In 2012 we had the debut of a youngster who needs no introduction, Naoya Inoue (7-0, 6). Inoue has become one of the most exciting young fighters in the sport and his rise has been breath taking as he's taken risk after risk to quickly build a very impressive resume. Last year we had the debuts of both Takuma Inoue (3-0, 1) and Kosei Tanaka (4-0, 2). Takuma might not be banging on the doors of the champions, though we suspect he will soon, but Tanaka is set to fight anyone with a belt in his next fight and he looks like the standout prospect of the year for 2014.
This year we've had Kenshiro Teraji (2-0, 1) blast into the OPBF rankings and edge towards a title fight of his own in double quick fashion.
Next year it seems likely that teenage sensation Hinata Maruta (0-0) will be the fighter that we'll have to be keeping an eye on after he passed his B grade pro-test earlier today in front of more than 1000 people.
Maruta was a very good amateur fighter and ran up an impressive record in the unpaid ranks whilst competing both nationally and internationally with genuine success. That success is expected to continue into the paid ranks and from what we understand Maruta's intentions for 2015 is to make a lot of noise. From what we understand he will be heading to the US in the middle of the year to try and build up his young frame before returning to Japan in the fall for his professional debut. It's been reported that his debut will come against a world ranked foe as he looks to make a real statement of intent.
Although just 17 years old Maruta is already being spoken about in the same breathe as Naoya Inoue and Ryota Murata (5-0, 4) by the Japan press, who had similar public pro-test bouts themselves. We'd not be shocked if he ends up reaching world level very quickly given what we already know about him, lets just hope we're right.
(Image courtesy of Daily.co.jp)