One of the things that makes the "Treasure Trove" series more enjoyable than most other series we do for this site is the fact that every bout is made even before the first bell. We don't favour a fight due to who is in it, or the importance of the bout, and instead we get to enjoy the action in the ring and decide whether or not the bout deserves more attention afterwards.
With this in mind we end up with some bouts that don't get much attention, but deserve to be spoken about and watched again. Today we include one such bout that took place in early 2020 and was one that, on paper, didn't deserve any attention at all. It was however a very entertaining little war that proved paper doesn't mean anything when it comes to how exciting a fight can be!
Taisei Sakai (3-3-1, 1) vs Yuki Yazan (3-2, 2)
The bout in question here was a 4 round Super Bantamweight bout shown on Boxing Raise, via their agreement with Kadoebi, and was later uploaded directly to Kadoebi's own YouTube channel.
In one corner was 23 year old novice Taisei Sakai, a low key fighter who had been a professional since 2016 but had done very little prior to this bout. Interestingly he had started his career 0-3-1 but had then began to build some momentum winning 3 in a row before getting into the ring with Yuki Yazan. On paper Yazan was very similar, though a few years older. Yazan had made his debut in 2007 and had gone 3-1 to begin his career before a loss in late 2019 to Tsubasa Narai.
There was almost no fanfare going in to this one and no hype at all. In fact much of the attention was on the main event, a bout featuring Froilan Saluda and Ryoji Fukunaga. Despite that fans who were watching the whole show got something of an unexpected treat here.
From the off the taller, rangier Yazan looked the more natural fighter and the man who tried to use his advantages, using his long reach well. Sakai however knew he needed to find a response to the physical disadvantages he had, and ran in occasionally, rushing Yazan. It was a tactic that had mixed success in the opening round but certainly saw him show some hunger and fire. Despite the rushing tactics of Sakai it was Yazan landing the bigger, better, stiffer shots.
The second round started slowly, but quickly caught fire with both men holding their feet and giving us some amazing exchanges. Sadly for Sakai he seemed to come off worse in every exchange, but the gutsy little guy was like a terrier, and kept coming back for more. That was despite taking some huge bombs from the wiry Yazan. The tenacity from Sakai saw him ending round 2 with some real success, and it suddenly seemed like he had taken the best from Yazan and was starting to turn things his way. And then the bell came.
Sakai started round 3 like he had ended round 2 though midway through the round Yazan had began to rediscover his groove, and Sakai's effort seemed to have taken a toll on him, until the two men began to exchange again, this time in center ring. Sadly the exchanges were shortly lived with Yazan being cut from a clash of heads. Thankfully the cut wasn't fight ending and the action continued soon afterwards with a thrilling exchange just moments after the restart. Now it seemed like Yazan was fighting with a point to prove whilst also having a giant target on his face for Sakai's shots.
After 3 really solid rounds, with plenty of highlights, we entered the 4th and final round and, in all honesty, the bout was still up for grabs. Yazan likely won 2 of the first 3, but a good performance from Sakai in the final 3 minutes could have earned him a draw, and he knew it. As for Yazan he would have been desperate to not allow Sakai back into the bout. In the end round was another action packed one, with some great back and forth,
This wasn't an amazing bout, not by any stretch, but it was a wonderfully entertaining little war, with both men standing and exchanging shots. The low profile nature of the bout hid what was a very fun to watch fight and was one that really helped bolster the winner's career. In fact later in 2020 the winner of this one went on to win the East Japan Rookie of the Year, fighting in the All Japan final in early 2021. Sadly the loser of this bout hasn't, at the time of writing, fought since this contest.
Sometimes it's easy to overlook bouts due to the records of men, but as this bout proves, sometimes records need to be ignored and fights just need to be enjoyed, and this is one we genuinely enjoyed!
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.