The Flyweight division has long been one of the most interesting to follow and the winners of the Japanese Rookie of the Year at Flyweight often end up having some of the most promising and exciting careers, with Junto Nakatani being a particularly notable recent example. Someone looking to add their name to the long list of All Japan Rookie of the Year Flyweight champions is 24 year old Misako Gym hopeful Akira Hoshuyama (4-0, 2), who returns to the ring February 21st in his all Japan final.
Given his unbeaten professional record, his place in the All Japan final, and his journey to the final we thought Hoshuyama was a great fighter to cover in this week’s “Introducing…”, especially with this being a chance for fans to open their eyes to someone who really worth getting to know before his next bout.
Unlike many fighters we discuss in this series Hoshuyama wasn’t a former amateur standout. In fact he went 7-6 in the unpaid ranks, and even described himself as a “loser” last year when discussing his days as an amateur. Despite his limited record in the unpaid ranks he wanted to be a professional fighter, and it seemed like he was aware that the two were different when he began his professional journey in 2019.
When Hoshuyama turned professional he did so at the Gushiken Shirai Sports Gym, run by the legendary Yoko Gushiken.
It was under the iconic Gushiken that Hoshuyama made his debut in October 2019, and he would score a 2nd round TKO win over Kotaro Usuzawa, kicking off his professional career in style. In the first round Hoshuyama dropped his man, with a solid left hand, and was then in trouble in round 2, forcing Usuzawa’s team to save their man, who had no answer for the clean left hands and brilliant right hooks of the talented Hoshuyama.
Around 3 months after his debut Hoshuyama returned to the ring for his second fight, where he took on Korean foe Geon Kim, in the very first Japanese bout of 2020. From the off it was clear that Hoshuyama was no normal prospect, and he certainly didn’t look like a man who had gone 7-6 in the amateurs. He looked sharp, showed some lovely movement, and looked like a natural in the ring. There were flaws, and it was clear he lacked experience, but it was clear that he knew what he was doing in the ring. Kim on the other hand looked very crude, and ate numerous straight left hands down the pipe. The clean headshots from Hoshuyama beat the fight out of Kim until the referee was forced to step in and wave off the bout.
Sadly the bout with Kim would be Hoshuyama’s final one under the guidance of the Shirai Gushiken Gym, with the gym closing its doors a few months later. By that point however the youngster had been given the “Gushiken II” moniker by some of those in Japan.
When Hoshuyama returned to the ring, almost 8 months later, he was now a Misako gym fighter, and he made his Misako Gym debut in an East Japan Rookie of the Year bout against the then unbeaten Shoji Matsumoto (3-0-1, 1), on September 6th 2020. Through the bout Hoshuyama dictated the tempo and distance of the fight. Early on he established control of the center of the ring and showcased his crisp, sharp jab, as well as his solid left hand. As the bout went on his gameplan began to change and in the later stages he allowed Matsumoto to come to him, and landed some solid uppercuts as Matsumoto began to get desperate, and chase the bout. By the end of 4 rounds Hoshuyama had won pretty much every minute of every round, and took the decision with scores of 40-36 from all 3 judges.
Having booked his place in the next round of the Rookie of the Year Hoshuyama sadly had to wait for his next bout, and didn’t fight again until the East Japan Rookie of the Year final where he took on the dangerous Shugo Namura (then 4-0, 4). On paper this looked like a really tough test for Hoshuyama, and his first bout against a puncher. Early on he showed respect to Namura but established his southpaw jab at range and tied up Namura up close, frustrating his aggressive and heavy handed foe. Late in the opening round Hosuyama dropped his man and secured a 10-8 round. From there on Hoshuyama seemed to always look relaxed and in control against the very lively, but inaccurate, Namura. To his credit Namura continually tried to force the action, but his aggression was often crude and ineffective whilst Hoshuyama fought a more intelligent, and educated fight. After 4 rounds Hoshuyama was the run-away winner with all 3 judges scoring the bout 40-35 in his favour, despite the relentless effort of Namura. This booked Hsouyama a place in the All Japan final.
For those wanting to watch this bout we've included it below.
Although certainly not the biggest puncher, most physically intimidating or quickest fighter out there, there is a lot to like with Hoshuyama. He looks like he takes a good shot, has a very sneaky left hand, looks like someone who is full of energy and he’s also one of the few Japanese fighters who really seems to be willing to smother, hold and stall. It’s a skill we rarely see from Japanese fighters but Hoshuyama uses clinching well to take the steam off his opponents.
In the All Japan final, which will be shown live on G+, Hoshuyama will be up against 20 year old Yasuhiro Kanzaki (6-1, 2) over 5 rounds. A win there will help set Hoshuyama well on the way to bigger and better things, though once again he’s in with a decent opponent, and this is not a gimme for the unbeaten 24 year old.
Despite turning professional with an unflattering record, credit goes to Hoshuyama for rebuilding his boxing and adapting to the professional ranks, where he is now on the verge of winning Rookie of the Year. If he manages that then bigger and better things could well be on the horizon for the youngster who is already showing plenty of promise.
This is just an opinion, maaaan! It's easy to share our opinions, and that's what you'll find here, some random opinion pieces