Way back on February 11th 2019 we covered Masahiro Suzuki in our "Introducing..." series. At the time Suzuki was 1-0 (1) and had really blown us away with his showing against the dangerous Antonio Siesmundo, who had been stopped in the 6th round of a really good fight. At that point we had gotten really excited about the potential of Suzuki. Not a little over a year on, we're taking another look at Suzuki as we drag him into our new series "Revisting...".
Suzuki's debut really did make us feel like we were watching a special talent. He had taken time to get used to the dangers Siesmundo had, figured out how to beat the hard hitting Filipino and then broken him down in a performance that showed he could think, he could box and he could punch. It was about as impressive a debut as we saw in Japan in 2018 and got us really excited about his potential. Sadly though the jets have cooled despite a successful 2019 from the World Sports Boxing Gym hopeful
Just weeks after we looked at Suzuki last year he returned to the ring to take his second professional win, beating Kelvin Tenorio over 6 rounds. Although Tenorio had been stopped in 2 of his 4 previous losses this was actually a solid test for Suzuki who had a chance to show what he could do and like his debut this bout was shown on TV, albeit on tape delay. Tenorio asked different questions to Siesmundo and we saw a Suzuki having to force the issue, whilst remaining cautious of the wild shots that Tenorio threw in his direction. Although not a flawless performance it was a good win, especially for his second bout.
Suzuki's third bout, a scheduled 8 rounder against the dangerous Kosuke Arioka, was sadly not made available to watch, at all, though saw Suzuki stopping Arioka in the 2nd round. Arioka, who hadn't been beaten in 2 years, was dropped early but came roaring back. Suzuki was shaken in round 2 before dropping Arioka for the second time. This time Arioka failed to beat the count, and Suzuki claimed his biggest win to date. Although not well known Arioka had actually been ranked #6 by the JBC at Lightweight entering this bout, and the win put Suzuki into the Japanese rankings.
Although Suzuki's third bout wasn't viewable, except by being in the venue, his fourth bout was actually shown on Boxing Raise as part of the Hajime No Ippo 30th anniversary tournament quarter-final show. This bout saw Suzuki take on the unheralded Hokuto Matsumoto, who had been stopped 5 months earlier by Kenta Endo and was, on paper, not a tough a match up as Arioka or Siesmundo.
Despite not being given much of a chance Matsumoto was in the ring with Suzuki to spoil the party and derail the rise of Suzuki. From the opening moments it was clear that Matsumoto's quick, sharp jab was going to be a frustrating challenge for Suzuki. There wasn't much power on the shot, but it was razor sharp and kept being thrust into the face of Suzuki. Suzuki pressed, and had success with heavier shots, but the consistency of Matsumoto's jab proved to be a real frustration maker. As the bout went on Suzuki began to ramp up his aggression, and was clearly leaving Matsumoto with a swollen jaw. In round 5 a headclash cut a Suzuki around the left eye, and although the bout went on for a bit we went to the scorecards due to the cut, which was a nasty one. In the end the scorecards narrowly favoured Suzuki, who took a split decision, to claim his 4th pro win.
Despite being really impressed by Suzuki on debut we were a bit disappointed by his 2019, and the bout with Matsumoto particularly. He's clearly a talent but there is more work for him to do than we originally expected. There's power and skills there, but he needs time to develop and this year is likely to be similar to last year. In a decent world a rematch with Matsumoto would perhaps be the right thing to do, though there are a lot of other options out there on the domestic scene for him to develop against.
We would expect Suzuki and his team to be looking at 3 fights this year, against gradually better opponent, but it could be a while before the youngster is ready for a domestic title fight. When we covered him in "introducing..." we expected to see him in the title mix for sure this year, but we no suspect he could be up to 2 years away from those types of fights.
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