Between now and the end of this year we'll see a number of Japanese title eliminators. Among those bouts are a number of rematches, including the recent bouts between Kenichi Horikawa and Koji Itagaki, and Ken Osato and Satoru Sugita. We get another rematch this coming Sunday when Accel Sumiyoshi (11-4-2, 3) and Tatsuya Yanagi (15-5-1, 6) meet in a Japanese Lightweight title eliminator. The bout will be the third between the two men and will clearly be the most significant between the two men.
The two men first fought back in December 2015 when a then 5-4-1 (1) Sumiyoshi held a then 11-3 (4) Yanagi to a 10 round draw. The following year the two men would have an immediate rematch and Sumiyoshi would stop Yanagi in 3 rounds, in what was a short but exciting encounter.
Since their second bout Sumiyoshi has won his last 5, scoring notable wins over Allan Tanada, Naotoshi Nakatani and Motoki Sasaki. Yanagi on the other hand has gone 4-1, winning his last 4 bouts following a razor thin loss to former Japanese champion Seiichi Okada. The success of both men since their back to back bouts has lead to both being highly ranked by the JBC and their bout will decide who challenges either Shuichiro Yoshino (8-0, 6) or Kazumasa Kobayashi (10-7-1, 6), who fight in December.
Given he is leading the series with a win it's clear that Sumiyoshi will be the favouring coming into this bout. The 33 year old hasn't got an excellent record though he has actually turned things around well following a bizarre 4-4-1 start to professional boxing. In his first 9 bouts he was matched insanely hard, taking on the likes of Kento Matsushita, Yuhei Suzuki, Kota Tokunaga and Masayoshi Nakatani. Since that baptism of fire however he has found his groove and gone 7-0-1, avenging the draw with the win over Yanagi in their second bout. He has done that whilst not getting much attention due to his bouts being mostly in Shimonoseki, Yamaguchi, one of Japanese boxing's smaller markets. Had he been fighting regularly in Tokyo there is a good chance he'd have been a staple on the Dangan cards.
In the ring Sumiyoshi is a pretty sharp fighter and you can see by watching him that he was a pretty experienced amateur. He's comfortable in the ring, with a very good jab, nice variety and confidence in his skills. Defensively he's open, and fights with his lead hand rather low, and does lack power, but we know he can hurt Yanagi as we saw in the second bout, where he actually got backed up a lot. In that second fight Sumiyoshi allowed Yanagi to come at him, countered wonderfully and then made the most of Yanagi's tiring arms as he crashed some gorgeous headshots on to his man who was dropped 3 times in round 3.
At 28 years old Yanagi is the younger man though technically he's the more experienced man, with 21 fights under his belt compared to the 17 of Sumiyoshi. He hasn't however got the amateur background of Sumiyoshi, and instead came through the Japanese rookie service, taking the Rookie of the Year crown in 2012. His record would advance to 10-0 before he went through a real rough patch and slid to 11-5-1, with his sole win during that run being a narrow decision over Toru Suzuki who retired afterwards. Now however he has turned his career around and won his last 4, including 2 wins over Masashi Noguchi.
In the ring Yanagi doesn't really do anything amazingly, but has has a solid jab, can move around the ring well and appears to hit harder than his record suggests. He's loose and relaxed in the ring and does seem to avoid plenty of shots thrown in his direction. Sadly though for Yanagi his chin does seem suspect and he gets wild and wide when he looks for the finish.
We're expecting Yanagi to be more cautious than he was in the second bout with Sumiyoshi, but we don't expect to see him get revenge here. Instead we're expecting a another stoppage for Sumiyoshi, albeit much later in the fight than round 3. Sadly neither Sumiyoshi or Yanagi will be expected to put up a serious challenge against Yoshino in the new year.
By - George Delis (@Delisketo )
Masayoshi Nakatani (16-0), along with Nihito Arakawa (31-6) and Kazuhiro Nishitani (19-4), is currently one of Japan’s top Lightweights.
While studying at the Kindai University, he participated in 60 amateur bouts. Turned pro on June of 2011, at the age of 21, winning 6 fights in a row (5 KOs), including a victory over future Japanese champion Shuhei Tsuchiya (14-1*).
