In July 2019 we covered a young fighter from the Mutoh Gym in our "Introducing" series. That was Yusuke Mine (then 0-0, now 3-0 (1)), who was set to take part in his debut just a few days later. At the time he was being spoke about as the new star of the Osaka based Mutoh Gym and the biggest hope Takahashi Edagawa's gym had at time. He was being compared to former world champion Nobuo Nashiro, and even dubbed "Nashiro II" in the Japanese boxing press. He seemed like the type of youngster who ticked the boxes needed to be a star.
Mine was a former amateur standout. He had gone 51-12 (10) in the unpaid ranks, he had made a mark at every level of the domestic amateur scene and even made a mark in international competition, winning cold at a tournament in Taipei. He not only had good amateur results and foundations, but also had a well known boxing mentor to rely on, that being Nashiro. He was essentially being groomed as a star when he turned over to the professional ranks.
Sadly in his debut Mine didn't look like the star he was supposed to be. He didn't look bad, as he took a 4 round technical decision over Filipino Jesel Guardario, but he also didn't look like a super star in the making. Of course it was his debut, and way too soon to judge his full potential, but he didn't look outstanding. He looked very capable, a decent boxer, with nice movement and a nice jab, but not a sensation in the making. Given the talk about him before his debut we were left a little bit underwhelmed by how he looked against an opponent who really didn't off much of anything early on, and then had success when desperation sank in. What also took shine off the debut for Mine is that he ended up cut from the clash of heads that ended the fight, which strangely excited Guardario who celebrated as if he had scored a TKO win.
Around 9 weeks after his debut Mine returned to the ring and scored an easy 2nd round TKO win in Thailand against Kamon Singram, who fell to 0-30 following Mine's win over him. This was an easy win on the road to get Mine some extra ring time and it came on the same card as stable mate Ryosuke Nishida's professional debut, with Nishida stopping Sakol Keykul inside a round.
In his third professional bout Mine took a big step up, and got a really big scare as he took on Ardin Diale in December 2019. It was clear this was a major step up for Mine, with Diale being a former world title challenger, OPBF champion and a man with more than 50 bouts to his name and it showed. Mine was down, twice, against Diale who's experience, composure and shot selection gave Mine nightmares. After going into a big hole, due to being dropped twice, Mine changed tactics and went from boxer to fighter, out working and pressuring Diale, turning the action on it's head and doing just enough to pull victory from the jaw of defeat. After 8 rounds against Diale we saw Mine take home the decision victory and answer a lot of questions about his toughness, resilience, determination and will to win. It also saw him show that he could chance tactics when he needed to, and really dig deep, adapt and think on his feet.
To kick off 2020 Mine was supposed to fight former 2-time world title challenger Masayuki Kuroda, with that bout planned for March 30th. Sadly however 2020 happened and that bout, which was announced in February, was cancelled just weeks later due to Covid19.
As a result of the Kuroda bout falling through, and issues with the Mutoh Gym over summer, we've not actually seen Mine fight this year. Sadly he has lost the momentum from his 3 early career wins, and it's currently not clear when he'll be back in the ring. It's a shame that his career has hit the roadblocks hard in 2020 but it's certainly not the end for him. Thankfully at just 24 years old Mine does have time to get his career back on track next year, and we really hope that happens. It seems likely his team are hungry to put him on the map and we wouldn't be surprised at all for him to face a notable name in early 2021.
Although the last week has lacked world title bouts for Asian fighters it has been a exciting one, with several fantastic shows from around the continent. Better yet a lot of those shows were available to watch, with YTV, Boxingraise and Paravi all having cards from Japan available live. That has allowed us a good feel for what has been an unheralded week of action, and a week that has seen more attention given to the negative issues of boxing.
Fighter of the Week
Ginjiro Shigeoka (4-0, 3)
The fighter of the week, for us, was teenage sensation Ginjiro Shigeoka, who only needed 72 seconds to wipe out Clyde Azarcon and become the new WBO Asia Pacific Minimumweight champion. The youngster, who has been hyped since his debut, was expected to be asked serious questions by the much taller and more experienced Azarcon, but a great body shot put the Filipino down for the count and it's now clear that Shigeoka is deserving of the plaudits. This kid isn't just good, he's very, very special and it's going to be hard to predict just how far he can go.
Performance of the Week
Ginjiro Shigeoka (4-0, 3)
For a second week running our Fighter and Performance awards are won by the same fighter. Last week it was a man who, at the age of 40, is coming to the end of his career, rolling back the clock to score one of his most notable wins to date. We wouldn't say Pacquiao's win over Thurman was one of his best, but at the age of 40 it was notable. For Shigeoka however it was picking up his first regional title after just 10 months as a professional that impressed and taking out a fighter who appeared to have so many advantages, so quickly, so easily, really was a performance that made us realise this kid is for real. Shigeoka has predicted a 4th or 5th round finish, but even he has to have been impressed by finding the killer blow after just over a minute.
Jin Minamide (3-0, 3) Vs Tetsu Araki (14-1-1, 2)
The God's Left Bantamweight tournament is a really good idea, a brilliant concept in fact and we can't wait for the other divisions to be covered, something that has been announced but yet to be put into action. The best bout from the recent quarter finals was the 6 round war between Jin Minamide and Tetsu Araki. On paper this was, by far, the best of the quarter final bouts and it delivered in the best way, giving us competitive, exciting action right through the contest. This won't go down as a Fight of the Year contender, but it will go down as a fantastic example of what good match making and a shared winners mentality can give us.
