To close out Dangan 227, which we had the chance to watch live on Boxing Raise, Japanese Super Bantamweight champion Yusaku Kuga (19-3-1, 12) [久我勇作] quickly retained his title, taking out Yosuke Fujihara (18-7, 5) [藤原陽介].
The bout was Kuga's first since reclaiming the title from Ryoichi Tamura in May, in what was a brutal war. It seemed like Fujihara was trying to jump on the champion in the early seconds, and Kuga actually backed up in the early moments. It was long however until Kuga turned the tables, and dropped Fujihara.
The challenger got to his feet, looked relatively unhurt but only moments later he took a huge hook from Kuga and was sent down for the second time in the round. Again he got to his feet, but stumbled in the corner as the referee rushed in and stopped the bout.
After just 95 seconds Kuga had retained his title, recording the first defense of his second reign. Sadly for Fujihara this was his second loss in a Japanese title fight, his third career stoppage loss. With Fujihara celebrating his 33rd birthday tomorrow it wouldn't be a huge surprise to see him announcing his retirement in the not too distant future. This is his 4th loss in 6 and he really didn't look like he belonged anywhere near title level here.
Tomorrow we'll see Japanese Super Bantamweight champion Yusaku Kuga (18-3-1, 11) [久我勇作] make his first defense, of his second reign, as he takes on Yosuke Fujihara (18-6, 5) [藤原陽介].
For Kuga the bout will be his first since his thrilling rematch with Ryoichi Tamura in May, which saw him reclaim the title. As for Fujihara he will be fighting in his second title bout, coming more than 3 years after his contest with Yasutaka Ishimoto, which he lost 98-90 on all 3 card.
Today the two fighters took part in their weigh in, and both men made weight with no issues,
Kuga came in the heavier of the two men, at around 121.7lbs, which is slightly lighter than he's been in his last couple of bouts, but is around his typical weight and is the same as he was won he won the title, stopping Ishimoto in 2017, and lost the title, to Shingo Wake last year.
Fujihara on the other hand was around 121.5lbs on the scales, the lightest he's been since his loss to Ishimoto. Interestingly Fujihara turns 33 the day after the fight, so a win here would see him celebrate as a champion.
The bout, which headlines tomorrow's Dangan card, isn't likely to be the best bout of the year, but it's always good to see Kuga in action, especially given the punishment he took in his title win. It's even better when we can watch the bout live, and this is available live as it's being shown on Boxing Raise for their subscribers.
Related-Kuga takes on Fujihara in first title defense!
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
In August Boxing Raise, sadly, under-delivered. For September however it looks like they are looking to make up for that a poor month with 9 cards in total being added to their service, including 4 that are going to be made free to none member and 5 that are members only, with 1 card being live.
The first of the cards will be the September 12th Victoriva 5 show, featuring 2 female world title fights. The service will then get 5 of the cards from from September 15th and 16th. On paper those cards aren't amazing, but 2 of them are Rookie of the Year cards, which will be available for free, another is headlined by Masanori Rikiishi (6-1, 4) [佐藤政法] battling Freddy Fonseca (27-3-1, 18) and another will be headlined by WBO Asia Pacific Middleweight champion Yuki Nonaka (33-10-3, 10) [野中 悠樹] defending against South Korean puncher Yang Hyun Min (8-2, 7) [양현민].
Those shows are expected to be posted through the month, despite all taking place in such a limited amount of time.
We get the one live card for the month on September 21st and it's a cracker. It will feature a Japanese Super Bantamweight title bout, pitting champion Yusaku Kuga (18-3-1, 11) [久我勇作] against Yosuke Fujihara (18-6, 5) [藤原陽介], a WBO Asia Pacific Super Flyweight title fight between Tsubasa Murachi (4-0, 3) [村地翼] and former world title challenger Froilan Saludar (30-3-1, 21), and an excellent Japanese title eliminator between Kai Ishizawa (6-0, 6) [石澤開] and former world title challenger Masataka Taniguchi (11-3, 7) [谷口 将隆]. This is a great card, and we're incredibly grateful for the fact it will be streamed live.
