The All-Japan Rookie of the Year final is one of the true highlights of the Japanese calendar and takes place just days before Christmas at the Korakuen Hall. Before we reach the All Japan final we need to find out who is representing East Japan and who is representing West Japan, do to that we get the East and West Japan finals.
This coming Sunday we get the East Japan finals and we have looked through the match ups on that card looking for the bout we view as the "One to Watch".
The One to Watch?
Katsuki Mori (4-0, 1) vs Shu Nawai (3-1, 2)
November 3rd (Sunday)
There was a lot of potential bouts to select for this Weeks "One to Watch" thanks to the East Japan Rookie of the Year final, which could have had 5 or 6 "Ones to Watch", but we setting on the Minimumweight bout between Katsuki Mori and Shu Nawai due to the combination of youth, styles and the fact Nawai's previous bout has made us so excited to see him again. The bout is also a rematch between the two men who fought in October 2018.
The 19 year old Katsuki Mori is an Ohashi gym promoted youngster who debuted in August 2018, on the under-card of a show that featured Akira Yaegashi against Hirofumi Mukai and Satoshi Shimizu Vs Shingo Kawamura, less than 2 moths later he was on the under-card of the WBSS Yokohama show, headlined by Naoya Inoue. Having been on such big cards we don't expect him to feel too much pressure here, even if the bout is a big step up. Watching him we see a very tidy boxer with quick hands, a nice aggressive style and despite some rough edges he appears to be a very strong young kid with some nasty looking body shots in his arsenal. There is clearly work to be done, and he does look like a boy rather than a man, but he looks like a natural talent.
Aged 21 Shu Nawai is also not a fully mature fighter, but he looks more like a man in the ring than Mori and looks like a very powerfully built fighter, relying more on his physicality and pressure than speed and boxing. Coming from the Watanabe gym you can see bits in his style that do look like that some other Watanabe gym fighters. There are touches, albeit light ones, of Hiroto Kyoguchi in the way he fights, and he tries to respond when he gets hit. Last time out Nawai went to war with Yuichi Baba in what was a genuinely breath taking fight and showed that Nawai could take it as well as give it. He loves the inside battle and looks really strong up close. It's also worth noting that Nawai's one loss came to Mori, in what was Nawai's professional debut.
What to expect?
Mori looks the more naturally skilled boxer but a swarmer can of course smother a boxer for space and break them down up close. That will be the game plan of Nawai, who will be looking to get up close and personal and break down the younger man. The physical strength and aggression of Nawai looks like it could be a serious problem for Mori if the younger man can't create space.
Mori needs to concentrate on his jab, which is a lovely crisp punch, his footwork and his left hook to the body. Nawai is there to be hit and Mori needs to get his respect. If he can't then the younger man will be in trouble, but Mori has really clean jabs and left hooks to the body and there is a chance he can make Nawai pay for his wide, wild and sweeping hooks.
The bad news?
The bad news for those wanting to keep an eye on this bout is that it won't be shown live. In fact it won't be aired until November 10th when G+ show the card in full. It's a shame, but it is better than it never being aired at all!
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.