Krush.24 took place earlier today at Korakuen Hall in Tokyo featuring LiverKick #1 ranked Lightweight Masaaki Noiri taking on #5 Yetkin Ozkul. Also on the card were the 63kg and 70kg Youth GP finals and a 70kg #1 contender match.
In the main event, Masaaki Noiri solidified his #1 ranking with a unanimous decision win over Yetkin Ozkul on scores of 30-28 and 29-27(x2). After an even first 2 rounds, Noiri dropped Ozkul with a flying knee in the final round, securing a victory. Noiri (14-3-0, 5 KO) is now 8-1 in his last 9 and adds another top-tier Lightweight to his win column in Ozkul, who joins the Urabe brothers, Ryuji Kajiwara, Hiroya and Cedric Peynaud. This is a huge win for Noiri as it is his third fight against European competition and the first in which he was not knocked down, although the knockdown against Peynaud was unofficial, which is surprising as Ozkul is known as a power puncher. He is set to face this year's Youth GP winner Koya Urabe, a rematch of the Youth GP finals last year, and another win could easily put Noiri in line for a title shot against the winner of Thomas Adamandopoulos vs Hideaki Yamazaki. Ozkul was coming into this fight off of the momentum of his huge win over Krush 63kg champ Thomas Adamandopoulos in May, but has his momentum a bit derailed here. The loss is no shame, as both fighters excelled at each other's weaknesses and it was Ozkul whose defenses cracked first, leading to the knockdown. A good matchup for him would be a fight with the winner of Karim Bennoui vs Thomas Adamandopoulos at Nuit Des Champions later this month.
In the co-main event, Koya Urabe won the first tournament of his career with a 3rd round KO of Hisaki Higashimoto via flying knee to win the Krush 63kg Youth GP. Urabe dominated Higashimoto with his superior boxing, punishing his body before scoring a flying knee about 30 seconds into the final round that put Higashimoto out for good. Urabe (24-4-0, 4 KO) has struggled in the past to find the perfect balance between aggression and defense, but seemed to have found it quite well here, taking advantage of his opponent's inexperience. The win should be a big motivational boost for Urabe, who made it to the finals of three tournaments last year (Krush, K-1 and Krush Youth), but losing in each one. His next fight is a rematch of last year's Youth GP finals against last year's champion Masaaki Noiri, who added Urabe to his highlight reel with a flying knee KO. Urabe will need to sure up his defense to have a hope at winning. Higashimoto (2-1-0, 1 KO) surprised everyone by making it this far, upsetting Hiroya in the quarterfinals by KO and edging out Daizo Sasaki in the semis. As most would have figured, Higashimoto struggled with Urabe's boxing, as he comes from a kyokushin background and is not used to boxing at Urabe's level. With just 3 fights under his belt, Higashimoto shows a lot of promise and could benefit from fighting someone with the experience, but not the skill, of Urabe next, possibly someone like Kizaemon Saiga, Ikki or Keiji Ozaki.
In the 70kg Youth GP final, Shintaro Matsukura and Taisei Kondo proved to be even through 3 rounds, but Matsukura came on strong in the extension round, scoring big hooks and dropping Kondo 3 times, resulting in a stoppage. With the win Matsukura (7-5-0, 5 KO) becomes the first Krush 70kg Youth GP champion and joins Noiri in winning both the Krush and K-1 Youth tournaments at their respective weights. It's a very positive sign for Matsukura that he came on strong in the extension round as there were previously questions about his stamina, as he fights in an all-or-nothing style, but he seems to have saved that strategy for the later portions of fights he's losing. A good next fight for Matsukura would be a rematch with Yutaro Yamauchi, as the two put on an excellent fight in the Krush 70kg tournament semis. Kondo's only losses have come against Matsukura and at 19, he has a bright future ahead of him.
Finally, in a fight to determine 70kg champ Yasuhiro Kido's next challenger, Takuro Moriya took an extension round split decision over Asami Zaurus, earning his second win over Asami this year. Moriya ended 2011 with a pair of losses to Su Hwan Lee and Yu Hirono, but is now 4-0 in 2012 with a pair of wins over Asami. Asami was placed into this bout after an upset of Yuya Yamamoto at Krush.20, but is an average fighter outside of that win. Moriya faces Kido at some time in the future, although with Kido's upcoming participation in K-1, it's hard to know when Kido will be ready for a fight in Krush with the possibility of injuries.
Krush returns later this month on the 23rd with Krush-EX 2012 vol.6 featuring the promotion's first 67kg fight between Makihira Keita and RISE regular Kotetsu, as well as a 63kg fight between 2012 Youth GP semifinalist Hiroto Yamaguchi and Atsushi Ogata.
Quick results after the break