Back on December 12th exciting Japanese Super Bantamweight Hiroaki Teshigawara (21-2-2, 14) recorded his third win of the OPBF Super Bantamweight title, stopping Shohei Kawashima in 5 rounds, notching his third stoppage win of the year. After that win he spoke about fighting for a world title in 2020. Whilst that's a possibility it's expected that for him to do that, he would have to wait until towards the end of the year, giving him time to squeeze in one, or two, fights before battling at world level.
With momentum behind him, and an exciting style, we expect to see a lot of Teshigawara next year, and we expect more and more fans to become aware of him as he moves towards a world title fight. With that in mind we bring you "Five For....Hiroaki Teshigawara"
1 - Yusaku Kuga (19-3-1, 13)
Before fighting for a world title we would like to see Teshigawara fight one of two domestic opponents, the most notable of which is current Japanese champion Yusaku Kuga. On New Year's Eve Kuga fights for the WBO Asia Pacific title, and the reality is that if Kuga wins that bout, as expected, a bout between Teshigawara and Kuga would essentially be fore unified regional title, with the two men each holding 1 of the 2 major regional belts. Stylistically this would be a thriller, and the winner would open up different routes to a world title fight. At the moment both men are ranked by just a single world title body, with Teshigawara being in the IBF rankings and Kuga in the WBC, so whilst both would be risking a title and a regional ranking, they would also stand to gain a lot with a win. Also it helps that style wise, this would be a special type of war.
2 - Isaac Dogboe (20-2, 14)
Whilst we would love to see Teshigawara in an action bout in Japan he'll likely be looking to claim a major scalp in 2020, and a recent world title challenger or world champion would be the type of fighter he'd want on his record. Having someone like that would legitimise him on the international stage and see fight fans around the globe looking into him, and wanting to know more about him. Given how Top Rank have began looking more and more towards Japan for fighters Teshigawara may well be on their radar, and a bout with former WBO champion Isaac Dogboe would be a great introduction to the US market. Dogboe looks to be a faded force after back to back beatings to Emanuel Navarrete, and getting him now would be the perfect time. Also a win over Dogboe by Teshigawara would be give Top Rank a new challenger for Navarrete later in the year.
3 - Ryoichi Tamura (13-5-1, 7)
The other Japanese domestic option for Teshigawara is former Japanese national champion, and current OPBF "silver" champion Ryoichi Tamura. Tamura isn't as well known as Kuga, and has lost twice to Kuga, but is the type of fighter who would make for a very fan friendly clash with almost anyone. Tamura is a high work rate pressure fighter who comes forward and throws, a lot. With Teshigawara showing more sides to his boxing in recent fights he should be able to out box Tamura, though their is also a chance he ends up engaging in a war with Tamura, to give the fans what they want. This could be a great fun fight to watch, a chance for some highlight footage before a potential charge to world level and it would also be a mandatory defense of the OPBF title. It's not as good as a Kuga bout in terms of reputation, but it's just as good in terms of fan friendly violence
4- Ronny Rios (32-3, 16)
We mentioned a Top Rank option for Teshigawara, with Dogboe, but a different US option would be working with Golden Boy Promotions, potentially angling for a WBC shot at Rey Vargas. A good option, if he wanted to take that route, would be through Ronny Rios. This is, in reality, a much tougher bout than the Dogboe one, with Rios in good form thanks to 3 wins in 2019 including a 6th round win over Deigo De La Hoya. It would really legitimise Teshigawara as someone who isn't just wanting to take a win over a name, but is wanting to take it over a name in form. Technically this would be a really fun fight, mixing the under-rated technical ability of both with their aggression and exciting mentalities. This would be a legit world title eliminator type of bout, and a great way for the winner to stamp their place on the sport as a top contender.
5- Cesar Juarez (25-7, 19)
Another possible, and potentially exciting, way to introduce Teshigawara to a Western audience would be a bout with Mexican Cesar Juarez. The 28 year old Juarez does have a fun style and has been in entertaining bouts, with his 2015 clash with Nonito Donaire being a bit of a forgotten classic. Juarez is a level below world class, and losses to Donaire, Dogboe and Ryosuke Iwasa have shown he's not quite part of the divisional elite, however wins against Albert Pagara, Juan Carlos Sanchez Jr and Cesar Seda, as well general performance, show him to be a fantastic gate keeper. Get past Juarez and you are typically world class. If Teshigawara gets past the Mexican his argument for a world title fight certainly strengthens.
Earlier today we saw Ryoichi Tamura (12-3-1, 6) [田村 亮一] claim the Japanese Super Bantamweight title, as defeated Mugicha Nakagawa (24-6-1, 14) [武田勇太] for the previous vacant title. On paper that isn't huge news, despite being a notable story, however for fans of Hajime No Ippo the news is something to rejoice due to Tamura's link with the creator of Hajime No Ipppo, Jyoji Morikawa.
The 53 year old Morikawa not only created Hajime No Ippo but also runs his own gym, the JB Sports Boxing Gym. The same gym that Tamura fights out of.
Located in Adachi the JB Sports hasn't had a huge amount of success, despite being a physically impressive gym with a statue of Takamura Mamoru on it's roof. In fact we need to go back to 2000, when Manabu Fukushima (36-12-4, 20) [福島学] won the Japanese Super Bantamweight title, to find their only other title success.
Interestingly Fukushima's success saw him being used as the basis of a character in the Hajime No Ippo series, Itagaki Manabu. Given that history we may well see Ryoichi Tamura also being the basis of a character in the future and being used as inspiration for Mr Morikawa for future Ippo stories.
Whilst Tamura's win won't suddenly put the JB gym in the position to sign the top amateurs, who are more likely to sign with Watanabe, Ohashi or Teiken, it is a sign that the JB gym is going places, and they may well be set for their biggest yet. Not only is Tamura now a Japanese champion but Kyosuke Sawada (12-2-1, 6) [澤田京介] is himself a Japanese ranked fighter and it seems plausible that success could generate more success, and more success.
The recognition of Ippo and Morikawa's success, in both manga and sports, is likely to lead to more attention to both the gym and his creations. In Japan "Ippo" is big news, the gym stocks Ippo goods, and in fact today saw Ippo tape being used at the Dangan card.
After the win today Tamura stated "I have had many dreams, but now they've became a reality, I would like to thank Professor Morikawa, trainer, and staff." (translated), and the win has got Mr Morikawa and Ippo extra attention in the national presses.
Sadly if you'd like to see Tamura's big win today you'll have to watch it over the subscription service Boxingraise.com, though it was a very impressive performance from Tamura, the sort of performance that should really build him a large fanbase, even without cross fans from Ippo.
(Images courtesy of boxmob.jp, JB Sports)
Thinking Out East
With this site being pretty successful so far we've decided to open up about our own views and start what could be considered effectively an editorial style opinion column dubbed "Thinking Out East" (T.O.E).