On January 22nd Boxing Raise will streaming a small, but very good looking, show with 4 bouts on it. Two of those are title bouts, with two of the others being finals of small tournaments that Dangan have been running. One of those tournament finals will feature 23 year old southpaw Koki Mioya (8-1-2, 2) who we’ve decided to take a look at this week in the latest “Introducing”.
Mioya was born in Nikko City, Tochigi Prefecture back in the summer of 1997 and like so many fighters he began boxing because of his father. In fact his profile on the Teiken website explains exactly how he started, stating that he began boxing “Because I enjoyed playing with my dad with toy gloves when I was a kid”.
That enjoyment later led Mioya into amateur boxing, which he did through junior high school and high school. Despite his love for the sport his days in the unpaid ranks weren’t the most successful, as he ran up a less than spectacular 19-16 record through 35 amateur bouts. Despite failing to make a major mark on the amateur he did manage to do well in a Kanto Inter high tournament, where he came second, and he certainly had promise, despite his underwhelming results.
In November 2016, at the age of 19, Mioya made his professional debut as he faced off with fellow novice Taisei Sakai, who entered with a 0-1 record. On paper this looked like a typical novice bout, but sadly it never really got going as a headclash very early inro the bout caused the contest to be waved off after just over half a round. The southpaw stance of Mioya and the orthodox stance of Sakai didn’t gel at all and it quickly became a mess of holding, wrestling and, unfortunately, head clashes, with Mioya coming off second best. After just 97 seconds this was waved off.
Some 5 months after his underwhelming debut Mioya was back in the ring, and picked up his first win, taking a razor thin decision over Yukito Kurasaki, in April 2017. This bout was shown live on G+ and was a great chance to see what the youngster could do, in a bout that was much better than his debut. From the off he looked sharp and quick and had nice variation in his shots, though rocked in rounds 2 and 3 and cut again in round 4, from another head clash. With the win he progressed to the second round of the East Japan Rookie of the year, where he then picked up a decision win against Seiya Kumagai in June, in what was a much better and more polished performance.
Sadly for Mioya his winning run came to an end in September 2017 when he came up short on the scorecards against Riki Hamada in the East Japan semi-final. Notably Hamada himself would lose in the East Japan final to the big punching Arashi Iimi inside a round.
Having done relatively well in the 2017 version of the Rookie of the Year Mioya entered the tournament in 2018, and got a bye in his first round when Haruki Kudo was unable to face him in April. That led to Mioya facing Issei Watanabe in in his July bout, following a 10 month gap between fights. Against Watanabe we saw Mioya take a shutout decision, and move into the East Japan semi-final for a second year. This time the semi-final wouldn’t be his stumbling block as he managed to narrowly over-come Taiga Hayashi, claiming a majority decision, to progress on to the East Japan final. In that final was again pushed all the way, but did enough to take home the split decision win, and progress to December’s All Japan final against Hiroki Hanabusa.
After back to back close decisions to reach the final Mioya had had to prove he could dig deep and had to dig deep again in the All Japan final, where he managed to just hold on for a draw against the then 5-0-1 Hanabusa. Despite the draw it wasn’t enough for him to claim the All Japan crown, with Hanabusa taking the crown on the tie breaker rule.
Despite the disappointment in the Rookie of the Year final we saw Mioya look like a more confident fighter when he returned to the ring in 2019. His first bout of the year saw him scoring his first stoppage, as he KO'd Anurak Madua in 4 rounds, following a barrage of body shots in the corner. He then followed that up with a 4th round TKO win against Tongthep Taeyawong, where Mioya showed lovely speed and started to look like a man, rather than the teenage boy he had been earlier in his career. There were still areas to work on but he looked much more confident than he had in his early bouts.
Sadly Mioya’s development was slowed significantly in 2020 where he fought just a single professional bout, scoring a win over Daiju Hamaguchi in October to book his place in his upcoming B class final. Although it wasn't an amazing match up, the bout did see Mioya answering some questions and going 6 rounds for the first time in his career, as he took a 6 round decision over Hamaguchi.
