Earlier today fight fans at Korakuen Hall had the latest show in the Misako promoted series of Diamond Glove shows, which will be aired this coming weekend on Fuji TV. The card featured several bouts of note, including a Japanese Welterweight title bout, between Keita Obara and Shoki Sakai as well as the Japanese debut of Go Hosaka.
For those wanting to watch this, as live, over the weekend we please note that spoilers will begin in the next paragraph, starting with the the first under-card bout, which is unlikely to be televised at all, and then moving on through the other bouts on the show. If you wish to avoid those spoilers, please stop reading now.
The show began with a 4 rounder between Koki Nakagawa (1-1-1, 1) [中川 光輝] and Seitaro Suzuki (0-1) [鈴木 誠太郎], which Nakagawa won by TKO in the 4th round. As with many 4 rounders in Japan this was well matched, fought at a great pace and was brutal, with both men taking some solid shots as they beat the fight out of each other. With just over a minute of the bout left the referee jumped in saving a damaged Suzuki from any more punishment. Whilst Western shows often kick off the events with a squash match for the local star, Japan has a knack of throwing us a fun, fan friendly war to kick things off, and this was certainly the case here.
The second bout saw something of a surprise as Yasutaka Fujita (7-1, 6) [藤田 裕崇] went the distance for the first time in his career, albeit in a winning effort as he out pointed Shun Akaiwa (5-3-1, 3) [赤岩 俊]. The exciting and explosive Fujita had made his name in 2019, reaching the All Japan Rookie of the Year final, before moving over to the Misako gym in 2020. This was just his second bout since moving gyms and he showed some genuine improvement, he picked his shots well, certainly calmed down from being the hyper aggressive fighter he once was, and even switched stances later in the bout. After 6 rounds Fujita won a clear 6 round decision and this is exactly the performance he and his team would have wanted to prove he could pace a high action bout, and could his brain as well as his brawn.
In the main support bout was saw unbeaten 24 year old Go Hosaka (5-0, 3) make his Japanese debut, having previously been fighting in the Philippines. He was given a genuine test here by Kanta Fukui (7-4-1, 5), who came into the ring as a big under-dog but came to win. From the off these two boxed at a nice range, and fought a pretty technical bout to begin with. As the bout went on Fukui made it clear he wasn't here to roll over to the talented former amateur stand out. From round 4 Fukui began to press the action more intently, using his jab really well to probe, and keep Hosaka on his toes. He then stepped up his game in rounds 5 and 6 as he really gave Hosaka problems.
Thankfully for Hosaka he still had something in the tank and pressured with more vigour in the final 2 rounds, doing just enough to secure a split decision. Judges scored this 78-74 and 77-75, in Hosaka's favour, and 77-75 to Fukui, who really gave a very good effort.
Despite the win Hosaka wasn't a happy chappy, and stated "Honestly, it was a terrible match. I regret it. There are many challenges. My goal is to remake boxing from scratch so that I can win the Japanese title."
In the main event Japanese Welterweight champion Keita Obara (24-4-1, 21) [小原 佳太] narrowly retained his title with a close win over Shoki Sakai (25-12-2, 12) [坂井 祥記]. Coming in there was a feelign this could be something a bit special, and proved to be just that.
Early on Obara tried to make an impression behind his solid jab, but Sakai used a tight guard to try and neutralise the jab whilst walking forward, pressuring Obara and trying to get up close, where he could work the body of the champion. Obara tried to turn up the tempo in round 2 but Sakai went with him, increasing his own tempo in round 3, landing some of his best shots. It really was a back and forth fight through the first 5 rounds as the two men tried to force their style on the bout, and tried to dictate the distance of the bout, with Obara wanting it at mid to long range and Sakai desperate to get inside.
After 5 rounds the judges all had this 48-47, with two favouring Obara and the other having Sakai in the lead.
Sakai's style seemed likely to have more success the longer the bout went, with his pressure expected to grind down Obara and his gas tank. It seemed that was the case in round 6 as he had some real success, however Obara wasn't there to hand over his title and he showed his class in round 8, whilst also avoiding Sakai's taunts to come and have a fight. The class of Obara continued to be the difference maker in the final rounds, as he used his reach and range to land body shots and not get involved in the wrong type of fight.
After 10 rounds we went to the judges and all 3 judges had this to Obara 96-94.
After the bout Obara stated "I'm relieved to win. I have a lot of KOs to win, so I tried to do that, but Sakai got along well and got the pace. Unfortunately, I have no choice but to expect the next KO. I've been in the best condition these days. My power and Sakai's power were in competition."
