This week we head to China for our Treasure Trove, as Beijing played host to a very interesting card. Despite this bout being in China it's worth nothing that neither of the fighters involved are Chinese, with a Japanese 33 year old taking on a Ukrainian 19 year old. The bout saw the two men clashing in one of the IBF Silk Road tournament bouts up at Super Featherweight and it was genuinely compelling when the man got in the ring. We don't think many would have seen this one, but really, you should take the opportunity now as it's a very solid little bout that was pretty easy to over-look at the time.
Ryo Takenaka (18-4-1, 11) vs Heorhii Lashko (7-0, 4)
The 33 year old Ryo Takenaka had made his name at Featherweight originally. He had debut back in 2008, following a respectable amateur career, he had suffered a couple of losses in 2012 but had continued on and in 2015 claimed the OPBF Featherweight title by stopping Vinvin Rufino. After 3 defenses, including a sensational KO against Ryuto Araya, he came up short against Korea Sa Myung Noh, in what was a great come from behind win for Noh in 2017. After a year out Takenaka moved up in weight and took part in an IBF tournament, beating Lorence Rosas in December 2018 to advance to the next stage. In the ring Takenaka was technically very good, with solid power, and his wins KO's against Rufino and Araya were very impressive, but there was questions about his durability, and at 33 there was also question marks about just what he had left in the tank.
The 19 year old Heorhii Lashko, who really was a baby faced youngster, had done nothing as a professional up to this point. He had never fought anyone with a winning record, had never been in a bout scheduled beyond 8 rounds, had never gone more than 6 rounds and had never fought outside of Ukraine. On paper he looked like he was up against it, big time. Despite his low level of professional experience the teenager had looked promising, with some nice skills, and looked good in regards to the eye test, however his competition did make that relatively easy for someone as talented as Lashko.
From the very early moments it was clear we were going to get a bout that was going to be a fast paced boxing bout with both men trying to feel the other out at super speed. Lashko was the quicker man, in terms of foot speed and hand speed, but Takenaka seemed to land the harder single shots, getting through with several solid straight right hands. Although Lashko was the quicker man he was being continually pressured by Takenaka, who didn't look like he was bothered at all by Lashko's power.
As the bout continued on the fight continued to be a high paced boxing contest between two men who were incredibly well matched. Stylistically they were different, but both let their hands go, both looked confident through out and both were will to throw first. They rarely clinched, and their was rarely a moment without something happening.
For those who like well matched boxing bouts this is genuinely a gem. It's not a toe to toe war, but it doesn't need to be to be an entertaining fight, and this was certainly entertaining, fought at a high pace, and saw both men show a high level of skill. A very nice bout.
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.