On November 19th we see the start of a tournament in Japan being held in celebration of the 30th anniversary of Hajime No Ippo. The tournament had the potential to be a stinker, but in reality it looks like it could be a really, really tournament and the 7 men involved are certainly not slouches, with the likes of Richard Pumicpic and Tsuyoshi Tameda both being involved. The tournament will be made available on the Boxing Raise service and our One to Watch for this week will be one of the 3 quarter-final from the tournament. And what a potentially brilliant bout this is, so brilliant in fact that we're bringing you an early One to Watch to make sure you get the chance to catch it!
The One to Watch?
Koshin Takeshima (4-0, 3) Vs Daisuke Watanabe (9-4-1, 6)
November 19th (Tuesday)
We love seeing a lot of the things about this bout. We love tournament boxing, and wish we'd get a lot more of it, we love Japanese prospects being tested early and we love when fighters take risks. Neither Takeshima or Watanabe needed to be involved here, both are risking their rankings, with Takeshima having an OPBF ranking and Watanabe having a JBC ranking, but they both know the reward of winning the tournament is worth the risk and both want to prove what they can do.
Koshin Takeshima is a former amateur standout with an 82-19 amateur record, he was a regular in the final stages of national amateur competitions and is a very accomplished fighter who has been moved quickly in the professional ranks. Aged 24 he's a few years away from his physical prime but has shown pretty much everything he can, with a good boxing brain, the ability to do 8 rounds, a defensive awareness, good speed and solid power. There is obviously a lot for him to work on, still, but there's a lot that has been impressive about him at this early stage.
Aged 28 Daisuke Watanabe is a fully grown fighter who should be hitting his stride physically. His record is spotty to say the least, but that's been, in part, due to stiff competition including Sho Nakazawa, Reiya Abe and Toshiki Shimomachi. Despite the blotchy form he is now unbeaten in his last 4 including a notable win over former Japanese title challenger Dai Iwai. He's shown some flaws with his durability, but is a very talented fighter and his wins over the likes of Gakuya Furuhashi, Yosuke Fujihara and Dai Iwai have shown he can compete against Japanese title level contenders.
What to expect?
Unlike many bouts we talk in this weekly piece we don't expect this to be a war. Instead we're expecting a very high level boxing bout, with both men showing off their skills, and looking to keep the bout a high tempo chess match. They are both very good boxers, though we do feel like Takeshima has the edge in technique and toughness, though of course there are serious questions still over his head about how he reacts when he get caught. Watanabe might be beatable but he's got enough power in his hands to cause issues and if he can land his right hand he could have too much pepper on his shots for Takeshima.
This should be high level boxing, with a sense of danger from both, and a desire to shine in a tournament that really will help the winner put themselves on the boxing map. We wouldn't be surprised both men hurt, and both need to bit down down on their gum shields.
The bad news?
The fight is only a 6 rounder, the later stages of the tournament are 8 rounders. We would have loved to have seen these to go through an 8 rounder together and hopefully in the future that does happen
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.