One of the great things about our "Introducing..." series is that we don't need to concentrate on unbeaten fighters, instead we can focus on upcoming fighters we think fans should give a little bit of attention to. Today we look at a fighter with a loss, and a draw, but at 20 years old and with buckets of skill we really do think fans should pay attention to him, and get interested in his future.
Today we look at Minimumweight hopeful Yuga Inoue (9-1-1, 1).
The first question we expect is whether or not he's related to any of the other Inoue's making a mark on the sport. He isn't related to Naoya Inoue, or that Inoue clan, and he's also not related to Takeshi Inoue. Instead he's just another talented fighter with that now familiar surname. If however he was to be compared to any off the more well known fighters with his surname it would certainly be Takuma Inoue, with Yuga being a light punching fighter who relies on skills, movement and ring IQ.
Born in Hyogo in July 1999 Inoue is one of the more talented fighters who hasn't yet signed with a big name gym. Instead of heading off to somewhere like the Shinsei Gym, also in Hyogo, he actually fights out of the Kametani Gym in Amagasaki. It's been under the guidance of the Kametani Gym that Inoue has carved out a promising career so far, though we suspect that he will leave them sooner or later for bigger and better opportunities, somewhere down the line.
Inoue made his professional debut at the age of 17, taking a narrow win over fellow debutant Kisei Takada in August 2016. It was the following year that he really began making his name, winning the All Japan Rookie of the Year in 2017 with a win over Retsu Akabane in the final in December. That win saw Inoue end 2017 with a 6-0-1 record and begin to create some real buzz for the young, who was still only 18 years old at this point.
To kick off 2018 Inoue scored his first stoppage, defeating Daisuke Sudo in 5 rounds, before taking on the destructive Kai Ishizawa for the Japanese Youth Minimumweight title 6 months later. Sadly for Inoue a very strong start couldn't prevent him from being cut and then broken down by Ishizawa, who stopped Inoue in the 6th round of a scheduled 8 rounder. Despite the loss we were really impressed by Inoue's skills. Despite being stopped, eventually wilting to Ishizawa's pressure, Inoue had looked fantastic, boxing and moving, picking excellent shots, making Ishizawa miss and landing some wonderful combinations. It was clear, even with the loss, that the then 19 year old had a lot more to offer the sport.
Sadly the loss to Ishizawa was then followed by a 9 month break from the ring for Inoue, before he returned last August and took a hotly contested win over Daiki Kameyama, in what was a battle of two Rookie of the Year winners. Kameyama really pushed Inoue all the way in a fantastic 6 rounder, but Inoue did just enough to take the win. Just 3 months later Inoue scored another win, out pointing Japanese ranked Flyweight Katsuya Murakami. Interestingly the win over Murakami saw Inoue fighting at Flyweight, though it was, seemingly only a temporary move up in weight.
We now know that Inoue will return on March 1st in Osaka, where he will face veteran Takayuki Teraji (9-19-1, 4) in an 8 round bout fought between Minimumweight and Light Flyweight. This is expected to be another win for Inoue who will be looking to move towards a second title fight through 2020. He's still some way from a national title fight, but should be in the mix for another Japanese Youth title fight, and the experience of facing Ishizawa should be a major benefit if, or rather when, he gets a second shot.
Whilst he might not be "one of those" Inoue's, Yuga Inoue is certainly a fighter worthy of attention going forward.
The month of November is a really packed one with amazing bouts every few days. In fact it's possible the most packed month of the year so far in regards to the Asia scene with big bouts in Japan, Thailand and the Philippines as well as bouts outside of Asia.
Kazuto Takesako (9-0, 9) v Sanosuke Sasaki (12-6, 6) - Japan
We turn our focus to the Korakuen Hall to begin the month of November, with a Japanese Middleweight title bout between hard hitting champion Kazuto Takesako and former champion Sanosuke Sasaki. The bout will be Takesako's first defense of the title that he won earlier this year, when he stopped Hikaru Nishida inside a round, whilst Sasaki will be looking to reclaim the title that he lost in his first defense, back in 2013 against Tomohiro Ebisu. It's hard to doubt the champion, but we are hoping he can use this bout to springboard towards bigger and better fights in 2019.
Ryan Burnett (19-0, 9) v Nonito Donaire (38-5, 24) - Scotland
A few hours after the Japanese title fight we get the final bout from the Quarter Round of the WBSS Bantamweight competition and will see Filipino icon Nonito Donaire challenge WBA Bantamweight “Super” champion Ryan Burnett. The winner of this bout will move on to the semi-final of the WBSS, where they will face Zolani Tete in a WBA/WBO world title unification bout. Donaire, at the age of 35, needs a win if he's to remain relevant whilst a win for Burnett would be huge for his career. We don't expect this to be an action packed war, but it is a very interesting match up.
Janibek Alimkhanuly (3-0, 1) Vs Vaughn Alexander (12-1, 8) - USA
Yet more notable action on the first Saturday of the month will see Kazakh prospect Janibek Alimkhanuly take on American foe Vaughn Alexander. This should be a good test for Alimkhanuly, but he really needs to shine after failing to impress on his US debut in September, when he took a decision win over Carlos Galvan. The 32 year old Alexander is a tough fighter who will be looking to upset the apple cart, and bounce back following a loss to Denis Doughlin last time out. This could be a very fun fight.
