This coming weekend is a pretty big one in Japan with two different shows, in two different regions, each featuring a genuinely big name of Japanese boxing. With that in mine we picked a bout from one of those shows that we think will be one to watch, and it's a bout we expect to be shown for free, via the Boxing Real Youtube channel. It's not a bout that will get many headlines heading in but should be an excellent bout between two men who are both looking to make a statement and progress their careers forward.
The One to Watch?
Ayumu Hanada (5-0 4) vs Mammoth Kazunori (6-3-1, 6)
April 24th (Sunday)
This bout really ticks a lot of boxes. It has two youngsters in action, both of whom have serious power, it has two men with a point to prove and its a bout between two fighters who are getting a big opportunity to show the world what they can do. This isn't just a typical novice bout in Japan, something we love, but is instead a high profile clash of youngsters, who look to be at a similar point in their careers. It has the potential to be one of the most exciting and explosive bouts of the month, and we could end up seeing the coming out party of a prospect with genuine world class potential. Likewise we could also see a brutal KO.
Of the two men the more interesting, and the one with the bigger upside, the Ayumu Hanada, who has been on the radar of hardcore fight fans for a few years now. Aged just 19 he's a baby in boxing, but has already proven himself as one to watch. He debuted as a kid in Mexico, when he was just 16, and racked up 4 wins in his adopted homeland whilst getting good training away from home. He took himself there, and he chased the opportunity to learn boxing in Mexico. He then return to Japan in 2019, fighting in a 10 round bout, which doesn't show on his record as it took place outside of the auspices of the JBC. Then he finally secured himself a JBC license and looked tremendous on his "JBC debut", destroying Ryuku Nagamine in just 104 seconds.
Dubbed "Flaco" Hanada appears to have a lot going for him. He has explosive power, frightening speed, a fantastic jab, impressive accuracy and a killer instinct. As well as that he's still incredibly young and he also has a mature, confident head on his shoulders. He backed himself to go to Mexico, he backed himself to join a gym which would let him have more control over his career, and he's now backing himself to climb rapidly through the ranks. He's almost certainly backing himself to become a special fighter. He's also someone who regards Ricardo Lopez as one of his favourites and there are some "Finito-esque" traits in his style.
In the opposite corner is 22 year old Mammoth Kazunori, a huge punching yet flawed southpaw, who debuted in 2016 and has had an interesting career so far. He has showed brutal power through his career, stopping his first 3, and 5 of his first 6, opponents. But he has also shown some rather flawed actual boxing. He's technically very limited, and very rough around the edges, but when he lands there is always the chance an opponent will be hurt, allowing him to follow up and take them out. Sadly for Kazunori when fighters have shown a bit of ring craft and know how he has struggled to close the distance and get his fearsome straight left hand into play. When that shots lands however it can be devastating, as we saw in late 2019 against Lerdchai Chaiyawed.
Although flawed and dangerous, Kazunori is also a man with a point to prove and it can be easy to over-look him coming into a bout like this. He's confident in himself, his power and whilst he is flawed as a fighter he's not actually a bad fighter. More an inexperienced one. There some really promising traits in his arsenal and he often looks relaxed in the ring, strong, tough and man that power. The areas he needs to work on are technical, and with experience and maturity those will come, he just needs to work hard in the gym and develop his skills. He needs to understand range better, and use his ram rod jab more often, using it to set up the big left hand.
What to expect?
We expect something really exciting, and somewhat tense here. With Kazunori's power there is always a chance he could land something fight changing if Hanada takes too many risks. In terms of boxing skills, the two men are on different levels, and Hanada is much quicker, sharper and cleaner with his work. But there will always be a risk that Kazunori could land something big on him. Something that Hanada will be aware of.
We expect to see lots of jabs from Hanada, maybe even a round or two where he looks to figure out exactly what Kazunori has to offer. After that we expect to see more aggression, more hunger and more combinations from the youngster, who will look to break Kazunori mentally and physically. It won't be an easy task but we do see Hanada getting to Kazunori late and going all out to put the cherry on the top of a good performance, and forcing a stoppage.
The bad news?
To be honest here there isn't much bad news at all. The bout will be over-looked, as it plays a role on the under-card of a world title fight,and it could end up being geo-locked in certain countries, if international TV picks up the main event, but in all honesty VPN's are a wonderful thing. The bout it's self should be fantastic and is one to genuinely look forward to.
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.