On August 31st we'll get a show being made available over the A-Sign Youtube channel. Whilst the card isn't a big one it does feature a number of things of note, including Shoki Sakai's Japanese debut and a bout featuring teenage Lightweight hopeful Jin Sasaki (7-0, 6). With that in mind we thought this would be a great time to introduce the youngster to fans who are looking to for someone new to follow in the "new normal".
Born in 2001 Sasaki isn't a big name, he didn't have a great amateur background, but since turning he has been turning heads and has been impressing creating a small, but notable, buzz.
As mentioned Sasaki was a great amateur. In fact it appears that his amateur record was a very unflattering 1-3. That's not the sort of record which would have anyone excited about him. Despite that poor amateur record Sasaki turned professional aged 17, fighting out of the Hachioji Nakaya Gym. It was clear, very quickly, that he was much more suited to the professional ranks than he was to the amateurs.
In his debut, in August 2018, Sasaki kicked things off with a 2nd round TKO win over Tsuyoshi Kato at Korakuen Hall, on a card that was shown on Boxing Raise. Sasaki looked confident, powerful, quick and exciting through out, though very unpolished as he wore down Sato with heavy hooks. There was defensive holes in what he did though it seemed like he was perhaps showing some nervous energy. Despite that he he looked fun, and very much the type of fighter worthy of making a note of.
Sadly Sasaki's second bout doesn't seem to be available, but it saw him defeat Ryo Kasai in, 3 rounds, just weeks after his debut. He then returned to the ring in February 2019 stopping Naoyuki Tsumoto on a Dangan 4 round card, that was again made available through Boxing Raise. By now Sasaki was starting to look more composed and like he was starting to control the nervous energy that was visible in his debut.
Sasaki remained busy in 2019, making his international debut in April 2019, when he travelled to Thailand and stopped Sirisak Pimpasitta in 2 rounds. He returned to a Japanese ring in June when he stopped enigmatic veteran Bejita Ishikawa. The win again showed there was areas for Sasaki to develop, especially defensively, but was again a good win for the youngster who continued to move in the right direction.
In August 2019 Sasaki took part in the East Japan Rookie of the Year, winning a quarter-final bout against Hikaru Sato. That bout saw Sasaki going the distance for the first time, but taking a clear decision over Sato before fighting in the semi-final of the East Japan Rookie of the Year. In that bout Sasaki took on Tetsuya Kondo, who came out swinging in a very entertaining effort, before being back up and then being taken out late in then first round by the powerful and promising Sasaki.
Sadly Sasaki failed to take his place in the East Japan Rookie of the Year final, and hasn't fought since his September's win over Kondo.
At the time of writing Sasaki's opponent for his August bout hasn't been named, but we do know that he will be competing in a 6 round bout, his first 6 rounder, and that it will be at 140lbs. He's certainly someone who looks very promising, and at just 18, turning 19 shortly, he's someone who has a bright future ahead of him.
We've included his thrilling win over Kondo below, thanks to the A-Sign channel, and we would suggest people subscribe to their channel, as that will be the same channel that will be showing Sasaki's August bout.
This past week has been a strange one for Asian boxing, as very little notable action actually took place in Asia, with very few shows taking place in the Orient. There was the odd card, such as the Rookie of the Year shows in Tokyo and the show in Singapore, but in reality there wasn't much of note. As a result many of the awards winners this week fought outside of Asia, though really did provide so much excitement.
Fighter of the Week
Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov (15-0, 9)
Tajik born Russian based Super Featherweight Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov proved his value with a great on Sunday when he stopped the previously unbeaten Azinga Fuzile in an IBF Super Featherweight world title eliminator. Rakhimov went in as the under-dog, fighting in Fuzile's back yard and for the most was out boxed, out sped, out thought and out fought. Fuzile's success left Rakhimov in a hole on the scorecards but the heavy handed fighter refused to accept defeat and in round 8 went about changing the nature of the fight, roughing up Fuzile. When he did that he broke through, dropping the South African twice to secure the win, and a huge title showdown with Tevin Farmer.
Performance of the Week
Batyr Akhmedov (7-1, 6)
Whilst we were massively impressed with Rakhimov the performance of the week belongs to Uzbek born fighter Batyr Akhmedov, who put in an amazing performance against Mario Barrios in a bout for the WBA "regular" Light Welterweight title. Akhmedov was dropped in round 4 then seemed to come alive, setting an incredible pace from round 5 to the final bell. Sadly Rakhimov was dropped in round 12 but had put in a performance that will leave fans talking for a while. He may have lost the bout, by decision, but Akhmedov impressed, proved he belonged at world level and showed he had the energy and style to be a genuine fan favourite. The bout may have come a touch too early in his career, but he made the most of his chance and will almost certainly have improved his standing, despite the defeat.
Batyr Akhmedov vs Mario Barrios
Akhmedov's effort in his loss to Barrios was incredible. The fight was fought at a high tempo through out, the momentum shifted, from a good start to Barrios, a strong middle for Akhmedov and then a big turn around in round 12 with Barrios knockdown. This was one of the most dramatic fights of the year, and it's just a shame that the judges scorecards left a bad taste over what had been an incredible fight, and a great showing of heart, determination and will from both.
Batyr Akhmedov Vs Mario Barrios (Rd12)
We stick with the Akhmedov Vs Barrios for the round of the week, which wasn't the most exciting round, but was the most dramatic. Akhmedov was in the ascendancy, he was pressing the fight and bringing the pressure. Barrios was badly swollen, looking tired and seemingly desperate to stay up right. Then with about 20 seconds left he scored his second knockdown of the fight. This wasn't an all action round, and put into isolation it wasn't an amazing round, but in context of the fight and the drama the round had this was amazing.
Jin Sasaki TKO1 Tetsuya Kondo
Although not the most significant KO of the week the one that really stood out as being the most aesthetically pleasing came in a Rookie of the Year bout, as teenager Jin Sasaki took out Tetsuya Kondo. Aftr just over 2 minutes Sasaki dropped Kondo for the first time. Kondo got back to his feet and about 20 seconds later Sasaki landed a truly sweet left hook that sent Kondo crashing to the canvas. This was a gorgeous KO, and whilst not the most destructive or important it was worth watching over and over.
Rei Nakajima (2-0)
Despite the Rookie of the Year action there wasn't much action featuring notable prospects. There was some talented Filipino's in mismatches at the start of the week but the mismatches certainly don't help their claim. Instead the one that stood out was was Rei Nakajima, who went 6 rounds in a clear win over Korean Se Yul Yang. Nakajima is a genuine talent and whilst Yang wasn't competitivehe did travel to win and forced Nakajima to remain sharp. It's a shame the top Filipino prospects didn't fight some what testing opponents at the start of the week.
Junto Nakatani (19-0, 14) vs Milan Melindo (37-4, 13)
There are a number of compelling match ups over the next 7 days, including 2 world title bouts and numerous bouts featuring prospects. For us the bout that stands out the most is the cross roads bout between rising contender Junto Nakatani and former world champion Milan Melindo. For Nakatani this is expected to be a legitimate test, his first real test since his Rookie of the Year days, whilst Melindo is looking to keep his career alive, and move towards one final world title bout. This is a really intriguing bout, and although there's no world title up for grabs, we see this as being the best of this weeks upcoming fights and the one which has the potential to launch a new star.
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