Earlier today we had a notable card at Korakuen Hall, featuring the debut of a touted youngster, along with 3 interesting international bouts and a regional title bout in the main event.
The first of the noteworthy bouts was the debut of Toshihiro Suzuki (1-0, 1) [鈴木 稔弘], who was a stellar amateur and is expected to go on to big things over the coming years. Here he made a cameo appearance in his debut, as he stopped Thai visitor Pornthep Wadngam (4-3, 3) in just 25 seconds. The Thai was dropped after 8 seconds and whilst he beat the count he didn't last much longer, being dropped on to the canvas for a second time before the referee waved off the bout.
Another Japanese local who stopped a Thai visitor was 19 year old Kai Watanabe (8-0-1, 4) who stopped fellow teenager Atipbodee Srikao (4-2, 2) in 4 rounds. This was really competitive early on, and the Thai came to fight, having success in rounds 1 and two, but in round 4 a huge uppercut dropped Srikao with the bout being stopped just moments later.
Another bout with an international vibe saw the criminally under-rated Ryo Nakai (5-1-1, 2) [中井 龍] continue his climb up the ranks as he defeated Filipino visitor Jess Rhey Waminal (14-6-1, 8), with an 8 round shut out decision. The talented, and often over-looked Nakai, controlled the action through out with his busy jab, good footwork and sharp combinations. Waminal was never discouraged, and looked to land big shots through out, but was made to look second best for pretty much every minute of every round here as Nakai took a huge step towards getting his maiden title fight.
The co-feature was another Japan Vs Philippines bout, as 24 year old Japanese hopeful Ryuto Owan (9-1, 6) [大湾 硫斗]defeated Filipino veteran Mark Anthony Geraldo (38-11-3, 19). Owan controlled much of the bout, but did face some of Geraldo's veteran tactics, with the Filipino being deducted a point for fouls in round 6. In the later stages of the bout Owan slowed down and Geraldo did enough to take a round in the later stages, but it wasn't enough with all 3 judges scoring the bout 79-72 to Owan.
In the main event we saw criminally over-looked Yoshimitsu Kimura (14-2-1, 9) [木村吉光] claim the WBO Asia Pacific Super Featherweight title with a TKO win over Kanehiro Nakagawa (11-7, 5) [中川兼玄], who was stopped with just 31 seconds of the bout remaining. Though out the bout it was clear that Kimura was a little bit too good for his man in every area, but Nakagawa had the drive, the fire and the heart to to try and make Kimura work hard. Nakagawa was never there to just make up the numbers, but as the rounds went on Kimura began to open up a big gap on the back of his clean punching, and consistent success going forward. In round 5 Nakagawa was dropped for the first time, though bounced back well in round 6, one of his best rounds. Nakagawa was down again in round 9, and once again bounced back determined. Sadly though for Nakagawa his effort came at an expense to his stamina and he was dropped a third time, in round 12, in part due to exhaustion, with the referee immediately stopping the bout. Despite a great effort Nakagawa was down 107-100, 106-101 and 108-99 prior to the stoppage.
Earlier today it was announced that Yoshimitsu Kimura (13-2-1, 8) [木村吉光] would be returning to the ring on August 30th to face off with Kanehiro Nakagawa (11-6, 5) [中川兼玄] in a bout for the WBO Asia Pacific Super Featherweight title.
The two men attended a press conference earlier today to announce the bout which has come about due to no date being set for a rescheduled bout between Kimura and French warrior Samir Ziani (33-3-1, 8), who were supposed to fight in May but financial issues forced the bout to be cancelled at short notice.
The bout is, interesting, a rematch between two men who fought back in 2017. In their first bout the then unbeaten Kimura took a hard decision over Nakagawa, who fell to 4-5 and didn't look like he was going to mount a serious charge with his career. Since then Kimura has gone on to win the OPBF Super Featherweight title, beating Kosuke Saka for it late last year, and pushed Hironori Mishiro all the win in an instant classic in 2019. As for Nakagawa he has gone 8-1 since their first bout, scoring notable wins over Seiichi Okada, Ryuto Araya, Ken Osato, Taiki Minamoto and Shinnosuke Hasegawa.
At the press conference Kimura admitted that his motivation did drop after the issues with the Ziani bout being cancelled, but due to Nakagawa being a strong fighter he understands he needs to be focused on this contest, and looks to claim the second title of his career. As for Nakagawa he admitted his focus was on getting revenge for the loss to Kimura, and making the most of getting a title fight, after needing to pull out of a scheduled bout in April against Japanese champion Kosuke Saka.
