Earlier today at Korakuen Hall fight fans had the chance to see a new WBO Asia Pacific champion being crowned as unbeaten youngster Yudai Shigeoka (4-0, 2) [重岡優大] faced off with former OPBF Minimumweight champion Tsubasa Koura (15-2, 10) [小浦 翼] in a mouth watering match up.
On paper it was a massive leap up in class for Shigeoka, in his first 12 rounder, and it was a chance for the once touted Koura to get his career back on track following a shock 2019 loss to Lito Dante and 21 months of inactivity due to the pandemic. For both men it was expected to be a bout where they each had to prove themselves and show what they were capable of, answer some serious questions and move their career onwards and upwards towards a potential world title fight.
Whilst it was interesting on paper, it proved to be even more interesting in the ring.
From the opening round we saw both men showing technical skills and patience, as they looked to figure each other out. Koura's jab seemed to be the key punch through the opening round, but Shigeoka got through with the odd solid shot himself, including a very good body shot. It wasn't the most action packed of opening rounds, but it was a tense one, with both men showing a lot of respect to the other. Despite the tempo being slow in the opening round things began to step up in round 2 as both men began to feel more comfortable and let their shots go. It was Shigeoka who seemed to land the better shots during rounds 2, 3 and 4. Despite Shigeoka landing the better shots, Koura was always in the bout, landing his share of right hands through the round. Sadly for him however he looked rusty and like a man who probably needed a tune up bout before this one.
After 4 rounds Shigeoka was leading 39-36 on two of the cards, whilst the third judge had it 39-36 in favour of Koura.
In the middle rounds Koura's experience began to show as the two men spent more time fighting close up, with Koura holding, fighting on the inside and trying to rough up Shigeoka, with some good success. Shigeoka looked the heavier handed fighter, and the one landing the better quality blows for the most part, but Koura was backing him up, and getting to him more and more success. It seemed as if the bout was turning, and by the end of round 8 there was very, very little in it. Koura had closed the gap on to of the score cards, which were now 76-76, and was leading on the third card. It looked like his experience was going to be the difference maker.
Going into the final 4 rounds it seemed the momentum was with Koura and that looked even more like the case when Koura took round 9. Amazingly however Shigeoka gritted his teeth and knowing he was behind he began to do what fighters do, and made it his fight. He changed things up, upped the tempo in the final quarter of the fight and fought like a man desperate to prove himself. Sadly round 10 was marred by some ugly action, headclashes and general stop-start fighting, but the quality shots almost all came from Shigeoka, who was bullying Koura at times. It was messy, but it had moments, including a gorgeous left hand from Shigeoka that seemed to buckle the legs of Koura. Koura tried to make things dirty late in round 11, but he seemed desperately was was struggling to actually land anything of note during the round, instead he looked wild, tired and like a man who had given his all to fight his way back into the bout, but had little left to offer against the more physical Shigeoka. That showed to be the case again in rounds 12 as Shigeoka again landed the few telling blows, and pushed Koura around in the many clinches.
This was interesting, it was competitive, and at times it was incredibly ugly. It lacked quality in the later stages, it showed that both men were still very flawed, and that while talented both have a lot of work to do. It showed that Shigeoka's lack of experience, especially in terms of rounds, was a major issue whilst Koura's lack of stamina and recent activity was also a problem.
After 12 rounds we went to the scorecards, and the judges turned in scores of 115-113, twice, in favour of Shigeoka whilst the third judge had the bout even, giving Shigeoka the majority decision win, the WBO Asia Pacific title, and a really hard fought, character experience.
After the bout Koura stated he wanted a rematch, and we suspect that could happen down the line.
As for Shigeoka he seemed a little bit frustrated at his performance, but he seemed to take a lot of positives from the victory as well, and it does need to be said that he had never gone beyond 6 rounds prior to this bout, showing just how much of a step up in class this was for him.