Nakatani, on January of 2014, went face to face with former Japanese and the then reigning OPBF champion Yoshitaka Kato (26-4*) for the OPBF belt. Despite being the less experienced of the two, he 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.
Nakatani, since then, has defended his title 9 times, including wins over Ricky Sismundo (26-7*), Futoshi Usami (12-1*), Krai Setthaphon (23-1*), Ryan Sermona (20-8*), Amphol Suriyo (22-2*). A bonafide knock artist, having finished 10 out of his 16 bouts, most within the first five rounds, he has placed himself at the top of the division, as he is ranked #7 by the WBC, #13 by the WBO and #5 by the IBF.
His next opponent is Izuki Tomioka (5-0) an up comer, who’s building his name in the regional scene, having scored wins over Yuichiro Kasuya (9-1*) as well as Taiju Shiratori (8-2*) and has claimed the Japanese Youth Lightweight title.
Despite the fact that Nakatani is the clear favorite in this outing, on July 29th, we can’t dismiss the young lion, who in less than 2 years has made quite an impact in the Japanese scene (ranked #15).
It will be interesting to see how both these athletes will match each other. Nakatani needs just a few more significant victories before he can challenge for a world title, so it’s imperative he succeeds here, as a loss to a rookie will not look that good on his record.
*Fighter’s record prior to the fight.
This coming Thursday fight fan sin Japan will be able to see national Lightweight champion Shuichiro Yoshino (7-0, 5) make his second defense, as he takes on fellow professional novice Genki Maeda (6-2-1, 2), who will be fighting in his first professional title fight. For the champion the bout looks to be another chance to get some more experience before moving up another level, whilst the challenger will be looking to make the most of an opportunity that he doesn't really deserve, given he's gone 2-1-1 in his last 4 bouts.
Yoshino had been a former amateur standout before making his professional debut back in December 2015. Given his amateur pedigree he was ear marked for success almost immediately and in just his second bout he took on highly experienced Thai Chaiyong Sithsaithong, showing he could out box the tough Thai. After a frustrating 2016 Yoshino showed his skills as he over-came Yoshitaka Kato in early 2017 and then stopped Spicy Matsuhsita in a bout for the vacant Japanese Lightweight title last October. Since then he has defended the title once, stopping Masaki Saito inside a round this past February.
In the ring Yoshino is a talented boxer, who can can punch hard enough to get the respect of anyone at domestic level. He's not someone who looks like he's going to have KO power at world level, but with stoppage wins against Kenta Onjo, Matsushita and Saito he can certainly punch at this level. He can also box, with wins over the teak the tough Chaiyong and Kato proving he can go rounds when he needs to, and rely on his skills. He is a fighter who lacks professional experience, which is arguably why he is facing a fighter like Maeda, but looks like a fighter with the potential to go a very long way, if his team manage him right, and develop him properly. That likely means keeping him away from the very best in Japan, such as OPBF champion Masayoshi Nakatani or WBO Asia Pacific king Nihito Arakawa, for now but maybe not for too much longer.
On paper it's easy to look at 25 year old Maeda and write him off for his record, which is far from flattering. He has however faced some stiff domestic competition so far, including Yoshimichi Matsumoto, Mitsuyoshi Fujita and Shogo Yamaguchi. Sadly the fact he has come up short against the level of competition that he has faced really says it all, and whilst talented Maeda is not ready for a title bout. He's solid at domestic level, but a good step down from the domestic elite. With his best win being a majority decision against Yamaguchi or a unanimous decision over Areji Kato, both of which are good wins, but neither should suggest he's ready for a title bout.
Whilst Maeda is a good fighter he does lack power, with his only stoppages coming against very limited Thai visitors. As an amateur he was a credible fighter, but was a long way from matching the achievements of Yoshino and it's not only a case of Maeda lacking the power of the champion but also the skills. We suspect he will have moments, certainly more so than Saito, and we think Maeda is tough enough to see out some rounds. But in the end we don't see how he will live with Yoshino when the champion picks up the pace. Instead we suspect the champion will retain his title, with a mid-to-late round stoppage.
