Over the last few months we've seen more and more Japanese amateur standouts turning professional and beginning their journey in the pro ranks. The next of these standouts to make their debut will be Shigetoshi Kotari (0-0) who kicks off his professional career on October 5th at the Korakuen Hall. He does so after amassing a 72 fight amateur record, and signing with a gym that's building a solid stable of young and emerging fighters.
The 23 year old Kotari will begin his career at Featherweight, having out grown the 56KG amateur division that he had fought at way back in the 2014, at the Japanese High School Selection Tournament. In the aforementioned High School tournament he reached the semi-final before being beaten by the excellent Arashi Morisaka who went on to win the tournament. A couple of years later he had moved up to the 60KG division and had begin to make his mark in the successful Nihon University boxing team. That team also had the likes of Tomoya Tsuboi, Subaru Murata and Kuntae Lee, so to be involved in that teams says a lot about how Kotari was regarded.
As an amateur Kotari went 48-24, an impressive record on the Japanese scene where the High School and University tournaments are incredibly tough, and are producing top professionals year on year recently.
After graduating from university earlier this year he signed up with the MT Gym. That's the same gym that has the likes of Kai Ishizawa, who fights in a Japanese title eliminator in late September, and Junto Nakatani, who headlines the show featuring Kotati's debut. Just a few years ago the gym was regarded as one of the least notable. It was only set up in 2001 and really had no one of note until Nakatani's success put the gym on the map. Since then it has been developing a solid reputation as a gym that can get the best from youngster and is willing to push fighters.
Kotari will be hoping that MT Gym push him in a similar way to Ishizawa, who has got a Japanese title eliminator in just his 7th fight, whilst Nakatani was more of a novice and went the Rookie of the Year route. He has the amateur background to be moved through the ranks and more impressive is how he's preparing for his debut. Recent he spent time sparring with former world champion Masayuki Ito, and surprisingly dwarfed Ito who has made his name at Super Featherweight.
At the time of writing Kotari's debut opponent hasn't been confirmed, but we have been informed it will be an Indonesian opponent in a 6 bout at a contracted 58KG's, just under 128lbs. He's expected to shine here and really take a chance to impress an audience who are there to see Nakatani in his biggest test so far. A win is the very that's expected of Kotari here.
The idea of our "Introducing..." articles wasn't just to talk about the brightest prospects in Asia, and more specifically Japan, but instead we wanted to shine a light on young fighters we want fans to be aware of. Of course usually this will be prospects, but sometimes we want to shine a light on someone we just enjoy watching, or a novice that is worthy of some attention. Today we want to shine that light on Ryugo Ushijima (3-0-1, 2).
Ushijima isn't likely to be a major star of the future, in fact being totally honest if Ushijima wins a Japanese title we would be pleasantly surprised and very happy for his success. Whe he will be however is fun to watch, highly entertaining and someone we suspect will be a fixture on the Japanese scene for years to come.
Ushijima debuted last year, at the age of 17, and did so a little above the Super Bantamweight division. Since then his frame has added a few pounds and he is now a fully fledged Featherweight. At just 18 years old however we suspect he'll fill out further and his 5'10" frame really is one that could make for a good sized Lightweight, or even Light Welterweight, in the future.
In his debut Ushijima struggled past Kento Nakano in a very competitive 4 round bout in July 2018. He would fight again almost 3 months later, scoring a super quick blow out win over Tomoyuki Hosaka, in just 20 seconds. For Boxing Raise subscribers this was the first time Ushijima had had a bout that was watchable for those not in the venue watching live, and he left an instant impression, dropping Hosaka face first. Hosaka wasn't out cold, but was wobbling when he got to his feet and forced the referee to halt the action.
