For this week's Treasure Trove we're digging a little bit deeper than usual as we get the rare chance to share a bout that was shown not on TV, or even a free stream, but on Boxing Raise! The bout was shown live on boxing Raise before the promoter of the event, Dangan, put the fight on their own YouTube for fans to enjoy and share.
Before we get into the bout we do need to talk a little bit about Boxing Raise, which is a premium Japanese service which combines a VOD service with a streaming service, showing boxing. The service is relatively cheap, has an insane amount of on demand content and is a service we do use. Sadly however so many of the best bouts on the service remain behind a paywall, which is why this fight being available to share is a little bit different. Thankfully it's not just one that's freely available, but it's also a very good fight, a controversial one and a hidden gem.
Kazuki Nakajima (8-0, 7) vs Seiya Tsutsumi (5-0, 4)
The bout in question saw the unbeaten pairing of Kazuki Nakajima and Seiya Tsutsumi clash in a scheduled 8 rounder back in January 2020. The bout wasn’t just a typical 8 rounder between two unbeaten prospects however. Instead this was a bout between two amateur standouts and was also a tournament final, serving as the final bout of the God’s Left Bantamweight tournament, which had begun in 2019.
The tournament had been a 7 man tournament. Tsutsumi had originally gotten a bye into the semi-finals, and then got a bye to the final when his semi-final opponent, Kenya Yamashita, was unable to compete. Nakajima on the other hand had had to fight twice to reach the final, stopping Kenichi Watanabe in the quarter finals and Jin Minamide in the semi final, blowing both out in the opening round, earning his place in the final.
For those who don’t follow Japanese domestic level boxing we will quickly talk about the two men before getting on to the fight.
Nakajima is an Ohashi promoter hopeful, fighting out of the same gym as Naoya Inoue. He’s a big, strong, powerful, Bantamweight, who has since moved up to Super Bantamweight, and although technically somewhat rigid, he is a very destructive fighter and when he lands clean he tends to hurt people. He’s not only big and powerful, but also a rangy southpaw, making him a true nightmare to get in the ring with.
Tsutsumi on the other hand is a smaller fighter, a natural Super Flyweight who has dipped his toes into the Bantamweight division a few times, and is best known for his bout with Daigo Higa that came after this. He’s also heavy handed, but is more of a rounded fighter who can move more and is more cerebral with his in ring work. Technically he is a lot more polished than Nakajima, but was giving away natural size and power. He had also fought just 112 seconds in the previous year due to the two bye’s he had had in the tournament.
Going in we had expected a war. We expected the styles of the two men to give us something of a tear up, and a short firefight. It seemed clear this was made to be a shoot out and was going to be short, but thrilling. Seemingly however no one told Tsutsumi that was the plan, and instead we ended up with a much, much more compelling bout, even if it wasn’t intense as expected.
Instead of tearing chunks out of each other from the off what we saw to open the bout was a smart boxing contest. Tsutsumi bucked the preconceived ideas and instead of standing and fighting with Nakajima he used his feet, moved, jabbed and try to prevent Nakajima from setting his rhythm. He also came out southpaw, not his usual orthodox stance. It was clear he had a gameplan and he wanted to fight to it, getting into Nakajima’s head immediately.
The unexpected tactics from Tsutsumi threw everyone, and saw him really leaving Nakajima looking bewildered to begin the fight. The smaller man continued to box and move through the early rounds, putting on a display that would have convinced many that he was a natural lefty. When Nakajima made a mistake he was punishment, when the fight was slow Tsutsumi was using the ring, using his jab and being incredibly smart.
As the bout went on the action began to pick up, with desperation from Nakajima forcing him to let his hands go more, especially given the large financial bonus set aside for the winner. This forced us to edge towards a shoot out, with Nakajima desperate to force his style of fight on the action. We never got a full on shoot out, but in the middle rounds it was clear Nakajima knew he had to do more, but even then he was still trying to solve a problem he didn’t expect, Tsutusmi as a southpaw.
