One of the great things about this series is that we get away with completely ignoring the big names and instead focusing on the unheralded fighters who gave us some amazing action in 2020. The Treasure Trove is full of the unknown fighters who put on a show, rather than the big names. With that in mind we can quite happily enjoy sharing bouts between two men that most fight fans won’t be aware of. For today’s Treasure Trove we’re doing just that, once again, and looking at men who went into their televised bout with just a combined 6 professional bouts between them. Despite the novice status of both men they had both been solid amateurs on the Japanese scene and both knew this was a great chance to make a mark on the domestic boxing scene.
Toshiki Kawamitsu (4-0, 1) vs Kenshi Noda (2-0, 2)
One of the notable facets of Japanese boxing is the fact youngsters don’t pad their records for years. Instead they take risks, they have faith in their teams and belief in themselves, allowing good prospects to be matched against each other early on. There is no long drawn out process of “tick over, after tick over” fights but instead bouts over the 4 and 6 round scheduled are regularly competitive bouts, matched to genuine test fighters. Today we get to share one such case from August 2020, with two talented youngsters clashing in a genuine barn burner of a fight
In one corner was the almost unknown Toshiki Kawamitsu, who had been a solid but unspectacular amateur before turning professional in late 2018. The notable takeaways from his amateur career was that he had been regarded as being in the top 10 in Japan at his weight, behind some big current names, and that he had been from the same region as Daigo Higa. Other than that there was little to really note about the 25 year old who had shown little power in his first 4 professional bouts, stopping just 1 of his opponents. Despite the lack of power he did look like a man who would, down the line, make a mark of some kind on the domestic title scene. Admittedly it did look like he was a long way from challenging for a national title, but it did seem to be where he would head, one day.
In the other corner was Teiken hopeful Kenshi Noda, who was a much more proven amateur and seemed to be getting groomed as a future contender for Teiken. Like Kawamitsu he was 25 but since turning professional he seemed to show a lot more physicality and power than his opponent, blowing out his first 2 opponents inside a round. Notably he looked the more natural puncher, but his competition had, for the most part, been more limited than Kawamitsu, who had been forced to prove himself against domestic talent whilst Noda was blowing out limited foreign fighters. Despite his poor competition Noda was regarded as the better amateur and the better prospect and went into this fight as the favourite, with the expectation that he would have far too much for the lighter punching Kawamitsu.
What we ended up with was a genuine hidden gem of a bout, and one of our favourite bouts from 2020.
From the first moments of the first round it was clear both men felt this was their chance to shine with both men happy to ignore the typical feeling out round and getting to work from the first few seconds. Despite some wrestling in the opening minute we saw a lot of shots thrown, by both men who looked to establish their game plan. For Noda the key was 2 and 3 punch combinations, looking to get full extension on his shots whilst Kawamitsu looked to set a higher tempo, getting inside with his hooks, and use smart footwork to stop Noda from lining up his straight shots. Through the round both men had real success making for an exhilarating start to the fight.
After a fantastic first round the bout went up a gear in round 2 and both men began to open up even more, with both taking some heavy head shots during what was a brilliant 3 minutes of action. Again there was a little bit of holding and wrestling, but for the vast majority of the round this was clean and exciting back and forth action. It wasn’t a slugfest as such, but was a very exciting technical war, with both men showing their amateur skills, and the way they had adapted to the professional ranks. After a great first round the second was somehow even better.
With great action and fantastic back and forth, it was clear that both men were going to have to answer serious questions as this went on and early in round 3 that was shown when Kawamitsu seemed to hurt Noda, and was then stumbled himself by a left hook. Noda seemed to feel his man was there for the taking and went all out trying to take out Kawamitsu who gutted it out and sent a tiring Noda to the canvas. It was ruled a push or a slip but it was clear that Noda was suddenly coming apart, and he was pushed down again just seconds later.
Knowing he was in trouble Noda tried to fire back big shots but was hurt again as the bout seemed to move up another gear. Noda looked like he was almost out on his feet at times, but was firing back huge bombs at others as we ended up with a chaotic final minute of the round, with Noda finally having a count against him late on, after being on the floor numerous times. It seemed clear that Noda, the man who had blasted out his first 2 opponents was in trouble, and was starting to run on fumes. Kawamitsu on the other hand was like a terrier, biting away at his man.
In round 4 the terrier got to his man once again, and a tired Noda couldn’t keep Kawamitsu off him, eventually being worn down, dropped again and finally saved by the referee who had seen enough.
For fight fans who like exciting little wars this is genuinely brilliant and a bout that deserves the 20 or so minutes to watch. High octane action from the off, relentlessness from Kawamitsu and incredible toughness and bravery from Noda who still looked very uneasy on his feet when he left the ring.
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.