For this week's Treasure Trove we're digging a little bit deeper than usual as we get the rare chance to share a bout that was shown not on TV, or even a free stream, but on Boxing Raise! The bout was shown live on boxing Raise before the promoter of the event, Dangan, put the fight on their own YouTube for fans to enjoy and share.
Before we get into the bout we do need to talk a little bit about Boxing Raise, which is a premium Japanese service which combines a VOD service with a streaming service, showing boxing. The service is relatively cheap, has an insane amount of on demand content and is a service we do use. Sadly however so many of the best bouts on the service remain behind a paywall, which is why this fight being available to share is a little bit different. Thankfully it's not just one that's freely available, but it's also a very good fight, a controversial one and a hidden gem.
Kazuki Nakajima (8-0, 7) vs Seiya Tsutsumi (5-0, 4)
The bout in question saw the unbeaten pairing of Kazuki Nakajima and Seiya Tsutsumi clash in a scheduled 8 rounder back in January 2020. The bout wasn’t just a typical 8 rounder between two unbeaten prospects however. Instead this was a bout between two amateur standouts and was also a tournament final, serving as the final bout of the God’s Left Bantamweight tournament, which had begun in 2019.
The tournament had been a 7 man tournament. Tsutsumi had originally gotten a bye into the semi-finals, and then got a bye to the final when his semi-final opponent, Kenya Yamashita, was unable to compete. Nakajima on the other hand had had to fight twice to reach the final, stopping Kenichi Watanabe in the quarter finals and Jin Minamide in the semi final, blowing both out in the opening round, earning his place in the final.
For those who don’t follow Japanese domestic level boxing we will quickly talk about the two men before getting on to the fight.
Nakajima is an Ohashi promoter hopeful, fighting out of the same gym as Naoya Inoue. He’s a big, strong, powerful, Bantamweight, who has since moved up to Super Bantamweight, and although technically somewhat rigid, he is a very destructive fighter and when he lands clean he tends to hurt people. He’s not only big and powerful, but also a rangy southpaw, making him a true nightmare to get in the ring with.
Tsutsumi on the other hand is a smaller fighter, a natural Super Flyweight who has dipped his toes into the Bantamweight division a few times, and is best known for his bout with Daigo Higa that came after this. He’s also heavy handed, but is more of a rounded fighter who can move more and is more cerebral with his in ring work. Technically he is a lot more polished than Nakajima, but was giving away natural size and power. He had also fought just 112 seconds in the previous year due to the two bye’s he had had in the tournament.
Going in we had expected a war. We expected the styles of the two men to give us something of a tear up, and a short firefight. It seemed clear this was made to be a shoot out and was going to be short, but thrilling. Seemingly however no one told Tsutsumi that was the plan, and instead we ended up with a much, much more compelling bout, even if it wasn’t intense as expected.
Instead of tearing chunks out of each other from the off what we saw to open the bout was a smart boxing contest. Tsutsumi bucked the preconceived ideas and instead of standing and fighting with Nakajima he used his feet, moved, jabbed and try to prevent Nakajima from setting his rhythm. He also came out southpaw, not his usual orthodox stance. It was clear he had a gameplan and he wanted to fight to it, getting into Nakajima’s head immediately.
The unexpected tactics from Tsutsumi threw everyone, and saw him really leaving Nakajima looking bewildered to begin the fight. The smaller man continued to box and move through the early rounds, putting on a display that would have convinced many that he was a natural lefty. When Nakajima made a mistake he was punishment, when the fight was slow Tsutsumi was using the ring, using his jab and being incredibly smart.
As the bout went on the action began to pick up, with desperation from Nakajima forcing him to let his hands go more, especially given the large financial bonus set aside for the winner. This forced us to edge towards a shoot out, with Nakajima desperate to force his style of fight on the action. We never got a full on shoot out, but in the middle rounds it was clear Nakajima knew he had to do more, but even then he was still trying to solve a problem he didn’t expect, Tsutusmi as a southpaw.
By the final rounds Nakajima was starting to find his range and had was landing more regularly. He clearly closed the gap on the scorecards, though seemed to still be behind as we entered the final round and it seemed like Nakajima was either going to lose a decision or go all out in an attempt to win.
