This week's one to watch is an interesting clash in Japan that pits professional novices against each other on a Kadoebi show, so we'll likely get it on tape delay on youtube. The men involved really afford a loss, but that just adds to sense of both men going out there wanting to not only win, but to win impressively. This is perhaps not one that will get much attention from the Western fans, but is certainly a very interesting, and potentially very explosive, match up.
The One to Watch?
Yuki Nakajima (3-1, 3) Vs Shisui Kawabata (2-1, 2)
February 14th (Friday)
Two former Japanese amateur standouts facing off, both of whom have shown a lot of ability already in their short careers. Despite both having a loss against their names both should still be regarded as talented prospects, with a lot of potential, and both men will know a win here will help them take a huge step towards a Japanese ranking, even this early in their career.
Yuki Nakajima, 24, is the younger brother of Ohashi Gym hopeful Kazuki Nakajima, and is a talented youngster himself. Fighting out of the well established Kadoebi gym Nakajima went 52-21 in the unpaid ranks and impressed early as a professional with his heavy handed style and aggression. He suffered his first loss last August, being out pointed by the excellent Ryu Horikawa. Since that loss Nakajima has bounced back with a win over domestic veteran Yasuhiro Tanaka.
Aged 23, though he turns 24 in March, Shisui Kawabata is a very highly regarded young who had impressed as an amateur, where he ran up a misleading 29-18 (11) record and was selected as a sparring partner for Naoya Inoue before he'd even debuted. Despite being dropped on his professional debut, by Natchaphon Wichaita he has impressed since. Sadly he was beaten last time out, losing a competitive decision to Rikito Shiba in September in a Japanese Youth title fight and since then has been developing at the Watanabe Gym.
What to expect?
Both of these kids can fan, but are skilled but aggressive, both hit hard for smaller weight fighters and both are well schooled from their days as amateurs. We expect there to be a lot of early respect. Both will want to see what the other has to offer before putting their foot on the gas. For Nakajima the key will be figuring out Kawabata's southpaw stance and this will be his first bout against a southpaw. As for Kawabata the key will be neutralising Nakajima's power.
After a couple of rounds of seeing what each other have we see the pace of this stepping up, and both men letting heavier bombs go as they try to not only beat each other, but stop the other. The respect will be there, and it won't become a wild brawl, but it will be high speed chess, with dynamite being thrown by both.
The bad news?
Sadly the loser here will have a big hole to climb out of, and they will seriously need to be given some confidence building bouts later in the year. Sure 2 losses this early in their career won't be the end. The likes of Ryoichi Tamura, Keita Kurihara and Kyosuke Sawada have all proven that losses can be used as learning experiences. But the loser here will need to be given easier buots to rebuild before they get another serious test.
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.