Earlier today saw the announcements of the East Japan Professional Boxing Association monthly award winners for February 2021 being named. Notably there was only 2 winners announced this month, though in part that was due to a lack of action in Japan during February, where there was very, very few shows.
As a result of the lack of action there was actually no MVP announced for the month. As a result we only saw winners named for the Newcomer Award and the Fighting Spirit Award.
The Fighting Spirit Award was won by Japanese Youth Light Flyweight champion Yudai Shigeoka (3-0, 2) [重岡優大], who won the title and the award for his stoppage win over talented youngster Ryu Horikawa (3-1-1, 1) [堀川 龍]. The bout, held on February 11th, was a barn burning bout and saw the exciting Shigeoka break down the gutsy Horikawa for the title in an exciting bout.
The Newcomer Award was won by the hard hitting Tsubasa Narai (7-0, 6) [奈良井 翼] for his victory over Seika Fukuda (5-1, 1) [福田 星河], in the All Japan Rookie of the Year Super Featherweight final. The heavy handed Narai came out like a fighter with a point to prove, stopping Fukuda inside the opening round. This was as eye catching of a performance as we had at the Rookie finals, and saw Narai really impressing.
The two men will be honoured at a later date via a remote ceremony.
Earlier today fight fans at Korakuen Hall had the latest show in the Diamond Glove series of shows, which will be aired this coming weekend on Fuji TV. The card featured 4 bouts in total, including a highly anticipated Japanese Featherweight title bout featuring champion Ryo Sagawa taking on mandatory challenger Hinata Maruta and a very, very interesting co-feature for the Japanese Youth Light Flyweight title
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 Kosuke Kumazawa (2-1) [熊澤公佑] and Hiroki Sakakubo (1-3, 1) [坂久保 拓紀]. The bout was a cautious one in the early stages and little happened in the first 3 rounds, with Kumazawa controlling things at range and Sakakubo taking few risks to try and chancge things. In round 4 fans finally got some action, but by then it was too little, too late for Sakakubo who lost a clear decision in a bit of a stinker.
Thankfully the second bout on the show was a big improvement as the often fun to watch Shota Ogasawara (6-3, 3) [小笠原梢太] battled against Shinnosuke Kimoto (6-5, 2) [木元紳之輔], and the two men delivered a real fun 6 rounder. This was a hotly contested battle from the off, and both of them tried to out battle, out work, and tough the other in a very entertaining contest. In round 3 Ogasawara scored the only knockdown of the fight, putting Kimoto down with a left hook. After the knockdown Kimoto struggled in round 4 but tried to turn the fight around in round 5 as his desire to win drove him him on. Kimoto was rocked in round 6, but made it to the bell, taking us to the scorecards. The knockdown proved vital with the judges with Ogasawara taking a narrow decision. The scores here were 57-56, twice, and 58-55. Without the knockdown this would likely have been a draw.
The first of two title bouts saw a new Japanese Youth Light Flyweight champion being crowned as Yudai Shigeoka (3-0, 2) [重岡優大] scored the biggest win of his professional career and stopped talented youngster Ryu Horikawa (3-1-1, 1) [堀川 龍] in 5 rounds. The younger Horikawa started well, using his speed well, and tagged Shigeoka to the body in the opening round, whilst Shigeoka himself looked to land hard left hands. The success of Horikawa continued in round 2 where he continued to look just a touch quicker than Shigeoka, but Shigeoka began to come alive in round 3 and and attacked the body of Horikawa well. Eventually the power of Shigeoka broke through and he dropped Horikawa in round 4 with a 1-2. In round 5 round Horikawa found himself downed for a second time. His fighting heart saw him get up, but he was stopped soon afterwards, with Shigeoka picking up the 5th round TKO and the Youth title.
The main event of the show was the now long delayed Champion Carnival bout for the Japanese Featherweight title, with defending champion Ryo Sagawa (10-2, 5) [佐川遼] battling his mandatory challenger Hinata Maruta (11-1-1, 9) [丸田陽七太] in a highly anticipated bout. A bout that had been scheduled for early 2020 before being delayed due to the pandemic.
Early on Maruta looked to control behind his sharp right jab, using his speed and reach well, whilst Sagawa tried to load up on counter right hands. Maruta then moved through the gears, throwing right hands along with his jabs in round 2 as he began to control the early going, despite taking one or two clean counter rights himself. Sagawa managed to build some success of his own in round 3, with his left hook, but took a big right hand later on and it was clear that Sagawa needed to do more. To his credit the champion changed tactics in round 4, becoming more aggressive and pressing the action more, likely realising he was in a hole, and that aggression continued in to round 5 as Sagawa closed the gap.
After 5 rounds the open scoring kicked in and Maruta was leading on all 3 cards, 48-47 from one judge and 49-47 from the other two. Despite being behind Sagawa seemed to have the momentum and looked to continue to build on that in round 6, pressing again. In round 7 however Sagawa good work was wiped out as he was dropped from a right hand that took him down. Sagawa got back to his feet but Maruta smelled blood and went for the kill, forcing a stoppage at an official time of 2:57 in round 7 to become the new champion.
Tomorrow at Korakuen Hall we'll see a new Japanese Youth Light Flyweight champion being crowned as Yudai Shigeoka (2-0, 1) [重岡優大] battles against Ryu Horikawa (3-0-1, 1) [堀川 龍] for the vacant title. The bout is one that hasn't had too much buzz from those outside of Japan but is a truly mouth watering clash between two talented youngsters each putting their unbeaten records on the line in an attempt to move their careers forward, at pace.
Today, ahead of their bout, the two men took part in their weigh in and both men made the 108lb weight limit with no issues at all.
