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Kyotaro Bounces Back with TKO Win

Earlier today at Korakuen Hall in Tokyo, former K-1 Heavyweight champion Kyotaro Fujimoto stepped into the ring for his 7th pro boxing bout against another former kickboxer in Fabrice Aurieng. After making the switch to boxing in late 2011, Kyotaro started his career with 5 straight wins including 3 knockouts before challenging Austrailia's Solomon Haumono for the OBPF Heavyweight title this past New Year's Eve. That fight didn't end so well for Kyotaro, who was rocked early in the 5th round, then, while seemingly out on his feet, put away for good with a monstrous right hand. Today, it was Kyotaro handing out the punishment as he knocked Aurieng down four times over the course of 7 rounds before forcing a corner stoppage at 1:11 in the 7th. He came in with an aggressive style and his defense still seems to be a bit shaky, but it was another good showing from the former K-1 champ against a fighter with a lot of fight experience, although Aurieng's boxing experience is about the same as Kyotaro's. Clearly, he has a long way to go before challenging some of boxing's top heavyweights and his management would probably be smart to put him in with some of the less powerful punchers in the division to get him some rounds and help him improve his defense. However, Kyotaro has shown good power, improved footwork and a solid chin on top of his kickboxing experience, so there's no reason that, with some polishing and a couple more years, he can't be a viable contender in a depleted Heavyweight landscape.

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Japanese Kickboxing Scene: March Recap

March was a huge month for Japanese kickboxing, with two Rajadamnern Stadium title fights, the Road to Glory 65kg tournament and big cards from RISE and Krush. This post will recap all of March's kickboxing and muay thai action from the past month.

March 3rd: Krush Ignition 2013 vol.1 and 2

Krush's series of smaller shows, previously known as Krush-EX, kicked off in March with a day-night double header. The main event only lasted 2:19, but was a wild affair with 2012 Youth GP semifinalist Daizo Sasaki knocking down prospect Minoru Kimura. However it was Kimura who came out on top, dropping Sasaki 3 times en route to a stoppage and giving him his third straight stoppage win after a pair of losses, which seem to have reenergized him. The co-main event saw Masanobu Goto rebound from a loss to Keiji Ozaki with a 1st round KO of Atsushi Ogata, who has proved to be little more than a punching bag since an upset win over Toshiki Taniyama. Ryuma Tobe returned to action after a 10 month layoff, knocking out Hiroshi Kamata in the 3rd round.

Tenkaichi 65

While the main event was an MMA fight, the main kickboxing attraction saw Legend 63kg champion Kouki Nakamura stop Masataka Maeda in the 1st round. Nakamura has fought on Big Bang cards before, losing to Koya Urabe and Naoki, and could find himself in Krush or RISE if he continues to dominate lower level competition.

March 10th: Road to GLORY Japan -65kg SLAM

The most stacked weekend of the month was headlined by GLORY's first Road to GLORY Japan event. The quarterfinals saw Zen Fujita stop Riki Matsuoka, Yuki beat Mohan Dragon, Masaaki Noiri get by HIROYA for a 3rd time and Yukihiro Komiya score an upset over Ryuji Kajiwara in a brawl. The semifinals saw Yuki use his signature low kicks to stop Zen Fujita while Noiri got by Komiya. In the finals, Noiri turned it on and dropped Yuki six times over the course of two rounds, ultimately stopping him with a brutal knockout and earning himself a spot in GLORY's 65kg world tournament in May. The event also featured a big superfight between Krush champ Hirotaka Urabe and WPMF champ SHIGERU in what was one of the best fights of the night. After three even rounds, Urabe opened up a nasty cut over SHIGERU's eye with a flying knee in the extension round, forcing a doctor stoppage. Full recap here.

