After weeks of speculation and rumours we finally saw the Ohashi team host a press conference today to announce the long awaited Bantamweight unification bout between Naoya Inoue (23-0, 20) [井上 尚弥] and Paul Butler (34-2, 15), with the Japanese kingpin defending his WBA "Super", IBF, WBC and Ring Magazine Bantamweight titles against he WBO title of Butler. The bout, the first 4 title unification bout in Japanese boxing history, had been on the cards for much of the year, but was dependent on the bout actually getting over the line, something that is always a worry in this sport.
The official confirmation of the bout occurred at a press conference held in Yokohama today, announcing what is a strong card with not just a major undisputed title bout in the main event but also a notable under-card containing some of the top fighters at the Ohashi Gym. The announcement confirmed most of the details we already knew. The bout will be on December 13th in Japan, though the venue was announced as the Ariake Arena, a 15,000 seat venue that was used in the Olympics and Paralympics.
The main event, the Inoue Vs Butler bout, was the focus of the press conference and saw Inoue discuss the bout, his opponent, and his future plans. Talking about Butler he stated “Butler is a solid player with no holes. We will weaken him little by little, overwhelm him, and unify all four groups." In regards to the bout and his future, he stated "This is my final chapter in the bantamweight division. This is not the finish line, but the passage point” and that after the bout he was "going to be a challenge from super bantamweight onwards."
He later explained that Butler is "a fighter who uses his jab to score points and makes sure he's not in a dangerous position." However he did go on to predict "I don't have an image of this going to a decision I think he will inevitably fall down".
In regards to how the show will be broadcast, the event will be shown on Hikari TV and dTV in Japan, and will be shown to subscribers as part of their subscription, and not PPV. This is a small surprise as Amazon Prime Video did show Inoue's last bout and was expected to be the front runner for this one as well.
As for the under-card it really is a major one.
The chief support but will see WBO Asian Pacific Light Welterweight champion Andy Hiraoka (21-0, 16) [平岡アンディ] defending his title against Korean challenger Jung Min Ho (13-3-2, 3) [정민호], with Hiraoka looking to take another small step towards a major fight. For unbeaten Japanese fighter the bout serves as his third defense of the title, whilst Ho will be fighting out of Korea for the second time, following a 2019 loss to Daishi Nagata.
Another regional title bout will see hard hitting OPBF Super Bantamweight champion Yoshiki Takei (5-0, 5) [武居由樹] seek his first defense, as he takes on Australian based Tanzanian fighter Bruno Tarimo (26-3-2, 5). On paper this looks to be a very interesting match up, and at the very least should serve as a good test of Takei's stamina given that Tarimo has never been stopped, and went 12 rounds with Zelfa Barret in 2021. Although no world beater Tarimo is very much an upset mined fighter who has beaten the likes of Billel Dib, Nathaniel May, Kye MacKenzie and Joel Brunker.
Another hard hitting regional champion on this card is Satoshi Shimizu (10-1, 9) [清水 聡], though no opponent has been named for his upcoming OPBF title defense.
In a non-title bout Takuma Inoue (16-1, 3) [井上拓真] is set to face Jade Bornea (18-0, 12) in a 10 rounder. This is a perplexing bout as it's scheduled to be around 122lbs, and Bornea is a Super Flyweight, whilst Inoue is a natural Bantamweight. This should prove to be a technical bout, if it goes ahead as suggested, but is a bit of a risk for Bornea, who seemed destined to get an IBF Super Flyweight world title fight in the new year. (Note - It has been speculated that it will be Jake Bornea, but at the moment all sources form Japan state it is indeed Jade)
One other none title bout will see Hironori Miyake (9-12-2, 1) [三宅寛典] compete in an 8 rounder against talented Englishman, and former amateur standout, Peter McGrail (4-0, 3) who returns to the country where he competed at the Olympics last year.
