Earlier today Japanese fans at the Korakuen Hall had the chance to see a new Japanese Bantamweight champion being crowned as Ryo Akaho (30-2-2, 19) [赤穂 亮] over-came Yushi Tanaka (19-2-3, 13) [田中 裕士] with a dominant, yet under-whemling, display to claim the previously vacant title.
The bout, which was ordered as part of the 2017 Champion Carnival after Kentaro Masuda vacated the title, pitted the top two ranked Japanese Bantamweights against each other, though they looked in different leagues.
Akaho came out swinging and clear took the opening round, whilst seemingly shaking the confidence of Tanaka. Although the opening round was a clear one for the more experienced man it seemed like Tanaka's team had managed to calm him in the corner and in round 2 Tanaka showed his skills by winning the round behind his jab.
Having won round 2 Tanaka would have loved to have built on his success but Akaho was determined not to allow him to that and and managed to easily take the round with power shots that again seemed to worry Tanaka who was made to look second rate in rounds 4 and 5 as he slipped into a hole. Unsurprisingly, given the clear cut nature of all 3 round,s the judges all had the bout 49-46 after 5 rounds.
Knowing he was in the lead Akaho seemed to begin to take his eye off the ball in round 6. He looked a little bit tired, a little bit clumsy and almost as if he felt the bout was a walk in the park. He was lucky that Tanaka wasn't a better fighter making him pay for those mistakes, in fact it wasn't until round 8 that Tanaka really seemed to realise that he had a chance, and he began to dig to the body of Akaho. Having won round 8 Tanaka failed to really jump on Akaho in either of the final two rounds as the bout seemed to sizzle out for a clear win to Akaho.
Having won the bout 98-92 on all 3 cards Akaho will be glad to have claimed a Japanese title but the reality of the win is that it will have done little to convince anyone of his world class ability and it's unlikely he'll get a world title fight any time soon. Instead he may have put a bullseye on his back for fighters like Hinata Maruta, who has stated he's wanting a domestic or OPBF title fight this year.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
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