The old saying that you "can't teach an old dog new tricks" doesn't seem to ring true when talking about Kentaro Masuda who, as a fighter, has gotten better as he has aged. He has, in the last 3 years, gone from being a man looking unlikely to achieve any great success to being the Japanese Bantamweight and the #1 contender for the OPBF title.
Masuda's improvement was first seen when he won the Japanese title with a victory over Yu Kawaguchi. He recently made the first defence of that title by scoring a very impressive stoppage against former world title challenger Konosuke Tomiyama. Tomiyama had fought at a higher level than Masuda but Masuda was simply too good, too powerful and too strong for Tomiyama and a third round blitz from the champion was all it took to see off his challenger who was dropped twice in the round before being stopped by the referee as Masuda hunted a third knock down.
(Video is thanks to Kentaro Masuda)
When we tend to think of Japanese boxers we often think of fighters who were raced to world titles, including fighters like Naoya Inoue and Kazuto Ioka. One other fighter who won a world title early in their career was Nobuo Nashiro who claim a world title in just his 8th professional. Nashiro's first reign as champion didn't last long though just 16 months after losing his belt he returned to world level and became a 2-time world champion.
In the first defence of his second reign Nashiro battled against little known Japanese fighter Konosuke Tomiyama. Tomiyama was a former OPBF champion but was taking a huge step up in class and viewed as a talented fighter but not one who should really trouble Nashiro. What the champion got however was trouble, in fact he got almost instant trouble as he was dropped inside a minute of the fight beginning.
Nashiro, despite his world class credentials, struggled to get to Tomiyama and often looked rushed and reckless when he attacked. It was as if Nashiro was trying to make life difficult for himself and Tomiyama was taking his chance to land shots regularly.
Nashiro was dropped again in round 6 as Tomiyama seemed set to claim a major upset though eventually the champion found success in and in round 8 he hurt the challenger was never given time to recover as Nashiro jumped on him eventually breaking him down to force the referee to stop the action.
When we discuss bouts with everything this really did have it all. Skills, shocks and a major turn around. Unfortunately for Tomiyama his career since this bout as been inconsistent and he has lost many of his more notable bouts, including a highly exciting war with Genesis Servania. Nashiro on the other hand has retired and is currently working to try and prepare young amateurs for the 2020 games in Tokyo.
When we talk about the best fights that took place in 2013 there is a lot of debate about which was the best. In fact there were so many good fights that if we did a short list we would easily get to double figures in terms of contenders.
One of the more surprisingly contenders was a between the unbeaten Genesis Servania and the relatively light hitting Konosuke Tomiyama. The bout, at least on paper, looked like an interesting one but not one that would leave fight fans talking about both men after the fight and certainly not a fight that would steal the show on a Macau card.
On paper neither man was a puncher, this had distance fight written all over it and few would have expected it to have a round of the year contender. What we ended up getting however was something special with 4 knockdowns including 3 in the opening round!
We won't ruin the result but we do advise that if you've seen some of the other great fights from 2013, such as Koki Eto Vs Kompayak Porpramook and Takashi Miura Vs Sergio Thompson then this is one that you should also watch.
(Video courtesy of Ryan Bivins)
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