Whilst Uchijima's second bout was on Boxing Raise it was his third bout that really caught our attention, with the youngster battling against fellow novice Shota Ogasawara on a card televised live on G+ way back in February. This was the bout made us really take note of UShijima, who looked really good for such a young novice in the first round. In round 2 Ogasawara managed to change the tone of the fight and dropped the youngster with a short, sharp left hand. Ushijima was clearly hurt and Ogasawara went for the kill, though the youngster's heart and desire kept him in the bout despite some hairy moments, before he turned things around himself. With only seconds left in the round he landed a thunderbolt to drop Ogasawara and finish the bout.
Since beating Ogasawara on a live televised bout Ushijima has fought just once, with this bout being available on the A-Sign youtube channel. This bout saw the teenager take on Kyonosuke Kameda, the cousin of Koki, Daiki and Tomoki, and score a draw in a Rookie of the Year preliminary bout. Had Kameda not had his surname there is a good chance that Ushijima would have moved on in the Rookie of the Year, with Kameda utilising a negative style against the youngster.
At the moment Ushijima is pencilled into fight against on September 13th, against Satoru Goto. On paper this is his toughest bout to date, though a win could end being his final bout before heading into 6 rounders.
Watching Ushijima it's clear that the Hachioji Nakaya gym have a natural talent on their hands, but someone who clearly needs serious time, development and guidance to develop his talent. He has a lot to work with, but does need to be allowed to mature physically and mentally before being tested too hard. His defense certainly needs tightening, but if he can do that then there is very, very bright for Ushijima.
In a lot of recent "Introducing..." segments we have looked at professional novices, many of whom we were looking at before they even made their professional debut. This week that changes a little bit as we take a look at Teppei Kayanuma (8-0-1, 5), who has been a professional since 2013, but hasn't been the most active of fighters. The inactivity has certainly been an issue in his climb through the ranks, but this week he returns to the ring for the first time in over 3 years, looking to get his career back on track.
The now 25 year old Kayanuma was only 19 when he made his debut in a 4 round bout at Korakuen Hall in November 2013. That debut had come after just 2 amateur bouts, going 1-1 in the unpaid ranks. On debut he stopped Nobuya Sugimoto in 2 rounds, before being out of the ring for 6 months, returning to stop Tateo Saito in 4 rounds.
There was some clearly early promise for Kayanuma but it would be 9 months until he was back in the ring, where he took a razor thin decision over fellow youngster Seiryu Toshikawa. At the time that win didn't look all that impressive, though Toshikawa has since shown he's more than capable, reaching the 2016 East Japan Rookie of the Year final and pushing Shawn Oda all the way in a Japanese Youth title fight in 2018. On reflection this is a win that has aged excellently.
The 9 month break was actually one that cost Kayanuma a 2014 Rookie of the Year bout against Kimihiro Nakagawa. The win over Toshikawa however advanced Kayanmuma in the 2015 version of the tournament where he would then face Kanehiro Nakagawa in his second preliminary bout. Nakagawa would take Kayanuma 4 rounds, for the second time in his career, but was unable to slow the Kayanuma's rise as the youngster took the decision win.
A couple more wins, including a good one over the then unbeaten Ryota Ishida, followed by a bye against fellow Teiken fighter Masaaki Shiraishi lead to Kayanuma qualifying for the 2015 All Japan Rookie of the Year final.
In the Rookie of the Year final the then 6-0 (4) Kayanuma took on the then 5-0 (4) Shuma Nakazato in a really fantastic match up on paper. The bout promised so much, and it didn't let us down, as the two men traded bombs, and engaged in a 5 round war. Kayanuma dropped Nakazato in what proved to be vital to the outcome.The bout would be scored 47-47, twice, and 49-46 to Kayanuma, who won the Rookie of the Year with via the Dominant Point Rule.
As we entered 2016 Kayanuma seemed like he was going places, and fast. That seemed even clearer when he kicked off the year with a win over Yutaka Motoyoshi in May, blowing out the 14 fight veteran with a huge left hook. Just 2 months after that win he over-came Andrew Palas with a 6 round decision, in July 2016.
