Back in August 2019 we were really excited to talk about an emerging Japanese hopeful by the name of Toshiya Ishii (then 1-0 (1), now 3-1 (2)). Now, more than a year later we’re going to take a look back at what he’s been up to since we last spoke about him, where his career now and where heading in the near future. Of course with a loss against his name things haven’t been perfect for him, but is still certainly regarded as a top prospect and as a man heading towards big things in the future.
When we spoke about Ishii in 2019 he had scored a debut win over Adam Wijaya in April 2019 and was days away from his second bout, against the then 8-0 Fumiya Fuse, who had won the All Japan Rookie of the Year in 2017. When that bout with Fuse came along we saw Ishii take his second win, claiming a technical decision over Fuse to move his record forward and advance his career onto bigger and better things.
The win over Fuse saw Ishii getting some attention, but it was a mild buzz. That buzz grew massively in December when Ishii battled against Haruki Ishikawa for the Japanese Youth Bantamweight title at Korakuen Hall. Ishii, fighting for just the third time as a professional, went to war with the then 8-1 Ishikawa, and the two men ended up giving a legitimate thriller. In the opening round Ishikawa was dropped, before battling back and rocking Ishii, who was then dropped himself later in the round. In round 4 Ishii managed to see Ishikawa, scoring a sensational finish to what was a brilliant fight.
Sadly Ishii’s rise, like that of so many youngsters in 2020, hit a brick wall in a year where Covid19 essentially closed down boxing for long stretches. The momentum of the win over Ishikawa was soon forgotten, and Ishii sadly began to have his shining career dim a little, despite getting rave reviews from world class fighters that he had been sparring with.
After more than 11 months away we saw Ishii return to the ring in November 2020 when he stepped up massively and took on former world title challenger Sho Ishida in Hyogo. The bout, streamed live by TV Osaka, was a fantastic 8 round bout that saw Ishii acting as the aggressor and the puncher, and Ishida showcasing his excellent jab, his sharp movement and top level experience. In the end it was the jab and experience of Ishida that proved to be key, as he took a very competitive decision win over Ishii.
The loss for Ishii is one of those rare “good losses”, where Ishii’s reputation wasn’t hindered at all. He managed to impress those that saw the bout, but also had some flaws shown up, such as the way he marched without using his jab, and how he failed to cut off the ring when he needed to. It was a loss, and a “1” on his record, but it was a fantastic learning experience for a man who was still just 19 at the time.
Despite the loss to Ishida only coming in November we’ve already seen Ishii’s next bout being scheduled, and that will be on March 11th as he takes on Kaito Takeshima. The bout will be Ishii’s first defense of the Japanese Youth Bantamweight title, and we suspect to see footage of this one shown on Fuji TV, with the bout taking place on Ohashi promoted event.
With a record of 3-1 (2) it would be easy to write off Ishii, but the reality is that we really shouldn’t be writing him off. He ran a former world title challenger close in his only loss, in his fourth bout, he impressed in that loss, and he had already impressed, both in bouts and in terms of top level sparring. He will come again and in 2021 he and his team should concentrate on letting the youngster get a few more bouts under his belt, running up 3 or 4 wins during the year, and then look to chase senior titles in 2022. He’s a brilliant young fighter, and there is no need at all to look down on him for his one loss.
For those that haven’t seen him in action we’ve included his 2019 thriller with Ishikawa below. If you’ve never seen it before you should make time to enjoy this brilliant Youth title bout.
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