We then end the month with two more Rookie shows, that will be made free to view, likely in early October.
This is a great month to be a subscriber, and a great month even if your not, thanks to all the free content the service is making available!
Earlier this week we reported that Tsubasa Murachi (4-0, 3) [村地翼] would be battling against Froilan Saludar (30-3-1, 21) on September 21st in a bout for the WBO Asia Pacific Super Flyweight title. We were really excited about that bout, and since then we've seen the card really really develop and it's now been revealed that that bout will be one of two title bouts on the card, with the other being confirmed today.
That other title bout will see Japanese Super Bantamweight champion Yusaku Kuga (18-3-1, 11) [久我勇作] defending his title against Yosuke Fujihara (18-6, 5) [藤原陽介], in what will be Kuga's first defense since reclaiming the title in May with a thrilling win over Ryoichi Tamura (12-4-1, 6) [田村 亮一].
The hard hitting Kuga made 2 defenses in his first reign, before losing the belt last year to Shingo Wake. He regained the belt with the win over Tamura, but the bout took a lot out of both men, and it's hard to complain about him having an easier defense here, to begin his second reign. Fujihara, who won the Super Flyweight Rookie of the Year way back in 2008, will be getting his second title shot, following a 2016 loss to Yasutaka Ishimoto. Sadly he has done little to deserve a second shot, going 2-2 since losing Ishimoto, though should prove to be the perfect foil for the hard hitting Kuga to shine against.
The Kuga Vs Fujihara bout was the third notable bout to be announced for card, after the Murachi Vs Saludar bout and the brilliant Japanese Minimumweight title eliminator between Kai Ishizawa (6-0, 6) [石澤開] and former world title challenger Masataka Taniguchi (11-3, 7) [谷口 将隆]. We can now confirm the card will have 1 more notable bout, with unbeaten Afghan-Japanese Welterweight Kudura Kaneko (10-0, 7) [クドゥラ金子] taking on Moon Hyon Yun (18-7-3, 4) [尹文鉉] in a mouth watering 8 round clash between Japanese ranked Welterweights.
The card is expected to be featured on Boxing Raise and at the moment it really does look like a sensational card for subscribers to the Dangan streaming and video on demand service.
Every so often a Japanese domestic clash really surprises us, and deliver something special and truly unexpected. That happened earlier today when Yosuke Fujihara (18-6, 5) and Naoya Okamoto (13-8-1, 6) gave us a bloody, brutal and vicious war.
We weren't surprised to see this being a good fight, especially with both being ranked by the JBC and the winner being set for a Japanese title eliminator later in the year. Despite that we were truly astonished by the fight we got, which was just an insane brawl. From the opening round to the finish in round 5 this was something you couldn't take your eyes off.
The fight started hot, with the mentality of both fighters being incredibly similar, both wanting to out battle, out gut and out heart the other man. This lead to extremely eye catching back and forth sequences where both landed clean, hurtful blows only to throw their own back. It seemed like Fujihara had the slight edge in speed, but Okamoto kept coming throwing the heavier leather, looking like he was the one wanting to force a brawl.
In round 4 Okamoto was punished for his aggression and dropped, from a right hand. Despite scoring the knockdown Fujihara was a bloodied mess, with blood streaming down his face and a clear target for Okamoto's head shots. Okamoto was again the aggressor in round 4, worsening the cuts of Fujihara, but was on the receiving end of a series of right hands and was dropped him a second time. This time the referee stopped the bout, likely realising that whilst Okamoto was game he was starting to lose punch resistance.
Fujihara, who had entered the bout ranked #12 by the JBC, will now find himself taking a huge step towards a second Japanese title fight. As for Okamoto this is a second straight loss, and his win over current Japanese Bantamweight champion Yuta Saito feels like it was a very, very long time ago.
If you have boxing raise and missed this one live we implore you to go back and watch it, it really was all action. A fantastic contest.
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