On October 28th we saw Accel Sumiyoshi and Tatsuya Yanagi, fight to a draw in a Japanese title eliminator at Lightweight. Despite being held to a draw Sumiyoshi became the mandatory, and now the next question is who will he be up against at the 2019 Champion Carnival, when he gets his shot at the belt.
We'll find out who Sumiyoshi's opponent will be on December 13th, when current Japanese Lightweight champion Shuichiro Yoshino (8-0, 6) makes his third defense and takes on the challenge of Kazumasa Kobayashi (10-7-1, 6). On paper this looks like a very straight forward defense for the talented champion, but sees him keeping a very good level of activity with a 4th bout in just 14 months.
Yoshino is a really classy fighter who was former amateur standout before making his professional debut in 2015. Ever since debuting Yoshino has been earmarked for success and has been matched hard as he and his team chase titles and accomplishments. In just his 4th professional bout he beat Yoshitaka Kato and he would claim the Japanese title in just his 6th bout, stopping veteran Spicy Matsushita. Since then he defended the belt with stoppage wins over Masaski Saito, in the 2018 Champion Carnival, and Genki Maeda. Not only has he been stopping opponents but he has been doing it early, and late, proving he has stamina to go with his power and skills.
Although Yoshino hasn't yet gone beyond Japanese level, we believe he's the best Japanese Lightweight out there. We feel he'd beat OPBF champion Masayoshi Nakatani and WBO Asia Pacific champion Nihito Arakawa. Hopefully in 2019 he gets those chances, as he is far too good to waste time on the domestic title scene.
The 35 year old challenger has had a relatively weird career, . He debuted almost 13 years ago, as a 22 year old, and has had a stop start career. He fought 4 times within 11 months to begin his career but suffered his first loss and spent over 30 months away from the ring. He would go on to have several more breaks over the years, including taking the entire of 2016 out of the ring. As well as the inactivity he has also had inconsistent results, though he has gone up against notable fighters, such as Takashi Inagaki, Masanobu Nakazawa, and Kota Tokunaga.
From his last performance Kobayashi looked like a huge Lightweight, who appeared to be tough, surprisingly fit for a 35 year old with a decent work rate and his knockout blow against Noriyoshi Taki looked really impressive. He's a weird looking fighter, who lacks a lot of technical ability, but is unorthodox, awkward and can clearly hit hard, if he can connect with a thunderbolt.
We suspect that Kobayashi will be dangerous and unpredictable, but will struggle to cope with the variety, speed and slickness of Yoshino, who we expect to continue his reign and do so in style. The challenger has only been stopped once, in 7 rounds by Tomoya Yamada, but we expect him to be stopped again here by the smart, talented and strong Yoshino.
Sadly in 2019 we suspect that Yoshino will deal with Accel Sumiyoshi as well, and prove that he really is a class above the Japanese domestic level fighters who will be challenging him whilst he continues to hold this title.
Not every bout worth talking about is a title bout, and of not every title bout is worth talking about. One great fight coming up with no title on the line is a match up between recent OPBF Featherweight title challenger Shingo Kawamura (16-4-1, 8) and former amateur stand out Ryo Sagawa (5-1, 3), who clash in what could be the hidden gem of the month on December 13th. Both men have real ambition, both know a win will give their career a huge boost and both know that a loss could see them being forced to work incredibly hard to get an opportunity of any kinda next year.
With 21 professional fights under his belt the 28 year old Kawamura will likely go into the bout as the slight favourite, though even that's not a given in what is a 50/50 in our eyes. Despite his record having multiple defeats on it he has had a really notable career bouncing back from a stoppage loss on debut, in 2012, to win the 2013 All Japan Rookie of the Year at Featherweight. As his career looked to be booming he was upset by Attanon Kunlawong in 2014. He would rebuild from that loss before losing on his international debut, coming up short in a decision loss to Mike Tawatchai. That loss however seemed to allow Kawamura to build his confidence and he would string 5 wins together, including a decision victory over Tae Il Atsumi in 2017. That run of good form lead him to a fight with OPBF champion Satoshi Shimizu earlier this year, and he gave Shimizu fits, setting a high tempo and forcing the 2012 Olympic bronze medal winner to back up several times. Despite the aggression, work rate an electric start Kawamura would be stopped by Shimizu, though had impressed and was clearly going to be getting other big fights in the future.
