We'll admit we love doing our weekly "Introducing..." series, and taking a chance to shine a light on a fighter that fans probably aren't that aware of. Sometimes the fighter in question will lead to nothing and disappear without a trace, other times however they will be moved quickly and engage in some meaningful bouts, sometimes very soon after we write about them.
In June 2019 we covered Yuri Takemoto (then 6-1-1 (3), now 8-2-1 (3)) who was preparing for his 9th bout as a professional, a contest against Indonesian foe Kiki Marciano lined up. Back then we would not have been able to predict the journey Takemoto has been on and how he managed to get a major domestic fight just 14 months later.
To begin with lets look at Takemoto's bout with Kiki Marciano, which came in Wakayama back in June 2019. That was Takemoto's second bout since winning the Rookie of the Year in December 2018 and saw him return to a ring in Wakayama, to give local fans a show. Sadly for fans it didn't last long, though they were left happy with Takemoto dropping Marciano twice to take a TKO in the opening round.
Because there isn't a lot of boxing in Wakayama that was only Takamoto's third bout in his home prefecture, and his first one there in over a year. Instead of being able to box at home he's had travel a lot and his return to the ring, 4 months later, saw him travelling from Wakayama to Kochi, around 100 miles away as the crow flies.
In that that bout in Kochi we saw Takemoto take on the experienced Yoshiyuki Takabayashi. Although not a major fighter Takabayashi is a true servant to Japanese boxing and he has been a good test for some very notable fighters. He played that role against Takemoto in testing the youngster and giving him a real fight, rocking him in round 2. Thankfully for Takemoto he recovered from the scare and went on to take a 6 round technical decision over Takabayashi, who had been cut in round 4 from a clash of heads.
Despite ending 2019 with a record of 8-1-1 (4) and being well inside the Japanese rankings Takemoto was still well and truly under-the-radar. Being in Wakayama his opportunities were certainly limited, but in 2020 fortune struck and he managed to be one of the very, very few winners, in terms of boxing, from the on going global situation.
Early in 2020 Japanese Featherweight champion Ryo Sagawa was supposed to defend his title against Hinata Maruta in a Champion Carnival bout. That contest, like many, fell through due to issues that put boxing on hiatus in Japan and when boxing resumed in Japan Maruta was unable to take an August date with Sagawa. As a result Takemoto got the call and jumped at the opportunity to fight for the title.
Sadly for Takemoto the champion turned out to be a bit too good for him, though in fairness the youngster made Sagawa work from the off before being stopped at the very end of round 6 by a brutal body shot. Prior to being stopped Takemoto proved his hunger, his chin and his determination, but his lack of higher level experience was shown up against the world ranked Japanese national champion.
Despite losing to Sagawa, like most fighters would in fairness, we actually feel move confident than we had previously that Takemoto has got the potential win titles down the line. We don't see him having world class potential but he will certainly come again at domestic level.
At the moment it's unclear when Takemoto will be back in the ring, but we're looking forward to it and to following his career, even if he was stopped last time out.
For those who missed it we've included the bout with Sagawa below.
July felt like a bit of a turning point with boxing, as we had shows return to Thailand and Japan, we managed to see a show in Belarus with some Kazakh hopefuls, we had upsets, action, excitement and some brilliant debuts as the sport finally begins to turn a corner. Thankfully that momentum looks likely to continue in August with a host of notable events set for the coming month. With their being a lot planned and scheduled for August lets take a look at what we're getting in the first half of the month!
PLEASE Note - All bouts are subject to change, cancellations and postponements, something that is a lot more rife right now than usual due to the on going situation.
Workpoint Studio, Bang Phun, Thailand
Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (47-5-1, 41) Vs Amnat Ruenroeng (20-3, 6)
The month kicks off with one of the biggest non-title bouts in Thai history, as former world champions Srisaket Sor Rungvisai and Amnat Ruenroeng clash in the headline bout of the month's WP Boxing event. The event, which will be streamed not just by Work Point but also by Matchroom, is expected to help launch Srisaket into world title bout, as he looks to become a 3-time champion. Although Amnat is a very capable fighter, and a master of the dark arts, we do wonder if he had enough left in the tank to make this as interesting in the ring as it seems.
