The Teiken Gym is one of the most well established gyms in Japan, and has had a number of notable world champions coming in and out of it's doors in Tokyo. At the moment however the gym isn't as strong as it once was and a gym that was once packed with champions, from Japanese nationals right through to world champions, is rather lacking. Whilst it's not great for the gym, it's certainly not all doom and gloom, and the gym is actually looking like it has a lot of reasons to be excited, as it has spent the last year or so snapping up good amateur talent for it's next wave of champions.
Among those many amateur fighters is Katsuya Fukui (2-0, 1), who debuted back in September, on his 23rd birthday, and looks like he could be another name to keep a very close eye on going forward.
As an amateur the young Fukui went an impressive 59-16 and won numerous competitions, including the 2014 Interschool Athletic Meet in Chigasaki, with Fukui beating Yusuke Mine in the final. That same tournament also held notable tournament wins for Yudai Shigeoka and Go Hosaka, and saw Hinata Maruta picking up second place in his weight class.
Back in September Fukui's debut was televised as part of a live G+ broadcast under the Dynamic Glove banner. Fukui would take on capable Korean Sang Hoon Kim in a scheduled 6 rounder, and immediately was clear he was a talent. His composure and educated pressure shone. Whilst his accuracy was lacking at times, he was up against someone who was negative, a surprising trait for a Korean fighter, and it very much felt like Kim realised the quality of the debutant he was in with. After back tracking through much of the first round Kim was caught in round 2 as Fukui finally got to his man, landing a series of right hands up top, then dropping his man with body shots.
It wasn't a flawless debut, it was never going to be given how negative Kim was, but Fukui still showed what he could do, and when facing less negative fighter we expect to see a lot more form him.
Sadly Fukui's second bout wasn't actually televised. It instead came as part of a huge card, though missed out on TV exposure. The card however massive one, the WBSS Bantamweight final, with Fukui stopping Thai Chakkit Ratchakhot in 2 rounds. The Thai went down several times before being stopped in what was an easy second win, albeit in a huge venue as part of a massive show, for the youngster.
At the moment it's not totally clear when Fukui will be back in the ring, though we suspect it'll be some point in Spring, potentially as part of another Dynamic Glove card with Teiken likely to push him relatively quickly. He's not yet a super talent, like some of their other prospects, but he's certainly a very, very capable young fighter with traits that could take him very far, if guided right.
Having mentioned how Teiken look to be bringing through their next generation of champions it's worth noting that Fukui fit's in to a class of prospects at Teiken that also includes Kuntae Lee, Mikito Nakano, Shokichi Iwata and Hiroto Yashiro, all of whom were accomplished amateurs. This group looks likely to be among the core prospects for Teiken over the coming years, and will all be worth following as the gym looks to rebound from a rough patch in it's history.
This past week was a really crazy one with so many shows, especially over the weekend, making it almost impossible to watch everything. Over the weekend alone there were cards in Thailand, Japan, Indonesia, South Korea and the Philippines in what was low key one of the busiest most hectic couple of days of the year. There wasn't just a lot going on but also some hidden gems, so thrilling performances and some exhilarating action.
Fighter of the Week
Pedro Taduran (14-2, 11)
The star for the weekend was Filipino warrior Pedro Taduran, who scored a TKO win over Samuel Salva to become the new IBF Minimumweight champion. Taduran set out his stall early on, applied constant pressure and despite being dropped in the opening round he eventually broke down Salva in very impressive, and destructive, fashion. In regards to the Fighter of the Week award he won the biggest fight of the weekend, and looked great doing it. He was exciting, aggressive, tough, rugged and very fun to watch, making the most of his second chance to win a world title.
Performance of the Week
Pedro Taduran (14-2, 11)
We're sticking with Taduran again for the Performance of the Week as well the Fighter of the Week. His performance, where he simply walked through the unbeaten Samuel Salva was incredibly impressive. He didn't show a great deal of technical excellence, but fought to his strengths, broke down his more skilled foe and battered Samuel into submission with intense pressure and 2-handed offense. It was brutal, beautiful and brilliant from Taduran.
Tae Gwang Park (0-0) v Sang Min Oh (2-0, 2)
Having just described something as brutal and beautiful it goes without saying that most fights in Korea are beautifully brutal, and that was the case in the 4 round rookie bout between Tae Gwang Park and Sang Min Oh. This 4 rounder wasn't a technical masterclass, in fact it wasn't technical in the slightest, but it was violent, exciting and all brutal, with heavy leather being thrown by both through the 4 round contest. It somewhat slowly but got better round by round and ended up being a very hard hitting and hurtful war. This is was rock em sock robots, with defense not really being in the vocabulary of either man.
Pedro Taduran Vs Samuel Salva (Rd 3)
We head back to Pedro Taduran's fight with Samuel Salva for our Round of the Week, and what a round it was! After Salva seemed to win the first two rounds we saw Taduran move through the gears in round 3, but eat a number of clean right hands at the start of the round. From there on however Taduran managed to hurt Salva, and kept the pressure on, through an insane amount of leather whilst Salva went into survival mode. How Salva stayed up right is a mystery, but over 3 minutes was wonderfully chaotic action and the success for Taduran was the momentum shift that lead to his victory.
Hikari Mineta KO1 Yuji Oba
The KO of the Week was an interesting category with a lot of eye catching finishes. For us however the one that stayed with us the most was the huge right hand KO of Hikari Mineta. She shot sent Oba crumbling to the canvas, his legs bending under his body as he went down. He was seemingly aware of his surroundings, but couldn't respond at all to the 10 count following one of the sweetest shots Mineta will ever land. This was a wonderful visual to see and a fantastic finish. We're also glad to report that Oba was complete fine and there was no leg injury, despite the was his body crashed to the canvas.
Katsuya Fukui (1-0, 1)
We're staying in Japan for our Prospect of the Week, Katsuya Fukui. The debuting Fukui, who was a solid amateur, was up against Korean visitor Sang Hoon Kim who we expected to give the new professional a decent test. Instead Fukui smartly boxed behind his jab, approached the bout with a real viciousness to his work and took Kim out relatively easily. The result, a 2nd round KO, wasn't the impressive thing however. What impressed was his approach to the fight. Despite being in total control the debutant didn't take big risks, instead boxing smartly to defeat Kim, applying smart pressure and boxing behind his jab. His performance showed a real maturity and it's clear that he's someone Teiken can get excited about.
Reiya Abe (19-2-1, 9) vs Ryo Sagawa (7-1, 4)
This coming week sees things get a little bit crazy with a lot of potentially brilliant action coming up. Despite a host of great fights being on the docket the one that has us more excited than all the others is the Japanese Featherweight title bout between Reiya Abe and Ryo Sagawa. This bout is a 50-50 type match up, between two very skilled fighters, who have styles that should work well together. Sagawa is technically smart offensive fighter whilst Abe is a technically smart sharp shooting fighter, and when those styles gel we can get some thrillers. This should be hotly contested, highly skilled chess, and we're gonna love seeing how it goes!
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