On New Year's eve we saw Yuki Strong Kobayashi (16-9, 9) [ストロング小林佑樹] lose the WBO Asia Pacific Bantamweight title, as he was stopped in brutal fashion by former world champion Daigo Higa (17-1-1, 17) [比嘉 大吾]. The bout, which was held on the same card that also hosted the brilliant WBO Super Flyweight title between Kazuto Ioka [井岡一翔] and Kosei Tanaka [田中恒成], was shown around the globe and saw many see Kobayashi in action for the first time.
Sadly it’s likely to also be the final time.
Yesterday, more than 2 weeks after that loss, Kobayashi announced, via his own blog that he is retiring from the sport.
In the post, on his personal Ameblo, Kobayashi explained that he was injured a lot as a fighter, due to his defense and his aggressive come forward style. That style saw him begin his career 9-5 with losses to the likes of Kiron Omura in 2013 and Takahiro Yamamoto in 2015.
He did make improvements however and in later years turned his career around, winning the WBO Asia Pacific title and scoring notable wins against the likes of Vincent Astrolabio and Ben Mananquil.
In his blog post he revealed that his happiest bout was his 2018 win over Astrolabio, which came in Malaysia, in what was Kobayashi’s third bout on foreign soil.
Despite that win he did suffer a loss soon afterwards, in his amazing bout against Keita Kurihara, a bout that all fans should watch on Boxing Raise as it is tremendous, and following that loss he began to train more seriously. That extra training led him to his huge win over Mananquil for the WBO Asia Pacific title, which he successfully defended once before coming up against Higa in December.
In his announcement he thanked Mutoh Gym who managed to secure him 4 title challenge bouts, as well as fights overseas and made him what he was, despite the fact he had no amateur experience. He also saved special thanks for his trainer Kosuke Takeichi.
Following his announcement we would like to thank Kobayashi for his involvement in the sport, the ups and downs of following him and the enjoyment we’ve had watching his fights. He may never have been a world beater but he was certainly a fun fighter to follow and was involved in some great moments and thrilling fights throughout his career. We also want to wish him all the best in his post boxing life.
NOTE THIS WILL FEATURE SPOILERS FOR A BOUT WHICH HAS NOT YET BEEN AIRED IN THE UK, LATIN AMERICA OR AUSTRALIA. IT HAS JUST BEEN AIRED IN JAPAN AT THE TIME OF WRITING. IF YOU DO NOT WISH TO KNOW THE RESULT CLOSE THE PAGE AND DO NOT READ BEYOND THIS PARAGRAPH. THIS IS ALL ABOUT THE WBO ASIA PACIFIC BANTAMWEIGHT TITLE BOUT BETWEEN YUKI STRONG KOBAYASHI AND DAIGO HIGA.
Later today we'll see WBO Super Flyweight champion Kazuto Ioka (25-2, 14) [井岡一翔] defending his belt against Kosei Tanaka (15-0, 9) [田中恒成] in the highly anticipated year ending Japanese super fighter. Before that bout however there were several under-card bouts taking place at Ota-City General Gymnasium.
The bout that opened the show was an 8 round Super Flyweight bout which saw Yuki Nakajima (4-1-1, 4) [中嶋 憂輝] fight to a majority decision draw again Toma Kondo (8-6-1, 1) [近藤 冬真]. The opening round saw Nakajima using his feet whilst Kondo looked to get inside. Kondo managed to gain some early momentum in rounds 2 and 3 before Nakajima finally began to settle down, and go to the body in round 4, with with some real success. The body work seemed to see Nakajima take control through the middle rounds, but in round 7 Kondo began to find his second wind as he dug deep. With the fine finely poised they went to war in round 8, fighting tooth and nail with each other.
After 8 rounds the judges couldn't split them, with two judges having the bout even, at 76-76, and the third having the contest 77-75 to Kondo.
The second bout was the WBO Asia Pacific Bantamweight title bout, which saw the title change hands as Yuki Strong Kobayashi (16-9, 9) [ストロング小林佑樹] was destroyed by former WBC Flyweight champion Daigo Higa (17-1-1, 17) [比嘉 大吾].
Higa, who had looked less than stellar in his two previous Bantamweight bouts, including his October draw with Seiya Tsutsumi, found a home for his uppercut almost immediately, and he couldn't miss with it. Round after round his uppercuts connected cleanly, to both head and body. This looked more like the Higa we had all fallen in love with when he was a Flyweight, and not the man who had been forced up to Bantamweight. Kobayashi seemed to feel that the smartest gameplan was to try and get in close to Higa, which just played into Higa's strengths, and short concise combination punching and stiff shots on the inside. It was, potentially, the right game plan, but the gulf in speed, power and the crispness of the shots from the two men, saw Kobayashi punished round after round.
In round 5 Higa landed 2 brilliant right uppercuts, sending Kobayashi down for the count at the 45 second mark of round 5.
For those unsure whether Higa can cut it at Bantamweight, this bout suggests he might be able to, at least against the right fighters.
