Introducing... Mikio Sakai
As mentioned in last week's "Introducing" , we get a really, really interesting Japanese Middleweight match up on December 16th when Mikio Sakai (1-0) and Ran Tomomatsu (1-0) clash. Last week we looked at Tomomatsu and this week we'll be looking at Mikio Sakai, who also had a very good amateur career and is tipped to go a very, very long way in his career, which is guided by the excellent Kadoebi Gym, who seem to be signing a considerable amount of talent in and around the Middleweight division. In terms of sparring no Japanese gym is as good at Middleweight as Kadoebi, who have a mix of power punchers and boxers, and will be a great place for Middleweight hopefuls to develop their skills.
The 26 year old Sakai was a very solid amateur running up a 44-22 (19) record in the unpaid ranks. He was part of the university team that he went to and whilst not making a huge impact nationally he was very, very, solid. Among his amateur achievements was a win at the 2011 Japanese Interschool Meet, winning a tournament that also saw wins for Naoya Inoue and Ryo Matsumoto, and reaching the last 8 at the 2018 Japanese National Championships.
Following his amateur career Sakai turned professional and made his debut back on August 23rd when he faced off with the flawed, but dangerous, Japanese based Colombian puncher Elfelos Vega. From the very early going it was clear that Sakai was no typical debutant. Sure, the bout was a 6 rounder, but watching what Sakai was doing made it clear he was a special talent. He looked so relaxed in the ring, whether on the outside picking moment to strike, or when stood in range, countering Vega. Not only was he relaxed and judging distance well, but he was also picking specific shots well, and switching between head and body.
After 6 rounds Sakai had taken a very clear and wide win over Vega in what was genuinely an excellent debut from the the youngster. There was was areas to improve, including the way he dropped his hands before he really got out of range, but there was so much to be excited about and be encouraged about.
Although Sakai does appear a little bit of a light puncher, given the shots he tagged Vega with without hurting him, he also looks like a genuinely skilled boxer, who picks shots well, has impressive handspeed and composure, and a lot of positives to build on. He also showed surprisingly stamina, fighting at a good tempo throughout the 6 round bout.
Against Tomomatsu we'll see Sakai chin checked, and it's a great chance to see if he's tough as well as skilled. If he is then Japanese boxing may well have another very good addittion toi the Light Middleweight or Middleweight division.
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