In April 2019 we did an introducing piece on a then 1-0 (1) unbeaten hopeful, Yuki Nakajima (4-1, 4). Since then Nakajima has been among the busier prospects in Japan, fighting 3 times in 2019 and once earlier this year as he has progressed his career, battled back from a loss, and moved things forward with some fantastic performance. Whilst he's perhaps not on the fast track to the top, as we had hoped, he is certainly someone to keep in mind as we continue our "Revisiting" series, and look again at Yuki Nakajima.
A month after we spoke about Nakajima he returned to the ring for his second professional bout and he scored his second win, taking out Thai novice Manop Audomphanawari in 4 rounds. At the time that result wasn't too notable, with Manop sporting a 1-1 record but it's worth noting that Manop's first loss was to Thanongsak Simsri, who is now regarded as a very promising Thai, and came in the 5th round of their bout. Manop has since gone 2-1, following the loss to Nakajima, and his most recent bout was a TKO2 loss to Yudai Shigeoka. So in reality Manop isn't good, but Nakajima beat him quicker than Simsri.
Sadly for Nakajima his winning run came to an end just 3 months later, when he lost a decision to the brilliant Ryu Horikawa. The bout was competitive but there no arguing after the final bell on who deserved it, with Horikawa running out the clear winning in a well fought 6 rounder.
The loss to Horikawa could have dampened Nakajima's rise but it really didn't and in December 2019 he made a successful return to the ring as he stopped Yasuhiro Tanaka in 3 rounds. The Tanaka bout notable for a number of reasons. Not only was it technically a step up in terms of opponent, with Tanaka having more experience in the pros than Nakajima's first 3 opponents combined, but it was also an 8 round bout, the first of Nakajima's career, and also a bout being fought at a higher weight than Nakajima's first 3. The few extra pounds seemed to work well for Nakajima who stopped Tanaka in 3 rounds.
To begin 2020 Nakajima clashed with fellow youngster Shisui Kawabata. Kawabata needed a win after losing to Rikito Shiba in September 2019, whilst Nakajima needed a win to keep his momentum going. What we got here was a brilliant high speed chess match early on, with high level skills from both. Nakajima was dropped in round 3 but battled back, made things rough and went on to stop Kawabata in round 6 of what was a truly fantastic fight, so good we've included it below.
Given that Nakajima was one of the few Japanese boxers to fight in a fight before the global climate became what it is he's not really lost much time this year. He might have missed a single fight so far, maybe, so the issues affecting boxing won't be too bad to his career. However like every fighter he'll be desperate to return and continue to move forward with his career. Kadoebi are big enough, as a company, to get him fights when boxing returns and fingers crossed they will help him establish his place in the exciting Japanese Flyweight rankings when the sport does finally return.
It seems the move from Light Flyweight to Flyweight will serve Nakajima's career well, and whilst he may not be a world champion in the making the 24 year old does have the potential to win titles in the coming years. He may have loss since we covered him last year, but his career still has a lot of promise and we are still very, very excited to see what the future holds for Nakajima.
After a few weeks where we've not had much to talk about the past week has been a much more engaging and interesting one, with some great bouts, some exciting announcements, some free streams, and plenty negatives to talk about as well as the positives.
1-CBC's live stream
Although CBC's stream this week wasn't of a huge show, it was, as we've come to expect from them, fantastic from start to end. The broadcaster aired the entire show from Kariya live on Tuesday, in excellent quality, with no issues, live replays, great camera angles and perfect sound mixing. Sadly for everyone else CBC have brought TV level production values to the free streaming game, and it's going to be down to everyone else to play catch up. As well as the quality of the stream the fights were also rather solid, especially the main event between Kento Hatanaka and Roland Jay Biendima, and Hiroki Hanabusa's body shot KO was sublime.
If someone else is going to do a free stream, this is level they should be aiming for. Amazing from start to end!
2-Nakatani Vs Magramo being made official!
We know we mentioned this bout last week, and actually the CBC free stream, but this week saw the confirmation of Junto Nakatani Vs Giemel Magramo! Better yet it's set for a Dynamic Glove show, meaning that we're expecting it to be shown live on G+. Not only is this an exceptional match up for the WBO Flyweight title but it's the type of bout that excites us, and is a risk for both men. Given that both fighters could have taken different routes to a world title we can't help but be proud of both fighters for signing up to this one!
