On June 29th we'll see a new Japanese Youth Super Flyweight champion being crowned as Yoshiki Minato (10-5, 5) and Yasuhiro Kanzaki (7-2-1, 2) face off for the vacant title, which was last held by Suzumi Takayama who won the belt in 2019 but vacated it before making his first defense.
Of the two men the more well known is Minato, with the 23 year old having faced a number of notable fighters. He debuted in 2016, but made real noise in 2018, when he won the All Japan Rookie of the Year. During his Rookie of the Year triumph he beat Akiuo Furatani, Kenya Okada, Kyomu Hamagami and Ryohei Arakawa. Sadly though since his Rookie success, which had seen him move to 8-1, we have seen him struggling and he is 2-4 in his last 6. He has however been taking on top domestic fighters with his recent losses coming to Seigo Yuri Akui, Joe Shiraishi, Taku Kuwahara and Masayoshi Hashizume. Despite those losses he does hold some notable ones, with the most noteworthy, outside of his Rookie of the Year success, being an early KO win over Kohei Oba.
In the ring Minato is a nice, tidy boxer, with nice hand speed, most notable a lovely jab, good movement, and good timing. Sadly though he is pretty unpolished at times, and there is little real physicality to his work. He often looks like a boy against men and he can't really get the respect of opponents in the way he'd want to. He knows his way around the ring, and can certainly box, but there's a feeling he can't really fight and with stoppage losses to Seigo Yuri Akui and Masayoshi Hashizume there are also question marks about his chin, especially against senior title level fighters.
Aged 21 Kanzaki is the younger of the two fighters, though has risen quickly since making his debut in April 2019. He won his first 3 bouts before a narrow loss to Atsuki Nakamura, following that loss he bounced back well, reaching the All Japan Rookie of the Year final in 2020, losing a split decision to Akira Hoshuyama, notably both of his losses have been split decisions. Since the loss to Hoshuyama we've seen Kanzaki going 1-0-1, with a win over Yudai Yoneda last time out. Notably he has been 6 rounds twice, and gone into round 5 on two occasions, though this will be his first 8 rounder, and will also be only his second fight at Korakuen Hall.
In the ring Kanzaki is a tall, rangy fighter, who is quick, sharp, uses his height and reach well and wants to create space, often using the ring and his footwork to create range for himself. His jab is his key weapon and although he lacks power, he does seem to get full extension onto his shots a lot and looks composed. He's very much the sort of young man who looks like he will fill out in to a fighter a division or two higher than he's at, at the moment, and when his man strength comes in he will likely be a pretty nasty puncher due to his speed and reach. At the moment though fighters won't be too worried about taking one from him, though they may struggle to land consistently on him.
In many ways this has the hall marks of a very technical, yet high tempo bout, with both men looking to keep busy jab an land consistently, without much in terms of power. We suspect Kanzaki will look to make space, whilst Minato will look to come forward, which should make for some nice exchanges and some really nice moments of back and forth. Sadly for Minato however we suspect that Kanzaki is just a better version of Minato, and a taller, longer version. That will prove to be the difference with Kanzaki doing enough to win a competitive but clear decision.
Prediction - UD8 Kanzaki
For a third day in a row we get title action in Japan as Japanese Youth Featherweight champion Kyonosuke Kameda (7-2-1, 6) defends his title, for the first time, and takes on Hiroki Hanabusa (8-2-3, 3) in an interesting looking match up.
Kameda won the title back in July, when he stopped the previously unbeaten Tsubasa Narai in 2 rounds to claim his first professional title. During that bout we saw a very polished performance from Kameda, who looked relaxed, calm, confident and heavy handed. He took the first round to see what Narai had in the longer, and then hurt, and stopped Narai with some huge head shots in the second round. That was the biggest win of his career, so far, and showed the improvements Kameda has made since signing with the Harada gym.
