When boxing resumed around the world various took different approaches to preventing boxing causing a wider spread of Covid19. One of the often seen approaches was not allowing fans in venues. This lead to some eerie venues but didn't prevent the in ring action from being great. As a result we ended up some amazing bouts that were in near empty arenas. Today, for our Treasure Trove bout, we share what was one of the best contests in Japan during their "no fan era".
Satoshi Shimizu (8-1, 8) vs Kyohei Tonomoto (9-2-1, 4)
In one corner was 2012 Olympic bronze medal winner Satoshi Shimizu, who had turned professional in 2016 and looked likely to go a long way, quickly. Within 13 months of his debut he had taken the OPBF Featherweight title and was becoming a must watch fighter. He was crude, he was exciting, he had dynamite hands and awkward, clumsy style. He was there to be hit, but he was also able to completely destroy opponents with a wide, looping shot.
After winning the OPBF title Shimizu made 4 defenses before dipping his toe at Super Featherweight in 2019, and he lost to Joe Noynay. This year he return to Featherweight in pursuit of his 5th title defense, taking on fellow Japanese fighter Kyohei Tonomoto.
Aged 25 Tonomoto wasn't much of a name fighter. His most notable results had been a loss to Reiya Abe in the 2014 All Japan Rookie of the Year and a win over Hikaru Matsuoka in 2019 for the Japanese Youth Featherweight title. Despite not achieving much as a professional he spoke confidently heading into this fight and seemed to feel his aggression and youth were going to be keys to defeating the 34 year old champion.
From the off Tonomoto backed up his words. He was aggressive and energetic, pressing forward and taking the fight to Shimizu, who looked shocked and defensively awkward under the pressure from Tonomoto, who used his head movement well to make Shimizu miss. And then half way through the round we saw the power of Shimizu as he scored his first knockdown. That seemed to spur Tonomoto on, as he got up and pinned Shimizu on the ropes, and unloaded on him. In his pursuit of the champion Tonomoto was dropped for the second time. Shimizu then went for the finish, we ended round one with the two men unloading bombs on each other.
Neither knockdown had hurt Tonomoto, but they had taken what would have been a 10-9 round in his favour to a 10-7 round to Shimizu.
Despite being down twice in the opening round Tonomoto showed no fear of his dangerous opponent. He went to him again, he took the fight to Shimizu once again, despite eating some huge shots from the champion. In the final minute of the round he seemed to shake Shimizu, who returned fire as the two men went to war once again. By the end of the round Tonomoto seemed to realise Shimizu hit too hard, and the following he tried to lure Shimizu in, countering the champion, who began to look unsure of himself. It made for an interesting shift in dynamic for the fight and saw Shimizu miss, a lot.
Following a really exciting start to the bout the pace slowed down in round 4 as Tonomoto continued to be more cautious than he had been in the early stages, though he still managed to catch Shimizu with some solid shots. Sadly for him however he couldn't hurt the champion, who's power was always a concern. That power also got Shimizu out of danger in round 5, when Tonomoto did begin to pile on the pressure again, early in the round. Sadly though the challenger began to look weary in round 6, he was still giving a genuine account of himself, but it seemed, at last, as if he was wondering whether he had the artillery needed to turn things around.
The following round Tonomoto went out like a man who had decided to go out swinging. He started fast, and seemed to hurt Shimizu in the first minute of the round. It seemed it was now or never for the challenger. Sadly however Shimizu gritted it out, and returned the punishment with interest, pinning Tonomoto on the ropes and landing heavy leather, forcing the referee to step in after 2 huge left hands.
The awkwardness of Shimizu along with the energy of Tonomoto really made this a fun fight, particularly in the first 2 rounds. It wasn't a fight of the Year contender, by any stretch, but it was a real fun war and well worth watching. The start was great, we had real fun back and forth through out, even in the quieter rounds. Despite the lack of fans the action spoke for it's self, and made this a truly enjoyable war.
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.