East Japan Rookie of the Year Finals - Japan
For a second day running attention turns to the Korakuen Hall where we will get the 2018 East Japan Rookie of the Year Finals. The winners from this show will fight in the All Japan Finals just before Christmas. Although the East Japan Rookie Finals aren't a huge story to international fans it is a launch pad, and the winners of the All Japan Finals do tend to make a mark in the years that follow, so we do suggest that fans keep a serious eye out for the results from this card.
Hikaru Nishida (17-9-1, 8) Vs Shuji Kato (9-1-1, 6) - Japan
The Japanese action resumes on November 7th when we see former Japanese Middleweight champion Hikaru Nishida takes on 2017 Middleweight Rookie of the Year Shuji Kato, with the winner becoming the mandatory for the Japanese title in 2019. Meaning the winner of this bout will face the winner of the Takesako Vs Sasaki bout from just a few days earlier. This will be Nishida's first bout since losing the title to Takesako whilst Kato will be coming into the bout on the back of 7 straight wins, including his Rookie of the Year victory.
Shawn Oda (9-0, 8) Vs Seiryu Toshikawa (10-4, 6) - Japan
More Japanese action on November 10th with an interesting triple header. One of those bouts will see young Lightweights collide as Shawn Oda takes on Seiryu Toshikawa for the vacant Japanese Youth Lightweight title. We've been impressed by the explosive Oda, who is a Rookie of the Year winner, and have tipped him to go on to great things in the years to come. This is however a notable test for him. Coming into this bout Toshikawa has won his last 4 bouts, with the last of those wins being a big domestic win over Ryuji Ikeda.
Yuga Inoue (7-0-1, 1) Vs Kai Ishizawa (4-0, 4) - Japan
A second Japanese Youth title fight on this card will see unbeaten youngsters collide as Yuga Inoue faces off with Kai Ishizawa. Yuga is another of the fighters to claim a Rookie of the Year crown, winning the Minimumweight tournament last year, and has since scored his first stoppage, taking out Daisuke Suda in May of this year. The 21 year old Ishizawa has gone a very different route, having began his career in 6 rounders, and he really impressed last time out, when he stopped Tatsuro Nakashima. This is a key bout for both men, and the winner will certainly give their career a huge boost.
Ryuichi Funai (30-7, 21) Vs Victor Emanuel Olivo (15-2-1, 7) - Japan
The third part of this triple header is an IBF Super Flyweight world title eliminator, as Japan's Ryuichi Funai takes on Victory Olivo, with the winner moving onto a potential world title fight with Jerwin Ancajas in 2019. For Funai this bout is the next step in his long career, and a set back will likely be the end of his world title dreams. Olivo on the other-hand is pretty unknown, though he did give Milan Melindo real issues when he faced the Filipino earlier in his career and has got the potential to upset the Watanabe man in Tokyo.
Melvin Jerusalem (13-2, 8) Vs Toto Landero (10-3-2, 2) - Philippines
Staying in Asia Filipino fans also get something really exciting to watch on November 10th as former world title challengers clash in a massive domestic clash. The bout will see former WBC Minimumweight challenger Melvin Jerusalem take on recent WBA title challenger Toto Landero. Both men have come up short to world class fighters, as well as domestic foe Joey Canoy strangely, and should make for a very compelling contest as both fighters look to gain another shot at a world title. It's hard to pick a winner, and bouts like that are always worthy of interest, especially at fringe world level.
Daud Yordan (38-3-0-1, 26) Vs Anthony Crolla (33-6-3, 13) - England
The busy November 10th date also plays host to an interesting looking match up between Indonesian fighter Daud Yordan and popular Englishman Anthony Crolla, who fight in a notable Lightweight bout. The winner of this will immediately find themselves in the mix for a WBA Lightweight title bout. Yordan will be entering this bout on the back of a huge, and thrilling, win over Pavel Malikov in Russia but will need a career best performance to over-come Crolla. The Englishman on the other hand has gone 2-2 in his last 4 bouts, but has suffered both of those losses to Jorge Linares and shouldn't have his recent form held against him. This really could be a fun, high tempo bout between two flawed but busy fighters.
Tomoki Kameda (35-2, 20) Vs Abigail Medina (19-3-2, 10) - Tokyo
On October 12th we get a really notable bout as former WBO Bantamweight champion Tomoki Kameda faces off with Abigail Medina for the WBC "Interim" Super Bantamweight. The winner of this bout will be lined up with regular champion Rey Vargas, who was injured when this bout was ordered by the WBC. Kameda is well known in boxing circles, and is the younger brother of former world champions Koki and Daiki Kameda, but we've yet to see him really tested at Super Bantamweight. The 30 year old Medina is unbeaten in over years and has claimed the European title en route to his shot at this “interim” title. This could be a very interesting bout for two men each looking to prove that they are a top Super Bantamweight.
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