Earlier today we got the latest show from Ohashi gym, and it was a really, really interesting card, mixing young prospects, veterans and a regional title fight.
The first bout of note saw talented youngster Kosuke Tomioka (6-2, 5) [富岡浩介] score his second win of the year, as he stopped KC Prachanda (6-4-1, 3) [KC プラチャンダ] in the 5th round of their bout. Tomioka dominated much of the bout with his clean, accurate punching that saw him landing without taking much in return, likely knowing that if Prachanda landed things could change. In round 5 a clean 1-2 from Tomioka dropped his man with Prachanda's team throwing in the towel during the count.
The second notable bout saw talented novice Kaiyu Toyoshima (2-0, 1) [豊嶋 海優] score his second win as a professional as he swiftly dealt with Thai visitor Akkhaphon Ngamkaeo (1-1, 1). Toyoshima was in complete control here, and forced a stoppage at the very end of the round, with the referee stepping in to save the Thai at an official time of 2:59 of round 1.
Another talented prospect who picked up a win on the under-card was former amateur stand out Toramasa Imanaga (2-0, 2) [今永虎雅], who became the first man to stop Filipino John Lawrence Ordonio (7-4-1, 4). The talented Imanaga applied intelligent pressure, controlled the range well, and showed excellent timing to land clean, hard, crisp shots on Ordonio. In round 4 Imanaga rocked Ordonio and a following uppercut to the body dropped the Filipino, who remained down for the 10 count. The official time of this was 3:00 of round 4.
The chief support bout was arguably the best bout of the show, as former Japanese Super Featherweight champion Seiichi Okada (23-7-2, 14) [岡田誠一] stopped Ribo Takahata (17-11-1, 7) [高畑里望] in thrilling battle of veterans. The 43 year old Takahata looked to control the action behind his jab, whilst Okada looked to get close. Okada's pressure began to have success in round 2 and he seemed to take control of the bout in round 3, before Takahata found some space to work with in round 4, using his legs and landing combinations. From there the fight became a war, with rounds 5, 6, and 7 giving us amazing back and forth action, with both men digging deep. The thrilling action came to a shocking end in round 8 when a single right hand from Okada dropped Takahata hard, and the referee quickly jumped in and waved off the bout, whilst the crowd showed their respect for what had been the bout of the show.
The main event saw Japanese puncher Yoshiki Takei (5-0, 5) [武居由樹] prove he was a legitimate one to watch as he destroyed Filipino Pete Apolinar (16-3, 10) to win the OPBF Super Bantamweight title. The bout started with a sense of tension, but that tension was cut in round 2 when the power of Takei began to show it's self. A right hook from Takei dropped Apolinar who recovered to his feet but was down again only moments later from a left hand. It seemed the title was about to change hands, but Apolinar showed his toughness and survived round 3 without too many issues. He was however down again in round 4, from another right hook and when the open scoring kicked in after 4 rounds the scored were 40-33, all in favour of Takei. Sadly for Apolinar his toughness and bravery were for nought when he was rocked from a straight left in round 5, and left the referee in no position other than to stop the contest and save the gutsy Pinoy from further punishment.
Following his win Takei mentioned potentially moving to Bantamweight, and was praised for his performance by both promoter Hideyuki Ohashi and trainer Akira Yaegashi. As for Apolinar, he was unhappy with the stoppage, spoke about wanting to face Takei again, but did praise Takei's speed and power.
Tomorrow at fight fans will see Yoshiki Takei (4-0, 4) [武居由樹] take a huge step up as he challenged OPBF Super Bantamweight champion Pete Apolinar (16-2, 10) at Korakuen Hall. Today, ahead of their bout, the two men took part in their weigh in with both fighters making weight, and doing so without any issues at all.
Not only did both make weight with no issues, but both men actually came in at an identical weight of 121.75lbs, and both looked in great shape.
After making weight the champion appeared confident, relaxed and self assured, but also thankful for those supporting him. He told the media "I am grateful to my family, team, and sponsors for their support. I have prepared 100% for this match."
