Japanese Youth Light Welterweight champion Andy Hiraoka (13-0, 9) [平岡アンディ] made his first defense earlier today, as he scored his second stoppage win over fellow youngster Ukyo Yoshigai (6-3, 5) [吉開右京].
Last year the two men fought in a semi-final bout to crown the inaugural champion, with Yoshigai being stopped in 3 rounds as advance to the tournament final and eventually the title. Today we saw a repeat of that result with Hiraoka against stopping Yoshigai in 3 rounds.
The challenger looked to start fast but a left uppercut from Hiraoka cut the left eye of Yoshigai in the opening round, and made him pay for being aggressive. Hiraoka would manage to establish his range and tempo through round 3 until Yoshigai began to take risks, and become more determined with his attacks. Sadly for the challenger that would be a mistake with a right hook sending Yoshigai down, flat on his back.
With the challenger down and looking out of it the referee called a halt to proceedings, giving Hiraoka the TKO win after 2 minutes and 2 seconds of round 3.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Tomorrow fight fans at the Korakuen Hall will get the chance to see Japanese Youth Light Welterweight champion Andy Hiraoka (12-0, 8) [平岡アンディ] defending his belt against Ukyo Yoshigai (6-2, 5) [吉開右京].
Today the two men took part in their weigh in, and both fighters made weight whilst looking serious and determined for what both fighters view as a significant bout. Albeit for different reasons with Yoshigai looking for revenge and Hiraoka looking to retain his title against a hard hitting challenger.
Hiraoka stated that he was looking for a KO win and was full of confidence whilst talking about the contest. He told the press that he wanted to take a step forward with his career. The talented youngster is tipped for big things, though it's clear he needs more seasoning before thinking about the senior national or even bigger and better achievements.
Yoshigai stated that he was in better shape than for the first bout with Hiraoka and that he has no fear of losing, instead stating that he was pleased for the opportunity to gain revenge. He wasn't focused on winning the title, but instead making sure the fight was exciting.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Back in June we saw the official announcement of a WBC Bantamweight world title eliminator between Takuma Inoue (11-0, 3) [井上 拓真], the younger brother of Japanese sensation Naoya Inoue [井上 尚弥] and OPBF Bantamweight champion Mark John Yap (29-12, 14). The announcement of the bout sadly gave us little detail about the under-card for the show though we've now had the Ohashi gym announce several bouts for the card, and release the poster for the show.
The poster is a pretty decent looking one, making Inoue look like the star, but also feature Yap in a prominent position with both in front of the WBC title.
The poster also features Japanese Youth Light Welterweight champion Andy Hiraoka (12-0, 8) [平岡アンディ], who will be defending his title against Ukyo Yoshigai (6-2, 5) [吉開右京]. These two fought last August, with Hiraoka stopping Yoshigai in a qualifying bout for the Japanese Youth title, a title that Hiraoka would win 3 months later when he stopped Takahiko Kobayashi. Since their first bout Hiraoka has not only won the Japanese Youth crown but also scored an 8 round decision win over Fumisuke Kimura Yoshigai on the other hand has fought just once, stopping Takuya Matsusaka in 68 seconds.
Another fighter on the poster is recent world title challenger Ryo Matsumoto's (21-2, 19) [松本亮], who looks to bounce back from his February loss to Danny Roman in a WBA Super Bantamweight title fight. Matsumoto will be up against domestic foe Ryo Sagawa (4-1, 2) [佐川遼] in a bout at Featherweight, with Matsumoto stepping up in weight. This looks like a mismatch on paper, though Sagawa did really impress last time out, when he defeated Junki Sasaki and he was a very accomplished amateur before turning professional.
Also set to be on this show are former amateur stand outs Katsuya Yasuda (2-0, 1) [保田克也] and Taku Kuwahara (1-0, 1) [桑原拓] among others.
Earlier today in at the City Gym in Tomigusuku, Okinawa, Japanese fight fans had the chance to see a number of promising local prospects in action, as they looked to move forward with their careers in 2018 and potentially climb towards the Japanese rankings or even title fights.
The first local prospect was Okinawa based American Marcus Smith (5-0-1, 5), who took on his first none Japanese foe. The hard hitting Smith forced Filipino Joffrey Garcia (6-8-4, 5) to retire at the end of round 4. Smith had a break out as he went 3-0-1 (3) and with this win under his belt he's looking ike he's on the way to having another big year. At 32 years old Smith can't really waste time, so we're expecting to see him stepped up through the year and moved towards a potential title fight in an aggressive fashion. As for Garcia this is his 4th stoppage loss, and his third by retirement.
The those of those to fight today was 21 year old Ukyo Yoshigai (6-2, 5) [吉開右京], who was looking toput a nightmare 2017 behind him. Yoshigai had won the 140lb Rookie of the Year crown in 2016 but suffered losses to Giraffe Kirin Kanda and Andy Hiraoka last year totally destroying the momentum he had. Thankfully though today he got back to winning ways, as he blew out fellow puncher Takuya Matsusaka (6-7, 6) [松坂拓哉] in just 68 seconds. This bout was never really expected to go long, with Matsusaka only going beyond 2 rounds twice, but it's a good confidence booster for Yoshigai who can look to build on this win. Sadly for Matsusaka this was a third straight stoppage loss.
The most impressive prospect wasn't actually a local, as 21 year old Kanagawan puncher Kai Ishizawa (4-0, 4) [石澤開] stepped up in class and stopped local hopeful Tatsuro Nakashima (7-1-1, 5) [仲島辰郎] in the 5th round of their scheduled 6 rounder. Prior to today's fight Ishizawa had only fought 5 career rounds but really stepped up here and showdd not only that his power was legitimate but that he could go and perform on the road, with this being his first fight outside of Tokyo. Sadly for the 23 year old Nakashima this will be a painful loss, but on the other hand he will have time to rebuild and bounce back. With this win Ishizawa moves a step towards fighting for the Japanese Youth Minimumweight title.
Earlier today Japanese fight fans at the Korakuen Hall saw the very last Youth Tournament Semi-final bouts of 2017, with both of them taking place at 140lbs, setting up the final later in the year.
The first of those bouts saw scores being settled as Takahiko Kobayashi (7-2, 5) [小林孝彦] took a majority decision win over fellow puncher Hayato Ono (5-2, 5) [大野俊人]. This was a second meeting between the two heavy handed sluggers, with Ono having stopped Kobayashi last year, though this time Kobayashi showed his maturity to take the win, though he did look exhausted in the later stages.
The other semi final saw the unbeaten Andy Hiraoka (10-0, 7) [平岡アンディ] shine, with a stoppage win over 2016 Rookie of the Year Ukyo Yoshigai (5-2, 4) [吉開右京]. The tall and rangy Hiraoka showed why many in Japan rate him so highly, as he controlled the range and tempo of the bout, before a perfectly simed left hand in round 3 closed the show.
The twomen will now face off on November 11th decide the first Japanese Light Welterweight Youth Champion, and it's fair to say that whilst Hiraoka will be the favourite, the bout is a mouth watering one, and one that fans should be looking forward to.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
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