December 1st and 2nd are incredibly busy for Japanese fight fans, with notable shows in Tokyo, Osaka and Hyogo. The action however flows over the weekend and on to Monday as OPBF Featherweight champion Satoshi Shimizu (7-0, 7) defends his belt against fellow unbeaten Takuya Uehara (16-0, 10), in what will be Shimizu's 4th defense and Uehara's first bout at this level. On paper it's a mouth watering match up between two unbeaten fighters, facing off for the most prestigious title in the regional. Not only is the belt up for grabs, but also a potential world title fight, with Shimizu holding a #3 IBF ranking at the moment. There is a lot to play for here, and the bout can open up a lot of doors for the winner.
With a perfect KO record Shimizu, on paper, looks brilliant. He's a 2-time Olympian, won an Olympic bronze medal at the London 2012 games, won around 150 amateur fights and is now 7-0 (7) as a professional. On paper the one gripe is his age, and at 32 we do how long he's going to remain in the sport. Sadly for Shimizu paper only tells half the story, and he comes up worryingly badly when we do the "eye test". Although clearly talented Shimizu doesn't have the flowing skills we tend to see in such established amateurs, in fact his boxing style represents a video game character who has a strong chin, vicious power and very limited movement. He can jab and box but he tends to stand his ground too much, slug his shots and fight with a very wide loopy style. He's not a fighter who has many traits of being a very accomplished amateur boxer.
Although technically very crude Shimizu does have really frightening power. His KO of Carlo Demecillo in late 2013 was scary and the way he simply broke Shingo Kawamura up this past August, despite being on the back foot for stretches of the fight, was impressive as his heavy hands just bust up Kawamura. It's clear that having a war with Shimizu is a bad idea. He's awkward, a tall and rangy southpaw and he throws from some very weird angles. Boxing with him however could be a smart idea, and he does make mistakes that fighters can certainly take advantage of.
Whilst Shimizu is a man believed to be going places fast the 23 year old Uehara has been really going about things quietly, whilst fighting out of the Apollo gym. He has spent much of his career away from the main boxing venues of Japan, frequenting the Yodogawa Ward Center and the Mielparque Hall in Osaka rather the EDION Arena and has only fought once at the Koarkuen Hall, but that has allowed him to develop rather carefully, away from the eyes of critics and harsh fan comments. He made his debut at the age of 19 and has slowly made his mark, claiming his best win in December 2016 when he beat Markquil Salvana for the WBC Youth Featherweight title.
Footage of Uehara show him to be a very confident young man, with a lovely technical boxing style. He has a fleet feet, a very sharp jab, which he's busy with, he spots opening well, and moves brilliantly whilst putting punches together. Defensively there are questions to be had about his guard, especially when he's letting his own shots go. One of the few issues that is clear from watching him is that he's not a lights out fighter, his stoppages come from accumulation, and that can be an issue as he steps up in class. We're also unsure how good his chin is, and how he'll take a shot.
If both men were equal, in terms of power, strength and chin, it would be hard to go against Uehara, who has looked like a classy prospect. Unfortunately however power is a big difference maker here, and Shimizu's power really is a game change, and we suspect that Uehara will find out the hard way just how powerful Shimizu's punches are. We wouldn't be surprised to see Uehara have a good start, but like Shimizu's previous opponents they'll taste his power and be broken down, likely in the middle rounds.
A win here for Uehara would genuinely send shockwaves through the Japanese scene. However a win for Shimizu is expected and will move him one step closer to a world title fight in 2019.
This coming Thursday Japanese fight fans at the Korakuen Hall will see 2012 Olympic Bronze medal winner Satoshi Shimizu (6-0, 6) make his third defense of the OPBF Featherweight title, as he takes on fellow Japanese southpaw Shingo Kawamura (16-3-1, 8). Interestingly this will be Shimizu's second professional bout against a domestic foe, with his last being a 109 second blow out win against Takuya Yamamoto in May 2017.