Given the controversy we don’t want to ruin the result of this one and instead let you watch it “as live”. What we will say is there was controversy and although it wasn’t the fire fight we expected it was a truly compelling bout. It always felt like Nakajima’s power could turn the tide, but Tsutsumi’s gameplan was near perfect. Despite a technical display from Tsutsumi it was a long way from being a “dull” performance, and was instead an exciting, technically smart showing from him against a very dangerous fighter.
Action is a bit thin in January but there are a few standout bouts, and today we cover one of those. In fact we cover one of the most interesting looking bouts of the month, and better yet, it's a tournament final which features two men who have serious power in their hands!
The One to Watch?
Kazuki Nakajima (8-0, 7) vs Seiya Tsutsumi (5-0, 4)
January 28th (Tuesday)
The brilliant God's Left Bantamweight tournament comes to it's conclusion with a final between two hard hitting, former amateur standouts risking their unbeaten records in what looks like a truly mouth watering bout. This promises to be explosive and will put the winner into the mix for a title later in the year. On paper this is brilliant, and given the styles of the two men there really is no way this going to be anything but a thrilling shoot out!
Kazuki Nakajima, 26, is one of a number of talented and promising fighters from the Ohashi Gym. He was an excellent amateur, going 70-15 (30), before turning professional in in 2017. His career started explosively, with back to back opening round wins, before he got a serious test from Taiga Higashi in his third bout. Since then Nakajima has impressed bout after bout, and has reached the tournament final after opening round wins over Kenichi Watanabe and Jin Minamide. In the ring he's a boxer-puncher fighting out of the southpaw stance and is well polished with very heavy hands, good composure and patience.
Seiya Tsutsumi, 24, is also a former amateur standout, running up an excellent 84-17 (40) record in the unpaid ranks. He began his professional career with the Watanabe Gym in 2018 and quickly impressed, destroying Junpei Inamoto in an under-the-radar classic in September 2018. Sadly in 2019 he fought only once, stopping Ryan Rey Ponteras inside a round in March, before transferring to the Kadoebi Gym. He got a bye in the first round of the tournament, where he was the sole seed, and then got a walk over in the semi-final when Kenya Yamashita had to pull out. In the ring he's an aggressive pressure fighter with dynamite in both hands.
What to expect?
Both fighters will be well aware that the other man is a big puncher and that risks can't be taken recklessly. On paper things point towards Nakajima being the favourite. He's the naturally bigger man, he's been more active recently, and he's the more polished fighter. However Tsutsumi is a smart offensive fighter who is physically very strong, and will hold his own on the inside, if he can get up close and personal.
We see this as being a bout where the distance decides the outcome. If Nakajima can keep it long he'll be able to dictate being his more polished boxing and his southpaw stance. If it's fought up close however Tsutsumi has a fantastic chance to take out Nakajima.
We expect explosive action, no matter what the range for this one, and we do not expect it to go the distance. We expect bombs to be thrown, and this will be a bout that could end at any second. This could end up a blink and you miss affair, with both having the power to take the other out.
The bad news?
The bout will only be available on Boxing Raise, as the service delivers yet another amazing show. If you're not a Boxing Raise subscriber you will, sadly, miss out on this potential firecracker.
On Monday we posted the first of 2 "One to watch" articles for this week looking at the God's Left Tournament semi-final bout between the unbeaten Seiya Tsutsumi and the always fun to watch Kenya Yamashita. Now we look at the other semi-final bout, and this one is arguably set to be even better than the Tsutsumi Vs Yamashita bout!
The One to Watch?
Jin Minamide (4-0, 3) vs Kazuki Nakajima (7-0, 6)
November 9th (Saturday)
As a God's Left Tournament semi-final bout the contest will see us find out who the second finalist is, and will set up a brilliant tournament final, it also pits two unbeaten, young and heavy-handed fighters against each other. The styles of the two men should gel excellently and we'll see both men answering questions about their ability, their toughness, their ability to adapt and their overall in ring mentality. Unlike their bouts so far this should be a very, very serious and dangerous test.