Although not blessed with incredible power or strength Mioya is a very solid boxer, with nice speed and movement. He has very good height and reach for a Super Bantamweight and nice reflexes. Sadly however he does struggle to get the respect of his opponents and has, in recent bouts, become more focused on drawing mistakes at mid range and countering with his sharp combinations and hand speed. At the level he’s been fighting at this has worked, for the most part, though we do wonder if he can carry it up when he begins to face bigger, better, stronger opponents.
At just 23 years old there is a real chance that Mioya will hit his stride and find his man strength in the coming years, but for now he’s very much struggling to hurt fighters and as a result his fights are going long. In just 11 bouts, all of which have been scheduled for 4, 5 or 6 rounds, he has already fought 44 rounds. Good for his experience, but a sign that he really does struggle with hurting opponents and putting them away and a potential sign that he will really struggle in 8 and 10 rounds in a few years, if he doesn’t develop physically in the near future.
Despite his issues Mioya does have the backing of Teiken and is a popular young fighter and with 3 straight wins he does have momentum behind him here.
It’s fair to say that January is usually a quiet month but this January is particularly quiet, with bouts really not being lined up for much of the month, we’ve already seen two scheduled bouts being cancelled due to Covid19 related issues. Despite that we do still have some stuff to be excited about, so let's take a look at what we’ve got coming up this month, and it is very much a prospect heavy month.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
Keita Kurihara (15-5, 13) vs Takuma Inoue (13-1, 3)
The first genuinely big bout set to take place in Asia will be on January 14th as OPBF Bantamweight champion Keita Kurihara looks to defend his title against Takuma Inoue. The bout is a genuinely good looking one and will see Kurihara’s power and aggression against the toughness and skills of Inoue. With both men entering the bout world ranked the winner of this will be banging on the door of a world title fight, and we wouldn't be surprised at all by them landing a really big, international level, fight at the end of the year.
Katsuki Mori (7-0, 1) vs Sora Takeda (6-1, 1)
Highly skilled prospect Katsuki Mori looks to continue building his reputation as he takes on Sora takeda, in a battle between two former Rookie of the Year winners. Mori has received a lot of praise since breaking through in 2019, though with only a single bout in 2020 his career needs a big shot in the arm in 2021. Takeda on the other hand won Rookie of the Year in 2018, and has sadly seen his momentum slow with just 2 bouts since then. The winner of this will begin a move towards a potential Japanese Youth title bout, but could take a year or two for either man to land their first title fight.
Keisuke Matsumoto (1-0, 1) Vs Bejita Ishikawa (3-12-2, 1)
Touted Japanese third generation fighter Keisuke Matsumoto will be looking to record his second win as a professional as he takes on Dragonball Z inspired fighter Bejita Ishikawa, who is well known for his Vegeta styled entrance attire. Matsumoto is very highly regarded and his father was a multi time world title challenger, though he’ll want a better performance than his debut, which saw him being dropped before he stopped Hironori Miyake. Ishikawa shouldn’t provide much of a test here, but he is a unique fighter and certainly has popularity that exceeds his ability.
Ryutaro Nakagaki (1-0, 1) vs Yuji Okinori (10-5-2, 3)
Another prospect looking for their second win is former amateur stand out Ryutaro Nakagaki, who will be looking to build on a successful debut in a notable step up in class, as he takes on the experienced Yuji Okinori. Although perhaps not a big internationally there is very high expectations on Nakagaki in Japanese, after an excellent amateur career, and given how he looked on debut the 21 year old Super Flyweight hopeful really does seem to have the potential to go a very, very long way in the sport. Okinori is a very credible opponent for Nakagaki this early in his career, but it’s hard to see anything but a Nakagaki win.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
Riku Nagahama (12-2-1, 4) Vs Ryota Toyoshima (12-2-1, 8) - OPBF Welterweight title
The second OPBF title fight of 2021 will see Riku Nagahama seek his first defense as he faces off with the heavy handed Ryota Toyoshima. Nagahama, who holds the OPBF Welterweight title, won the belt in 2020 but has had to wait almost a year to defend it. Although not the biggest puncher Nagahama does have a fan friendly style and does get involved in a tear, even if that’s not the best idea for him. Toyoshima is a more patient fighter than Nagahama, but he’s certainly a bigger puncher and he has very under-rated and sneaky body shots in his arsenal. This could, legitimately, turn out to be a genuine war for the OPBF title and could be a gem in a month where big bouts are few and far between.
