What we often seem to see in Japan are under-card fighters looking to grab attention away from the main event fighters, especially when they know their bouts will be made available in some form, be it TV or online video. Today's Treasure Trove is one such bout, which was hidden deep down a card that was made available on A Sign boxing and featured two relative unknown fighters putting on a real hidden of a bout. This is one we expect many to have seen, but it is one that is well worth 20 minutes of anyone's time.
Ryo Tanimoto (4-2, 3) vs Yusaku Sekishima (8-2, 4)
Taking place on October 21st, on a card under the "Slugfest" banner. The card featured a Japanese title eliminator, a WBO Asia Pacific title bout bout and the long awaited ring return of Kyotaro Fujimoto, we wouldn't have expected Ryo Tanimoto or Yusaku Sekishima to have managed to grab our attention in their 6 rounder. What we ended up seeing however was a brilliant bout between these two that was thoroughly engaging, incredibly competitive and nicely mixed boxing and fighting into a fantastic bout.
Coming in the 22 year old Sekishima had been the 2018 Rookie of the Year at Super Featherweight. He had lost on debut before reeling off 8 straight wins, until May 2018 when he was stopped by Soreike Taichi. That loss had seen Sekishima dropped on to his backside but end up being too shaken to beat the count. So coming in to this he was looking to get back to winning ways, and would have been full of confidence, despite the loss to Taichi, which would have been seen as more of a learning experience.
At 26 years old Tanimoto was the older man but was the man out of form. He had won his first 4 bouts, from September 2016 to May 2017, before suffering back to back stoppage losses in the second half of 2017. Coming into this bout with Sekishima we hadn't seen Tanimoto in the ring for close to 2 years, with his last bout being a 3rd round TKO loss to Masanori Rikiishi in November 2017. Although talented his inactivity and chin issues saw him coming in as the under-dog, despite being a southpaw.
The bout started relatively slowly. The first round wasn't anything to write home about, though was more entertaining than most opening rounds, with Tanimoto pressing and Sekishima looking to counter. The same basic gameplan was employed in round 2 from both men, but the pace and action ramped up significantly with Tanimoto's pressure increasing and Sekishima.
From there on the bout got progressively more and more exciting as both fighters opened up more and we'd certainly suggest every fan watches this one, and how it progresses from competitive boxing into a thrilling back and forth fight between two men who's styles really gelled perfectly.
This was a hidden gem among hidden gems and whilst it's not an all out war, it is very much a great fight.
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.