By the final rounds Nakajima was starting to find his range and had was landing more regularly. He clearly closed the gap on the scorecards, though seemed to still be behind as we entered the final round and it seemed like Nakajima was either going to lose a decision or go all out in an attempt to win.
Given the controversy we don’t want to ruin the result of this one and instead let you watch it “as live”. What we will say is there was controversy and although it wasn’t the fire fight we expected it was a truly compelling bout. It always felt like Nakajima’s power could turn the tide, but Tsutsumi’s gameplan was near perfect. Despite a technical display from Tsutsumi it was a long way from being a “dull” performance, and was instead an exciting, technically smart showing from him against a very dangerous fighter.
After a bunch of quiet weeks recently we get to share two bouts this week as action begins to pick up and the boxing calendar starts to look more and more like normal. We have fights coming in thick and fast, and we have plenty to be excited about in coming weeks, and months. For this bout in particular we're looking at two youngster, both with a lot of promise, clashing at Korakuen Hall in a bout we're really looking forward to.
The One to Watch?
Seiya Tsutsumi (5-0-2, 4) vs Tulio Kuwabata (3-1-1, 2)
March 24th (Wednesday)
This bout has a lot going for it. Notably we have two youngsters in it, both of who need a win a win after back to back disappointments. As well as their need to pick up wins both are also highly regarded youngsters, who turned professional after notable amateur career, and both know that a win here will be huge for their careers. It is also a very, very interesting match up between two fighters with less than 10 bouts who are both clearly very talented fighters. This is the type of bout we rarely see outside of Japan, and the type of bout which could be something very special.
Of the two men the better known fighter is 25 year old Seiya Tsutsumi, who came to international note last year when he earned a 10 round draw against former world champion Daigo Higa. That result was a second straight draw for Tsutsumi, who had been incredibly unlucky earlier in the year with a draw against Kazuki Nakajima. The talented Tsutusmi is a boxer-puncher, who has shown brutal power, fantastic boxing skills, smart ring craft and the ability to go to war, when he's needed to. Sadly the two draws last year have marked up Tsutsumi's record, though we dare say he comes into this bout with a point to prove.
In the opposite corner to Tsutsumi will be Tulio Kawabata, also known as Tulio Dekanarudo, a 24 year old who turned professional with a lot of hype but has failed to live up to the expectations. The youngster was supposed to be one of the faces of the Mutoh Gym going forward and won his first 3 bouts with absolutely no issues at all, including making his debut in China and taking the unbeaten record of Eric Pulgo. Sadly however he was "exposed" in late 2019, by Filipino fighter Ken Jordan, who stopped him inside a round, and he failed to get back to winning ways in 2020, when he had a technical draw with Yoshihiro Utsumi. Like Tsutsumi he now desperately needs a win to get back on track.
What to expect?
We need to start by saying we really like this fight, despite the fact neither man has a win in their last two bouts. Sadly whilst we like the fact we don't see it as the most competitive bout out there. In fact we see it as a bit of a mismatch, as ones man's strength goes directly up against the other man's key weakness.
That is Tsutsumi's power against the questionable chin of Kuwabata. Tsutsumi might not be a KO artist at the highest level but he's a big puncher, his power get respect from the likes of Daigo Higa and his KO win over Ryan Rey Ponteras was an impressive one. His power also career up to Featherweight against Jiaqi Yu. That power is brutal at this level and Kuwabata's chin has been smashed by a lesser fighter.
Saying that Kuwabata is skilled and if he can settle, dictate the range and tempo we could see some good back and forth in this. It could end up being a pretty high level contest at times, if, and it's a big if, he can survive the early power of Tsutsumi.
Sadly however it seems inevitable that, at some point, Tsutsumi's power and aggression will get to Kuwabata and take him out.
The bad news?