Jukiya Iimura (0-0) Vs Daisuke Yamada (6-5, 1)
Whilst there is a lack of big bouts there are a lot of prospects in action over the coming days and one of those is Jukiya Iimura, who went 68-13 in the amateurs. He’ll be getting introduced to professional bout with a bout against the solid Daisuke Yamada, in what should be a solid test for the debuting Flyweight.
Jun Ikegawa (0-0) Vs Kakeru Yoshikawa (4-1-2)
Another debutant looking to make a mark in January is Jun Ikegawa, who went 51-15 in the unpaid ranks. The skilled Ikegawa looks to be in a very solid debut match up as he takes on Kakeru Yoshikawa. The 22 year old Ikegawa is tipped for success and will be looking to make his mark at 122lbs. Yoshikawa is a very credible opponent, and his only loss was a split decision back in July 22017. This is not a gimmie for Ikegawa!
Yugo Kon (0-0) Vs Koji Tsurumi (4-3-1, 1)
One other debutant on this show to make a note of is Yugo Kon. He went a less than spectacular 23-11 in the amateur ranks but is regarded as a long term prospect and we should see him being asked genuine questions by Koji Tsurumi, who is better than his record suggests.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
Kosuke Saka (20-5, 17) Vs Takuya Watanabe (37-9-1, 21)
In another potential hidden gem Japanese Super Featherweight champion Kosuke Saka will take on Takuya Watanabe, and this may well end up being a genuinely brutal war. Saka is an aggressive, heavy handed and exciting fighter, but one who can also be super inconsistent. Despite being hot and cold Saka looked fantastic in his 2019 title winning performance, smashing Masaru Sueyoshi in 5 rounds. Watanabe on the other hand is a super tough, technical warrior who tends to box well, but is much more well known for his ability to genuinely fight. Watanabe’s bouts with Jaesung Lee and Taiki Minamoto showed his toughness and he will have to dip into that again here.
Yusaku Kuga (19-4-1, 13) Vs Gakuya Furuhashi (26-8-1, 14)
Another Japanese title fight will see Yusaku Kuga defending his JBC Super Bantamweight title against Gakuya Furuhashi. For Kuga this is a must win after being taken out in a regional title fight by Jhunriel Ramonal at the end of 2019. Although talented Kuga has been in a number of tough wars, and bouts against the likes of Ryoichi Tamura, Shingo Wake and Yasutaka Ishimoto may well have aged him. As for Furuhashi the 33 year old challenger will know it’s now or never after coming up short in two previous Japanese title fights. Style wise Furuhashi is a grinder, who throws a lot and lacks 1-punch fight changing power, again Kuga his style may be his undoing, or it could lead to an early FOTY contender.
Koki Mioya (8-1-2, 2) v Tentaro Kimura (5-0-2)
In a B class tournament final the once beaten Koki Mioya takes on Tentaro Kimura, in what should be a very evenly matched and exciting 5 rounder. This bout, unlike many, has gotten a lot of interest for what is, for all intents, a lower level Japanese bout, with neither fighter being regarded as a major prospect. Both as popular fighters and the bout is being regarded as one that could end up delivering a lot of action. Fans in the west may overlook this one, but it is genuinely generating plenty of buzz among the hardcore Japanese fans.