Chainoi Worawut (10-0-1, 9) Vs Jomar Fajardo (17-16-2, 9)
In a supporting bout on that same WP Boxing show is a match up for talented Thai prospect Chainoi Worawut, one of the leading Thai hopefuls for the future. The unbeaten Worawut will be up against Jomar Fajardo, a man best known for his two wars with Francisco Rodriguez Jr. Sadly Fajardo has struggled, massively, since those battles and is 3-12-1 (2) in his last 16 bouts. This should be a straight forward win for Worawut, but he is certainly one to watch, and if you tune in to the WP Boxing show he's the guy on the under-card most likely to fight for a world title in the next few years.
Zhan Kossobutskiy (13-0, 12) Vs Kamil Sokolowski (9-17-2, 3)
Unbeaten Kazakh Heavyweight hopeful Zhan Kossobutskiy looks to continue his unbeaten run as he returns to the ring in Minsk to take on English based Polish Heavyweight hopeful Kamil Sokolowski. On paper this is a total mismatch, but in reality Sokolowski is a very well respected journeyman in the UK who does come to win, rather than survive, and he will give this a genuine go. Kossobutskiy isn't the most talented, smooth or quickest and we wouldn't be surprised if Sokolowski managed to expose some of Koosobutskiy's flaws. Saying that however we do think the Kazakh will pick up the win.
Bucheon, Gyeonggi, South Korea
In Duck Seo (12-3-2, 7) Vs Jung Kyoung Lee (8-3-1, 4)
In South Korea we get a KBA show that was originally planned for July. The main event here is WBA Asia Welterweight title bout that looks mouth watering on paper and will pit In Duck Seo against former OPBF Light Middleweight champion Jung Kyoung Lee. We don't see many good looking All-Korean bouts so this one really does stand out as something to get excited about, and style wise this should be a war. Notably this is a KBA show, so the bouts are likely to end up being uploaded afterwards and we would advise fans to keep some time aside to catch up on this one if they can't catch it.
Jong Seon Kang (10-0-2, 6) Vs Seong Yeong Yang (8-2-5, 4)
In a second good looking all Korean bout we'll see the unbeaten Jong Seon Kang take on Seong Yeong Yang in a KBA Featherweight ranking bout. For those who have seen these two fighters in action it should be no surprise if this something very special. Both men were in some thrilling contests in 2019 with Kang's bout against Tomjune Mangubat being a sensational 10 round thriller whilst Yang's bout with Jian Wang was just an 10 round toe to toe slugest. Don't expect high quality boxing here, but do expect high intensity and thrilling action.
City Sogo Gym, Hirakata, Osaka, Japan
Toshiki Shimomachi (11-1-2, 7) vs Hiroki Hanabusa (8-0-3, 3)
In a very interesting looking Japanese Youth Super Bantamweight title bout we'll see defending champion Toshiki Shimomachi defending his title against the unbeaten Hiroki Hanabusa. For Shimomachi this will be his first defense, and comes just over a year after he won the title, stopping Kenta Nomura. As for Hanabusa this will be his first title bout, though he has fought in notable bouts before including a Rookie of the Year Final and a bout in China, where he had the crowd against him. This should be a real test of what both men have in the locker, and hopefully the two youngsters will both go on to have successful, and perhaps a rematch somewhere down the line.
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
Ryo Sagawa (9-1, 4) Vs Yuri Takemoto (8-1-1, 4)
Action returns to Tokyo on August 13th for a Japanese Featherweight title bout between defending champion Ryo Sagawa and underwhelming challenger Yuri Takemoto. Originally the plan was for Sagawa to defend his title against Hinata Maruta, but with the Champion Carnival essentially messed up by what's been going on in the world that bout was essentially put on ice, for now. As a result we'll be getting Takemoto challenging the brilliant champion. Also this is an underwhelming title defense Takemoto is a solid fighter, who won the Rookie of the Year in 2018, but he's done nothing to suggest he'll be a test for the fantastic Sagawa.