Sadly after beating Palas the talented Kanayuma has been inactive. That inactivity is set to end this coming Saturday, when he returns to Korakuen Hall for a 6 round bout. At the time of writing his opponent for that bout hasn't been named, and isn't expecting to be anyone too testing, but to see the Kanayuma back in the ring at last is something we're really excited about. Although it's unlikely he'll make an immediate impact in the rankings we are really looking forward to seeing what a more mature and and older Kanayuma can do now he has a chance to kick on with his boxing career, and make up for lost time.
The Japanese scene is full of talented new blood this year with a host of young fighters all turning professional. This year, more than any other, seems to have been the year where those talented youngsters have almost abandoned the amateur system, rather than remain in the unpaid ranks and make their way to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. It's strange, given how big the Olympics will be for Japan, that so many fighters are turning professional and ditching their Olympic dreams but it's also really exciting how constant the stream of top youngster turning to the professional ranks is.
One of the latest names to begin their professional career, rather than seek a place at the Olympics, is Yudai Shigeoka (0-0). He would almost certainly have been in the running for the Japanese national team next Summer, but instead has followed his younger brother, Ginjiro Shigeoka, to the Watanabe Gym and to the professional ranks.
Aged 22, just a few years older than Ginjiro, the talented Yudai was a fixture at the top of the national amateur scene for years. He ran up an excellent 81-10 (20) record in the unpaid ranks and his achievements really are worth looking over.
As a youngster Yudai won the 2015 Japanese High School Invitational Tournament in Okayama, among other high shool tournaments. The high school success was followed by consecutive finals in the Japanese National Sports festival, losing in the 2017 final to Tomoya Tsuboi and to Tosho Kashiwazaki in the 2018 tournament. He was unlucky to lose to Kashiwazaki in the 2017 Japanese National Championship semi-final but would take home the top prize in the 2018 version of the tournament.
Not only was Yudai repeatedly getting to the business stages on the domestic scene but he was also getting valuable international experience. He reached the final of the 2018 World University Championships, losing to local hero Edmond Khudoyan in the gold medal bout, and showed that he belong at a very very high level.
After seeing his brother made his debut for the Watanabe gym it seemed Yudai was intrigued by following him into the paid ranks. When the Light Flyweight division was dropped from the Olympic plan for 2020 he essentially had the decision made for him. He wasn't comfortable moving up in weight, and likely knew his chances of reaching the games was reduced by the fact his natural division was no longer an option. Rather than waste time following those dreams he decided to turn professional.
Whilst Yudai's professional debut has yet to be announced he impressed in his B license pro-test bout. That test saw him sparring 3 rounds with former world title challenger Masataka Taniguchi, and looking every bit the top tier prospect that you'd expect. He looked sharp, with great variety and defensively smart. He looked very much like an elite prospect, similar in a way to his slower but heavier handed younger brother. He's a southpaw, like his brother, and is very sharp, accurate and skilled, with a more style more suited to boxing, than his brother's hard hitting pressure style
With the Watanabe behind Yudai's professional ascent up the rankings it's obvious Yudai won't be held back. His brother fought for his first title in just his 4th bout, 10 months and 2 days after his debut, and we wouldn't be shocked if we saw something very similar for Yudai.
Yudai, like Ginjiro, has real ambition and he spoke, already, about wanting to become a world champion alongside his brother. Given the ability of both men that is a real possibility.
After a few weeks of looking at debuting fighters we now get he chance to do an "Introducing" on someone with a little bit of professional experience, albeit just a little bit of it, as we look at Toshiya Ishii (1-0, 1), an 18 year old Bantamweight who fights in the biggest fight of his career on August 27th. Amazingly his next bout, his second professional fight, will take place against another fighter we're really big fans of, Fumiya Fuse, showing just how much of a fast track Ishii is on.
