One man who is much, much better than his record indicates is former Japanese and OPBF Light Middleweight champion Yuki Nonaka (25-8-2, 9). If you looked at his record today you's probably think he was average at best, if you looked at his record after just 5 fights however you'd assume he was never going to be anything. In fact his record of 2-3 after 5 fights would have seen him all but written off in the west.
Nonaka has proven to be one of the sports great developers and have his troublesome start he really became a very talented fighter using boxing mentality to out landed opponents and make them miss. We won't pretend he's a world class Light Middleweight but he is certainly a fighter who's record is deceiving.
As a boxer Nonake fighters well on the move from his southpaw stance and links punches together excellently when an opponent makes a mistake against him. He lacks a bit of power but more than makes up for it with skill, speed and movement, all of which are the key tools to his game and all were on show when he put on a master class against Takao Onda in one of his early title defences.
Another man with a deceiving record is the heavy handed Kengo Nagashima (14-10-2, 13) who will be fighting Nonaka on August 10th for the vacant Japanese Light Middleweight title.
If you took Nagashima's record at face value you'd think heavy handed journeyman but he's much more than that and in fact he's a very tough, durable and hard hitting fighter who is a real danger with his pressure, power and heart. In fact even in bouts where he is outboxed, such as he was against Tadashi Yuba, he refuses to just give up and will keep coming in an attempt to wear down or beat down his foes.
Not only does Nagashima have heart by the bucket load but he's also very, very difficult to stop in his tracks. From his 26 fights he has only been stopped thrice. Two of those stoppages came in his first 3 bouts whilst the most recent, more than 2 years ago, came against Keita Obara and lets not forget Obara is a monster puncher when he unloads.
Although Nagashima isn't an amazing boxer his shots hurt and with his pressure he does tend to land, even if he's not quite the skills needed to set his punches up properly or close the distance. With his power it only takes one shot to start the unravelling process of a fighter.
One thing Nagashima has going against him somewhat is that he's had less preparation time. Originally Nonaka was to fight champion Takayuki Hosokawa though unfortunately Hosokawa has had to vacate the belt due to ill health and Nagashima was given the call with just a few weeks until fight time. We don't suspect that Nagashima will struggle to make the weight but his preparation certainly won't have been perfect given the situation.
What we do really like about the fight isn't necessarily the fighters but the styles. Nagashima is heavy handed, tough and brings pressure, doesn't matter who he fights he will apply pressure. Nonaka on the other hand is a boxer who will move, punch and move again. Pressure fighters against boxers can give us some of the best bouts as one fighter tries to wear the other down whilst the boxer tries to pick up the rounds. It's usually a case of who can enforce their tactics on to the other and who can control the distance. For this bout we do think Nonaka's footwork is too good, but at 36 years old he's not as fleet footed as he once was and he may find that Nagashima can cut the distance somewhat regularly.
(Image courtesy of Boxmob.jp and shows Nonaka and Hosokawa on the poster, sadly it wasn't changed to accommodate Hosokawa giving up the belt)