Earlier today Dangan put on their latest show at Korakuen Hall, and sadly it was a card gutted by late pull outs, which saw a 5 bout card reduced to a 3 bout show. Thankfully however what we got was all competitive with 3 ultra close, hard fought and entertaining bouts.
The first of the three bouts to take place saw Seiya Yamaguchi (3-7-3, 2) [山口 成也] fight to a 6 round draw with Takahiro Nakatsuka (3-3-3) [中塚 貴大], in a Featherweight bout. From the off this was back and forth, but what made it really good was the fact the tempo of the bout just got faster and faster as the rounds went on with rounds 5 and 6 being particularly thrilling.
The second bout was an 8 rounder at Bantamweight, which saw Ayato Hiromoto (5-1, 2) [廣本 彩刀] take a split decision over Wataru Ikegami (9-7-1, 5) [池上 渉], in what was a super close and competitive bout. The under-rated Ikegami started well, and showed that his record really doesn't reflect his ability, but as the bout got going Hiromoto began to find his flow, and create distance, really managing to fight his way into the bout in the middle and later rounds. Given the strong start by Ikegami this was always going to be close, and all 3 judges turned in scorecards of 77-75, with two of them edging to Hiromoto.
The third bout, and the most notable by far, saw former WBO Flyweight champion Sho Kimura (19-3-3, 12) [木村翔] being held to a very unexpected draw against talented youngster Ryu Horikawa (3-1-2, 1) [堀川龍]. The bout was Kimura first in Japan for the better part of 4 years, and his first boxing bout in more than 2 years, but he was still expected to be too much for Horikawa. Instead we saw Horikawa putting in a truly unexpected performance using his amateur skills, his speed and his energy to establish himself early on behind a crisp jab. Kimura looked the stronger, bigger man, and was applying pressure, but he looked a touch rusty and slower than his foe and as the early rounds went on Horikawa began to look more and more comfortable against the former champion.
Sadly for Horikawa he lacked the power to get Kimura's respect and through the bout Kimura always looked the stronger, tougher fighter, taking what was thrown his way and coming back with the more eye catching single shots. That was despite Horikawa trying to push and bully the former champion around, which made for a genuinely thrilling war in the later stages. The desire of both resulted in the judges struggling to split them, with scores of 76-76 from two of the judges, and 77-75 to Horikawa from the third judge.
After the bout Kimura seemed quite blunt about about his own performance, and seemed to feel he wasn't at his best. He admitted he just couldn't show what he wanted to do, and it seemed clearly there was something missing. He seemed to acknowledged that there was something not right, and almost hinted that if his hunger doesn't return there's no point carrying on in the sport. Perhaps retirement looms.
As for Horikawa he seemed to suggest that his performance was good, though we can't help but feel the result was not what he was hoping for. Despite that a draw against a former world champion, this early in his career, should serve as a great sign of what Horikawa can become in the future, and allow him to put a loss to Yudai Shigeoka behind him. This was a more mature Horikawa, and the youngster shouldn't be written off for having a 3-1-2 record after his first 6 bouts.
Earlier today at the Archiac Hall in Amagasaki, fight fans got the latest show from Shinsei Promotions. It was a mall one, with only 4 bouts, but one that was made available globally, for free, through the excellent Boxing Real YouTube channel.
The show kicked off with the professional debut of Goki Kobayashi (1-0, 1) [小林 豪己] who took on Hyogo Kimura (6-3-1, 1) [木村 彪吾] in a scheduled 6 rounder. On paper this looked a really tough debut for Kobayashi, who had around 35 bouts as an amateur and it lived up to those expctations, with Kimura fighting to win. Despite a very genuine effort from Kimura he was out boxed and broken down as the more talented Kobayashi hammered his body and left him looking out on his feet through much of round 6. With only around 10 seconds of the bout left the referee waved off the contest, stopping Kimura from taking any more damage in the final moments. He had given a fair account of himself, but lacked the stamina and stopping power to ask real questions of Kobayashi, who lookslike he could be one to keep an eye on over the next few years.
The second bout saw the under-rated Wataru Ikegami (9-5-1, 5) [池上 渉] score his th win in 5 bouts as he over-came the much taller Hibiki Jogo (10-4, 5) [城後 響] in an 8 rounder. On paper this is probbaly not one that screams out as being a good fight, but the styles ended up gellign pretty well to give us a nice little back and forth contest. Early on Jogo was on his toes, moving around the ring and trying to use his height and range whilst Ikegami pressured. As the bout went on Ikegami's workrate increased whilst Jogo landed some very good counter shots. Despite the two men being very different this was a genuinely enjoyable bout between two men each there to win, and two men didn't feel the need to hold instead of fighting. The limitations of both are there to see, but they made for a good, TV friendly, contest with Ikegami doing enough to earn the decision.
The scores here were 77-75, twice, and 78-74, all to Ikegami.
The chief support bout was a contest between Yuga Inoue (11-2-1, 2) [井上 夕雅] and Condor Inaba (7-6-1, 3) [コンドル稲葉]. The naturally bigger Inaba started the bout on the front foot and looked the more aggressive through the opening round as he made his size and strength pay. Sadly however for Inaba he was rocked late in the opening round and it wax clear that, although not a puncher, Inoue had enough in his shots to hurt his man. In round 2 the warning bells from the end of the opening round showed themselves again with Inoue bloodying the nose of Inaba, swelling his eye, forcing him backwards and forcing a doctor inspection of his swollen left eye. With Inaba fighting with just one eye Inoue went for the kill and forced the referee to stop the bout.
The main event saw former Japanese Youth Light Flyweight champion Rikito Shiba (5-1, 3) [芝力人] secure himself a stoppage win over veteran Hideyuki Watanabe (8-14-3, 6) [渡邉秀行]. Despite looking like a mismatch on paper Watanabe got off to a good start, making the most of his southpaw stance, his experience and his ring craft. Though much of the opening round Watanabe was landing the better shots and forcing Shiba to back up. What seemed a good start for Watanabe continued through much of the bout, as Shiba seeemed to be showing signs of ring rust and questionable confidence, following a blow out loss to Masamichi Yabuki last time he fought.
As the rounds went on Shiba looked less and less comfortable and like a man who could be on the end of a major upset loss. That was until round 7 when he pulled out something special. He was under pressure again in the 7th round with Watanabe continuing to have more success than anyone had anticipated, and even walking through a huge hook from Shiba. Another left hook, later in the round, was enough to drop Watanabe, hard. The veteran beat the count, but the referee waved off the bout vewing Watanabe as unfit to continue. A questionable decision from the referee.
Despite the somewhat fortunate call from the ref, this was a huge turn around. It showed that Shiba has fight changing power, but left us with a lot of questions about what exactly he has to offer the sport going forward.
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