The Koshien program will prove to be instrumental for the promotion in building new fans and expanding K-1 on that backs of Japanese fighters rather than foreign freaks but it also gives fans a sneak peak at Japan's top kickboxers years before we would normally get to see them.
After the break we take a look at the fallout from this years Koshien tournament final and look at who will be making waves post-highschool.
The Champion: Shoei Hareyama
HT: 167cm | WT: 61kg | Age: 16
Finals Result: 2010 Koshien Champion
Qualifier: East Japan A Block Champion
Shoei Hareyama is one of the most exciting prospects to come out of Koshien since it's conception. Hareyama started the tournament slowly with decision victories in the opening rounds and then a split decision over Katsuki Ishida but in the semi finals he really started to hit his stride as he first knocked out the extremely fast Ryosuke Sasaki and then took down the heavy hitting Hiroki Akimoto. Hareyama seems to have a habit of falling into his opponents fight (explaining his lackluster beginning in the tournament) but fortunately for him he proved faster than Sasaki and hit harder than Akimoto.
What's exciting about Hareyama is that he is still only in his first year of high school and he is only going to get better and stronger from here on. Under the tutelage of kickboxing legend Kozo Takeda, Hareyama will return next year as a versatile tournament favorite who can hopefully worked on fighting his own fight.
Power: Hiroki Akimoto
HT: 170cm | WT: 60kg | Age: 18
Finals Result: 2010 Koshien Runner Up
Qualifiers Result: 2009 Best 8
Hiroki Akimoto scored consecutive three knockouts before falling to Hareyama in the final. Fighting with headgear for a single two minute round makes that an admirable feat. Akimoto faltered in the finals simply because he started to slow down. Fighting four times in a night is not something he should have to do often in the future and so I don't foresee his gas tank being a problem. Like many Koshien fighters he is still not there technically but he will make himself a fan favorite with this kind of power.
Technician: Masaaki Noiri
HT: 174cm | WT: 62cm | Age: 17
Finals Result: Best 16
Qualifiers Result: 2009 Koshien Champion
Despite his disappointing result this year, Noiri is still the best technical fighter on the Koshien roster as his opening round dismantling of Naoki Takeda proved. The one round/two minute system favors an aggressive fighter more than a technician and so his loss to Keigo Ishida is forgivable. Noiri may not take the 63kg K-1 MAX division by storm next year as he is still too young but he definitely has a bright future.
Fencers: Keigo Ishida/Katsuki Ishida
HT: 171cm/ 168cm | WT: 62kg/ 61kg | Age: 16/ 17
Finals Result: Best 4/ Best 8
Qualifiers Result: West Japan A Block Champion/ 2009 Best 4
Both of the Ishida brothers are a joy to watch on the outside, throwing up push kicks like a fencer and chopping away at the legs with equal speed. While their hands are also quite decent from the outside and they have power, their downfall is certainly their boxing on the inside as they both get punished with hooks and uppercuts anytime the action gets too close.
If they can plug that gap in their defense and continue with their aggressive style, the Ishida brothers should be able to take bigger scalps than Masaaki Noiri post Koshien.
Speed Star: Ryosuke Sasaki
HT: 170cm | WT: 68kg | Age: 18
Finals Result: Best 4
Qualifiers Result: East Japan B Block Champion
Roysuke Sasaki's speed is clearly his best asset and given time he should be able to add some power to that. Sasaki isn't on the same technical level as some of his Koshien counterparts though and will need to sharpen up before he graduates as he won't be able to rely on flurries and speed alone when referee stoppages don't come so easily.
K-1 Koshien 2010 -King of Under 18- Tournament Results
Shoei Hareyama def. Hiroki Akimoto by TKO (Referee Stoppage) – Round 2, 1:25
Shoei Hareyama def. Ryosuke Sasaki by TKO (Referee Stoppage) – Round 3, 0:23
Hiroki Akimoto def. Keigo Ishida by KO (Knee to the body) - Extra Round, 1:46
Ryosuke Sasaki def. Ren Takeno by Unanimous Decision (Extra Round)
Shoei Hareyama def. Katsuki Ishida by Split Decision
Hiroki Akimoto def. Sho Ogawa by Unanimous Decision (Extra Round)
Keigo Ishida def. Riki Matsuoka by Majority Decision
Ryosuke Sasaki def. Taishi Hiratsuka by KO
Ren Takeno def. Yuya Shibata by Majority Decision
Shoei Hareyama def. Hiroto Yamaguchi by Unanimous Decision
Katsuki Ishida def. Shunsuke Okuno by Unanimous Decision
Sho Ogawa def. Hiroto Iwasaki by Unanimous Decision
Hiroki Akimoto def. Koji Kashimura by KO (Right Hook)
Riki Matsuoka def. Taisei Kondo by Split Decision (Extra Round)
Keigo Ishida def. Masaaki Noiri by Unanimous Decision
Taishi Hiratsuka def. Genki Kuji by Unanimous Decision
Ryosuke Sasaki def. Takeshi Yudasaka by Unanimous Decision
Yuya Shibata def. Minoru Kimura by Unanimous Decision
Ren Takeno def. Namito Izawa by TKO
Hiroto Yamaguchi def. Hisaki Higashimoto by Unanimous Decision
Shoei Hareyama def. Masahiro Tobino by Unanimous Decision
Shunsuke Okuno def. Takuya Kurokawa by Unanimous Decision
Katsuki Ishida def. Shogo Ishihara by TKO
Sho Ogawa def. Nobuto Ikeda by Majority Decision
Hiroto Iwasaki def. Keisuke Miyamoto by Split Decision
Koji Kashimura def. Koki Takeuchi by Unanimous Decision
Hiroki Akimoto def. Yuki Kurihara by TKO
Riki Matsuoka def. Kota Kubo by TKO
Taisei Kondo def. Tsukasa Fuji by Split Decision
Keigo Ishida def. Haruki Yamada by Unanimous Decision
Masaaki Noiri def. Naoki Takeda by Unanimous Decision
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