This coming Sunday is a hectic one for Japanese fans in Osaka, with 3 shows featuring a combined 4 title fights. One of those is for the Japanese Super Flyweight title as world title hopeful, and current national champion, Sho Ishida (21-0, 11) [石田 匠] defends his title against mandatory challenger Ryuichi Funai (24-6, 16) [船井 龍一]. For Ishida the bout will be his 5th defense, and possibly his last before being moved to a world title bout, whilst Funai will be getting his second shot at title honours, having previously come up short in an OPBF title bout.
Of the two men the one with the most upside is the 24 year old Ishida, an Ioka product from the same gym as Kazuto Ioka, Ryo Miyazaki and Masayoshi Nakatani, who will be defending his OPBF title on the same show. Like Nakatani we usually see Ishida boxing on the outside, using his reach, jab, movement and speed to beat opponents, though when called for he can dig in in the trenches and has shown the adaptability he'll need when he steps up to world class.
During his career there hasn't been many real issues with Ishida's performances. The one that does stand out however is his bout with Taiki Eto 12 months ago, when Ishida seemed to run on fumes for the later rounds and was somewhat fortunate to take a split decision. That bout did leave question marks about his stamina however he proved his toughness, his will to win and his warrior spirit, whilst a fight later he seemed to show he could do 10 rounds without any problems.
Although not a huge puncher Ishida is sharp with his shots and does carry the power to stop opponents, as seen with his 2nd round KO win against Petchbarngborn Kokietgym back in 2013. That stoppage also proved that he can be devastating to the body.
Aged 30 the challenger has had an up-and-down career and will be seeking another up, in fact he will be seeking his career best win when he faces Ishida. On paper however it's easy to rule him out, especially given the fact he has been stopped 3 times in his 6 losses though those losses include stoppages to Shinsuke Yamanaka and Rolly Lunas, both at Bantamweight. It's also worth noting that he began his career 2-2 and has lost just once in the last 5 years, going 11-1 (8) during that period. Whilst his wins might not be over top tier opponents he does hold notable victories over Gakuya Furuhashi, recent title challenger Ryuta Otsuka.
Whilst Funai is on a good run, and has won his last 7 bouts, they haven't been the most impressive of wins, with the most notable results being a stoppage against Ryuta Otsuka and a razor thin decision over Akinori Hoshino. Those wins are credible, but not the sort of wins that will prepare a fighter for someone like Ishida, who stopped Otsuka in 4 rounds himself.
In the ring Funai has proven to be a fighter who has improved with age, though at 30 years old there is a chance he may well be as good as he'll ever get. He's never going to be a genuine world beater but he's certainly a credible threat here and has the experience, power, skills and toughness to really give Ishida absolute hell. We suspect however that he will show flaws that Ishida will take advantage of, and the champion's jab and move approach will take him to a clear, but hard fought win.
The “least significant” title bout on New Year's Eve sees Japanese Super Flyweight champion Sho Ishida (20-0, 10) defending his title against former title challenger Ryuta Otsuka (15-8-2, 5). For Otsuka this is his second shot at a Japanese title whilst Ishida will be hunting his 4th defense of the belt and looking to continue his climb towards a world title fight in 2016.
The champion won the title back in August 2014 when he defeated Yohei Tobe and although he has looked impressive against Masato Morisaki and Hayato Kimura he did appear to struggle against Taiki Eto, in what was his second defense. That struggle was a wake up call for Ishida who found that his stamina needed work and has been a key of his development since.
Prior to winning the title Ishida looked like one of Japan's brightest prospects. He had shown great variety in punches, an ability to keep the action at long range, which suited his style, and ability to really hurt opponents with both head shots and body shots, with the body shots showing their effectiveness against Petchbarngborn Kokietgym.
Since winning the title Ishida has had some questions raised about how far he'll go and how much power he has, but it's clear that with his 5'8” frame he's going to be very difficult to beat given his speed, sharp punching and accuracy.
When it comes to Otsuka it's fair to say he's not expected to reach the top of the sport but he is better than his record indicates and, at 30 years old, he knows it's now or never. It is fair to question his record however many of his losses have come to solid fighters, such as Toyoto Shiraishi, Go Onaga, Yuki Nasu, Teiru Kinoshita, Malcolm Tunacao and Ryuichi Funai, with the loss to Kinoshita coming in a Japanese title fight. He has also fought to a draw with Konosuke Tomiyama. Whilst his losses have come to his notable opponents he does also have some credible wins, including recent victories over Takaaki Ishikawa, Yosuke Fujihara and, going back a little further, Shota Kawaguchi.