The 24 year old Jin Minamide is a southpaw promoted by former world champion Celes Kobayashi. As an a amateur he was a stellar fighter, going 43-22 (15). He turned professional in 2018 and looked sensational with 3 blow outs in his first 3. It wasn't until his 4th bout, his God's Left Tournament quarter-final bout, that we saw him tested, and going the distance in a thrilling war with Tetsu Araki. He's aggressive, heavy-handed, exciting and although a bit raw he's very, very fun to watch.
Interstingly Kazuki Nakajima has a lot of things in common with Jin Minamide. At 26 he's a little bit older than his opponent, but he's also a southpaw, he's also managed by a former world champion, in this case Hideyuki Ohashi, and he was also a very good amateur, going 72-15 (30). Since turning professional in 2017 he has risen through the ranks impressively, and beaten the likes of Yoshihiro Utsumi and Kenichi Watanabe. On paper his best win isn't as good as Minamide's, which came last time out, but there's very little to pick between them.
What to expect?
Both of these guys like fighting. Of the two Minamide is the more rough around the edges puncher, whilst Nakajima is the more technically solid boxer-puncher. Their styles should gel, with both firing off bombs, though we suspect Minamide will be the more aggressive whilst Nakajima will be looking to set his man up, counter,
mover and show that tough more to his boxing. Despite Nakajima having more in his arsenal we do feel like Minamide has the edge in power, and with his pressure and output that could be enough to break down Nakajima.
The bad news?
As with the other semi-final this will only be available on Boxing Raise, so if you've not subscribed you'll miss out on this sensational looking contest!
The Bantamweight division doesn't just have notable names at the top of the division, but also a deep amount of contenders in what is one of the more overlooked and deep divisions in the sport.
The division also has an incredibly bright future with a lot of fantastic young prospects coming through the rankings, and better yet it appears that it's not just Eastern prospects that are being fast tracked, but also some from Europe and the Americas.
If you missed out on our previous articles about the Bantamweight division they are here:
The state of the Division - Bantamweight - The Champions
The state of the Division - Bantamweight - The Contenders
Carl Jammes Martin (11-0, 10)
Not many teenagers could get away with being called "Wonder Boy" but 19 year old Filipino prospect Carl Jammes Martin certainly seems to be living up to the moniker. He debuted at the age of 16 and has already worked his way into the world rankings. The youngster is in need of a step up yo see how good he really is, but he's already won the WBA Asia and WBO Oriental Youth titles and looks to be one of the brightest prospects in the Philippines with his mixture of power, speed, aggressions and skills. It's just a shame that, so far, he has been blasting people out before we've managed to see just how good he actually is.
Tenta Kiyose (15-2-1, 7)
Japanese 22 year old Tenta Kiyose isn't one of the country's many "super prospects" who turned professional with a depth of amateur experience. Instead he's someone who has had to turn his career into a success. Afer losing on debut, being 1-1-1 after 3 bouts and losing in the 2015 Rookie of the Year final to Matcha Nakagawa we have finally seen Kiyose develop into a genuine prospect, winning his last 8 bouts. During his current winning run he has won the WBC Youth Super Bantamweight title, with a shut out over Joe Tejones, and scored a career defining stopping over Oleydong Sithsamerchai. He's big at the weight and with his current form he will be full of confidence.
Ukashir Farooq (11-0, 4)
British-Pakistani fighter Ukashi Farooq is dubbed "untouchable", and given how few rounds he's lost during his 11 bout career he does live up to that nickname pretty well. In 2017 he took the Scottish Area title, stopping Scott Allan in 8 rounds in their second meeting, and has since won and defended the British title. He looked sensational in his British title win, stopping Jamie Wilson in a round, and his win over the once touted Iain Butcher in November was very impressive. There are question marks around this power, despite the blow out of Wilson, but he is undeniably skilled and will begin chasing international honours shortly.
Kazuki Nakajima (6-0, 5)
The Ohashi gym is packed with top talent and highly regarded prospects, meaning it can be easy to get lost in the shuffle. One man looking to avoid that position is touted Bantamweight puncher Kazuki Nakajima, a 25 year old Southpaw, who debuted in summer 2017 and, one bout aside, has looked sensational. He struggled in his third bout, against the under-rated Taiga Higashi, but since then has gone from strength to strength, and looked fantastic beating veteran Yoshihiro Utsumi. Nakajima won't be the next big Ohashi star, but he has the potential to reach the top, and do so rather quickly.
