Earlier today fight fans at Korakuen Hall had the latest show in the Phoenix Battle series of shows, which will be aired this coming weekend on Fuji TV. The card featured a Japanese title bout at 140lbs, between Daishi Nagata and Masahiro Suzuki, as well as under-card bouts featurignt he likes of Rentaro Kimura, Akira Hoshuyama, Shisui Kawabata and Ryota Karimata.
For those wanting to watch this, as live, when it's finally aired, we have included this spoiler warning introduction. Please note that spoilers will begin in the paragraph after the next one. We will include the full undercard results for this show as well as the main bout.
The show opened up with a 6 rounder at Super Bantamweight between Shota Ogasawara (6-3-1, 3) [小笠原 梢太] and Naito Oikawa (3-1-1, 1) [笈川 夏愛]. This one was a really well contested bout from the off, with the two men trading shots at mid range through the opening round. Oikawa went to the body of his man, whilst Ogasawara let shots go up top. Through the bout it was fantastic 2-way action, with neither man ever managing to distinguish themselves ahead of their opponent.
After 6 rounds of great action, we went to the judges and they ruled this one a split decision draw, with scors of 58-56, 56-58 and 57-57.
The second bout saw All Japan Rookie of the Year winner Akira Hoshuyama (6-0, 3) [宝珠山 晃] score a 2nd round TKO win over the once touted Shisui Kawabata (2-3, 2) [川畑 嗣穂]. This was exciting from the off, with Hoshuyama dropping his man with a left uppercut in the first round. Kawabata responded to the knockdown by taking the fight to Hoshuyama before being forced to clinch. Kawabata managed to see out the first round, but was swiftly put under pressure in round 2 and the referee was forced to jump in and save after 57 seconds of the round.
The third match on the show saw another all Japan Rookie of the Year champion in action as Ryota Karimata (7-0, 3) [狩俣 綾汰] clashed with Hayato Aoki (4-1, 3) [青木 勇人]. Originally these two were supposed to fight last December, before Aoki was forced to pull out of a scheduled bout, and it meant this one had a touch of backstory to it. Sadly for Aoki he really struggled to get his wayt into the bout, as Karimata out worked him in round 1 and moved through the gears in round 2, finding holes in Aoki's defense. Aoki really did seem like he was focusing on not getting tagged too much, but as a result wasn't letting his own hands go much. As a result Karimata was able to build his confidence and momentum ot the point where he was in a comfortable lead by the time Aoki finally began to fire back.
After 6 rounds the judges really didn't have a tough task here, two had the bout 60-54 to Karimata whilst the third judge had it 59-55, finding a sympathy round for Aoki.
The chief support bout saw the highly regarded Rentaro Kimura (4-0, 3) [木村蓮太朗] score his most notable win to date as he defeated Hikaru Fukunaga (8-2, 5) [福永輝] via a clear 6 round decision. Kimura boxed well at range in the opening round, using his straight left hand to control the tempo and range of the contest through the openoing round. Fukunaga tried to make it into a fight, but he struggled to apply his pressure against the taller, smarter, sharper, smoother Kimura who was simply too good. Through much of the bout it was all about Fukunaga's pressure and Kimura's movement, however in round 6 we saw Kimura try to hunt a finish, with Fukunaga doing well to survive the late assault from Kimura. After 6 rounds this was a shut out, and a very impressive win for Kimura, who is now heading towards his first title fight, which could come before the year is over.
The final bout on the card was a title bout, which saw a minor upset as Daishi Nagata (15-3-2, 6) [永田大士] was dethroned of the Japanese Light Welterweight title by the unbeaten Masahiro Suzuki (6-0, 4) [鈴木 雅弘], who put in a stellar performance in a massive step up bout.
Nagata started the bout fighting behind a tight guard and coming forward, with Suzuki meeting him head first and attacking his body well, and left solid left uppercuts. It was a positive start from the challenger who really did find his groove very quickly and was hammering body shotshome in round 2, before letting combinations go in round 3. By then it was starting to look tough for Nagata who was left with a swollen left eye in round 4. Nagata knew he was needing to turn things around and tried to do then in the fourth, but Suzuki responded to it well, and landed some very well timed head shots as Nagata attempted to close the distance. After 5 rounds Suzuki was up on all 3 cards, 50-45, twice, and 49-46.
Suzuki continued to find his shots landing time and time again, and the gulf in skill between the men was becoming really apparent, despite the hunger and desire from Nagata, who continued to trudge forward, trying to turn things around and break down Suzuki.
Amazingly it was Suzuki who moved up a gear in round 9, and left Nagata cut from an uppercut. He kept the shots landing in round 10, with Nagata's team eventually waving the towel and stopping the bout with just over 50 seconds of the contest remaining.
This is a genuinely massive setback for Nagata, who won the title last year, with a shock win over Koki Inoue, but looked poor in his first defense and completely out classed here. As for Suzuki this was a defining performance and he showed the class he that saw us getting excited after his debut. He has had some weaker performances in recent contests, but here he put it all together and it was a champion making outing from him. With just 6 bouts to his name he's already a Japanese champion and now opens the door to some very, very good domestic bouts. That includes a potential clash with Andy Hiraoka later in the year,
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