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.
This coming Sunday in Hyogo fans will see both of the Matsuoka twins fighting for Japanese Youth titles. One bout will see Arata Matsuoka for the Japanese Youth Flyweight title against Hikaru Ota whilst his brother, Hikaru Matsuoka (14-4-3, 2) fights for the Japanese Youth Featherweight title, in a relatively interesting look match against Noboru Osato (10-6-4, 2). Of the two bouts it's certainly the Featherweight one that looks the most interesting and the one where the winner has actually got real upside, as the Flyweight bout is pitting two limited fighters against each other.
Hikaru Matsuoka debuted at the age of 17, at just over the Super Flyweight limit. Since then his frame has filled out and he has moved up in weight to naturally become a Featherweight. Early in his career he struggled to really build momentum, drawing 2 of his first 3 bouts and moving to 3-1-3 after 7 contests. That hard start seemed to build a resolve in Matsuoka who would then go on a good run to move to 8-1-3, with a notable win over Richard Pumicpic. Sadly such a big win was followed by back to back stoppage losses to Yuki Strong Kobayashi and Seizo Kono, with his chin instantly becoming an issue. The chin issues would again be seen in his most recent loss, another stoppage loss to Tenmei Serizawa in 2016. That loss was followed by over a year out of the ring but since returning he has picked up a couple of low key wins on the domestic scene.
Sadly footage of Matsuoka is hard to find, though from what we have seen he is a sharp boxer, who has good stamina, good movement, and crisp counter punching. Sadly though whilst he is a very good fighter to watch his complete lack of fire power is a major issue and he will struggle to get respect of fighters who come forward and hunt him down. He will be a hard one to hunt down, but if you can trap him he appears to lack the power to make a good fighter back off.
Interestingly Osato is also 23, and made his debut at the age of 17 and his career also struggled early on with Osato going 2-2-3 after his first 7 bouts. Sadly Osato has never really managed to build his forum up, never managing to spring up more than 2 wins before being held to a draw or losing. Whilst that sounds terrible he has actually fought really stiff competition, earning a draw with Yuki Iriguchi in 2016 and losing to the touted Takuya Mizuno and Yuki Strong Kobayashi the following year. Sadly it does seem like Ota can't get over the line when he needs to, and despite being competitive again most of his foes he falls just a tad short when he needs to put it together.
Osato looks like an intelligent fighter, he uses a good jab and remains on his toes, using a lot of movement. Sadly though he looks like his body hasn't yet filled out and that he hasn't yet developed his man strength or power. He did survive 8 rounds with Yuki Strong Kobayashi, and was competitive, but fought like a man who knew not to get involved or stand still too much. It was a tactic that almost earned him a win, but one that showed he's not confident in his power or physicality.
Whilst footage of both was hard to come by we were more impressed by Matsuoka, though both looked very talented boxer-movers, both looked smooth in the ring and both had the same flaw, a lack of power. That should make for an interesting contest, and should give us some really good technical boxing. We suspect Matsuoka will do enough to earn the win, but this will certainly be a very competitive and compelling contest.
Some Japanese Youth title fights look amazing on paper, sadly others don't and when Junto Nakatani vacated the Flyweight title there wasn't a great deal of suitable fighters to fill the vacancy. Sadly that has lead to a less than appealing match up between Arata Matsuoka (6-6, 4) and Hikaru Ota (9-8, 5). On paper this looks like a joke, given the previous title fight had Nakatani fighting against Seigo Yuri Akui in what was a match watering match up, however it does look competitive and in our eyes that's better than a mismatch for the title.
The 23 year old Matsuoka, who's twin brother Hikaru Matsuoka will also be fighting for a youth title on the same show, made his debut in 2014, as a 19 year old made his debut in 2014, as a 19 year old and went 2-5 through his first 7 contests. He then, finally, found his footing in the sport with 4 wins though that winning run came to an end in September when he was stopped in 4 rounds by Shunji Nagata. The fight with Nagata was a big step up in class and resulted in Matsuoka suffering his first stoppage loss, though we suspect more will come in the future.
Ota is also 23 and he debuted at a 17 year old, back in 2012. Like Matsuoka his career also struggled going 3-3 after 6 bouts before stringing together a few wins. Sadly however he has gone from 6-3 to 9-8. What he has done however is faced notable fighters, losing to the likes of Kenji Ono, Naoki Mochizuki, Seiya Fujikita and going 1-1 with Ganbare Shota. His win over Shota is the best of his career, and is better than anything Matsuoka has, but still does suggest that he's a particularly promising fighter, going places.
With neither having made a name for themselves yet this bout gives both fighters a chance to claim their first title and put themselves on the map. We suspect both will fight like they have something to gain, and will really put it on the line, but sadly it's an underwhelming contest and we don't expect the holder to have a long reign, with several fighters now likely eyeing up the potential winner.