In the ring Kameda is an awkward fighter to go up again. He's long, he's rangy, heavy handed and although he's still raw around the edges, he's dangerous and tough to get to. He's improved significantly since his debut, which he lost, and although we doubt he'll ever go on to win world titles, he certainly has the potential to mix it up at domestic and regional level, and certainly has the power to be a nightmare at this Youth title level, especially against naturally smaller fighters, such as Hanabusa. Worryingly for the Japanese domestic scene, Kameda is only 23 and could have a few years to develop his skills at the Harada gym before needing to face the top dogs.
The 22 year old Hanabusa has been a professional since 2017, and began his career as a Super Flyweight, though went on to most of his notable success at Super Bantamweight, where he won the All Japan Rookie of the Year in 2018. Heading in to 2019 it seemed Hanabusa was heading places, but a loss in 2020 to Toshiki Shimomachi and one in 2021 to Katsuya Fukui have really left him in desperate need of a good performance. Sadly those two losses have come in his last two bouts, and he has no momentum at all coming into this bout. Also he's moving up in weight, from Super Bantamweight to Featherweight, and isn't a naturally big, strong or powerful fighter.
In the ring Hanabusa is a talented boxer-mover. He lacks fight changing power, but uses the ring well, throws plenty of leather and comes to fight, but does so in a technical, efficient manner. Sadly for him he hasn't the natural size to compete at Featherweight, and although he has had solid results at Super Bantamweight, he's not really a naturally 122lb'der either. In fact he'd probably have more success at Bantamweight, though the 118lb weight class is stacked in Japan at the moment. He's a talented, aggressive, comes to win and should make for a fun dancer partner, but one without much threat.
Given Hanabusa likes to fight, he likes to throw punches and comes to fight, we expect him to bring pressure early on, try and force Kameda into a high tempo fight. Kameda on the other hand will be patient, look to create some space, relax, and then use his power, taking out Hanabusa in the first half of the fight. The size, power, and strength of the two men will be the difference maker here.
Prediction - TKO4 Kameda
This coming Wednesday fight fans in Kyoto will be watching out for a WBC world title fight, as Kenshiro Teraji defends against Masamichi Yabuki. That bout isn't the only title bout on the show however, as Aoba Mori (7-2-1, 1) takes on Yuga Inoue (11-2-1, 2) for the Japanese Youth Flyweight title. On paper this isn't a big bout, not by any stretch, but it's an interesting bout between two young men each looking to make a statement and begin to move their career's forward in a big way.
Of the two men it's Inoue who's the more well known having on the All Japan Rookie of the Year back in 20017, as well as having had a brilliant bout for the Japanese Minimumweight title in 2018, with Kai Ishizawa, and facing strong domestic competition since then. Aged 22 he is a promising fighter, even with a couple of losses to his name, but doesn't yet appear to be even close to the finish product, technically or physically.
Inoue is a very skilled boxer-mover. He's light on his feet, likes to fight behind his jab and unleash short but sharp combinations before getting out of harm. As he's grown he has developed more to his game, but still seems to lack in terms of his power game, and whilst he does look a lot stronger than he was when he faced Ishizawa he stills looks like he's a long way from reaching his physical prime and we might not see the best of him for a while still. Sadly his lack of power is an issue, and when he takes on better fighters they will try to walk him down, with a lack of respect for what's coming back. That is something he will need to work on before even dreaming of taking on the best in the country.
Whilst Inoue has been on the radar for a while the same can't be said of Aoba Mori who really isn't too well known, even by those who follow Japanese domestic boxing. The 21 year old He debuted in 2017, losing on debut up at Bantamweight, but has slowly slipped down the weights and has been fighting around Flyweight, or Super Flyweight in most of his recent bouts. Sadly his competition doesn't really stand out, and there's not really any recognisable opponents on there. On paper this is, his biggest fight so far, by a huge margin though he should come in to the ring as the bigger man, the stronger man, and trickier man, given he's a southpaw.
