Back in April we reported that Japanese legend Shinsuke Yamanaka [山中慎介] had began to work with Danagn on an special Bantamweight tournament, set to begin in July.
Today the draw for that tournament took place, as well as the reveal of who would be involved, and who the men would be facing.
The original plan seemed to be for 8 fighters to compete, though only 7 have actually been selected, allowing one fighter to have a bye into the final 4. The fighter getting the bye is 23 year old Seiya Tsutsumi (5-0, 4) [堤聖也], who has been given a seeding position and will skip the quarter finals as a result.
Tsutsumi is a really exciting fighter from the Watanabe gym who made his debut in March 2018 and impressed last September when he won a B Class tournament, dismantling Junpei Inamoto in the final. More recently he stopped tough Filipino Ryan Rey Ponteras, back in April, and has been strongly tipped as one to watch.
Tsutsumi's opponent in the semi-final will be either Gaku Aikawa (9-7-1, 3) [相川 学己] or Kenya Yamashita (13-5, 10) [山下賢哉].
Aikawa, from the Misako gym, is a 25 year old who has lost 3 of his last 4, but has been fighting mostly at Super Bantamweight and not Bantamweight. At his best he's a tough guy to discourage, but will be regarded as one of the big under-dogs in the tournament. Interestingly he reached the 2013 All Japan Rookie of the Year, losing to Bunta Mitaka in the final.
Yamashita on the other hand is a well liked, aggressive fighter who was one tipped to be a force on the domestic scene. He brings intense action, but can be out boxed, as we've seen recently against John Riel Casimero. He's explosive, exciting and comes to fight, but has suffered 4 stoppage losses, and at the age of 22 it already feels like his all action style is catching up with him. Notably this will be his first fight since joining up with the JB Sports Gym. As with Aikawa he will be regarded as a betting outsider.
Another of the semi-final bouts will see Ohashi gym's unbeaten hopeful Kazuki Nakajima (6-0, 5) [中嶋一輝] take on Kenichi Watanabe (8-4-1, 4) [渡辺健一]. On paper this looks like a bit of a mismatch, but should be a good chance to see if Nakajima is as good as some suggest.
Nakajima is a 26 year old former amateur stand out who made his debut in 2017 and already holds solid wins over Taiga Higashi and Yoshihiro Utsumi. He has been groomed for success following his long amateur career, where he went 72-15 (30) and is expected to become another of the top guys under the guidance of Hideyuki Ohashi.
Watanabe on the other hand is from the little known Dream Boxing Gym and at 32 years old is clearly the oldest man in the tournament. He debuted more than a decade ago, but has had a stop-start career which has struggled to get going. During his time in the sport he has shared the ring with Koki Eto, Akinori Hoshino and Hiroaki Teshigawara, though those bigger names have all beat him. Another of the tournaments outsiders.
The remaining quarter final is the best of the bunch will see another of the tournaments favourites in action, in fact even the bout's under-dog will be regarded as the best of the under-dogs. In one corner will be unbeaten puncher Jin Minamide (3-0, 3) [南出仁] and in the other will be once beaten Japanese Youth champion Tetsu Araki (14-1-1, 2) [荒木哲], in what is easily the best of the match ups in the first round.
The 24 year old Minamide was a notable amateur, going 43-22 (15) before turning professional with Celes Kobayashi at the Kobayashi gym. Since debuting, in June 2018, he has fought just 5 rounds but taken out some impressive competition, including Marjun Pantilgan. His opponents combined record so far is 33-12-1, yet he has sliced through them with complete ease and looked ready for much bigger things.
As mentioned Araki the the Japanese Youth champion, and is also 24 years old. He debuted in 2014 and lost in the 2015 Rookie of the Year tournament to Tenta Kiyose, since then however he has reeled off 10 straight wins including notable victories over Yuto Nakamura, Ryuto Owan, Morihisa Iju and Atsushi Takada. As far as under-dogs go he's the most likely to over come the unbeaten men, all of whom were top, top amateurs.
Thee tournament officially begins on July 23rd, with the quarter final bouts. The semi-final bouts will take place on October 31st with the final pencilled in for January 2020. The winner will receive a large financial prize
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
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