This coming Tuesday fight fans at Korakuen Hall will get a very interesting Japanese Youth Super Bantamweight title fight, as defending champion Haruki Ishikawa (9-3, 7) takes on Ryuya Tsugawa (8-1, 4), in a brilliant match up, and a great example of the bouts we've been getting due to the Youth title in Japan.
Of the two men the more well known is Ishikawa. The 22 year old champion has been a professional since 2017, and reached the All Japan Rookie of the Year final in 2018, when he lost in the final to Yusei Fujikawa. He bounced back from that loss with a pair of wins, though then suffered back to back losses, losing in a 4 round thriller against Toshiya Ishii and a disappointing performance with Kai Chiba. After those losses it seemed he was faltering big time, before resurrecting his career last year with a big domestic win over Tom Mizokoshi for the Japanese youth title.
In the ring Ishikawa is somewhat crude, a little bit wild, but also naturally heavy handed, and when he lands he can really hurt people. He's also someone who has been developing his skills over the years. He can still be out boxed, and as we saw against Chiba, he can be put into his shell by someone who can box, moves and has some power themselves, but when he's on song he's very dangerous and not the type of fighter anyone at this level wants to get into a fire fight with.
In the opposite corner is a 21 year old challenger who debuted in 2018 as a Bantamweight and reached what is, essentially, the Rookie of the Year semi-final, losing to Yusei Fujikawa in the West Japan final. Since then he has bounced back with 4 wins, 3 by stoppage, and won the All Japan Rookie of the Year in 2019. Along with his recent winning run he has shown impressive development, not just with his boxing skills but also his power and his physical strength, settling in as a very solid Super Bantamweight prospect. Not only has he been in good form, but also scoring solid wins, beating Takeshi Takehara, in the 2019 Rookie of the Year final, and Hikari Mineta in his last two bouts, though has sadly been out of the ring since late 2020.
In the ring Tsugawa is a relaxed fighter, who has lovely fluidity with his shots and soaks up pressure well with some crafty subtle movements and counter shots. He looks to keep things at mid range when he can, but has got skills to counter up close and hits hard enough to get respect when he lands. He also seems happy to have a war when he needs to. Notably he is better at boxing, than fighting, but can do both. The big worry for him however, is that his chin is something of an unknown and it will be very interesting to see how he fares against a big puncher, someone like Ishikawa.
We can't help but think this is going to be a fire fight. Ishikawa loves a war, and Tsugawa seems happy to be dragged into one. Tsugawa is the better from a technical stand point, but Ishikawa is the bigger puncher, and our feeling is that Ishikawa power could be a major issue. When he lands he hurts people and if Tsugawa can be dragged into a war here, he could be in all sorts of trouble.
We suspect this will be an intense, action war, but a short one, and after 4 rounds or so Ishikawa's power will prove to be the difference maker, breaking down Tsugawa in a genuine thriller.
Prediction - Ishikawa TKO4
This coming Sunday we get the next in a long series of really interesting Japanese Youth title bouts. This one is at Super Bantamweight as the talented and skilled champion Tom Mizokoshi (8-2-1, 4) takes on the crude but heavy handed Haruki Ishikawa (8-3, 6), in what is very much a boxer against puncher match up. The champion is one of the best young pure boxers in the country whilst Ishikawa is a very big puncher, but someone who does lack in terms of his defensive skills. The combination of these styles should make for a genuinely excellent bout.
Aged 22 Mizokoshi is one of the young stars of the Midori Gym. He made his debut back in 2017, at the age of 18, and despite some early set backs, going 2-1-1 in his first 4 bouts Mizokoshi then found his groove and went on to win his next 5. That run of performances started to get people genuinely excited about the youngster but sadly a lot of that excitement was forgotten in August 2020 when he suffered an upset loss to Hiroyuki Takehara, who stopped Mizokoshi in 3 rounds and left him with a broken jaw. Thankfully Mizokoshi bounced back from the broken jaw, and this past March scored his most notable win to date, beating Satoru Hoshiba by 8 round decision to win his Youth title.
In the ring Mizokoshi is a defensively minded boxer, who moves around the ring wonderfully, he's light on his feet, uses very good straight punches and is very much a pure boxer. He wants to control the range, he wants to keep things long, and if an opponent makes a mistake he looks to land hurtful counters. On the whole he is risk adverse, and has a style that we actually see a lot of in the US, rather than Japan. He's someone who seems to appreciate that he's not the complete package, or a fully mature fighter, and fights in a style that hides the fact he's not a fully mature man quite well. Sadly however, as we saw against Takahara, when he's tagged he can be hurt, and he has been hurt in roother fights as well. One final thing worth noting is that although he's a boxer first, he does have respectable pop in his shots, and fighters shouldn't plan to walk through him. He lands often enough and clean enough to make that a bad idea.