In the ring Kawamura is an aggressive fighter, who fights out of the southpaw stance with a high work rate. He uses his southpaw jab well to set up his other work, but is defensively open, something that Shimizu made him pay for. Although he has a good jab his straight left hand is rather sloppy at times, though when it lands it can do damage. Watching him you sometimes get the feeling he's a fighter who is battling some internal urges, which wish to have an inside war, and if we're being honest his hooks do seem to be among his very best weapons and are often thrown with more conviction than his jabs and straights. Almost as if he's a natural inside fighter who is being taught to fight on the outside and make the most of his size.
Whilst Kawamura impressed in a loss to Shimizu earlier this year Sagawa impressed with a win against Ryo Matsumoto, a stablemate of Shimizu's, who he stopped in a 3 round upset in September. The win over Matsumoto was a shock, though it perhaps shouldn't have been given that Sagawa was a notable amateur, going 62-22 in the unpaid ranks, was the naturally bigger man, and was in good form with wins over the likes of Tasuku Suwa and Junki Sasaki coming into the bout. Perhaps the one reason it was a shock however was that Sagawa had lost his second professional bout by stoppage, losing in 2 rounds to Retsu Kosaka in May 2017. That loss however said more about Sagawa's lack of experience and he didn't know what to do when he was hurt, and decided to stand and fight, rather than survive, something he had learned by the time he fought Matsumoto. Technically he looked very good, prior to being hurt, and now with that extra professional experience he does seem to have developed, significantly.
As mentioned Sagawa is technically good, he's a sharp puncher, who understands the ring, moves fluidly with light feet and picks his shots well. There really isn't a shot that looks to be missing from his arsenal and he can box well on the back foot as well as from center ring. As for flaws we do wonder how he comes under intense pressure and what his chin is really like. It's also worth noting that he is typically in control of the tempo, and it's usually not an intense one, so question marks do remain about his stamina, though he has already gone 8 rounds in a bout.
If Sagawa has got a poor chin it will be found out here though we suspect he can take a solid shot. If he can take a shot he should have the edge in speed and skills and that could be enough to take him to a very hard fought decision. There is however the work rate and intensity that Kawamura can bring and that could end up being too much for Sagawa, and if Kawamura can force the action he may well break down and stop his man.
This is a fight where unknowns play a big part and in the end we will learn a lot more about both men. Given the unknowns and the fact and they will both be looking to win, we're expecting a very hotly contested contest.
By - George Delis (@Delisketo)
A clash of top Japanese lightweight boxers will take place on December 9, at the EDION Arena in Osaka, as Masayoshi Nakatani defends the OPBF crown, for the 11th time, against the WBC International champion Hurricane Futa.
Masayoshi Nakatani (17-0 / 11 KOs) had an extensive career as an amateur, before turning pro, participating in 60 bouts. Finally made his debut in 2011, at the age of 21, winning 6 fights in a row (5 stoppages), including a victory over future Japanese champion Shuhei Tsuchiya. Nakatani punished the veteran (Tsuchiya was 14-1 at the time) with left hooks and body blows to get the KO win, in just the third round.
In 2014, he went face to face with former Japanese and the then reigning OPBF champion, Yoshitaka Kato, for the OPBF belt. Despite again being the less experienced of the two, Nakatani took the champion to his limit for 12 rounds, earning the majority decision, thus the championship and the East Japan Boxing Association Monthly MVP Award.
Since then, Nakatani has defended his title 10 times, including wins over Ricky Sismundo (35-11), Amphol Suriyo (23-3), Krai Setthaphon (27-4) and Ryan Sermona (20-9), placing himself at the top of the division, as he is ranked #5 by the IBF, #8 by the WBC and #12 by the WBO.
Hurricane Futa (25-7 / 15 KOs) is a fighter who has been around for a very long time. A 14 year professional, who has competed in over 30 matches and has faced competition from all over the world. His biggest fights to date have been against Will Tomlinson (25-3) and Vage Sarukhanyan (18-2).