Born in 2001 Ishii quickly rose through the domestic amateur scene where he built a reputation as a fantastic young fighter with incredible potential. His amateur days saw him run up a 30-14 (7) record and whilst that isn't an amazing one by any stretch of the imagination it doesn't actually tell us the full story about Ishii's days in the unpaid ranks, or about his potential.
Whilst Ishii's record in the unpaid ranks won't blow people away it's worth noting that he came runner up in the 2018 Inter-Highschool tournament and was often fighting above his natural weight, due to the quality in his high school team. Had he been able to compete at his natural weight we have no doubt his record in the unpaid ranks would have been much better than it ended up being.
It was thanks to his amateur pedigree that Ishii was put forward for a B class license when he turned professional, and he did what was needed to gain that license and begin his career in 6 round bouts.
Ishii made his debut at Dangan 222 back in April, andwe saw the teenager take on Indonesian foe Adam Wijaya. Wijaya was never expected to be any kind of a test for Ishii. Instead it was a chance for his team at the REBOOT gym to see whether or not he was able to cope with the professional style, the pressure of the crowd, the smaller gloves. What he showed was fantastic, exuding a calmness is the ring that we rarely see from a debutant. He was calm, intelligent and showed a good variety of shots, especially to the body, as well as defensive know how and really sharp footwork. It wasn't a blow out win for the sake of blowing an opponent away, but was a controlled showcase of what he could do in the ring.
After his debut win Ishii admitted he was nervous, though it didn't really show, as he boxed intelligently behind his jab, figuring out whether the Indonesian had anything to bother him, before closing the show with some brilliant body punching. It was both impressive, but also the sort of thing we're seeing very regularly with these Japanese amateur fighters who are turning professional young, after a good run in the school boy tournaments.
Whilst Ishii's debut bout told us little about how he would cope with someone like Fuse, the 18 year old does look like he has the potential to go a really long way. There's a feeling that he really could get past Fuse and move into a Japanese Youth title fight in the near future, after all the Fuse bout is a Japanese Youth title eliminator. On the other hand a loss to Fuse, this early in his career, would be no major setback and something he can certainly rebuild from.
Despite Ishii's lack of professional experience he, and his team, will be looking at the Fuse fight as a great chance to make a statement, and a win will secure him a Japanese title fight. That reward is well and truly worth the risk, with a loss clearly not being anywhere close to the end to the line for him, and his promising career.
Another "Introducing" and once again we are looking at a debutant, as we look at Kadoebi's new Super Featherweight hopeful Ryo Nakai (0-0). The young hopeful will make his debut on August 23rd and will be looking to join the likes of stablemate Ryota Yamauchi in quickly rising through the ranks.
The 21 year old Nakai from Nishinomiya City in Hyogo Prefecture has been talked about in hardcore Japanese circles for a while. A lot of that was down to his success as an amateur, which saw him run up a very respectable 40-16 (15) record. The numbers might not be amazing, but they are solid given how notoriously tough the Japanese amateur scene is.
Full results of Nakai's career aren't widely available, though there are a few tournaments out there that we do have results of him from.
One of those tournaments was the Japanese High School Invitational Tournament from Spring 2015, which took place in Okayama. Fighting at 64KG's Nakai went on to win his two bouts at the tournament to take home first place. The tournament may not have featured all of the top, top names of the time it did have the likes of Kaki Yuba actually compete in the same weight class as Nakai, though in opposite half of the draw.
Another tournament that Nakai won was the Kapolri Cup in Indonesia, in 2018. That tournament in Manado saw Nakai win 4 bouts in 5 days to win the tournament, being 1 of 3 Japanese fighters who went all the way, along with Ryusei Baba and Shinichiro Morishita.
As well as the tournament wins Nakai would also be frequent fight in the University league, racking up experience against very good domestic amateurs in one of the toughest domestic leagues on the planet. Whilst he did suffer losses they were to other good fighters, and the fact he more than held his own on the University circuit showed that there was genuine promise and talent there. Talent that was being improved with every bout he was having.
