It's fair to say that September, for the most part, was a disappointing month, with some notable gaps between noteworthy bouts. Sure the month finished with a bang, but there were certainly a few weeks where little happened and we were sat twiddling out thumbs waiting for the next notable fight. In October however that won't be happening, with great after great show, and notable name after notable name. Potentially the longest gap we'll see between notable fights will be 7 days. With that in mind we've had to break October into 3 parts for this series.
Korakuen Hall, Japan (G+ - Tape Delay)
Kenichi Ogawa (24-1-1-1, 18) Vs Kazuhiro Nishitani (21-4-1, 12)
The main event of the first notable show of the month will see former Japanese national champions facing off in a very interesting match up. In one corner will be former Japanese Featherweight champion Kenichi Ogawa, best known for his bout with Tevin Farmer, whilst the other corner will play host to Kazuhiro Nishitani, a former Japanese Lightweight champion. Coming into this both of these fighters have got world rankings, and both will know a loss will end their dreams of getting a big fight. On paper this could end up being a very, very good bout, with the styles of the two men expected to gel well. A great way to kick off the month.
Hayate Kaji (14-0, 9) Vs Hiroki Yajima (9-8-3, 4)
Unbeaten Japanese hopeful Hayate Kaji once looked like a star in the making and seemed destined for huge things. In recent performances however he has struggled to shine, and there's been a feeling that his career has started to stall with poor performance and a lack of professionalism. Sadly for Kaji the hope of taking on an opponent that could push his career forward isn't being realised here as he faces lower level domestic foe Hiroki Yajima. Coming into this Yajima has lost 3 of his last 4, and is 2-3-2 in his last 7. Despite his form Yajima has never been stopped and will likely make this tricky and awkward for Kaji.
Shokichi Iwata (4-0, 3) Vs Ryo Narizuka (9-9-1)
The hotly tipped Shokichi Iwata looks to stay busy as he steps into 8 round territory for the first time. Regarded as a future world champion Iwata is being moved smartly and this is a decent domestic level test for him as he takes on Ryo Narizuka. Whilst Narizuka isn't anything special he is generally quite durable and should give Iwata some rounds here, allowing the youngster to shake some ring rust. Given that Iwata has been out of the ring since November a fight like this is ideal, before potentially heading for a title fight in 2021, when the Japanese boxing scene is more "normal" than it is at the moment.
Korakuen Hall, Japan (G+ - Live)
Hironobu Matsunaga (16-1, 10) Vs Yuto Shimizu (14-4-2, 5)
In the first Japanese title bout of the month we'll see JBC Light Middleweight champion Hironobu Matsunaga defending his title against mandatory challenger Yuto Shimizu, in what could be a real thriller. Matsunaga is a thrilling little warrior who sets a high work rate, comes forward and looks to break opponents down with an aggressive and exciting style. Shimizu on the other hand is a tough, tricky, opponent who is big, strong, rangy and should be able to blunt some of Matsunaga's aggression. This might end up messy at times, but should be a compelling match up between the aggression of the champion the crafty skills of the challenger.
Kenshi Noda (2-0, 2) Vs Toshiki Kawamitsu (4-0, 1)
A low key one to watch will see the touted Kenshi Noda take on fellow unbeaten Toshiki Kawamitsu in a brilliant looking 6 rounder. Noda, a fooirmer amateur standout, is a Teiken hopeful who debuted last year and blitzed his first 2 opponents in under 3 and a half minutes, combined. He is tipped very highly and is regarded as one of the best prospects at Teiken, but this is very much his first bout against someone trying to beat him. Although he's been less impressive in terms of results Kawamitsu is the more proven professional and has faced stiffer competition whilst also getting more rounds under his belt. This is a hard one to call, and pits Noda's amateur experience and power against Kawamitsu's professional seasoning. A very interesting bout.
Shigetoshi Kotari (1-0, 1) Vs Motosuke Kimura (3-4-2, 1)
Talented hopeful Shigetoshi Kotari is regarded as one of the brightest hopes at the MT Gym, the same gym as Junto Nakatani, and here we see him in his second professional bout. On debut Kotari looked sharp, powerful and promising, but was up against a very limited opponent. On paper Motosuke Kimura isn't a big step up in class, but Kimura is better than his record suggests, and gave Hikari Mineta a good test last year. With that Mineta bout in mind we suspect he will take Kotari rounds here, but ultimately the gulf in class will prove too much.
