Earlier today we had live action from Hyogo courtesy of Taisei Gym and TV Osaka who managed to give us a rather fun morning of action thanks to a 2-part show that had everything, despite massive amounts of disappointment before the event had event started.
First thing this morning news broke that the anticipated Light Flyweight bout between Katsunari Takayama (31-8-0-1, 12) [高山 勝成] and Reiya Konishi (17-2, 7) [小西伶弥] had been cancelled. The bout was called off today due to Konishi testing positive for Covid19.
Thankfully that bad news was blessed with some good news and that is that the JBC will extend Takayama's license for another year due to force majeure regarding the delays to his ring return. The JBC do have a rule where they won't allow someone over the age of 37 to fight unless they meet other criteria, including fighting in the last 3 years. It's now more than 4 years since Takayama last fought, but common sense has seen them extend his license. Sadly this is the second time a bout of his has been scheduled this year, and then been cancelled with Takayama originally scheduled to fight just before his 37th birthday before Covid19 forced boxing in Japan to be put on hiatus.
The event kicked off with a female bout between Kanako Tabuchi (2-0, 1) [田淵 加奈子] and Aoi Watanabe (2-4, 1) [渡邊 葵]. This was a really fun and exciting way to start the show, with Tabuchi looking to have a fight and Watanabe responding with some big counters. In the end it was Tabuchi who got her hand raised, though she seem to be very fortunate to get a majority decision victory over 36 year old Watanabe. This was, sadly, a sign of things to come with the judging, but the action it's self was fantastic and the perfect start to the event.
The second bout on the show saw Takuya Takahashi (0-3-1) [高橋 拓也] and Takahiro Hamazaki (2-6-2, 1) [浜崎 隆広] fight to a 4 round split decision draw. The fight started slowly, and first 2 rounds seemed to be better for Takahashi than they did for Hamazaki, with Takahashi showing some very nice boxing skills. Sadly for him however Hamazaki turned the bout into a high intensity street fight in the final 2 rounds, giving us 6 minutes of absolute chaos, as he pulled a draw from the jaws of defeat. This was the real highlight of the first part of the show and a joy to watch. Blistering tempo, huge shots from both and 2 rounds of brilliantly brutal violence.
The third bout, and final, bout from the first part saw Arata Matsuoka (10-6, 4) [松岡 新] take a clear 8 round decision over Hideyuki Watanabe (8-13-3, 6) [渡邉 秀行]. Despite the scorecards being rather wide, one of which was 79-73, this was a really competitive bout with Watanabe holding his own for large swathes of the contest in a really enjoyable technical bout. In may ways this was the palette cleanser after two crazy action bouts and despite Watanabe's unappealing record he showed that he is a very, very capable fighter.
After Matsuoka's win we then saw Katsunari Takayama come to the ring, where he spoke to the fans. With a microphone in his hand Takayama stated "I was looking forward to the return fight for the first time in 4 years and 3 months, but I'm sorry to say that I want to push forward. Please wait for a while. I have been practicing in a very good environment since then. I will continue to devote myself. I will devote the energy of two bouts to the next fight"
The show then went to an intermission for around 2 hours before we returned for 3 more bouts.
The first of those bouts in the second part of the show saw us return back to in ring wars as Wataru Ikegami (8-5-1, 5) [池上 渉] and Shion Tamada (6-4, 3) [玉田 汐響] put on a sensational battle. The first 2 rounds seemed to be good ones for Tamada, who seemed too quick, big and youthful for Ikegami. And then bout turned on it's head in round 3 with Ikegami putting his foot on the gas and battering Tamada through out round 3. Tamada then tried to turn the fight around and we ended up having a war through the middle rounds. Sadly for Tamada he couldn't slow down Ikegami, who's jab was a fantastic weapon, and in round 7 the pressure from Ikegami became too much, sending Tamada to the canvas. Tamada did well to beat the count but the referee made the correct decision to save him from further punishment.
The second bout on this portion of the event was, on paper, the most interesting bout and saw former world title challenger Sho Ishida (29-2, 15) [石田 匠] take a decision win over Toshiya Ishii (3-1, 2) [石井渡士也]. This was an intriguing match through out, with Ishii pressing the action and Ishida looking to box off his long and sharp jab. We thought Ishii had done enough to take the decision, with his pressure, uppercuts and body shots catching the eye, though he ate plenty of straight shots through out and was left with a nasty cut above his eye brow, very obvious facial swelling and a bloodied nose. This was a great mix of styles, though in the end it was maybe the experience of Ishida, who stole a few rounds with late activity, that proved to be the difference. Despite the loss we wouldn't write Ishii, in fact he'll have learned a lot here. Sadly for Ishida it's another win where he showed a lot of limitations, and despite having a brilliant jab and straight right hand he simply cruises too much, and that has bit him in the past.