Despite being a very good amateur, and mixing on both domestic and international scenes, footage of Nakai hasn't been easy to track down. Our sources have however informed us he's a southpaw fighter with an excellent jab and good understanding of the ring with a very solid foundation for the Kadoebi gym to build on.
Although he's only signed at the Kadoebi gym earlier this year he is already under the guidance of Hong Dongsik. Whilst he's not an internationally well known trainer the Korean has been in Japan for around 20 years and worked a lot with the Watanabe Gym. Among those he has worked with were Takashi Uchiyama and Ryoichi Taguchi, with Hong working on the body shots with both men, and we'd expect to see body shots becoming a major focus for Nakai during his career.
As mentioned Nakai will debut on August 23rd and will do so in a 6 round bout against unbeaten Filipino foe Jay Lloyd Quidlat. This is a pretty tough debut for the youngster, but a win for Nakai here will be a good statement and a great way to kick off his career.
Japanese fighters in and around the Middleweight division don't typically get much attention, which is partly why Ryota Murata is such an oddity right now. That however doesn't take away from the fact that there really good bouts that take place in Japan at the weight, including some of the best Japanese bouts of the last few years. With that in mind today's "Introducing" looks at up coming debutant Mikio Sakai (0-0), a new signing for the Kadoebi gym and a new addition to the Japanese domestic Middleweight scene.
Currently the Kadoebi Gym has more than it's share of "bigger men" with a number of fighters from 140lbs upwards. For many in Japan from Light Welterweight upwards it's the gym is the best gym, able to offer the best sparring and the best environment to develop. It's got other Middleweights like Shoma Fukumoto and Koki Tyson to get fighters in with and it's got enough there to build a fighter from debut to champion. That's likely played a part in why Sakai has signed there, and why Sakai is going to be moved aggressively as a professional. It does, however, help that he was a very good amateur.
In the unpaid ranks Sakai went 44-22 (19) and competed in a variety of notable national tournaments. He would win the Japanese Interschool Meet in August 2011, a tournament that also saw Naoya Inoue and Ryo Matsumoto pick up wins, and would get into the business end of the 2012 and 2018 Japanese national championships. Although he never managed to go all the win and win national crown as a senior it was clear he had talent, power and skills.
Due to the way he continually fought in pretty notable competition it's not that difficult to see some footage of a younger Sakai fighting in the amateurs and his style, even as early as 2012, looked like it was suited more to the professional game than the amateurs. He was quick on his feet, skirted around the outside of the ring and looked land big right hands at range, with combinations on the inside. He would look to draw mistakes to counter with his hands a touch lower than they should be, but have the speed and reflexes to counter.
That style he showed early on has stayed with him into the later part of his amateur career, though it was polished and the wider hooks, thrown from out of range, have been curtailed, becoming much sharper. He's not looked destructive, in terms of 1-punch power, but he looked a sharp clean puncher with a good work rate. The one really issue however is that he often looked under-sized and that would have been a major problem on the international stage, with some amateur Middleweights being incredibly big guys.
As a professional we're expecting Sakai to be an aggressive boxer-puncher. The small gloves will help him when it comes to power, and his style looks pro-ready, with sharp shooting at range, good combinations on the inside and nice movement. At 26 he's coming into his physical peak, so maybe a little late to debut, but with Kadoebi behind him he will be moved quickly, if they feel confident in him.
Talking about Kadoebi's confidence in Sakai they are showing belief right out the blocks and when he debut's on August 23rd against Elfelos Vega (7-6, 5), who has gone the distance the distance with the likes of Takeshi Inoue and Charles Bellamy. This is a really tough debut, despite Vega's record, and a dominating win for Sakai would be a real statement of intent from the new pro, who may struggle a bit against someone as dangerous and tough as Vega this early in his career.