Specifically, Futa stopped Tomlinson, a former IBO “world” & WBO Asia Pacific champion, in only 40 seconds of the first round, with a killer left hook, to win the interim WBA Oceania title. Also, this past February, he took on the WBC International champion Sarukhanyan, in a WBSS show, for the Russian’s title. Futa delivered a KOTY candidate in the 7th round, as he endured a plethora of punches before he caught the champion with a counter left hook, which knocked him out cold. Prior to the knockout, the Japanese fighter was controlling the entirety of the bout, even dropping Sarukhanyan with the same move in the 3rd. It’s worth mentioning that both title matches took place at his opponents’ home countries.
Despite having 7 losses on his record, it should be pointed that the majority of them are against high level boxers like Foijan Prawet (77-6), the reigning WBA International Featherweight champion & #2 WBA ranked Can Xu (15-2) as well as 2 division world champion Jhonny Gonzalez (66-11).
This is an important fight for both men. Nakatani may be only one or two fights away from challenging for a world championship, whereas this is Futa’s chance to break into the top 10 of the division. Moreover, their styles are very similar to each other. Nakatani’s agility and fast combinations have been the key factors to his success through out his career. He also likes to use body shots in order to create openings and then strike with the left hook, which is something we have seen him do in almost all of his fights. Futa is also a cracking boxer who packs a lot of power in his left hand, much like his opponent here. With 26 KOs combined between these two, it will be no surprise if this ends way before the 12th round.
Will Nakatani reach a perfect 18-0 record or Futa’s experience and power be proven too much for him to handle ? We will find out soon in Osaka !
Earlier this year we saw Takayuki Okumoto (21-8-3, 10) claim the Japanese Super Flyweight title, ending a short reign of Hiroyuki Kudaka. This coming Sunday he will make his first defense of the title, facing off with the unbeaten Masayoshi Hashizume (16-0-1, 10) in a bout between two Osaka based fighters each looking to end the year as a national champion and begin 2019 looking forward to a mandatory defense at the Champion Carnival.
The 26 year old champion won the title in his second shot at the belt, having come up short in his Japanese title challenge against Ryuichi Funai, via a 7th round technical decision. Despite losing to Funai he had been competitive and was certainly not embarrassing himself. In fact in many ways Okumoto's career is built up with solid efforts and peculiar match ups. They include taking on former world champion Ratanapol Sor Vorapin as a 15 year old in Thailand, something that just seems crazy now, and then returning to Thailand 6 years later and losing to Rusalee Samor. In recent years Okumoto has proven to be a very capable having scored wins over the likes of Yuta Saito, Sonin Nihei and the aforementioned Kudaka. In fact since losing to Samor in October 2013 Okumoto has gone 11-2-1 with the loses coming to Funai and Eaktwan BTU Ruaviking.
Okumoto is a southpaw fighter who brings the pressure straight away. He's relatively quick on his feet, and although he doesn't set a mega work rate he does seem to look for a higher tempo than perhaps would like. He has under-rated footwork, and can regularly be seen turning on his opponents, in a similar but much less effective way to Vasyl Lomachenko. Watching him you can see he's a student of the sport and does know how to do things. Sadly why he shows touches of brilliance he is still a very flawed fighter who lacks real power, doesn't have real crispness to his work and can get involved in messy bouts far too easily, something that happened against Kudaka with the two men falling in on each other regularly.
Hashizume is getting his first title shot at the age of 24 though the Ioka gym fighter has long been tipped for success, with fans and fighter himself likely frustrated at the progress of his career. He turned professional in 2013 and went on to win the All Japan Rookie of the Year in 2014. It was then assumed he would be moved aggressively towards a title fight, and build on his 7-0 record with solid competition. Sadly however Hashizume's rise through the ranks stalled massively as he faced off with 7 inept Thai imports who were all stopped in a combined 21 rounds He had gone from a hot property to someone who was frustrating fans. Fans were further frustrated late last year when he did step up and could only just manage a draw with Kota Fujimoto. Thankfully since that draw the youngster has scored two decent wins over Takahiro Murai and Marjun Pantilgan.
