In the second of two "Ones to Watch" this week we look at a Bantamweight contest that should have a serious over-flowing of fireworks. The previous bout we looked at in the series, between Reiya Abe and Ren Sasaki, might be a bit of a slow one, but this fight will more than make up for it in terms of action!
The One to Watch?
Kai Chiba (12-1, 8) vs Haruki Ishikawa (8-2, 6)
October 13th (Tuesday)
We all love wars and that's exactly what we expect to see here between two men who have shown power and aggression and under-rated boxing skills. We suspect the styles will gel almost perfectly and we should end up with something of a thriller, where we suspect both men will be hurt before we hear the final bell. Not just do the styles match up well, but so do the mentalities of the two men, who both like a fight. Also it's worth nothing that both men have been stopped before, suggesting that neither is carrying titanium up top.
Of the two men it's probably Kai Chiba who is the more well known, and the more technically developed. The 27 year old has been a professional since 2015 and won his first 7 bouts, scoring noteworthy wins over Ikuro Sadatsune and Ryo Matsubara along the way. By that point he was 7-0 (6) and looked like he was on his way to something big. And then he was upset by Filipino Brian Lobetania, who stopped Chiba in 4 rounds. Since then we've not really seen the same Chiba, who has gone 5-0 (2) and has focused more on his boxing than his puncher.
Although Chiba has changed his style, and is more cautious following the loss to Lobetania, he can still get dragged into a fight. We saw glimpses of that last time he faced a domestic opponent, battling against Matcha Nakagawa, where despite boxing he always seemed happy to let shots go.
Aged just 21 Haruki Ishikawa is still a boxing baby, but he has already been involved in some great action and his 2019 bout with Toshiya Ishii was one of the Japanese highlights last year. Ishikawa turned professional in 2017 and went 6-0 (5) before losing a razor thin decision in the All-Japan Rookie of the Year final in December 2018. Since then he has gone 2-1 (1) and has been fighting at a decent level, against the likes of Alvin Medura and Atsushi Takada.
At his heart Ishikawa is a fighter. He's a heavy handed type of guy, willing to let his hands go, throw bombs and take one to land one. At times he can look unpolished, raw, and green but he also looks very powerful, energetic, strong and is so much fun to watch. He'll stalk his man, march forward, look to get into range and then unload. Sadly his raw approach is likely to see him having a short career, but a very exciting one to follow.
What to expect?
We expect to see bombs away! The pressure and aggression of Ishikawa will likely force a high tempo on the bout, and even when he's not throwing he's always pressing and coming forward. That will likely work in Chiba's favour and from early on it'll be clear that Chiba is the more skilled fighter.
The big question here isn't about skill however, but how much can the two men take. Sadly we think this is another area where Ishikawa comes up short compared to Chiba. Yes both men have been stopped once, but of the two chins we feel Chiba is the tougher and move proven man.
Whilst we suspect Chiba will take home a win, likely by stoppage in the second half of the fight, we do expect this to be so much damn fun from the opening round to the end. We expect both men to take some huge head shots up close, have thrilling exchanges, and put on a show.
The bad news?
There isn't really isn't anything negative about this. It's a low-ish domestic level fight, and we know some fans do tend to avoid that level of bout, but for fans willing to put that to the side and just enjoy the bout they will not be disappointed here!
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.