The end of July is upon us and we see another surge in action, especially in Japan, with tournaments, titles, prospects and a touted debutant!
On July 23rd we get something a little bit different as Dangan put on the quarter final bouts for their God's Left Bantamweight tournament:
Gaku Aikawa (9-7-1, 3) Vs Kenya Yamashita (13-5, 10) - Tokyo, Japan
Kazuki Nakajima (6-0, 5) Vs Kenichi Watanabe (8-4-1, 4) - Tokyo, Japan
Jin Minamide (3-0, 3) Vs Tetsu Araki (14-1-1, 2) - Tokyo, Japan
The three matches above are all part of the God's Left tournament and on paper the stand out match up is the Minamide Vs Araki bout, pitting one of the most touted prospects against the man with the most success at title level, with Araki having been a Japanese Youth champion. It's hard to imagine anything but a win for Kazuki Nakajima in his bout with Kenichi Watanabe, with Aikawa Vs Yamashita has the potential to be an all out thriller.
Earlier this year we did an "Introducing..." on Kadoebi prospect Yuki Nakajima. He has an older, a similarly promising, brother who fights out of the Ohashi gym. That is Bantamweight prospect Kazuki Nakajima (6-0, 5), who's a couple of years older than Yuki and a little further along with his career. Like Yuki big things are expected from Kazuki, though he has gone through a little bit of a career stagnation recently and hasn't fought since December, and we're hoping to see him back sooner rather than later.
Nakajima was born in May 1993, in the city of Yamatokōriyama, Nara prefecture and would run up an impressive amateur record of 72-15 (30) before turning professional. Whilst that record isn't an mind blowing one he was highly regarded and had competed on the national scene and was crowned the Kansai League MVP. That amateur pedigree excited those at the Ohashi gym and in 2017 Nakajima signed with the Hideyuki Ohashi lead gym.
On June 25th 2017 Nakajima made his debut, taking on fellow debutant Alangkan Worakhut from Thailand. The Japanese southpaw needed just 109 seconds to see off the Thai, who was dropped twice in the bout, once from a straight left and once from an uppercut. Although not badly hurt from the shots Alangkan knew he was beat and held his shoulder whilst being counted out, as if to suggest he had injured himself and although it seems hard to belive he did seem in total agony in his corner after the bout.
Just a couple of months later Nakajima would secure his second win, stopping Indonesian Resnu Sundava in 26 seconds. Nakajima would finish this one with a left hand to the body of the visitor. It's worth noting that Sandava had never previously been stopped, but didn't look like he wanted to be in the ring with Nakajima and looked like a man wanting to get out of the ring as quickly as possible.
Thankfully in December 2017, as part of the under-card to Naoya Inoue's win over Yoan Boyeaux, Nakajima was actually tested, as he went up against the criminally under-rated Taiga Higashi. Higashi, who really is a nightmare for a prospect, gave Nakajima a really good 6 round test. Not only did Nakajima get taken 6 rounds, for the first time, but he also lost a couple of rounds to Higashi, who also dropped Nakajima with a right hook, and was forced to fight through adversity. Although it had taken 6 months Nakajima had now been shown what professional boxing was about, and showed could dig deep when he needed to.
After having had such a good test the hope was for Nakajima to be given another test straight away. Sadly he was matched with Thai foe Siripong Prasroedpong, who lasted just 85 seconds. Thankfully it wasn't long before he stepped back up in class and stopped the tough Takuya Fujioka, who retired between rounds and took his first stoppage loss. Fujioka never looked like he was able to get into the bout as the skills, speed and power from Nakajima were simply too much and Fujioka's corner did well to save their man from additional punishment in the later rounds. Nakajima would again step up in his follow up bout, beating Yoshihiro Utsumi in 7 rounds, in what was his most impressive performances to date.
As mentioned Nakajima hasn't fought this year, with his win against Utsumi coming back in December. He's still young enough to take some time off, but we'd hope he fits in a couple of fights this year and makes up for lost time. He was looking really good at the end of 2018, and certainly has the potential to find himself in the title mix at Bantamweight, at least domestically and regionally, and it would be a massive shame if that potential went to waste.
Nakajima is a sharp punching, well school, heavy handed southpaw with high level skills. He still needs development, which experience will help him with, but the tools and team are in place for him to have an excellent career.
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