For this week we have a "One to watch Extra", with a second one to watch, and like the Katsunari Takayama Vs Reiya Konishi bout, this is one we are incredibly excited about, and expect fire works. We expect skills, power shots, and excitement here in a very, very good looking 8 round bout from Hyogo.
The One to Watch?
Sho Ishida (28-2, 15) vs Toshiya Ishii (3-0, 2)
November 23rd (Monday)
We love seeing talented prospects stepping up early and that's exactly what we are seeing here, with a talented 19 year old stepping up, in just his 4th professional bout, to take on a former world title challenger. Not only that but the former world title challenger desperately needs to look good here, after a set back in a world title eliminator last time out. On paper this might look like a mismatch, but in reality this is a very, very interesting match up.
Of the two men involved in this one it's the 29 year old Sho Ishida who is the more well known fighter. He's been in 30 previous professional bouts since making his debut in 2009, and doing so as one of the members of the then vibrant Ioka Gym. He was tipped as a future world champion very early in his career and seemed to tick a lot of boxes as a future star. He was talented, he was tall, rangy, a physical freak at 115lbs, and had a very good team around him. He was in the same gym as Kazuto Ioka, Ryo Miyazaki and Masayoshi Nakatani. He had also shown what he could do in good wins early in his career against the likes of Petchbarngborn Kokietgym, Yohei Tobe Taiki Eto, Hayato Kimura and Ryuichi Funai.
Sadly Ishida has never managed to win above regional level. He first came up short in a WBA world title bout in the UK, against Kal Yafai, and then lost again last year against Israel Gonzalez in a world title bout. Between those two losses he dipped his toes at Bantamweight, and struggled to really shine against the likes of Warlito Parrenas and Ikuro Sadatsune, in what was a very debated win. Sadly it appears that Bantamweight isn't a weight suited for him, but will be the weight for this bout.
Whilst Ishida is relatively well know Toshiya Ishii really isn't, but he should be. He turned professional last year, at the age of 18, and did so after a solid amateur career. As a professional been fast tracked, beating Rookie of the Year winner Fumiya Fuse, who was then 8-0, in just his second bout and then beating the then 8-1 Haruki Ishikawa for the Japanese Youth Bantamweight title in just his third bout. That bout with Ishikawa was a sensational bout that saw Ishii answering a lot of questions in a bout that saw him being dropped, hurt and showing that he can fight, punch, brawl and box. That was the sort of performance where both men came out with enhanced reputations and proved that Ishii was a legit prospect.
Although we've been really impressed by Ishii he is a 19 year old novice with just 11 professional rounds to his name and he is a short fighter, for a Bantamweight, who has been dropped and hurt. He is a talent, but this is a major step up for him, and it will be really interesting to see how he copes with someone like Ishida, who will tower over him.
What to expect?
This is a tough one to really predict, and we can see route to victories for both men.
On one hand Ishida has the size, the experience, the body punching and the speed to be a nightmare for anyone below the world class fighters in the division. He might not be able to beat the top guys, but most guys will struggle with him, and most will struggle to force him to fight their fight. He is legitimately a very good fighter, and if he can fight to his strengths he can out box a guy like Ishii. On the other hand he has struggled at Bantamweight and hasn't been a fan of a physical fight. He can box, but can he fight?
On the other hand Ishii is such a professional novice that we really don't know if he has the tools to drag Ishida into a fight. If he can then there's a great chance that he will break down the more experienced man. However there's a good chance he'll get caught on the way in, taste Ishida's power, and decide that taking risks is not something he can do against the former world title challenger.
We suspect the bout will start slowly, with both men trying to use their jab, trying to feel the other out. The height difference of the two will force Ishii to put on the gas, and we suspect he will choose to take the risk, he will take a shot or two to get in, pressing and pushing Ishida around. When that happens we suspect Ishida will try to respond, and for the final few rounds we could end up with really compelling back and forth action.
We don't think either man has the power to take the other out, but we really are intrigued by whether Ishii can over-come the gulf in experience, or whether Ishida can keep it long, rack up rounds and take home the decision.
A really tough one to call the winner for.
The bad news?
Nothing bad to talk about here, thankfully. It will be shown on TV Osaka, online, and we suspect left online to watch on demand. It's a great bout. It's free. It's intriguing and it ticks all the boxes we want to see from a 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.