Following Higa's win Japanese fans in the venue were treat to what was described as a spectacular bout, as Ryohei Arakawa (7-4-1, 4) [荒川 竜平] out pointed 36 year old Wolf Nakano (6-8-4, 2) [中野ウルフ]. The bout was exciting from the off, with Arakawa setting a high tempo and Nakano trying to to respond. Nakano was dropped twice early on, but refused to quit, and came back strong as he looked to avenge the knockdowns. This caused an already exciting fight to feel even more dramatic, especially at the end of round 5, when Arakawa was in all sorts of trouble and seemed to be saved by the bell. Arakawa was hurt again in round 6, but survived the scare and survived to the final bell.
Despite Nakano's late fight back all 3 judges had the bout scored 57-55 to Arakawa, who takes an excellent win over the #15 ranked Japanese Flyweight.
Tomorrow we'll see WBO Asia Pacific Bantamweight champion Yuki Strong Kobayashi (16-8, 9) [ストロング小林佑樹] look to make his second defense of his regional title, as he faces the challenge of former WBC Flyweight champion Daigo Higa (16-1-1, 16) [比嘉 大吾].
Despite entering as the champion Kobayashi is regarded as a very, very clear under-dog. Just over a week ago, when the betting markets in the UK opened on the fight, he was 6/1 to pick up the win whilst Higa was an unbackable 1/10. Since then things have changed, and no only have the odds shifted a little bit but extra markets on the fight have been opened up as well.
As we write this odds on Higa have gone from 1/10 to 1/5, a significantly better price for Higa backers. As For Kobayashi he has been bet down from 6/1 to 4/1, suggesting that there is belief in the the under-dog. Incidentally the draw has drifted massively, from 22/1 up to 28/1.
Now, along with the "To win" market we have several other markets. Included among them is the "Method" of victory market, which strongly backs a Higa T/KO win, with pricing that at 4/9. The next most likely outcome is regarded as a Higa decision, at 10/3.
For Kobayashi backers, a stoppage by the champion can be backed at 8/1 whilst a decision for Kobayashi is a huge 10/1! A very, very attractive price in our eyes.
Another market now available on the bout is the "Total rounds" market, which set at 6.5 rounds, where both the over and under are priced at 5/6. Unsurprisingly the bout is not expected to go the distance, with a price of 3/10 on the bout finishing early and 12/5 on the bout completing the 12 round schedule.
For fans wanting to watch this, Japanese TV channel TBS, along with streaming service Paravi, are show the bout at 5PM Japan time, whilst Box Nation and international broadcasters are expected to air the bout after the main event.
Related - WBO Asia Pacific champion Kobayashi takes on Higa as the year comes to an end!
Tomorrow at the Ota-City General Gymnasium we'll get two notable fights. The first of those will see WBO Asia Pacific Bantamweight champion Yuki Strong Kobayashi (16-8, 9) [ストロング小林佑樹] battle against former WBC Flyweight champion Daigo Higa (16-1-1, 16) [比嘉 大吾]. The bout will serve as Kobayashi's second defense of the title, whilst Higa will be looking to claim his biggest win since he returned to the sport earlier this year, after a lengthy suspension.
Earlier today the two men took part in their weigh in for the bout, and both men made the Bantamweight limit with no issues at all.
On the scales a determined looking Kobayashi was 117.6lbs, and looked in solid shape. He wasn't shredded and cut to pieces, but he looked solid and like a man who was naturally fighting at his weight. Despite being well under the limit he was clearly the naturally bigger man, and was several inches taller than Higa.
Higa on the other hand weighed in on the 118lbs Bantamweight limit, making weight with no issues at all. In regards to physical shape he looked in better shape than Kobayashi, and looked relaxed, as if he had been in this situation before.
Interestingly Kobayashi wasn't too impressed by his foe's physical shape stating that Higa's body wasn't "insanely big". In face Higa, although heavier, didn't look like the bigger man at all.
For fans wanting to watch this, TBS are airing the bout at 5PM Japan time, along with Paravi, whilst Box Nation and international broadcasters are expected to air the bout after the main event.
Interestingly there is still some confusion on whether the TBS broadcast of the fight will be "live" or "as live", so for those wanting to watch that bout without spoilers, we advise being cautious about this one.
Related - WBO Asia Pacific champion Kobayashi takes on Higa as the year comes to an end!
After weeks of talks and murmurs, news broke today that UK specialist boxing channel Boxnation, along with Premier Sports, would be airing the WBO Super Flyweight world title bout between defending champion Kazuto Ioka (25-2, 14) [井岡一翔] and unbeaten challenger Kosei Tanaka (15-0, 9) [田中恒成].
The bout, which will be aired live from Tokyo, will have English language commentary provided by the fantastic Corey Erdman.
For US fans there is still no confirmed TV deal, but for British fans this gives them an English language option to go alongside the Japanese option given by TBS.
Sadly it appears the channel, which will begin their broadcast at 9AM, will not be airing the co-feature bout between WBO Asia Pacific Bantamweight champion Yuki Strong Kobayashi (16-8, 9) [ストロング小林佑樹] and former WBC Flyweight champion Daigo Higa (16-1-1, 16) [比嘉 大吾].
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