For today's Treasure Trove we're looking outside of the usual places for Asian boxing, and glancing over at Pakistan for a bout that we would describe as a fun, entertaining slopfest. For those expecting high quality action you look elsewhere, however for those who want boxing's version of fast food this will be a real ride, from a country that rarely gets any attention from the boxing media. This is the sort of bout we enjoy, knowing that both men are desperate to win, and really did give their all. Even if their all isn't all that impressive.
Adil Said (0-0) vs Abbas Ali (0-0)
The bout in question took place in October 2020 in Islamabad and pit debutants Adil Said and Abbas Ali, also spelled "Abbass Ali", against each other in a 4 round Middleweight bout. Coming into this neither man had any professional bouts to their name, and that likely showed given just how raw they were in the ring. Despite that neither man wanted to begin their professional career with a loss.
Of the two men Said was the older man, aged 26, and the heavier man on the scales, weighing in at 158lbs. He was based in Mardan, about 140KM or almost 90 miles from Islamabad, and that was essentially all we knew about him coming into this bout.
Ali on the other hand was 22 years old, came in at 154½lbs and came from Kamalia, which is about 430KM or around 200 miles from Islamabad. Other than that there was little to read into him.
In all honesty we went into this one blind when the bout was uploaded by the Pakistan Boxing Council, weeks after it took place. That however hardly mattered when the fight began and we were instantly entertained by the in ring action.
At the start of the bout Said rushed towards Ali and within seconds bombs were being thrown by both men. Neither man looked polished, or particularly well schooled in the first 20 seconds, but it was clear that both men were in there to let their hands fly and that's exactly what they did. Sadly for Ali it was often Said getting the better of the exchanges and his lack of defense was being punished. Ali tried to fire back but every time he did he seemed to come off second best, with Said landing some big but crude straight left hands. To end the round they just stood, squared up and unloaded bombs in a thrilling finish to the round that looked truly brutal.
It was really clear that neither man was technically well school, but they were well matched, and evenly crude, making for a really compelling round of crude, brawling, sloppy action.
The two men came out hungry in round 2 and again it was Said on the front foot, looking the bigger, stronger, more powerful man. Ali knew he was outsized but tried to be game, tried to use his quicker feet to avoid a tear up. Sadly for him however he couldn't stay off the ropes and Said pinned him against up against the ropes, unloading until the referee stepped in and waved it off.
Again this isn't the most skilled fight, it really is two raw novices swinging away at each other. Despite that the bout is wonderfully entertaining and wildly exciting. We also want to add that the commentary for this is brilliant. It was as if the commentator had little understanding of the sport, and was easily excitable as a result, adding to the raw entertainment factor. This looked like a fight outside of a pub on a Friday night, and whilst that can be a bad thing, it made this bout more endearing and was a very fun all debutant clash.
Expect to be entertained, but not impressed here!
Usually in this serious we look at the best bouts, the most exciting action and the best back and forth. Sometimes however the fights we feature in the Treasure Trove are not included due to the action of the bouts, but rather the fighters involved in them. That's the case today as we shine a light on a hugely enigmatic fighter who caught our attention when he made his debut in December and put on a performance that we feel deserves to be viewed again. It was interesting, it was exciting and it was very much a "non-Japanese" style performance from someone who wanted to make an impression from the off.
Takahiro Tai (0-0) vs Ryosei Hamaguchi (6-6, 2)
The debutant in question was Takahiro Tai, a young switch hitter who had been a solid amateur on the Japanese scene before turning professional under the gym run by his father. Before his debut he had spoken about wanting to show what he could do in the professional ranks and seemed like an ambitious youngster, looking to race through the ranks at a young age. He wanted people to remember his name, to sit up and to take note of him. At this point in time he was just 23 and despite being young he was very much the sort of fighter who wanted to grab attention and not waste time to create a buzz about himself.
In the opposite corner was 24 year old Ryosie Hamaguchi, who had debuted in 2015 and had had mixed success. Up to this point he had fought 12 bouts, and despite losses piling up he had shared the ring with some decent opposition, such as Yuki Iriguchi and Toshiki Shimomachi. Sadly coming in to this bout his form had been faltering, and he had lost his previous 3, and 4 of his previous 5, but came into this with a point to prove. He didn't want to be shown up by a debutant, he didn't want another defeat on his record and he wanted to kick start his career against a some what cocky fighter. He wanted to give Tai an introduction to the professional ranks.
The confident Tai came out southpaw but after just 10 seconds made his first switch and quickly began fighting with his hands at his waist. It was a weird start for a man in his debut, given that so many fighters on their debut show nerves and focus on winning rather than looking stylish or flash. It was also not a very Japanese style, with Tai's style looking more like of Emanuel Augustus than a typical Japanese one. Switches were a regular thing through the round, as was Tai opening up with some wild, wide shots, that were thrown with bad intent. He was being caught, quite a bit, himself, but he really didn't seem to be phased by anything and was instead trying to entertain, show what he could do and show glimpses of the flash and style that he had been talking about before his debut. He was, in some ways, the perfect mix of clowning and action, and within a round it was hard to look away from him as we really didn't know what was about to happen next.
