When we think about fights that get us excited there is a general rule of thumb. Do we have two guys with styles that should gel? If so are those styles aggressive and exciting? If the answer to both of those questions is "yes" then we get super excited about what we could end up seeing, knowing perfectly well that we may well get something a little bit special.
With that in mind we're expecting something special on May 19th when we get the chance to see OPBF Welterweight champion Ryota Toyoshima (13-2-1, 8) take on WBO Asia Pacific champion Yuki Beppu (21-1-1, 20) in a brilliant unification bout, which could a genuine FOTY contender. Even if neither man is particularly well known outside of Japan. In fact it wouldn't be the first FOTY contender for either man, with both well known for fan friendly bouts, their limitations and their aggressive in ring mentalities. It will also be a bout where both men are wound a little bit tighter than usual, following the fact this bout was delayed, having originally been planned for May 5th.
Aged 30 Beppu is the older man, though is certainly not an older fighter by any stretch. In fact his 23 combined bouts have only lasted 64 rounds, and his career, which started in 2012, has not been a punishing one. At all. Beppu debuted in late 2012 and began to build some traction in 2013, before winning the All Japan Rookie of the Year in 2014, stopping future Japanese Light Middleweight champion Hironobu Matsunaga in 2 rounds in the final, to record his 7th straight TKO victory. He would extend that stoppage run up to 14 straight wins before fighting to a draw, in 2017, with the tough Charles Bellamy. After a few more blow out wins he suffered his first loss, in a Japanese elimiator against Yuki Nagano and, and then scored his first decision win in 2019, when he out pointed Jason Egera. It was however his December 2019 bout that put him on the boxing map, as he defeated Ryota Yada in an instant classic. That bout saw Beppu being dropped 5 times, but stopping Yada in round 10 to claim the WBO Asia Pacific Welterweight title. Sadly he's not been in the ring since that title win.
At his best Beppu is a scarily heavy handed boxer-puncher. Defensively he's not the best, and given Yada dropped him 5 times his chin is very questionable, but his heart, determination and will to win is incredible. His footwork is under-rated, his movement is also better than people give him credit for and he is certainly a more rounded boxer than most realise. Given how many times he got up against Yada it's clear he's a very determined fighter, and a determined fighter, with fight changing power is never an easy out for anyone. Sadly however he is a man who is easy to hit and despite being a power puncher he is a naturally smaller Welterweight, which is likely to be a real issue for him here, but not something that he can't, potentially, over-come.
Aged 25 Ryota Toyoshima is a man who debuted in 2014 and didn't really managed to make much noise early on. He fought to a draw on debut and suffered his first loss in his 4th professional bout, losing to Masaharu Kaito. He rebounded well, winning the 2016 All Japan Rookie of the Year before losing against to Kaito in 2017. That loss left the then 21 year old sporting a 7-2-1 (5) record, but he has rebuilt really well since then scoring 6 wins in a row, including recent wins over Moon Hyon Yun, Woo Min Won, Masafumi Ando and, most notably, Riku Nagahama, with the win over Nagahama netting him the OPBF title.
In the ring Toyoshima is an aggressive fighter who comes forward behind a tight high guard, he presses, and pressures and when in range he lets shots fly. He's not the most technical or the most defensively, especially when he lets his hands go, but he can take a good shot and has very respectable power himself. In fact he's willing to take one to land one, due to his power and chin. Whilst he does have a solid, stiff, jab, he doesn't use it as much as he should, and instead plods forward trying to get angles for his hooks and straight right hand. It's a tactic that can look sluggish and slow at times, but as bouts go on his pressure builds and he starts to have more and more success against fighters who are sapped from his constant forward march.