Whilst there isn't too much footage of Aoba out there there is enough to get a look into what he brings to the ring. He's a someone who fights very upright, uses a nice southpaw jab, though looks very inexperienced at times, and does look like someone who is a youngster at the formative years of his career. He's not sharp, his footwork is rough and he often throws his left hand whilst well out of range. Despite there there are some nice things he does and he does look aggressive, he looks like he comes to press and is improving fight by fight. Sadly, like Inoue, he lacks power and seems to slap rather than punch through the target.
Whilst we know Aoba will be the taller, bigger man, we do feel this is too much of a step up in class for him. He will have moments, but we feel that Inoue's more rounded boxing, more eye catching flurries and higher level of experience will prove to be the difference in a very competitive but drama free 8 rounder. Don't expect to see either man being all that hurt, or dropped, but that shouldn't take away from this being hotly contested, and both men having a chance to show what they can do at times.
Prediction - UD8 Inoue
On August 2nd we'll see a new Japanese Youth Minimumweight champion being crowned as Shunsuke Isa (8-3-1, 1) clashes with Yuni Takada (8-7-2, 3) for a title recently vacated by Kai Ishizawa. On paper this is a clear mismatch, with Isa being the clear favourite, however as we all know records don't fight and we can't help but think that Isa may have bitten off more than they can chew here.
The 23 year old Isa, from Kawasaki, has been a professional since 2016, when he scored a TKO win over Dai Kamimachi. Despite scoring a stoppage in his debut he has shown no power at all since then, failing to register any stoppages in his 11 subsequent match ups. Early on in his career he showed some real promise, winning his first 4 bouts before losing to Retsu Akabane in the 2017 East Japan Rookie of the Year. Since then he has had very mixed results, going 4-2-1, and struggling in a number of those wins. More notable than the results however is the fact that in 2019 he was out pointed by Yuni Takada, the man he will be facing against here.
In the ring Isa is a fun fighter to watch. Despite his lack of power he lets shots go, he uses a lot of movement, and is a surprisingly aggressive fighter for someone with little to no stopping power. He's quick, he's full of energy and he's looks like someone who could develop into a decent fighter, one day. Sadly though he looks very much rough around the edges. His lack of physical maturity and power is one thing but he's also lacking in terms of accuracy, punch selection and at times composure. Things he will improve with experience and age, but for now there are clear flaws that fighters can take advantage of.
With just 8 wins in 17 bouts Yuni Takada has the record of a very, very limited fighter. What those numbers don't show however, is that the 23 year old is no push over and that he has faced some very, very good fighters over the years. His opponents include recent Japanese title challengers Tatsuro Nakashima and Huzuko Saso, recent WBO Asia Pacific title challenger Toshiki Kawamitsu, as well as former Japanese champion Norihito Tanaka and the hugely talented Kai Ishizawa. Not only that but he's actually managed to be competitive with some of those, earning a draw with Saso and taking rounds from Ishizawa and Tanaka. So whilst his record looks poor, Takada is certainly a better fighter than his record suggests.
In the ring Takada has a really some really nice tools in his aresenal. He has an excellent jab, good movement, good balance, and under-stands what he's doing in the ring. Like Isa he lacks power, but does seem much more polished, and is very quick. We'd like to see more from him in terms of work rate, but when he does pick up his pace he does look like a real prospect, despite his record. He's also pretty accurate when under pressure, which he used to great effect in the first bout with Isa in 2019. Since then he has had some of his toughest fights, best performance and learned so much.
With Takada having already beaten Isa, and having learned so much since then, we strongly favour him here. Isa has the tools to come good, and we think he will in the future, but right now we think he lacks the power needed to get Takada's respect, or hurt him. We think that whilst he will have moments, he will be out worked, out landed and out fought, in an entertaining, competitive but clear win for Takada.
Prediction - UD8 Takada
On November 21st we're set for a really good Dangan card live on Boxing Raise. Much of the talk going into the show will be for the attractive main event, up at 140lbs. That bout however isn't the only title bout on the card, and another is a Japanese Youth Super Flyweight title bout between defending champion Suzumi Takayama (3-0, 3) and Hiroto Yashiro (2-0, 2). Despite the lack of experience for both men this has the potential to be a legitimate show stealer, and potentially the hidden gem of the entire month.