One of two OPBF title fights taking place this coming Saturday will be at Lightweight as long reigning champion Masayoshi Nakatani (15-0, 9) makes his 9th defence of the title, for the 9th time, against Thai puncher Pharanpetch Tor Buamas (22-2, 18).
The champion won the title way back in January 2014 when he out pointed Yoshitaka Kato for the title. At that point it seemed like Nakatani was on the fast line to the top, something that seemed to be backed up when he made his first defense against Ricky Sismundo. Sadly however he has since floundered, taking on rather limited challenger ans not really being tested as his team has, in some ways, failed him as a fighter. Rather than continuing to test him Nakatani's team have had him defending his title against the likes of Kazuya Murata, Tosho Makoto Aoki and Ryan Sermona. That level of competition suggests that Ioka can't secure better opponents, Nakatani doesn't want a test or that Ioka aren't convinced that Nakatani can beat better opponents. Knowing what we do about Nakatani it seems like Ioka simply can't afford to get the fighter top opponents, or push him towards a world title fight.
In the ring Nakatani is an smart boxer-puncher. He's huge for a Lightweight, standing at close to 6', and uses his long arms to keep opponents at range, box on the outside. On the inside he has surprisingly ability, and his first big win show cased that as he broke down Shuhei Tsuchiya with body shots way back in 2013. When he's at his best he's fighting at range, making the most of his jab and keeping opponents at a safe range range, picking away with his activity and then lowering the boom when he's comfortable. We've seen him prove his ability to go 12 rounds, doing so 5 times, and show that he's dangerous through out bouts.
The Thai challenger has an impressive looking record, but like many Thai's it's a very padded one and one that has been exposed several times already. He debuted back in May 2011 and raced out to a 17-0 (13) record with the best win during that run being a close and competitive decision over the under-rated Rey Laspinas. There was some potential there, but it seemed like his handlers were unsure really how much potential there was. In 2016 we finally saw the Thai step up, and suffer a wide loss Billy Dib. A loss to a prime Dib wouldn't have been too bad, but Dib from 2016 had slipped and been stopped by Takashi Miura in 2015 and Evgeny Gradovich in 2013, and seemed to be clearly on the slide, so a loss to Dib was a concern. Just a few months later Pharanpetch suffered 6th round TKO loss to Brandon Ogilvie, in what was his only other bout of note.
In 2017 the Thai began to rebuild, claiming 4 very low level wins, which has helped him earn this title, though also suggest he really is a bit of a bully, padding his record and not really developing the skills needed to compete at title level. the footage of him he looks like a pretty basic come forward fighter, with a high guard, basic foot work and some nice combinations. On paper he has power, but it is hard to know how genuine that power is, given the level of competition.
We believe the basic work of the Thai will be toyed with by Nakatani who will pick, poke and eventually stop the challenger, and hopefully move on to bigger and better fights now, rather than continue to treat water at this level.
Every year the Champion Carnival throws out some amazing fights, well worthy of being for a Japanese title. Sadly the Champion Carnival also gives us some relatively uninspired contests that struggle to get the hopes of fans up too much. One of those less than great bouts will be taking place this coming Thursday and will see Japanese Lightweight champion Shuichiro Yoshino (6-0, 4) defending his title against Masaki Saito (14-12-6, 5), in what appears to be a huge mismatch.
The talented Yoshino was highlighted as a potential star as soon as he announced his intention to turn professional, following a successful amateur career. He went on to make his debut back in December 2015 and progressed incredibly quickly with notable wins in 2016 against Chaiyong Sithsaithong and Kenta Onjo. Those wins helped him prepare for a break out bout against Yoshitaka Kato in March 2017 and after winning that he had proven that he had the potential to go a very long way.
In October last year Yoshino faced off with Spicy Matsuhsita in a bout that was originally part of the Strongest Korakuen but later became a Japanese title fight when Kazuhiro Nishitani vacated the title. Yoshino was too good for Matsushita and stopped him in the 7th round, despite Matsushita giving a very good account of himself.
