This coming Saturday fight fans in Kobe will get the chance to see a new Japanese Youth Light Flyweight champion being crowned, as Yuga Inoue (11-2-1, 2) and Aoba Mori (7-2-1, 1) face off for the currently vacant title, which was vacated earlier this year by Yudai Shigeoka.
For Inoue this will be his second shot at a title, following a loss to Kai Ishizawa back in a 2018 clash for the Youth Minimumweight title, whilst Mori will be getting his first shot at a belt. For both men however this will be regarded as a great chance to put their name on the map and potentially open doors to bigger and better fights down the line. Given they are both young, they will both know a loss isn't the end of the road, but a win would be a huge boost to their standing in the sport.
Of the two men it's the 22 year old Inoue who is the more known. Despite the surname, he's not related to "Monster" Naoya Inoue, or the always fun to watch Takeshi Inoue, and unlike those men he's also not from a massive area, fighting out of Hyogo rather than Tokyo. Despite that he has managed to carve out a solid career for himself since debuting as a teenager in 2016. He went unbeaten in his first 8 bouts, won the 2017 All Japan Rookie of the Year and gave Kai Ishizawa fits back in 2018. Since the loss to Ishizawa Inoue has gone 4-1 with his sole loss being a competitive one to Daiki Tomita, whilst he has picked up good wins against Daiki Kameyama, Katsuya Murakami and Tetsuya Mimura.
In the ring Inoue is a very skilled boxer mover. He's light on his feet, has a very solid jab, uses upper body movement really well and despite not having much power he does put his shots together really well. Inoue's big problem is that he can't get respect of opponents, which is a real shame as he's an excellent boxer, with a lot of good technical skills, and an exciting style. At times he can look a bit deliberate with what he does, but he's certainly able to mix things up thanks to his fast, crisp shots, and lovely combinations.
Mori is 21 years old, and like Inoue debuted as a teenager, back in 2017. Unlike Inoue however his career didn't get off to a great start, losing in his debut against Kaito Takeshima. In fact Mori could easily have been 0-7 in his first 7 bouts, instead of 5-2, with all of his early wins being razor thin decisions that could easily have gone the other way. Since those early struggles however we have seen Mori begin to mature and last time out he scored his first stoppage win, taking out Keisuke Iwasaki. Now in his early 20's he seems to have matured from a young, light punching kid into a youngster with enough power to get the respect of his opponents, even if he will never be a KO artist.
In the ring Mori is flawed but a fun to watch youngster who brings pressure, and an exciting style. Sadly he really does lack power, and while he is maturing he doesn't look a physically imposing kid, or someone who's ever going to have true fight changing power. Instead he seems like someone who's going to be in fun fights, but has a style which will lead to him losing bots and taking punishment when he faces better fighters. The key to Mori's pressure is his upper body movement, and he is a fighter who is hard to catch clean, lets his hands go and fighters like someone who trusts his chin, when he needs to.
We expect to see Mori coming forward, pressing and trying to make this into a war, forcing the tempo and letting shots go. Sadly for him we don't think he'll get Inoue's respect, and instead we're expecting to see Inoue land a lot of clean jabs, slowly chipping away at Mori. As the rounds go on, the shots of Inoue will begin to break down Mori, who'll show his toughness and see out the final bell, but will finish the bout with a swollen face and battered looking face.
Related - UD8 Inoue
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 we're going to see a new Japanese Youth champion being crowned at Bantamweight as the enigmatic and exciting Takahiro Tai (3-0, 3) takes on the talented but light punching Fumiya Fuse (10-1, 1) in a very interesting and well matched bout between two promising young fighters. Both men are 23 years old, both a very well regarded, both are seen as very promising fighters and they have very, very different styles.
Of the two men Fuse is the more experienced and the more technically well schooled fighter. The youngster from the Watanabe Gym made his professional debut in 2017 and by the end of the year had won the All Japan Rookie of the Year crown, beating 4 unbeaten fighters along the way. The following year he made his international debut, fighting in South Korea and stepped into 8 rounds in 2019, before losing to the brilliant Toshiya Ishii. Since that loss however he has gotten back on the right track, beating Melmark Dignos and Fuya Tomita.
