The Watanabe gym is thriving, despite a recent loss for Shin Ono and the retirement ceremony of Kohei Kono. The reason they are thriving so much is their young talent. We recently covered Ginjiro Shigeoka in a previous "Introducing..." and now we'd like to talk about another Watanabe prospect, Fumiya Fuse (7-0, 1) [富施郁哉], who isn't on the same trajectory as Shigeoka, but has been very impressive himself.
Born in 1998 Fuse was only 18 when he made his professional debut in January 2017. There was no hype behind the youngster, no expectation and no real pressure. Despite being under the radar he quickly impressed and exactly 11 months after his debut he was crowned the 2017 Bantamweight Rookie of the Year.
Fuse had made his debut at Super Featherweight, but quickly dropped the weight to move down to Bantamweight. At Bantamweight he settled and scored Rookie wins over Takayoshi Suzuki and Wataru Ikegami to become the East Japan Rookie of the year. As the East Japan champion he would then competed in the all Japan final against the unbeaten West Japan representative Hiroki Tokuyama. Fuse would stop Tokuyama, though in fairness the stoppage was a poor one, to become the all Japan champion and go into 2018 with some expectations on his shoulders.
Having fought 5 times in his debut year, going 5-0 (1), Fuse was actually not too active in 2018, fighting just twice. The first of those bouts saw him defeat the previously unbeaten Yohanis Tatul over 6 rounds before making his international debut in October 2018, travelling to Korea and schooling Dong Young Lee, in a Japan Vs Korea show. That performance, more than any of the others, showed just how good Fuse is. He out boxed, out moved, out punched, out skilled and out sped the Korean who struggled to win a single from the 6 round contest.
Unlike many of the youngsters at the Watanabe gym Fuse doesn't have power, he's not a destructive fighter. He has enough snap on his shots to keep opponents respectful, but won't go out and destroy them. Instead Fuse will out box them, using his movement, handspeed and brain to out think fighters, and rack up the points. We suspect that might change when he matures, given he still hasn't got his man strength, but for now he is developing a very sharp boxing style.
In some ways his career has started in a similar way to that of current WBO Super Featherweight world champion. Like Ito we've not seen Fuse show much power, instead relying on his boxing skills, both have won the Rookie of the Year and if Fuse can have a career anything like that of Ito he'll have done something to be very proud about.
For those wanting to follow Fuse's career, he'll be in action again on February 26th, when he'll face Naoto Mizutani as part of an undercard on a major Watanabe show. A win there will move Fuse towards a potential Japanese youth title fight, and we'll be looking forward to his progress through 2019.
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