This bout will be tucked away on Boxing Raise, limiting the viewing audience behind a pay wall, but other than that we see no real issue here in regards to watching the contest. However we do suspect some will perhaps write off Kuwabata as a poor fighter afterwards, which is unfair as he isn't. He's just unfortunately not blessed with a cast iron chin, and he is facing a heavy handed guy here.
For the first time our one to watch will sadly not be shown during the week that the bout takes place, but it's one that we know needs to be on the radar of fight fans, and deserves attention, even if we do need to wait several weeks to see the TV version of the bout. We know this one is going to be a lot of fun, very exciting, and bombs being thrown from both men.
The One to Watch?
Daigo Higa (16-1, 16) vs Seiya Tsutsumi (5-0-1, 4)
October 26th (Monday)-Being televised on November 18th
We all like exciting action right? Well this ticks that box. It will feature one of the most exciting Asian fighters in the sport, who always excites, taking on a man who is looking to announce himself on the professional ranks. It also sees the exciting, more well known professional, looking to earn some revenge for two amateur losses. We have history, we have exciting styles, and we have a potentially amazing bout here!
We suspect anyone reading this will known who Daigo Higa is, but if not, and if this is the first time you've come across his name you can have a lot of fun checking out some of his previous bouts. Stylistically he's very similar to Roman Gonzalez, with smart, pressure boxing, gorgeous combinations, an under-rated defense and vicious power. He's a free flowing, offensive monster who was the WBC Flyweight champion a few years ago. Sadly though Higa lost that title on the scales, suffered an upset loss to Crisofer Rosales, and then had a lengthy suspension, due to missing weight. He's now back, and looking to make up for lost time.
Seiya Tsutsumi on the other hand is a fighter that you'll be forgiven for not knowing much about. He's a heavy handed boxer-puncher. He began his career as a puncher, but has recently shown more and more to his boxing, and he looks like a fantastic all rounder, with a smart boxing brain, a lot of power and good technical ability. He's unlucky to not have a perfect record, with his one draw being a controversial one against Kazuki Nakajima. In that bout we felt Tsutsumi out boxed Nakajima but was thwarted by some rough scoring.
As professionals both men have shown an ability to punch, with Higa having the advantage there, and fight. Higa is the more experienced, though we dare say that Tsutsumi is the more well schooled, and he holds 2 amatuer wins over Higa.
What to expect?
We expect to see something very, very special here.
From the opening seconds we expect to see Higa pressuring, pushing and coming forward. That will almost certainly force Tsutsumi on to the backfoot, where his boxing, counter punching and jabbing, trying to get Higa's respect and force him to think twice.
Sooner or later Higa will get Tsutsumi into the trenches, and when that happens expect to see a war breaking out, with both men taking it in turns to let their hands go up close. We might not see too many rounds like this, but boy oh boy they are going to be great. This is going to be violent, destructive, high tempo action and, sooner or later, one guy will be ground down.
We thing Higa take the win, and will be the clear favourite, but Tsutsumi will certainly not be there to make up the numbers and he could well give Higa absolute fits.
The bad news?
Obviously the delay in when this is being shown, around 3 weeks after it takes place, is bad news. Avoiding the result will be almost impossible, and it's a massive sham TBS have such a lengthy delay for the bout. Especially given the fact they've not shown any "Guts Fighting" boxing since January!
Action is a bit thin in January but there are a few standout bouts, and today we cover one of those. In fact we cover one of the most interesting looking bouts of the month, and better yet, it's a tournament final which features two men who have serious power in their hands!
The One to Watch?
Kazuki Nakajima (8-0, 7) vs Seiya Tsutsumi (5-0, 4)
January 28th (Tuesday)
The brilliant God's Left Bantamweight tournament comes to it's conclusion with a final between two hard hitting, former amateur standouts risking their unbeaten records in what looks like a truly mouth watering bout. This promises to be explosive and will put the winner into the mix for a title later in the year. On paper this is brilliant, and given the styles of the two men there really is no way this going to be anything but a thrilling shoot out!