Shu Utsuki (7-0, 6) v Masashi Wakita (10-10-2, 5)
In an A Class tournament final the fast rising, and heavy handed, Japanese Lightweight hopeful Shu Utsuki will battle Masashi Wakita. This looks like a mismatch on paper and we suspect it will be, but it will still be great to see Utsuki back in the ring, and there’s a real chance of him getting involved in the Japanese title mix in the next 12 to 24 months. Utsuki is a very nasty and serious puncher, and that is likely to be too much for Wakita, who’s been a genuine servant to Japanese boxing over the years.
Yokasta Valle (20-2, 9) Vs Sana Hazuki (8-4-1, 2)
In a surprising world title fight we’ll see OPBF Minimumweight champion Sana Hazuki challenge IBF champion Yokasta Valle near the end of the month. This bout was only announced in January, after Valle had numerous issues securing a unification fight with WBC champion Tina Rupprecht. Valle will be the heavy, heavy favourite, though there is, maybe, a chance she has looked past Hazuki, who really shouldn’t be much of a taste for the Costa Rican world champion.
Manual Artime Community Center Theater, Miami, Florida, USA
Fazliddin Meliboev (0-0) vs Javonn Davis (3-0-1, 3)
Back to debutants we have talented Uzbek 24 year old Fazliddin Meliboev kicking off his career towards the end of January as he takes on unbeaten American Javonn Davis. Meliboev isn’t one of the elite level Uzbek amateurs we’ve seen making their name on the professional ranks in recent years but he was a very credible amateur and showed real potential in the WSB. He’ll come into this bout as an unknown, but we suspect he has the tools to overcome Davis, who has been fighting at a very, very low level so far.
Kozimbek Mardonov (0-0) vs Chown Sims (5-1, 2)
Another Uzbek making his debut is the touted 23 year old Kozimbek Mardonov, who won shone at the 2019 Military Games in Wuhan. On paper Mardonov looks to be in a serious test here as he goes up against 25 year old American Chown Sims. Sims is unbeaten in his last 3, and has taken a couple of cherry’s since beginning his professional career. He was, however, stopped in 2019 by Ty McLeod and we suspect Mardonov will have too much, in what could be a debut to remember for a very promising young Uzbek.
Cuernavaca, Morelos, Mexico
Sadriddin Akhmedov (11-0, 10) vs Stephen Danyo (17-3-3, 6)
Highly regarded Kazakh prospect Sadriddin Akhmedov will return to the ring after well over a year out as he takes on Dutch fighter Setephen Danya in a bout for 4 minor titles. The excellent Akhmedov has been one of the most promising Kazakh fighters in recent years and he seems to have it all, with skills, power, stamina, a solid boxing brain and a solid promoter behind him. Given what we’ve seen of Akhmedov the view is that he’s one of the men heading towards world titles. Danyo on the other hand has never been stopped, he’s proven himself as a tough nut and he does have the durability and experience to test the Kazakh youngster, especially given his length lay off. This should be a real good test for Akhmedov, but if he’s as good as we think he should take a very clear win.
Luzhniki, Moscow, Russia
Bektemir Melikuziev (6-0, 5) Vs Sergey Kovalev (34-4-1, 29)
Unbeaten Uzbek destroyer Bektemir Melikuziev is set to take a massive step up in class at the end of the month as he takes on former multi-time Light Heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev. With many tipping the “Bully” to be a future world champion this is the sort of test that will help fast track him to a title, and could be a shrewd bit of match making, or a case of biting off too much too soon. Kovalev has been on the slide for a while, and he no longer looks like the “Krusher” who dismantled the likes of Jean Pascal, but with his power and with a Russian crowd behind him he is very much a live under-dog here. On paper this is a real test for Melikuviez, but if he’s as good as we, and many others, think he could end up retiring Kovalev. Interestingly for Kovalev this will be his first bout since his 2019 loss to Saul Alvarez and at 37 father time may well be just as much of an enemy as Melikuziev. Potentially one of the smartest bits of matchmaking we’ll see in 2021, or a big mistake by Melikueziev’s team.
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