This “Introducing” series typically tries to shine a light on young prospects but sometimes we look elsewhere and look at fighters who just deserve a little bit more attention than they typically get. This week we’re looking at one of those fighters who isn’t particularly young, but should be on, or near, your radar and that’s the rarely spoken about Kosuke Ando (8-2, 3), who is a promising Light Flyweight.
Ando is a 28 year old fighter from the KG Yamata Gym who got introduced to boxing by his close friend, and fellow fighter, Reiya Abe. Like Abe he lacked in terms of amateur pedigree and instead of being moved quickly when he turned professional he managed slowly with his debut coming in February 2016. On debut he defeat Kodai Gushiken, at Korakuen Hall, and within 16 months he was 3-0 (2), and had progressed to the second round of bouts in the 2017 edition of the East Japan Rookie of the Year.
Sadly for Ando his 2017 Rookie of the Year dreams came to an end in July that year, well before the final stages of the competition, as he suffered a 4th round TKO loss to Tomoya Yamamoto.
Following his first loss Ando spent more than a year out of the ring, returning in October 2018 to beat Akihiko Fukami via TKO in the final seconds of the bout. This win was followed 4 months later when Ando faced off with Kodai Gushiken, the man he’d beaten back on his debut. In the rematch with Gushiken we again saw Ando come out on top, taking a decision win over 4 rounds to move to 5-1 (3).
Following his efforts in the 2017 Rookie of the Year Ando tried again in 2019 and in his first round bout he beat Yuki Kajitani, via 4th round majority decision, to book his place in the East Japan Rookie of the Year final. In that final he upset the previously unbeaten Hidetoshi Takane in a 5 rounder, dropping Takane along the way to assure himself the decision victory and his place in the All Japan final in December.
Sadly for Ando his Rookie of the Year dreams came to an end in December 2019, in the All Japan final, where he lost a razor thin decision to West Japan representative Sho Omote. This was a really good bout that started off mostly technical but the action built as the bout went on, with Ando being dropped twice in round 4. The knockdowns proved vital on the scorecards, with Omote winning with scores of 47-46 on two of the cards.
Despite having lost in the Rookie of the year final Ando’s career wasn’t over, not by any stretch. Sadly however his return to the ring was delayed due to Covid19 essentially putting boxing on hiatus in Japan. Thankfully 2020 wasn’t a total wash out for him, and instead he got into the ring in October and bounced back with a 6 round shutout win over former for Hidetoshi Takane, the man he had beaten in the East Japan Rookie of the Year.
We’ll see Ando back in the ring on January 29th when he takes on Japanese ranked Minimumweight Shuri Hasebe (8-5, 2) in an 8 round bout. A win there won’t assure Ando a Japanese ranking of his own, but it is likely to see him rewarded with one, if he gets past Hasebe. Notably this is not just a step in quality for the 28 year old, but also in terms of bout length, with this being his first 8 rounder.
Aged 28 it really is time for Ando’s career to kick on, and we dare say that’s why he’s facing a JBC ranked fighter later this month. He’s no longer a spring chicken, but instead someone in their supposed physical prime and someone who knows that 2 or 3 good wins could, potentially, help him secure a title fight in 2022 or 2023.
In terms of his style Ando does show some similarities to Reiya Abe, albeit like a cheaper, less effective, less intelligent and much less patient Abe. Like Abe we see Ando wanting to create space, backing off, trying to draw errors, but he’s much less patient with it and often decides to try and force the action more. It does make his bouts more enjoyable to watch than his friend’s, but he does lack a lot of the nuance and boxing IQ that Abe has. He also struggles, mightily, to hold his own up close, and can be seen as very loopy with his shots. There is a very clear “rough around the edges” look to how he fights.
Despite not being a star in the making Ando is a man who has spent the last few years improving, and polishing. He’s never going to be a world champion, he lacks the natural traits to do that, but there’s no reason to overlook the fact that he has the potential to be a legitimate contender on the Japanese scene. He might not be a special fighter, but he is someone who deserves a bit of attention as he move towards his first bout of 2021 and a genuine step up in class.
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