In the ring Fuse is a wonderfully talented boxer, with nice hand speed, an aggressive mentality, but very light punches. Despite lacking power he is very fun to watch, lets his shots go in bunches, controls distance well with fast feet and very fast hands. Sadly Fuse's lack of power is his big downfall and he struggles to get respect of opponents, even when he lands clean, which he does a lot. He picks shots really well, switches things up well, but really can't hurt opponents and that is something that will be a major problem for him down the line. Defensively he's decent, he has a good guard and he moves well, but can be caught going in straight lines at times, thankfully it's not a common thing but it does happen.
Whilst Fuse is the more well known the more interesting fighter is Takahiro Tai, a switch hitting boxer-puncher who gets into the ring with the intention of putting on a show and increasing his profile. Unlike many impressive amateurs in Japan Tai decided to turn professional with his father's gym, and take more control over his career than had he joined a bigger gym. That has allowed him to be moved quickly and show what he can do without needing a slow build up. Although only 3 fights into his career he has already shown a real charisma in the ring, an exciting style, heavy hands and the mentality that suggests he wants to make fans sit up and pay attention. Sadly though he has also looked like a fighter who is flawed, and depends on his athletic ability, strength and power rather than his actual boxing ability.
Since turning professional, with his debut coming late last year, Tai has beaten some solid domestic level fighters, including Koichi Wakita and Joe Tanooka. He has looked flawed, open, and defensively flawed, but he's beaten the fight out of more technically capable fighters and has got the combination of speed, power, strength and aggression to go a long way domestically. He'll certainly need to polish up before thinking about international titles, and focus less on entertaining, but we dare say he has a more polished style in his locker for when he'll need it, and so far he's simply not needed it. Instead he's been happy to have fun, to entertain, and to get fans talking, even if it has resulted in him taking some extra shots as a result.
Coming in to this the speed and technical edges are both with Fuse, but the power, strength and physical side of things are all with Tai. Sadly for Fuse we think the physical side of things will be the difference maker here and that despite a good start, Fuse will be broken down in the middle rounds, with Tai going on to stop his man and win the title.
Prediction - Tai TKO6
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
One of the unique, but truly brilliant, things about Japanese boxing is their domestic Youth title. It helps stop young hopefuls from meandering early in their career's and gives them something to fight for, before maturing and preparing for a proper Japanese title fight. The title might not have the reputation of the full national title, which is one of the most highly regarded titles below world level, but it's added a new spice in recent years to the Japanese domestic scene and has given us some amazing bouts since it was created just a short few years ago.
We expect another when Tsubasa Narai (7-0, 6) and Kyonosuke Kameda (6-2-1, 5) clash for the Japanese Youth Featherweight title, and put it on the line in what should be a very, very explosive, and very exciting clash.
The match up isn't one that will get international attention, but fans at the EDION Arena Osaka are in for a real treat, between two men who are young, exciting, heavy handed and flawed. Neither are the smartest or smoothest boxer. Neither has an impenetrable defenses, but both like to let their hands go, and both have fight ending power.
Of the two men it's fair to say Kameda is the more well known. He's the cousin of the Kameda brothers, and turned professional in with a lot of noise around him, on a show that was put together essentially put together by Koki Kameda at the very start of 2018. Despite the chatter around him, and his cousin matching him up, he also actually lost on debut, being stopped in 2 rounds by Shinnosuke Kimoto. Since then however Kameda has bounced back and gone 6-1-1 (5) with his two set backs being relatively understandable ones. The first was a draw in 2019 to the awkward Ryugo Ushijima, in the East Japan Rookie of the Year, and the second was a split decision loss in the All Japan Rookie of the Year final, against Jinki Maeda.
