When it comes to the most well known promotional stables in Japan there is no one that matches Teiken, the stable that has dominated Japanese boxing, especially in recent years thanks to the relative collapse of main rival Kyoei. One of the many things that has helped make Teiken standout is their ability to attract some of the best talent in Japan, and many of the top amateurs from East Japan end up turning professional with the gym when they finally hang up their vest and begin to fight for pay.
Included in those former amateur standouts is Junya Shimada (0-0), who makes his debut later this week and is the focus of this week's "Introducing", as we flag him as one to pay attention to ahead of his May 6th debut against Shigeotshi Kotari.
The allure of Teiken really was seen in 2020, despite the pandemic, as the gym snapped up the signatures of several standout amateur fighters. They included Kenji Fujita, who we saw debut recently, Subaru Murata, who's debut is expected to come in the near future, and Shimada, who may be the mover over-looked of the recent Teiken signees.
Born in Kyoto in March 1998 the 23 year old Shimada was a genuinely top tier amateur, who not only had success at home, but also competed internationally whilst compiling a very impressive 58-23 record in the unpaid ranks.
Shimada began boxing at the Kokoku High school, in Osaka and continued to fight through his education, as he also competed during his time at Komazawa University.
Although the full details of Shimada's 81 fight career are unclear there are some details we know, including the fact he twice came third in notable national tournaments, including the 2017 Japanese National Sport Festival, where he was beaten by Ryuji Kanaka in the semi finals. The other semi-finalists there were Rentaro Kimura, the eventual winner, and the aforementioned Kenji Fujita, showing just how deep that tournament was.
More is known about how Shimada's 2018 went, with him fighting in a number of notable tournaments. They included the 2018 World University Championships in Elista, Russia. Sadly he was eliminated in the second round, by eventual silver medal winner Gabil Mamedov. Just weeks later he lost in the semi-final of the Japanese National Sports Festival in Ehime, losing to Kenji Fujita. He also competed at the 2018 Japanese National Championships, reaching the last 8 before losing to Taiga Imanaga.
Sadly for Shimada he was regularly in one of, if not the, deepest division domestically. For example the 2018 National championships saw the likes of Arashi Morisaka, Rentaro Kimura, Kenji Fujita and Ryosuke Nishida all in the final 8, along with Shimada himself. He was also younger than many of those other well established names, who had more experience than the young, but promising Shimada.
Despite not yet fighting as a professional there is a lot of expectation on Shimada and that's with good reason. He looked damn good as an amateur.
This can be seen in footage of Shimada in action, where he looked really quick, very sharp, had lovely light footwork and despite being an amateur also seemed to show the ability to target the body, something that many amateurs miss out on. His amateur record may not have blown many away, but it was clear, watching him, that he had the tools to be a major success. Had he chose to stay in the unpaid ranks major success would have come to him, sooner or later, it was too obvious that he had the tools to be a very good amateur.
Thankfully for us Shimada didn't stick around the amateurs for too long and instead turned professional, likely realising his style was more suited to the professional ranks. He looked like the type of fighter who wouldn't have any issues at all in switching from the amateurs to the pros.
Although we were impressed by how Shimada looked as an amateur there are areas to work on, and things we want to see him prove in the professional ranks. We never really saw him being given a chin check, which we'll certainly see in the pros, and we never really saw him show much power, though of course amateur gloves are much more padded and "safe" than the gloves used in professional boxing. There are also, of course, questions about stamina and pacing, the same questions that we need to ask whenever a fighter goes from amateur to professional. With Teiken behind him however we expect him to have answered some of those questions in the gym, hence him being matched with another former amateur standout on debut, rather than taking on a limited, low level, domestic fighter.
Shimada passed his B license test last September he explained what he felt in regards to his career, and stated "I'm finally on the starting line. I'm happy. My dream (to become the world champion) has changed to my goal. I feel that the real game is about to begin."
For those wanting to see what the fuss is about we've included Shimada's 2018 amateur bout with Jinu Ri below, thanks to the brilliant Sakana 1976 for filming and uploading the bout. If you're a fan of amateur boxing he is well and truly worth subscribing too
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