The best thing about the Japan scene is the fact we get to see so many fighters in action, be it on TV, Boxing Raise, fan cams, internet feeds or other there is simply so many opportunities to see different Japanese fighters in action. In places like the UK or US there are really only a handful of promoters capable of show casing their fighters, though due to rules preventing fighters from the same gym to face off in Japan promoters need to work together. There's also the Rookie of the Year that show cases fighters from across the country and gives them a window to make a name for themselves early in their careers.
One Japanese fighter that caught our eye in recent years, without having a major promoter or a strong amateur pedigree is Aso Ishiwaki (6-2-1, 4). On paper his record might not look amazing, but the reality he's one of the most entertaining young fighters in Japan and combines toughness, a high work rate, power and a real steely determination, that makes a perfect fighter for this "Introducing..." series.
Unlike many fighters we cover in this segment Ishiwaki doesn't appear to have had any sort of notable background in the amateur ranks. Instead he turned professional young, debuting at the age of 17. On debut Ishiwaki was stopped in the first round, losing to Kanta Takenaka in 2 minutes and 42 seconds. Given that result in isolation one could easily have written off the youngster but it really seems like an oddity given how his career has gone since. In his debut Ishiwaki looked like a man who was hurt, dropped, rocked and looked totally out of his element. How he has developed since then however has been very impressive.
Just 4 months after his debut Ishiwaki scored his first win, blowing away Mitsuki Morita in 57 seconds, and he didn't take much longer to defeat Yudai Tokumaru in his first fight of 2018. That win over Tokumaru began a great year for the youngster who reach the All Japan Rookie of the Year final in the Lightweight division. Sadly for Ishiwaki he would lose in the final to George Tachibana, in a razor thin 5 round split decision.
Aged 19 when he lost to Tachibana, in what was a really good bout, it was clear Ishiwaki had developed from the fighter who was stopped in his first professional round, to a genuine low key prospect. He had already matured to a strong, powerful youngster and he had began to look like someone who, despite being technically flawed, was full of potential.
Entering 2019 Ishiwaki had a record of 5-2 and was then matched with the 1-1 Yoji Sato. On paper this was an interesting one, and we had been really impressed by Saito who had been a solid amateur before turning professional. Being totally honest we expected Saito to blow out the youngster but instead it was Ishiwaki who seemed to deserve the win in a thrilling 6 round war that saw both men prove their toughness. Sadly for Ishiwaki he could only score a draw here, but it felt he deserved the win, and got rather unfortunate. This, more than his Rookie of the Year performance, saw us really sit up and take notice of the youngster who looked like he was beginning to mature into a very good fighter.
Since the Saito bout he scored a lot key win in Thailand, but will be back in action on September 29th against Takuya Matsusaka, who is a bit of a glass cannon.
We mentioned that Ishiwaki hasn't got a big gym behind him, he does however have Nobuhiro Ishida behind him, as his promoter. He also has a really impressive level of determination, a rugged toughness a great tank and at just 20 years old he has so much more to learn. From what we've seen however he is certainly someone who deserves a lot of attention. He's a busy, front foot fighter, who loves fighting on the inside and will make for very TV friendly fights, win or lose.
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