Back in January 2020 the world was a difference place. We weren't all sat wondering when life would be back to normal, and "Covid19" wasn't even a thing. We were all sat waiting for the year to kick off, there was boxing scheduled for months and, up to this point, the issue seemed very much a Chinese-only issue, affecting Wuhan. Even then the number of people be affected was tiny, and we all assumed we could get on with things, and that whatever was happening there wasn't going to be an issue.
During that window G+ televised a show from Korakuen Hall with a mouth watering main event that we're going to feature as this week's Treasure Trove fight. On paper this one promised a lot, and whilst it may have under-delivered, sligthly, it was still a worthy watch.
Shinobu Charlie Hosokawa (12-4-1, 11) vs Kazuto Takesako (11-0-1, 11)
In one corner was OPBF Middleweight champion Shinobu Charlie Hosokawa, a hard hitting fighter who had taken the title 3 months earlier, when he broke down Koki Tyson in an 8 round war. Aged 35 at this point in time Hosokawa was a gritty fighter, with a solid work rate, a real hunger, and nasty heavy handed. He wasn't a 1-punch KO artist, but his shots were like being mashed by a hammer, over, and over, and over. Not only was he heavy handed, but he was also real tough and had under-rated stamina, often grinding opponents down in the latter stages of fighters.
In the opposite corner was Japanese national champion Kazuto Takesako. He was an explosive, power puncher, who had question marks over his chin, but real dynamite in his hands. He combined that explosive power with decent boxing skills, and a developing boxing brain, as well as physical strength. He was slow, and could be handcuffed, but in a shoot out he had the 1-punch KO power needed to destroy opponents. He wasn't putting his title on the line here, but was desperate to become a double champion and unify the Japanese OPBF titles.
Given the styles of the two men we knew this one could be a barn burner. Both men were heavy handed, both hand a point to prove and both came in looking to impress. Especially given that Hosokawa was risking his title, whilst Takesako's belt was essentially safe, regardless of the result.
From the off Takesako took the center of the ring, trying to force his will on Hosokawa, who looked happy to have space and tried to keep Takesako at range, behind his jab. Takesako made a mistake or two early, but Hosokawa couldn't capitalise on the first one, despite landing some heavy leather later in the round. Soon afterwards Takesako responded, and the two men were both quickly looking to establish that they were the boss. The lead to a full Korakuen Hall roaring with appreciation. They could tell that the two men were looking to hurt each other. Hosokawa looking to set things up and box, Takesako looking to get up close and let big bursts of power shots fly. It was a great opening round.
In round 2 we saw the intensity pick up as Takesako started to turning up the pressure just a touch. This left him in the position to be countered, but also saw him dig in some solid body shots shots, with Hosokawa being forced to respond. This gave us some thrilling exchanges, and it seemed clear that both men believed they had the power to hurt the other. Hosokawa also seemed to realise that up close he needed to spoil and he was often clinching and holding when Takesako got too close. It was messy at times, but utterly enthralling.
The action continued in a similar theme through out. Takesako pressing forward, looking to unleash, and Hosokawa taking shots well, riding them, and then looking to tie up, get some space to work and then box. By the end of round 3 Takesako's face was making up, but it was clear the crowd were well behind him, filling the hall with a chant of his name.
With Hosokawa on the wrong end of some big shots in round 4 he tried to make things messier, holding, spoiling and doing what he could to slow Takesako's charge down. The holding however kept him inside Takesako's range and the challenger hammered him when they were tied up. He was making Hosokawa pay for holding.
Coming out for round 5 Hosokawa seemed to realise he needed to let his hands go, and he did, starting the round faster and letting his shots go up close. It backfired however as Takesako continued to land the better shots, the stiffer blows, the more thudding leather.
Round after round things got rougher. Hosokawa desperately trying to limit Takesako's bursts of heavy shots and neutralise the challenger. Takesako happy to fight in short, effective bursts. It wasn't becoming pretty as they went on, but it was still rough with Hosokawa needing to show his toughness and hope that Takesako's steam was going to run low in the second half of the fight.
Sadly for Hosokawa the engine of Takesako didn't slow down in a notable fashion. When he did slow down he quickly pulled a burst of activity out, buoyed on by an exuberant crowd who seemed firmly on his side. Even when Hosokawa had moments it didn't take long for a response from the challenger, who looked like a man possessed.
It took real toughness for Hosokawa to take some of the bombs he took and keep trying. He really did have to take some hurt flurries to head, and body through out the bout and never looked like a man on the verge of quitting. Even when he was a long way down he gritted his teeth in the hope of getting a chance to change things. A chance that never came, and after 12 rounds he was the clear loser, though surving the distance was a moral victory of sorts here for a man who took real punishment through out.
This isn't a Fight of the Year contender, don't get us wrong, it was too one sided for that and it got ugly in the later stages. But it was a brutal, tough man fight, in front of a super hot crowd, with both men taking some heavy leather. It was a wonderful mix of styles with both men showing grit, determination and true belief that they had what was needed. How both men remained on their feet is a mystery, but that doesn't take away from the fact that this was thrilling action, huge bombs thrown both ways, and both men showing real resolve.
For those wanting a rough fight, in front of a rapturous crowd this is worth 50 minutes of your time, and well worthy of your enjoyment.
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.