In the second of two "Ones to Watch" this week we look at a Bantamweight contest that should have a serious over-flowing of fireworks. The previous bout we looked at in the series, between Reiya Abe and Ren Sasaki, might be a bit of a slow one, but this fight will more than make up for it in terms of action!
The One to Watch?
Kai Chiba (12-1, 8) vs Haruki Ishikawa (8-2, 6)
October 13th (Tuesday)
We all love wars and that's exactly what we expect to see here between two men who have shown power and aggression and under-rated boxing skills. We suspect the styles will gel almost perfectly and we should end up with something of a thriller, where we suspect both men will be hurt before we hear the final bell. Not just do the styles match up well, but so do the mentalities of the two men, who both like a fight. Also it's worth nothing that both men have been stopped before, suggesting that neither is carrying titanium up top.
Of the two men it's probably Kai Chiba who is the more well known, and the more technically developed. The 27 year old has been a professional since 2015 and won his first 7 bouts, scoring noteworthy wins over Ikuro Sadatsune and Ryo Matsubara along the way. By that point he was 7-0 (6) and looked like he was on his way to something big. And then he was upset by Filipino Brian Lobetania, who stopped Chiba in 4 rounds. Since then we've not really seen the same Chiba, who has gone 5-0 (2) and has focused more on his boxing than his puncher.
Although Chiba has changed his style, and is more cautious following the loss to Lobetania, he can still get dragged into a fight. We saw glimpses of that last time he faced a domestic opponent, battling against Matcha Nakagawa, where despite boxing he always seemed happy to let shots go.
Aged just 21 Haruki Ishikawa is still a boxing baby, but he has already been involved in some great action and his 2019 bout with Toshiya Ishii was one of the Japanese highlights last year. Ishikawa turned professional in 2017 and went 6-0 (5) before losing a razor thin decision in the All-Japan Rookie of the Year final in December 2018. Since then he has gone 2-1 (1) and has been fighting at a decent level, against the likes of Alvin Medura and Atsushi Takada.
At his heart Ishikawa is a fighter. He's a heavy handed type of guy, willing to let his hands go, throw bombs and take one to land one. At times he can look unpolished, raw, and green but he also looks very powerful, energetic, strong and is so much fun to watch. He'll stalk his man, march forward, look to get into range and then unload. Sadly his raw approach is likely to see him having a short career, but a very exciting one to follow.
What to expect?
We expect to see bombs away! The pressure and aggression of Ishikawa will likely force a high tempo on the bout, and even when he's not throwing he's always pressing and coming forward. That will likely work in Chiba's favour and from early on it'll be clear that Chiba is the more skilled fighter.
The big question here isn't about skill however, but how much can the two men take. Sadly we think this is another area where Ishikawa comes up short compared to Chiba. Yes both men have been stopped once, but of the two chins we feel Chiba is the tougher and move proven man.
Whilst we suspect Chiba will take home a win, likely by stoppage in the second half of the fight, we do expect this to be so much damn fun from the opening round to the end. We expect both men to take some huge head shots up close, have thrilling exchanges, and put on a show.
The bad news?
There isn't really isn't anything negative about this. It's a low-ish domestic level fight, and we know some fans do tend to avoid that level of bout, but for fans willing to put that to the side and just enjoy the bout they will not be disappointed here!
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.