Every so often a bout we expect absolutely nothing from massively over delivers and gives us something very special. Today we get to look at one such bout from the opening series of bouts from the Hajime No Ippo 30 Anniversary tournament, which took place in November 2019. The bout appeared to promise little but gave us an action thriller.
Shingo Kusano (11-8-1, 4) vs Qiang Ma (5-1-2, 3)
In one corner was tournament outsider Shingo Kusano, a Japanese southpaw who had lost his previous 4 bouts and looked like he was there to make up the numbers. He had been badly struggling for form and was more than 3 years removed from his last victory. Aged 30 it was essentially now or never for Kusano who had been a professional for over 8 years and had achieved very little since reaching the 2013 All Japan Rookie of the Year final.
At 23 years old Qiang Ma was seen as a tournament wild card. He had lost his debut in 2017 but had then gone unbeaten in 7 fights and had stopped 3 of his last 4. Although no world beater he seemed to have momentum on his side and would have been seeing the tournament as his chance to put his name on the boxing map and prove he was more than just a Chinese domestic level fighter. This was his international debut, and his chance to shine.
The fight started with both men feeling their way into the action and then Ma came alive, and went on the front foot. Although the first few forays forward didn't result in much success for Ma he did manage to drop Kusano. Although Kusano didn't look hurt from the knockdown Ma went for the finish and dropped Kusano for the second time just moments later. Kusano recovered to his feet but Ma could smell blood and had Kusano reeling all over the place soon afterwards. To his credit Kusano recovered his senses.
From there on the battle became a real test. Ma was looking to repeat his first round success whilst Kusano was looking to rely on his experience and ring craft to turn the tables on the Chinese youngster.
This is a dramatic and exciting bout, youthful energy against experience.
Whilst not a fight of the year contender it certainly worthy of a watch.
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.