Quite often when a fighter suffers a loss they get written off, especially in the west. This completely ignores the value off a loss and a performance, and can cause fans to down-rate fighters that they sometimes haven't seen, ignoring their potential, and some of their bouts. It seems silly to say due to how obvious it is, but many top fights have suffered early losses, learned from them and built their careers in part thanks to a loss.
With that in mind we want to talk about 20 year old Japanese Super Bantamweight Ryuya Tsugawa (7-1, 3) today, in our latest "introducing" article. Yes he has a loss, and he may suffer more of them, but we would still suggest that he is a prospect worthy of attention, and worthy of making a mental note of for the next few years.
Like many youngsters in Japan Tsugawa did martial arts when he was a boy, he then took up boxing in junior high school, following a friend who was boxing. Despite picking up the sport relatively young his amateur experience was limited, at best, and instead of changing that and getting amateur experience he turned professional in 2018, aged just 17.
Tsugawa's debut came in April 2018 and saw him defeat the then 0-3 Tomoki Yamada with a well fought 4 round decision at the L-Theatre in Osaka. Despite debuting against a southpaw Tsugawa looked confident and calm, taking the clear decision without any issues. Just a month later the youngster was back in the ring and scored his first stoppage win, blasting out Reon Nakayama in less than 2 minutes. This was a really impressive performance, dropping his man 3 times in 118 seconds to advance in the West Japan Rookie of the Year.
Tsugawa's journey through the 2018 West Japan Rookie of the Year continued a couple of months later, when he defeated Kaito Takeshima with a 4 round decision. This was the toughest bout of his career up to this point and turned out to be a thrilling 4 rounder for the fans at the venue. This win secured moved Tsugawa's journey on and he was again in a tough test as he narrowly squeaked past Daichi Okamoto in September 2018.
Sadly for the youngster he would see his winning run end at 4 as he came up short in November 2018, losing a close decision to Yusei Fujikawa. It was a loss that will stay on his record, and many will look at Tsugawa's record and see it. They will also ignore the fact that Fujikawa later went on to win the 2018 All Japan Rookie of the Year at Bantamweight, and the loss was a serious learning experience for the then 18 year old Tsugawa.
Some 8 months after suffering his first professional loss Tsugawa returned to the ring, to compete in the 2019 West Japan Rookie of the year. He impressed after his lengthy lay off and blitzed Ren Nishimura in 106 seconds. The bout saw Nishimura start aggressively but a well timed left hook dropped him and Tsugawa managed to secure the finish soon afterwards. That win was then followed by another blow out, as Tsugawa stopped Yutaka Asakura in the first round, with Asakura being saved when he was under pressure.
The win over Asakura saw Tsugawa book his place in the 2019 All Japan Rookie of the year final, where he took on Takeshi Takehara. This wasn't the Rookie of the Year final but was also Tsugawa's Korakuen Hall debut. Despite being in his opponents backyard the talented youngster took control early on, using his speed and movement well to maintain distance, and picked his spots on the outside. Takehara wasn't there to lose but struggled to avoid the straight right hands of Tsugawa, which landed to the head and body of Takehara. After 5 rounds it was clear that Tsugawa had done enough to deserve the victory, and the Rookie of the Year crown, with a stellar performance.
Sadly Tsugawa hasn't fought since winning Rookie of the Year, due in part to the on going climate. He had hoped to fight for the Japanese Youth title, but sadly those plans were scuppered. Instead we'll be seeing the 20 year old return to the ring later this week, when he takes on Hikari Mineta in what will be Tsugawa's first 8 round bout. It's a big step up but a win here will have him really moving his career on.
In regards to his style Tsugawa is a talented boxer-mover. He judges distance well, preferring to keep action at range, has lovely hand speed and knows that when he has his opponent he should move in and put his foot on the gas. Interestingly all 3 of his stoppage wins to date have come in the opening round, and he's managed to show good stamina over 4 and 5 rounds already. Defensively there is still work to do, as he often relies too much on having distance to work with and his reflexes. Up close he doesn't seem to have a great inside game and that could be a problem as he steps into longer fights.
Although he had a loss we would implore fans to keep an eye on Tsugawa, he is not someone we see raving to titles. He needs more experience and more physical maturity before getting really big fights, but in 3 or 4 years time we could see him well in the mix for a Japanese title fight.
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