Whilst there are some really big gyms in Japan that have fighters recognised well outside of the country other gyms are less well known. For every Teiken, Ohashi or Watanabe there's 20 or more gyms that even your hardcore boxing fan won't have heard of. One great example of that is the Kuratoki Boxing Gym in Wakayama. Though the gym is a pretty obscure one, it does have some talent among it's ranks, with the diamond in the rough being 2018 Rookie of the Year winner Yuri Takemoto (6-1-1, 3). He might not be well known, but the 23 year old Southpaw is a real hopeful worthy of attention.
Born in Osaka in 1996 the young Takemoto wasn't an amateur standout when he turned professional in 2017. There was no real expectations on his shoulders when he passed his C Class license pro-test in March 2017, just a few weeks before his 21st birthday, and in fact it's fair to say no one really took any notice of him on his debut. Since then however he has proven his ability and turned around a mixed start to his professional career into that of a very promising young fighter.
Going back to his debut, Takemoto debuted in June 2017 at the Big Wave in Wakayama, a venue he will now headline at on June 16th. He would secure a win on debut by stopping Kanta Fukui in the second round in one of the preliminary bouts, the card was a small one not many would have been there for Takemoto's bout. A couple of months after his debut he fought in Kyoto, on the under-card of the first match between Shinsuke Yamanaka and Luis Nery. Takemoto would lose a razor thin devision to local fighter Kensuke Nakamura, a stablemate of Kenshiro's. By razor thin, we really do mean razor thin, with all 3 judges having the bout scored 39-38 to Nakamura.
Takemoto would suffer another setback a few months later, fighting to a 4 round draw with Tomoya Kishine in Osaka, on a show that featured the likes of Juiki Tatsuyoshi and Hiroshige Osawa.
Since those back to back setbacks we've seen Takemoto go on an impressive run, winning 5 bouts in a row, with a massive 2018 which saw him win 4 bouts, become the Rookie of the Year and put his name on the radar of hardcore Japanese fans.
Takemoto's Rookie of the Year campaign began in May 2018 when he took on fellow novice Kazunori Harima, and scored a 53 second win. Takemoto dropped Harrima twice in the opening round, once with a right hand and once with a left hand. Interestingly this bout is available over the Boxing Raise service, and whilst he looked wild Takemoto was incredibly fun to watch.
The win over Harima saw Takemoto progress to the West Japan Rookie of the Year Semi-final, where he beat Takafumi Iwaya in Kobe.
Having won his West Japan Rookie of the Year semi Takemoto was scheduled to battle Temin Kimura in the regional final in September of 2018. Kimura however pulled out, and in November Takamoto blew out Teru Nobita, inside a round, to book his place in the All Japan final a month later. Going in to the bout Nobita was unbeaten, though failed to last 3 minutes with Takemoto.
Takemoto's final bout of 2018 was his All Japan Rookie of the Year final, where he took on the then unbeaten Hikari Mineta from the Teiken gym. Takemoto would drop his man 3 times in the opening round, though fail to stop Mineta, who put in a great effort to fight his way back into the contest. Despite Mineta's effort it was Takemoto who would take the decision, the win and the Rookie of the Year crown.
This past March we saw Takemoto fight for the first time since his Rookie win, and he defeated Filipino foe Reymond Empic over 6 rounds. He is now set to return where it all began, the Big Wave in Wakayama, where he will face Kiki Marciano on June 16th in what will be Takemoto's first 8 round bout. He'll be expected to stop Marciano, who has ben stopped in his last 2 bouts, but bigger and better things are surely just around the corner for the talented man from Wakayama.
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