In the ring Otsuka is an aggressive fight, he comes to fight and doesn't like to back away too much. He is however a fighter with defensive holes, a guard that lowers too far and a lack of head movement, which has allowed opponents to land their jabs at will and set up their offense. Unfortunately him it's likely to be a case of all or nothing and if he tries to hold back he will make for a very easy target for someone with Ishida's ability.
Notably Otsuka was stopped just 9 months ago by Funai who landed a devastating right hand. We suspect that will foretell the result of this bout with Ishida scoring a knockout in the middle rounds to retain his title. Prior to the knockout Ishida will have dominated with his speed, range and jab.
The Super Flyweight division really is one of the most criminally under-rated divisions in the sport today, and the leading country for the division is Japan which boasts not only two world champions but also a host of top contenders.
One of those top contenders is Japanese national champion Sho Ishida (19-0, 10) who will be making the third defense of his title on September 27th when he takes on the experienced Hayato Kimura (23-7, 15) in what looks like a really solid contest on paper.
Ishida really is a world level contender. Boxrec.com list him as the #10 ranked fighter in the division and is also ranked by all 4 major world bodies and is in the top 15 of the IWBR*. Not only is highly across the board but he's also a very capable, high skilled and well trained fighter, who has learned his craft in the successful Ioka gym, along side Kazuto Ioka, Ryo Miyazaki, Takahiro Yamamoto and Masayoshi Nakatani.
In the ring Ishida is a wonderful boxer-puncher. His record might not show it but he's a solid punching fighter who really does show the traits of a world champion in the making. He's a fast, fights to his strengths and at 5'8” is very tall for a Super Flyweight. On the outside he has an excellent jab, intelligent movement and a solid right hand, with intelligent shot selection. On the inside he can hold his own when he needs to, though would be well advised to avoid an up close war when he can.
Whilst we have been impressed by Ishida he's certainly a fighter who is still some way from being the finished article. At 23 he lacks his man strength and he also lacks experience with only 90 professional rounds, including just two complete 10 rounders. The second of those 10 rounders was the bout that has left lingering doubts, with Ishida running out of gas late on against Taiki Eto, who pushed him to the brink last time out. It's clear that Ishida needs to work on his stamina or energy management before being moved towards his first 12 rounders.
When it comes to Ishida the talent is there, the experience isn't, yet.
With 30 bouts to his name Kimura, who has also fought as Jin-In Yoo and Big Yoo, cannot be described as an inexperienced fighter. Amazingly he has been a professional for more than 10 years and has fought in Thailand, South Korea and the Philippines as he's gone on to compile a solid, though unspectacular, record.
Kimura's career was filled with early promise. After less than 3 years as a professional he was 13-0 (8) and won both the South Korean and the WBO interim Asia Pacific Super Flyweight titles. He was making a name for himself in Korea and. Sadly though that early promise failed to really be built into on going success and he quickly fell to 16-4 (11), suffering a couple of stoppage defeats along the way.
Since suffering 4 losses in 7 bouts he has since gone 7-3 (4) losing to every notable fighter he has faced during those 10 bouts, including Oleydong Sithsamerchai, Marlon Tapales and Michael Dasmarinas. Losing to those 3 isn't shameful but it does show his level and suggests that he's a very long way from being world class.
Early in his career Kimura fought mostly by using his size, strength and aggression. That tactic worked early on when he was typically fighting low level opposition though hasn't worked as he's stepped up through the levels and faced better and stronger fighters. Not only have those better fighters been able to take his power and aggression but they have also been able to out box him, as shown when Dasmarinas outboxed him, just over a year ago.
Incidentally it seems like it's fair to use that Dasmarinas fight as the key to this bout. In that fight Kimura was unable to close the distance, he was tagged repeatedly at range by Dasmarinas and was given a bit of a boxing lessen by the Filipino. Given how Dasmarinas beat Kimura we expect a similar result from Ishida who has the ability and style to do a very similar job on his experieced foe. Whilst we know that Dasmarinas is a southpaw the style of boxing, moving and picking his spots should still take Ishida to a clear decision win, if not a stoppage in the middle rounds.
On paper Kimura could take some confidence from the way Ishida struggled late on with Eto. The truth however is that Eto is a much better fighter than Kimura and Ishida's early performance in that bout would likely have seen off Kimura.
*All stats accurate at the time of writing and publishing
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
The Super Flyweight division may not be one of the most attractive division's in boxing but it is one that looks like it is heating up and becoming interesting after a few barren years. Much of that excitement has come from the emerging generation of fighters such as world champion Naoya Inoue, the fast rising Takuma Inoue and Hong Kong star Rex Tso.
