In recent years we have seen Japanese fighters being fast tracked at a thrilling and exciting pace. The top prospects aren't forced to wait and wait, and they aren't given the chance to stagnate, instead they are pushed, and told to sink or swim. That will be seen again this coming Monday when 2012 Olympic bronze medal winner Satoshi Shimizu (3-0, 3) takes on OPBF Featherweight champion Sa Myung Noh (11-3, 4), with Shimizu looking to become the “fastest” Japanese fighter to an OPBF title.
For those unaware Shmizu was one of the long standing stars of the Japanese amateur scene for years. He competed at the 2008 Olympics, claimed bronze at the 2012 Olympics and has a reported amateur record of 135-25 (65). His amateur background was part of the reason his professional signature was pursued hard by a number or promoters, before he signed with the Ohashi Gym, who have fast tracked Shimizu's former national amateur team-mate Naoya Inoue and taken him to huge success.
Although Shimizu did have his signature chased following the 2012 Olympics he decided to stay amateur an attempted to claim a place in the 2016 Olympics, before coming up short in a national qualifying event. Having missed out on a third successive Olympics he finally turned professional and debuted less than 13 months ago. On debut he stopped In Kyoo Lee in 5 rounds, and since then has impressively blasted away Carlo Demecillo, in frightening fashion, and Takuya Yamamoto. Those bouts have seen Shimizu show a rather peculiar, and unique style. He's long, and rangy, in fact at 5'10” he's freakishly tall for a Featherweight, and fighting as a southpaw he's exceptionally awkward. What makes him even more unique is he's very stand uppish, yet appears to have really unique angles, with his stance and stature both helping there.
Offensively Shimizu is wild looking, though it's fair to say it's almost a controlled wildness as weird as that sounds. Given that he's wild with his offense it's fair to say that he looks open defensively. It's worth noting however that he rarely takes a clean shot and certainly has the amateur pedigree to suggest that he knows his way around the ring, and knows how to look after himself. It is worth noting however that Shimizu only has 9 rounds of professional boxing.
The champion really made his mark earlier this year, in his title winning effort against Ryo Takenaka in Tokyo. Going in to that bout Noh had never fought outside of Korea, had lost his previous bout and had only fought 7 rounds in the previous year. The early going against Takenaka went the way most had expected, but a huge cut to Takenaka's lip in the later stages ended up turning the fight around, and Takenaka would be stopped in 10 rounds, in one of the biggest surprises in Asian boxing this year. Although that win put Takenaka on the Asian map, he had already been known in Korea, have won and defended the Korean title.
In the ring we've seen Noh have a strange career. He was down against Min Suk Choi, and struggled by Jaymart Toyco, though showed great toughness and energy against Takenaka. His will to win saw him pull out a victory whilst down on all 3 cards and he certainly can't be questioned on his desire. Technically he's flawed, much like Shimizu, and is both slow and clumsy. But he really can take a shot, and really doesn't know how to quit. He lacks massive power, but has that damaging power that takes it's, and makes fighters question whether or not they should take risks.
Coming in to this one Noh will know that he has to drag it out. There no point getting into a slug fest with Shimizu early, especially given the Japanese fighter's lack of professional experience. Instead we expect to see Noh show some real caution early, try and avoid Shimizu's bizarre angles, and ease himself into the contest. If he can do that, like he did in some ways against Takenaka, then he has a real chance. Saying that however we suspect Mr Ohashi has taken a very calculated gamble here, and has ran his man through long spars, testing his stamina, getting him to tighten up and fully preparing him to make a statement here. And we think Shimizu will actually go on to stop Noh in the later rounds, answering a number of questions en route to his win.
For many fighters the OPBF title is a gateway to a potential world title fight. The belt might not always lead to biggest fights, but for many it is a gateway, and at the very least it tends to get the holders a world rankings. This coming Thursday we'll see one man hoping to use the OPBF title as a stepping stone, whilst another man will be looking to snatch the title away, and score their biggest win.
The bout in question will see world ranked OPBF Featherweight champion Ryo Takenaka (16-3-1,9) defending his title, for the 4th time, and battling against little known Korean challenger Sa Myung Noh (10-3, 3), who looks to secure a career defining victory.
Coming in to the bout Takenaka is one of the more proven Japanese Featherweights, he's faced a bit of a regional who's who, splitting a series with Ryol Li Lee losing to Hisashi Amagasa and scoring wins over Vinvin Rufino, Randy Braga and Ryuto Araya. During his career, which began in 2008, he has shown constant improvement and is a genuinely well schooled fighter with under-rated power, solid skills and he had developed his survival skills, following 2 stoppage losses including a 2014 bout to Amagasa.
Takenaka might not be a world champion in the making, especially given he is now 32, but he's a solid technical fighter who knows how to box, and can bang, as he showed against Rufino with a beautiful KO back in August 2015. That was a KO set up by his skills, but his power at Oriental level cannot be ignored.
Whilst Takeneke is seeking to extend his reign it's fair to say that Noh is looking to prove he's more than just a Korean domestic level fighter. Noh is a Korean Featherweight champion, but given the fractured Korean scene that doesn't say much, and given he lost last time out to Nam Joon Lee his limitations may have already been seen. It's worth noting that he was dropped last year by Min Suk Choi and hasn't really impressed, despite being a champion, on the Korean scene. In fact to date his biggest win has been a controversial one against Jaymart Toyco.
For the challenger the bout is massive step up. He's a good fighter, but he's not shown his ability above Korean domestic level, and although, like all Koreans, he doesn't know how to quit, he's not going to have the skills to hand with Takenaka, who should retain his title with real ease, by either wide decision or stoppage.
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.