Before the world was over-taken by the current on going issues that have essentially put boxing on a freeze we had written a number of previews for bouts that were scheduled to take place. For the most part those bouts are listed as "postponed" but this week one of those bouts was officially cancelled as Yuto Takahashhi announced his retirement. With that in mind we have decided to post our preview of the bout, and we'll be doing the same for any others that we had written and later get cancelled.
With that said, let us bring you the first "Scrapped fight preview", with the caveat that this was written back in February, before a single card in Japan was effected by the ongoing issues. The preview hasn't been edited since it was originally done.
We'll continue to add to this series as, and when, other previewed fights get officially cancelled.
One of the great things about the Champion Carnival is some of the match ups we get are just ones we didn't think we wanted, until we see them on paper and realise "that's a really interesting fight". One such case is the Japanese Light Flyweight title bout between defending champion Yuto Takahashi (11-4, 5) and mandatory challenger Masamichi Yabuki (10-3, 10). If we're being totally honest this is not a bout we expected to be talking about last August, when Takahashi was ranked at Minmumweight and Yabuki was in the mix at Flyweight, but time has moved on and we are now on the verge of this bout.
Back in August Takahashi revealed he was supposed to fight Norihito Tanaka for the Japanese Minimumweight title, before Tanaka got injured. He thought about retirement and admitted that his head wasn't in a good place. In October however he moved up in weight and claimed the Light Flyweight title with an upset win over Kenichi Horikawa. As for Yabuki, who had been fighting as a Flyweight, he moved down in weight last year and stopped Rikito Shiba in December to become the mandatory challenger, in what was his first bout at 108lbs.
Although not the biggest Light Flyweight out there Takahashi is a nightmare to fight. He sets a high work rate, has sneaky power, and throws crisp hurtful shots. He's not a puncher, not by any metric, but he lands clean and he regularly, and there's enough on his shots to sting, as Yuta Nakayama found out last year. His most impressive performance so far was his win over Horikawa, last October, and it showed how smart he was. He out worked Horikawa over 10 rounds, made the veteran look old and slow, and used his feet to smartly control the tempo and range of the bout.
Despite Takahashi's win over Horikawa there are still questions over the champion and it's hard to know whether the win over the veteran was due to Takahashi being that good, or whether Horikawa was finally beginning to look his age. In the end it seemed like Horikawa was, at times, up against a younger, smaller version of himself.
As mentioned Yabuki has dropped down in weight to fight for the title, an his only previous bout at Light Flyweight was his win in an eliminator last year. He made his debut in 2016, at Flyweight, and reached the Rookie of the Year final, where he lost to Junto Nakatani. Another winning run came to an end when he was stopped in 92 seconds by Seigo Yuri Akui, and not long after that he would lose a decision to Cuban Daniel Matellon. If we're being honest they are not bad fighters to lose against, but at that point his record sat at 7-3 (7). Since then he has 3 wins, including winning his international debut in January 2019 and taking notable domestic wins against Ryuto Oho and Rikito Shiba.
Given all 10 of Yabuki's wins are by stoppage it's needless to say he's heady handed. Whats notable however is that he's very much a heavy handed pure-boxer. He likes to move around the ring, using his legs to set up angles and draw mistakes. He has a heavy jab, a dynamite right hand and understand how to draw opponents on to his shots. Given he was heavy handed at Flyweight it's needless to say he's a brutal puncher at Light Flyweight.
We're expecting to see this being a match up that is stylistically suited to Yabuki. Takahashi will press forward, look to close the gap, and work on the inside. That isn't going to be easy against the bigger, stronger and more powerful Yabuki. Instead we expected Yabuki to tag Takahashi as he comes in, breaking down the champion gradually with his heavy shots.
Takahashi is tough, but he's up against a genuine puncher here and we see the power of Yabuki being too much, especially in the middle rounds.
Prediction - TKO7 Yabuki
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