As you can tell from those names, much of the excitement has come from Japan. Another young Japanese fighter receiving rave reviews is current Japanese champion Sho Ishida (18-0, 10), an Ioka gym prospect who looks set to progress on to the world title scene soon. Aged just 23 he's wonderfully talented, young and part of the excellent Ioka stable which boats a number of world class fighters, such as Kazuto Ioka, Ryo Miyazaki and Masayoshi Nakatani, with Nakatani himself fighting in a similar way to Ishida.
Although still just a prospect Ishida is a young fighter who has shown all the tools for major success. Physically he's a perfect fighter with a long and lean frame. He's managed to use that frame to his advantage and fights to his strentghs. This sees him boxing on the move, using his long and sharp jab and his powerful straight to establish the pace and distance of the fight. On the inside he can hold his own though looks a lot more comfortable on the outside.
On paper Ishida's record a little bit thin for a fast rising Japanese prospect. Saying that however he already holds notable wins over Yasuto Aritomi, Petchbarngborn Kokietgym and Yohei Tobe, with the win over Tobe being the best of the bunch and also the fight that resulted in Ishida beginning his title reign last August. Although the best win is the one over Tobe it was the win over Petchbarngborn that really caught the eye with the Japanese youngster stopping the world ranked Thai.
So far Ishida has defended the title just once, stopping the horrible over-matched Masato Morisaki at the end of 2014 in a predictably one-sided affair. On April 22nd Ishida will face his first real challenge since winning the title as he defends his belt against the heavy handed but flawed Taiki Eto (14-3, 10), who is hoping to claim a title at the third time of asking.
Eto, the twin brother of the all-action Flyweight Koki Eto, suffered his first professional loss less than a year after his debut, being surprisingly stopped in 148 seconds by Takeo Kuranaga, that loss saw Eto fall to 5-1 (3). Following that loss things were a bit stop-start. He returned to the ring 3 months after the loss and blew away Yutaka Kato and quickly followed that up with a stoppage against Shota Hashimoto before spending more than 2 years out of the ring.
Upon Eto's return to action following his long break he went on to recors 3 wins, including a notable stoppage victory against Konosuke Tomiyama and an 8 round decision against Isack Junior. Those two wins moved Eto towards his first title fight though he came up short against Arthur Villanueva in a bout for the OPBF Super Flyweight title, a bout that saw Villanueva being dropped twice and Eto himself being dropped once in an up-and-down affair. Just 3 fights later Eto was out boxed and subsequently stopped by Yohei Tobe in a bout for the Japanese Super Flyweight title.
Eto, like his twin brother, often looks crude, he's slightly more polished than Koki but lacks the chin of the former WBA interim Flyweight champion. As seen in his bout with Tobe, he can be out boxed, relatively easily by a fighter who uses their jab and can be made to look silly by a boxer-mover. He does however possess that nasty power which can bail him out when he connects. If an opponent can avoid the spiteful power of Eto they tend to be able to over-come the Japanese youngster, if they taste the power however bouts can swing in his favour.
Having seen how Tobe beat Eto and how Ishida beat Tobe there is only really one logical outcome here. Ishida will win. The real question however is whether Ishida takes a decision or goes for the early win. It's a hard there and depends on whether or not Ishida is intent on doing more than hist retain his title. If Ishida just wants to retain his belt the odds are that he will be happy to cruise to a clear decision win, if he wishes to make a statement then he will likely turn the screw and hunt a late round stoppage victory.
In Osaka on December 31st fans will get a trio of title fights. The least significant of those title bouts is a Japanese Super Flyweight title bout between unbeaten champion Sho Ishida (17-0, 9), one of a number of fast rising Japanese youngsters, and unheralded challenger Masato Morisaki (9-3-1, 5).
Of the two men it's Ishida who is the better known fighter, the more established, the more touted and the more skilled. His is, like many at the Ioka boxing gym, tipped to go a very long way and the Japanese title he currently holds is expected to be little more than the first in a huge collection of professional titles that he will win.
Aged 23 Ishida is blessed with wonderful speed and movement as well as a tall and rangy frame that allows him to box from range like a number of his gym buddies. Like those gym mates, including Masayoshi Nakatani and Takeru Kamikubo, he has shown an incredible ability to box on the move with his lightning jab being the root of his success. Not only is his jab lighting quick but it's laser accurate and razor sharp allow him to pick off opponents think they can just charge in on him.
Whilst the jab is Ishida's key offensive weapon it's far from his only weapon and in fact it opens the door for many of his other weapons including vicious uppercuts when an opponent is up close and lovely hooks, especially to the mid-section. It was one such body shot that put away the tough Petchbarngborn Kokietgym, in what was Ishida first stand out win. It that was win over Petchbarngborn that showed just how good Ishida was and since then he has racked up 3 wins, including his Japanese title win earlier this year over Yohei Tobe. The win over Tobe is the best so far for Ishida and really showed off his ability in what was a high skilful contest. That bout proved he was as good as some suggest and that he still has a lot to achieve with OPBF and world titles both like to become his in the coming years.