It's an even fight on paper, but we suspect Matsuoka's slightly better durability, southpaw stance and power will be the difference, and he'll take the victory in the second half of the fight.
On November 19th we'll see Ryuto Oho (11-4-1, 3) make his first defense of the Japanse Youth Light Flyweight title, as he takes on once beaten challenger Yuta Nakayama (6-1-1, 3) at the Korakuen Hall. For the champion it's a chance to build on recent wins over Hideyuki Watanabe and Tetsuya Tomioka, as well as recording his first defense, whilst Nakayama will be getting his first title fight and a chance to claim his first career silverware of any kind.
The 23 year old champion has been around the Japanese scene for a while already, having debuted more than 6 years ago. His early career was full of promise and in 2013 he went on to claim the Japanese Rookie of the Year crown at Flyweight, picking up impressive wins against the then 6-0 Yuji Okinori in the East Japan final and the then 5-1-1 Yukiya Hanabusa in the All Japan final. Sadly that early promise faltered in 2014 when he suffered defeats to Joe Tanooka and Katsunori Nagamine, with a draw to Shuji Hamada being sandwiched between those two losses. A string of wins in 2015 and 2016 ended when he was out pointed by Yuta Matsuo and then, in 2017, he was stopped in a round by Seigo Yuri Akui. Thankfully his career has gotten back on track with his last two bouts both being wins, including his Youth title triumph.
Oho is an aggressive fighter, who comes forward, looks to attack behind his jab and moves well. Sadly when he lets his bigger shots go he looks very open and wild, dropping his left hand when he throws his looping right over the top. Although he's quick he does look easy to time and his power doesn't look like it's hugely intimidating at this level. Whilst not massively powerful his aggression is exciting and he will break fighters down, though will need to hope he doesn't get caught before they wilt to his pressure.
Nakayama turns 23 just days before this fight, but he'll know that this is a great chance to make his mark on the domestic scene at such an early stage in his career. He debuted in July 201 and went 1-1-1 through his first 3 bouts, but has rebuilt brilliantly with 5 straight wins. Those wins include a decision victory over Tatsuhiro Toguchi and a stoppage victory over Filipino Powell Balaba. Not only has he reeled off a string of wins, but he has stopped 3 of those 5 opponents, suggesting that he's finding some power in his shots too, and it's likely that he's starting to develop his man strength and correct his punching technique. This is however a step up in class, and we'll have to see how he copes with a fighter as talented and as skilled as Oho.
Nakayama is a good mover, who is light on his feet, protects himself well and is able to make opponents miss, and make them pay. He is a little loopy with some of his punches but they still have a crispness to them that look like they would pick holes in a defensively flawed fighter, or a fighter who falls short when attacking him. His movement is really his key strength and impressively he appears to be able to stay on his toes pretty well, even if an opponent is pressing him hard.
Oho is the more well known fighter but stylistically we suspect he will be in trouble here. His pressure is made to order for Nakayama, who we suspect will pick him apart when he comes forward and will counter him regularly before forcing a stoppage in the later stages. Oho will have some real moments early on, but we see him tiring and being stopped, with Nakayama taking control as soon as Oho slows down a touch.
On November 10th the Japanese Youth title gives us two interesting bouts, one of those will see Yuga Inoue and Kai Ishizawa battle for the Minimumweight title whilst the other is a Lightweight clash between the unbeaten Shawn Oda (9-0, 8) and the experienced Seiryu Toshikawa (10-4, 6). For both fighters it's their first chance to claim a title, and a great opportunity to move towards bigger and better fights.
It's fair to say that the more well known of the two fighters is Oda. The unbeaten man from Okinawa is a 20 year old who has been tipped for success for a while. He made his first mark in 2016, winning the All Japan Rookie of the Year in December. That was remarkable given he had only made his debut in May of that year and had won the Rookie of the Year after only 12 professional rounds at the age of 18. The big hope after that was that he would be fast tracked but with only a single fight in 2017 his rise was slowed, and he's had to catch up for lost time this year. He's done that quite well in fairness with good wins against the likes of Roldan Aldea and Masashi Wakita.
Watching Oda we see a raw but athletically gifted fighter, who is exciting, heavy handed, quick and promising. He's got fast and heavy hands, but can been seen over stretching, and taking some risks he doesn't need to take, though he has toned down those risks in recent fighters. He's still very young but very explosive and is someone who we suspect will become a staple at the upper echelons of the Japanese domestic scene in the years to come. To get to the very top he would need to really develop his skills, but we can't see any reason why he won't be fighting for senior titles in the years to come. In fact as he matures he could become a serious handful on the regional scene just due to his natural athletic traits, even if he doesn't develop the skills he currently has.
