This coming Thursday we get one of the most compelling match we've seen all year, as the unbeaten pairing of Ryutaro Nakagaki (2-0, 2) and Ayumu Hanada (6-0, 4) battle for the vacant Japanese Youth Super Flyweight title. Not only is this a title bout however, but it's a match up between two of the best young Super Flyweights on the planet and is a match up that will see the winner put on the fast track to more senior and more well recognised titles.
Not only are the two men talented unbeaten youngsters, but they are also fighters who have come from very different boxing back grounds. The 21 year old Nakagaki was a product of the Japanese amateur scene, and one of the very best amateurs in Japan over the last few years. Not only was he a good amateur but talent scouts were raving about him, and he ended up signing with the very highly regarded Ohashi Gym, the same gym that has developed fighters like Naoya Inoue and Akira Yaegashi. Hanada on the other hand never had that amateur development and instead left Japan all together to debut as a baby faced youngster in Mexico, developing his skills away from home, and when he finally returned back to Japan he didn't end up with a major gym, but instead chose a gym that allowed him more control of his career.
Despite having very different paths to this bout, the men are both well regarded, and seen as very, very bright hopes for the future.
Aged 21 Nakagaki is the older man, and the talented southpaw genuinely looks like a very special talent. In fact he legitimately looks like one of the best prospects in world boxing, despite having only had two professional bouts to his name. As an amateur he went 82-15 (19), won 8 amateur titles and looked like something very special. When he turned professional Mr Ohashi seemed really excited about the youngster, though did worry about his lack of power, something that was certainly questionable when he was an amateur. Since turning professional however he has looked like the consummate boxer-puncher, with brilliant pure boxing skills, very spiteful power, very sharp punching and sensational shot selection.
Since making his professional debut in October 2020 Nakagaki has shown everything a fighter can show in just 2 bouts. On debut he took out the limited Shohei Horii, in 2 rounds, then stepped up and looked even better when he stopped Yuji Okinori in 4 rounds, showing brilliant body work in that bout. So far he has looked brilliant and we expect to see that continue here.
Hanada on the other hand debuted as a professional way back in 2018 as a 16 year old in Mexico. It was in Mexico that he had his first 4 boiuts, going 4-0 (3) before returning to Japan in 2019 for his first contest in the country, albeit one not recognised by the JBC or Boxrec. Last year he finally JBC license and began and made his official Japanese debut in December 2020 when he blitzed Ryuku Nagamine in just 100 seconds. Since then he has added a second win, albeit in a very competitive bout with Mammoth Kazunori this past April, in what turned out to be a very good test for both of the youngsters.
In the ring Hanada looks almost like a discount store version of Ricardo Lopez. That's certainly not meant as an insult, but it's clear he's looking to build his style around the legendary Mexican fighter. His poise, balance and combinations are very much like that of "Finito" and it's clear the Mexican training has really sculptured his in ring style He's measured, he's talented, heavy handed, young, promising and really likes to do things in a technical style.It's a joy to watch when he pulls it off, though he is very much a work in progress, and lets be honest there's not been many fighters even close to being as good as Lopez. In the bout with Kazunori in April we saw a number of issues with Hanada that he will need to work on, but as a 19 year old boxer-puncher, he looks like he has an excellent future ahead of him, if he gets the right training and the right match ups.
With both of these men being boxer-punchers, this has the potential to be a very high level bout, though it's really the difference, rather than the similarities, that we think will decide the fight. Hanada is the more raw fighter, he has a lovely style, but one that needs significant polishing and work. He looks like he's trying to replicate a master boxer, but lacks the experience to really pull it off. At the moment. Nakagaki on the other hand is a very polished fighter, relying less on his power and more on his skills and speed and punch picking.
For us the bout is coming way too early for Hanada. He has a punchers chance, but that's all we see him having here. We expect to see Nakagaki out boxing, out skilling and out fighting Hanada, potentially even scoring another stoppage, late in the bout, with body shots.
No matter who wins or loses here however, we expect to see huge things from both men in the future, and don't be surprised if the winner and loser both end up competing at the world level before the end of the 2020's.
Prediction - TKO7 Nakagaki
The Japanese Youth title scene kicks up another fantastic match up on October 19th as we see unbeaten youngsters clash for the Super Flyweight title. in one corner will be 20 year old Tetsuro Ohashi (7-0-1, 2), looking to build on his 2018 Rookie of the Year win, whilst the other will play host to fast rising 23 year old Suzumi Takayama (2-0, 2) in what looks like an excellent match up, between men with very contrasting styles.
Takyama ran up a 35-16 (10) amateur record before turning professional with the Watanabe gym and making his debut this past February, as part of the card headlined by Vic Saludar's world title defense against Masataka Taniguchi. His debut, a 3rd round KO win over Rungniran Korat Sport School, showed enough to get excited about him, but hard to read too much into things, given the limitations of the Thai. What was exciting however was that Watanabe gym were willing to step him up quickly, which they did in his second bout and are doing again here. One thing that is clear about the Watanabe gym is they don't want their prospects to waste time and will instead allow the talent to shine as quickly as possible.
Having only turned professional in February there's not much footage of Takayama available, though thankfully his second bout, against Korean southpaw In Soo Jang, is available on Boxing Raise. The footage of Takayama's contest with Jang is short but but shows a composed, sharp punching young man who looks like he has a solid straight left hand and a very good right hook,to body or head. There is still work to do defensively and in terms of gauging distance against a fellow southpaw, but he looked good, stopping the Korean inside a round.
Whilst Takayama has the amateur background to allow him to be fast tracked the same can't be said of Ohashi who who made his debut in June 2017 and after picking up 3 wins that year. In 2018 he progressed quickly, winning the All Japan Rookie of the Year in December, when he shut out Shinobu Wakagi over 4 rounds. Watching Ohashi we see a very quick fighter who looks to fight on the outside, using his feet and his jab. He looks jittery in the ring at times but very sharp and like he's on a different level of speed compared to opponents. His jab, especially when it's doubled, is fantastic and the way he moves around the ring looks really natural and not like a youngster who has only been a professional for a couple of years.
We like who Takayama fights, we like his speed, his movement and the way he uses his jab to score points and punish opponents when they over commit. Sadly though he looks like a kid in the ring, his lack of physicality and power is an issue, and issues that can be hard to over. He's really skilled, but looks like he's not yet matured into his frame, and that could be something that doesn't happen for a year or two yet. Against a fighter like Takayama, who is a physically mature fighter, that will be an issue.
We feel Ohashi has the skills to have some early success against Takayama but in the end the power and strength of Takayama will be the difference. Whatever early success Ohashi can get on his speed will be erased by Takayama's power in the middle rounds, as his shots began to take a toll on Ohashi. When Ohashi slows it'll be the start of the end for him and Takayama will take him out in the later rounds.
Prediction - TKO7 Takayama
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.