Workpoint Studio, Bang Phun, Thailand
Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (48-5-1, 41) Vs Jomar Fajardo (17-17-2, 9)
In Thailand we'll see former 2-time WBC Super Flyweight champion Srisaket Sor Rungvisai return fight in a stay busy bout against limited Filipino Jomar Fajardo. Srisaket, who fought back in July, is expected to get a world title shot in 2021 and is looking to keep the rust off here in a bout that even the broadcaster describe as a tune up. Fajardo was once a capable fighter at Light Flyweight but will be expected to be blasted out here by Srisaket.
Apichet Petchmanee (6-0, 2) vs Musheg Adoian (7-1, 7)
In one of the more interesting bouts we'll see this month in Thailand the unbeaten Apichet Petchmanee will take on Thai based Russian fighter Musheg Adoian, in a bout for that will see Apichet defending a minor WBC title. The unbeaten Thai looked great in his first few bouts, but has looked less good in more recent bouts, and we do wonder if he's as good as first thought. In Adoian we have someone who could give Apichet a serious chin checking and let us see what the Thai really is made of. Adoian is no world beater himself but is a live under-dog here.
Microsoft Theater, Los Angeles, California, USA (FS1 - Live)
Mark Magsayo (20-0, 14) Vs Rigoberto Hermosillo (11-2-1, 8)
World class Filipino Mark Magsayo looks to move a step closer to a world title bout, and score win #21, as he takes on Rigoberto Hermosillo. The bout sees Magsayo take on a late replacement, who is a massive down grade, but that hardly matters here as the focus is on the Filipino looking good, getting his face in front of a US TV and getting back in the ring after a lengthy break. Expect bigger and better matches for Magsayo in 2021, with this acting as little more than a show case for the unbeaten Pinoy.
Korakuen Hall, Japan (Fuji TV - Tape Delay)
Hiroaki Teshigawara (21-2-2, 14) Vs Shingo Kawamura (16-5-4, 8)
The second title fight to be held in Japan in October will see OPBF Super Bantamweight champion Hiroaki Teshigawara defending his title against domestic foe Shingo Kawamura. The talented Teshigawara is hoping to land a world title fight in the coming year or two, and has transferred over to Misako Gym, which should help him secure a shot at the top. As for Kawamura he has come up short in an OPBF title bout at Featherweight and is dropping down in weight here, though we don't imagine he'll have much success against the under-rated Teshigawara.
Taiki Minamoto (16-6-1, 13) Vs Kanehiro Nakagawa (9-6, 5)
Former Japanese Featherweight champion Taiki Minamoto looks to bounce back from a frustrating 2019, in which he drew with Reiya Abe and lost to Takuya Watanabe, as he takes on Kanehiro Nakagawa. The heavy and talented Minamoto is in the hunt for a Japanese title at 130lbs and should be favoured here against the less experienced Nakagawa. Saying that however Nakagawa is no push over and he is riding a 4 fight winning streak, including upsets over Seiichi Okada and Ken Osato. On paper this doesn't look great but in reality we are expecting a very interesting match up between men who should be more evenly matched than their records suggest.
When we look at the world rankings we see a lot of names that don't really belong in any top 15, but somehow end up there. As we write this, on April 1st, we can go through the world rankings and see names like Mladen Miljas, Tom Schwarz and Mirko Geografo. Another of those names is Japanese fighter Kazuhiro Nishitani (21-4-1, 12).
We suspect many reading this have either no idea who Nishitani is, or even knew he was world ranked. In fact we suspect many, even in Japan, aren't too sure who the 33 year old from Hyogo really is. He is one of the more obscure Japanese Super Featherweight's, and if we're being honest we'd be be hard pressed to even put him in the top 10 Japanese fighters at 130lbs. Some how though the IBF have managed to squeeze him into the 10 in their Super Featherweight world rankings.
