Back in October Super Flyweight triple crown champion Ryoji Fukunaga (15-4, 14) [福永亮次] successfully retained his OPBF, WBO Asia Pacific and Japanese titles, in a very questionable decision win against the very unlucky Hayate Kaji (15-1, 9) [梶颯]. Today we saw his next bout being announced, and sadly it's not a rematch with Kaji, who really should have got the win in October.
Instead the hard hitting champion will return on January 15th and take on former Japanese Youth champion Yuto Nakamura (11-6-2, 8) [中村 祐斗], in what will be his first bout for a senior title.
Notably Fukunaga will not be defending all 3 of his titles, and instead will only be defending his two regional titles, the Japanese title and the WBO Asia Pacific title. It will be his third defense of the Japanese title his fourth of the WBO Asia Pacific belt.
Fukunaga is a hard hitting boxer-puncher with an exciting style, heavy hands but at the age of 35 he's potentially coming to the end of his career, and he didn't look good at all against Kaji. In fact he looked like a man who was feeling his age and the effects of having been in some really punishing wars. Nakamura on the other hand is a fighter with a warrior mentality, who comes to fight and go to war, as we saw in his recent draw with JBC ranked Super Flyweight Tsubasa Murachi (7-1-1, 3) [村地 翼]. Given their last performances we are expecting a genuine thriller here.
The bout will headline January's Dynamic Glove show, and will be viewable within Japan, with G+ expected to broadcast the event.
Earlier today Japanese fight fans in Shizuoka got the latest show from Suruga Danji and his promotional stable. The event wasn't a huge one, but it was certainly a very interesting one with a lot of notable Japanese prospects on the card, including some who are tipped as future stars and world champions.
With that show now over, we're going to look over the show and cover the results from the event.
The show kicked off with an 8 round bout between the talented, but often over-looked, Tentaro Kimura (7-0-2) [木村 天汰郎] and the "better than his record suggests" Satoru Hoshiba (7-6, 2) [干場悟]. Kimura made this look easy as he controlled the distance and tempo, making the most of his left hook at range and right uppercuts up close. Hoshiba tried to turn things around, coming forward and pressing, but his tactics really were well neutralised by the movement of Kimura who was a ver clear winner, though did seem exhausted in round 8, when he held on a little bit too much for our liking.
After 8 rounds the scores here were 80-72, 79-73 and 77-75.
The second bout on the show saw Narumi Yukawa (3-0, 2) [湯川 成美] score his biggest win since turning professional as he stopped the experienced Yuji Awata (12-9-1, 5) [粟田 祐之] in 4 rounds. Yukawa pressed from the off, and constantly looked to close the distance. The pressure from Yukawa came at a cost early on, as he was dropped from a counter in the opening round, and took a lot of shots as a result of his desire to come forward, but he kept pressing and managed to get a real break through in round 3, when he got inside and started to work the body of Awata. The pressure of Yukawa worked again in round 4, as he hurt his man, backing him up and dropping him with a big left hook.
Whilst it's a worry to see Yukawa being dropped, and we do wonder whether his style is going to be suited to a successful and long career, it's great to see him rebound from a knockdown, stick to his game plan and stopping his man. He needs to tighten up defensively going forward, but there is no doubting how fun he's going to be to watch over the coming years.
The shows first real surprise came in it's third bout as JBC #5 ranked Super Flyweight Tsubasa Murachi (7-1-1, 3) [村地 翼] struggled to a draw against Yuto Nakamura (11-6-2, 8) [中村 祐斗], who had no momentum coming in to the bout. Murachi made a good start, boxing well behind his jab and landing some good right hands to control the first 4 rounds. Despite being out boxed early on Nakamura showed no fear and looked to apply pressure through the bout, pressing and pressuring the touted Murachi, and looking to cut the ring off. In the second half of the fight that pressure began to tell as Nakamura racked up the later rounds, making up for losing the earlier ones. After 8 rounds this was a hard one to call, and it showed on the scorecards which were 78-74, Murachi, 77-75 Nakamura, and 76-76, resulting in a split decision draw.