3-Wanheng Menayothin gets date for US debut
With a 54-0 record WBC Minimumweight champion Wanheng Menayothin has the longest active unbeaten stream in boxing, along with the longest world title reign of any man in the sport. One thing he hasn't got is an international bout to his name. That changes in April after this weeks news of the Thai setting off for the US! Wanheng will make his international debut on April 25th, when he takes on Marco John Rementizo. The bout might not be the biggest, or the best, and the scheduling for it is fucking stupid, clashing with Naoya Inoue Vs Johnriel Casimero, but it's great to finally see Wanheng outside of his comfort zone.
4-Yuki Nakajima's uppercut
It's not often we'll talk about a specific punch on here but the uppercut Yuki Nakajima landed on Shisui Kawabata in round 6 was something special. Huge credit to Kawabata for not being left flat on his back, but the punch is up there with the best of them. Those with boxing raise owe it to them selves to rewatch this it was amazing.
1-Koki Inoue's injury
In unfortunate news Koki Inoue has suffered and injury that has forced him to postpone his mandatory title defense against Daishi Nagata. The talented and unbeaten Japanese 140lb champion thankfully doesn't appear to be too seriously injured, given he'll be defending the title against Nagata in May, but it is still said news that both men will delay their return to the ring by a couple of months.
2-Yudai Shigeoka's next opponent
We love the Shigeoka brothers. We see both becoming future world champions. We fully accept that both are super prospects. So we need to wonder what the idea is in having Yudai Shigeoka's next bout come against Sanchai Yotboon, the fighter that Ginjiro Shigeoka took out in 3 rounds on his debut! Absolutely pointless match up by Watanabe gym. This is a mismatch, and should be little more than a stay busy for Shigeoka, who beat Lito Dante a few months ago, and should have been matched much tougher than this.
3-Daigo Higa's comments on the future
After almost 2 years away from the ring we finally saw former WBC Flyweight champion Daigo Higa back in action. Higa would win his return, stopping Jason Buenaobra, but sadly comments after the bout leave us confused as to whether he will continue fighting or will leave the sport for good. Given he's only 24 it would be a massive shame if Higa hung them up now, after just 17 fights, and we genuinely hope he can find something to motivate him again. Higa, at Bantamweight, would be at a disadvantage, but given his style and tenacity we'd love to see him making a splash in the division. We really hope he continues in the sport, but if not, we're glad to have seen the destructive little marvel on his way up, and see him walk away with his health intact. It would just be a huge shame for his name to be added to the list of "what could have been".
1-Bektemir Melikuziev Vs Oscar Cortes
We understand late replacements aren't always great but Oscar Cortes was a simply awful late replacement, especially for a fighter like Bektemir Melikuziev. The Mexican was under-sized, under-powered and essentially had lost by the time he had his ring walk. Whilst we can't blame Cortes, who obviously took his pay day, and Melikuziev, who isn't responsible for his original opponent pulling out, we do need to question the California State Athletic Commission, who should have said no. There was no point in this bout, and no one came off looking good.
2-Merlito Sabillo's leg
We've yet to hear any actual confirmation on what, if any, injury Merlito Sabillo suffered but the way his leg bent and buckled as he got knocked down by Sho Kimura suggested something nasty. As did the way he was lying on the canvas. We really hope it is nothing series, but bloody hell did it look nasty, and we wouldn't be surprised, given his age and run of 4 losses, if he ends up in retirement. If he's injured, in the way we believe, it'll likely be 9 months, or longer, until he returns, and he'll around 37 by then
3-GAB's live stream
We started with a free stream, so lets end on a free stream. CBC raised the bar, with a brilliant, professional, well edited, and high quality stream. Just days later the GAB put on a stream that was inconsistent, repeatedly froze, stopped and started, low quality and was just hard to watch, and even harder to enjoy. We know the GAB streams can work and can be wonderful, as they were at the end of the show, but for the most part the show was just terrible. Fingers crossed they get these sorted in the future, as they are a really valuable asset for boxing fans, when they work. We don't expect GAB to hit the professional levels of CBC any time soon, but if they can get a consistent stream going it would be a great starting point!