I n round 2 Tai looked a bit more serious and the clowning was toned down a notch as he got more aggressive. That was afor around 20 seconds before the clowning resurfaced and he began to try and embarrass Hamaguchi. Sadly Hamaguchi had no answer. When he let his hands go Hamaguchi would be punished, when he showed some ambition Tai would cover up and counter, and it was clear the men were operating on totally different levels. That was shown even more when Tai put his man down with a sweeping left hand. Hamaguchi beat the count but Tai wasn't there to waste his time and a follow up left forced the referee to jump in.
For those expecting a competitive bout this wasn't one of those. For those wanting to see a debutant entertain and show a fun, flashy style this is perfect. This was entertainment first, this was almost exhibition stuff at times from Tai who looks like a genuine character. He might not be the sensational talent he thinks he is, and he will almost certainly need to tighten up to reach title level, but there's no denying that this youngster caught our attention and made us desperate to see more and more of him. We think his cockiness will catch up with him one day, but until that happens we're going to enjoy the new clown of Japanese boxing thanks to this performance.
The Treasure Trove series is designed to share fights you might have originally missed, but are worth watching. That's because they are either controversial, exciting, dramatic or a showcase of a top prospect. For today's bout we are looking at a dramatic one from the East Japan Rookie of the Year final. It didn't have the clearest of endings, but it did have drama and action and featured one of the men regarded as one of the favourites for the tournament. It was a bout we had high expectations from and it was a bout that delivered more than expected.
Kosuke Tomioka (4-0, 3) vs Shunpei Kubo (5-1-1, 3)
the bout in question was the East Japanese Rookie of the Year final at Super Flyweight, a division that tends to see Rookies make a solid mark on the Japanese, Oriental and even world scene after the tournament finishes. Given the division is one of the most notable for the Rookie of the Year the match up already had attention on it, and that was before we even looked at the fighters in question.
The younger of the two men was the unbeaten Kosuke Tomioka, a charismatic, almost cocky, youngster who had impressed in his first 4 bouts. He was a touted amateur at junior level, came from the Tomioka boxing family which included him, two brothers and his cousin, and was regarded as one of the hot favourites for the tournament. He was just a teenager but he was widely seen as a super stud with talent, speed, reactions and enough experience from the amateurs to be a star.
In the opposite corner was the unheralded Shunpei Kubo, a 23 year old who had won his first 3 bouts before suffering a TKO loss to Rui Ikari in 2019. He had bounced back with 2 wins but was then held to a draw by Aito Abe, in what was a real hidden gem of a 4 rounder. Despite the older man, and the more experienced professional, he was seen as the under-dog, and the man expected to pick up a loss. He was fully aware that he was the under-dog but that hardly mattered, and he was there to win. In fact he was determined to prove the pre-fight perceptions very wrong.
At the opening bell Tomioka was half way across the ring and seemed relaxed whilst looking to control the action from the middle of the ring. Kubo seemed wary of making mistakes and didn't give Tomioka much to counter in the first minute, and it was clear Kubo was wary of Tomioka's power and speed. Despite being cautious Kubo did land some solid shots through the first round, particularly with his right hand, making the most of Tomioka's rather low guard. It was a technical first round, but one that seemed to suggest that both men knew what was at stake, and it had a very clear sense of tension.
The action picked up in round as Tomioka began to land powerful single shots, including a huge left hand that dropped Kubo about a minute into the round. Following the knockdown Tomioka went hunting, landing a number of solid shots, though Kubo took them surprisingly well. It seemed like Tomioka was zoned in and regularly landing hard lefts up top, he seemed to have found his groove, his timing and his range and Kubo was forced to take some genuine punishment without landing much himself.
In round 3 Kubo began pressing with a little more intensity and backed up Tomioka and within 20 seconds of the round starting the pressure had success as he dropped Tomioka with a right hand. Tomioka rushed to his feet, holding the ropes, as the referee looked at him and quickly decided he was unfit to continue.
The stoppage seemed a quick one, and soon after the fight Tomioka looked fine. It would have been good to have seen the referee take the mandatory 8 to make a decision, but the finish aside, this was one to watch. We had technical action, we had drama, and given the ending we also had some controversy. All in all a short, tense, but exciting fight, with a drama turn around, and a bout well worthy of a watch if you missed it the first time around.
Takahiro Onaga is a regular contributor to Asian Boxing and will now be a featured writer in his own column where his takes his shot at various things in the boxing world.