We have regularly spoke about the number of Japanese Middleweight title bouts that have ended up being thrillers. In fact we genuinely think it's the title that gives us amazing battles more consistently than any other title. The bouts might not be the best from a technical stand point but time, and time again they deliver incredible action between well matched fighters who really do fight for the belt. Today we bring you another bout for that title, and like others for the title, it was a thriller. Maybe not one of the very best, but it's in the chasing pack, and is really worthy of the 40 or so minutes it takes to enjoy.
Hikaru Nishida (15-8-1, 7) vs Tomohiro Ebisu (17-4, 17)
In one corner was Japanese champion Hikaru Nishida, a teak tough pressure fighter who was technically flawed but a bull. He could be out boxed, and was just a fight earlier in an OPBF title fight against Dwight Ritchie, but if you let him close the distance he was a nightmare to fight. As well as his toughness and incessant pressure he really excelled in terms of stamina, and seemed to get stronger in the middle and later rounds of bouts, taking advantage of opponents as they grew tired. We had seen the stamina and physicality of Nishida work well against the likes of Makoto Fuchigami and Akio Shibata and he had proven to be a really horrible fighter to go up against.
It's worth noting that whilst Nishida's record had 8 losses in 24 bouts he was once 4-5-1 (1) and had really rebuilt from a poor start whilst taking notable wins over the likes of Nishida, Fuchigami, Kazuhiko Hidaka and future OPBF champion Ratchasi Sithsaithong.
Ebisu on the other hand was seen as a glass cannon. His power was devastating, but his chin was a major issue, and none of his 21 bouts coming into this one had gone the distance, in fact 15 of his 21 bouts had finished in the first 4 rounds, including 3 of his 4 losses. Although he was a huge puncher, he had thudding power that shakes fighters to their core rather than knocked them out clean, and he lacked the speed to catch many fighters on the chin. Despite his flaws Ebisu was a fun, talented boxer-puncher and had managed to win the Japanese middleweight title in 2013, with a win over Sanosuke Sasaki, though it was a short reign and he did lose it in his first defense.
Coming into this Ebisu was the interim champion, following a win over Makoto Fuchigami in a 2016 Japanese Fight of the Year contender. That interim title had actually come about after Nishida was forced to pull out of a third bout with Fuchigami after suffering an injury in a freak accident and this bout was set to unify the two titles.
Within 90 seconds of the bout starting we had started to get what we were expecting. We were seeing Nishida pressing with real intensity and Ebisu landing heavy shots to the head an body of Nishida. Nishida managed to walk through the big shots in the opening few rounds and made Ebisu begin to stand his ground. When that happened we got fire works with the two trading bombs on the inside trying to take each other out some monstrous shots. Both were testing the other's resolve and it was clear, after just a few rounds, we were set for another Japanese Middleweight title war.
This wasn't pretty, but it was violent and got more, and more violent as the fight went on their footwork began to slow and they were spending more time at mid and close range.
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