So for those wondering who Kazuhiro Nishitani is, we thought it was time to shine a light on one of boxing's most obscure world ranked fighters as part of our "Who are you?" series.
To begin with Nishitani is fighting out of Kobe, a small Japanese boxing market. He's further hampered, in some ways, by being promoted by Senrima Kobe Promotions, a small local outfit based in Hyogo. Whilst the promotional team have lead Teiru Kinoshita to two shots at the IBF Super Flyweight title, they are still a very small gym, in a very small market. They are miniscule compared to the likes of Watanabe, Teiken, Ohashi and even the smaller Osakan gyms like Green Tsuda and Osaka Teiken.
In Japan there are two main markets, Osaka and Tokyo. There are then other regional markets, but essentially if a fighter doesn't fight in one of those two, they tend to struggle for attention, with some like Kosei Tanaka being an exception to the rule in recent years. Hyogo being one of those much, much smaller markets.
Despite the low profile Nishitani has made a mark on the domestic scene and has been world ranked for quite a while, so lets look at how he got there, and how his career has been so far.
Given he's relatively unknown it's hard to believe Nishitani's been a professional for over a decade. He made his pro debut back in November 2009, and won his first 7 bouts, going 7-0 (2) on low key cards from 2009 to 2011. During that run of results the most notable win was a decision over Tsubasa Muramatsu.
In late 2011 Nishitani's unbeaten run came to an end when he went and fought in Osaka, losing to the unheralded Tetsuya Nishinaga. That was followed up but a loss in early 2012 to Yuhei Suzuki, who would later come up short in 3 Japanese title fights. Nishitani would rebuild from those 2 losses by scoring 7 straight wins, and advancing his record to 14-2 (7). Sadly though that form lead nowhere and things then went down hill, quickly, for Nishitani who won just 1 of his following 4 bouts, falling from 14-2 to 14-4-1 (7).
During that bad run of form Nishitani came up short to the then Japanese Lightweight champion Kota Tokunaga. He was competitive with Tokunaga, but lost quite clearly to the man making his second defense of the title. After a single quick win Nishitani got a second shot at the title, as he took on Shuhei Tsuchiya in 2017. Despite being dropped by Tsuchiya in round 5 Nishitani battled back hard and went on to stop Tsuchiya in the 8th round to claim the Japanese Lightweight title.
On paper the win over Tsuchiya should have shot Nishitani into some decent fighters. He was the Japanese Lightweight champion, he had just beaten the popular Tsuchiya at Korakuen Hall, live on G+. Sadly though he vacated the title, rather than defending it, and moved down in weight, from Lightweight to Super Featherweight.
Around 7 months after winning the title Nishitani would return to the ring and defeat the debuting Phruekphaibun Khanthusaeng in 2 rounds. What should have been a title defense was instead a blow out against an over-matched Thai. That was then followed by wins over Filipino domestic level fighters in the form of Rey Ramos, Glenn Medura and Monico Laurente.
Despite the limited competition Nsihitani is now riding a 6 fight winning. Despite not being the best fighter, he has proven to be tough, rugged, have a solid work rate and a fantastic will to win. Sadly though he lacks in too many other areas. He's not the most skilled, he lacks speed, he's very basic, and his technique is questionable at best. He can play a part in some fun domestic level bout fights, if matched with the right opponents, but it's hard to imagine him making any impact on a world class fighter.
With a small promoter behind him, along with his 33rd birthday, it's hard to imagine Kazuhiro Nishitani getting a world title fight. Despite that he can claim something few can, he has been a world ranked professional boxer. He might not be a world beater, but he can tell everyone he was a top 10 ranked fighter. Sadly though that ranking really does make a joke of the IBF and their questionable rankings.
Whilst we can hate on the IBF, and world title bodies, it's worth saying well done to Nishitani and his team for being so close to a world title fight. Saying that however the reality is that he is one of the many oddly ranked fighters, who has some how managed to get into, and remain in, the world rankings.
For those who want to see a little bit of Nishitani we have included video of his crowning glory, his win over Tsuchiya, sadly though there really isn't much other quality footage of him out there, which is a shame.
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