Before we talk about the bout, we need to cover a little bit of history here. Neither man is the first in their family to be an active fighter. Takayama's uncle is former 2-time world title challenger Yuji Watanabe, a former Japanese and OPBF champion and one of the most exciting Japanese fighters of the 1990's. Yashiro on the other hand is is related to Yoshimitsu Yashiro, who's cousin is Hiroto Yashiro's father, a man who is best known for his reign as the Japanese Super Featherweight champion. This shows that boxing is in the blood of both men. Both were influenced by older members of their family, both turned to boxing as kids and both have strong amateur backgrounds.
Yes they might have 5 professional bouts between them, but both are a lot more experienced than those numbers suggest.
Aged 24 Takayama is the slightly older man, and also the reigning Japanese Youth Super Flyweight champion. He made his professional debut in February 2019 following a 51 fight amateur career and has been moved very quickly, as one would assume from a man winning a Japanese Youth title in just his third bout. He had a relatively easy introduction to the professional ranks before stopping Korean fighter In Soo Jang in his second bout then scoring a tremendous win over Tetsuro Ohashi in his third bout for the Youth title. It was really that win over Ohashi that saw Takayama answering all sorts of questions. He showed he can bounce back from adversity, being dropped at one point, he showed stamina, stopping Ohashi in round 8, and that he was a determined, tough, fighter who could dig deep. He also showed what we already knew, that he was fantastic fighter, a good boxer with solid power, and the ability to box, punch or fight with a pressure style. In just his third bout he ticked more boxes than many fighters tick in the first 20 fights of their careers.
Yashiro, 23, made his debut in September 2019 and did so away from the TV cameras, stopping an over-matched Thai in 2 rounds. Thankfully however his second bout, which took place in February this year, was shown on TV and showed Yashiro to be a very good boxer puncher. He's quick, he took center ring and gradually broke down Abdul Rauf without ever needing to move beyond second gear. That however was no surprise given that Yashiro was a stellar amateur, winning 75 of 94 bouts in the unpaid ranks. Those skills that had got him so many amateur wins show through when he's in the ring. He's a razor sharp boxer, with great balance, good hand speed, impressive power, good timing and fantastic anticipation. Sadly his competition in the professional ranks is too limited to take much away from, but in terms of skills, he's evidently very good.
Although we've been impressed by both, both also have a lot of questions to answer. For example was Takayama quite lucky that Ohashi was very much a feather fisted fighter? If he wasn't would have managed to gut it out? Was he also lucky that Ohashi began to run out of steam? Admittedly that was partially a result of the pace of their bout and body work, but it's still a fair question.
As for Yashiro what's he like under adversity? Can he dig deep like we've seen from Takayama? Have his previous bouts as a professional prepared him for a bout like this one? Are his skills, by themselves, going to be enough against someone as talented, skilled, tough and heavy handed as Takayama? What's his stamina like? What's his chin like?
With those questions hanging over them this is a really hard one to call. We'd favour Takayama, due to the fact we know he can fight 8 rounds and we know he can dig deep, but this is certainly not a foregone conclusion and we can't rule out any result. The only thing we are confident predicting is a fantastic bout between two young fighters who will both have very good futures.
If pushed, we'd pick a late Takayama win. His experience over the long distance, and his performance over Ohashi being the deciding factors.
Prediction - Ohashi TKO8
Earlier this month we saw a tremendous Japanese Youth Bantamweight title fight, with Toshiya Ishii stopping Haruki Ishikawa in a 4 round shoot out that saw both men hitting the canvas. On December 28th we cut down a few pounds for another Japanese Youth title bout, as unbeaten Japanese Youth Flyweight champion Joe Shiraishi (9-0-1, 4) take on Jukiya Washio (7-4-1, 2), in an rather weak looking first defense.
