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
Towards the end of April fight fans in Okayama get a small treat, thanks to a card at the Suntopia. The card is a double header, and here we're going to look at one of the part of that double header, a JBC Youth Bantamweight title fight which will see Tetsu Araki (13-1-1, 2) make his first defense of the title, and take on the unbeaten Atsushi Takada (6-0-3, 3).
In another world both of these men could easily be unbeaten, in fact it wouldn't take a huge rewriting of history to see the men come into this bout with records of 15-0 and 9-0, and whilst that may have looked nicer on paper it should be noted that both are excellent young fighters.
The once beaten champion began his career in 2014, fighting to a split decision draw against Koichi Uryu. Just 4 months later Araki would defeat Uryu in a rematch, beginning a 4 fight winning run. That run came to an end in September 2015 when he lost a split decision to Tenta Kiyose, with essentially 1 round costing him a split decision win. Since then he has reeled off 9 straight victories, including notable ones against Yuto Nakamura, the Japanese Youth Super Flyweight champion, Ryuto Owan, a previously unbeaten prospect, and Morihisa Iju, who reached the 2014 West Japan Rookie of the Year final.
Sadly we've not managed to see much of Araki, a problem we often have with Japanese fighters who typically compete outside of Tokyo. Despite the lack of footage we have been told that he is a talented fighter and has a very busy jab, a light flowing style and the ability to press the action in the later rounds. He's not the most powerful or strongest, but he is a talented and smart fight with good straight punching, and solid body shots.
Aged 21 Takada is the younger man, Araki is 24, and he began his career in 2015. Strangely he too began with a draw, unable to get over the line against Wolf Nakano. A 3 fight winning run was interrupted when he dropped to Flyweight and was held to a draw by Kyomu Hamagami. A second 3 fight winning run also ended with a draw, when Hironori Miyake hold him over 8 rounds. Look at his record we do see a strange symmetry to his results and notable weight changes, fighting at Super Flyweight on debut, moving up to Bantamweight, then down to Flyweight, back to Super Flyweight and now back up to Bantamweight. He's a growing youngster, though we do wonder just how strong he is at 118lbs.
Takada is also lacking in terms of footage, even Boxingraise has no footage of him or Araki, despite that we have been told that he does hit harder than his record suggests, is aggressive and has a mean left hand, which he fires off with very respectable timing and power.
Given the lack of footage it's hard to make a prediction on this one. Araki does however have the advantages in experience and home advantage, and we would make him the favourite on the little footage of the two men we have seen, but it is a toss up, and that's part of what makes these Japanese youth title fights so interesting.
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.