SNKA: Magnum 31

This event featured two Rajadamnern Stadium title fights as Hiroki Ishii defended his 140lb title while Bantamweight champ Manasak Pinsinchai defended his strap against Mutsuki Ebata. Despite facing his second straight undersized opponent, Ishii was dropped in the 2nd round by an elbow and, despite recovering, finished in the 4th round by Aikpikart Mor Krongthepthonburi, who claimed Ishii's Raja title. In the co-main event, Manasak dominated Ebata in every aspect of the fight for the first four rounds and fended off a strong charge from Ebata in the final round, defending his title on foreign soil for the first time. Also on the card was 2010 K-1 Koshien champ Shohei Hareyama bouncing back from a loss to Shota Saenchaigym with a with a unanimous decision over Haruki. NJKF Welterweight Taeyeon was also on the card and despite impressing over the past year, he was knocked out in the 1st round by Shota Otsuki.

REALDEAL 32

REALDEAL Gym's 32nd event was headlined by a rematch between one of their top prospects and RISING Rookies Cup 70kg winner Ryota Toyoshima and Akio Kishima. Toyoshima won their first bout, but this fight couldn't have ended differently as Kishima landed with a big head kick in the 1st round that put Toyoshima to sleep.

BOUT 14

The main event saw the popular TOMONORI defeat WAKO Korea Flyweight champion Gan Byon-ju by decision, dropping him once in the fight. Also on the card was NJKF and Krush vet Shoya Suzuki who picked up a  win over Yoshiyuki Nagayama.

Recap of the second half of the month after the break.

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Krush.27 Results: Yamazaki Upsets Adamandopoulos for 63kg Title

Earlier today at Korakuen Hall in Tokyo, Krush held Krush.27, headlined by a 63kg title bout between current champ Thomas Adamandopoulos and 2012 WILDRUSH League winner Hideaki Yamazaki. Also on the card were the semifinals of the 58kg tournament, the second leg of the 55kg WILDRUSH League and fights featuring Krush standouts Koya Urabe, Yutaro Yamauchi, Yuji Takeuchi, Hisaki Higashimoto and MA Kick champion Keisuke Miyamoto.

The main event saw Krush 63kg champ Thomas Adamandopoulos attempt to defend his title for the first time against Hideaki Yamazaki, who earned the fight by winning the 63kg WILDRUSH League with a perfect 5-0-0 record. In a big upset, the Liver Kick #6 ranked Lightweight Adamandopoulos was dropped by a spinning backfist in the 2nd round and seemed to have a bit of trouble finding offense against Yamazaki, losing a unanimous decision on scores of 30-28(x2) and 30-27. I had given Yamazaki little chance to beat Adamandopoulos as he was coming off of a stoppage loss to Gagny Baradji, who had very little kickboxing experience despite being a Savate champion. Some might remember that Adamandopoulos' first trip to Krush saw him get dropped by a spinning backfist when he won his ISKA title against Keiji Ozaki. The win continues the chaos in the Lightweight division and could earn Yamazaki a spot in the top 10. I'd like to see Yamazaki rematch Gagny Baradji for the title and possibly see Adamandopoulos back in Krush against Koya Urabe. The odds of Urabe fighting his teammate Yamazaki are pretty low, though he did fight his teammate Ryuji Kajiwara in the finals of the Krush tournament. 

The co-main event features were the semifinals of the 58kg tournament featuring Nobuchika Terado vs Shota Kobe and Takeru vs Yuzo Suzuki. Tournament favorite Terado struggled a bit, but was able to drop Kobe in the 2nd round and ride out a unanimous decision on scores of 30-28(x2) and 29-27. At this point is career it's clear that Terado has lost a step, but he's still one of Japan's best talents around this weight and his combination of power and heart makes him a difficult matchup for nearly everyone. The other semifinal saw the other favorite advance as Team Dragon's Takeru pushed his win streak to 5 with a unanimous decision over former Kyokushin world champion Yuzo Suzuki on scores of 30-28(x3). Takeru wasn't unhittable, but he controlled the action and landed the better shots, setting up a final against Terado. I have a feeling that Takeru will win, but the logical choice in the finals is Terado. Despite being 11 years older, Terado has shown the ability get hit and hit back harder. He gets knocked down more often at this point in his career, but he always seems to get back up. Takeru, on the other hand, has not been put in the same position, so it's impossible to know how he'll respond to being hit by Terado. I give Takeru the power advantage and it's very possible he could hurt Terado early and put him away, but he is also pretty wild and Terado can end a fight just as quickly. Regardless, the finals should be fireworks whether it lasts one round or three.