The chief support bout saw second generation fighter Kento Hatanaka (12-0, 9) [畑中 建人] score his latest win as he took an 8 round decision over the tough Daisuke Sudo (7-8-3) [須藤大介]. Hatanaka, who hadn't fought since February 2020, looked to land crisp left uppercuts up close. Sudo, who likely knew he wouldn't be able to compete with Hatanaka in a boxing contest, looked to make this a war, getting inside when he could and attacking the body in the pocket. That style made this an exciting bout, but Hatanaka's uppercutts up close, and good combinations caught the eye, even if the fight was fought where Sudo wanted it. After 8 rounds Sudo had done enough to take a few rounds, but not make it competitive, and the scorecards were 79-73, twice, and 78-74 all to Hatanaka, who we suspect will be looking to land a Japanese title fight in 2022.
The main event saw the talented Rentaro Kimura (5-0, 3) [木村蓮太朗] get the biggest test of his career, and narrowly come away with a win as he over-came the huge punching Yoji Saito (3-2-2, 3) [齊藤陽ニ] in a hotly contested 8 rounder.
In the opening round Saito's power was the telling fact as he landed a huge right hook, dropping Kimura for the first time in his career. The knockdown was the perfect start for Saito, and a wake up call to Kimura, who realised that he couldn't take risks with someone as heavy handed as Saito. In rounds 2 and 3 Kimura battled back well, winning both rounds with his boxing, speed and skills, to essentially undo the 10-8 opening round. Sadly for Kimura he was dropped again towards the end of round 4, as he found himself in a hole for the second time in the fight.
In round 5 Kimura, who knew he couldn't afford any more slip ups, changed tactics, and rather than boxing, he took the fight to Saito, neutralising the power but smothering the heavy handed Saito. Saito had some success up close, but it was Kimura was regularly getting the better of things, whilst also preventing Saito from getting full purchase on his shots. The final 4 rounds were brilliant, and showed that there was a real fighter in Kimura, who did just enough to earn the decision, with scores of 76-74, twice, and 75-75, to get the majority decision.
The plan for Kimura is to get a title fight next year, and this was the perfect gut check for him before a title bout. He needs to tighten up his defense, he needs to appreciate opponents, like Saito, who are dangerous, but there is no doubting his heart, determination and skills. As for Saito he's one of those fighters with a very misleading record, and he is a devastating puncher, who is a threat to anyone at 130 or 135 in Japan.
Earlier today it was reported the the bout between Japanese Flyweight champion Seigo Yuri Akui (15-2-1, 10) [阿久井政悟] and former Japanese Youth Super Flyweight champion Yuto Nakamura (11-6-1, 8) [中村 祐斗], set to take place tomorrow in Okyama, has been cancelled.
The bout was supposed to headline "Momotaro Fight Boxing 40", and supposed to be shown on the Boxing Raise service, on delay, but has sadly been scrapped 1 day before the contest as Nakamura has had to pull out.
The 24 year old Nakamura has fallen ill, with no details on his illness being revealed.
Whilst the bout is cancelled local fans wanting to see the hard hitting Akui will still get the chance, with the promoter putting together a 3 round exhibition with Japanese Light Flyweight champion Masamichi Yabuki (12-3, 11) [佐藤政道]. Not a terrible replacement, though obviously not as good as a bout with Nakamura would have been.
Akui spoke to Boxmob.jp regarding the situation and seemed understanding of Nakamura's situation, whilst also talking up the exhibition with Yabuki, which genuinely should be an entertaining event in it's self. Especially given their history, with Akui stopping Yabuki in an actual fight in 2018.
