On August 9th we'll see Japanese Youth Super Bantamweight champion Toshiki Shimomachi (11-1-2, 7) make his first defense of the title title over a year after winning it. In the opposite corner to the champion will be fellow youngster Hiroki Hanabusa (8-0-3, 3), in what looks like a brilliant match up. We know not many fans will be aware of who these two are, but fans who do follow the Japanese Youth Scene will know that this is a bout to be very excited about.
The once beaten champion is a 23 year old who made his debut back in December 2015. His first 12 months or so were a struggle, as he went 2-1-1 (1) but since then he has rebuilt well, winning the 2017 All Japan Rookie of the Year, at Super Bantamweight and won the Japanese Youth title in 2019. Whilst he hasn't made too much noise he has notched decent wins over the likes of Arashi Iimi, Renan Portes and Kenta Nomura, and also has a very credible draw with Daisuke Watanabe to his name.
In the ring Shimomachi is a very talented southpaw boxer who creates space well, lines up his quick left hand but can increase the tempo when he needs to. His overall style is really relaxed, but he's also really sharp and accurate and when he lets his shots go they are thrown with bad intent. One big complaint is that he is too relaxed, and doesn't pick up the pace very often. He can look lazy, and too negative, but is very good at avoiding shots even in the middle of the ring. If, or maybe when, he can find his extra gear he looks like a man with the potential to go very far and his skills can't be questioned.
At 21 years old Hanabusa is the younger man and, on paper, he's also the man stepping up. Despite that he's actually been really impressive, winning the All Japan Rookie of the Year in 2018 showing what he could on foreign soil, with a draw against Ayati Sailike in China last year. He impressed last December when he beat Baolin Kang and looks like a real prospect for the future. Despite that he is still a youngster and a real boxing baby.
Early in his career Hanabusa looked rather awkward, his balance was poor, his threw wild shots and was rather lucky at times that fellow novices didn't make him pay. In 2019 however he rounded off his skill set pretty impressively and now seems a much more rounded, polished fighter. There are areas to work on but the 21 year old has improved so much from his early bouts. He's still not totally polished, but is becoming a much better boxer-mover and has looked very good in recent bouts.
Whilst we do see Hanabusa as being an improving fighter, he's still not as polished, smooth or natural in the ring as Shimomachi. We could see Hanabusa out working Shimomachi at times, but we expect to see the champion's natural skills and class prove to be too much over the 8 round distance. There will be moments where Shimomachi makes life difficult for himself, by virtue of his low activity, but as the bout goes on and he settles down he will end up landing more and more accurate, eye catching, blows and take a clear decision over his compatriot.
Prediction - UD8 Shimomachi
The Japanese Youth title scene has been throwing up some wonderful, weird and great fights in recent years. Whilst the aim of the title seemed to be giving youngster somethings to fight for early in their career the reality seems to be more about the titles being used to identify prospects on their way up. We've seen fighters likes Junto Nakatani and Andy Hiraoka being two great examples of this.
This coming weekend we see another Japanese youth title fight, and although neither man will be tipped a future world champion the winner will likely find themselves being pushed hard towards a national title fight.
The match up in question will see the once beaten Toshiki Shimomachi (9-1-2, 5) take on Kenta Nomura (6-2, 3) for the Japanese Super Bantamweight title, and the winner will find themselves just outside the mix for the domestic title in one of the best divisions in the country.
Of the two men it's the 22 year old Shimomachi who is going to be the favourite heading in. The talented southpaw has been a professional since December 2015 and started his career with a couple of wins before falling to 2-1-1, suffering a close loss to Yusuke Hiranuma and a draw to Yuna Hara. Since then however he has gone on a very impressive 7-0-1 run, winning the 2017 Rookie of the Year and earning a very good draw with Daisuke Watanabe last December.
We've been lucky to see a fair bit of Shimomachi's rise through the ranks and although he's still a total unknown outside of Japan the youngster is certainly a tasty fighter. He's defensively quite smart, really big at Super Bantamweight, and a good inside fighter. Technically he is a bit basic, often relying on a high guard to defend himself and make up for his sloppy foot work. For all his basic flaws he is a strong kid, he can he fires hard shots and really lets his hands go when he has an opponent in trouble, as we saw in his Rookie of the Year final. He's flawed, but fun, exciting, full of confidence and very good to watch.
Nomura is also 22 years old, though actually over a year earlier than Shimomachi, back in November 2014. Nomura would win his first 4 bouts before back to back losses, to Kota Fujimoto and Yuto Nakamura. Since those losses he has strung together back to back early wins, including an excellent KO win over Shimomoachi's Rookie of the Year foe Arashi Iimi. Those two recent wins have seen Nomura showing a bit more sting than he had earlier in his career, though the telling thing about both is that they were at Super Bantamweight, when he had mostly fought at Super Flyweight. He isn't huge at 122lbs, but it certainly seems the more natural weight for him than 115lbs.
Sadly footage of Nomura isn't as easily available as that of Shimomachi, though what is available, despite a bit older, show him to be a relaxed looking fighter, though one has a bit of an unpolished look to his work. He can throw a lovely uppercut, but his right hand is often a touch sloppy, his jab lacks snap, his defense isn't particularly tight and his movement isn't all that sharp, in fact he can look rather flat footed at times.
From what we've seen of both, which against isn't a lot for Nomura, we've got to feel that Shimomachi's aggression and finisher's instinct will be the key. At some point we believe Shimomachi will hurt Nomura and will go for the finish. He might be caught on his way in but still feel he's got to be the favourite.
Prediction - TKO5 Shimomachi
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.