Despite his confidence Apolinar is widely regarded as the under-dog here against the heavy handed challenger. Takei spoke about how this was his 30th professional bout, including his kick boxing contests in that count, and that he was now a veteran. He also explained that he's always had his best performances in Summer. Interestingly he suggested he was going to hunt a KO, and do so early on. If he can take Apolinar out as quickly as he has his other opponents, then the feeling will be that he has the tools to become a world champion incredibly quickly. This is however a very test and a big step up for him.
Related: OPBF champion Apolinar faces hard hitting hopeful Takei
Yesterday the Ohashi Gym announced that former K-1 World Grand Prix Super Bantamweight Champion Yoshiki Takei (4-0, 4) [武居由樹], who has genuinely impressed since turning to professional boxing, will be returning to the ring on August 26th in a major step up, as he takes on OPBF Super Bantamweight champion Pete Apolinar (16-2, 10).
Takei, who only made his debut in March 2021, has risen quickly through the rankings and only needed 5 rounds to win his first 4 bouts, including a 2nd round TKO win over Shingo Kawamura. He stated that he has gotten this title shot earlier than expected, but despite that he was confident and stated that he would win.
As for Apolinar this bout will mark his first title defense, after winning the title earlier this year when he stopped Jhunriel Ramonal in 10 rounds. Notably he has actually gotten some connections to the Ohashi Gym, having sparred with Ohashi star Naoya Inoue, who used Apolinar to prepare for Nonito Donaire in his recent bout. That level of sparring and wins over the likes of Ramonal will see him coming into the bout with a lot of confidence, despite the fact Takei is a feared and fearsome puncher.
The bout will headline Phoenix Battle 91st, and will take place at Korakuen Hall, with Hikari TV televising the bout live.
B Class license tests passed, Sasaki returns with a win, Takei destroys Kawamura
Earlier today the Ohashi Gym put on a big show at Korakuen Hall, with the showing have several notable stories from it. Here's we're going to take a look a few of those.
First before the main show there was two very notable youngster who took part in the pro-test bouts. They were Toramasa Imanaga (0-0) [今永虎雅] and Yuya Tanaka (0-0) [田中湧也] , who both passed, and both are set to make their debuts in the near future.
After passing their tests the two men spoke to the media, with Imanaga stating "From now on, I will do my best to become a world champion. I am planning to make my debut on June 29th, so I will win firmly there."
Tanaka on the other hand told reporters "I am very happy to be a long-sought professional. My goal is to continue to do my best to win the debut match."
Another notable story from the show was the ring return of hard hitting Japanese youngster Jin Sasaki (12-1, 11) [佐々木尽] who began his campaign as a Welterweight with a 5th round TKO against Japanese based American Marcus Smith (7-2-1, 7) [マーカス・スミス]. Sasaki, who hadn't fought since being stopped by Andy Hiraoka last year, struggled with his timing and range in the early going, but began to settling in round 3, with some big hooks. Round 4 was competitive but it was becoming clear that Sasaki was the fresher and better fighter and that was shown when he seemed to hurt Smith late in the round. In the following round Sasaki landed a huge left hook that hurt Smith and the referee quickly jumped in as Sasaki began to unload.
Another notable bout on this card saw former K-1 World Grand Prix Super Bantamweight Champion Yoshiki Takei (4-0, 4) [武居由樹] make a statement as he layed out Shingo Kawamura (15-9-4, 8) [河村真吾] in 2 rounds. Takei was the big favourite here, despite taking a huge step up from his first 3 bouts, and he showed his class, strength and skills through the first round, despite Kawamura trying to close the distance behind a high guard. It was clear Takei wasn't looking for rounds, and early in round 2 he landed some good body shots before detonating with a right hook that dropped Kawamura hard. The referee immediately waved the action off, with Kawamura being taken from the ring on a stretcher.
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