Tomorrow at Korakuen Hall we'll see a new WBO Asia Pacific Minimumweight champion being crowned as Yudai Shigeoka (3-0, 2) [重岡優大] takes on former OPBF Minimumweight champion Tsubasa Koura (15-1, 10) [小浦 翼] for the vacant title. Today, ahead of their bout, the two men took part in their weigh, and both fighters made the 105lb limit for the bout with no issues,
On the scales Shigeoka was the heavier man, weighing in bang on the limit. He looked in amazing shape for the bout, and explained that he had sparred more than usual for this contest, adding that it is an important bout and will to a boxing life for him. For Shigeoka this will be the first time he has been scheduled for 12 rounds, and he seemed very confident that it wouldn't be an issue, explaining that he wants to fight for 12 rounds, and suggested he'd take a decision win
Koura, the more experienced of the two men, was around 104.5lbs on the scales, and he seemed in just as good condition and shape as Shigeoka. To prepare for the bout he has done around 90 rounds of sparring, though this will be his first bout since February 2020, and it's hard to know what such a long lay off will do to him. Notably he has been busy out of the ring, and he had his first child back in July, thoufgh whether being a dad changes Koura as a fighter is yet to be seen. For him the bout is about stepping towards a world title fight, and that appears to be a driving force for victory, along with his newly born son.
Sadly a second scheduled title bout for this show, a rematch between Kyosuke Sawada (14-2-2, 6) [澤田京介] and Ikuro Sadatsune (11-4-4, 4) [定常 育郎] for the Japanese Bantamweight title, has been cancelled after Sadatsune was unable to make it to the weigh in. He was, reportedly taken to hospital and was obviously unfit to fight tomorrow.
For fans wanting to watch Koura Vs Shigeoka, it will be shown live on subscription service Boxing Raise.
Related - Tsubasa Koura and Yudai Shigeoka clash for WBO Asia Pacific title!
A few weeks ago Yudai Shigeoka (3-0, 2) [重岡優大] vacated the Japanese Youth Light Flyweight title, stating that he wanted to go for bigger titles. Just a few days after that Yudai's younger brother Ginjiro Shigeoka (6-0, 5) [重岡銀次朗] vacated the WBO Asia Pacific Minimumweight title, explaining that he wanted world title fights.
At the time it seemed almost as if the Watanabe Gym, which handles the careers of the two Shigeoka brothers, had plans for Ginjiro to get a world title fight later in 2021, and for Yudai to fight for the title his brother vacated. Today it appears those plans have come to fruition, at least partly.
That's because it was announced earlier today that Yudai Shigeoka would be fighting for his brother's old title on November 12th when he takes on former OPBF Minimumweight champion Tsubasa Koura (15-1, 10) [小浦 翼] in a genuinely mouth watering clash.
The older of the two Shigeoka brothers debuted in 2019 with a win over Manop Audomphanawari before adding a 6 round decision win over Lito Dante just a few weeks later. Sadly the pandemic kept him out of the ring through out 2020, but he returned this past February, stopping Ryu Horikawa to claim the Japanese Youth title. Although not as highly regarded as his brother Yudai looks like a very polished and smart boxer, albeit one who is still showing some immaturity and can be forced into a fight at times.
Koura on the other hand is a former Rookie of the Year winner who seemed set for big things when he won the OPBF title in in 2017, with a win over Jaysever Abcede, and he managed 3 good defenses, beating Masataka Taniguchi, Norhito Tanaka and Daiki Tomita, before a 2019 TKO loss to the previously mentioned Lito Dante. Since that loss he has fought just once, a 3rd round TKO win over Ariston Aton, and has sadly lost almost all the momentum he once had. A win here however, would get his career back on track, in a big way.
The bout, which will be the chief support bout on Dangan 245, will take place Korakuen Hall and will put the winner within touching distance of a world title fight of their own. The main event of the show will be the rematch between Kyosuke Sawada (14-2-2, 6) [澤田京介] and Ikuro Sadatsune (11-4-4, 4) [定常 育郎], who clash for the Japanese Bantamweight.
