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Japanese Kickboxing Scene: February Recap

  • Written by Dave Walsh

February was kind of a slow month at the top of the ladder, especially when compared to January and March, but it still had a plethora of events and was not devoid of high level competition. Big cards in February included Shootboxing, NJKF and Fist Kick's first events of 2013, all of which featured top Japanese fighters taking on foreign competition, with two facing Rajadamnern Stadium champions.

February 3rd - J-Network: J-Fight in Shinjuku ~vol.29~/J-Girls 2013 ~Victorious Goddess 1st~

In the J-Network main event, Bantamweight champ Kentaro Kimura stopped MA Kick's Hiroshi Watanabe via cut in the 2nd round, bouncing back from a loss to Takuma Ito that snapped a 5-fight winning streak. In a fight that may have determined Kimura's next challenger, 7th ranked Yojiro upset #1 Kenta by split decision. For Yojiro it's his 3rd straight and Kenta is now winless in his last 4. As part of a 4-man mini-tournament to determine WPMF Japan Super Flyweight champion Kiminori Matsuzaki's next challenger (or for the vacant title if he vacated it), Ryuji Wakayama upset Hiroyuki Yamano by unanimous decision. This was quite the upset as Yamano was coming off of a win over Yuji Uwasawa. In the J-Girls main event, Yuichiro Nagashima student Chihiro Kira took a unanimous decision over Shootboxing JKS48 tournament runner-up Akari Eneos, avenging her sister, Yuki Kira, who lost to Akari last year. 

February 10th - DEEP*KICK 14

In the night's main event, 65kg champ and Krush regular Hiroto Yamaguchi took a close unanimous decision over 2011 K-1 Koshien runner-up Yuya Shibata. Yamaguchi has now won 2 straight since losing to Koya Urabe in the semifinals of the 2012 Krush Youth GP. Shibata also participated in that tournament, but lost his quarterfinal fight to Daizo Sasaki. The event was also supposed to have a 70kg title fight between champion Ren Takeno and Yoji Fujimoto, but Takeno weighed in 6.2kg over the limit and his title was forfeited to Fujimoto. In a pair of 55kg fights, Yokinobu Nakatsuka stopped Koki Nakamu in the 3rd round while Krush veteran Kazuki Tanaka defeated Ikki by decision. This likely sets up a fight between Tanaka and Nakatsuka and if Tanaka wins he could get a shot at 55kg champ Seiya Rokukawa. Nakatsuka has faced Rokukawa twice and lost convincingly both times.

MA Kick - Break 34

The main event saw #5 Welterweight Akira Makoto keep his undefeated record with a win over #1 Yasuyki Murata. Makoto will likely face off with champion Jun Nakazawa next and will need to bring it if he wants to stay undefeated. In the co-main event, Thai Pupanrek Esugym stopped Yukimaru in the 1st round.

February 17th - NJKF 2013 1st

In the month's biggest event, Rajadamnern Stadium champ Kaimookdham Aikbangzai dominated title challenger Kunitaka en route to a 2nd round stoppage, retaining his Raja Stadium title. The fight was a bit of a mismatch, as Kunitaka had a weak record against Thai competition. The main event saw Gansuwan Sasiprapa score a bit of an upset over Tetsuya Yamato. Gansuwan has had strong outings in his last two fights in Japan, taking out Tetsuya Yamato and Yuya Yamato. This loss stopped a 3-fight win streak for Yamato. In a NJKF Welterweight title fight, Yuya Yamato picked up a second close win over Soichiro Miyakoshi on scores of 49-48(x3) to earn his first title defense. Miyakoshi had looked very good since their first fight, but was unable to use his momentum to overcome Yamato despite a strong performance. His brother Keijiro Miyakoshi also fought, defending his NJKF Lightweight title against Ryota, snapping a 2-fight losing streak. NJKF Super Lightweight champion Seiji Takahashi defended his title as well with a one sided decision over Kazushige Sugama. NJKF Super Bantamweight champion Arato was unable to keep his title, losing a decision to challenger Hiroya Haga. WBC Japan Women's Featherweight champ Ayano Oishi defended her title with a 5th round TKO via cut in the 5th round over Team Dragon's Kimiko Sasaki. Finally, Flyweight prospects Nemo and Takashi Saenchaigym fought for a 2nd time, their first encounter ending in a draw, with Takashi picking up the unanimous decision win and vacant NJKF Flyweight title, ending Nemo's impressive run.

