Despite Coronavirus essentially cancelling the sport of boxing right now, globally, we have to face facts and admit the sport will be back. We don't know when but it will be back. With that in mind it makes sense for us to take this downtime to continue our "Introducing" series. Obviously the articles won't be talking about someone ahead of an upcoming bout, but upcoming bouts were always secondary for the "Introducing" behind what were essentially a chance to shine a torch on a fighter that deserved some attention.
So, with that out of the way, lets return to the "Introducing" series with someone we've been looking forward to writing about for years. Like legitimately years. That is Keisuke Matsumoto, a second generation hopeful who will be hoping to make his professional debut in 2020, if the coronavirus pandemic can be gotten under-control and if boxing can resume in Japan this year.
When we mentioned that we've been wanting to write about Matsumoto for years we really are serious. Our very first mentioned of him was way back in August 2014, when the then 14 year old Matsumoto was making headlines in Japan for winning 5 consecutive Under 15 titles. Whilst the under 15 titles doesn't guarantee success the fact he was essentially dominating the field at such a young age was getting the Japanese media excited about his potential for the 2020 Olympics.
Not only was Matsumoto showing great talented at a very, very, young age, but he was also a second generation fighter. He was following in the footsteps of his father Koji Matsumoto, himself a former 2-time world title challenger, who was making a name for himself as a trainer at the Ohashi gym. It was the Ohashi gym that had essentially been a second home for the younger Matsumoto who was able to rub shoulders with world class fighter like of Naoya Inoue and Akira Yaegahsi, who he could consider training buddies and gym mates.
As the years went on, from 2014, the younger Matsumoto would continue his amateur career, running up an impressive 80-15 (30) record in the unpaid ranks. He couldn't quite replicate the dominant success he had had in the under 15's but the tall and lanky frame of the youngster still found success, both nationally and internationally. We won't go through all his amateur achievements but just a few notables. He reached the semi-finals of the 2015 Asian Junior Championships, won the 2016 Japanese High School National Championships, a tournament that also saw Ginjiro Shigeoka picking up a winners medal, lost in the final of the 2018 Japanese National Championships and won the Taipei City Cup, also in 2018.
Sadly for Matsumoto he found himself a nemesis in the amateur ranks, the exceptionally talented Hayato Tsutsumi. Had it not been for Tsutsumi it's fair to say that Matsumoto would have taken more senior honours in the amateur ranks. Sadly though Tsutsumi was around and Matsumoto failed to secure a place in the Japanese set up for the Asia Oceania qualfiers for the 2020 Olympics. As a result he had a hard choice to make and decided that, instead of waiting for the 2024 Olympics, he would turn professional.
Matsumoto announced his decision to turn professional at the start of 2020 over social media, before taking part in a press conference in February to announce he had signed with the Ohashi gym and would be taking part in his pro-test in March before debuting in May. Sadly his original pro-test plans went awry due to coronavirus, though he still managed to pass his test in a very different environment, taking the test at the Ohashi Gym rather than Korakuen Hall as planned.
As we write this Matsumoto is still technically pencilled in for a May debut, though the reality is that his debut will likely be pushed back and it could be much, much later in the year before we see the wonderfully talented youngster kick off his professional career.
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