Every year the Japanese Rookie of the Year tournament seems to make us aware of some new prospects who haven't come with a huge amateur background. At the end of this year we might end up being very excited about Super Featherweight puncher Hikaru Akutsu. In the video below you will see Akutsu's power more than make up for his less than stellar skills and in fact with this sort of power a fighter can go a very long way.
We have to admit we are a little bit sorry for Hikaru Komori who looked like a solid boxer before being rocked. If he can build on what he has with experience he can certainly become a fighter to keep an eye on himself.
(Video courtesy of gentidori)
We love watching fighters progressive and turn from unknown novices to contenders and even champions. Whilst sometimes it's obvious from the moment you see a fighter that they are going to become a champion, as in the case of the Naoya Inoue for example, sometimes it's not so blatant but you still show belief and faith in the fighter.
One such fighter, at least for us, is Yusaku Kuga. Kuga first popped on our radar when he fought to a draw with Naoto Uebayahi late last year and he impressed us again recently when he over-came fellow ranked fighter Koji Aoki. Below is that fight with Aoki, a fight that shows off lot of what we like about the unheralded and young Kuga.
(Video courtesy of gentidori)
It doesn't matter how evenly matched a bout is on paper it doesn't mean the fighters are equal and at Danagan 108 Masayuki Kondo found out his 1-0 record going in wasn't a sign that he was was equal to Ryu Ueda.
Ueda might not go on to be a special fighter, especially given the Japanese domestic scene at Light Heavyweight and Cruiserweight, but he will certainly remember this quick victory.
(Video courtesy of gentidori)
In December 2004 the Japanese based Thai Den Junlaphan lost the WBC Minimumweight title to Isaac Bustos after suffering a very nasty injury to his right arm. The loss was Junlaphan's first as a professional and kept him out of the ring for 8 months. In that time Bustos had himself lost the WBC title to rising Japanese youngster Katsunari Takayama.
With his injury healed Den Junlaphan was back in action to fight Takayama and regain his world title. His shoulder was healed and he was back to reclaim what he felt was his and show up the 21 year old Takayama who actually looked like a child when stood near Junlaphan.
The bout, from the opening round to the final bell was great action with both men fighting at a very high pace. Neither seemed to mind throwing one to land one and neither man seemed to dislike the challenge of the other. Unfortunately for Takayama however the shots of Junlaphan seemed to have more power on them even though Takayama often seemed to land higher number of punches.
The only bad thing about this contest were the scorecards with one judge managing to see the fight as a 119-111 fight in favour of Den Junlaphan, it was a bout that could have gone either way and a card that was that wide really didn't give Takayama any credit for his part in a enthralling contest.
At the time of writing Takayama is one of two active world champions that Den Junlaphan beat, alongside Akira Yaegashi.
*Den Junlaphan fought as Eagle Kyowa
(Video is thanks to JohnnyNawiedzony)
It's rare for fighters to make a home away from home but Den Junlaphan certainly did that and despite being born in Thailand he will always be viewed as a Japanese fighter by many, after all it was in Japan that he made his name and it was in Japan that he really carved out a career as one of the top Minimumweights in the mid to late 00's.
Sadly for Den Junlaphan it was also in Japan that he suffered his first professional loss and his only stoppage loss in a major upset to Mexico's limited but tough Isaac Bustos. More disappointing than just losing was the way he lost, being forced to retire after damaging his own arm in round 3. Prior to the injury he appeared to be in control of the fight though you can see him feeling the injury coming on very early in round 3. From then on there was simply too much time in the contest to fight 1-handed.
It's was a very unfortunate way to lose the title but he would later regain the belt to become a 2-time world champion by beating Katsunari Takayama who had taken the belt from Bustos just 4 months after this bout.
*At the time of this fight Den Junlphan was fighting as Eagle Kyowa
(Video thanks to BoxeoAmadeo)
Japan's Katsunari Takayama is one of our favourite fighters, we've never tried to hide that and we never will, we genuinely love "The Lightning Kid". In the build up to his fight with Francisco Rodriguez Jr we thought it fitting to include some of Takayama's many notable bouts, including this one with the then WBC Minimumweight champion Isaac Bustos.
