Last week we covered a tremendously exciting and brutal war for the Japanese Flyweight title. The bout was, just over a year later, given a do-over and today we cover that do-over in what is actually an even better bout than the first!
Takuya Kogawa (20-2, 11) vs Shigetaka Ikehara (23-4-2, 19) II
As those who follow this series will be aware from last week, in January 2012 Takuya Kogawa took a thin decision win over Shigetaka Ikehara to claim the previously vacant Japanese Flyweight title. The bout was a great fight, with both men landing some huge shots through 10 pulsating, rough and exciting rounds. In February 2013 the two men would face off again, in what turned out to be another amazing bout.
Previous to beating Ikehara in 2012 Kogawa had won the OPBF Super Flyweight title, beating Danilo Pena, and had lost in a WBC Flyweight title bout to Pongsaklek Wonjongkam. After beating Ikehara we had seen Kogawa record 2 defenses, beating Tetsuma Hayashi in the first and then stopping Keita Yamaguchi in second. As had always been Kogawa's way, the bouts were exciting, damaging and punishing. He had been unable to secure a second world title fight but clearly desired something bigger than just the national title, however he also didn't want to relinquish the Japanese belt until something big could be guaranteed.
As for Ikehara the loss to Kogawa had been followed by him travelling to Mexico to face Edgar Sosa for the WBC Silver Flyweight title. The bout was a nightmare for Ikehara who never looked like he belonged in the ring with the excellent Sosa and retired in his corner between rounds 8 and 9. He had looked out of his depth and looked like a man who knew he wasn't going to go on to win a world title. Despite that loss he had returned to the ring less than 3 months later and stopped Junichi Ebisuoka at Korakuen Hall and set up a rematch with Kogawa. And oh boy was Ikehara hungry to avenge his loss to his domestic rival!
Straight from the opening bell Ikehara was out firing, dragging Kogawa into a dog fight from round 1. This wasn't round 1 of a fight, but round 11 of a rivalry and Ikehara wanted to get the upper hand immediately. Kogawa was under pressure through out, and a slip caused by the pressure was a sign of just what he was under. Of course Ikehara's pressure left him in harms way, and he took punishment as a result, but seemed to dish out more than he took in a brilliant opening round.
The second round was similarly exciting, with Ikehara managing to drop Kogawa, scoring a flash knockdown to second a 10-8 round against the defending champion. The knockdown elicited a huge roar from the crowd and and saw Ikehara go after Kogawa, who was forced to fight fire with fire. The perception of Japanese fans being "quiet" was totally destroyed as they chanted following the knockdown, before Kogawa managed to recover his bearings. Even when Kogawa looked fine Ikehara's pressure continued and he would rock the champion again before the round was over. This was a sensational round, a truly brilliant 3 minutes of brutality.
Kogawa still looked rocked in round 3, but he wasn't going to just hand over the title because he'd been hurt and instead he saw off the aggression and fire of Ikehara, surviving some truly massive shots from the challenger. He looked to use his feet when his head settled, and finally began to find his range, his tempo and take advantage of a slowing Ikehara. Although Kogawa began to have moments it still seemed like Ikehara was only a couple of punches from rocking the champion once more.
We won't ruin any more of this bout, but this is a real hidden gem in a sea of great gems for the Japanese Flyweight title.
When we have some free time we're hoping to add a series of fun articles to the site. Hopefully these will be enjoyable little short features