On October 28th we saw Accel Sumiyoshi and Tatsuya Yanagi, fight to a draw in a Japanese title eliminator at Lightweight. Despite being held to a draw Sumiyoshi became the mandatory, and now the next question is who will he be up against at the 2019 Champion Carnival, when he gets his shot at the belt.
We'll find out who Sumiyoshi's opponent will be on December 13th, when current Japanese Lightweight champion Shuichiro Yoshino (8-0, 6) makes his third defense and takes on the challenge of Kazumasa Kobayashi (10-7-1, 6). On paper this looks like a very straight forward defense for the talented champion, but sees him keeping a very good level of activity with a 4th bout in just 14 months.
Yoshino is a really classy fighter who was former amateur standout before making his professional debut in 2015. Ever since debuting Yoshino has been earmarked for success and has been matched hard as he and his team chase titles and accomplishments. In just his 4th professional bout he beat Yoshitaka Kato and he would claim the Japanese title in just his 6th bout, stopping veteran Spicy Matsushita. Since then he defended the belt with stoppage wins over Masaski Saito, in the 2018 Champion Carnival, and Genki Maeda. Not only has he been stopping opponents but he has been doing it early, and late, proving he has stamina to go with his power and skills.
Although Yoshino hasn't yet gone beyond Japanese level, we believe he's the best Japanese Lightweight out there. We feel he'd beat OPBF champion Masayoshi Nakatani and WBO Asia Pacific champion Nihito Arakawa. Hopefully in 2019 he gets those chances, as he is far too good to waste time on the domestic title scene.
The 35 year old challenger has had a relatively weird career, . He debuted almost 13 years ago, as a 22 year old, and has had a stop start career. He fought 4 times within 11 months to begin his career but suffered his first loss and spent over 30 months away from the ring. He would go on to have several more breaks over the years, including taking the entire of 2016 out of the ring. As well as the inactivity he has also had inconsistent results, though he has gone up against notable fighters, such as Takashi Inagaki, Masanobu Nakazawa, and Kota Tokunaga.
From his last performance Kobayashi looked like a huge Lightweight, who appeared to be tough, surprisingly fit for a 35 year old with a decent work rate and his knockout blow against Noriyoshi Taki looked really impressive. He's a weird looking fighter, who lacks a lot of technical ability, but is unorthodox, awkward and can clearly hit hard, if he can connect with a thunderbolt.
We suspect that Kobayashi will be dangerous and unpredictable, but will struggle to cope with the variety, speed and slickness of Yoshino, who we expect to continue his reign and do so in style. The challenger has only been stopped once, in 7 rounds by Tomoya Yamada, but we expect him to be stopped again here by the smart, talented and strong Yoshino.
Sadly in 2019 we suspect that Yoshino will deal with Accel Sumiyoshi as well, and prove that he really is a class above the Japanese domestic level fighters who will be challenging him whilst he continues to hold this title.
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.
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.
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.