This was Takayama's first world title fight and it was also Bustos's first title defence following his somewhat fortunate victory over Eagle Den Junlaphan. Takayama however appeared to be the man who looked like he was the more comfortable fighter in there looking busier and faster through out to take his first world title against his Mexican foe.
Sadly for Takayama his reign as WBC champion didn't last long with the Japanese youngster losing the belt in his first defence to former champion Junlaphan.
(We are sorry about the settings for this video which we've got thanks to Iwata Haruo)
One of the most disappointing performances this year came in the debut boxing show at the Portopia hotel in Kobe as Japanese southpaw Teiru Kinoshita took on South Africa's Zolani Tete and showed a real lack of experience at the world level. In fact Kinoshita showed little more than toughness as he lost a clear and wide decision to the South African power puncher.
From the opening round it seemed clear that Kinoshita had no idea how to cope with the lengthy arms of Tete, who landed his own southpaw jab time and time again. As the fight progressed things never really got any better for Kinoshita who began to eat straight left hands as well as sharp jabs. The best Kinoshita could throw back in return was wild flurries our of range before being tagged himself.
It was a painful lesson for a man who had never previously tasted defeat and it may well be the defeat that either makes or breaks Kinoshita as a fighter. Potentially he has time to rebuild his career though on the flipside of that he has several talented prospects to contend with on the domestic scene and fighters like Yohei Tobe and Sho Ishida will consider Kinoshita a stepping stone following this limp performance.
(Video courtesy of Nov K)
Just 6 months after Ryo Okayama had been left flat on his back courtesy of Koji Numata he faced his second successive former Japanese champion, Yuki Nonaka. As with the bout against Numata we ended up seeing Okayama failing to cope with his opponent, though this time around he did last a bit longer and didn't end up in such a bad state as he did against Numata.
Nonaka, one of Japanese more skilled fighters around Middleweight, seemed to do as he wished with Okayama took control of the fight relatively early though was fighting someone with similar hand speed to himself giving him some issues at times. The speed of Okayama however didn't really help him avoid the shots and in round 6 he was put under heavy pressure forcing the referee to save Okayama.
The performance from Nonaka again saw him showing off his speed, skills and movement though also saw him showing some spite late on, something he has lacked at times in his great career.
Not every fighter is world class and it's fair suggest that no one would ever describe Koji Numata as a world class fighter. Despite that every fighter does have their level and Numata's level is likely at the top of the Japanese domestic scene, afterall he is a former Japanese Welterweight champion.
Numata's reign as the Japanese champion did come back in 2008 though he has continued on with mixed success as his limited skills have allowed some fighters to beat him whilst his power has managed to take out others.
One man to feel his power was Ryo Okayama who lasted less than 4 rounds with Numata last December before being left flat on his back and looking in some trouble as his team got to him.
It wasn't the most amazing of KO's but it was a solid one for Numata who was looking to revive his dreams of getting a second OPBF title fight, having previously lost to Charlie Ota in an OPBF Light Middleweight title bout.
Whilst the win was a good one for Numata it did seem to begin a down fall for Okayama who was later stopped, in 6 rounds, by the talented but light punching Yuki Nonaka.
In our eyes one of Japan's most under-rated fighters is southpaw boxer Yuki Nonaka who appears to be regularly over-looked. One of the reasons Nonaka doesn't seem to get the respect he deserves is his lack of power, as a boxer he really does seem to have everything else with nice speed, shots, movement and understanding of the ring.
Even without power Nonaka has scored some pretty good stoppages including his solid one against Thai journeyman Ekapop Mor Krungthep Thonburee that appeared to come from the placement of a shot as opposed to a power of a show.
The bout, an absolute mismatch from the moment it was signed, was finished with a body shot that seemed to sent Ekapop on his way whilst Nonaka landed a head shot whilst the Thai was on his way down. We can't pretend it was a good fight but it against show off the skills of Nonaka who is a very tidy boxer and has caught out eye a few times now for performances like this.
(We are sorry for the silent sections of this video, it's not an issue with the video but the copyright of the company who own the recording)
Here we include some of the best, most interesting, most exciting or most eye catching videos from around the Asian boxing world.