Aged 21 at the time of writing Ishikawa is the slightly younger fighter, but is the more physically imposing, and the more wild swinging puncher of the two. He's the one who would be regarded as a genuinely dangerous fighter and he has been for a while. He began his career in 2017, whilst a teenage, and stopped his first 5 opponents in a combined 11 rounds. That explosiveness made fans sit up and take notice though sadly for him his unbeaten run would come to an end in the 2018 All Japan Rookie of the Year final, losing a very close decision to Yusei Fujikawa. Sadly since that loss he has gone 2-2, with the most notable bout being a TKO4 loss in a Japanese Youth Bantamweight title bout to Toshiya Ishii, in an instant classic. He also lost last time out, in December 2020, to Kai Chiba in a very underwhelming performance.
At his best Ishikawa is a very fun to watch fighter, who takes risks, has heavy hands, comes to fight and doesn't care too much about taking a shot or two, if he can land one of his own. Sadly though his loss to Ishii seemed to show up limited technical skills and against Kai Chiba he looked very passive, as if he felt he couldn't win. Those results do not bode well for him here, and if he's not in the right mindset coming in to this we really see him getting frustrated by the movement of Mizokoshi. If he can land clean however, this fight could turn in a moment, and he could go from being out boxed, to winning in spectacular come from behind fashion.
We feel Mizokoshi should be able to out box Ishikawa right through the fight, though we wouldn't be surprised, at all, if he had one or two scares along the way. He should be able to see out the storms, and he should be able to rely on his boxing skills, but Ishikawa's power will mean that the challenger is always a dangerous threat.
It wouldn't be out of the question to see Mizokoshi dropped, en route to a very wide decision win.
PRediction - Mizkoshi UD8
On December 12th fight fans at the Korakuen Hall will see a new Japanese Youth Bantamweight champion being crowned as youngsters Toshiya Ishii (2-0, 1) and Haruki Ishikawa (8-1, 6) battle for the vacant title in a very interesting looking bout. In one corner is a former youth amateur standout, who is being fast tracked to the top, whilst the other corner houses a Rookie of the Year finalist, having his 10th professional bout. Notably both had to earn their right to fight for the title by winning bouts as part of a 4 man tournament held back in August at Korakuen Hall.
Of the two men it's the 18 year old Ishii who is probably the more interesting fighter. He went 30-14 (17) in the amateurs, coming runner up in the 2018 Interscholastic tournament and signed with the REBOOT IBA with a lot of expectation on his shoulders. His debut was standard, easy win over a limited foe, in Adam Wijayta, but in just his second bout he beat the then Japanese ranked Fumiya Fuse, a very skilled but light punching fighter. Although Fuse is quick and skilled Ishii out did him in both areas and although he wasn't flawless he looked a real natural talent.
In the ring Ishii is a composed, yet aggressive, fighter. He's skilful but aggressive, and confident and comes forward with very educated pressure, and you can see why REBOOT IBA aren't afraid of letting him in their with more established professionals.Of course there is work to be done, a lot of work, but for a fighter at this novice stage of his career he looks very talented and, if he wins, we see the Youth title being one of many belts he collects as his career develops.
Aged 20 Ishikawa is no old man either, and he only debuted in May 2017, though unlike Ishii he hasn't got the amateur pedigree, instead developing in the professional ranks. He began his career with 5 stoppages before claiming the 2018 East Japan Rookie of the Year crown with a decision win against Beverly Tsukada. That win saw him advance to the All Japan final where he lost a majority decision to Yusei Fujikawa. Since the 2018 Rookie of the Year we've seen him score 2 including his a win over Atsushi Takada, which netted him this title shot.
Watching Ishikawa we see a man who is very confident in not only his power but also his ability to take a shot. He comes forward, he launches bombs and he takes shots on his way in. He's certainly "crude" but he looks so strong and powerful that he seems like the fighter who, at least at this level, can get away with the "take one to land one" gameplan. Heck it's worked this much right? Sadly though we don't see that gameplan carrying up to the domestic level, and he certainly needs to tidy up his style before mounting a series challenge to Japanese ranked opponents.
Whilst we love seeing fighters with Ishikawa's mentality we don't think that is going to work against someone with the skills, movement and boxing brain of Ishii. Yes, there is a chance an Ishikawa bomb lands clean and takes out the youngster, but in reality we suspect that the gulf in skills will be the difference here. We don't think Ishii has the power to take Ishikawa out, but we do see him taking a clear decision, and the title.
Prediction UD8 - Ishii
Having canned the old "Full Schedule" of Asianboxing we have instead decided to concentrate more on the major bouts. This section, the "Preview" section will look at major bouts involving OPBF and national titles. Hopefully leading to a more informative style for, you the reader.