Our final "Introducing" of 2019 isn't going to be one of our usual articles looking at a specific fighter but instead a look back at some of the fighters we've mentioned during the last 12 months, ahead of the changes we'll be making to these articles in the coming year.
Since we started this way back on January 8th we've looked at some winners, some losers and some fighters who's future isn't as clear as we'd have hoped. We won't go through all 50 fighters here, but we will talk about those who have have shined the most, and those who have disappointed the most.
The first Introducing saw us talk about Mikito Nakano, who was 1-0 (1) at the time and has since added 3 wins, all inside the distance. He has gone from a good novice into a fine prospect and it wouldn't be a surprise to see him fighting for a title in 2020.
Just a week later we spoke about Ginjiro Shigeoka, who was also 1-0 (1) and his rise has been legitimately meteoric. In just his fourth bout he claimed the WBO Asia Pacific Minimumweight title and if he picks up a win on New Year's Eve, against Rey Loreto, there is no doubt that he will be in the world title mix in 2020.
We spoke about Shokichi Iwata in week 25 and since then he has scored back to back TKO5 wins, with both of those victories coming on massive Japanese cards. The 23 year old Teiken prospect looks like he has the potential to go all the way to the top, and to do so quickly. He has shown he can box, or brawl, and whilst he may not quite have figured out his style in the ring he already looks like a special talent.
What a year Andy Hiraoka has had! We featured him in week 26, when he was then 13-0 (9) and since then he has scored the biggest win of his career, signed with Top Rank and made his US debut. The talented 140lb'der showed he could go 10, as he did in victory over Akihiro Kondo, and looked very good in his American show case in November.
Another man who has had a great year is Toshiya Ishii, who was covered in week 33. He made his debut in April, took the unbeaten record of Fumiya Fuse in August then took the Japanese Youth Bantamweight title in December. His win Fuse, who we covered in an introducing article in week 4 was impressive but his war with Ishikawa was something special and we advise all fans to give that a watch.
In week 34 we looked at Yudai Shigeoka and although he didn't debut for a few weeks after that he has shone since some much. His debut was an easy win over a Thai, but despite the ease of the win he showed so much ability, brilliant crisp punching, fantastic movement and ring IQ. He then followed that up with a win over Lito Dante and looks set to have a monstrous 2020, following in his brother's footsteps.
In week 9 we looked at Yoji Saito, who entered the year 1-1 (1) and looked like a huge punching monster. He fought twice in 2019, and went 0-0-2. Notably his first bout of the year, a draw with Aso Ishiwaki, looks very good on reflection and Ishiwaki used that bout as a great opportunity to shine, and was the focus of his own "Introducing" in week 38!
In week 17 we discussed Tsubasa Murachi and his year is a really tricky one to try and dissect. On one hand he impressed, in his win over Raymong Tabugon, and there was clearly skill and ambition with the youngster. But on the other hand he ended the year in September, following a brutal KO loss to Froilan Saludar, and the road back up to that level is going to be a rough journey for the 22 year old. Don't write him off, but he's going to have to go back to the drawing board.
Another man who is hard to get a good read on was Kai Ishizawa who may take more credit from his loss to Masataka Taniguchi in September, than most fighters take from a win. He was fantastic in defeat, he showed his toughness, his braveness, his power and his will to win. Sadly he lacked in technical areas, and Taniguchi was too good for him, but the reality is that both men came out with enhanced reputations. Sadly it was still a loss, and his one other bout this year was a blow out against an over-matched Indonesian
We love watching Christiano Aoqui, who we introduced in week 40, and despite a loss to Daishi Nagata following our article it's hard to write off the hard hitting Japanese-Brazilian, who has lost in the past and bounced back. He's never going to be a world beater but we expect him to remain in the domestic title mix next year.
Well we got that one wrong
In week 35 we spoke about the return of Teppei Kayanuma, who was supposed to fight in September. Though didn't. And we're not totally sure why. We are hoping that changes, and that he does return to the ring, but with more than 3 years since his last bout it now seems unlikely.