Jin Minamide vs Tetsu Araki (Rd6)
The fight of the week also had the round of the week, with the 6th round of Minamide's bout with Araki being insane, bloody, wild, exciting action. It wasn't a pretty round, and wasn't a round you'd show to any prospect looking to develop their skills form watching a battle, but it was amazing.The round was 3 minutes of violent chaos, with the final seconds just having the two men stand and trade blows in what may go down as the Japanese sequence of the year. This was brilliant and well worth the Boxing Raise subscription price for the month.
Unfortunately no KO really stood out, though Shigeoka's KO of Azarcon with a body shot was impressive it wasn't really something we felt deserved a KO of the week award.
Yusuke Mine (1-0)
Turning professional after a notable amateur career can be tricky, especially to deliver a great performance on your debut. For Yusuke Mine the biggest issue he had was a cut caused by the head of Jesel Guardario, a cut that curtailed the bout in round 4. Prior to the conclusion Mine showed a lot to get excited about, with his skills, movement, timing and jab, a really clean and crisp jab. The youngster would likely have wanted to score a stoppage here, and failed, but did look every bit of a super prospect, and it's clear that the Mutoh Gym will be pushing him hard going forward.
Kazuto Takesako (10-0-1, 10) vs Shuji Kato (10-1-2, 6) II
This coming week we see a lot of really interesting match ups, including two really intriguing rematches. One of those is rematch between Koki Eto and Jeyvier Cointron and the other is the Japanese Middleweight title bout between Kazuto Takesako and Shuji Kato. We're picking the second one of those bouts as out one to watch due to the fact their first one was so brilliant. Their first didn't end with any weird and bizarre ending was instead a 10 round war that swung one way then the other, with Takesako narrowly retaining his title with a draw. We know these two are well matched, we know they are ultra-competitive and we know we could be set for something very, very special.
We don't often want to "introduce" debutants but there's sometimes a case where we feel that a debutant is the most fitting fighter for one of these "Introducing" pieces, and that's the case this week, as we take a look at Mutoh Gym's latest top prospect, Yusuke Mine (0-0), ahead of his July 26th debut.
The talented youngster is regarded as the gym's brightest prospect since Nobuo Nashiro joined the gym, and has been labelled with the "Nashiro II" tag. That is something that could be a curse for some, though is clearly a sign of respect given that Mine has a personal relationship with Nashiro. In fact it was Nashiro who actually headed the university team that Nashiro fought for as an amateur.
Having mentioned Mine's amateur career that really has to be the focus of this introducing article. In the unpaid ranks he really was a standout, competing not only on the domestic scene but also making his mark on the international scene. He ran up a very impressive 51-12 (10) record. In 2014 he came runner up in the Japanese Interschool Athletic Meet at 49KG's, it's worth noting that just 7KG's north Hinata Maruta also came runner up. The following year he went all the win to the gold medal of a International Invitational Tournament in Taipei, showing his skills against a variety of international opposition. Despite his successes in the unpaid ranks he did fail to shine at the 2016 Japanese National Championships, losing in 2 rounds to the sensationally talented Ryomei Tanaka, who would go on to win the competition.
Although known for his boxing it's worth noting that Mine's love of combat sport began before his love of boxing, and he actually started with Karate at the age of 5, before moving to boxing in High School, at the same high school that Kazuto Ioka had once gone to. That lead him, eventually, to being taken under the wing of Nashiro, the most successful fighter from the Mutoh Gym, and it's clear that Nashiro has has something to do with Mine turning professional and signing up Takashi Edagawa's gym.
Unfortunately despite being a good amateur, footage of Mine from his days in the unpaid ranks was quite hard to find and what was available didn't really show him at his best, in fact the one fight that was available in full that we found saw him losing 5-0 in a University League match in 2018. What seemed clear though is that he had talent, but didn't really look at the races, against a very talented southpaw opponent.
Mine's debut will take place this coming Friday, as he takes on Filipino foe Jesel Guardario (8-3-1, 4). On paper this is a really decent opponent for a debut, and the Filipino is no push over, despite plenty of limitations. He went 6 rounds with Ryo Suwa last year, in Kobe, but shouldn't be too stiff of a test for Mine, if Mine is as good as the folk in Osaka are suggesting.
The end of July is upon us and we see another surge in action, especially in Japan, with tournaments, titles, prospects and a touted debutant!
On July 23rd we get something a little bit different as Dangan put on the quarter final bouts for their God's Left Bantamweight tournament:
Gaku Aikawa (9-7-1, 3) Vs Kenya Yamashita (13-5, 10) - Tokyo, Japan
Kazuki Nakajima (6-0, 5) Vs Kenichi Watanabe (8-4-1, 4) - Tokyo, Japan
Jin Minamide (3-0, 3) Vs Tetsu Araki (14-1-1, 2) - Tokyo, Japan
The three matches above are all part of the God's Left tournament and on paper the stand out match up is the Minamide Vs Araki bout, pitting one of the most touted prospects against the man with the most success at title level, with Araki having been a Japanese Youth champion. It's hard to imagine anything but a win for Kazuki Nakajima in his bout with Kenichi Watanabe, with Aikawa Vs Yamashita has the potential to be an all out thriller.
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