The Japanese Youth title scene is a really interesting one, even though it doesn't get a great deal of attention. The creation of the Japanese Youth title was one that originally questioned, and some felt it wasn't needed, and wouldn't be valued particularly highly. There was some worries that it would prevent youngsters from chasing for the main Japanese title, and others failed to see just how many positives the title could have. Thankfully it has quickly become a staple of the Japanese domestic scene and has been responsible for many gems since it was created. Today we look at a thrilling gem between two young men each looking to win their first title, and proof that the Japanese Youth title is a prize that fighters genuinely want.
Toshiya Ishii (2-0, 1) Vs Haruki Ishikawa (8-1, 6)
Neither Toshiya Ishii or Haruki Ishikawa are fighters that we expect fans to be aware of, though both men looked to make a name for themselves in December 2019 when they put on a thriller for the previously vacant Japanese Youth Bantamweight title.
The two men had been part of a 4 man tournament for the belt. They had both come out as the clear winners in their semi-final bouts before clashing in this final, which was expected to be good, but nothing amazing. Both had shown they could fight, Ishikawa had looked like a real rugged puncher, willing to walk through bombs in the belief that his chin would take anything coming back at him, whilst his power had proven it's self as a game changer. Ishii on the other hand had been an impressive amateur before turning professional and over-coming Fumiya Fuse in just his second bout.
What we ended up getting was a brilliant mix of boxing, fighting and drama. They styles of the two men ended up gelling well, with Ishikawa looking to march down Ishii and take him out with massive power shots and Ishii feeling confident enough to box when he could and trade when he needed to.
Whilst the first round was good round 2 was absolutely insane, with some breath taking moments, including one sequence where both men were caught at the same time and both were badly staggered. Due to the fact both were staggered so badly neither man got the chance to capitalise, but by that point both had already been down, and both believed they had the power needed to stop the other.
This wasn't two kids playing boxing, this was two excellent young fighters, putting it all on the line for a belt that has been used to launch fighters towards bigger and better things, and former Japanese Youth champions like Junto Nakatani have helped prove the value of this level of title. This was a youth title bout worthy of every second of action, and one that swung one way, then the other. A truly fantastic fight and a bout that well truly belong in the 2019 Treasure Trove series.
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.