The 2020 Treasure Trove - Clowning and tomfoolery in debut of Japanese youngster!
Usually in this serious we look at the best bouts, the most exciting action and the best back and forth. Sometimes however the fights we feature in the Treasure Trove are not included due to the action of the bouts, but rather the fighters involved in them. That's the case today as we shine a light on a hugely enigmatic fighter who caught our attention when he made his debut in December and put on a performance that we feel deserves to be viewed again. It was interesting, it was exciting and it was very much a "non-Japanese" style performance from someone who wanted to make an impression from the off.
Takahiro Tai (0-0) vs Ryosei Hamaguchi (6-6, 2)
The debutant in question was Takahiro Tai, a young switch hitter who had been a solid amateur on the Japanese scene before turning professional under the gym run by his father. Before his debut he had spoken about wanting to show what he could do in the professional ranks and seemed like an ambitious youngster, looking to race through the ranks at a young age. He wanted people to remember his name, to sit up and to take note of him. At this point in time he was just 23 and despite being young he was very much the sort of fighter who wanted to grab attention and not waste time to create a buzz about himself.
In the opposite corner was 24 year old Ryosie Hamaguchi, who had debuted in 2015 and had had mixed success. Up to this point he had fought 12 bouts, and despite losses piling up he had shared the ring with some decent opposition, such as Yuki Iriguchi and Toshiki Shimomachi. Sadly coming in to this bout his form had been faltering, and he had lost his previous 3, and 4 of his previous 5, but came into this with a point to prove. He didn't want to be shown up by a debutant, he didn't want another defeat on his record and he wanted to kick start his career against a some what cocky fighter. He wanted to give Tai an introduction to the professional ranks.
The confident Tai came out southpaw but after just 10 seconds made his first switch and quickly began fighting with his hands at his waist. It was a weird start for a man in his debut, given that so many fighters on their debut show nerves and focus on winning rather than looking stylish or flash. It was also not a very Japanese style, with Tai's style looking more like of Emanuel Augustus than a typical Japanese one. Switches were a regular thing through the round, as was Tai opening up with some wild, wide shots, that were thrown with bad intent. He was being caught, quite a bit, himself, but he really didn't seem to be phased by anything and was instead trying to entertain, show what he could do and show glimpses of the flash and style that he had been talking about before his debut. He was, in some ways, the perfect mix of clowning and action, and within a round it was hard to look away from him as we really didn't know what was about to happen next.
I n round 2 Tai looked a bit more serious and the clowning was toned down a notch as he got more aggressive. That was afor around 20 seconds before the clowning resurfaced and he began to try and embarrass Hamaguchi. Sadly Hamaguchi had no answer. When he let his hands go Hamaguchi would be punished, when he showed some ambition Tai would cover up and counter, and it was clear the men were operating on totally different levels. That was shown even more when Tai put his man down with a sweeping left hand. Hamaguchi beat the count but Tai wasn't there to waste his time and a follow up left forced the referee to jump in.
For those expecting a competitive bout this wasn't one of those. For those wanting to see a debutant entertain and show a fun, flashy style this is perfect. This was entertainment first, this was almost exhibition stuff at times from Tai who looks like a genuine character. He might not be the sensational talent he thinks he is, and he will almost certainly need to tighten up to reach title level, but there's no denying that this youngster caught our attention and made us desperate to see more and more of him. We think his cockiness will catch up with him one day, but until that happens we're going to enjoy the new clown of Japanese boxing thanks to this performance.
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.