The main event of the 2-part show saw former world title challenger Riku Kano (17-4-1, 8) [加納 陸] over-come Ryoki Hirai (13-7-1, 4) [平井亮輝] to claim the WBO Asia Pacific Light Flyweight title. This one promises a lot but never really delivered. It started very, very slowly, as both men took a long time to figure the other out, boxing at range and being very cautious. In round 3 we got the first flash point of the right, with Hirai dumping Kano down with a right hand, but he failed to build on it. From round 5 the bout did pick up, becoming more of an inside war, but it was often messy action, with a lot of holding, heads coming together, and limited clean action. Both men had moments in these messy rounds, but neither could land a fight changing blow. In the end the judges were called on, again, and favoured Kano with a split decision. Given how little there was to split the two men it was hard to argue with the call here, and despite it being a close bout it's certainly not one we want to see re-run.
In a week where British fans are discussing the PPV price of upcoming shows, and promoters are defending those prices, it was great to see TV Osaka give us this show for free. It had several great action bouts on it and even with the disappointment of Takayama Vs Konishi the shows over-delivered. Well done to those involved in putting this together!
For those getting up early in Europe this morning to watch the bouts from Hyogo we have the news we didn't want to have. The anticipated bout between former multi-time world champion Katsunari Takayama (31-8-0-1, 12) [高山 勝成] and former 2-time world title challenger Reiya Konishi (17-2, 7) [小西伶弥] has been cancelled at the last minute.
The bout, which was supposed to take place in about 3 hours time, has been called off due to Konishi testing positive for Covid19 in the PCR test he took at the weigh in, yesterday, with the results coming back today.
This situation mimics the issue that forced the cancellation of the WBA Light Flyweight "Super" title fight between Hiroto Kyoguchi (14-0, 9) [京口 紘人] and Thanongsak Simsri (14-0, 12) earlier this month and shows that the protocol used in Japan does need changing, before more events are cancelled due to this type of late-positive test. In Kyoguchi's case it was the day before that the bout was cancelled whilst this is on the day of the event
Thankfully however Konishi's positive test will not force a cancellation of the card, but instead just the single bout he was set to be on.
Konishi tested negative a week ago and it's been stated there will be discussion at an upcoming meeting regarding testing and the shows. The JBC's general secretary Tsuyoshi Yasukochi has told the media "Konishi had undergone a PCR test once a week ago (negative), and it was confirmed that both the individual players and Jim had taken considerable infection prevention measures. I have to think that it is already in a situation where anything can happen. Not only the inspection system but also the shows themselves will be discussed at the Corona Countermeasures Subcommittee on the 26th."
As is the case with all bouts in Japan Konishi did go into isolation after the weigh in, where he is awaiting instructions from the local health center.
Takayama has stated, reportedly through his lawyer, "I'm sorry to cancel the match on the day of the event, but I can't help it. I pray for Konishi and those infected with the new coronavirus. I will switch my focus towards my next bout" [Translated]. That was something was echoed by his long term trained Hiroake Nakade "I'm sorry that it was a perfect preparation, but I will change my mind and prepare for the next game." [Translated]. It is worth noting this was supposed to be his return to the professional ranks after more than 4 years away, and it's hard to see what is now planned for the 37 year old veteran
Konishi has posted on social media "The result of the weighing and PCR test of the game the other day , Since it turned out to be positive, the match was canceled. I'm really sorry. I've been told earlier, so I'll contact you again for future support. I'm really sorry." [Translated]
Those who are tuning into the event will still get the chance to see former world title challenger Sho Ishida (28-2, 15) [石田 匠] battle Japanese Youth Bantamweight champion Toshiya Ishii (3-0, 2) [石井渡士也] and the WBO Asia Pacific title bout between Riku Kano (16-4-1, 8) [加納 陸] and Ryoki Hirai (13-6-1, 4) [平井亮輝], with both bouts being live on the TV Osak live stream on YouTube and their website.