Earlier today at Korakuen Hall Japanese fight fans had their last show before the JBC suspension of all Japanese boxing comes into play, on March 1st. The show had a number of notable bouts on it, including bouts for a former OPBF Minimumweight champion and a former Japanese Lightweight champion, who had some very mixed fortunes today.
The first of the two in action was former Japanese Lightweight champion Shuhei Tsuchiya (23-6, 18) [土屋 修平] who faced off against fellow Japanese fighter Shogo Yamaguchi (12-5-3, 7) [山口祥吾] in a 5 round Prize Match. This was Tsuchiya's first bout since a June 2017 win over Shota Suito, and sadly it didn't go the way many had expected.
Tsuchiya had some real moments early on, dropping Yamaguchi in the early part of the fight, but sadly he didn't look like the fighter he once was and he once was. Instead he looked tired, sluggish and slow. His footwork was sloppy and in round 5 Yamaguchi, who had really come on strong following the knockdown, managed to force the referee in to stop the action. With the referee forced to save Tsuchiya his future really doesn't look good. As for Yamaguchi he collects a hefty bonus for scoring the stoppage win, as per the rules of the Prize Matches Dangan are running this year.
There was an even bigger bonus taken by former OPBF Minimumweight champion Tsubasa Koura (15-1, 10) [小浦 翼], who needed 3 rounds to see off Ariston Aton (9-3, 5). Koura, who was fighting for the first time since losing the OPBF title to Lito Dante last March showed some discomfort by the tactics of Aton early on, but began to find his timing and his distance, landing big shots on Aton, who was deducted a point for leading with the head. In round 3 Koura rocked his man, and forced the referee to step in. Aton was unhappy at the stoppage, but it did seem like Koura had adapted to the billy goat style of the Filipino,
We've known for a week or saw that both Shuhei Tsuchiya (23-5, 18) [土屋 修平] and Tsubasa Koura (14-1, 9) [小浦 翼] would be on the February 27th show at Korakuen Hall. The was made public when the poster was revealed a few days ago. What wasn't originally known was the opponents for the two men, which was only revealed recently.
Koura, a former OPBF Minimumweight champion who lost the title last year to Lito Dante last March, will be fighting for the first time in 11 months. Koura was supposed to fight in January, but issues with his opponent, Indonesian fighter Silem Serang, saw it falling through at short notice. He'll be up against Chinese fighter Yujie Zeng (14-10-1, 6) [曾玉洁], in what looks like an easy bout on paper, but will see Koura taking on a naturally bigger man, who has only been stopped once in his 25 fight career.
Tsuchiya, who's a former Japanese Lightweight champion, was also supposed to fight in January before his opponent, Yangyang Li (8-1-2), was unable to get a visa. That was going to be his first bout since June 2017. His opponent for February won't struggle to get a visa this time around as he takes on fellow Japanese fighter Shogo Yamaguchi (11-5-3, 6) [山口祥吾]. Given Tsuchiya's long break from the ring we didn't expect him to face someone too testing, and in Yamaguchi we see Tsuchiya in with an opponent who has failed to win his last 3 and is without a win since 2018.
These bouts will take place on the same card as the Hajime No Ippo 30th anniversary tournament semi finals, which will see Jae Woo Lee (7-2, 6) [이재우] against Shingo Kusano (12-8-1, 5) [草野慎悟] and Richard Pumicpic (21-10-2, 6) against Daisuke Watanabe (9-4-2, 6) [渡部大介]. The card will also feature an OPBF Welterweight title bout between Riku Nagahama (11-2-1, 4) [長濱 陸] and Kudura Kaneko (11-0, 8) [クドゥラ 金子].
News! We try and give you the most interesting news stories from the Asian boxing world!