Inoue Retains Pancrase Title at ‘Changing Tour 1’

By Tony Loiseleur Feb 1, 2009
TOKYO -- Lightweight King of Pancrase Katsuya Inoue defended his title with the well-earned decision after three grueling rounds against Daisuke Hanazawa in the main event at Pancrase “Changing Tour 1” on Sunday at the Differ Ariake Arena.

Hanazawa (11-10-5) started off energetic, as he barreled in with big punches en route to takedown attempts. Taking the top position in Inoue’s guard, Hanazawa attempted to drop punches, but the champion blocked them and controlled his opponent’s posture to minimize the damage. Controlling the grappling, Hanazawa took the first round, stifling Inoue’s attempts to escape and get back to his feet.

The tide slowly changed in the second, however, as Hanazawa’s energy faded.

Defending from the whizzer, Inoue’s takedown defense kept him from going to the floor, as he took potshots at Hanazawa with dirty boxing. On the canvas, Inoue (18-6-3) rained punches after he tripped Hanazawa from the whizzer. With the damage from ground-and-pound mounting, Hanazawa looked less and less motivated to fight, squirming his way under the ropes and out of the ring.

Though he made it to the third round, Hanazawa’s fatigue gave way to sloppiness. He swung wide with hooks, but Inoue easily evaded the strikes and put straighter punches on the challenger’s face before he was stuffed against the ropes. From there, Inoue took takedowns of his own and continued with heavy barrages from the top until the bell.

Judges Ryogaku Wada, Tomoki Matsumiya and Koji Kosuge all scored the bout 29-28 for Inoue.

In the co-main event, one-two-low kick was the theme for featherweights Kenji Arai and Masanori Kanehara.

Kanehara (11-5-5) found his mark more often, however, sending stiff right straights down the pipe on the southpaw Arai before he put him away for good with a one-two that bloodied his nose and sent him careening into the ropes. With Arai (13-13-3) seemingly out cold, referee Wada jumped in for the save 3:15 into the first period.

In the event’s other featherweight bout, Jameel Massouh pounded out Masaya Takita with relative ease midway through the first period.

As Massouh (20-4) delivered solid kicks to the body and straight punches to his foe’s face, it was only a matter of time until the right shot landed to put away Takita. To his credit, Takita (9-11-2) landed several decent low kicks, but they were not enough to keep Massouh at bay. Massouh wobbled him with a stiff left and followed up with a flurry that dropped him for good. With Takita’s head propped up on the bottom rope, Massouh finished him with ground-and-pound for the technical knockout 2:30 into the first.

Meanwhile, Hiroki Aoki took a close majority decision over Pancrase journeyman Takafumi Ito in their two-round lightweight bout.

Ito (34-28-10) found success early, as he pawed with quick jabs and one-twos and followed them with low kicks to Aoki’s lead leg in the first. Ito was poised to repeat the pattern in the second period, but Aoki (1-2) dropped him with a stiff right to the jaw, jumped onto the veteran fighter’s back, worked the choke and landed punches to the side of Ito’s head until the bell. Though the fight came in an even 19-19 on Matsumiya’s card, Wada and Kosuge awarded the match to Aoki by matching 19-18 counts.

Elsewhere, Takuya Eizumi exploded and starched Tokuaki Ninomiya 1:04 into the first round after the two circled each other for the first minute. Landing a crisp right straight followed by a hard inside low kick, Eizumi (4-1) fired off a tight right hook square into Ninomiya’s grill. The blow sent a stiff Ninomiya (3-5) face first into the mat.

In other action, Pancrase’s resident cosplayer, Hikaru Sato, attempted to take Ryuji Ohori’s foot home as a trophy in their light heavyweight bout, but he ate a lot of punches on the ground in the process. Diving for Ohori’s legs from guard, Sato (19-19-3) ate punch after punch between at least three different attempts at kneebars and heel hooks. Sato’s endurance and tenacity paid off at the 3:46 mark of the first period when Ohori (3-4) tapped to a heel hook.

Asaki Honda took a close majority decision over Kousei Kubota after two rounds of decent low kick counters. Kubota (24-29-10) tried to bulldoze Honda with big looping punches throughout the fight, but Honda (5-3-1) evaded and returned with repeated low kicks to Kubota’s lead leg. That was just enough to get 20-19 scores on Matsumiya’s and Wada’s scorecards; judge Kosuge ruled the bout a 19-19 draw.

Finally, Kiichi Kunimoto, a protégé of UFC veteran Dave Strasser, bullied Shingo Suzuki standing before he was taken to the mat. While on the bottom, Kunimoto’s defense proved a good offense, as he fired off heel hook attempts en route to a sweep and subsequent arm triangle. Rather than tap, Suzuki (1-1) passed out 3:00 into the first round.
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