The talented Shiraishi has been on a great since making his debut in May 2016 as a 19 year old. Despite a draw in his second pro bout, to Ryosuke Nasu. In 2017 the youngster would go on to win the All Japan Rookie of the Year at Flyweight, taking the unbeaten of Yoshiki Minato along the way and noting good wins over Toma Kondo and Kento Yabusaki. He sadly failed to build on his Rookie success in 2018, when he only fought once, but in 2019 he's scored a KO win against Prince Andrew Laurio of the Philippines and beating Minato in a rematch, to claim the Japanese Youth title back in September.
Although not a big puncher Shiraishi has proven to be a solid hitter with great boxing skills, a smart boxing mind. He's accurate, he punches through the target, moves well and appears to be getting better with every fight, whilst also maturing and developing physically. There are areas for him to work on, his work rate isn't great and he does look like he's still years from his physical prime, but there's so much to like about him and it's clear that he has the potential to go a very long way, if guided and matched right.
It's a bit harder to see a bright future for Washio, despite the fact the challenger is a perfectly solid fighter himself. The 22 year hasn't really scored any major wins, and is 3-4 in his last 7, but with a touch of luck those numbers could have been very different and he has been within distance of a win in 2 of those losses. It's worth noting however that he's not naturally a Flyweight, and he's looked poor at at the weight, which again isn't the most natural division for him. Arguably his best weight is actually Light Flyweight, where he has had much of his success so far.
Washio's most notable bout to date came earlier this year, when he challenged Arata Matsuoka for the Japanese Youth Flyweight title, and lost a clear but competitive decision. During the bout Washio looked better than his record would suggest. He seemed to through some very smart right hands, but looked very under-sized and under-powered against Matsuoka, who bossed the action on the front foot. Had the men both been naturally the same size the bout could have gone Washio's way, but it was so clean, even when he landed clean, this his shots just lacked in terms of power compared to that of his rival.
Sadly for Washio we see him in up against someone who is just better than him in every way. We feel that Shiraishi is too big, too good, too strong, too sharp and too smart for him. Washio will have moments, but they will be few and far between as Shiraishi gets an easy first defense under his belt, by simply boxing and moving.
Prediction - UD8 Shiraishi
The Japanese Youth Flyweight title has so much promise to help establish what the Japanese Youth titles are all about, but sadly neither of it's first two champions have really established the belt. Junto Nakatani gave it up after winning it to fight for the main Japanese title whilst Arata Matsuoka made one defense before giving it up earlier this year.
Due to Matsuoka vacating we're now set to see a new champion being crowned, as Joe Shiraishi (8-0-1, 4) takes on Yoshiki Minato (8-2, 3) for the belt this coming Monday, at the EDION Arena Osaka. The bout is the chief support contest for a card headlined by Yuki Nonaka and although a much less high profile bout, the expectation is that this will be much, much more competitive than Nonaka's. Notably it is also the second time the two fighters will have met in their young career.
The unbeaten Shiraishi, 22, is an Ioka promoted youngster from Osaka who turned professional in 2016 but really made his mark in 2017 when he became the All Japan Rookie of the Year. Along the way to his Rookie triumph he beat Minato via unanimous decision, in the first bout between the two men, before winning the West Japan Rookie of the Year against Toma Kondo and the All Japan final against Kento Yabusaki. Since winning the Rookie of the Year we've seen Shiraishi score two wins, both stoppages over international opponents, as he's taken out Stevanus Nana Bau and Prince Andrew Laurio. That newly found power is an interesting new addition to Shiraishi's game and sign that he is physically maturing and developing his technique.
Minato also debuted in 2016 and he has rebuilt well following his loss to Joe Shiraishi in the Rookie of the Year. He reeled off 4 straight wins and won the 2018 Rookie of the Year before losing inside a round to Seigo Yuri Akui this past April, a loss that really isn't anything to be embarrassed by. After losing to Shiraishi we also saw Minato, who is now 21, develop his power scoring 3 stoppages in the 2018 Rookie of the Year. Of course the loss to Akui is his latest result, and whilst that's a bad result Akui is an incredibly dangerous on the Japan scene and is much further advanced in his career than either Minato or Shiraishi.
