This coming Thursday we'll see fans back at Korakuen Hall for the first time for a boxing event since February. The return of fans is welcome, and another sign that boxing is, gradually, getting back to normal in the Land of the Rising Sun. The card's main event is a Japanese title fight, featuring domestic Featherweight champion Ryo Sagawa, but there are other bouts on the card and if you're able to get a ticket those other bouts will be worth getting there early for.
One of those bouts will feature 25 year old Super Bantamweight prospect Takeshi Takehara (5-1, 1), who we're going to try a shine a light on today as he looks to bounce back from his sole loss and rebuild has career going forward. Unlike most fighters featured in this series he wasn't an amateur stand out, but is some one we are excited to follow over the coming years, and a nice addiction to a deep domestic division in Japan.
As an amateur Takehara didn't have a long or successful career. In fact his 21 fight amateur career saw him go 11-10 (4) in the unpaid ranks before heading to the pros in 2018. As a professional he signed with Kyoei and was supposed to debut in a Rookie of the Year bout in April 2018, just days before his 23rd birthday.
Sadly Takehara's debut plans were cancelled when he was forced to pull out of the fight, which would have seen him take on Shota Ogawa. As a result of that cancellation Takehara had to wait until October to make his debut, and completely missed out on the chance to compete at the 2018 Rookie of the Year.
When Takehara finally made his debut it was in a small C Class tournament put on by Dangan and saw him take on Naomichi Yaginuma. Despite being in his debut Takehara looked calm and confident, pressing forward with sharp footwork, and his jab looked really quick. Despite his lack of high level amateur experience it was clear that he knew his way around the ring and knew how to box. He ended up taking a decision win here and progressed in the tournament. Sadly however Takehara was unable to shine in the tournament final as his opponent pulled out of the bout.
In April 2019 Takehara actually did enter the Rookie of the Year, making up for the issues he had had a year earlier. In his first bout as part of the competition he out pointed Kaisei Nakayasu to progress to the next stage. Just 2 months later he would return to action and defeat Shohei Yamanaka. That win would move Takehara further in the competition and his success kept rolling with a win over Mizuki Akima in July 2019.
The win over Akima was supposed to lead Takehara into the East Japan Rookie of the Year Semi final. Takehara however got a bye as Tsubasa Narai was forced to pull out of the bout. That resulted in Takehara fighting in the East Japan Rookie of the Year final, where he impressively stopped Kotaka Umemoto. After scoring 4 decision wins before this bout Takehara actually showed a bit of spite here, forcing the referee to save Umemoto after a series of head shots in round 3.
Having won the East Japan Rookie of the Year Takehara progressed to the All Japan final, where he faced Ryuya Tsugawa.
Before we talk about the final we need to quickly touch on what happened between Takehara's win against Akima but before his bout All Japan final. The Kyoei Gym closed, temporarily, and left the Kyoei fighters scrambling to to be transfered to a different gym for the final. That ended up with Takehara and Kyonosuke Kameda transferring to the Hanagata gym for their Rookie of the Year final.
In the All Japan final, in December 2019, Takehara faced off with Tsugawa in what ended up being a very technical and competitive match up. It wasn't the most exciting bout from the finals, but was among the most compelling and competitive and there wasn't much to pick between the two men, who were really did match each other incredibly well. Sadly for Takehara all 3 judges went with Tsugawa and as a result Takehara suffered his first professional loss.
We began this by talking about how Takehara will be back in the ring later this week. Just to extend that a little but, the youngster will be looking to bounce back from the loss to Tsugawa as he takes on Beverely Tsukada (3-4-2. 2) in his first 6 rounder.
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