(Image courtesy of A. McGovern - Top, and Boxmob - Bottom)
Whilst February certainly didn't start quickly it does get going in the second half of the month with a flurry of fights taking place with Asian fighters involved.
Shuichiro Yoshino (11-0, 9) Vs Izuki Tomioka (7-2-1, 2) -
In the headline bout of a Dimond Glove card in Tokyo we'll see Japanese Lightweight champion Shuichiro Yoshino defending his title again mandatory challenger Izuki Tomioka in the second of this year's Champion carnival bouts. For Yoshino this is expected to be a test of his technical boxing skills, as Tomioka is a genuinely talented boxer-mover. On the other hand Tomioka is taking on, arguably, his toughest opponent to date and did come up short in his last bout at this type of level.
Daigo Higa (15-1, 15) Vs Jason Buenaobra (7-4-3, 3)
After almost 2 years away from the ring former world champion Daigo Higa returns, and takes on rugged Filipino foe Jason Buenaobra. This should be a win for Higa, but we expect him to be very emotional, and he is going up against someone who has never been stopped before, so he will have to work hard for the win. It's also worth noting that Buenaobra is the naturally bigger man and will not be there looking to just make up the numbers.
Froilan Saludar (31-3-1, 22) Vs Ryoji Fukunaga (11-4, 11)
Filipino Froilan Saludar returns to Japan to make his first defense of the WBO Asia Pacific Super Flyweight title, as he battles hard hitting, but technically limited, Japanese challenger Ryuji Fukunaga. On paper this looks like it could be very explosive, and we wouldn't be surprised at all with the bout ending early. Fukunaga hasn't been able to show his power when he has faced his toughest opponents, and Saludar is certainly among the best opponents that he has faced.
Yuki Nakajima (3-1, 3) Vs Shisui Kawabata (2-1, 2)
In a mouth watering clash of young prospects we'll see Yuki Nakajima take on Shisui Kawabata. On paper this doesn't look like one that will get fans outside of Japan too excited, but given the skills of the two men we are really excited by this one. Nakajima, the younger brother of Kazuki Nakajima, is a former amateur standout and made a real mark on the domestic amateur scene whilst Kawabata has been used as a sparring partner by Naoya, showing the quality that he has shared the ring with. We expect this to be very, very good.
Ryota Yamauchi (5-1, 4) Vs MJ Bo (8-3-2, 4)
World ranked Japanese fighter Ryota Yamauchi looks to build on August's win over Alphoe Dagayloan. Sadly Yamauchi's win over Dagayloan cost him a Japanese title eliminator, due to the injuries he suffered in that bout, and he'll be lookign to make up for it in 2020. MJ Bo, from the Philippines was stopped last time he fought in Japan, by Yuta Nakayama, but is a capable opponent and should ask questions of Yamauchi.
Emanuel Navarrete (30-1, 26) vs Jeo Santisima (19-2, 16)
Mexican fighter Emanuel Navarrete looks to make his fifth defense of the WBO Super Bantamweight title as he takes on Filipino challenger Jeo Santisima. The bout is expected to be a mismatch by many, especially given Navarrete's run since winning the title in late 2018. The champion is seen a real monster in the Super Bantamweight division and will come into the bout full of confidence. Although the 23 Santisima isn't well known outside of the Philippines he is riding a 17 fight winning run and has stopped 15 of those, so he certainly enters with a punchers chance, if nothing else.
Riku Nagahama (11-2-1, 4) Vs Kudura Kaneko (11-0, 8)
Unbeaten Japanese-Afghan fighter Kudura Kaneko looks to extend his perfect record as he goes up against the talented Riku Nagahama in a bout for the vacant OPBF Welterweight title. Although neither of these two are well known outside of Japan the bout is a significant one and the winner will see their hopes of landing a big international fight given a huge shot in the arm. Of the two Nagahama has faced better competition, but has lost in his 2 most notable bouts, whilst Kaneko looks to be a fighter on the rise. A very interesting clash.
