Back on December 10th we saw Japanese Light Welterweight champion Daishi Nagata (15-2-2, 6) make his first defense of the title he won back in July, when he upset Koki Inoue. In that defense Nagata fought to a 7th round technical draw against Akihiro Kondo (32-9-2, 18) in a bout that is seriously worth watching for those that missed it. It wasn’t a fight of the year contender, but was a compelling bout, and one to enjoy during the upcoming barren stretch from boxing.
Having watched the bout when it aired in December, and now going back over to rewatch it we thought we’d discuss what we took from the bout, and what we saw from the two men that was worth talking about
1-This started at a hot pace
With Nagata having secured a career best win over Koki Inoue just a few months before this fight it was clear that he was going to be flying high with confidence coming into this one. He tried to show that straight from the off and put a lot into round 1 as confidence and excitement seemed to be driving him on. Given that Nagata is a really good boxer and Kondo is a really tough guy we’re not too sure why Nagata didn’t try to control the bout at a slower pace and use his speed to control the action. Whatever the reason it didn’t matter, this started hot and was really fun from the opening bell due to Nagata’s decision to take the fight to Kondo, and Kondo’s willingness to respond and counter. Sadly for Nagata we suspect this hot pace he looked to set will turn into a learning experience for future bouts.
2-Kondo isn’t shot... but he is old
In 2019 Akihiro Kondo suffered losses to Downua Ruawaiking, via 5th round KO, and Andy Hiraoki, by UD10, and heading into 2020 we had assumed he was pretty much shot. In reality however he’s not shot, in fact the 35 year old is still a very, very capable fighter. He is however an old fighter, and his speed has dropped just a touch along with his reactions and movement. His timing is still there, his toughness is still there and he’s full of experience. If a fighter wants to beat Kondo the best tactics are not to treat him like a shot fighter and blast him out, that’s not going to happen. To beat Kondo you really should be looking to avoid a fight, boxing smartly and staying on the move, don’t let him time his counters and certainly don’t stand still in front of him. Even as early as the opening round Kondo was landing solid right hands on Nagata, and chin checking the champion. Nagata may have been winning the early rounds but he was certainly not getting things all his own way. With this in mind we would certainly not suggest Jin Sasaki’s team look at Kondo for a bout in 2021, he’s too tough, too rugged and too experienced for the teenage sensation.
3-The bout had great atmosphere at Korakuen Hall
Given that the Japanese Boxing Commission has really limited what fans are allowed to do at fights, in terms of preventing cheering, chanting, yelling and the like, it was great to hear a raucous atmosphere here for this bout. It was a rough, tough war, with a lot of shots being landed by both and it deserved the atmosphere it got, with plenty of nose being made by fans who were clearly picked up on the camera. Whilst it did seem like some of the noise was probably prohibited noise, there was also plenty of applause from excited fans who knew they were getting a really, really good bout. It’s a shame the bout ended the way it did, following Nagata being badly cut from head clashes, but it was a good one and it got a worthy reception from the crowd…
...or at least we think it did. Sadly the camera at Korakuen Hall was focused on the far side of the ring and the fans there didn’t seem to be showing much in terms of excitement or emotion, so this take away does come with the caveat that the noise may have been added afterwards. If that was the case it was well done, and did actually add to the fight, rather than distract from it.
4-Nagata was lucky when the bout was stopped
It can seem silly at times to talk about a fighter being lucky but we really do feel that Nagata was very, very lucky for the early conclusion here. He seemed to be getting tagged repeatedly and Kondo seemed to be coming on strong, and had been for several rounds. Had this bout gone on much longer Nagata would almost certainly have ended up taking the loss on the scorecards. It’s never great to defend a title by technical draw, but it’s better than losing it by technical decision and had this bout gone midway into round 8 we genuinely feel the title would have changed hands. Sadly for Kondo he does have himself to blame, he admitted his gameplan was about coming on strong in the middle rounds and had he started to get more offensive just 1 round earlier he would have had rounds in the bag needed to take home the decision and the Japanese title.
5-Michiaki Someya did a great job
We feel this goes without saying now but Michiaki Someya continued to do a great job as the referee. He was clear with his instructions to the fighters, who fell into a number of ugly clinches as the bout went on, he was clear when he ruled out a knockdown in round 2 and felt comfortable correcting himself when he realised it was a slip, he was always aware of what was going on and when they could work in a clinch he let them. He seemed to quickly realise that due to the orthodox Vs southpaw dynamic that clinches could get messy and head clashes could occur and did his best to limit them. He couldn’t prevent them all, but he did a good job in a fight that could easily have gotten very ugly at times.
When we see a fighter with what we know is a solid chin being dropped it can awe us in a way that a typical KO doesn't. Today we look at a brutal KO from 2019 that left us in awe. We had seen a steel chin not just cracked, but burst and smashed with single spectacular shot. Not only was the shot a beauty but the way the recipient went down was even better, taking this from a great finish into a sensational one.
Downua Ruawaiking (14-0, 11) Vs Akihiro Kondo (37-7-1, 18)
In February 2019 we got an IBF World title eliminator at 140lbs between teak tough Japanese veteran Akihiro Kondo and unknown Thai Downua Ruawaiking. On paper this seemed likely to be a really interesting match up. It was a test for both the young unbeaten fighter and a chance to Kondo to get a second shot, following a hard fought loss to the hard hitting Sergey Lipinets. What few would have expected was one of the most stunning finishes of the year.
As previously mentioned Kondo had already had a shot at the top losing to Sergey Lipinets. Prior to losing to Lipinets we had seen Kondo prove himself to be teak tough, hard working and a very talented fighter even if he was somewhat flawed. During his previous 45 bouts Kondo had beaten the likes of Valentine Hosokawa, Yoshitaka Kato, Rimrex Jaca, Shogo Yamaguchi and Jeffrey Arienza whilst winning domestic and regional honour.