Tomorrow in Hyogo we'll see former world title challenger Riku Kano (16-4-1, 8) [加納 陸] clash with unheralded Japanese fighter Ryoki Hirai (13-6-1, 4) [平井亮輝] for the vacant WBO Asia Pacific Light Flyweight title. The bout is the headline contest from a 2-part card set to be streamed by TV Osaka and promises fireworks and excite, as the two men look to a huge mark on the WBO rankings, and move towards a bigger bout in 2021.
Today the two fighters took part in their weigh in and both made the 108lbs limit and looked in great shape.
On the scales On the scales Kano was 107.8lbs, he looked in amazing shape, as he always does, and he seemed genuinely up for this bout. He stated that he'll win without doubt and it seemed like he saw the bout as part of a journey to bigger and better things. Once touted as a wunderkind of Japanese boxing Kano's career hasn't taken off as many had hoped and anticipated and it feels like this really is a must win if he's to make a real mark at the top.
Hirai came in at exactly the same weight, and stated that he had enjoyed training, whilst getting the youngsters in the gym to spar southpaw with him, to help him prepare for Kano. For Hirai this will be his first title bout, of any kind, after an 8 year career, and it's hard to not feel like this is a very clear high point for him and his career.
For those wanting to watch this bout it will be shown on Osaka TV's website or below, in the TV Osaka embed of the event.
Related - Kano and Hirai clash for WBO regional title
(Image courtesy of Taiesei Promotions)
Tomorrow, on the second part of an interesting event in Hyogo, we'll see former world title challenger Sho Ishida (28-2, 15) [石田 匠], best known for his loss to Kal Yafai in the UK, take on exciting Japanese Youth Bantamweight champion Toshiya Ishii (3-0, 2) [石井渡士也]. The bout, at Ishii's natural Bantamweight, is one of the most interesting bouts set to take place at tomorrow's Hyogo event and is seen as a huge step up in class for the youngster, and a must win for the veteran.
Today the two men took part in their weigh in and both men made the Bantamweight limit at their first attempt.
Ishida came in bang on the limit of 118lbs, and towered over Ishii. The former Super Flyweight title challenger explained that he was in very good shape and that making weight for the bout is easier than usual, with Ishida typically boiling down to make Super Flyweight. He came across as incredibly confident and predicted a TKO win in the second half, whilst showing a difference in levels between himself and Ishii.
Ishii on the other hand came in with some weight to spare, weighing 117.7lbs on the scales today. He stated that Ishida was as tall as he though, and spoke about how he had been preparing for the bout by sparring with Kosei Tanaka and working on technical areas in those spars. He also spoke about winning and wanting to become the next star of the Bantamweight, stating that he wanted to be "Monster II", after Naoya Inoue.
For fans wanting to watch the bout tomorrow we've included the embed link for the show from TV Osaka, who will be showing the 2-part event on their YouTube and website.
(Image courtesy of Boxmob and Taisei Gym)
Tomorrow we'll see former multi-time world champion Katsunari Takayama (31-8-0-1, 12) [高山 勝成] returned to the professional ring for the first time in over 3 years as he takes on former 2-time world title challenger Reiya Konishi (17-2, 7) [小西伶弥] in Hyogo.
The bouts headlines the first part of a 2-part streamed live on Osaka TV's website and YouTube channel and promises genuine fireworks between two men who's styles should gel perfectly.
Today, ahead of their bout, the two men took part in their weigh in and both men made the Light Flyweight limit with no issues.
Konishi, a 27 year old from the SUN RISE Boxing Gym, came in bang on the Light Flyweight limit as he attempts to kick start his career. The exciting former Japanese Minimumweight champion has been out of the ring for 18 months, following a loss to Felix Alvarado, but he looked in great shape at the weigh in and seemed to be hungry to make a statement.
Takayama on the other hand was comfortably under the limit, weighing in at 107.1lbs and looked in solid shape, especially for a 37 year old who has been away from professional boxing since August 2016. Aged 37 he knows a loss could force him into permanent retirement, but he, and trainer Hiroake Nakade, both sounded confident of picking up the win and moving towards another world title.
Interestingly this is the first bout for both men at their new gyms. For Konishi this bout is his first since leaving Shinsei for SUN RISE whilst Takayama will be fighting out of Neyagawa Ishida boxing Gym, run by Nobuhiro Ishida, for the first time.
For fans wanting to watch the bout we've included the livestream embed from TV Osaka below.
(Image credit - Taisei Gym)
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