The main super fight saw 2012 63kg Youth GP champ Koya Urabe drop to 60kg to rematch 2012 60kg Tournament winner Fumiya Osawa. The two previously met very early in their respective careers, with Urabe winning by knockout with a flying knee. Urabe had grown into a star while Osawa meddled in mediocrity until surprising everyone by winning last year's 60kg tournament and a shot at Hirotaka Urabe's title. Despite that, he was coming off of two stoppage losses and most had him pegged as a big underdog in this rematch. That was until Koya Urabe tried the same flying knee that he stopped Osawa with in their first fight, which Osawa countered beautifully with a left cross, dropping Urabe. Unfortunately, however, I believe Urabe dropped Osawa with a right hook coming off of a break. Osawa was more or less knocked out and the referee had no other option but to disqualify Urabe. I can definitely see these two fighting for a 3rd time as the result here was inconclusive and I assume most people would want to see this fight again considering the underdog Osawa was able to drop Urabe early. Not to mention that Urabe is in no man's land when it comes to a title shot, as his brother holds the 60kg title and his teammate Yamazaki just won the 63kg title.

In a 61kg fight, "Kyoken" Yuji Takeuchi made quick work of Team Dragon's Shota Hayashi, stopping him with his favored left hook at 1:48 in the 1st round. Admittedly, the fight was a squash match, much like Takeuchi's last fight in Krush which ended in a no contest due to an accidental low blow, and it seems like they're trying to give him wins just to keep him in the picture at the top of the division and open up possible rematches with SHIGERU and Naoki Ishikawa. If Hirotaka Urabe fights Naoki Ishikawa for a 4th time in the near future and SHIGERU doesn't come to Krush, I'd like to see him fight Kan Itabashi. Otherwise give him Ishikawa or SHIGERU in a #1 contender bout. 

Krush 70kg tournament finalist Yutaro Yamauchi knocked out fellow tournament participant Hiroki Nakajima with a right hook at 1:10 of the 2nd round. This fight was a rematch of a fight from 2009 which saw Nakajima win by decision. This time, however, Nakajima was coming off of a 14 month layoff and it really hurt him as Yamauchi constantly hurt and dropped Nakajima en route to a stoppage. Krush has a lack of fresh options at 70kg with Kenta beating Yoshihiro Sato and unless Krush rushes right into a third fight between Kenta and Yasuhiro Kido, I'd like to see Yamauchi get a rematch with Kenta with a shot at Kido on the line. If not, a fight with Takuro Moriya or Asami Zaurus would be a good indicator as to where the 35 year old Yamauchi stands in the division at this point in his career. 

At 55kg, MA Kick champion Keisuke Miyamoto and MAD MAX Gym's Masahiro faced off in a matchup of 20 year old prospects. Miyamoto showed he was the better fighter over 3 rounds, earning a unanimous decision on scores of 30-29(x3). After a 2012 that had me name him the #2 prospect in Japanese kickboxing, Miyamoto had a bumpy start to 2013, barely being able to retain his MA Kick title with a majority draw against Kunihiro. Conversely, Masahiro had a great start to his year as he picked up a big win over Shuichi Wentz. Masahiro was able to hang, but he was outgunned by Miyamoto, who snaps a 2-fight winless streak. 