Between his losses we saw Kameda pick up some genuinely solid wins, including a victory over the then unbeaten Tom Mizokoshi, and a TKO win over the then 5-0 Daiki Imanari. He also score a notable win last year against Daiki Asai last year. He's not the most polished fighter out there. In fact he is very much a rough around the edges fighter, but he's very heavy handed and is a freak at Featherweight, standing at around 6".
Whilst Kameda has the Kameda name helping him with his career, and with the attention he's had, Narai doesn't have that and has instead depended on making a mark with his fists. Something he has done really well. He debuted in April 2019, with a TKO win overKento Nakano, and stopped Taison Mukaiyama just weeks later. At that point it seemed like he was well on the way to a place in the 2019 East Japan Rookie of the Year, before he sadly had to pull out of the tournament. At that point in time he was fighting at Super Bantamweight. More than a year after the victory over Yazan we saw Narai return to the ring as a Super Featherweight and re-enter the Rookie of the Year, and this time he went all the way, stopping all 4 of his opponents on route to winning the All Japan tournament. In fact he stopped all 4 of his foes in the tournament in a combined 9 rounds and looked very, very impressive doing so.
Interestingly, despite being the All Japan champion at Super Featherweight, Narai isn't a big fighter. He's he's around 5'4" and will be the shorter, smaller man when he gets in the ring with Kameda. In fact Kameda will seriously tower over him. Despite that Narai looks to be the more polished boxer, he's certainly the more aggressive and the bigger puncher. He does appear to have some defensive issues, and has been tagged in the past by lesser fighters than Kameda. Given how small he is, he will have to take risks, he will struggle with the size, but if he can sneak in, land his devastating right hand, we could end up seeing Kameda's chin being given a real check.
On paper Narai is likely to enter as the favourite. He's unbeaten and will have a lot of momentum coming into this on the back of his Rookie triumph. He's in great form, the man moving down in weight, and is a very, very dangerous fighter. He is however the man who will be much smaller, and could find himself really struggling to get around the jab of Kameda. If that happens, and if Kameda fights a responsible and intelligent, performance, he could frustrate Narai, rack up the rounds, and eventually catch Narai coming in, when he gets desperate. If he can do that we suspect he'll unload and force a late stoppage, or cruise to a clear decision.
That however would take a lot of concentration from Kameda and is not something he's consistently shown through his career. Instead we suspect Kameda will look to use his jab, use his reach, but end up making mistakes and getting tagged by Narai. When that happens we expect to see Kameda seeing red and trying to fight fire with fire. When that happens it'll become a shoot out, and we favour Narai in that situation.
We might see him hit the canvas at some point, but we favour Narai here, by stoppage.
Prediction - Narai TKO4
On July 17th we'll get the next Japanese Youth title fight, and it's a mouth watering on as teenage sensation Jin Sasaki (10-0, 9) attempts to defend his Japanese Youth Light Welterweight title against second generation fighter Kaiki Yuba (7-0-2, 5), himself the Japanese Youth Lightweight champion.
Coming in to this one we have the makings of something very special. We not only have two unbeaten fighters risking their "0", we also have two men who have real power facing off, and two youngsters who are each looking to move on to bigger and better things than the youth title. In fact the bout also doubles as an eliminator for the Japanese senior title, with the winner in line to face Andy Hiraoka for the vacant Japanese 140lb title. The bout has explosive fighters, fighting for something meaningful and we really can't ask for more than that!
Coming in to this bout all the momentum is with the 19 year old Jin Sasaki, who won the title in December when he battered Aso Ishiwaki in 3 rounds. That was Sasaki's 3rd stoppage win of 2020, his fourth successive stoppage, and his 10th straight win. Not only that but was, in many ways, a fight that saw Sasaki prove a lot more than we'd seen from him in the past. Prior to that win Sasaki had been blitzing fighters, with his power and aggression being the key to his wins, and he hadn't really had to show much in terms of boxing skills. Against Sasaki however we saw him relax more and show there was more to him that brutally heavy hands in what was a career best win.