Kimura Vs Ziani postponed
Earlier today it was reported that the scheduled clash between talented Japanese youngster Yoshimitsu Kimura (13-2-1, 8) [木村吉光] and French warrior Samir Ziani (33-3-1, 8), has had to be postponed.
The bout, which was scheduled for May 6th, has reportedly been postponed due to a financial issue. Ziani took to social media to state “It is with great regret that I announce the postponement of my fight on May 6. The cause is due to unfinished financial negotiations with the Japanese clan and for administrative reasons with the town of Blagnac. Two factors which force us with my team to take this decision which is not to cancel but to postpone the date."
According to sources in Japan the plan is to try and reschedule the bout for the summer. French sources seem to the suggest that the winner will actively seek a world title fight by the end of the year.
Earlier today it was announced that talented Japanese youngster Yoshimitsu Kimura (13-2-1, 8) [木村吉光] would be on the road for his next fight, as he leaves Japan and heads over to Blagnac, France, and faces Samir Ziani (33-3-1, 8) in a bout for the IBF Intercontinental Super Featherweight title on May 6th.
The bout will be a major step up for the 25 year old Kimura, though one he will go into with a lot of confidence following an excellent win last time out against Kosuke Saka (21-6, 18) [坂晃典] back in December for the OPBF Super Featherweight title. Surprisingly he has already vacated that title, which will see a new champion being crowned on May 15th when Takuya Watanabe (38-10-1, 22) [渡邉 卓也] clashes with Masanori Rikiishi (10-1, 6) [力石 政法], likely knowing he had this opportunity lined up.
As well as previously holding the OPBF title the talented Kimura has also won the All Japan Rookie of the Year, in 2016, and the Japanese Youth Super Featherweight title. Whilst he does have 2 losses in his first 16 bouts, it should be noted that they have come to very under-rated fighters in the form of Richard Pumicpic (22-12-3, 7) and Hironori Mishiro (11-0-1, 4) [三代大訓].
The 31 year old Ziani is a former EBU champion and a really talented and gritty southpaw. He comes into this riding an 11 fight winning streak, including a sensational 2020 win over British fighter Alex Dilmaghani, which was shown on Channel 5 in the UK as was one of the British fights of the year, as well as a win over current European champion Faroukh Kourbanov, and one over Samir Kasmi, one of the 3 men to have beaten Ziani. The others to beat him, for those curious, are former world champion Richard Commey and former world title challenger Guillaume Frenois
Despite knowing he will have crowd support here, with the fight being in Ziani's home town, it is worth noting that Ziani has shown that he's not afraid of travelling with notable wins over Dilmaghai, Juli Giner, Andrey Kudryavtsev and Carel Sandon all coming on the road.
Given the styles of the two men this genuinely could be something very, very special. Both men like to set a high pace, both have shown a willingness to dig deep, and both can fight on the inside. This genuinely could be the best fight on French soil this year.
Yesterday the East Japan Boxing Association announced their monthly award winners for the Month of December 2021.
The MVP for the month was Yoshimitsu Kimura (13-2-1, 8) [木村吉光], who scored a career best win, as he stopped Kosuke Saka (21-6, 18) [坂晃典] and claimed the OPBF Super Featherweight title. The performance from from Kimura was incredible, and really put him on the map, moving him from a promising domestic youngster into a regional champion, scoring a legitimately huge regional level win.
The Fighting Spirit award was won by veteran Koichi Aso (25-9-1, 16) [麻生 興一], who scored a huge upset win over Rikki Naito (25-3, 8) [内藤 律樹], to claim the OPBF Light Welterweight title. The win for Aso, at the age of 35, wad genuinely a shocker, but the type of victory which will keep the veteran relevant, where a loss would likely have sent him into retirement. Not only was the result amazing for Aso, but the performance was scintillating, as he pressured and pressed Naito, before forcing a late stoppage.
The New Comer award was won by Ryuto Owan (8-1, 6) [大湾 硫斗], for his brilliant win over Daisuke Sugita (6-3, 3) [杉田大祐], with Owan stopping Sugita in 2 rounds.
Interestingly all 3 of those bouts took place on the December 14th show at Korakuen Hall.
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