It feels like it's been weeks since we had stuff to be legitimately excited about, but today Teiken have out done themselves, announce the signing of 4 top Japanese amateurs who have announced they will be turning professional will the very well established Tokyo outfit.
The four men are Kenji Fujita [藤田健児], Subaru Murata [村田昴], Junya Shimada [嶋田淳也] and Kota Kaneko [金子虎旦]. Whilst some of those names will be familiar to fans of international amateur boxing others might not be, so in a minute we'll take a quick look at all 4 men, though what is clear by the signings is that Teiken are strengthening their ranks once again. The gym has taken the cream of the crop from those who failed to make it to the Olympic qualifying events, and with Tokyo 2020 now being delayed a year there's a real chance that these men may find themselves racing through the ranks quickly.
Fujita is probably the more well known of the 4 men. He is currently 26 years old and ran up a frankly stunning amateur record of 153-21 (40), winning 3 All Japan Championships, an Asian Championships bronze medal, in 2013, and competed at the World Championships. Back in November he announced he was retiring from amateur boxing, after 10 years in the sport, but left it unclear on what he would be doing. His decision to turn professional however wasn't much of a surprise and it was clear promoters would be very interested in luring him over to the paid ranks.
Of course Fujita isn't the only notable name from the new signings and Subaru Murata was also a very highly sought after fighter. Murata, who is now 23, ran up a 68-12 amateur record, took a bronze medal in the 2014 Youth Olympics, won an All Japan title and a National Sports Festival. In a comment on Teiken's website he spoke about wanting to unify the 4 Bantamweights titles and seemed to be intent on making a buzz on his debut. He's not quite the established talent of Fujita, but is going to be someone to keep a very close eye on.
The 22 year old Shimada went 58-23 in the amateurs, coming third in successive National Athletic events as a Lightweight. He appears to be turning professional at Featherweight and is probably the least well known of the 4 men. Despite that he does have international experience, and from what we under-stand he participated at the 2018 World University Championships in Russia. We see him as the dark horse of the group but given his age and extensive amateur experience we wouldn't be surprised by him being moved aggressively over the next few years.
Kaneko, who is also 22, is also turning professional at Featherweight after compiling an excellent 56-13 amateur record. His credentials aren't as impressive as the rest of the group. His results are a bit harder to find though interestingly he dd battle Murata as an amateur in 2018, losing to his new stablemate in the Japanese National Championships and that could lead to a rather fun but friendly rivalry between the two new gym mates.
At the moment it's unclear when the pro-tests for the 4 will take place, but it's obvious that all 4 men should be getting B licenses without any issue. With that said it's also unclear when any of the 4 men will debut but the expectation is that both Fujita and Murata will be fast tracked.
Earlier today fans were able to see the 88th All Japan National Championships, with 8 national champions being crowned in what was an incredible show of high level amateur boxing. For fans at the venue the show was brilliant, whilst those watching on TV, courtesy of NHKBS1 got guest analyst work from WBA "Regular" Bantamweight champion Naoya Inoue.
The lowest weight on the show was the Light Flyweight division, which saw Yudai Shigeoka [重岡優大], the older brother of touted professional prospect Ginjiro Shigeoka, take a 5-0 decisions over Daichi Hasebe [長谷部大地]. The bout was a high skilled, fast paced contest that really kicked the show off in an amazing fashion.
The Flyweight bout was another amazing contest, which saw Tosho Kashiwazaki [柏崎刀翔] taking a 4-1 decision over Ryomei Tanaka [田中亮明], the older brother of 3-weight world champion Kosei Tanaka. This was was tightly fought, but Kashiwazaki always looked like the aggressor, and it seems like that extra offensive mentality was the difference between the two men.
At Bantamweight 2014 Youth Olympics bronze medal winner Subaru Murata [村田昴] over-come Keisuke Matsumoto [松本圭佑], the son of former world title challenger Koji Matsumoto. Murata was cut around both eyes but took the decision win, thanks in part to an amazing effort in the final round, where he really put Matsumoto on the back foot to claim a 3-0 win.
The Lightweight bout saw 2016 Olympian Arashi Morisaka [森坂嵐] narrowly over-come Kenji Fujita [藤田健児] in a 3-2 decision. This was a messy bout at time, with the styles not quite gelling as the earlier bouts, but was very competitive and hard to take your eyes off as both men did all they could to try and take the win.
In the Light Welterweight final we saw the highly established Daisuke Narimatsu [成松大介] claim his latest title as he defeated Yuta Akiyama [秋山佑汰]. This was Narimatsu's 8th All Japanese title, and it seems like his intention is to go to the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. If boxing is however removed from the Olympics we could imagine promoters scrambling over each other to become his professional promoter.
The Welterweight crown was won by Sewon Okazawa [岡澤セオン], who took a 5-0 decision over Kanjo Taiyo [金城大明], in what was an another entertaining contest with Okazawa making his claim to be pushed towards some notable international competitions, potentially including the Olympics.
At Middleweight Yuito Moriwaki [森脇唯人] continued his great run on the domestic scene, as he defeated Kyohei Hosono [細野恭兵] 5-0. This win saw Moriwaki retain the title he won last year, and claim the MVP award for the show, as he continues to thrive and really make his mark.
The heaviest weight class on the show as the Light Heavyweight division, which saw Takuro Kurita [栗田琢郎] take a 3-2 win over Takahito Nitta [新田隆人] to take the crown.
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
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