Kazuki Nakajima, 26, is one of a number of talented and promising fighters from the Ohashi Gym. He was an excellent amateur, going 70-15 (30), before turning professional in in 2017. His career started explosively, with back to back opening round wins, before he got a serious test from Taiga Higashi in his third bout. Since then Nakajima has impressed bout after bout, and has reached the tournament final after opening round wins over Kenichi Watanabe and Jin Minamide. In the ring he's a boxer-puncher fighting out of the southpaw stance and is well polished with very heavy hands, good composure and patience.
Seiya Tsutsumi, 24, is also a former amateur standout, running up an excellent 84-17 (40) record in the unpaid ranks. He began his professional career with the Watanabe Gym in 2018 and quickly impressed, destroying Junpei Inamoto in an under-the-radar classic in September 2018. Sadly in 2019 he fought only once, stopping Ryan Rey Ponteras inside a round in March, before transferring to the Kadoebi Gym. He got a bye in the first round of the tournament, where he was the sole seed, and then got a walk over in the semi-final when Kenya Yamashita had to pull out. In the ring he's an aggressive pressure fighter with dynamite in both hands.
What to expect?
Both fighters will be well aware that the other man is a big puncher and that risks can't be taken recklessly. On paper things point towards Nakajima being the favourite. He's the naturally bigger man, he's been more active recently, and he's the more polished fighter. However Tsutsumi is a smart offensive fighter who is physically very strong, and will hold his own on the inside, if he can get up close and personal.
We see this as being a bout where the distance decides the outcome. If Nakajima can keep it long he'll be able to dictate being his more polished boxing and his southpaw stance. If it's fought up close however Tsutsumi has a fantastic chance to take out Nakajima.
We expect explosive action, no matter what the range for this one, and we do not expect it to go the distance. We expect bombs to be thrown, and this will be a bout that could end at any second. This could end up a blink and you miss affair, with both having the power to take the other out.
The bad news?
The bout will only be available on Boxing Raise, as the service delivers yet another amazing show. If you're not a Boxing Raise subscriber you will, sadly, miss out on this potential firecracker.
This week we're doubling up on our "One to Watch" with two different ones too watch, one today and one tomorrow, on our usual Tuesday slot! The reason for the extra one this week is the fact that we have the two God's Left Tournament semi finals and both deserve a deeper look, and both look like incredible bouts!
The one to watch?
Seiya Tsutsumi (5-0, 4) vs Kenya Yamashita (14-5, 11)
November 9th (Saturday)
The God's Left Tournament is a really good tournament and the semi-finals both look like they are great fights, meaning the final will be brilliant when that comes around too. For this bout we have two guys who love to fight. Both share the same mentality, both come forward, both throw bombs and both come to the ring looking for a knockout. Neither guy likes doing over time so we should get a super explosive bout, for as long as it lasts.
Thge 23 year old Seiya Tsutsumi was a former amateur standout who turned professional with with the Watanabe gym before transferring over to the Kadoebi gym recently. Every since turning pro he has been a wrecking ball, winning a B class tournament early in his career adding a win over Ryan Rey Ponteras this past April, becoming the first fighter to stop the experienced Filipino journeyman. He's aggressive, heavy handed and has under-rated defensive skills.
Kenya Yamashita, also aged 23, is a fighter who made his mark very early on, winning the Rookie of the Year in in 2014, just a year after his professional debut. At the time he was just 18 and being tipped for huge success, Things haven't gone swimmingly for him since then but he has remained a super aggressive and exciting fighter, and win or lose he comes out pressing the fight, throwing bombs and looking for early wins. He lacks the polish of Tsutsumi, but certainly has the style and aggression to meet fire with fire.
What to expect?