On the scales Horikawa was bang on the 108lb limit and looked in great shape. This is his natural weight class and the one that we are expecting to see him make his name at in the years to come. Aged just 20 he is an exceptionally talented youngster, though w do wonder if he lacks the physical maturity to be fast tracked, and he has shown a lack of stopping power in recent bouts. Despite that he has been impressive and his 2019 win over Yuki Nakajima was very good, whilst his draw, in China, was somewhat unfortunate.
The 23 year old Shigeoka, the older brother of the touted Ginjiro Shigeoka, came in at around 107.6lbs and also looked in great shape. If we're being honest he's a natural Minimumweight who's fighting at Light Flyweight. Despite that he does look the more mature fighter and his bouts so far have seen him looking stronger and more physical than Horikawa. Sadly for Shigeoka he has been out of the ring since late 2019, when he beat OPBF champion Lito Dante in a none title fight, and we do need to wonder how that lay off will affect him here.
For fans wanting to watch this, it seems likely that Fuji TV will show highlights of the bout this coming weekend as part of their Diamond Glove broadcast.
Related - Horikawa and Shigeoka battle for Youth crown in Tokyo!
(Image credit - Misako Gym)
Yesterday Misako Boxing Gym announced that they would be holding a Diamond Glove card on February 11th at Korakuen Hall. Not only did they announce the when and where, but they also announced two truly fantastic match ups for the card, which should both be brilliant bouts.
The "lesser" of the bouts will see youngsters colliding as Yudai Shigeoka (2-0, 1) [重岡優大], the older brother of the very highly regarded Ginjiro Shigeoka, takes on Ryu Horikawa (3-0-1, 1) [堀川 龍] in a bout for the Japanese Youth Light Flyweight title.
For those unaware both of these men are tipped for major success over the coming years. In just 2 fights Shigeoka is already ranked #2 by the OPBF, #15 by the JBC and #17 by the WBC, thanks in part to an excellent win over Lito Dante last time out. The 23 year old is regarded as being a lesser talent than his more well known brother, but he is still tipped as a youngster with the potential to win world titles.
Horikawa on the other hand is 20 years old, went 37-8 in the amateurs, impressed almost immediately as a professional, winning a Dangan B Class tournament in his second bout, and was very unlucky last year in China when he was held to a draw in a bout for the WBO Youth Light Flyweight title.
Despite having just 6 professional bouts between them this is expected to be a sensational contest, between two high level and very advanced youngsters.
The other bout, the main event, will see Japanese Featherweight champion Ryo Sagawa (10-1, 5) [佐川遼] make a mandatory defense of his title against Hinata Maruta (10-1-1, 8) [丸田陽七太]. This bout was supposed to take place in 2020 as part of the Champion Carnival, but got delayed due to covid19. Thankfully the bout wasn't totally scrapped but just delayed, giving us something to look forward to in February.
For Sagawa this will be his third defense of the title he won in September 2019, when he out pointed Reiya Abe. Despite the loss to his name he has gone unbeaten in his last 9 bouts and has scored notable wins against the likes of Junki Saski, Ryo Matsumoto, Al Toyogon, Abe, Ryo Hino and, most recently, Yuri Takemoto. Those wins have helped him get into the top 15 with the WBO, IBF and WBC, and he'll know an impressive performance here could help secure him a world title fight down the line.
Maruta on the other hand is a 23 year old who turned professional to great fanfare and showed some sensational skills early on before a set back in 2017, when he lost a competitive decision to veteran Hidenori Otake for the OPBF Super Bantamweight title. That lass was a notable stumble, but since then he has improved, becoming more aggressive, and is unlucky not to have won all 6 bouts since that loss, with a controversial draw against Ben Mananquil marking up his record. His last 3 bouts have seen him beat Tsuyoshi Tameda, Coach Hiroto and Takenori Ohashi, and he looks very much ready for this second title fight.
As with all Diamond Glove bouts this will be getting shown on Fuji TV, though sadly it seems they will be shown on tape delay.
One thing we've come to rely on in recent weeks to see what is coming up is the Watanabe Gym schedule, which had a major bout added to it today.
The bout in question a Japanese Minimumweight title bout between #1 ranked Masataka Taniguchi (12-3, 7) [谷口将隆] and the #3 ranked contender Hizuki Saso (12-6-2, 4) [佐宗 緋月], with the two men set to vie for the vacant title on December 3rd at Korakuen Hall.
Originally we were supposed to see the vacancy filled with a bout between Taniguchi and OPBF Minimumweight champion Lito Dante (16-11-4, 8), way back on March 17th. That bout would have not only seen a new Japanese champion being crowned, but also seen the Japanese and OPBF titles being unified. Sadly that bout was scrapped in February when boxing was put on hiatus in Japan due to the on going global situation, and ever since we have been waiting to know what the plan was to crown a new champion.
Whilst the March bout between Taniguchi and Dante was cancelled in March the title has actually been vacant a little bit longer than that, with Norihito Tanaka (19-8, 10) [田中教仁] vacating the title in January, prior to his bout with WBA champion Knockout CP Freshmart (21-0, 7) [น็อคเอาท์ ซีพีเฟรชมาร์ท].
At the moment no details regarding the under-card have been revealed, though it is known a lot of Watanabe Gym fighters haven't got any bouts officially scheduled for the rest of the year, and there's a real chance a number of those, including WBO Asia Pacific Minimumweight champion Ginjiro Shigeoka (5-0, 4) [重岡銀次朗] and his older brother Yudai Shigeoka (2-0, 1) [重岡優大], could be involved here. Interestingly both of the Shigeoka brothers were set for the card in March as Taniguchi, so fingers crossed they will be added here, and get a run out before the end of the year.
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