Despite being more experienced we've not seen as much of the 22 year old Toshikawa as we have of Oda. He's been a professional since 2014, making his debut at the age of 18. He would lose 3 of his first 6 bouts, losing to Jin Miura on debut, Teppei Kasyuuma in his third bout and to Daichi Kawabuchi in his sixth bout. Since then however he has gone 7-1 (4) with his only loss in coming in the 2016 East Japan Rookie of the Year final at Super Featherweight, a split decision loss to eventual All Japan Rookie of the Year Yuji Awata. Coming in to this bout he is riding a 4 fight winning run, including a big win in July over Ryuji Ikeda.
Toshikawa looks to be an educated and technically well schooled fighter with a long, sharp, quick jab which he uses to come forward behind. He seems to want to fight up close, though at times seems unsure what to do what he gets on the inside, as he waits for his opponent to throw. It's when he draws a lead that he's effective on the inside, countering well with both hands. He's surprisingly quick and has lovely shot selection, when he lets his hands go, but there is a sense that he doesn't have the natural power to go all the way, and will struggle to score stoppages as he moves through the levels.
Although we think Ishikawa is a very solid fighter with nice skills, we don't think he'll manage to get Oda's respect, and instead the unbeaten man will be too quick and too powerful, and will strike too many clean hurtful blows. We wouldn't be shocked to see Ishikawa go the distance, but we suspect he'll be the clear loser on the score cards.
Fore those wanting to read our preview of the Inoue Vs Ishizawa bout that's available here - Ishizawa and Inoue battle for Japanese youth title!
One of the most exciting things to come out of Japan over the last couple of years has been the Japanese Youth titles. The titles were brought in to give young prospects a chance to gain a title before progressing onto senior titles, and as a domestic alternative to the WBC Youth titles. The belts haven't really got much attention since they were brought in, on what was essentially a trial period. Recently the JBC began to recognise them, and their potential positives effects on the domestic scene, and we'll be honest we genuinely do like them. They don't thin the talent pool like some of the other titles, as their market is so niche, but they do provide some very interesting match ups.
One such bout is a Japanese Youth Minimumweight title bout between 2017 All Japan Rookie of the Year Yuga Inoue (7-0-1, 1) and the big punching Kai Ishizawa (4-0, 4), set for November 10th. Had their been no Japanese youth title we don't think we'd be getting this bout, as both fighters would likely prefer to build towards a national or regional title bout, but with the Youth title up for grabs we're expecting a genuine treat.
Inoue, no relation to Naoya Inoue, made his debut in August 2016 as a 17 year old, scraping a decision over Kisei Takada. He would secure another win before the year, over Riki Kakazu before coming into his own in 2017. In November 2017 he won the West Japan Rookie of the Year, despite only earning a draw with the then 6-0 Tatsuro Nakashima in the final before winning the All Japan Rookie of the Year in December with a victory over fellow teenager Retsu Akbane. The win over Akbane was the one that really caught the eye with Inoue genuinely impressing through the bout. Since his big Rookie of the Year victory he has fought just once, scoring a stoppage win over Daisuke Sudo this past May, sadly failing to build on the Rookie triumph though would make up for lost time if he was to claim the Youth title.
In the ring Inoue is a very sharp puncher and educated fighter who can fight either on the front foot or the back foot. At his best he seems to be a very sharp counter puncher, and finds gaps where we wouldn't typically expect such a novice to see them. His body punching is crisp, and he looks to be a fighter who enjoys countering inside the pocket, showing real composure. The one major issue is his lack of power, having only scored a single stoppage, and he has been cut before, making us wonder about how his skin will hold up against a puncher.
Ishizawa on the other hand made his debut in June 2017, as a 20 year old, and was put into a 6 round bout straight away, beating an over-match Thai foe in the second round. He would follow that up with another second win over Yoshimitsu Kushibe and then an opening round win over another visiting Thai. It was however in his 4th bout that he really impressed, stopping the aforementioned Tatsuro Nakashima who had held Inoue to a draw last year. Sadly he was unable to build on that win when he had to pull out of a Japanese Youth title bout against Daiki Tomita due to a nose injury. That was a set back, but something he has recovered from, and like Inoue he will be wanting to make up for lost time as he looks to win his first title.
It was clear from the first minute of Ishizawa's debut that he was a very exciting fighter, who loved to bring the heat and put opponents under intense pressure straight away. He's a very powerfully built fighter and has serious belief in his power and physicality. There is a little bit of a crudeness to him, as we tend to expect in such a novice, but he looks calm, throws really spiteful body shots and looks to behead opponents. Given his physicality he's going to be a monster in the years to come, as he develops the know how to go with his power.
We believe that Inoue is the better boxer, he's technically better, sharper and more accurate. Sadly for him however his lack of power won't discourage Ishizawa who will apply his pressure and look to break down his foe. We suspect that pressure will pay off, and Ishizawa will grind down Inoue in 4 or 5 rounds of a great action fight. Inoue will certainly have moments, but the physical traits of Ishizawa will simply be too much for him to deal with.
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.