Given that both men are going to come forward and meet in center ring it's hard to imagine this one going long, and being anything less than a short, thrilling, bombs away war. Both will meet quickly in the middle of the ring, both will look to trade and both will go hell for leather. Sadly for Yamashita he has things a little bit stacked against him here. Although Yamashita has the edge in professional experience he doesn't have the amateur background of Tsutsumi, nor the defensive skills of Tsutsumi, and he's also naturally smaller than Tsutsumi. That's not to say we expect to see Yamashita fight like a smaller fighter, but he is the smaller man, and that will likely prove to be the difference in an all fire fight.
The bad news?
The bout will only be available for those who subscribed to Boxing Raise, and it's a shame that so many fans will miss out...though again this is a great reason to try Boxing Raise! And this is only 1 of the 2 amazing semi finals on the same show!
The Bantamweight division doesn't just have notable names at the top of the division, but also a deep amount of contenders in what is one of the more overlooked and deep divisions in the sport.
The division also has an incredibly bright future with a lot of fantastic young prospects coming through the rankings, and better yet it appears that it's not just Eastern prospects that are being fast tracked, but also some from Europe and the Americas.
If you missed out on our previous articles about the Bantamweight division they are here:
The state of the Division - Bantamweight - The Champions
The state of the Division - Bantamweight - The Contenders
Carl Jammes Martin (11-0, 10)
Not many teenagers could get away with being called "Wonder Boy" but 19 year old Filipino prospect Carl Jammes Martin certainly seems to be living up to the moniker. He debuted at the age of 16 and has already worked his way into the world rankings. The youngster is in need of a step up yo see how good he really is, but he's already won the WBA Asia and WBO Oriental Youth titles and looks to be one of the brightest prospects in the Philippines with his mixture of power, speed, aggressions and skills. It's just a shame that, so far, he has been blasting people out before we've managed to see just how good he actually is.
Tenta Kiyose (15-2-1, 7)
Japanese 22 year old Tenta Kiyose isn't one of the country's many "super prospects" who turned professional with a depth of amateur experience. Instead he's someone who has had to turn his career into a success. Afer losing on debut, being 1-1-1 after 3 bouts and losing in the 2015 Rookie of the Year final to Matcha Nakagawa we have finally seen Kiyose develop into a genuine prospect, winning his last 8 bouts. During his current winning run he has won the WBC Youth Super Bantamweight title, with a shut out over Joe Tejones, and scored a career defining stopping over Oleydong Sithsamerchai. He's big at the weight and with his current form he will be full of confidence.
Ukashir Farooq (11-0, 4)
British-Pakistani fighter Ukashi Farooq is dubbed "untouchable", and given how few rounds he's lost during his 11 bout career he does live up to that nickname pretty well. In 2017 he took the Scottish Area title, stopping Scott Allan in 8 rounds in their second meeting, and has since won and defended the British title. He looked sensational in his British title win, stopping Jamie Wilson in a round, and his win over the once touted Iain Butcher in November was very impressive. There are question marks around this power, despite the blow out of Wilson, but he is undeniably skilled and will begin chasing international honours shortly.
Kazuki Nakajima (6-0, 5)
The Ohashi gym is packed with top talent and highly regarded prospects, meaning it can be easy to get lost in the shuffle. One man looking to avoid that position is touted Bantamweight puncher Kazuki Nakajima, a 25 year old Southpaw, who debuted in summer 2017 and, one bout aside, has looked sensational. He struggled in his third bout, against the under-rated Taiga Higashi, but since then has gone from strength to strength, and looked fantastic beating veteran Yoshihiro Utsumi. Nakajima won't be the next big Ohashi star, but he has the potential to reach the top, and do so rather quickly.
