Every so often we get a bout that just stands out to us as being worth a little extra interest, even if the don't have any title implications or long term significance. It's just, a bout, but an interesting one. This coming Saturday we get one such bout as former Rookie of the Year winners Yuga Inoue (7-1-1, 1) and Daiki Kameyama (7-3-1, 2) get it on in a 6 round bout in Hyogo.
To fans out side of Japan this bout has little real significance, and even for those in Japan it's not a major bout, but it is a compelling bout between two very talented young men, each looking to bounce back from a loss last time out and looking to get back on the right track. It's a bout that will put the winner on the verge of a Japanese ranking, and leave the loser with work to do, but a lot of time to do that work.
The younger of the two men is 20 year old Inoue. Despite his surname he is no relation to the Inoue brothers but he is an exceptionally talented young man. Hailing from Hyogo Inoue made his name in 2017, when he won the Minimumweight rookie of the year, moving his record to 5-0-1 along the way. Along the way to the Rookie crown he had beaten the likes of Daiki Yamanaka and Retsu Akabane and had taken a draw against Tatsuro Nakashima, himself a still promising hopeful.
With the Rookie tournament behind him Inoue entered 2018 with real expectation and towards the end of the year had his first title bout, taking on the hard hitting Kai Ishizawa. Through the first 4 rounds Inoue looked the much better boxer. He neutralised Ishizawa's power and offense with his smart boxing, sharp punching and ability to get in and out of range. Despite the success Inoue made some novice mistakes, standing and trading just a little too much, and after a cut in round 5 he was beaten into submission in round 6. He's not fought since then, but showed enough, in defeat, to remain hopeful about. What that loss showed was that the youngster, whilst talented, wasn't physically mature, and lacked not only power but also a physical strength, it was almost as if staying at 105lbs had taken it's toll, so moving up seemed logical and looks to be what he's done here, as he heads into the bout with Kameyama by moving up to Light Flyweight.
Kameyama took a year longer to make his mark on the sport, though his rise has been just as notable. He lost on debut, to Yuya Gunji in 2016 before suffering a pair of setbacks in 2017 to all action warrior Tsuyoshi Sato, who held him to a draw in early 2017 and then took a decision over him later in the year. In 2018 he went on to win the Rookie of the Year at Light Flyweight, beating Tetsuya Mimura in the final. Sadly his only bout since the Rookie triumph was a wide decision loss to Shokichi Iwata, in what was Iwata's Japanese debut. Despite the loss to Iwata, who is an sensational prospect, the 22 year old Kameyama cannot be written off and it's clear he can, and should, be able to come again.
What we saw when Kameyama took on Iwata was a really quick, fighter, who looked to do things, but was simply up against one of the best prospects in world boxing. There was so much talent on show here that the bout really didn't get the attention it deserved and it was obvious that Kameyama had the ability to go a long way, with a lovely southpaw jab and smart boxing. Just unfortunately for all his good work, it was just not even close to being enough against someone like Iwata.
With Inoue and Kameyama now facing off one thing we're sure about is that we're in for a treat as two highly skilled young fighters are taking each other on in a battle of skill. Both are very talented and both are very quick, so this should be a bout that flies by with real technical skills on show. Inoue will have to show how he looks at Light Flyweight, and how he copes with the southpaw stance, and Kameyama will have to deal with the sharp straight punching of Inoue. Both will have to answer questions as to how they are after losing last time out.
We favour Kameyama to take home the win, making the most of his southpaw stance, but the reality is this is a total toss up, and should be seen as one of the potential gems of the month. This is the sort of fight that should interest purists, and those who love watching competitive bouts and prospects. A genuinely excellent match up.
Prediction - SD6 Kameyama
One of the most exciting things to come out of Japan over the last couple of years has been the Japanese Youth titles. The titles were brought in to give young prospects a chance to gain a title before progressing onto senior titles, and as a domestic alternative to the WBC Youth titles. The belts haven't really got much attention since they were brought in, on what was essentially a trial period. Recently the JBC began to recognise them, and their potential positives effects on the domestic scene, and we'll be honest we genuinely do like them. They don't thin the talent pool like some of the other titles, as their market is so niche, but they do provide some very interesting match ups.
One such bout is a Japanese Youth Minimumweight title bout between 2017 All Japan Rookie of the Year Yuga Inoue (7-0-1, 1) and the big punching Kai Ishizawa (4-0, 4), set for November 10th. Had their been no Japanese youth title we don't think we'd be getting this bout, as both fighters would likely prefer to build towards a national or regional title bout, but with the Youth title up for grabs we're expecting a genuine treat.
Inoue, no relation to Naoya Inoue, made his debut in August 2016 as a 17 year old, scraping a decision over Kisei Takada. He would secure another win before the year, over Riki Kakazu before coming into his own in 2017. In November 2017 he won the West Japan Rookie of the Year, despite only earning a draw with the then 6-0 Tatsuro Nakashima in the final before winning the All Japan Rookie of the Year in December with a victory over fellow teenager Retsu Akbane. The win over Akbane was the one that really caught the eye with Inoue genuinely impressing through the bout. Since his big Rookie of the Year victory he has fought just once, scoring a stoppage win over Daisuke Sudo this past May, sadly failing to build on the Rookie triumph though would make up for lost time if he was to claim the Youth title.
In the ring Inoue is a very sharp puncher and educated fighter who can fight either on the front foot or the back foot. At his best he seems to be a very sharp counter puncher, and finds gaps where we wouldn't typically expect such a novice to see them. His body punching is crisp, and he looks to be a fighter who enjoys countering inside the pocket, showing real composure. The one major issue is his lack of power, having only scored a single stoppage, and he has been cut before, making us wonder about how his skin will hold up against a puncher.
Ishizawa on the other hand made his debut in June 2017, as a 20 year old, and was put into a 6 round bout straight away, beating an over-match Thai foe in the second round. He would follow that up with another second win over Yoshimitsu Kushibe and then an opening round win over another visiting Thai. It was however in his 4th bout that he really impressed, stopping the aforementioned Tatsuro Nakashima who had held Inoue to a draw last year. Sadly he was unable to build on that win when he had to pull out of a Japanese Youth title bout against Daiki Tomita due to a nose injury. That was a set back, but something he has recovered from, and like Inoue he will be wanting to make up for lost time as he looks to win his first title.
It was clear from the first minute of Ishizawa's debut that he was a very exciting fighter, who loved to bring the heat and put opponents under intense pressure straight away. He's a very powerfully built fighter and has serious belief in his power and physicality. There is a little bit of a crudeness to him, as we tend to expect in such a novice, but he looks calm, throws really spiteful body shots and looks to behead opponents. Given his physicality he's going to be a monster in the years to come, as he develops the know how to go with his power.
We believe that Inoue is the better boxer, he's technically better, sharper and more accurate. Sadly for him however his lack of power won't discourage Ishizawa who will apply his pressure and look to break down his foe. We suspect that pressure will pay off, and Ishizawa will grind down Inoue in 4 or 5 rounds of a great action fight. Inoue will certainly have moments, but the physical traits of Ishizawa will simply be too much for him to deal with.
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.