Earlier today Misako announced the details of a show set for April 8th under the Diamond Glove banner, and although 3 bouts have been announced all 3 of those bouts are very interesting ones worthy attention.
The main event of the show will see Japanese Welterweight champion Keita Obara (23-4-1, 21) [小原 佳太] making his first defense of the title, which he won last year when he stopped Yuki Nagano. In the opposite corner to the former world title challenger will be "reimported boxer" Shoki Sakai (25-11-2, 12) [坂井 祥記], who will be fighting in Japan for the third time.
Of the two men Obara is the more well known. He's a former Japanese and OPBF champion at 140lbs, where he also challenged for the IBF world title, who also made his name on the regional scene at Welterweight, where he has won the WBO Asia Pacific and Japanese titles. At the age of 34 however there is a feeling his best years are behind him, and he was easily out-pointed in 2019 by Uzbek fighter Kudratillo Abdukakhorov in an IBF world title eliminator. Despite that loss he has bounced back with 3 wins, all by stoppage, including his TKO win over Nagano for the title in February 2020.
Sakai on the other hand has fought much of his career in Mexico and the US, before making his Japanese debut last August, with a win over Hironori Shigeta, and ended the year with a win over Takeru Kobata, in December. For him this will be his first bout for a Japanese national title, though he has previously fought for a variety of titles, and even won the WBC Youth title at 140lbs. Despite his record having double figure losses on it he has never been stopped and has shared the ring with some very names, including Gor Yeritsyan, Alexis Rocha and Eddie Gomez. His toughness should see him testing Obara, in what could be a very interesting match up.
In the chief support bout we'll see the Japanese debut of Go Hosaka (4-0, 3) [保坂 剛], who has fought his entire professional career in the Philippines. The talented 24 year old Hosaka will be up against Kanta Fukui (7-3-1, 5) [福井 貫太] in an 8 round bout.
Hosaka is one of those fighters who hasn't had the attention he deserves. He was with ALA Gym until it closed, and sadly was one of the fighters who ALA let down in some ways, despite the clear potential and talent he had. Before turning professional he had amassed a 50-13 amateur record and was viewed as someone to keep an eye on, but was out of the ring for the entire of 2020. Since ALA closed he has signed with the well established Misako Gym in Japan and this will be his first bout as a Misako Gym fighter. As for Fukui this will be his first bout since beating Mikado Konishi last August, and Fukui should serve as a solid test for Hosaka here.
The third bout announced for this show will see 2019 All Japan Rookie of the Year runner up Yasutaka Fujita (6-1, 6) [藤田裕崇] take on Shun Akaiwa (5-2-1, 3) [赤岩 俊] in what should be an explosive encounter. Although Fujita isn't the most polished fighter he is a destructive and exciting force, and a must watch fighter, who throws bomb after bomb after bomb. Akaiwa on the other hand will be looking to bounce back from a 45 second blow out to Jin Sasaki. With that loss for Akaiwa in mind and the exciting style of Fujita this might be a "blink and you miss it" bout.
Earlier today the East Japan Boxing Association announced the monthly award winners for September, naming an MVP, a Fighting Spirit award winner and a Newcomer award.
The MVP was, unsurprisingly, triple crown winner Shuichiro Yoshino (13-0, 10) [吉野 修一郎]who successfully defended his JBC, OPBF and WBO Asia Pacific Lightweight titles and over-came gutsy veteran Valentine Hosokawa (25-8-3, 12) [細川繁]. The win saw Yoshino successfully defending all 3 titles and take one more step towards a world title fight.
The Fighting Spirit award was won by the hard hitting Kazuki Nakajima (9-0-1, 8) [中嶋一輝], who stopped Kenta Nomura (7-4, 3) [野村健太] in 3 rounds to advance a step closer to his first title fight. Although Nakajima's wasn't perfect it was rather exciting, and again showed he is a legitimate puncher, albeit a flawed one who has still got work to do.
Talking about flawed punchers it's worth noting that Yasutaka Fujita (6-1, 6) [藤田裕崇] won the Newcomer award, following his 19 second blast out win over Kensuke Nakamura (4-9-2) [中村 堅亮]. Although still a flawed fighter it's hard to dislike Fujita's aggression and power, and hopefully we see more of him in the near future.
Unlike normal awards the winners will not be given an in ring award ceremony at Korakuen Hall. They will be certificated and prizes and will have comment videos posted online.
