This coming Friday at Korakuen Hall we’ll see Tentaro Kimura (5-0-2) look to score his biggest win to date as he takes on Koki Mioya in a B Class tournament bout. The bout is being seen by those in Japan as a really interesting one between two young, good looking, fighters who have the pretty boy looks to appeal to female fans, and the promise and potential to get male fight fans following them too. Given the interest in the fight we’ve to give both men a bit of a light, covering Mioya in an “Introducing” article, posted earlier today and now we bring you an “Introducing” about Kimura.
Before we go any further we need to address the elephant in the room. Tentaro is not Rentaro Kimura, despite the fact both look similar and both fight out of the Suruga Danji gym in Shizuoka. Despite that the two men are related with Tentaro being the younger cousin of the very, very highly regarded Rentaro, and the two are genuinely close. Not only that but both of the youngsters are regarded as genuine prospects, though Tentaro lacks the strong amateur pedigree and the power of his cousin.
Kimura was born in Numazu City, in Shizuoka prefecture, and was a sport loving youngster who originally enjoyed playing football before being bitten by the boxing bug in High School. As an amateur he competed in several notable tournaments but failed to win any of the major national tournaments. He then went to university, but dropped out to concentrate on becoming a professional boxer under the guidance of the Suruga Danji Boxing gym, lead by Masaaki Maejima, better known as Suruga Denji.
Before turning professional Kimura had managed to notch up a 10-7 record, but his desire to turn professional saw him begin his professional journey at the age of 19. As a result he debuted in November 2018, when he took on Chinese fighter Bangxin Zhang at Korakuen Hall, in what was a Japan Vs China show. This bout saw the talented Kimura use his speed and amateur fundamentals well, to outland Zhang, and regularly finding a home for his jab. After 4 rounds it was hard to find anything to give to Zhang, with Kimura taking a 4 round shutout over the visitor. For fans wanting to watch this one it is available on Boxing Raise.
Despite looking skilled and sharp, Kimura did look like a man with self belief issues and a lack of confidence in his abilities, something that has been mentioned by his promoter in the past.
In March 2019 we saw Kimura return to the ring and score his second win, this time at the Memorial Center in Gifu, where he easily out pointed Yuki Omori on the under-card of Kosei Tanaka’s bout with Ryoichi Taguchi. Once again it was the speed and skills of Kimura that shone en route to his win. Just 2 months later he was back in the ring, this time in his home prefecture of Shizuoka, as he competed in a Central Japan Rookie of the Year bout against Fuya Tomita.
Against Tomita it seemed like Kimura had become more confident than he was on his debut and he held his feet a lot more than he had on his debut. He still looked sharp, with genuinely nice hand speed and smart foot work, but there appeared to be much more self belief as he out boxed, out worked and out fought Tomita Tomita to a clear decision win.
Kimura would extend his winning record in August 2019 when he took on Teru Nobita at the Aioi Hall in Kariya and took a split decision win over Nobita to become the Central Japan Rookie of the Year at Bantamweight, his biggest success so far since turning professional. Sadly however Kimura’s Rookie of the Year campaign ended soon afterwards, as he fought to a draw around 6 weeks later with Western Japan champion Kantaro Nakanishi, who actually ended up going all the way and winning the All Japan Final in December.
Despite missing out on a chance to compete in the All Japan Rookie of the Year final Kimura kept busy and ended 2019 with a 6 round draw against Tokuken Yoshimoto. On one hand that was disappointing, suffering a second successive draw, however going 6 rounds for the first time would have been a good tick box for Kimura and although Yoshimoto is no world beater he’s a credible domestic opponent, so a draw against him is a decent result.
Sadly Kimura’s rise was slowed dramatically in 2020 when Covid19 prevented many fighters from being active. In July 2020 Rentaro Kimura made his debut, and the focus of many swung to that of Rentaro, who quickly began to look like a star. Despite that Tentaro himself did secure a win in September, when he beat Wataru Yokoyama at the FujisanMesse in Fuji City, Shizuoka. That win saw Kimura put in a solid and entertaining performance, with his speed and work rate being too much for Yokoyama, though the bout certainly had its share of messy action.
On January 22nd, when Kimura takes on Mioya, the opportunity is there for the youngster to shine, though he’s in with a fighter very similar to him. Mioya, like Kimura, is a speedy fighter, with good hand speed and good movement but little in the way of power. Despite that we are looking forward to that contest and it genuinely could be a very action packed one, with the two fighters expected to match each other very well.
As well as being bitten by the boxing bug, Kimura is also a self confessed anime nerd, with a huge collection of anime related items, including Cosplay outfits and various pillows, something he admitted he was spending all his purse money on in 2019 to Sports Hochi. In that very same article his promoter explained that Tentaro lacked confidence, though went on to say that Tentaro is a genius and picks things up very quickly, with an ability to impersonate Mayweather. His promoter also explained that the lack of early KO’s isn’t a problem, and mentioned how Shinsuke Yamanaka also had a lot of early career decision wins, before gaining his confidence and finding his power.
Whether we see that genius or not in the future is unclear, but with Masaaki Maejima’s belief in him and regular sparring along with his cousin the future is bright for Kimura, as long as he can, one day, develop the belief in his own ability. He has the tools and the boxing brain to do well, and the bout with Mioya on Friday should tell us a lot about what he has to offer the sport. Saying that however he’s only 22 now and is still an improving fighter. Win or lose against Mioya we wouldn’t suggest anyone writes off Kimura, who has years left ahead of him to develop and succeeded in the sport.
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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