Despite the relative lack of talent, both coming through and established, we do still have some intriguing domestic match ups. One of which will take place on September 16th in Kyoto as national champion Kota Tokunaga (15-2, 10) defends his belt against fellow puncher Yuhei Suzuki (16-4, 12). Between the two of them hey have seen the final bell in 11 of 37 bouts and proven that whilst they can bang both can also be hurt. Not only can they be hurt, but they can also be hurt early with 3 of their 4 combined stoppage loses coming in the first 4 rounds.
On paper the bout is an intriguing one, though it's made even better by the fact that not only is a title on the line but there is also local bragging rights up for grabs with both men living on the island of Honshu.
As mentioned above, Tokunaga is the champion. He won the title earlier this year when he stopped Yuya Sugizaki in the 8th round for the previously vacant title. Prior to the stoppage Tokunaga was in a narrow lead though had really began to surge after taking his time to settle into the bout. It was his first title bout and he showed enough to get excited about as he showed he could box at range and deliver on the inside, with some lovely uppercuts.
The win over Sugizaki was, by far, the most meaningful of Tokunaga's career and continued a winning streak that now stands at 7 fights, with 3 by KO, following an opening round loss to upset minded Filipino Ronald Pontillas. The loss to Pontillas has been a major turning point in Tokunaga's career and since then he has developed significantly whilst starting to show signs of being more than just a heavy handed fighter.
Aged 26 and stood at 5'10” Tokunaga is a young fighter who tends to have notable size advantages over most opponents. He can use that size very well with his sharp jab and, as mentioned, he does have a lovely uppercut. Sadly however he has been blown out inside a round in both of his losses and has got serious question marks, still, over his chin. It does seem that he now boxes a bit to protect himself, though that has lead to him looking like a slow starter at times and 6 of his last 7 have gone 7 rounds or more.
Aged 25 Suzuki will be hoping it's third time lucky after two title fight defeats to former champion Yoshitaka Kato. Whilst those losses aren't shameful by any means, given that Kato is a really good fighter, they have joined by defeats to Daiki Koide and domestic journeyman Kosuke Iwashita. The loss to Iwashita really being one that stands out like a sore thumb.
With 4 losses against his name Suzuki maybe doesn't look that great on paper though he does hold a number of notable victories. These include a 2nd round KO win against Hiroshi Nakamori and a 5th round TKO win against Accel Sumiyoshi. He, like Tokunaga, is a puncher however he certainly has the edge in experience and has also had the chance to spar with OPBF champion Nakatani, a man who is very similar in terms of build to Tokunaga, albeit on a totally different level in terms of skill.
Dubbed the “Wonder Boy” Suzuki is described as a boxer-fighter on the Shinsei gym website, though we'd describe him more of a fighter. He'll come forward and look to drag Tokunaga into a fight. That would be a smart tactic given that the challenger will be giving about around 3” in height. He will have to neutralise the jab, reach and movement of Tokunaga to have any chance, though if he can land his power on the inside he could well stop the champion.
Though isn't most appealing title fight on paper but we're genuinely excited about it given the style, and flaws, of the two men involved. It's fair to say that both men can hit hard enough to stop the other and as a result we could have a shoot out. On the other hand both could be cautious knowing the other has the power to hurt them. We're hoping for a shoot out, and if that happens it could be a question of who lands first. If it ends up being boxing contest however, it's hard to see how the title changes hands here.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)