Despite being just 19 Sasaki is a special talent. He has genuinely nasty power, very under-rated boxing skills, but also a real understanding of what being a star is all about. He brings showmanship to the ring, he oozes charisma and has that must watch quality that stars have. Whether he can reach the top is unclear, but at 19 he ticks pretty much every box a fighter can tick, and he looks like someone who just "gets" it. He is someone who understands what boxing is, what he is doing in the ring, and how he needs to act to build his reputation. He is however still a boxing baby with just 21 professional rounds to his name, since his debut in 2018, and he has only been beyond 3 rounds once in his career. He's very inexperienced, and we do have question marks about his chin and his stamina, but from what we have seen he looks every bit a star of the future.
At the age of 22 Yuba is the older, more mature fighter, and standing at 5'10 he's also the taller man, but he's actually moving up in weight here having won the Japanese Youth Lightweight title in early 2020, in his most recent bout. Moving up and down the weights does however, run in the Yuba blood line with his father being the legendary Tadashi Yuba who won Japanese titles in 5 weight classes during his long and storied career. Like his father Yuba is a tall, rangy fighter, with heavy hands, but flawed defense and sadly a frustrating history of head clashes, which have resulted in both of his professional draws. Sadly for him he's not fought since January 2020, and as a result he enters this bout on the back of a long period of inactivity, but that win was the biggest of his career.
In the ring Yuba is a talented boxer-puncher who fights out of the southpaw stance. He's a patient fighter, who likes to control behind his long lead hand and line opponents up for his heavy straight left hand. At times he does seem over-eager to land his left, with his poise going as he over-extends and at other times throws the left when well out of range, but most of the time he does show good composure, timing and very good counter punching skills. Like his father he does love his own power, and in fairness to him it is nasty when he lands, but he is much more polished than his father ever was, and is a better boxer than his dad, even if he's not quite the same puncher his father became.
On paper we really like this fight. Sasaki's aggression and power against Yuba's counter punching and power. Sadly though fights aren't won and lost on paper, and we can't help but feel things are stacked against Yuba. His inactivity feels like it could be an issue, moving up in weight seems like it could be a problem, and fighting in Sasaki's home of Hachioji could also be an issue. With out the ring rust we suspect Yuba would have a real chance here with his patience, his timing and his counter shots. But with such a long lay off, we think it'll take him 3 or maybe 4 rounds to get a read on Sasaki, and that's 3 or 4 rounds he doesn't have.
We expect Sasaki to jump on Yuba, apply a lot of pressure, and take the fight to the taller man from the off. Yuba might catch him with a counter or two, but will have to take some heavy leather in the process, and we suspect that Sasaki will hurt Yuba when he lands. Yuba will try to fight back, but we suspect the added weight and strength of Sasaki will play a major role in breaking him down, and this could be over in 4 rounds with Sasaki picking up his latest win.
Don't get us wrong, Yuba has a chance. He has the power and skills to catch Sasaki, and if he does we could see our prediction turn out to be very wrong, but we're backing the teenage terror here.
Prediction - TKO4 Sasaki
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
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 April 21st we'll see Japanese Youth Minimumweight champion Kai Ishizawa (7-1, 7) returning to the ring for his first bout of 2021, and his first defense of that Youth title, that he has now held for well over 2 years. In the opposite corner to the exciting champion will be unheralded challenger Yuni Takada (8-6-2, 3), who really is a massive under-dog coming in to this.
For those who haven't seen Ishizawa you have been missing out on one of the most exciting and destructive Minimumweights on the planet. The 24 year old from Kanagawa is an all pressure fighter with seriously spiteful power, which will easily carry up to Flyweight without any issues. He's a come forward fighter, with under-rated defense, real hunger and a style that is developing fight by fight and he gets moulded by the folk at the MT Gym in Japan, who also guide the career of Junto Nakatani.
