This coming Thursday we'll see world ranked Japanese Flyweight Ryota Yamauchi (7-1, 6) look to make his first defense of the WBO Asia Pacific Flyweight title as he takes on domestic challenger Yuta Nakayama (8-3-1, 5), in what is a step up in class for Nakayama. On paper this looks a bit of a mismatch, but on the other hand it is good to see Yamauchi staying busy, after a rather frustrating 2019 and 2020 and it does give his second shot at a professional title.
Of the two men the star here is the champion. The Kadoebi promoted 26 year old is among the most exciting young fighters in Japan, with an aggressive mentality, heavy hands and flawed defense. Those things together make him a must watch fighter and unlike many youngsters in the sport he hasn't tried to pad out his record. In fact in his first 8 bouts he has faced 6 fighters with winning records, and has fought on foreign soil, and has picked up several very, very good wins. They include victories over Lester Abutan, Yota Hori, Alphoe Dagayloan and Satoru Todaka. Sadly he does have a loss on his record, but it was a controversial one in China to Chinese fighter Wulan Tuolehazi, in a bout that saw both men hit the canvas.
In the ring Yamauchi is aggressive, he has some brilliant body shots in his arsenal, but sadly he's some defensively naive, and Wulan landed big straight head shots on him time and time again. Also he has been cut in bouts, notable against Alphoe Dagayloan, and it's fair to say that there is a lot of work he can do defensively. Despite that he's big, he's strong, he's powerful and he comes to fight. He might take a shot, but he'll look to land some himself in return, and applies consistent, calculated pressure coming forward, which means his fights will, typically, be fun to watch.
Nakayama on the other hand has been a professional since 2016 and hasn't really managed to shine. He began his career going 1-1-1 before reeling off 5 straigth wins, building some moment against some some poor opposition. Since then however he has gone 2-2, before stopped twice, and hasn't looked like he belongs at title level. His most notable bouts so far are losses to Ryuto Oho, who beat him in a JBC Youth title fight, and Yuto Takahashi, who stopped him in a round before going on to win the Japanese Light Flyweight title. Although Oho and Takahashi are, or in Takahashi's case was, decent neither man is a big puncher, and neither man is a naturally strong and powerful fighter yet both stopped him. In regards to his best win, it's probably his TKO win over MJ Bo, a man that Yamauchi has also beaten.
Although not a bad fighter, by any stretch, Nakayama is also not a great fighter. He lacks fight changing power, his defensive is open and when he throws shots they are often very wide, leaving him even more open. He has a nice jab, his best punch, but it's hard enough to get respect from opponents and he seems to struggle with pressure, as we saw against Oho. There's a good boxer there, or at least the potential for him to be a good boxer, but in reality, he's very, very much a work in progress and it's a shame in many ways that he's so early in his development. With some polish he has got the potential to make a mark on the domestic scene, but as he is he's the sort of fighter who is made to order for Yamauchi.
We expect to see the champion pressing from the opening bell, getting inside and breaking down Nakayama with body shots. They will take the legs away from the challenger, who will struggle to get his own shows off. After 2 or 3 rounds Nakayama will be feeling the pressure and will either be broken down to the point of the referee stopping it after a knockdown or his corner pulling him out accepting the bout is a lost cause.
Prediction - TKO3 Yamauchi.
On November 19th we'll see Ryuto Oho (11-4-1, 3) make his first defense of the Japanse Youth Light Flyweight title, as he takes on once beaten challenger Yuta Nakayama (6-1-1, 3) at the Korakuen Hall. For the champion it's a chance to build on recent wins over Hideyuki Watanabe and Tetsuya Tomioka, as well as recording his first defense, whilst Nakayama will be getting his first title fight and a chance to claim his first career silverware of any kind.
The 23 year old champion has been around the Japanese scene for a while already, having debuted more than 6 years ago. His early career was full of promise and in 2013 he went on to claim the Japanese Rookie of the Year crown at Flyweight, picking up impressive wins against the then 6-0 Yuji Okinori in the East Japan final and the then 5-1-1 Yukiya Hanabusa in the All Japan final. Sadly that early promise faltered in 2014 when he suffered defeats to Joe Tanooka and Katsunori Nagamine, with a draw to Shuji Hamada being sandwiched between those two losses. A string of wins in 2015 and 2016 ended when he was out pointed by Yuta Matsuo and then, in 2017, he was stopped in a round by Seigo Yuri Akui. Thankfully his career has gotten back on track with his last two bouts both being wins, including his Youth title triumph.
Oho is an aggressive fighter, who comes forward, looks to attack behind his jab and moves well. Sadly when he lets his bigger shots go he looks very open and wild, dropping his left hand when he throws his looping right over the top. Although he's quick he does look easy to time and his power doesn't look like it's hugely intimidating at this level. Whilst not massively powerful his aggression is exciting and he will break fighters down, though will need to hope he doesn't get caught before they wilt to his pressure.
Nakayama turns 23 just days before this fight, but he'll know that this is a great chance to make his mark on the domestic scene at such an early stage in his career. He debuted in July 201 and went 1-1-1 through his first 3 bouts, but has rebuilt brilliantly with 5 straight wins. Those wins include a decision victory over Tatsuhiro Toguchi and a stoppage victory over Filipino Powell Balaba. Not only has he reeled off a string of wins, but he has stopped 3 of those 5 opponents, suggesting that he's finding some power in his shots too, and it's likely that he's starting to develop his man strength and correct his punching technique. This is however a step up in class, and we'll have to see how he copes with a fighter as talented and as skilled as Oho.
Nakayama is a good mover, who is light on his feet, protects himself well and is able to make opponents miss, and make them pay. He is a little loopy with some of his punches but they still have a crispness to them that look like they would pick holes in a defensively flawed fighter, or a fighter who falls short when attacking him. His movement is really his key strength and impressively he appears to be able to stay on his toes pretty well, even if an opponent is pressing him hard.
Oho is the more well known fighter but stylistically we suspect he will be in trouble here. His pressure is made to order for Nakayama, who we suspect will pick him apart when he comes forward and will counter him regularly before forcing a stoppage in the later stages. Oho will have some real moments early on, but we see him tiring and being stopped, with Nakayama taking control as soon as Oho slows down a touch.
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.