Lee McGregor (5-0, 5)
Arguably the most under-rated and overlooked prospect in Britain is "Lightning" Lee McGregor, a 21 year old Bantamweight from Edinburgh who has won the IBF Youth and Commonwealth Bantamweight titles, and done so against decent competition, stopping both Goodluck Mrema and Thomas Essomba in 4 and 12 rounds respectively. McGregor was a former amateur standout before making his professional debut in November 2011 and has risen rapidly under the guidance of Cyclone Promotions. If you like the way Josh Taylor has been managed then we suspect you'll like how McGregor has been moved too.
Jade Bornea (13-0, 9)
Unbeaten Filipino 23 year old Jade Borena has been quietly rising through the ranks without too much fuss, though is a quality fighter, as he proved in the amateur ranks beating the likes of Murodjon Akhmadaliev and Kosei Tanaka in the 2013 Asian Confederation Youth Boxing Championships. At the moment Bornea is lacking a "big" win but has picked up some minor titles since his 2014 debut and is a natural talent. We really hope 2019 is a year where he begins to make a real mark on the regional scene.
Junior Almonte (11-0, 8)
Dominican puncher Junior Almonte isn't a well known fighter, but like many Dominicans rising through the ranks he's heavy handed, exciting and busy. He debuted in July 2017 and already has 11 bouts under his belt , those 11 bouts combine for 33 rounds showing how dangerous he is early on. Sadly his best wins are against the likes of Rafael Rodriguez and Donny Garcias, but we expect to see him make a step up in 2019, and hopefully make his international debut.
Fumiya Fuse (7-0, 1)
The 2017 All Japan Rookie of the Year quietly won the Rookie of the Year tournament last year as a 19 year old, just 11 months after his debut. Since then he has added a couple more wins, gone 6 rounds for the first time, made his international debut and genuinely looked like a pure natural talent. He's a skilled boxer-mover who's only question mark at the moment appears to be his power. He's only 20 years old now, so may have his man strength to develop in the coming years and if so the talented southpaw really could be one of Japan's many notable Bantamweights.
Ryusei Kawaura (5-0, 4)
From a Japanese non-puncher to a Japanese puncher, Ryusei Kawaura is a heavy handed boxer-puncher who stepped up in 2018 to over-come Marjun Pantilgan, with an 8 round decision, and Yuki Yoshimura. He's currently fighting between Super Flyweight and Bantamweight, though suspicion is that his 24 year old frame will fill into a fully fledged Bantamweight in the new year. Kawaura is a southpaw who's career has developed slowly but has a lot of potential
Seiya Tsutsumi (4-0, 3)
Another Japanese fighter looking to find their ideal weight is 22 year old Watanabe prospect Seiya Tsutsumi, who won a Danagn B Class tournament at Bantamweight in September but has since flirted with Featherweight and spoke about fighting at Super Flyweight. We're really unsure where Tsutsumi will settle, and it seems like he's also unsure, but what we do know is that he's an exciting, aggressive, hard hitting fighter who brings a lot of pressure and a lot of action. Given his age his body will almost certainly grow into that of a fully fledged Bantamweight, and we see that being the weight that he makes his name at.
Elie Konki (5-0, 1)
It's strange referring to a national champion as a prospect, but French national champion, and 2016 Olympian, Elie Konki is certainly a prospect, and one with a lot of upside. The "Spider" is a tall Bantamweight who has raced to a national title, doing so last time out, racked up experience over 10 rounds and looks like a genuine one to watch. He needs more seasoning before stepping up, but at 26 time is on his side, and there is a growth in the French scene at the moment, suggesting that Konki may get promotional backing in the near future.
Jonathan Lopez (5-0, 3)
Unbeaten "Bum Bum" Jonathan Lopez is a Puerto Rican hopeful who debuted in 2017 but really made a mark in 2018, which included a massive career win over former world title challenger Jose Alfredo Rodriguez in December. Whilst Rodriguez is no world beater, he is a the type of fighter that prospects don't tend to face in just their 5th professional bout. Given that Lopez has fit 4 bouts into 2018 we're looking forward to seeing what he and his team have in store for the new year.
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.