The World Sport Boxing Gym is a criminally over-looked one, which has started to sign up some pretty notable amateur fighters from across Japan. One of their most notable recent signings is Welterweight Takuma Takahashi (3-0, 3), who joins the likes of Takeshi Inoue, at Light Middleweight, and Kazuto Takesako, at Middleweight, in the heavier weights for Japanese fighters. The 25 year old has long been tipped for big things, and was a former amateur star on the domestic scene.
Born in the Sumiyoshi Ward of Osaka, Takahashi had a stellar amateur career. During his years in the unpaid ranks he went 77-24 (68) showing not only a habit of winning, but also hitting hard. That amateur record didn't just result in some pretty numbers but also actual achievements, with 4 amateur championships.
Although full details of what he won, and when, is hard to find we do know that he shone at the 2010 Japanese Junior Selection Tournament in Gunma, stopping Takayuki Nishii in the final, and reached the semi-finals of two national championships, losing in 2012 to Kiyoshi Hattori and in 2013 to Kazuki Saito.
Following his long amateur career Takahashi turned professional, signing up with the World Sport Boxing gym in Tokyo. He would take part in his protest in April 2018, sharing the ring with Japanese Middleweight champion Kazuto Takesako for his pro-test bout. The pro-test saw Takahashi showing off good skills and under-standing of the ring and made a number of people within Japanese boxing circles take note, especially given that his debut was pencilled in for just a few weeks late, on June 2nd.
On his debut Takahashi took on Thai foe Weerayut Wannasri and looked a pretty promising talent, though not like a fighter with over 100 amateur bouts. There was a sense of stiffness to his work, his straight punches looked flawed and like there was work to do. He lacked the fluidity that we see in a lot of Japanese amateurs who turn professional. What he did show however was that he threw smart body shots and was heavy handed, with a commitment to forcing opponents on to the back foot. He would stop his Thai foe in the second round, and clearly show his team that whilst he was powerful there was real work to do.
In his second bout Takahashi's defensive issues reared their head as he dropped from a big right hand by Filipino Joepher Montano, a crude but heavy handed visitor. Despite being dropped he was composed when he recovered to his feet and quickly caught Montano with a counter to stop the Filipino and move to 2-0 (2).
Takahashi's most recent bout came in March, when he took on Filipino Jonel Dapidran. On paper this was a notable step up, but proved to be a relatively pointless match with Dapidran looking very poor, and Takahashi scoring an opening round win. Again Takahashi looked defensively flawed, open and stiff, but seemed to have worked on his defense, become more relaxed, and landed a gorgeous right hand to drop Dapidran, and stop the bout. There was still work to do, but he was making the right strides, especially at such an early stage in his career.
The unbeaten Takahashi clearly has a lot of work to do, but as a promising puncher there is real potential for him to be in some fun to watch bouts. He is crude, he is unpolished and he is flawed, but those issues will only make him more and more fun to watch, knowing he can be hurt, just as easily as he can hurt others.
At the moment his next bout hasn't been arranged, those we're hoping it'll be in the summer and be another step forward for his development.
March is always an interesting month in Asian boxing, as bouts across the globe began to ramp up, after a relatively quiet start to the year. The month this year is packed with bouts right across the continent, including a lot of promising prospects.
Kazuto Takesako (10-0, 10) Vs Shuji Kato (10-1-1, 6) - Tokyo, Japan
The first major bout in March will see unbeaten Japanese Middleweight champion Kazuto Takesako defending his belt against mandatory challenger Shuji Kato. The bout is expected to be another KO win for the champion, but the champion is certainly not unbeatable and Kato comes into this bout full of confidence following an upset win over former champion Hikaru Nishida.
Takuma Takahashi (2-0, 2) Vs Jonel Dapidran (10-3, 6) - Tokyo, Japan
Touted and unbeaten prospect Takuma Takahasi made his debut last year, and has scored back to back early wins against visitors. Now he takes a step up in class going up against Filipino opponent Jonel Dapidran. Dapidran was beaten in 3 rounds last October, by Rikuto Adachi, but we're expecting a better performance form him here. It's also worth noting that this will be Takahashi's first 8 round bout.
Masahiro Suzuki (1-0, 1) Vs Kelvin Tenorio (4-4, 2)- Tokyo, Japan
We were incredibly impressed by Masahiro Suzuki on his debut, showing all the touches of a future star, and we're really excited to see him return to the ring here as he takes on Filipino foe Kelvin Tenorio. We suspect this will be easier for Suzuki than his debut, which came against a very dangerous foe, but he's certainly not being matched softly at this early stage.
Jin Minamide (2-0, 2) Vs Marjun Pantilgan (18-7, 14) -Tokyo, Japan
Unbeaten Celes Kobayashi managed fighter Jin Minamide has fought for just over 3 minutes as a professional, taking out two experienced Filipino's already. Now he'll be taking a major step up in class to take on Marjun Pantilgan, who has been brought over to Japan a couple of times and tested very good prospects. Pntilgan is tough and will come to win, making this a very risky bout for Minamide at this stage in his career.
Charly Suarez (1-0, 1) Vs Justin Cabarles (4-0, 2) -Davao del Norte, Philippines
We travel over to the Philippines for the next notable bout, as former Olympian Charly Suarez goes for his first title. The 2016 Olympian will be up against fellow unbeaten Justin Carbarles in a bout for the MinProBA Lightweight title. It's hard to imagine Suarez losing, but he will need to be fast tracked after this bout if he's to make the most of his talent, as he is already the wrong side of 30.
Denver Cuello (36-5-6, 24) Vs Jack Amisa (21-45-2, 14) - Philippines
Former world title challenger Denver Cuello has been out of the ring for well over 3 years but returns this month to take on Indonesian journeyman Jack Amisa. Cuello was once seen as a potential star of the Minimumweight division, and had huge support from Filipino fans due to his hard hitting style, but injuries destroyed a number of his prime years. It's unclear what he has left, but it is great to see him return, and give the sport one last chance.
Sonny Boy Jaro (44-14-5, 31) Vs Frans Damur Palue (15-21-3, 10) - Philippines
Cuello isn't the only Filipino veteran in action today, as former WBC Flyweight champion Sonny Boy Jaro returns to the ring for his 64th professional bout. Jaro has been a professional since 2001 and faced a real who's who, so Indonesian journeyman Frans Damur Palue will not pose much of a threat. At the age of 36 however we do wonder how much longer Jaro has left in the tank.
Robert Paradero (17-0, 11) Vs Wilfredo Mendez (11-1, 4) - Trujillo Alto, Puerto Rico
The on again off again match up between Filipino Robert Paradero and Puerto Rican Wilfredo Mendez is pencilled in again here, in what will be a WBO Inter-Continental Minimumweight title bout. This bout was supposed to take place in December, being arranged for, then re-arranged for the month, so we'd not be shocked to see this being cancelled, but it is a very good match up and hopefully does take place this time around.
Dmitry Bivol (15-0, 11) vs Joe Smith Jr (24-2, 20) - Verona, USA
Kyrgyzstan born Russian Dmitry Bivol will be making his next defense of the WBA Light Heavyweight title as he takes on big punching American Joe Smith Jr in what should be a very exciting contest. Bivol is the much more rounded fighter, but Smith is tough, heavy handed, and has proven to be very dangerous at the fringe world level. This should be a clear win for Bivol, but he won't be able to get cocky against someone who hits as hard as Smith does.
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