In their first bout, which was really competitive, Shiraishi just seemed to have that extra bit of snap on his punchers and was a bit more aggressive than Minato. For both men it was their 5th bout and since then both have developed, so whilst their first bout is certainly something to look at here, we suspect a very different fight here.
Shiraishi is a quick handed, technically solid boxer-puncher, who as mentioned is adding power to his game. He's not got venom in his fists but certainly hits cleanly and can hurt opponents. He combines the clean punching with crisp combinations and smart work on the back foot. Minato isn't quite as crisp or clean with his punching but his key to victory is power and when he connects with his straight right hand he seems to really hurt opponents.
If Shiraishi can avoid the hard right hand of Minato he should have the skills and the tools in the arsenal to take win the rounds needed to take a decision, or a late stoppage. We feel that Minato's only way to win here will be a KO, he's a touch less clean with his punching, which will see him losing rounds, but that right hand really could turn the tables if he can land it clean.
Prediction - UD8 Shiraishi
Flyweights in Japan have real momentum right now. Not only do you have Kosei Tanaka at the top but fighters like Masayuki Kuroda and Junto Nakatani are both having really good runs, with Kuroda set for a world title fight and Nakatani set to make his first national title defense.
Sadly the youth level Japanese scene isn't as hot as it is at senior level, and this coming Sunday we'll see that being exemplified pretty well, when Japanese Youth Champion Arata Matsuoka (7-6, 4) makes his first defense. The champion, who won his title last December, will be taking on little known Jukiya Washio (7-2-1, 2), in a bout that doesn't really get the juices going. The champion has a less than stellar record, whilst the challenger is unknown and isn't much of a puncher.
Whilst it may not be something special on paper, we do actually expect a pretty decent fight here, and one that's much more competitive than the records suggest.
There isn't a huge amount of footage of the 24 year old champion, though rather kindly his last bout, his title win, was shared by TV channel Osaka TV. That bout was a clear decision win over Hikaru Ota, in what was one of the worst Japanese Youth title bouts on paper. In that bout Matsuoka showed what he was able to do. He was a much more skilled fighter than his record suggested, he had a really nice southpaw jab, picked his shots better than you'd expect of someone who's lost such a high percentage of his fights, and almost moved well, using the ring well to neutralise Ota before firing off his own counters. Not all his shots are crisp, and his defense could certainly do with some work, but there is a pretty talented fighter there, something his record doesn't show.
Despite looking pretty good against Ota we can't ignore Matsuoka's losses. The most recent of those came last September, when Shunji Nagata stopped him in 4 rounds. That ended a 4 fight winning streak, a streak that had followed up 4 losses in 5 bouts. In fact Ota started his career 2-5 so has turned things around really well. There is clearly a lot for him to do, but he does have some momentum here.
Sadly it's not just Matsuoka who is lacking in terms of footage but also Washio, and the only fight of his we've seen in full was his 2016 clash with Junichi Itoga. Washio, who is now 21, was just 19 when that bout took place, and it lasted just 156 second, so what we can really read into that bout is unclear. However he did look like a confident youngster, finding holes in Itoga's limited defense, and landing at will. He looked good, but Itoga looked awful and it really is hard to take too much from this bout.
Since the fight with Itoga the youngster has gone 4-2, though both of his losses were razor thin defeats. What needs to be noted is the level he's been fighting at, and that's a concern. He has really never faced anyone with real promise, and arguably his best win came in April 2017, when he beat Naoki Tanaka.
Whilst this bout isn't appealing on paper we do expect it to be hotly contest, with Matsuoka's experience, southpaw stance, and level of competition, being the difference. Whilat the bout isn't going to get much attention, it should be a solid and competitive bout, where the styles of both gel well. Neither, from what we've managed to see, like to make things messy, and although the southpaw vs orthordox stances could cause some issues, we're expecting a clean contest here.
Preduction - Matsuoka SD8
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.