fight at Super Bantamweight, the weight that he beat Minamide in, and it seems likely that his focus will be on getting a Japanese title fight at the new weight. That seems something that could happen sooner rather than later, given he was ranked by the JBC before the Minamide bout, and Minamide was himself highly ranked by the JBC.
Although not a major name outside of Japan Ishii, aged 20, is widely regarded as one of the best prospects in the country by fans who follow Japanese boxing. He's a short fighter at Super Bantamweight but a very talented and explosive one and it'll be great to see how he comes with taking on some of the top Japanese fighters at 122lbs going forward.
Earlier today at Korakuen Hall Japanese fight fans got a stacked card from the Ohashi Gym with 4 notables on it, including a Japanese title bout, and several bouts involving promising prospects.
The first of the 4 notable bouts saw Suzumi Takayama (4-0, 4) [高山 涼深] score an opening round win over touted teenager Kosuke Tomioka (4-2, 3) [富岡 浩介]. On paper this one looked like a really interesting bout between two southpaws, but sadly for Tomioka he never even got a chance to get into the bout. After less than a minute a straight left hand from Takayama put Tomioka down. To his credit Tomioka got up, but Takayama smelled blood and jumped on his man, sending him down again. Tomioka showed how bravery by getting up again but was dropped a third time with the referee then halting the bout after just 107 seconds.
Sadly it's hard to see where Tomioka goes here, especially given his loss in the 2020 East Japan Rookie of the Year final to Shunpei Kubo.
The second bout of note saw OPBF ranked Super Flyweight Masayoshi Hashizume (18-0-2, 11) [橋詰 将義] score an 8th round TKO win over Yoshiki Minato (9-5, 4) [湊 義生]. For Hashizume this was his first bout in over 2 years and despite that he looked sharp from the off, with nice jabs, and good speed. Minato tried to fight back was cut in round around the right eye.
As the rounds went on Hashizume's natural size, strength and power played more and more of a factor, as he let his shots go more willingness and in round 8 he ended up forcing the referee in to save Minato in the first minute of round 8.
The third bout of note saw Japanese Youth Bantamweight champion Toshiya Ishii (4-1, 3) [石井渡士也] score a 5th round TKO against the heavy handed Jin Minamide (4-2, 3) [南出仁]. This was exciting from the off, with both letting heavy leather go in the first round. The power of Ishii told first as he dropped Minamide in the first round.
To his credit Minamide not only got to his feet but battled on, though was dropped again in round 3, as Ishii's power, accuracy and speed showed it's self again. Minamide again beat the count, but having been dropped twice in the first 3 rounds he was in a hole. and desperate to try and turn things around. Sadly for Minamide his aggression and hunger came back to bite him, and in round 5 a serious of big shots from Ishii forced the referee to come in and save Minamide.
The main event was a much anticipated Japanese title bout at 112ls as Japanese Flyweight champion Seigo Yuri Akui (16-2-1, 11) [阿久井政悟] made his second defense of the title, and stopped the previously unbeaten Taku Kuwahara (8-1, 4) [桑原拓] in a brilliant 10 round war.
The bout started almost perfectly for Akui who's early power saw him dropping Kuwahara with a counter right hand in the first round. It was a perfect shot and seemed to show that Akui's power could be too much for Kuwahara. That was until the challenger began to show what he could do and finding his groove through the rest of the first half of the bout. The fight back from Kuwahara was impressive, showing his guts, determination and skills as he managed to close the gap on the scorecards.
After 5 rounds we had the open scoring with scores of 47-47 on one card and 48-46 on two others, both to Akui.
Kuwahara had bounced back really well from the bad start, landing good body shots, using his amateur skills well, and showed that he belonged at this level. Akui then began to pick things up himself, applying more constant and intense pressure, trying to take the play away from Kuwahara, who continued to box and move, using his speed and accuracy to try and out work Akui and get his respect.
Going into round 10 it seemed to close to call, and then the judges cards were essentially ripped up as a huge right hand from Akui dropped Kuwahara for the second time in the bout, with just over 10 seconds of the bout left. The referee immediately waved off the bout.
After the contest Akui and his team seemed to suggest that they would be hunting a world title fight in 2022, after the Champion Carnival. That could well mean a rematch with WBO champion Junto Nakatani, who stopped Akui back in 2017.
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