In the ring Yoshino is a very talented boxer puncher with a very strong amateur background, solid skills, an understated composure and the stamina to pick up the pace after the first few rounds. He hasn't yet proven himself over the 10 round distance but with an 8 round decision over Kato and a7th round TKO over Matsushita it seems clear he can handle the longer stretches. There is still a few rough edges, given he's only been a professional for a little over 2 years, but his talent is undeniable and he he has the potential to go a very long way.
Aged 32 Saito is a 12 year veteran of the Japanese domestic scene and although his record isn't the greatest he does pose some interesting challenges at this level. He's a very tall Super Featherweight-come-Lightweight, and stands at 5'11”. He's not only a rangy and tall fighter but also a tough one and in his 32 fight career he has he has only been stopped once, way back in May 2006 by Kenta Kato up at Light Welterweight. Since then he has faced off with notable domestic fighters like Moon Hyon Yun, Daisuke Sakamoto, Masashi Noguchi, Tsuyoshi Tojo and Dai Iwai, without any of them stopping him.
Whilst Saito is a tough warrior he does lack in terms of notable wins. His best win to date is a 2015 win over former Japanese champion Seiichi Okada and he is 1-2-1 in his last 4 bouts, having been widely beaten by Masashi Noguchi in a Lightweight bout back in June 2016. He's not proven to be a nearly man of Japanese boxing, with this being his first title bout, and despite being better than his record suggests there is little to really make anyone think that he can hold his own with a talent like Yoshino.
We believe that Saito will ask questions of the champion, poke some holes in the inexperience man, but in the end Yoshino will take over, and claim a clear cut and wide decision, if not a late stoppage, over Saito. The challenger will be game for the most part, but in the end he will simply lack the skills and fire power to test the champion's chin, or heart.
This coming weekend is a huge one for Japanese boxing fans. There is, of course, a trio of world title fights taking place on Sunday but before that will be another big show, albeit at the domestic level, which takes place on Saturday. That card will decide a lot of mandatory challengers for the domestic titles next year, but also a Japanese Lightweight title fight, with the unbeaten Shuichiro Yoshino (5-0, 3) taking on veteran Spicy Matsushita (17-9-1, 2) for the vacant title.
Of the two men it's fair to say that Yoshino has been the one getting the the more attention during his career. He was a former amateur standout who has been on the fast track since beginning his professional career, which began in 2015, and has already seen him defeat the likes of Chaiyong Sithsaithong, Kenta Onjo and Yoshitaka Kato, three very good opponents for such a novice.
In the ring Yoshino is a fighter who has got amateur skills to rely on, but can also brawl and fight. When he's needed to box, such as against Kato, he's done that whilst he has also been able to brawl with the likes of Onjo. During his short career he has shown good stamina, having already gone 6 and 8 rounds, solid power, good speed and a very good boxing IQ. As with many novice professionals there is a lot left for him to prove before we begin to talk about world title bouts, but from what we've seen it's obvious that the potential is there for Yoshino to go very far, if his mind stays on the sport.
It is worth noting that the 26 year old did walk away from the boxing once before, long before turning professional, and he has questions to answer about his commitment to boxing. He also has to answer questions about hos serious he is, having began his career at Welterweight before dropping down the weights. He's gone about it properly, but there is perhaps a possibility that a fully committed Yoshino would be fighting at Super Featherweight and not Lightweight.
Aged 34 Matsushita is pretty much in a must win situation, as he's almost certainly not going to be getting another shot at a title, if he comes up short here. It is worth noting that this is actually his second title fight in less than a year, though he did come up very short in his previous title fight losing a decision to Chinese hopeful Can Xu. Notably that loss was the first clear fight, win or loss, that Matsushita has had since a 2013 stoppage loss to Jun Hamana.
The trouble with Matsushita is almost every fight he has had has been close. He lacks the power to stop opponents, with just two stoppages, and the skill that he possess have rarely been significantly better than those he has faced. Going through his record shows this with bizarre regularity, including 7 split decisions, in which he has won 3, lost 3 and drawn one, 2 majority decisions, both wins, and a further 9 bouts which could be considered razor thin either way. He's a battler at heart, and that will to battle, has kept him in bouts he should have lost by wider scores, but has also shown a reliance on fighting hard, rather than smart.
