In recent weeks we've seen a surge in the number of notable Japanese amateurs turning professional. Whilst some of this is down to the Olympics dropping certain weight classes, there are other reasons for so many switching codes and turning professional. Whatever their reasons their move to the pros has given us something to get excited about, new, fresh blood, looking to begin their careers, more fighters to watch. It's with that in mind that our latest "One to Watch" features of of those fighters who has just turned pro.
The One to Watch?
Katsuya Fukui (0-0) Vs Sang Hoon Kim (4-1-2, 3)
September 7th (Saturday)
Fukui ran up a solid 59-16 record in the amateurs before signing over with the Teiken Gym, who have been snapping up amateur talent a lot in months. The gym, still the most well known in Japan, has been going through a bit of a struggle in terms of creating stars, and it seems clear that by signing so many talented youngsters they are wanting to put themselves back on the top of the Japanese scene. Kim Kim on the other hand is an exciting fighter who comes out the blocks fast, with power, a crude style and a Korean mentality. The visitor was stopped last time out, by De Kang Wang in China, and will be looking to get back to winning ways here against the Japanese debutant.
As mentioned earlier Fukui ran up a 59-16 amateur record over 75 fights in the unpaid ranks. The 23 year old won he 2014 Japanese Interschool Athletic Meet in Chigasaki in August, joining the likes of Go Hosaka and Yudai Shigeoka, and actually beat the very well regarded Yusuke Mine in the final and with Teiken's backing he's been getting top quality training and sparring since turning professional.
Kim is a 19 year old Korean who debuted as a 16 year old back in 2017. He debuted as a Flyweight, but did fight as a Bantamweight last time out, losing in 6 rounds in China. Aside from the loss in China all his bouts have been in Korea against fellow novices, but he has shown something to get excited about and like many Korean fighters his offensive is his best defense. Something that almost always makes for fun TV fights.
What to expect?
As with any amateur turned pro Fukui will be looking to impress, and leave a mark on the viewer. He'll put himself under extra pressure to shine, knowing he's being televised live in Japan on G+ on a card featuring Jorge Linares. Although a very good pure boxer we suspect he'll want to do more than just box his way to a win, and will, instead, want to shine. Against an aggressive opponent Fukui will find himself taking risks and this could force a very exciting bout, though one that Fukui should take thanks to his solid amateur background. Don't be surprised to see Fukui take a risk or two trying to catch the eye, but we expect him to win inside the distance.
The bad news?
Whilst this bout is televised it's going to be the show opener on G+ this Saturday. For Western fans his bout will be aired very early in the day and you'll really need to set an alarm clock to see this one. You'll also need access to G+ which is typically only available through some paid services, whether your in Japan out outside of the country.
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.