Despite losing to Lipinets in 2017 we had seen Kondo take big shots and walkthrough through them, showing not just an iron chin but also an incredible will to win and incredible physical strength, forcing back the hard hitting Kazakh-born Russian.
Ruawaiking on the other hand had never even fought outside of Thailand. He was a prospect, but a relatively unknown one, who's best wins were against lower level regional competition, like Sonny Katiandagho and Adam Diu Abdulhamid, who had run him super closer. He was young, strong, tough and big at the weight, but very much unproven. The view was that if he was going to win it would be by out boxing Kondo, using his legs and movement, and making the most of the fact that Kondo was so much older than he was.
Despite being seen as the under-dog Downua had impressed in the first 4 rounds, doing what we had seen as his only way to win. He was boxing, moving, sticking the jab in Kondo's face and keeping things long. When Kondo was up close the Thai landed some solid shots of his own, but in the first 4 rounds he never seemed to buzz the Japanese fighter.
In round 5 however things changed, and of boy did they ever change in a dramatic and eye catching fashion!
Just after the half way point of round 5, which is where we join the fight for the finish, we see Downua land a massive right uppercut. The shot sent Kondo down like a an Angel who had just been hit in the head with a cannonball. The cast iron chin of Kondo had been smashed. His heart and will power were still there as he tried to beat the count, some how not being out cold, but he had no idea where he was when he was upright.
This was brilliantly eye catching, and a brilliant way for Downua to put himself on the map.
Last weekend we saw Mongolian fighter Tuguldur Byambatsogt (2-0) score an impressive win over Japanese based Dominican puncher Vladimir Baez, in the Knock Out Dynamite tournament final at 65KG. The win was a very solid performance for such a novice professional and proved that Byambatsogt's debut win over Shusaku Fujinaka was no fluke, or win of circumstance.
With a couple of solid wins behind him, it seems an ideal time to give Byambatsogt the "Five For" treatment, and look at 5 opponents that he could be matched up with next. Unlike most fighters mentioned in this series we're certainly not discussing a big name, or big potential fights, but we do have some interesting bouts that could help the Mongolian really make a name for himself by the end of the year.
1-Akihiro Kondo (32-9-1, 18)
The biggest bout that we could see Byambatsogt in some time soon would be a bout with former world title challenger Akihiro Kondo. On paper this would be a mismatch, but Byambatsogt has shown the type of style that could see him really torment the older, slower, Kondo. Over a 6, or even 8 round, distance we could see Byambatsogt taking a decision over Kondo in a similar fashion to Andy Hiraoka's win over the Japanese fighter last year. This would be a tough ask, and it would take some brave match making, but we genuinely see this as being a possibility for Byambatsogt.
2-Alvin Lagumbay (11-5-1, 10)
We've seen Byambatsogt taking on heavy handed fighters already, and making them pay for their crudeness. With that in mind we don't think his team are afraid of punchers, and that could be a good reason for him to take on Filipino slugger Alvin Lagumbay. Whilst it's unclear whether Byambatsogt will be looking to card out his career in Japan or not, it is worth noting that Lagumbay is known in Japan. In fact Lagumbay is known further afield for his double knockdown against Keita Obara, and that could help Byambatsogt's profile growing. Beating the guy involved in that memorable incident.
3-Terry Tzouramanis (23-4-3, 3)
Stepping away from punchers we'd like to see Byambatsogt face off with different styles of fighters and Australian Terry Tzouramanis would certainly ask a lot of different questions of the Mongolian. At 34 years old Tzouramanis is certainly on the slide, but a win over him still means something, especially after his recent win over Brandon Ogilvie. This could potentially see Byambatsogt getting some experience "down under" or continue his development in Japan and would let us see him up against something who thinks about what he does, and goes to work without looking for a knockout. Over 8 rounds, again, this would be a genuinely good test for the Mongolian.
4-Marlon Paniamogan (10-2-1, 5)
Filipino fighter fighter Marlon Paniamogan might have lost 2 of his last 3, coming up short against Kuntae Lee and Lei Wang, but asked questions of both men and could also ask questions of Byambatsogt. This is one where we feel 8 rounds would be perfect for Byambatsogt to answer any possible questions regarding his stamina. Paniamogan is a decent enough fighter to asked questions, but a safe enough one for Byambatsogt to beat without too many problems.
5-Roberto Ortiz (35-5-2, 26)
Whilst we've assumed that Byambatsogt would remain in Asia going forward it wouldn't be a surprise to see him actually turning up in the West at some point, especially due to the TMT link up that Knock Out Dynamite Tournament had. If he's to hit the West then we not look at facing a Mexican veteran to help announce himself to a new audience? On paper a bout with Mexican veteran Roberto Ortiz looks seriously tough, but the 34 year old Ortiz has lost his last 4, is win-less in his last 5, and has been stopped in 3 of his last 4. It would still be a really tough test, but would see Byambatsogt taking on someone of some name value, who has faced other notables fighters and fought on US TV.
Going forward we're going to really look forward to seeing where Byambatsogt goes, and really hope the Mongolian builds on his really impressive start to professional boxing. We'd ideally love to see him continue fight on Dangan shows, but in reality the 140lb fighter probably has limited options, long term, if he does remain in Japan. We suspect it won't be long until he begins to fight outside of Asia.
Thinking Out East
With this site being pretty successful so far we've decided to open up about our own views and start what could be considered effectively an editorial style opinion column dubbed "Thinking Out East" (T.O.E).