Given his age and frustrating career it's hard to see what Matsushita has to really challenge Yoshino, who we think will really shine here, and will see off the veteran, likely sending him into retirement, in the middle rounds here. Matsushita might have some early moments but his lack of power and limited skills are made to order for a fighter like Yoshino, who is going to be too quick, too strong, too hungry and simply too good.
The Lightweight division in Asia is relatively frustrating at the moment, despite a lot of depth just a few pounds lighter at Super Featherweight. That frustration has been highlighted in some ways by the long OPBF title reign of Ioka gym's Masayoshi Nakatani (14-0, 8), who won the title back in January 2014 and has racked up 7 defenses already. Despite making so many defenses he hasn't really been able to prove himself as a credible future world title challenger and his last few defenses have felt like he's a fighter who's been going through the motions.
This coming Sunday we see Nakatani return to the ring for his next defense, as he takes on 29 year old Filipino challenger Ryan Sermona (20-8-1, 13), another under-whelming foe for Nakatani.
The champion won the title by defeating Yoshitaka Kato, and made his first defense against Ricky Sismundo. Two solid wins, which actually followed a stoppage victory against Shuhei Tsuchiya, and at the time it looked like Nakatani was going to be fast tracked to a world title fight. In those bouts he good speed, power and ring IQ, to keep opponents at range and box to his strengths. Since then however he beaten lesser quality foes like Kazuya Murata, Allan Tanada and Tosho Makoto Aoki.
At his best, and when he's really on it, Nakatani looks like someone who can step up to fight pretty well at world level. He's heavy handed, moves well, has solid stamina, fights to his strengths and is huge for a Light, standing at just shy of 6'. Unfortunately if Ioka can't break the bank to get him a major fight there is a real risk that Nakatani will stagnate, if not regress, and fail to reach the heights once expected of him.
Sadly Sermona won't be expected to provide any sort of a test for Nakatani. The Filipino has been a professional since 2008 and has had very mixed success. His best wins to date have been over Roberto Gonzalez, Balweg Bangoyan, Matt Gartlett and Taek Min Kim. Sadly those wins have been over-shadowed by losses to the likes of Masayuki Ito, Corey McConnell, Viorel Simion and Jose Ocampo, among others. The mixed results have come with 4 stoppage defeats and given how hard Nakatani hits, it's hard to see anything but another stoppage loss for the Filipino here.
Japanese Lightweights rarely make much noise outside of the Orient, however the last few years we have seen Ioka gym's Masayoshi Nakatani (13-0, 8) slowly moving up the world rankings, and moving towards a world title fight. Nakatani, the OPBF champion, will be back in the ring this coming Sunday to make the 7th defense of his Oreintal crown, and will be up against Thailand's Kaewfah Tor Buamas (23-1, 16). On paper the bout looks like a good defense for the champion, but the reality is that this should be little more than a stay busy fight for the talented Nakatani.
Stood at just under 6' and with a huge wingspan Nakatani is a relative giant at Lightweight. He knows how to use his size well to fight from the outside, keeping good fighters at range with his jab and movement. When forced to fight on the inside Nakatani has proven capable of doing that, and throws brilliant uppercuts for such a rangy fighter. Although not the fastest, or the most destructive, he isn't slow by any means, and he certain earns the respect of his opponents.
On the subject of Nakatani's opponents he has a mix of good wins and less than great wins. He has really notable victories over Shuhei Tsuchiya, Yoshitaka Kato and Ricky Sismundo, with all of those wins coming in the space of 10 months. Sadly the last 5 wins on Nakatani's record all appear to have been lesser foes than 3 big wins he has. It's a shame that he never really built on the good wins, but he has been gaining valuable experience with 2 full twelve rounds, bringing his total to 4, and experience against fighters of different styles and sizes.
World ranked already it does seem like Nakatani is wanting to tip-toe himself towards a world title fight. Whilst that makes sense, given that competition in the region won't prepare him for the likes of Jorge Linares, Mikey Garcia or Robert Easter, one of the very few fighters in the division who match Nakatani for size, it's not exciting way to see his team develop him or his skills. He's a good fighter, he can fight at world level in the future, but his match making in recent times has been poor.