We've been impressed by Hashizume on the most part. He looks the part, he's sharp, crisp, aggressive and looks like the short of fighter who is doing things instinctively. His southpaw jab is a huge weapon, his straight left hand is excellent and his movement is very confident. Sadly though he does look like a fighter who is very used to having things his own way and has all sorts of poor habits which have been allowed to build from his low level of competition. If he shows those flaws here, he could come up short against a less gifted but more skilled champion.
We think Hashizume is the more natural talent, but sometimes natural ability isn't the key and instead the will to win is. We suspect that that will be the case here, with Okumoto grinding out a messy decision win, likely having been behind in the early part of the fight.
On December 9th fight fans in Osaka will see Japanese Welterweight champion Ryota Yada (17-4, 14) make his second defense as he takes on Shusaku Fujinaka (16-9-2, 10) in what looks set to be a really fun and exciting contest.
Yada won the title this past April, when he stopped Toshio Arikawa in a war at the Champion Carnival. Yada's win was a really excellent performance against a dangerous and feared champion, who he neutralised well for the most part and broke down. The bout was his second at title level, following a loss to Jayar Inson in a WBO Asia Pacific title bout, and he really did look like a totally different fighter against Arikawa. Between those bouts he learned a lot, especially from an hellacious Japanese title eliminator against Moon Hyun Yun in 2017. That win over Yun seemed to change how Yada fought and committed himself, and that was again seen in Yada's recent defense against Kazuyasu Okamoto, who was stopped in the 7th round.
Yada is a boxer-puncher, blessed with genuinely nasty power at this level. He seems to struggle with fighters who use distance well, and make him over-commit and also against southpaws, like Inson. Despite the struggles he is an improving fighter and certainly has added a lot more polish to his boxing in recent bouts. He's still not a razor sharp fighter, but is a lot more accurate and crisp than he once was. It's going to take a very good domestic fighter to dethrone him, and we're not sure really is there's anyone, Keita Obara aside, we'd favour over him in Japan right now.
For Fujinaka this will be his third shot at a title, having been stopped by Randall Bailey and Keita Obara in bouts for the WBO Asia Pacific Welterweight title. Sadly for Fujinaka those losses been among the bout that have shown his limitations and he is 7-7 in his last 14 bouts, dating back more than 5 years. Not only has he lost at title level, but also domestic level, losing to the likes of Koshinmaru Saito, Kengo Nagashima, Moon Hyon Yun and Toshio Tarumi. He tends to put in a good effort in his losses, but still comes up short and now, at the age of 32 and with a hard career behind him we do wonder what his body has left ot give.
Fujinaka's style is that of a high tempo, grinding fighter, who comes to fight. He can struggle to judge the distance, and can rush in wildly at times, but on the inside he loves letting his shots go in volume. It makes him an exciting fighter to watch, but he's a man who is open to eating counter shots, something we saw in spectacular fashion in his bout with Randall Bailey. His openess will be a major issue here against Yada, who is a very solid puncher and will eventually land a clean show as Fujinaka rushes in.
We love watching Fujinaka, who does fight like someone who wants to give fans value for money. Sadly that style will take a toll on a fighter, and we suspect that toll has already been taken and that Yada will catch him, and finish him at some point here.
The Japanese Youth titles will give future world champions their first chance to win a belt. That however isn't main focus of the belts, instead it's giving the youngsters a chance to fight meaningful fights for a physical reward before moving towards Japanese and OPBF title fight. On December 9th we see a bout that falls perfectly into that description, as Ryosuke Nasu (9-3-3, 2) and the hard hitting Yuto Nakamura (8-5, 7) battle for the Japanese Youth Super Flyweight title. The winner of this bout will become the new champion, and make a huge step towards getting a Japanese title fight down the line.
The 21 year old Nakamura is a serious puncher, but a flawed one. He began his career 2-2 (2), with two razor thin losses, and then reeled off 4 more wins before losing in a West Japan Rookie of the Year bout to Hibiki Jogo. Rather than step down a level after that loss we've seen Nakamura face stiff competition, suffering a stoppage loss to Matcha Nakagawa, a competitive decision loss to Tetsu Araki and score a huge win over Futa Akizuki, who lasted just 35 seconds.