As an amateur Ishizawa went a rather under-whelming 28-14 but turned professional aged 20 and quickly caught the eye, winning his first 4 bouts in a combined 10 rounds, including a very good win over Tatsuro Nakashima. In November 2018 he showed his desire and toughness to break down Yuga Inoue in the 6th round, despite being out boxed for swathes of the fight, to claim the Japanese Youth title, though sadly really just sat on the title whilst chasing bigger things. He was on the verge of bigger things in 2019 when he competed in a Japanese eliminator against Masataka Taniguchi, and even dropped Taniguchi, but he was unable to defeat his countryman who took a clear decision over the youngster. Sadly Covid19 then delayed his ring return and he was inactive for 13 months as a result, before bouncing back last October with a win over veteran Masashi Tada.
Aged 24 Ishizawa is at the age where Youth champions are essentially forced to vacate the title and this will likely be his one and only defense before restarting his pursuit of the senior title later in the year. With a bit more maturity under his win and a few more bouts we suspect he will be ready for a rematch with Taniguchi sooner rather than later.
As for Takada he's had a very mixed career. The 22 year old debuted in 2015, winning his first 2 bouts before going 3-2-1 after 6 bouts. From there on he seemed to come undone every time he had any momentum going, in what has been a very blotchy 10 fight run. At his best he can be a very capable fighter and his win against Shunsuke Isa was good proof of that, as was his draw with Hizuki Saso. Sadly though his best is only that of a "capable" fighter, and at times he has been a lot less impressive than that. He has also never really tested any of his better opponents, including Toshiki Kawamitsu, who stopped him in 2019, and Norihito Tanaka, who took a decision over him last year.
Takada has got the tools to ask some questions. He has hunger, he has decent movement, under-rated toughness, and a very decent hand speed. Though the problem is he doesn't have anything that really stands out about him. He uses a lot of energy, lacks power and has been stopped in 3 of his 4 losses. Against Ishizawa they are major issues for a fighter.
Early on we expect to see Takada trying to establish his jab, and his jab is the quicker jab of the two men. Sadly though we suspect he'll struggle to really establish himself, and will instead find himself under pressure form Ishizawa. Ishizawa will back up Takada with his own stiff jab, eventually working his way inside and then breaking down the challenger, who will have no answer. Sadly for Takada we saw what Toshiki Kawamitsu's pressure and work rate did to him in 2019, where Takada had a good start but was broken down and saved by the referee. We expect something similar here. But quicker.
If Takada survives 4 rounds it'll be a moral victory for him.
Prediction - TKO4 Ishizawa
One of the most exciting things about Japanese boxing right now is the Japanese Youth title scene, which has provided so many great fights over the last few years. The title might not be a sign that someone is, or isn't, destined for greatness but it is a title that is giving us some fantastic action bouts between two youngsters who are happily putting it on the line to claim a belt. We saw this in February, with a great bout between Yudai Shigeoka and Ryu Horikawa, and in December, when Jin Sasaki stopped Aso Ishiwaki.
This coming Sunday we'll see another new Japanese Youth Champion being crowned as Tom Mizokoshi (7-2-1, 4) and Satoru Hoshiba (7-4, 2) clash for the vacant Japanese Youth Super Bantamweight title. Interestingly this will not be the first time the men will have clashed, with the two having fought in a short but thrilling clash in 2019, which we'll talk about in more detail a little later on.
The title might not have the longest of lines so far, with the first champion being Takuya Mizuno in 2017, but it's a title that helped people sit up and take note of it's second champion, the highly skilled Toshiki Shimomachi, who we suspect to see big things from the future. Despite that it's certainly a title that can be used as a launch pad, and right now Hoshiba and Mizokoshi will both be wanting to launch their careers forward by winning the belt.
Of the two men the 21 year old Mizokoshi is the more highly regarded and he's seen as one of the brightest hopes at the Midori gym. As an amateur he went 9-5 though didn't wait around in the unpaid ranks long and made his professional debut in 2017, as an 18 year old, winning his debut inside a round. A draw to the then unheralded Hiroki Hanabusa in 2018 slowed his rise and a loss later that same year to Kyonosuke Kamaeda saw him fall to 2-1-1. Despite those set backs Mizokoshi found his groove and won 4 in a row, from late 2018 to the end of 2019, and was building a lot of momentum before Covid19 put a stop on boxing in Japan for most of 2020.