Given Toyoshima's love of marching forward, and the power of Beppu it's hard to not expect this to be an absolute tear up. Toyoshima is the less classically "skilled" of the two men, and the less powerful puncher, but he's the naturally bigger man, the stronger man and the more imposing man. Given Toyoshima has plenty of bang in his own shots there's a real chance he'll be able to put Beppu down, like Yada did, and maybe even drop him a few times. On the other hand Beppu is a determined terrier with a big bite. He will jump in an out, use his very under-rated jab and make the most of his speed.
We expect to see both men damaged here, we expect to see at least one knockdown each way, and by the end we expect to see both men looking a mess. Expect to see both men marked up, bloodied, and feeling the effects of some huge head shots.
As for picking a winner, we're going with Beppu, in a late stoppage, in what could well be the Japanese fight of the year. We think his long lay off, since late 2019, will serve him well here, especially given how Toyoshima was in a war just a few months ago. Saying that however we wouldn't be surprised at all if the referee ends up needing to wave this off, in favour of either man.
Prediction - SD12 Beppu
The Welterweight division, on the international stage, has long been the money division with a host of the best fighters on the planet competing there. We've obviously had the likes of Floyd Mayweather Jr, Miguel Cotto, Manny Pacquiao, Oscar De La Hoya and Felix Trinidad. In Asia, on the regional scene, the bouts have been far less high profile, but we've regularly had action packed bouts, where the limitations of the fighters involved have made for fun contests. Be it for the Japanese, OPBF or WBO Asia Pacific title we've had some brilliant Welterweight title bouts. On December 8th we're expecting another, as the once beaten Yuki Beppu (20-1-1, 19), dubbed the "Kyushu Tyson", takes on former Japanese Welterweight champion Ryota Yada (19-5, 16), in a WBO Asia Pacific Welterweight title bout that looks very explosive on paper.
Of the two fighters it's Yada who is the more well known. He is a former Japanese champion who is now competing in his second WBO Asia Pacific title fight. The 30 year old Osakan, dubbed the "Terminator of Naniwa", is no world beater but he is a heavy handed, aggressive and exciting fighter. In 2018 he claimed the Japanese Welterweight title with an excellent win over Toshio Arikawa and made 2 defense before losing the belt this past April to Yuki Nagano. Since then he scored just a single win, stopping Robert Kopa in 4 rounds, in what was little more than a confidence building following the loss to Nagano.
Yada is an aggressive and exciting fighter who has heavy hands, an impressive work rate but some very flawed technical issues and questions about his durability. Not only was he stopped by Nagano this year but in 2016 he was stopped by Filipino fighter Jayar Inson in a bout for the WBO Asia Pacific title, and really just got beaten up in that bout before the bout was finally stopped. He can certainly punch, but his ability to take punishment doesn't match up with his own power and he can be hurt, rocked, and stopped.
The 28 year old Beppu has been banging on the verges of a title fight for a while, and now finally gets his first shot as a belt. He made his name originally by winning the Rookie of the Year in 2014, stopping Hironobu Matsunaga in the final, but then decided to string together wins over terrible opposition. Thoise wins saw him race his record to 14-0 (14) before he was even tested, though showed he was capable by earning a draw with Charles Bellamy in 2017. Another string of low level early wins followed until he lost a competitive decision to Yuki Nagano in a Japanese title eliminator in 2018. Since then he scored 2 wins and earned this shot at a regional title.
Although Beppu has frustrated at times, and his career would have been further along had he not faced so many terrible opponents from Thailand, he is a very credible fighter on the domestic and regional title picture. He's incredibly heavy handed, tough and knows when to bite down on his gum shield. However he's technically not very sharp or quick and his competition, overall has been appalling.
Coming in to this we have two legitimate punchers. One is a more single shot puncher, Beppu, whilst the the other wears people down with heavy hands hands. We know both can bang, but we're actually more interested here in who can take the most punishment, and we suspect that is Beppu. With that in mind we suspect he'll come out on top here, in a war. We think both will land bombs, but in the end Yada will wear down and be stopped in the second half of a total thriller.
Prediction - TKO 9 Beppu
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.