November is very much a top heavy month, starting with pretty the best of what we're going to be getting. Despite there is some solid action in the second week of the month, thanks to a fantastic Dangan card.
Taiki Minamoto (16-5-1, 13) Vs Takuya Watanabe (36-9-1, 21) - Tokyo, Japan
This part of the month has a sensational Japanese Super Featherweight title eliminator
as former Japanese Featherweight champion Taiki Minamoto takes on the always tough Takuya Watanabe. The hard hitting Minamoto moved up in weight earlier this year, after defending the Featherweight title against Reiya Abe, and will be hoping his concussive power carries up to Super Featherweight. For Watanabe another loss here will likely end his hopes if ever becoming a Japanese champion, but given his style and toughness he certainly has a chance against Minamoto.
Seiya Tsutsumi (5-0, 4) Vs Kenya Yamashita (14-5, 11) - Tokyo, Japan
A potentially thrilling God's Left Bantamweight tournament semi-final
will see the unbeaten Seiya Tsutsumi take on the much more experienced Kenya Yamashita in a bout we're expecting to be short and explosive. Both of these men throw bombs, both are aggressive and exciting and both come to fight. It's worth noting that this will be Tsutsumi's first bout since transferring to the Kadoebi gym though we don't expect them to have tempered his aggressive mentality.
Jin Minamide (4-0, 3) Vs Kuzuki Nakajima (7-0, 6) - Tokyo, Japan
The second God's Left Bantamweight tournament semi-final
will be a clash of unbeaten men as the explosive pairing of Jin Minamide and Kazuki Nakajima clash. Both of these men solid amateurs and have been destructive professional fighters so far in their career's. Although Nakajima is the more experienced of the two we feel that Minamide is the more accomplished, and he answered a number of real questions against Tetsu Araki in his tournament quarter final bout. Expect this to be a highly skilled, big hitting war.
Alie Laurel (16-4-1, 10) vs Ernesto Saulong (22-5-2, 9) III - Gumaca, Philppinee
An all Filipino bout for the WBO Oriental Super Bantamweight title will see Alie Laurel take on Ernesto Saulong in a very interesting clash, though one at a sub regional title level. Notably this will be the third clash between the two men, with Sualong having won the first two, and this is supposed to be the final clash between the two Pinoy pugilists.
West Japan Rookie of Year finals- Osaka, Japan
Exactly 1 week after the East Japan Rookie of Year finals we get the West Japan Rookie of the Year finals. As with the show a week earlier we're expect a lot of great action as fighters compete for the chance to become the All Japan Rookie of the Year in December. This is set to be a great card for emerging young fighters, and we would suggest every fight fan keeps an eye on this show, even if the bouts won't be televised until the following week.
Mercito Gesta (32-3-2, 17) Vs Carlos Morales (19-4-3, 8) - California, USA
Former world title challenger Mercito Gesta was upset last time out, when he was stopped by Juan Antonio Rodriguez, suffering his first stoppage loss. Now the 32 year old Filipino is pretty much in the last chance saloon, and another loss would almost certainly spell the end for the southpaw. Morales isn't particularly well known but the 29 year old will know that a win over Gesta will put his name on the map, and although he's the under-dog he is a very, very live fighter here, following competitive bouts with Rene Alvarado and Ryan Garcia. Gesta might be expecting a win here, but we certainly wouldn't be surprised if Morales had too much for him here.
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