One of the fun things about this series is the fact we get to go back and look over some fights from 2019 that few people would have paid any attention to, and we get to shine a light on them. Sharing some of the true hidden gems of Asian boxing from 2019.
With that in mind let us share with you, today, a brilliant little 4 round inside war between two men looking to progress to the East Japan Rookie of the Year final. This wasn't some high level chess match but instead had two men willing to match each other on the inside in what was a truly brilliant 4 round war.
Hidetoshi Takane (3-0, 1) vs Yuri Wakabayashi (3-1-1, 3)
Coming in to the bout the 21 year old Hidetoshi Takane was a Kadoebi Gym fighter who was looking to move his career forward. Although a relative non-puncher he was an exciting fighter, with an aggressive style and he had impressed since making his debut in December 2018. He had booked his place into the East Japan Rookie of the Year semi-finals with a clear decision win over Dan Sawai and looked like one of the fighters who could end up giving their career a big boost at the end of the tournament. He was fan friendly, exciting, young, and with a great engine.
Aged 33 at the time of this bout Yuri Wakabayashi would have known his future in the sport was limited. He was only weeks away from his 34th birthday and was looking to get has career back on track. He had debuted almost 2 years early, fighting for the first time in October 2017, and had looked powerful and aggressive in stopping his first 2 opponents. Sadly a close loss and a draw derailed his rise before he blew out Shosuke Oji in August 2019 to secure his place in the East Japan Rookie of Semi final the following month.
With Takane being a note non puncher and Wakabayahi having stopped 3 of his 5 foes the presumption was that Takane would smartly here, and keep things at range. Instead we got both men meeting each other in center of the ring, and from there we ended up getting a special treat.
From the opening seconds of the opening round the two men met each other front on and were unloading huge shots on the inside. There was no feeling out process, this was just an immediate war. The inexperience of both men played a part, and the referee would occasionally be needed to tidy things up in the first minute, but there we just got a phone war.
The two men hammered each other up close through out the opening round trying to mirror each other. This was not the type of opening round anyone have expected going in, but boy did the deliver one of the best opening rounds of any bout in Japan last year.
It would have been easy for the tempo to have dropped after the hectic and brilliant first 3 minutes, but it really didn't, and instead they stood toe to toe. The referee was occasionally needed, but it was rare and he was left just as much of a spectator as the fans, able to enjoy one of the truly exceptional rookie wars.
The action really didn't slow down at all in the 4 rounds, with both men throwing and landing an incredible amount in a gem of a fight that deserves to be in the Treasure Trove.
It's a shame this was just a 4 rounder and was fought off TV, on A-Sign, as this deserved far viewers than it got.
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.