Coming in to this there is a lot of expectation on the champion who not only rides high as an Olympic medal winner or as the OPBF champion but also as a man tipped for huge success and a fighter with a perfect record. He's also entering the bout as a world ranked fighter and someone who is on the fast track to a world title fight, and given he's now 32 he can ill afford a set back if he wishes to fight at the top level of the professional ranks.
Despite being a top level amateur fighter Shimizu has a rather unique and unorthodox fighting style which sees him really rely on his freakish amateur traits. He's a 5'10” southpaw fighting at Featherweight, not many fighters at 126lbs have ever been his size and he uses his height and reach to get away with a pretty free swinging fighting style. Although he has got a jab he does seem much happier to go bombs away and look to head hunt with wide arching hooks at range. It's a style that doesn't look like it should be effective but it is, and he's looked totally dominant so far, having barely if ever lost a round since he made his professional debut in September 2016.
Blessed with not only size but also freakish power, impressive stamina and the team at the Ohashi gym behind him Shimizyu is a real nightmare to fight against.
Kawamura on the other hand has got the amateur pedigree, the world ranking, the regional title or the hype of Shimizu. Instead the 28 year old Osakan has got 6 years of professional experience behind him, the development of a hard career and the experience of needing to build himself up from the ground. He actually lost by stoppage on his debut in side the opening round, much like current world champion Sho Kimura, but has bounced back from that loss. He bounced hack so impressively that the following year he was the Rookie of the Year at Featherweight sadly for Kawamura his rise through the ranks was slowed in 2014 when he suffered a surprise loss to Thai visitor Attanon Kunlawong / Kongthara KKP.
Despite a loss on the road in 2016, to Mike Tawatchai, we've seen a real surge of success from Kawamura over the last 24 months with 5 straight wins including a massive one over Tae Il Atsumi last December, slowing the Japanese based Korean's ascent to a title fight. With his experience and confidence it's clear that he will be coming into this bout riding a bit of a high and he appears to be wary of Shimizu's low guard and his own advantages. Saying that however this is a massive step up in class for the challenger who will be looking to negate the reach and size advantages of Shimizu to land his straight left hand.
We know Shimizu is flawed, very flawed, but there is something about his awkward style that seems to leave opponents both dumb founded and on the canvas. We expect the same unorthodox approach to work well here and for him to stop Kawamura, who has been taken out inside the distance in 2 of his 3 losses. Kawamura might be confident going into the bout, and see it as a fun experience, but the reality is that this is a very different test to what he's used to.
In 2012 Japan's Satoshi Shimizu (5-0, 5) claimed Japan's first boxing Olympic medal in 44 years as he took a bronze medal at Bantamweight. After missing out on a place in the Japanese Olympic team for the 2016 Olympics Shimizu turned professional and raced away to the OPBF Featherweight title, claiming the regional title in his 4th bout, having been a professional for less than 13 months. This coming Monday he'll be making his second defense of that title, as he takes on little known Korean challenger Kyung Min Kwon (6-3, 3) at the Korakuen Hall.
The champion has been raced through the ranks, though turning professional at 30 years old he really didn't have the option of taking things slowly. He debuted in a 6 rounder, immediately moved up to 8 rounders then in just his 4th bout won his first title, stopping Sa Myung Noh in 5 rounds last October.
Although Shimizu has a very strong amateur background, with a reported 150-20 (70) record and is a 2-time Olympian, his style doesn't match that of an accomplished amateur. In fact his style is incredibly unique yet rudimentary. He makes for a pretty stationary fighter who throws wild, looping shots with venom on them. He can box and move but often often holds his feet and relies on his freakish power and size. Given he's a 5′ 10½″ southpaw fighting at Featherweight he really does pose some very unique nightmares in terms of size, stance and angles.
Watching Shimizu, he looks easy to out box, he looks slow, wild and sloppy. It's a very awkward style but one that has been effective. Despite his flaws Shimizu has hardly lost a round through his career so far and he has stopped his first 5 foes in a combined 21 rounds. His longest bout to date has gone 7 rounds and he looked very comfortable in terms of stamina in that bout, suggesting he could do longer, if an opponent can survive his power.