For week 46 we spoke about Dominique Kenshin, by this point we were trying to tweak the formula slightly and pick fighters who were in action during the week of the article, and as a result felt Kenshin was the man to cover. That was the wrong choice and he was was stopped in a round by Hiro Ichimichi. He's not fought since, and being honest he has a lot of work to do, in every part of his boxing.
Changes Will be Made
So as for 2020, "Introducing..." is changing. We are taking it more international, and instead of being exclusively Japanese fighters, as it was in 2019, we will be looking around Asia for fighters to cover. Whilst the key focus will, again, be prospects, we aren't going to be too rigid in that and we'll look at covering other fighters we find interesting as the year goes on. This could mean anyone from novice, to journeyman, fringe contender to prospects. The only fighters we'll not cover in this section are clear world level fighters. We want to shine a light on a fighter without much attention, and the hope is that we help a bring a fans attention to a fighter they aren't aware of. In 2019 we generally had good success picking our prospects, and we hope that continues in 2020.
See you in the new year for the next "Introducing...", and the next chance to see a light shined on a fighter you may not have even knew existed!
(Image credits - Kadoebi and Teiken)
In a lot of recent "Introducing..." segments we have looked at professional novices, many of whom we were looking at before they even made their professional debut. This week that changes a little bit as we take a look at Teppei Kayanuma (8-0-1, 5), who has been a professional since 2013, but hasn't been the most active of fighters. The inactivity has certainly been an issue in his climb through the ranks, but this week he returns to the ring for the first time in over 3 years, looking to get his career back on track.
The now 25 year old Kayanuma was only 19 when he made his debut in a 4 round bout at Korakuen Hall in November 2013. That debut had come after just 2 amateur bouts, going 1-1 in the unpaid ranks. On debut he stopped Nobuya Sugimoto in 2 rounds, before being out of the ring for 6 months, returning to stop Tateo Saito in 4 rounds.
There was some clearly early promise for Kayanuma but it would be 9 months until he was back in the ring, where he took a razor thin decision over fellow youngster Seiryu Toshikawa. At the time that win didn't look all that impressive, though Toshikawa has since shown he's more than capable, reaching the 2016 East Japan Rookie of the Year final and pushing Shawn Oda all the way in a Japanese Youth title fight in 2018. On reflection this is a win that has aged excellently.
The 9 month break was actually one that cost Kayanuma a 2014 Rookie of the Year bout against Kimihiro Nakagawa. The win over Toshikawa however advanced Kayanmuma in the 2015 version of the tournament where he would then face Kanehiro Nakagawa in his second preliminary bout. Nakagawa would take Kayanuma 4 rounds, for the second time in his career, but was unable to slow the Kayanuma's rise as the youngster took the decision win.
A couple more wins, including a good one over the then unbeaten Ryota Ishida, followed by a bye against fellow Teiken fighter Masaaki Shiraishi lead to Kayanuma qualifying for the 2015 All Japan Rookie of the Year final.
In the Rookie of the Year final the then 6-0 (4) Kayanuma took on the then 5-0 (4) Shuma Nakazato in a really fantastic match up on paper. The bout promised so much, and it didn't let us down, as the two men traded bombs, and engaged in a 5 round war. Kayanuma dropped Nakazato in what proved to be vital to the outcome.The bout would be scored 47-47, twice, and 49-46 to Kayanuma, who won the Rookie of the Year with via the Dominant Point Rule.
As we entered 2016 Kayanuma seemed like he was going places, and fast. That seemed even clearer when he kicked off the year with a win over Yutaka Motoyoshi in May, blowing out the 14 fight veteran with a huge left hook. Just 2 months after that win he over-came Andrew Palas with a 6 round decision, in July 2016.
Sadly after beating Palas the talented Kanayuma has been inactive. That inactivity is set to end this coming Saturday, when he returns to Korakuen Hall for a 6 round bout. At the time of writing his opponent for that bout hasn't been named, and isn't expecting to be anyone too testing, but to see the Kanayuma back in the ring at last is something we're really excited about. Although it's unlikely he'll make an immediate impact in the rankings we are really looking forward to seeing what a more mature and and older Kanayuma can do now he has a chance to kick on with his boxing career, and make up for lost time.
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