In 2019 we've tried some new things on this site, and have done a number of regular weekly features, with the "Introducing...", "Closet Classic", "Weekly Awards" and Podcast, which has been on hiatus due to some technological issues which should be sorted shortly, all being done on a weekly basis.
The key idea behind each of those, other than the podcast, was to shine a little beam of light on something, be it a fight from the past or an emerging young fighter, that fans may not have been aware of. We'd like to continue to add to this site, and begin our latest weekly feature, the "Hidden Gem of the Week".
The idea of this feature is to shine the light on an upcoming bout that we see as the hidden gem. These won't be bouts we'd typically preview, but instead a bout that interests us for some other reason. Whether it's a notable debutant, a low key bout which we believe could deliver fireworks, or just a bout that has something else about it, worthy of your attention. We're hoping these can be done every Tuesday, but they may flex a little bit, where we need to work around the scheduling of fights.
So without me rabbiting on any further, lets having a look at our first "Hidden Gem of the Week"
The Hidden Gem?
Masahiro Suzuki (2-0, 1) Vs Kosuke Arioka (9-3-1, 8)
August 8th (Thursday)
Because Masahiro Suzuki is a really promising former amateur standout who faces a JBC and OPBF ranked opponent in just his third bout.
Masahiro Suzuki is a former amateur standout with a 64-26 (21) record from the unpaid ranks. He fights out of the World Sports Boxing Gym, which also boasts Takeshi Inoue among others, and he is tipped to go on to do huge things in the sport. His team have shown no fear of throwing him in hard and after a debut win in November he is already jumping into 8 round bouts.
Kosuke Arioka is the 2017 Lightweight Rookie of the Year. He's a big puncher, with a nasty streak and is riding a 7 fight unbeaten run, including 6 wins and 5 stoppages. His wins over Mirai Naito, Yui Oikawa and Leonardo Doronio have been impressive and he is a legitimate puncher on the lower end of the Japanese domestic scene.
What to expect?
Arioka is, as we expect from a puncher, a very aggressive fighter who comes out looking for bombs to both head and body. He's not a particularly rounded fighter, and can be put under pressure, but he is a very strong one with real killer instinct. His Rookie of the Year final win, over Takeru Kobata, ended when Arioka hurt his man and unloaded on him, turning around a fight that had not been going his way. His power is real and his opponents cannot risk getting into a slugfest with him.
Suzuki on the other hand is the accomplished amateur star who looks the business and looks like he is already a polished, well rounded fighter with excellent ring craft, wonderful variety and surprising adaptability. He's one of the most rounded novices we've seen and has shown good boxing, fantastic body punching and impressive defensive awareness. Although it's still early days he does look like he's going to go a very long way, if he has a chin.
We're expecting Arioka to come out aggressively and Suzuki to answer the pressure with back foot boxing early on, before turning the fight around after Arioka has lost some of his fire and sting. Smart body punching from Suzuki will be used to slow down Arioka and eventually close the show. Arioka will be game, have some success early, but ultimately come undone against a real dynamite talent.
The bad news?
Sadly the bout isn't likely to be shown in full on TV, due to the quality of the card it's on and the fact that the show has two title bouts which will likely take up the TV time. There is hope Fuji TV will show highlights, which may be the best we get. Despite the bad news being aware of the bout, and the result afterwards, is worth your time as we find out whether Suzuki is the rising star we think he is, or another fighter who has bitten off more than he can chew this early in his career.
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.