In December we are going to be sharing our "20 for 20", a list of 20 fighters to keep an eye on for the new year. Ahead of that we will be looking at a number of fighters who just missed out on that list.
These are the fighters who perhaps won't be ready for a world title by the end of next year, but we feel will make a mark in the year, and go on to do big things in the following year or two. Typically they are the prospects who perhaps need a little more time to develop, or who are still a bit too young for the big fights, or maybe just don't seem like they are quite there yet. These are our "Honourable mentions - 20 for 20" fighters and these will be posted daily until the start of December!
Aso Ishiwaki (8-2-1, 6)
One thing that needs to be considered about fighters who are set to have big 2020's is that they don't need a perfect record, what they need is to have something to be excited about, and Aso Ishiwaki is the perfect example of that. The 20 year old is looking like the sort of fighter that we should all be very, very excited about, even with 2 losses on his record already. Those losses came on his debut, in 2017, and in the 2018 Rookie of the Year final. Since then he has just got better and better, being unfortunate to not take a win over Yoji Saito in early 2019 and then going on the beat former Japanese title challenger Ryuji Ikeda. The reason we're so excited about Ishiwaki isn't who has faced however, instead it's how he has fought and how he has shown so many improvements as he's matured. At the age of 20 he already looks like a natural star, with charisma, incredible maturity, a real gritty toughness and solid, heavy hands. He looks like the sort of fighter who will make a real impact on the Japanese domestic scene in 2020 and potentially in the domestic title mix in the years that follow.
Expectations for 2020?
Given how quickly Ishiwaki took out Ryuji Ikeda earlier this month it's hard to imagine his team, which is headed by Nobuhiro Ishida, not pushing him towards a Japanese title fight as soon as possible. He's unlikely to be favoured against the likes of Koki Inoue, or Yusuke Konno, any time soon but if he was to be matched with someone like Takahiko Kobayashi for a Japanese Youth title we don't see any issues with that. It seems like Ishiwaki and Ishida have got eyes on that Youth belt, like Kobayashi, and that is the logical bout to put together next year. If that fails to get made we suspect that Ishiwaki could be looking to face a veteran like Koichi Aso later in the year.
Whilst Ishiwaki still has a lot of improving to do, we're really excited by what we've seen from him and expect big, big things from him in the future.
For those who haven't seen Ishiwaki before we've included his bout with Saito below.
When we have some free time we're hoping to add a series of fun articles to the site. Hopefully these will be enjoyable little short features