For a second week in a row we're getting the chance to speak about a former amateur standout making their debut in Japan, with this week's "Introducing" looking at Celes Gym's new hopeful Issei Ochiai (0-0), who begins his career on August 3rd. The touted southpaw is tipped for big things at the Celes gym, managed by former world champion Celes Kobayashi, and it's not without good reason.
The Celes gym isn't one of the biggest, and it rarely promotes shows of it's own, but it has guided Ryosuke Iwasa to a world title and will be hoping to do the same with Ochiai, who like Iwasa is a southpaw fighter.
The youngster was a notable feature on the domestic amateur scene over the last few years, and ran up a solid, if unspectacular, 23-7 amateur record. That might not be a jaw dropping figure, but he was often fighting against more experienced foes and he managed to show real improvement as an amateur, coming second in the national championships in 2018 at the junior level,
Ochiai began fighting at a really young age, in fact he was still in elementary school when he began training under his father's guidance. He would later develop his skills enough to fight at a higher and higher level, reaching the quarter finals of major domestic tournament in 2017.
The youngster continued to develop his skills and created a bit of a buzz locally in Ehime Prefecture but nationally attention on him was relatively minimal, allowing him to build on his skills without too much in terms of major media attention. That means a lot of his amateur fights aren't actually available, but from the few that are we can see a really solid and sharp fighter.
From the footage available Ochiai as an amateur he's a sharp punching southpaw, with nice movement, good speed, nice variety to his punching and an excellent straight left hand. There were some clear areas to work on, often being a touch wide with his punches, as we saw against Riki Kawabe in one of his Inter-High School bouts. One of the notable features of Ochiai's amateur style was the he used distance, and fought at range with his footwork being incredibly smart.
Ochiai will debut as a Super Flyweight on August 3rd as he takes on Thai foe Lerdchai Chaiyawed. On paper this should be a formality for Ochiai, but in reality Chaiyawed is no push over and has already scored a win over Samartlek Kokietgym and put up two solid efforts in Japan. As a win it won't be a huge one, but it's a sign of intent from Celes and from Ochiai, who we expect to be moved quickly through the ranks.
We don't often want to "introduce" debutants but there's sometimes a case where we feel that a debutant is the most fitting fighter for one of these "Introducing" pieces, and that's the case this week, as we take a look at Mutoh Gym's latest top prospect, Yusuke Mine (0-0), ahead of his July 26th debut.
The talented youngster is regarded as the gym's brightest prospect since Nobuo Nashiro joined the gym, and has been labelled with the "Nashiro II" tag. That is something that could be a curse for some, though is clearly a sign of respect given that Mine has a personal relationship with Nashiro. In fact it was Nashiro who actually headed the university team that Nashiro fought for as an amateur.
Having mentioned Mine's amateur career that really has to be the focus of this introducing article. In the unpaid ranks he really was a standout, competing not only on the domestic scene but also making his mark on the international scene. He ran up a very impressive 51-12 (10) record. In 2014 he came runner up in the Japanese Interschool Athletic Meet at 49KG's, it's worth noting that just 7KG's north Hinata Maruta also came runner up. The following year he went all the win to the gold medal of a International Invitational Tournament in Taipei, showing his skills against a variety of international opposition. Despite his successes in the unpaid ranks he did fail to shine at the 2016 Japanese National Championships, losing in 2 rounds to the sensationally talented Ryomei Tanaka, who would go on to win the competition.
Although known for his boxing it's worth noting that Mine's love of combat sport began before his love of boxing, and he actually started with Karate at the age of 5, before moving to boxing in High School, at the same high school that Kazuto Ioka had once gone to. That lead him, eventually, to being taken under the wing of Nashiro, the most successful fighter from the Mutoh Gym, and it's clear that Nashiro has has something to do with Mine turning professional and signing up Takashi Edagawa's gym.
