This week's one to watch pits a hard hitting Japanese fighter against a veteran Thai in what should be a much, much better bout than the records of the two suggest. The bout is the headline contest from A-Sign boxing show, meaning it will be made available online through the A-Sign boxing channel, it should be well worthy of a watch given the abilities and styles of the two involved.
The One to Watch?
Keita Kurihara (14-5, 12) vs Sukkasem Kietyongyuth (24-10, 16)
November 15th (Friday)
Coming in both men are world ranked, with the local having rankings from the WBC and IBF whilst the Thai is ranked #4 by the IBF, the styles should gel and without trying to sound too much like fan boys every Kurihara fight is a "One to Watch" due to his exciting style and heavy hands. The bout isn't an official world title eliminator, and is scheduled for just 8 rounds, but should be a hectic, exciting war.
The 26 year old Keita Kurihara is the current OPBF Bantamweight title, though won't be defending his title here. He's an ultra aggressive, heavy handed fighter who comes to take opponents out every time he steps in to the ring. Technically he can be out boxed, but he does have the great equaliser in his power and aggression and is the sort of fighter few will fancy beating in a war. Interestingly he won his OPBF title with a narrow decision win last December of Yuki Strong Kobayashi, a decision that was won thanks to 4 knockdowns! He's ultra exciting, and that excitement makes up for technical flaws.
Sukkasem Kietyongyuth, also known as Sukpraserd Ponpitak, is a veteran of 34 pro bouts and has been a professional for almost 11 years. The 32 year old claimed the PABA title early in his career, with a win over Mark Gil Melligen, and showed early promise by was 13-6 after his first 19 bouts and seemed to be written off due to 4 successive losses. Since then he proven his value as a regional gate keeper and given good tests to the likes of Qiu Xiao Jun and Yukinori Oguni. He's no world beater, but a very good gate keeper type, and if you beat him you tend to be pretty solid.
What to expect?
As with every Keita Kurihara fight we expect violence, bombs and aggression. The Thai is a pretty big strong guy and will take a decent amount of punishment if he needs to.What Sukkasem does well is box, he uses a good jab and although he's much better on the front foot than the back foot he can use the ring well and box smartly.
The big question is whether or not Sukkasem can get Kurihara's respect. If he can't then it's hard to see anything but a win for the local, who we suspect will break down the Thai with pressure much like Yusaku Kuga did in 2016. If Sukkasem can get the respect of the Japanese puncher there's a good chance he bag rounds behind his jab, movement and his clean straight punching, though he will need to let leather fly.
For Sukkasem to have success he needs to be busy, and he needs to let his hands go. If he can manage that we're in for something special here!
The bad news?
It's not totally clear when this one will be available to watch, with A-Sign's upload scheduled being very inconsistent. We suspect it'll be uploaded with in a day or two, but it's certainly not a given
We return to out look at the best Japanese fight of 2018 ahead of this coming weekend, a weekend that promises to deliver a lot of action in the country.
This is part three of a multi-part article and will look at 5 bouts that took place from July 27th to August 16th. More parts to this will be posted in the coming weeks, so please keep your eye on for those!
If you missed part 1 than can be read here The best Japanese Fights of 2018 (Part 1)
And part 2 can be read here The best Japanese Fights of 2018 (Part 2)
July 27th – Korakuen Hall
Yusaku Kuga (16-2-1, 11) Vs Shingo Wake (24-5-2, 16)
One of the most anticipated Japanese title fights of 2018 was a Super Bantamweight bout between Yusaku Kuga and former world title challenger Shingo Wake. The bout pitted two of the best domestic fighters at 122lbs against each other and it promised so much. At domestic level Kuga was vicious and had made 2 defenses of the title leading into this bout. Wake was a sharp shooter who had battered into a pulp against Jonathan Guzman in 2016 but had bounced back with 4 stoppage wins leading into this bout.
August 9th – Korakuen Hall
Taiki Minamoto (15-5, 12) vs Tatsuya Otsubo (12-8-1, 4)
It's fair to say that August was the month where things really picked up for Japanese fights, with a lot of great fights. The first one that really caught fire was the Japanese Featherweight title fight between defending champion Taiki Minamoto and Tatsuya Otsubo. On paper this looked like a mismatch but turned out to be a real thriller as both men unloaded on the other in what was a bit of a dark horse fight. For Minamoto it was his first defense of the title, following a very impressive performance against Takenori Ohashi whilst Otsubo was having his second Japanese title shot, and this turned out to be a real treat.
August 11th-City Sogo Gym
Ryota Yada (16-4, 13) vs Kazuyasu Okamoto (14-5, 4)
The action from August went from strength to strength and on August 11th we saw Japanese Welterweight champion Ryota Yada make his first defense, as he took on the unheralded Kazuyasu Okamoto. Much like the Minamoto/Otsubo bout this wasn't expected to be too exciting but certainly exceeded expectation and was one of the many treats asign boxing has given us this year. Notably it wasn't the best fight on the card, but was still a high tempo, hard hitting and worth while watch.
August 11th-City Sogo Gym
Keita Kurihara (11-5, 10) Vs Kazuki Tanaka (9-1, 6)
Records don't tell us what to expect when we get a fight, instead the styles of the fighters involved should tell us whether we should be excited or not. When Keita Kurihara and Kazuki Tanaka were matched we knew to expect something special. Tanaka had been a former amateur standout who was tipped for big things as a professional whilst Kurihara was best known as a heavy handed slugger, who was always worth watching due to aggressive style and defensive flaws. When the two got in the ring, with a very hot crowd, they delivered a short but thrilling action bout.
August 16th-Korakuen Hall
Daisuke Sudo (4-6-3) vs Jun Ishimoto (5-5-1, 3)
Not all exciting fights are high profile or expected to be great fights and the clash between Daisuke Sudo and Jun Ishimoto proved just that. The two men entered the contest as total unknowns and were fighting in front of only a smattering of a crowd on the under-card of a world title bout. Despite the relatively small crowd watching the two men put on a show, fighting a high tempo and exciting 6 round contest. What made this really good was that both men fought as if they had a point to prove, like they could pick up a relatively rare win and really take a chance to shine. If you like high tempo wars this is well worth your time.
The month of August is now coming to an end, and I've decided to look over the fights Japanese fans have been able to see during the month, picking out the most exciting bouts to have either been television or have been made available online. For the sake of this I've not included things that have only been made available on Boxingraise, so that I can share the videos with you, the readers, and not push you to an online paid service to watch things, though I would certainly advise all readers to look into subscribing to Boxingraise if they do wish to watch more action from the Japanese domestic scene.
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.