It's probably fair to say that Watanabe gym have started 2017 like a gym who are looking to make a statement this year, after a rather frustrating 2017. They have crowned a number of new champions, such as Yusaku Kugo, Hiroto Kyoguchi, Ayumi Goto, and Ryuichi Funai. Sadly however their great run came to an end earlier today, as novice Masataka Taniguchi (6-1, 4) [谷口 将隆] came up short in a thrilling contest against Reiya Konishi (13-0, 5) [小西 伶弥] for the Japanese Minimumweight title.
The bout, for the vacant title,looked like a mouth waterng clash on paper and it lived up to the expectation with the two men proving to be well matched from the early stages.
To begin with it was Taniguchi who impressed,using his more technically developed skills to take the lead on two of the scorecards after 5 rounds, leading 49-46 and 48-47 on those cards, whilst a third judge favoured Konishi 48-47. The bout was being fought at a high level, but it seemed like it was Taniguchi's excellent boxing from the southpaw stance up against Konishi's every growing pressure.
In round 6 Konishi suffered a nasty cut from a head clash but refused to roll over and instead the feeling of his own blood seemed to inspire him as he took the fight to Taniguchi. Although Tanigcuhi's skills continued to help him land some shots with a real touch of class, the judges were won over by Konishi's desire and toughness.
In the end Konishi had done just enough to deserve a majority decision, with two cards of 96-94 in his favour out weighinging a 95-95 card, though there was some feeling that had the bout not been promoted by Konishi's team then we'd have seen the decision go the other way.
For both men the bout showed they are well matched and both going in the right direction. Although Taniguchi lost he will come again whilst Konishi opens the doors to a potential world title fight later in the year, though not until after his nasty cuts heal.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
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