As we've managed to see most of Shimizu's bouts to date, and know of his amateur background, there is a lot that we do know about the champion. The same cannot be said of the challenger, who debuted more than 7 years ago but has been, like many Koreans, struggling with consistent activity and in getting bouts against name opponents. He debuted back in December 2010, losing, and was out of the ring for over 6 years, before suffering a second loss on his ring return. A 3 fight stoppage run followed as he reeled 5 straight wins, before coming up short against Sung Min Cha last September. A rematch with Cha saw Kwon take a majority decision to avenge his most recent loss.
There is very little footage of Kwon available, and we've yet to come across a full fight of his. Given that we don't recall seeing much of him it's hard for us to know what he fights like, however from his record, and the little bit of footage out there, we can deduce a few things. Firstly he's not a big puncher. Whilst 50% of his wins are by stoppage they have come against very limited domestic level novices, and all of them have come in rounds 3 or 4. His stamina is to be questioned, given he has never been scheduled in a bout longer than 8 rounds. From the little footage that is out there he looks, like many Koreans, to be an aggressively minded fighter looking to have a tear up on the inside. He will be giving away size, power, reach, speed and skills to Shimizu and will really struggle with the variety and unorthodox angles that Shimizu finds.
Whilst the Korean has never previously been stopped he has spent much of his career at Super Bantamweight, and on the Rookie circuit in Korea. This is a massive step up in class and it's very hard to imagine him taking Shimizu's looping bombs for long, before becoming the Japanese fighter's 6th straight stoppage victim. Kwon might put up a gutsy fight, but from what we know of the two men it won't be a competitive one, as Shimizu continues to march towards a potential world title fight.
The Featherweight division right now is a very interesting one, with a mix of contenders, champions, prospects and others. In Asia the division is also an interesting one with a host of notable names in the mix for world title fights, and the leader among those is OPBF champion Satoshi Shimizu (4-0, 4), who appears to be the latest Japanese fighter on the fast track to the top.
Shimizu won the OPBF title back in October, claiming his first professional title following a very successful amateur career. This coming Saturday he'll be looking for his first defense, as he takes on Filipino challenger Eduardo Mancito (15-7-2, 9), and looks to make a statement on route to a potential world title fight.
The 31 year old Japanese fighter had major success in the unpaid ranks before turning professional with Ohashi in 2016, debuting in September. His first 3 bouts were impressive stoppages but it wasn't until October's win over Sa Myung Noh that fans really began to sit up and take notice, with Shimizu battering the the tough but outclassed Korea.
In the ring Shimizu is a bit of an enigma. As an amateur he was a well schooled fighter, and those skills have been seen at times in his short professional career. Despite those skills Shimizu often looks like a weirdly uncoordinated, long and lanky fighter, with arms that look too long for his body and as a result has a very peculiar style where his shots come from really unusual angles. Although watching him doesn't suggest he's a big puncher he really does appear to bang and is a great finisher at this level, as Noh found out. He has power, speed, determination and the ability to adapt, though does have questions left to answer about his stamina, durability and defense, which will hopefully be answered here.
Filipino fighter Mancito looks like an over-matched challenger on paper,but for a first defense, on a relatively short turn around, he's not a terrible foe. He's 25 year old and has only been stopped once in his 24 fight career, with that stoppage coming to the world class Tomas Rojas. He certainly looks durable, and did go 10 rounds against Rey Vargas, but there is question marks as to how much his hard bouts have taken from him.
In the ring Mancito is a decent level of fighter. He was dominated by Rey Vargas but was competitive with the likes of Alberto Guevara, Jelbirt Gomera, Thong Sithluangphophun and Vergil Puton and has shown he comes to fight, even when he is out classed. His aggression will allow him to have some success against most fighters, but we suspect it will be his downfall here.
Mancito will come to fight, but against someone as heavy handed and skilled as Shimizu that aggression will be used against him. Mancito will be giving up significant height and reach and will be picked off, being worn down and stopped, likely in the first half of the fight, by the very talented Shimizu.
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.
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.