At 63kg, Ikki was able to knock out 63kg Youth GP finalist Hisaki Higashimoto in the 3rd round with a right cross. This fight seemed to go much like Higashimoto's fight with Koya Urabe where he started strong in the first, even winning the round, began to lose a step in the 2nd and was ultimately finished in the 3rd. By upsetting Hiroya by knockout in his pro debut, Higashimoto made himself a hot commodity in Krush, and a strong performance against Koya Urabe solidified that, despite being finished. However, I think Krush and his management need to take a step back so they don't ruin his career before it has a chance to get started. I didn't have a problem with this fight because it was a real test to where Higashimoto stood, but it's clear he doesn't have the experience to be fighting a guy like Ikki. He's just 20 and clearly has a lot of potential, but he needs to learn how to pace himself over 3 rounds and needs more ring experience before he's ready for the upper echelon of the division. Nonetheless, solid win for Ikki.

Finally, this event also saw the 2nd leg of the 55kg WILDRUSH League take place with tournament favorite Takumi picking up a decision win over Yuki Masato and improving to 2-0, Yuya Suzuki and Kazyosi fighting to a majority draw and Kazuki Okawa knocking out Masanori Shimada in the 1st round. After 2 rounds of fights, the standings look like this:

1. Takumi, 4 pts (2-0-0, 0 KO)

2. Yuya Suzuki, 4 pts (1-0-1, 1 KO)

3. Kazuki Okawa, 3 pts (1-1-0, 1 KO)

4. Kazyosi, 2 pts (0-0-2, 0 KO)

5. Yuki Masato, 1 pt (0-1-1, 0 KO)

6. Masanori Shimada, 0 pts (0-0-2, 0 KO)

Quick results after the break

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RISE 92 Results: Yamamoto Edges Bennoui, Umeno Avenges Loss

A big RISE 92 card went down today in Japan and featured some pretty big fights in the lighter weight divisions with a number of RISE titles on the line.

The biggest fight on the card wasn't for a title but featured two of LiverKick's top ranked lightweights, Masahiro Yamamoto and Karim Bennoui. This fight had been a long time in the making and it seemingly lived up to expectations and went into an extra round. Yamamoto edged the fight out in the extra round to get the decision win, continuing on the roll that he's been on as of late. This win really does prove just how good Yamamoto is, even after a long career. 

RISE's 65kg title was on the line in a match-up that was built up for a long time between champion Koji Yoshimoto and challenger Yasuomi Soda. The bout went all five rounds and Soda got a majority decision. With that, he becomes the new RISE 65kg champion.

Chang Hyun Lee and Genji Umeno put on one of the fights of the year in 2012 and today they rematched on this card. The fight seems to have gone in a much different direction than last time, as Genji Umeno won a unanimous decision on scores of 30-27 across the board. With that, he avenges the loss to Lee from last year.

RISE's 55kg title was also on the line in a fight between Dyki and Seiya Rokukawa. This seems to have been a pretty close fight, going to a split decision in Dyki's favor after all five rounds.

Last but not least for the title fights, the RISE 90kg title was on the line between two heavyweights dropping down, in Kengo Shimizu and Makoto Uehara. This fight was the main event and like the 55kg title fight, also went to split decision. Uehara got the decision, with a point deduction from Shimizu in the second round seemingly being the deciding factor.

RISE 90kg title: Makoto Uehara def. Kengo Shimizu by split decision.
RISE 65kg title: Yasuomi Soda def. Koji Yoshimoto by majority decision.
RISE 55kg title: Dyki def. Seiya Rokukawa by split decision.
61kg: Masahiro Yamamoto def. Karim Bennoui by unanimous decision in an extra round.
60kg: Genji Umeno def. Chang Hyun Lee by unanimous decision.
60kg: Motochika Hinada def. Taison Maeguchi by unanimous decision.
63kg: Yuya Fujita def. Yuto Nakaegawa by TKO in Round 3.
57.5kg: Masato Sato and Yuta Sashikubi draw after an extra round.
57.5kg: Tomoaki Iemoto def. Ryoma Hasumi by unanimous decision.
63kg: Keisuke Niwa def. Tomohiro Sato by majority decision.

 

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