Morisaki, 32 years old, is significantly older than the defending champion here though is also a man who is sat at the bar in the Last Chance Saloon. He has lost 3 of his previous 7 and is, sadly, without a really notable win. He is the stereotypical “easy first defense” and is unlikely to really have anything to test Ishida with.
For those who haven't seen the challenger as of yet he's nothing special. He is a patient fighter who appears to have spiteful power in his right hand but is predictable, comes forward with his hands relatively low and doesn't have either the speed nor timing to make up for his flaws against a higher level of fighter. Many of his wins have been down to his opposition just as much as himself, with just 1 win over an opponent with a winning record.
As well Morisaki's limited “victims” he has also lost to limited opposition, including Shun Ishibashi, who stopped Morisaki in 7 rounds in late 2013. Ishibashi is the only man to have stopped Morisaki but is a limited non-puncher and this loss needs to send alarm bells for those thinking about the upset.
With what we know about the challenger and what we've seen of him we can only assume one winner here, Ishida. The question is whether or not he can stop the challenger though we have to assume he can, given Morisaki's stoppage loss to Ishibashi.
We suspect this one will be over early. Ishida has the ability, power and speed to make light work of a fighter like Morisaki and we think he'll go out to impact, something he'll accomplish with an early and eye catching victory. Don't be shocked if this one only goes 2 or 3 rounds.
It's not too often that we see world ranked fighters colliding in a national title fight but that's exactly what Japanese fans have to look forward to on August 11th when they get a brilliant Super Flyweight title bout between two highly skilled and very promising young fighters.
In one corner will be the defending champion Yohei Tobe (8-1-1, 5), a man making the first defence of the title he won in impressive fashion earlier this year. Tobe goes into his first defence ranked in the top 15 by the IBF and with a lot of confidence courtesy not just of his team at the Misako Gym but also his results so far which have included wins over Wandee Singwancha, Kohei Kono and Taiki Eto.
Talented with nice speed, developing skills and credible power Tobe has strangely become one of the forgotten men in the Japanese scene. He started his career with sensational results then floundered before rebuilding to where he is now and another win in his first defence would likely move him into more world rankings and possibly even send him on to an OPBF title fight.
In the opposite corner to Tobe will be the unbeaten Sho Ishida (16-0, 9) of Ioka Gym. Ishida will be competing in his first professional title bout though has shared a gym with various championship level fighters, such as Masayoshi Nakatani, Kazuto Ioka and Ryo Miyaaki. He has also scored a very notable and highly impressive victory over Petchbarngborn Kokietgym, easily the most impressive victory on his ledger thus far.
Like Tobe, Ishida is a very promising fighter who seems to still be developing his enviable skills. Aged just 22 he appears to be the rising star of the Ioka Gym and has shown great skills, fantastic speed, under-rated power and a very sharp jab. Those skills have helped Ishida to a high world ranking with the WBA and presumably a win over Tobe would move him into contention for a shot at their belt in the next year or so.
Going in to the fight there is a lot of questions for both men and a lot on the line. In fact it's fair to say that this is the most important bout either man has been in and, aside from Tobe's loss to Ryo Akaho, this is the toughest bout either man has been involved in, and that's including Tobe's tough assignment with Richard Pumicpic.
For Tobe the question is how will he cope with the jab of Ishida. It's sharp, powerful and a really amazing weapon that he uses to great effect time and time again. The unbeaten man not only has a fabulous jab but he works off it amazingly well, throws it on the move and has shown that he can vary it's power and speed, a trick many fighters should make full use of. Tobe himself has nice movement though it's not quite looked as good as Ishida's movement which as really been great.
Whilst Ishida looks to be a better mover this is a big step up for him and, for the first time, he's facing someone who is not just talented but is actually his equal in many ways. Tobe, like Ishida, can hit harder than his record indicates, can box and move and can actually apply very intelligent pressure. The question of how Ishida copes with someone who is just as skilled is a huge one and we expect this to be the first time he is asked really serious questions.
Going in to the bout we dare say Ishida is the more gifted fighter, however we believe that Tobe's bouts with tougher opponents, such as Taiki Eto, Richard Pumicpic, Ryo Akaho and Kohei Kono will be the difference. He will know what to do when things aren't going all his way, something that Ishida hasn't ever had to face. With that in mind we are picking Tobe to win with a very late stoppage in a very good, highly competitive contest that brings out the best in both men.
For those lucky few who can get to the venue for this bout, you will also get the OPBF Light Welterweight clash between Keita Obara and Shinya Iwabuchi. That one looks to be special.
(Image courtesy of Danganboxing)
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.