Unfortunately despite being a good amateur, footage of Mine from his days in the unpaid ranks was quite hard to find and what was available didn't really show him at his best, in fact the one fight that was available in full that we found saw him losing 5-0 in a University League match in 2018. What seemed clear though is that he had talent, but didn't really look at the races, against a very talented southpaw opponent.
Mine's debut will take place this coming Friday, as he takes on Filipino foe Jesel Guardario (8-3-1, 4). On paper this is a really decent opponent for a debut, and the Filipino is no push over, despite plenty of limitations. He went 6 rounds with Ryo Suwa last year, in Kobe, but shouldn't be too stiff of a test for Mine, if Mine is as good as the folk in Osaka are suggesting.
One thing about Japanese boxing right now is that a lot of the youngsters want to impress. It's not just that they want to win, but they want to win in style, they want to make fans talk about them, they want to leave a great impression. One such fighter is 22 year old Light Flyweight Tsuyoshi Sato (9-1-1, 5), who has quickly become one of most must watch young fighters in Japan.
The young Sato is a member of the Kadoebi Gym, a gym with a lot of a talent, and even in such a talent packed environment as the Kadoebi gym the youngster is standing out as someone very exciting, with an incredibly fan friendly style.
Sato made his debut in November 2015, aged 18, and beat the then 17 year old Tatsuya Tomioka with a 4 round unanimous decision. Whilst this was a rather low key win it is worth noting that in 2016 Tomioka would come runner up in the All Japan Rookie of the Year.
Sadly for Sato his second bout saw him suffering a defeat, losing to Tatsuhiro Toguchi in 2 rounds. Following his loss Sato would then fight to a split draw with Daiki Kameyama, who later went on to win the Rookie of the Year in 2018. By this point Sato was 1-1-1 and had been a professional for over a year though wasn't creating much buzz, however a buzz would quickly form for Sato by the end of 2017.
Sato's 2017 had began with the draw against Kameyama, in February. His second bout of the year saw him stopping the then 3-0 Natsu Ohashi before taking a decision over Yuki Uchida and then taking a split decision win over Kameyama, avenging the draw from the start of the year. That win over Kameyama saw Sato claim the East Japan Rookie of the Year crown and move on to the All Japan final, where he faced West Japan champion Yusei Nagai.
Nagai, who was 3-0 at the time, was under extreme pressure from Sato from the opening moments and within seconds Nagai was being forced to fight entirely off the back foot. It wasn't something that suited him. Around 1 minute into the fight Nagai found himself being tagged in the corner, and by the it seemed like a matter of time, with Sato dropping him soon afterwards. Nagai would recover to his feet but the pressure from Sato was incessant and he'd force a stoppage soon afterwards.
Following his Rookie triumph in 2017 Sato would have a great 2018, going 3-0 (2), with a 6 round decision win over Yoshiki Abe and stoppages against Sulis Bareer and Toma Kondo. Those wins continued to build Sato's reputation, experience and style, and by the end of the year he was becoming a must watch fighter, even if he was still only fighting in low level bouts against domestic foes.
Earlier this year Sato took part in a Japanese Youth title eliminator, and wore down Tetsuya Tomioka in 2 rounds to book himself a title fight. That title fight comes on July 27th when he faces Rikito Shiba for the Japanese Youth Flyweight title. This is a bout that we're really looking forward to, and Shiba has previously been featured in one of these "Introducing" pieces himself, with two talented, skilled and exciting young fighters battling for their first title.
For those who haven't seen much of Sato he's an all out pressure fighter. He's not the biggest single punch puncher, but he's developing his power, throws hard combinations and has improved a lot from his 1-1-1 start to professional boxing. He is one of the the Japanese scene's most exciting young fighters and someone who, win or lose, will be a must watch little action man.
This is just an opinion, maaaan! It's easy to share our opinions, and that's what you'll find here, some random opinion pieces