Jae Woo Lee (7-2, 6) Vs Shingo Kusano (12-8-1, 5)
Potentially the hidden gem for the month is a clash between Jae Woo Lee and Shingo Kusano, who clash in one of the two Hajime No Ippo 30th anniversary tournament semi finals. The little known Lee made fans sit up and take note last November, when he stopped Tsuyoshi Tameda in a thrilling little war. Shingo Kusano also thrilled when he fought on the same November card, pulling himself off the canvas and battling back through some real scares against Qiang Ma. Expect this one to be exciting, and not to go the distance.
Richard Pumicpic (21-10-2, 6) Vs Daisuke Watanabe (9-4-2, 6)
The other Hajime No Ippo 30th anniversary tournament semi final bout will see Filipino veteran Richard Pumicpic battle Japanese foe Daisuke Watanabe. This has the potential to be very exciting, or a total mess. Both guys like to let their hands go but with 6 technical decisions between them there's a real risk of headbutts derailing the fight. Fingers crossed the heads don't come in to contact too often and we instead get a bit of a thriller!
From a personal perspective the last week has been an incredibly long one, though from a boxing perspective it's been a packed one with notable fights taking place right through the week. Whilst not every fight was great there was certainly a lot to take in over the last 7 days, and we had some glittering performances by youngsters looking to make a mark for themselves.
Fighter of the Week
Bektemir Melikuziev (2-0, 2)
The biggest standout for the week was Uzbek destroyer Bektemir Melikuziev who fought his second professional bout and destroyed Adrian Luna Flores inside a round, thanks to some brutal body shots. Like many of the tops Uzbek amateurs turning professional he seems to have skipped the early section of a typical professional career and has already taken out a couple of notable opponents to make a statement. The plan seems to be for him to move down in weight to Middleweight, but given the power and technical ability he has already shown there may be a case for him to not drain himself at all and instead just make a run at 175lbs. After just 2 fights he's already gained a reputation as a brutal body puncher and looks like a scary fighter.
Performance of the Week
Bektemir Melikuziev (2-0, 2)
Taking out a notable name like Luna Flores in just his second bout left it hard to select anyone else for our performance of the week. The hard hitting Uzbek blew out a solid Mexican inside a round, a Mexican who had gone the distance with the likes of Ryota Murata. We do wonder whether the notice and weight played a part in Luna Flores being taken out so quickly, but regardless this was still incredibly impressive.
Giovanni Escaner vs Renoel Pael
Whilst we had a lot of action this past week there wasn't actually a lot that was competitive, with many bouts ending up more one-sided than expected. One of the few contests that was truly competitive over 12 rounds was the GAB Bantamweight title fight between Giovanni Escaner and Renoel Pael. Given the styles of the two men it was clear this was going to be a gruelling war and the bout lived up to that expectation with a lot of back and forth, great exchanges of body shots and a real desire to win from both men. The bout won't go down as a classic at the end of the year, but that doesn't take away from how brutal and entertaining this was. Really a fantastic fight.
Ryu Horikawa vs Yuki Nakajima (Rd 6)
With his unbeaten record slipping away Yuki Nakajima moved through the gears and looked to put the pressure on RyuHorikawa in the final round of their 6 rounder. The result of that pressure from Nakajima was a brilliant round with Horikawa being forced to move, respond, mix it up and and give up some great exchanges. Despite some slips from an over-committed Nakajima this wasn't sloppy but was an exciting round of action and really thrilling stuff at a very high level. Not a war, but a high level, super fast boxing showcase. Great stuff.
Bektemir Melikuziev KO1 Ricardo Adrian Luna Flores
We're back to Uzbek destroyer Bektemir Melikuziev and his excellent win over Ricardo Adrian Luna Flores. The finish wasn't the most gorgeous we'll see but it left Flores in agony on the canvas thanks to a truly brutal body shot. Luna Flores had been dropped earlier in the rounds, and had been softened up by repeated body shots, but that doesn't take away from just how brutally savage the finish shot was.