Due to the fact some fans will not be wanting to know the result of today's Japanese, OPBF and WBO Asian Pacific Lightweight title bout between defending champion Shuichiro Yoshino [吉野 修一郎] and veteran challenger Valentine Hosokawa [細川繁] we will begin this with a paragraph of text to act as a spoiler warning. Please be aware this is a 1-off paragraph designed to not ruin the bout for those who have accidentally stumbled on this page ahead of the TV broadcast of the bout this coming weekend on Fuji TV. This is something we are only going to be doing when we know that a bout will be televised on delay and will only ever be a 1 paragraph thing, with the idea of allowing fans to watch events as live. With that in mind we'd just like to remind everyone this bout will be aired on Saturday night/Sunday morning in Japan and can be watched as live as part of the Diamond Glove event.
With that spoiler warning out of the way we'll start by discussing the sole under-card bout, which was a blink and you miss affair. The one under-card bout on the show saw Yasutaka Fujita (6-1, 6) [藤田裕崇] blast out Kensuke Nakamura (4-9-2) [中村 堅亮] in just 19 seconds!
Fujita, who lost in the all Japan Rookie of the Year final last year, was fighting for the first time since transferring to the Misako gym earlier this year. Within seconds of the bout started he landed a huge left hand that dropped Nakamura. To his credit Nakamura managed to get to his feet, but was out of it. This really was the perfect start for Fujita as a Misako gym fighter.
The main event of the show saw the JBC, OPBF and WBO Asia Pacific Lightweight champion Shuichiro Yoshino (13-0, 10) [吉野 修一郎] retain his titles as he took a clear decision over veteran Valentine Hosokawa (25-8-3, 12) [細川繁].
Yoshino seemed to be dialed in early on, showing respect to Hosokawa and boxing safely. He was likely aware of the strength and physicality of Hosokawa, and felt that that wasn't a type of fight he wanted. Instead Yoshino used his jab, boxed, kept it at range when he could and used his speed. To his credit Hosokawa was hungry and tried to pick up the pace in rounds 3 and 4. After 4 rounds the judges all had Yoshino in the lead, with scored of 40-36, and 39-37, twice.
In the middle rounds Yoshino picked up his own pace, though Hosokawa stood his ground and fought back, particularly in round 6, when he did that Yoshino got back on the move, using his feet to control the tempo and range of the fight, whilst keeping himself safe. It was a simple use of a clear advantage he had against a smaller, older, slower man. The speed and movement of Yoshino helped him extend his lead, and after 8 rounds he was up 80-72, and 79-73, twice.
Yoshino put his foot on the gas in round 10, as he looked to try and put an exclamation mark on the bout, but Hosokawa's toughness showed through as he refused to just accept defeat, and looked to turn things around. Sadly for him it wasn't to be, with Yoshino continuing to dictate the bout through to the bell.
After 12 rounds there was no doubting the outcome, with Yoshino taking the decision 119-109, twice, and 120-108.
Following the contest Yoshino spoke about the contest, and revealed that getting 12 rounds experience against a veteran like Hosokawa was a positive, and that he was glad to be able to defend his triple crown. He's aiming for a world title fight and a bout like this will clearly help him prepare for it.
As for Hosokawa it's unclear what his future brings. He was clearly beaten here, but Yoshino is a real talent who's style, today, was one that neutralised Hosokawa for the most part. Fingers crossed that this won't be the end for him, as he really does have so much more to give the sport, and he will be a handful for any of the top domestic contenders.
Earlier this month we reported that JBC, OPBF and WBO Asia Pacific Lightweight champion Shuichiro Yoshino (12-0, 10) [吉野 修一郎] would be defending his title against Valentine Hosokawa (25-7-3, 12) [細川繁] on September 3rd. That would be part of a small Misako card featuring just two bouts, the Yoshino bout and a low key contest between Yasutaka Fujita (5-1, 5) [藤田裕崇] and Kensuke Nakamura (4-8-2) [中村 堅亮].
Now we've learned there is actually more to this show.
As well as the two official bouts the show will also feature a public spar between WBC Light Flyweight champion Kenshiro Teraji (17-0, 10) [寺地 拳四朗] and OPBF Super Bantamweight champion Hiroaki Teshigawara (21-2-2, 14) [勅使河原 弘晶].
The two men will be participating in a 2 round spar as they both work towards ring returns.
At the moment neither man has had their next bout announced, though both are looking to return to the ring later in the year with their eyes on big fights. Kenshiro is hoping to make his 8th world title defense later this year whilst Teshigawara is looking to move a step closer to an IBF world title fight.
Whilst this isn't a huge story it's a sign that both men are wanting to give back to fans, and both are getting closer and closer to full fighting fitness. With that in mind we suspect both men are getting closer and closer to having their next bouts decided.
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