Earlier today subscription service Boxing Raise released their line up for the month of April and it's a bit of a mixed bag. There are 5 shows, but none of them are live and none of them are particularly big. Notably two of them are also from deep within the Dangan series archive.
The most notable of 3 new shows will be the upcoming Green Tsuda promoted "Crash Boxing Vol 22", a really solid looking show with two touted prospects on it. The show will be headlined by former Japanese Youth Super Bantamweight champion Toshiki Shimomachi (12-1-2, 8) [下町俊貴] who takes on Thunder Teruya (7-8-1, 4) [サンダー照屋]. As well as the main event we are also looking forward to seeing the talented Jinki Maeda (6-0, 4) [前田稔輝] take on Yushi Fujita (9-8-4, 2) [藤田 裕史]. This show takes place tomorrow and will be added to the service at some point over the coming days.
Another show, also taking place on Sunday, will be a Rookie of the Year card. We love Rookie of the Year, and it's nice to see some of the Early Rookie of the Year bouts being made available for fans.
The third of the newer shows will be the April 18th card from Okayama, and will be headlined by Japanese Flyweight champion Seigo Yuri Akui (15-2-1, 10) [阿久井政悟] taking on former Japanese Youth Super Flyweight champion Yuto Nakamura (11-6-1, 8) [中村 祐斗]. There's no title on the line here, but it should serve as an interesting test for the explosive Akui, who has earned a reputation for blowing opponents out very early on.
As for the other two shows, they are both shows from around a decade ago. The first of those is Dangan 27, also known as Dangan Battler, from November 2010. The show is certainly not one of the best from the Dangan series, but it has 8 bouts on it, including 5 bouts scheduled for 8 rounds, and hasn't been available to watch on demand before. The other will be Dangan 32, from May 2011, and features several bouts of note, including a very solid bout between Kentaro Masuda [益田健太郎] and Yosuke Fujihara [藤原陽介].
If we're being honest the service, which we are massive fans of, has been poor so far in 2021, and April is a little bit of a stinger as they had lined up another card that had to be scrapped due to an injury suffered by former IBF Super Bantamweight champion Yukinori Oguni (21-2-1, 8) [小國以載]. Thankfully however May looks set to be a very, very special month with some huge shows expected to take place.
If we're being totally truthful, 2021 has been a quiet year in general for Japanese boxing, as the pandemic has limited shows in the wider Tokyo region. Things now, however, seem like they will begin getting back to normal, and the service should be getting back to it's best sooner rather than later.
Earlier today the Kurashiki Moriyasu gym, which is in charge of Japanese Flyweight champion Seigo Yuri Akui (15-2-1, 10) [阿久井政悟] announced the next bout for the hard hitting champion, and surprisingly it will not be his second defense of the Japanese title. Instead it will be a non-title fight as he tests the water at Super Flyweight, and takes on former Japanese Youth champion Yuto Nakamura (11-6-1, 8) [中村 祐斗], in what should be an explosive clash.
The hard hitting Akui, who won the belt in 2019, when he blasted out Shun Kosaka, defended the Japanese title for the first time last October against mandatory challenger Seiya Fujikita. It was assumed that his next bout would be another defense as he moves onwards upwards, towards potentially bigger bouts and more notable titles. Instead he's taking an interesting choice to see whether he can make a mark 3lbs heavier, and whether his power, which has been destructive at Flyweight, can carry up.
As for Nakamura he was last seen in the ring in December, when he was stopped in 2 rounds by Ryo Akaho in a Super Bantamweight contest, in what was a massive mismatch and really didn't do either man any favours. Here however he will be fighting at his natural weight, and that should give him a chance against Akui.
The bout is scheduled to take place on April 18th at the Amakusa Park Gymnasium in Asakuchi, the same venue that has hosted Akui's last 2 bouts, and will be the headline contest on "Momotaro Fight Boxing 40". At the moment no other bouts have been announced for the show, which we suspect will be made available, on demand, on streaming service Boxing Raise.
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