Sadly for Mizokoshi when he returned to the ring in August 2020 he was upset by Hiroyuki Takahara, who stopped Mizokoshi in 3 rounds and left the youngster requiring a break from the ring due to fractured jaw. Sadly that injury forced him to cancel a scheduled bout with Mugicha Nakagawa, as well as giving him his second loss.
In the ring Mizokoshi is a fun fighter to watch. At times he can look a bit timid, staying on the outside, and moving a lot, but he's looking to draw and error to counter. When he spots those errors he often explodes with a huge flurry of shots. When those errors are less forth coming he makes sure to land good, solid, single shot counters, landing the eye catching blows and then getting away in and attempt to draw another mistake. He's quikc, he's sharp and yet he also look like he can be hit, in part due to his rather low guard. It's a style that we suspect will have limitations when he steps up in class, but is certainly a fun one to watch and it's clear he is trying to entertain and fight to his strengths, which are his speed and movement. Whilst there is a lot to like about him there are major worries about his defense and his chin, and they were both shown up against Takahara last August, when a single right hand crumpled him. We also worry about his single punch power, and he negative he can look at times.
The 23 year old Satoshi Hoshiba made his professional debut way back in 2015, in fact he did so on the same show that featured Kosei Tanaka Vs Vic Saludar. Sadly for Hoshiba he was stopped in the first round in his debut, and was then stopped again in his second bout. Impressively he rebuilt his career following his 0-2 start, winning 4 in a row to reach the West representative final of the 2017 Rookie of the Year, losing a razor thin decision to Toshiki Shimomachi. Since that loss he has gone 3-1, including a good win last year against Takayoshi Suzuki. Interestingly he was supposed to face Shimomachi in a rematch late last year, for the Japanese Youth title, but sadly that bout was cancelled due to Shimomachi being ill.
In the ring Hoshiba is very different to Mizokoshi, in terms of styles and mentalities. Instead of boxing and moving he comes to fight. He looks to out work, out battle, out fight and out hustle opponents. He comes into the ring to fight, to press the action and to make opponents work every minute of every round. This saw him really impress against Shimomachi, who was unable to dictate the pacing and distance of the bout, and has seen Hoshiba give real problems to naturally better fighters. Sadly however his chin has let him down several times and walking into the fire has seen him getting burned multiple times in the past. He's exciting, but with a lack of power he really does need to rely on work rate, a lot, and it's a style that will limit his longer term potential.
We mentioned earlier that these two have fought before. They did that in 2019 when Mizokoshi managed to stop Hoshiba in 2 rounds. It is worth noting, however, that Mizokoshi was in all sorts of problems before catching Hoshiba with a perfect counter that bailed him out, and left Hoshiba wobbling whilst Mizokoshi unloaded. It was proof that Mizokoshi had heart, but also warning signs that he could be hurt.
Coming in to this it's easy to suggest that Mizokoshi should get the job done again. He's beaten Hoshiba once, and should do it again, right? Whilst we would typically agree we don't think it's all that straight forward here. Mizokoshi was hurt by Hoshiba when the men first fought and since then Mizokoshi has been stopped, in brutal and dramatic fashion. We need to wonder how his jaw is, and how much he's recovered since that loss. We're going to assume he hasn't fully recovered, at least not mentally, and with that in mind we suspect Hoshiba, if he starts fast, can leave Mizokoshi asking questions of himself. If Hoshiba keeps that up, and avoid the big counters, there's a real chance he could end up stopping his man here.
Whilst Mizokoshi is going to come in to the bout as the favourite, we're predicting an upset here. The pressure and work rate of Hoshiba, added to the damaging loss for Mizokoshi last time out, resulting in a second stoppage loss for the exciting Mizokoshi.
Prediction - Hoshiba TKO6
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.