Footage of Nakamura isn't massively easy to come by, though his fight with Nakagawa is on Boxingraise and that fight, given how recent it was, is a good reflection of Nakamura's style. He appears to be an aggressive fight who applies steady pressure, looking to make the most of his power. Sadly for him it's his defense that was an issue in that fight, with Nakagawa picking him apart with his southpaw jab and straight left hands. He looked like his desire to fight was there when the referee stepped in, but the reality is that he looked slow and open to being tagged. We suspect that his problem going forward will always be his defense and that needs to tighten up a lot for him to reach Japanese title level.
The 20 year old Nasu debuted just weeks before his 19th birthday and began 1-1-1 before reeling off a few wins and getting his career going. Thing then began to his another rough patch, with a draw to Joe Shiraishi and an opening round loss to Masamichi Yabuki. He put those results behind him with a huge win against Naoto Iwai but would again struggle to build on the win before losing this past February to Ricardo Sueno. That loss was followed by a win over Kenta Matsui but in reality he's been awfully inconsistent.
Despite being inconsistent Nasu is a talented fighter when he puts it all together. He showed that when he defeated the talented Iwai. He did that by keeping things simple, he marched forward behind an accurate jab, didn't waste energy and countered brilliantly. It wasn't a performance that will anyones socks off, but it was a technically solid display against a man who looked the more gifted fighter. The feeling we get from watching him is that he's a very technical fighter, but someone who doesn't have much power, speed or inventiveness to his work. Technical but basic if you will.
We suspect the power of Nakamura will be the difference and he will be able to stop Nasu, however he will have to take some clean shots on route. In the end it will be too much pressure and power from Nakamura for Nasu to survive 8 rounds with, something we feel confident on given how quickly Yabuki stopped Nasu down at Flyweight.
On December 9th we'll get the chance to see a mouth watering match up between Shohei Omori (19-2, 14) and Takahiro Yamamoto (21-5, 17), in what promises to be an explosive, exciting, and hard hitting affair. The bout may not have a title on the line or be an eliminator, but we do love the look of the contest, with both having heavy hands, but totally different styles, styles we think will match up for an dynamite contest.
Of the two men Omori is the more well known, the more proven and the younger fighter. The "Demon Left", as he was dubbed a few years ago, was once seen as a possible Japanese successor to Shinsuke Yamanaka at Bantamweight. Sadly stoppage losses in 2015 and 2017 to Marlon Tapales have taken some of the shine off his career, though a move up to Super Bantamweight appears to have given him a new lease of life and allowed his body to properly mature. To begin his career Omori had gone 15-0 (10), he had won the All Japan Rookie of the Year at Bantamweight in 2012 and the Japanese Bantamweight title in 2015, blitzing Kentaro Masuda in 3 rounds. The loss to Tapales was followed by a string of stoppage wins before losing a rematch to Tapales in 2017, a rematch for the WBO Bantamweight title that resulted in Tapales missing weight and Omori suffering serious facial injuries. On his return, earlier this year, Omori dominated the limited but hard hitting Brian Lobetania.
In the ring Omori is a hard hitting, fluid, and fast southpaw. As he showed in the second bout with Tapales he's gutsy and tough, but defensively flawed. At Bantamweight there was some concerns that making weight may have had a negative impact on his chin and his stamina, though if they didn't then he may well find he has issues taking a clean shot on the chin at Super Bantamweight. If, as we suspect, making weight cost Omori in terms of durability and stamina then we expect to see him looking very good at 122lbs.
Although less well known the 27 year old Yamamoto has achieved a decent among in his own career. He competed in the 2009 Rookie of the Year, losing to eventual Rookie of the year Hideo Sakamoto. That loss saw Yamamoto fall to 5-1 and soon afterwards he was 6-3 as he struggled to get his career back on track. It was then that things began to click, and he would go on to string 9 straight wins together en route to earning an OPBF title fight in 2015. In that tight fight he would lose a narrow decision to Yu Kawaguchi, before avenging the defeat and beginning a 15 month region, that ended in 2016 when he was stopped by Mark John Yap. Since losing the belt Yamamoto has gone 3-0 but has been fighting at a very low level, and this is a clear step up from his last 3 opponents.