Toshiya Ishii (2-0, 1)
Our view is that Bektemir Melikuziev has already progressed beyond being a typical prospect and is now more of a fringe contender, despite only being a professional for a matter of months. With that in mind we had to look elsewhere for a prospect and it was hard to ignore 18 year old Toshiya Ishii, who booked a place in a Japanese youth title fight thanks to a win over Fumiya Fuse. The youngster really did look like a special talent against a man we regard highly. Ishii isn't the complete package, yet, but he is a really wonderful young talent and we would be hugely surprised if titles aren't in his future.
Giemel Magramo (23-1, 19) vs Komgrich Nantapech (25-5, 16)
This coming Saturday is set to be a hectic day with shows all over Asia, but the best of the bunch looks like it will be an IBF world title eliminator at Flyweight, between Filipino Giemel Magramo and Thai Komgrich Nantapech, aka Eaktwan BTU Ruaviking. On paper this has the hall marks of a FOTY contender. The two men have styles that should gel, both are aggressive, tough and exciting.We're expecting the fighters to meet center ring and engage in a thrilling all action war!
The end of August really is a week where we go out with a bang, with 3 world title bouts and a number of top prospects all in action in the final 7 days of the month!
Kosei Tanaka (13-0, 7) v Jonathan Gonzalez (22-2-1, 13) - Aichi, Japan
Arguably the most interesting of the world title bouts will see WBO Flyweight champion Kosei Tanaka make his second defense as he takes on mandatory challenger Jonathan Gonzalez of Puerto Rico. After a few wars for Tanaka we're now expecting to see him put on a more sound boxing display. Gonzalez is a former amateur stand out, but he has shown vulnerability in his 2 losses and we suspect those vulnerabilities will show again here.
Kento Hatanaka (9-0, 9) v Jaysever Abcede (19-8, 12) - Aichi, Japan
In a really good supporting bout to Tanaka Vs Gonzalez we'll see fast rising Japanese youngster Kento Hatanaka takes on world ranked Filipino Jaysever Abcede. This is a big step up for Hatanaka, but the talented "Prince" is tipped for the top and a win here will help push him into the world rankings. On paper Abcede isn't someone who looks like a challenge for a top prospect but the Filipino has scored recent wins over Stamp Kiatniwat and Seigo Yuri Akui.
John Riel Casimero (27-4, 18) v Cesar Ramirez (18-3, 11) - Metro Manila, Philippines
Staying in Asia we'll see WBO interim Bantamweight champion John Riel Casimero make his first defense, taking on Mexican challenger Cesar Ramirez. The talented Filipino won the title back in April, when he stopped Ricardo Espinoza Franco in the 12th round, and will be further wanting to make his make on the talent packed 118lb division. Ramirez on the other hand is a very limited challenger who has done nothing to earn a shot at a title fight, and was nearly shut out the last time he faced a world class fighter.
Vic Saludar (19-3, 10) v Wilfredo Mendez (13-1, 5) - San Juan, Puerto Rico
In Puerto Rico we'll see former Tanaka opponent Vic Saludar making his second defense of the WBO Minimumweight title as he takes on mandatory challenger Wilfredo Mendez. The under-rated Saludar is a heavy handed boxer-puncher who has really shone in his last two, beating Ryuya Yamanaka and Masataka Taniguchi and despite being on the road, for the third fight in a row, he will again be favoured. Mendez is a talented fighter but is taking a massive step up in class here for what will be his toughest bout, by far.
Shakhram Giyasov (8-0, 6) Vs Darleys Perez (34-4-2, 22) Sonora, Mexico
Unbeaten Uzbek fighter Shakhram Giyasov takes on his most notable opponent to date as he returns to a Mexican ring, for the second time. The talented Giyasov, who didn't look great last time out against Emanuel Taylor, will be up against former world champion Darleys Perez. Giyasov is a talent, and an Olympic silver medal winner, but as a professional it's seemed very much like he either blows opponents away with raw power or struggles. Perez, at his best, was world class, but with a 2-3-3 record in his last 7, with all 3 losses by stoppage, it's hard to know what he has left at this point.