That poor match making continues here against a Thai with a nice looking record, but the reality is that Kaewfah is a very poor fighter.
The Thai debuted back in 2009 and went 19-0 (13) with out facing a fighter with a winning record. Whilst that's not always an issue with Thai's, it does set alarm bells ringing. His first win over a fighter with a winning record came in 2015, and saw him take a narrow decision over 37 year old Australian based journeyman Andrew Wallace, after failing to make weight. Whatever alarm bells were ringing at 19-0 were now going crazy. Since then he has scored 3 low key wins and suffered a 7th round TKO loss to Czar Amonsot, the only fighter of real note that he has faced.
From the footage of Kaewfah there is little to be impressed by. He's a basic fighter who is one paced, looks awkward fighting off the back foot and although there is some nice basic movement there is nothing outstanding about him. In all honesty against a fighter as talented and as natural as Nakatani it's hard to see how Kaewfah will have any success at all.
The reality is that this could well looking like a public sparring session with Nakatani going through a few things, before turning the screw and eventually forcing a stoppage, as and when he pleases. It's a shame that such a talented fighter is wasting time against the likes of Kaewfah or Kazuya Murata. It's time Ioka looked at moving Nakatani towards a bigger fight, and stopped wasting everyone's time with this type of mismatch.
In December 2016 we finally saw Shuhei Tsuchiya (22-4, 18) fulfil some of his early promise and claim the Japanese Lightweight title, eventually building on his 2010 Rookie of the Year crown. This coming Saturday Tsuchiya will return to the ring as he attempts to make his first defense of his title, and takes on mandatory challenger Kazuhiro Nishitani (16-4-1, 8). Whilst the bout is Tsuchiya's first as a champion it will be the second time Nishitani will have challenged for the title, having previously come up short in December 2015 against Kota Tokunaga.
Tsuchiya made his debut in 2009 but really burst on to the Japanese scene the following year, when he claimed the All Japan Rookie of the Year crown. On route to that title he beta a number of unbeaten opponents, including Masanobu Nakazawa in the East Japan final and Yuki Miyoshi in the All Japan final. Not only did Tsuchiya claim the Rookie of the year title but he did so with a perfect record, and was 8-0 (8) following the win over Miyoshi. Tsuchiya's power saw him advancing his record to 12-0 (12) before finally being taken the distance by Indonesian Heri Andriyanto.
Sadly for Tsuchiya the win over Andriyanto was the start of some career issues for the heavy handed Japanese fighter, who would suffer a number of losses as his record fell to 16-4 (14). Whilst those 4 losses were genuine set backs, they all came to decent fighters in the form of Shoji Kawase, Masayoshi Nakatani, Leonardo Zappavigna and Ricky Sismundo. Those losses could have been the start of the end for Tsuchiya but instead they were the start of Tsuchiya's rebuilding process, which has since seen him go 6-0 and defeat Kazuki Matsuyama and Masashi Noguchi, with the win over Noguchi netting Tsuchiya the Japanese title.
In the ring Tsuchiya is an aggressive fighter who relies on his power. He's not a world class puncher, but he is heavy handed and on the domestic level not many will take his power. Whilst he is a big puncher he does has defensive flaws, which Nakatani really took advantage of, and he also has question marks over his own durability, with 3of his 4 losses being by stoppage. Although his limitations are known, and it's very unlikely that he will compete above domestic level, he a very solid Japanese level fighter and could potentially be a long term champion at this level.
The 29 year old Nishitani has also been a professional since 2009, though hasn't had the success of Tsuchiya and didn't manage to make a name for himself in the Rookie of the Year competition. Despite that he got off to a good career start, winning his first 7 bouts and there was some hope put on his shoulders. Sadly that winning run came to an end in 2011, losing to Tetsuya Nishinaga and then Yuhei Suzuki in 2012. An unbeaten 8 fight run, which saw Nishitani go 7-0-1, followed before Nishitani lost to Yusuke Tsukada in 2015. The loss to Tsukada wasn't a huge setback as Nishitani got a Japanese title fight just 6 months later, and gave a very good effort as he came up short against Kota Tokunaga.