In the ring Yamamoto is a heavy handed fighter, but a bit of a trudger, a lot of his work looks forced, there's little fluidity to it and he lacks sharpness. He does however hit very hard at domestic level, he can set a good work rate, has a stronger jab and takes a shot well. He applies controlled pressure behind his footwork and jab, but defensively he is open and flawed. Despite not being crisp or fast he is a smarter fighter than we tend to give credit for, and he has shown that he can change the tempo of his boxing, moving through the gears as when he feels he has his man hurt.
We suspect Omori will look to use his speed, his movement and ring craft to avoiding taking too many blows whilst landing smart, clean shots on Yamamoto. When Omori gets his man hurt he has shown a great killer instinct, and we expect to see that on show here, if he can rock Yamamoto. If Yamamoto lands clean he can hurt Omori, who won't be too willing to engage in a back and forth fight. Going in Yamamoto will certainly have a punchers chance, but we expect Omori to do what he's good at, control the range and force a mid round stoppage.
On December 9th we're set to have a huge number of notable bouts, with an OPBF title fight, a couple of Japanese national titles and a Japanese Youth title fight. As well as the title bouts we also get some very tasty looking non-title bouts. One of those will see former world title challengers collide, with Sho Ishida (26-1, 15) taking on Warlito Parrenas (26-8-1, 23) in what is a must-win for both men.
At 35 years old Parrenas is really in last chance saloon, and is essentially ending a short retirement for this bout. The Filipino born Japanese slugger has had an interesting career that has shown him to be a bit of a glass cannon. He's incredibly dangerous early on but if caught he doesn't seem to recover well, with only 6 of his career bouts going the distance, 4 of which came in his first 7 bouts. Whilst the "stop or be stopped" mentality isn't always the best for a fighter Parrenas has actually done pretty well from it. He has scored wins over the likes of Atsushi Kakutani, Espinos Sabu, Isack Junior, Tomoya Kaneshiro, and lost to the likes of Marlon Tapales, Jonathan Taconing, Oscar Blanquet, Naoya Inoue and Ryuichi Funai.
At his best Parrenas was a scary fighter on the regional scene. His win over Kakutani was thoroughly impressive and showed his power perfectly. Even at his best however he had a shaky chin and could be hurt, however many of the fighters who have stopped him, such as Inoue, Taconing, Tapales and Funai, are very solid punchers and his chin isn't as bad as perhaps his record suggests. Sadly Parrenas isn't at his best, he's now 35 and a touch slower than he was in his prime. He's heavy handed, but not a explosive as he used to be.
At 27 years old Ishida, a fighter from the Osaka based Ioka gym, is a fighter looking to move towards a second world title fight following a 2017 loss to Kal Yafai. Prior to facing Yafai we had though Ishida's career had stalled a bit, and he had failed to spent around 18 months just treading water, after impressive wins over Yohei Yobe, Taiki Eto, Hayato Kimura, and Ryuichi Funai. By the time he was facing Yafai it seemed like Ishida, then 24-0, had lost all career momentum due to mismatches against limited Thai foes, that really were pointless bouts. Since losing to Yafai it does seem like Ishida and his team have taken a more driven approach to preparing for a second world title fight, and this bout with Parrenas follows wins over Lucky Tor Buamas and Richard Claveras. Not world class fighters, but certainly better fighters than the novice Thai's that Yafai had used to prepare for a world title shot.
Against Yafai we didn't see the best of Ishida, with the Japanese fighter really holding back too much and not fighting in the way he can. He didn't really shame himself, but certainly didn't fight to the best of his ability. At his best he's an excellent boxer-puncher, with incredibly sharp punching, under-rated power and spite body blows. The unfortunate part about him however isn't just the poor performance against Yafai but also the fact he has questionable stamina, and when he hasn't finished fighters off he has often made life hard for himself.
In their peaks this would have been a really interesting match up, and Parrenas would have been a very live under-dog. Now however we suspect that Parrenas has little more than a puncher' chance against the younger, bigger, faster Ishida. Parrenas will be dangerous, at least early on, but after the first few rounds Ishida will begin to time him and will likely crush him with a body shot in the middle rounds.
Having canned the old "Full Schedule" of Asianboxing we have instead decided to concentrate more on the major bouts. This section, the "Preview" section will look at major bouts involving OPBF and national titles. Hopefully leading to a more informative style for, you the reader.