Lee McGregor (5-0, 5)
Arguably the most under-rated and overlooked prospect in Britain is "Lightning" Lee McGregor, a 21 year old Bantamweight from Edinburgh who has won the IBF Youth and Commonwealth Bantamweight titles, and done so against decent competition, stopping both Goodluck Mrema and Thomas Essomba in 4 and 12 rounds respectively. McGregor was a former amateur standout before making his professional debut in November 2011 and has risen rapidly under the guidance of Cyclone Promotions. If you like the way Josh Taylor has been managed then we suspect you'll like how McGregor has been moved too.
Jade Bornea (13-0, 9)
Unbeaten Filipino 23 year old Jade Borena has been quietly rising through the ranks without too much fuss, though is a quality fighter, as he proved in the amateur ranks beating the likes of Murodjon Akhmadaliev and Kosei Tanaka in the 2013 Asian Confederation Youth Boxing Championships. At the moment Bornea is lacking a "big" win but has picked up some minor titles since his 2014 debut and is a natural talent. We really hope 2019 is a year where he begins to make a real mark on the regional scene.
Junior Almonte (11-0, 8)
Dominican puncher Junior Almonte isn't a well known fighter, but like many Dominicans rising through the ranks he's heavy handed, exciting and busy. He debuted in July 2017 and already has 11 bouts under his belt , those 11 bouts combine for 33 rounds showing how dangerous he is early on. Sadly his best wins are against the likes of Rafael Rodriguez and Donny Garcias, but we expect to see him make a step up in 2019, and hopefully make his international debut.
Fumiya Fuse (7-0, 1)
The 2017 All Japan Rookie of the Year quietly won the Rookie of the Year tournament last year as a 19 year old, just 11 months after his debut. Since then he has added a couple more wins, gone 6 rounds for the first time, made his international debut and genuinely looked like a pure natural talent. He's a skilled boxer-mover who's only question mark at the moment appears to be his power. He's only 20 years old now, so may have his man strength to develop in the coming years and if so the talented southpaw really could be one of Japan's many notable Bantamweights.
Ryusei Kawaura (5-0, 4)
From a Japanese non-puncher to a Japanese puncher, Ryusei Kawaura is a heavy handed boxer-puncher who stepped up in 2018 to over-come Marjun Pantilgan, with an 8 round decision, and Yuki Yoshimura. He's currently fighting between Super Flyweight and Bantamweight, though suspicion is that his 24 year old frame will fill into a fully fledged Bantamweight in the new year. Kawaura is a southpaw who's career has developed slowly but has a lot of potential
Seiya Tsutsumi (4-0, 3)
Another Japanese fighter looking to find their ideal weight is 22 year old Watanabe prospect Seiya Tsutsumi, who won a Danagn B Class tournament at Bantamweight in September but has since flirted with Featherweight and spoke about fighting at Super Flyweight. We're really unsure where Tsutsumi will settle, and it seems like he's also unsure, but what we do know is that he's an exciting, aggressive, hard hitting fighter who brings a lot of pressure and a lot of action. Given his age his body will almost certainly grow into that of a fully fledged Bantamweight, and we see that being the weight that he makes his name at.
Elie Konki (5-0, 1)
It's strange referring to a national champion as a prospect, but French national champion, and 2016 Olympian, Elie Konki is certainly a prospect, and one with a lot of upside. The "Spider" is a tall Bantamweight who has raced to a national title, doing so last time out, racked up experience over 10 rounds and looks like a genuine one to watch. He needs more seasoning before stepping up, but at 26 time is on his side, and there is a growth in the French scene at the moment, suggesting that Konki may get promotional backing in the near future.
Jonathan Lopez (5-0, 3)
Unbeaten "Bum Bum" Jonathan Lopez is a Puerto Rican hopeful who debuted in 2017 but really made a mark in 2018, which included a massive career win over former world title challenger Jose Alfredo Rodriguez in December. Whilst Rodriguez is no world beater, he is a the type of fighter that prospects don't tend to face in just their 5th professional bout. Given that Lopez has fit 4 bouts into 2018 we're looking forward to seeing what he and his team have in store for the new year.
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.