Although Nishitani has suffered 4 defeats they have all been by decision, and they have all been pretty competitive in all honesty. Whilst he is beatable he is certainly not limited and can put up a good fight the top of the domestic level. He has respectable power, good work rate and decent skills. Nothing out standing, but certainly nothing terrible and he can certainly make life difficult for a fighter like Tsuchiya.
Notably Nishitani has fought just 2 rounds since his loss to Tokunaga, and is coming in to this bout as one of the least active fighters to be involved in the 2017 Champion Carnival bouts. He might enter this bout refreshed and hungry or rusty and with his inactivity showing through the bout.
Given his status at champion, as well as higher level experience and activity it's hard not to favour the champion, but we don't think it'll be easy for him. We do think Tsuchiya will be too good, but we think Nishitani will make it competitive through out with the bout really being an entertaining one for the fans in attendance, and those tuning in on G+.
The Japanese Lightweight scene has never been the most interesting, or exciting, of the domestic divisions in the country but it has long been an under-rated one. That's certainly the case now with the likes of OPBF champion Masayoshi Nakatani, former world title challenger Nihito Arakawa, the under-rated Hurricane Futa the fast rising Shuichiro Yoshino, and the promising Masaru Sueyoshi. Despite a rising number of interesting fighters of names it does seem like we aren't getting the best of bouts, however we do still get some interesting bouts.
The next bout of note comes this coming Monday as the heavy handed Shuhei Tsuchiya (21-4, 17) faces off off with the under-rated, but in form, Masashi Noguchi (12-5-1, 6) for the currently vacant Japanese Lightweight title, a title that was recently vacated by Arakawa.
Of the two men it's certainly Tsuchiya who is more well known and in fact he has been on the radar of fight fans since way back in 2010, when he won the Lightweight Rookie of the Year and moved his record to a very impressive looking 8-0 (8). Not only had he won the Rookie of the year, but he had beaten 7 unbeaten fighters in his first 8 bouts and needed just 12 rounds to rack up those wins, including a win over future Japanese interim Light Welterweight champion Masanobu Nakazawa. Tsuchiya's KO run would end up moving to 12-0 (12) before he was taken 8 rounds by Heri Andriyanto and then 10 rounds by Stevie Ongen Ferdinandus, with some of his momentum being lost, but others seeing the positive from those wins.
Sadly since being 14-0 (12) things have been a struggle for Tsuchiya who has since gone 7-4 (3) suffering stoppage defeats to Shoji Kawase, Masayoshi Nakatani and Leonardo Zappavigna as well as a decision loss to Ricky Sismundo. Whilst none of those losses are embarrassing there is certainly a lack of a major win recent bouts, with wins over Kazuya Soma and Kazuki Matsuyama being the most noteworthy wins in the last 4 years for Tsuchiya. Despite the less than great form Tsuchiya is regarded as a very decent fighter with nice skills, nasty power and a developing skill set that has been helped by experience.
Whilst Tsuchiya is relatively well known the same cannot be said of Noguchi, however Noguchi cannot be over-looked coming into this bout. The 27 year old lost 3 of his first 4 and was 2-4 after 6 bouts but has buit his career amazingly well over the last 5 years and built a 4-5 (3) record into a 12-5-1 (6) one. That has seen him going 9 fights unbeaten and generate some real confidence and momentum. That's included going 2-0-1 with Masaki Saito, scoring a decent win over Kazuya Soma and a notable victory over Tomoya Yamada.
Whilst Noguchi is in good form we'll be honest and admit that his competition hasn't been the most testing and that this is a huge step up for him. It is however one he will come into with the knowledge that he might not get another shot at a belt if this one doesn't go his way. He'll also be aware that he's not the fighter who struggled to get going early in his career, those losses aren't a negative but instead part of his development.
Although it's clear that Noguchi is an improved fighter we don't think he will have the power to keep Tsuchiya honest and as a result we suspect he'll be broken down in the second half of the fight with Tsuchiya coming out on top courtesy of his more developed skills and his more destructive power
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.