Fist Kick IX

The main event saw Rajadamnern Stadium Featherweight champion Sirimongkol Eiwaigym make his third trip to Japan, this time defeating Daiki Nagashima by unanimous decision, although the fight was pretty close. Sirimongkol improves to 2-0-1 on Japanese soil, having previously defeated Shunta Ito and surprisingly drawing with Yusuke Shimizu. The co-main event saw Kanongsuk WSR pick up a win over WPMF Japan Super Lightweight champion Hidekazu Tanaka. Kanongsuk had just been knocked out by undefeated prospect Yasuyuki while Tanaka was coming off of a loss to Minoru Kimura. Polish fighter Joanna Jedrzejczyk returned to Japan after a win over Ayano Oishi in the Hoost Cup and picked up another win over NJKF Featherweight champ AZUMA. In a bit of an upset, Takeshi Shimizu defeated TOMOYUKI to win the vacant WPMF Japan Super Welterweight title. TOMOYUKI had recently had a 3-fight win streak snapped by Buakaw in Thai Fight while Shimizu was knocked out by Takayuki WSR in his last outing. In another upset, Noro Yuki stopped J-Network Super-Flyweight champ Yuki via cuts in the 2nd round to win the vacant WPMF Japan Bantamweight title. Noro Yuki now has two big wins over guys moving up in weight recently, previously picking up a win over TO-MA. Yuki had won three straight including a win at Bantamweight over Kenta. In the other semifinal of the aforementioned WPMF Japan Super Flyweight tournament, Nagata Haryi upset Sazanami Satsutama in an extension round and will now face Ryuji Wakayama. This is a much more shocking upset than Wakayama's win over Yamano as Satsutama had looked very strong over the past few years, only losing to the top 3 fighters in the division. Also in action was Madoka Jinnai, also known as Erika Kamimura's amateur rival and the first girl to beat her, albeit in amateur competition, defeated J-Girls Bantamweight champion Yukino Oishi, winning the vacant WPMF Japan Bantamweight title.

February 22nd - Shootboxing 2013 act.1

The main event saw the struggling Yoshihiro Sato take on "Japanese Killer" and 2012 S-Cup runner-up Henri van Opstal. Sato became the first Japanese fighter to defeat van Opstal, winning a close majority decision. Sato was coming off of a disappointing loss to Kenta which dethroned him as Japan's top Middleweight, a distinction he had held since Masato's retirement. The co-main event saw Warren Stevelmans pick up a win over the entertaining Bovy Sor Udomson. Stevelmans was supposed to compete in last year's S-Cup, but opted to fight as a late replacement in GLORY. Bovy did compete in the S-Cup, but lost in the opening round to Henri van Opstal. Shootboxing Featherweight champion Akira Utagawa took a one-sided decision over Kazuki Tamagawa, scoring shoot point after shoot point. MMA fighter Joachim Hansen returned to Shootboxing after a surprisingly close fight with Hiroaki Suzuki in last year's S-Cup in his Shootboxing debut, this time picking up a win over Kenji Kanai on extremely impressive scores of 30-21(x2) and 30-20. Hinata competed on the card, picking up an easy win over Masatoshi Hyakutake. K-1 veteran Kizaemon Saiga returned to Shootboxing as well, picking up his second win in the promotion with a win over Makoto Yamauchi. Ai Takahashi returned with a win, defeating Korean Mi-jeon Jang. Finally, Rena's protégé and JKS48 winner MIO suffered her first pro loss at the hands of J-GIRLS MiniFlyweight champion Momi. 

February 24th - Big Bang 12

The main event saw Krush 70kg champ Yasuhiro Kido take on Asami Zaurus, who lost a close fight to Takuro Moriya which would have given him a shot at Kido's Krush title. Asami put up a good fight, but came up short as Kido picked up yet another win. Shunta Ito bounced back from a close loss to Hiroki Akimoto with a 4th round KO of Korean fighter Seong-bum Woo. At Heavyweight, Hiromi Amada had his first real competition in a while and picked up a win over Tsutomu Takahagi. Toshiki Taniyama picked up his 2nd straight win with a close majority decision over Korean fighter Son-cheol Oh. At 71kg, Yoichi Yamazaki stopped K-1 veteran Shingo Garyu while 55kg Krush prospect Namito Izawa dropped a decision to Ariaki Okada. 

Hoost Cup Spirit 2

The main event saw prospect Sho Ogawa struggle with RISE Lightweight Shohei Asahara, but ultimately pull out a split decision victory. After a strong run that saw him win the 2011 K-1 Koshien tournament and also pick up wins over Makihira Keita and Minoru Kimura, Ogawa is 1-1 in his last two and hasn't looked great in either fight. Asahara may not be the best Lightweight, but he is much better than his 0-5 record over his last 5 fights would indicate. He took RISE 65kg champ Koji Yoshimoto and top ranked RISE Lightweight Yuto Watanabe to extension rounds, lost close, competitive decisions to Yusuke Sugawara and current RISE Lightweight champ Sung-hyun Lee and now loses a split decision to Ogawa. 

NJKF Muay Thai Open 23

The main event pitted Kongenchai Esugym against Shota Saenchaigym and started well for Shota, who scored knockdowns in the 1st and 2nd rounds. However, Kongenchai stormed back and was eventually able to cut Shota with an elbow, causing the doctor to stop the fight in the 4th. Though he likely would have lost a decision, Kongenchai showed a lot of heart and was able to get the stoppage, even if it was kind of anti-climactic. This is a tough loss for Shota who was winning and had won 2 straight, including a win over Shohei Hareyama. The co-main event saw Dejpanom Saenchaigym bounce back from a loss to Seiji Takahashi with a win over Team Dragon's Shota Watanabe. 

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