Haruki Ishikawa (7-1, 5) vs Atsushi Takada (6-1-3, 3) - Tokyo, Japan
The Japanese Youth title picture is a really interesting one and although none of the fighters in Yoyuth title bouts are big names they are often emerging talents. In a really good looking JBC Youth Bantamweight title Eliminator we'll see the once beaten Haruki Ishikawa take on Atsushi Takada. The talented Ishikawa suffered his only loss in the 2018 Rookie of the Year final, by majority decision, whilst Takada's only loss was to Tetsu Araki in a Youth title fight. This should be a very good fight.
Fumiya Fuse (8-0, 1) v Toshiya Ishii (1-0, 1) - Tokyo, Japan
Another JBC Youth Bantamweight title eliminator will will see Rookie of the Year winner Fumiya Fuse take on the recently turned professional Toshiya Ishii. The talented Fuse has been impressive since his Rookie of the Year win back in 2017 and has notched some solid wins since his rookie triumph. Ishii on the other hand only debuted back in April but looked excellent on his debut win over Adam Wijaya, though did have a solid amateur career. Despite looking like a mismatch this should be a compelling contest of skills.
The winner of the two eliminators will fight for the vacant title later in the year.
Yuki Nakajima (2-0, 2) vs Ryu Horikawa (1-0, 1) - Tokyo, Japan
On the same card as the two eliminators we'll also see a B Class Tournament bout that pits former amateur standouts against each other, with Yuki Nakajima and Ryu Horikawa facing off. Despite only 3 fights between them this should be a very hotly contest, high skilled battle between two youngsters who, win or lose, will still have a very bright future. The winner of this may "only" have beaten a novice, but will be on the fast track to some much bigger bouts in the very near future.
Japanese boxing is full of fighting families. Some of these are obvious, like the Inoue brothers, Naoya and Takuma, and the Kameda brothers, others are less well known like Masamichi Yabuki and Masanori Rikiishi or the Hosokawa brothers, Valentine Hosokawa and Shinobu Charlie Hosokawa. Another set of brothers making their name on the sport right name are the Nakajima brothers, Kazuki Nakajima and Yuki Nakajima. Today we want to introduce you to Yuki Nakajima, the younger of the two men.
The 23 year old Yuki Nakajima (1-0, 1) made his professional debut last October, fighting on a card that was featured on Boxing Raise. That debut saw the youngster stop Thai foe Somphon Banyaem in 2 rounds, using some devastating body shots to take out the Thai in rather eye catching fashion.
Whilst we'll get back to how he looked on his debut in a few minutes lets have a bit more of a look at who he is first.
Nakajima was born in Yamatokoriyama, Nara, though now based in Tokyo at the Kadoebi Gym in, one of Japan's packed gyms, and notably didn't join the Ohashi Gym, where his brother is based. Prior to turning professional he had been a notable amateur, running up a 52-21 record, though lacked in terms of major competition wins. It's worth noting that his older brother went 72-15 in the unpaid ranks, and did manage to win various amateur honours, though it's hard to ignore that Yuki was a very good amateur.
The amateur pedigree of the younger Nakajima saw him turn professional with plenty of expectation on his shoulders and he was immediately debuting as a B license fighter when he turned professional last year. That meant that he essentially skipped the 4 round stage of his career, beginning in 6 round bouts instead. This is typical of fighters in Japan with amateur backgrounds and is something that we do love, we don't really see why top amateurs fight in 4 rounders when they are unnecessary to a young prospects development.
So back to his debut. Yuki looked fleet footed through out the bout, moving quickly and naturally around the ring, getting his jab into play almost immediately. He swiftly looked like a natural talent, but one who perhaps was too focused on using a jab rather than trying to go for a kill to begin with. It wasn't long however until he began to put more on his shots, and the body shot he used to close the show was an absolute beauty, finding the perfect place for the blow.
Nakajima's next bout will take place at Slugfest 9 on May 8th. His opponent is yet to be confirmed but the contest is scheduled to be a 6 rounder at Light Flyweight. We're not expecting anyone too tough for Nakajima for this bout, butt wouldn't be surprised if he was fighting ranked fighters before the end of 2019, with titles likely to be in his grasp no later than the end of 2021. He's a real talented and another brilliant fighter under the Kadoebi banner.
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