In June 2019 we featured talented Teiken youngster Shokichi Iwata (then 2-0 (1), now 5-0 (4)) in our "Introducing..." series. Since then his career has progressed nicely with 3 bouts, all wins by stoppage. He has moved from making his Japanese debut to taking strides towards a Japanese title fight, and although his rise has been slowed down by what's happened in 2020 the future is still incredibly bright for the 24 year Light Flyweight.
We when looked at Iwata in "Introducing..." his only professional bouts had been an underwhelming debut in the US, against Joel Bermudez, and an easy win over Japanese domestic foe Daiki Kameyama. Although it was clear he had some pop, he didn't seem all that destructive, and looked like the sort of fighter who was going to have to rely on his boxing to go places, rather than his power. Now however things seem a little bit different, despite the fact he's still not 1-shotting opponents.
A few weeks after we introduced Iwata he scored his third professional win, stopping Filipino foe Paolo Sy in 5 rounds on the under-card of Ryota Murata's rematch with Rob Brant. It was a low key win, but one that gave Iwata some more ring time as he continued to develop his skills and get some experience of being on a big show.
Just 4 months after Iwata had beaten Sy he would again feature on a big show, featuring on the under-card of the WBSS Bantamweight final between Naoya Inoue and Nonito Donaire. In his bout on that card Iwata stopped Mexican fighter Alejandro Cruz Valladares, who sported a 5-1 record at the time. It was another chance to Iwata to get ring time, get experience on a big show, and go up against a fighter from a different nation. Despite the bout not being a big one it was actually televised in Latino regions, and Iwata looked really good. He was hammering Valladares with solid shots and finally broke him down.
Interestingly with the win over Valaldares we had seen Iwata getting rounds with fighters from 4 different countries, each with a unique style. He had shared the ring with an American, a fellow Japanese, a Filipino and a Mexican. He had racked up ring time against all 4 and had managed to learned a lot from all 4 men, before lowering the hammer and breaking them down for the stoppage.
The hope, going into 2020, had been for Iwata to race through another few opponents and then sit on the verge of his first title fight. Sadly that hasn't come. Like many fighters Iwata's 2020 has been close to a wash due to the on going global situation. That situation put boxing on the back burner for around 4 months in Japan. As a result we didn't see Iwata in the ring until October, 11 months after his win over Valladares, when he took part in an 8 round bout with Ryo Narizuka. The bout wasn't a particularly competitive one, but was another chance for Iwata to answer some questions, as we saw him go into round 7 for the first time, then close the show by stopping the rugged Narizuka.
On paper it seems like Iwata needs to break opponents down, with all of his wins going into either the final round or the penultimate round. In reality however we get the feeling that Iwata wants to answer questions before progressing. He's proven he has the stamina to go 8 rounds, he's been getting ring time, and he's getting a chance to test things out in the ring before facing stiffer tests. He's proven he can box, fight or brawl and although his competition will need to be stepped up sooner, rather than later, he's proven a lot in just 5 bouts.
At the moment it's unclear when Iwata be back in the ring, though we do expect him to be fighting regularly in 2021 with the aim being to pick up a regional or Japanese title, before bigger and better things in 2022. Like many prospects his 2020 has been a frustrating one, but it's unlikely we'll see him this active again any time soon.
Note - At the time of writing Boxrec lists the wrong Alejandro Valladares as Iwata's 4th opponent.
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