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RISE World Series 2019: Tenshin Nasukawa advances to finals with rolling thunder

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Check out results and gifs from kickboxing tournaments featuring Tenshin and top Muay Thai fighters.

On Sunday July 21st, Rise, the kickboxing organization which has hosted most of Japanese star Tenshin Nasukawa’s relevant kickboxing career was holding the semifinals of its 58kg (128 lbs) and 61kg (135 lbs) at the Edion Arena in Osaka. Featured in the tournaments were the aforementioned Tenshin and three current or recent Lumpinee or Rajadamnern stadium champions in Saeksan Or Kwanmuang, Rungkit Wor Sangprapai and Suakim PKSaenchaimuaythai.

In his 58kg semi-final Tenshin Nasukawa (32-0, 23 KOs) was facing Suakim (105-22-3, Lumpinee superfeatherweight champion) who gave him a very tough fight under Muay Thai rules last year. This was pretty much Tenshin’s first real test of the year as he’s spent the first half of 2019 fighting overmatched competition in his quarterfinal and his Rizin appearances.

Suakim, whom I’d rank in the top 5-10 range at his weight in Thailand despite holding the Lumpinee belt, has struggled in his kickboxing debut. He had to get up off the canvas twice and score a comeback of the year contender KO to get past Brazilian brawler Thalisson Gomes Ferreira in the quarterfinals. Suakim didn’t prove as much of a challenge in kickboxing rules and Tenshin controlled the fight with his boxing until he hit a rolling thunder in the third round that opened a nasty cut on the Thai’s forehead and forced the doctor to call the fight.

In the other semi-final, Rungkit Wor Sangprapai, who just vacated his Rajadamnern superfeatherweight belt to move up in weight, was fighting Shiro (23-5-4, 10 KOs). The fight played out according to a familiar scenario when Thais fight in Japan. Rungkit controlled the fight on the backfoot with his left middle kick, got a rather harsh yellow card for clinching and the minimal bit of success Shiro got with his pressure and boxing in the third was enough to get him to an extra round. The extra round played out similarly to the third and Shiro escaped with an undeserved but predictable split decision.

While Shiro is a good fighter and a perfectly respectable adversary for Tenshin, his “hooks and low kicks” style is a less compelling stylistic matchup than Rungkit, one of the best young Muay Fimeu (technicians) in Muay Thai, would have presented. Hopefully, this serves as a learning experience for the 17-year-old Thai and leads him to make strategic adjustments to a more aggressive style if he keeps pursuing kickboxing in the future.

At 61kg, after spending most of his career being the most successful Japanese fighter in Muay Thai, veteran Genji Umeno (43-11-3, 20 KOs) is back in kickboxing against Rise 60kg champion Chan Hyung Lee. Umeno survived an early scare, almost going down in the first on a boxing combination from Lee but took back control of the fight in the second and third, hammering Lee with left middle kicks to keep him at bay and force him to keep his right hand at home on his way to a decision win and the finals.

Rise 63kg champion and Tenshin teammate Taiju Shiratori (14-5-1, 7 KOs) took on Rajadamnern lightweight champion Saeksan Or Kwanmuang (183-35-6) in the other semi-final. As usual with Saeksan, the most exciting action fighter in Thailand for years now, the fight turned into a war. Shiratori put in a great performance and dominated the fight with his sharp boxing. He almost KO’d Saeksan in the second (which as far as I know would have been a first in over 200 fights) but Saeksan showed off his legendary heart and toughness valiantly fighting on in the third despite two knockdowns. This was a lost cause at this point though, and Shiratori took a wide decision and the best win in his career.

His fight with Umeno should be very interesting as both are tall and not so used to fighting against similarly-sized opponents, but after his performance against Saeksan, it will be tough to pick against Shiratori.

It was a bad night for top Thais and was a good example of a recent willingness in Japanese kickboxing to bring in top stadium rankers and a for Japanese fighters to find success against them. While part of it is due to some of the Thai fighters not being stylistically suited for kickboxing (and a good dose of vintage Japanese officiating in Rungkit’s case), there is no denying that the upcoming generation of Japanese talent is a fantastic one and has started to bridge the gap between Thais and the rest of the world at the lower weights.

Speaking of this new generation, Rise 55kg champion Masahiko Suzuki (20-3, 11 KOs) looked excellent in dismantling Emanuele Tetti Menichelli and left me daydreaming over potential fights with some of his pairs fighting in K-1. Hopefully Rise can find him opposition worthy of his talent. Off the rest of the undercard, Kento Haraguchi caught my eye the most, taking just over a minute to knock Lu Jun (who had given Umeno a tough fight in the 61kg quarter-finals) out.

A solid card from Rise, who despite the stranglehold of their K-1 competitors over most Japanese top talent still manage to unearth great prospects like Shiratori and Suzuki and to offer very compelling tournaments. The tournament finals are scheduled for September 16th at the Makuhari Messe in Chiba City, Japan.

Full Results:

Tenshin Nasukawa def. Suakim PK Saenchaimuaythaigym by TKO (cut). Round 3 – 58kg tournament semifinal

Shiro def. Rungkit Wor.Sanprapai by extra round split decision (10-9, 9-10, 10-9) – 58kg tournament semifinal

Genji Umeno def. Chan Hyung Lee by unanimous decision (30-28, 29-28, 29-28) – 61kg tournament semifinal

Taiju Shiratori def. Saeksan Or.Kwanmuang by unanimous decision (30-26, 30-25, 30-25) – 61kg tournament semifinal

Masahiko Suzuki def. Emanuele Tetti Menichelli by TKO (three knockdowns). Round 2, 1:28

Hector Santiago def. Yuki by unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)

Kento Haraguchi def. Lu Jun by knockout. Round 1, 1:07

Masahide Kudo def. Thalisson Gomes Ferreira by majority decision (29-28, 28-28, 29-28)

Kosei Yamada def. Tapruwan Hadesworkout by majority decision (29-28, 29-29, 29-28)

Kazuma Takahashi def. Shohei Asahara by unanimous decision (29-28×3)

Ryota Nakano def. Yuya by knockout. Round 1, 2:27

Ryuki def. Kan Nakamura by unanimous decision (30-28, 30-28, 30-27)

Keisuke Monguchi def. Naoki Yamada by unanimous decision (30-29×3)

Ryo Sato def. Kazuki Toshikawa by split decision (20-19, 19-20, 20-19)

Shoa Arii def. Yuki Hamada by unanimous decision (30-28, 30-28, 30-27)