Some of the best things about Japanese boxing happen when a fighter is a novice. Not only is there the Rookie of the Year competition for real rookies, but there are also B Class tournaments for former top amateur fighters and fighters with a bit more experience and there are also some great tests for youngsters who want to prove their talented. Of course not everyone is super prospect like Naoya Inoue or Kosei Tanaka but yet we can almost always see a Japanese prospect tested in their first few fights.
We saw two such fighters testing their credentials at one of the B class tournament finals last year when then unbeaten Naoto Uebayashi, a former amateur star, battled the 22 year old Yusaku Kuga. Kuga, who came into the bout with a loss and a draw from his previous 8 bouts knew he was up against it but also showed true self belief and refused to be intimidated by the amateur credentials and hype that Uebayashi had gotten. As a result we got a fantastic fight between two very good and promising fighters.
The fight was a very competitive one that showed off what both fighters were capable of at time. Since then however both appear to have developed their skills notably and we'd not be shocked if one, or the other, manages to claim at least a national title at some point in their career.
(Video courtesy of Akimoto Righteous)
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