Last weekend we got the chance to catch the TV broadcast of Andy Hiraoka's (17-0, 12) return to a Japanese ring, as he took on Fumisuke Kimura (9-7-1, 6) for the second time. The bout was little more than a stay busy for the talented and promising Hiraoka, and saw him stop Kimura in 3 rounds, rather than going the scheduled as the two did in 2018. It was a win that looked easy for Hiraoka, but it was also a win that deserves a bit more attention than we originally gave it. With that in mind lets have look back over the bout, and give our Five Take Aways from the bout.
1-There's still work to do with Hiraoka
With 17 bouts to his name we'd have assumed Andy Hiraoka would be a polished fighter, but in reality there is still a lot of work to do with him. His lack of an amateur career shows, and he's very much a great athlete who's not a good boxer. Technically there is plenty more for him to learn at the Ohashi Gym.
One one hand that's a negative. Suggesting he's still got a lot of improvements to make and is still so limited as a boxer after 17 fights. On the other hand we see it as a positive and given there is a lot of room to improve, he, and his team, should realise that his potential isn't close to being reached yet. Fingers crossed they manage to make the strides with his development that are there for him. He has a lot going for him, and his team shouldn't be relying on what he's learned so far. In fairness however we are seeing improvements with every fight and that's a great sign for his future.
2-Hiraoka needs to be matched better!
We understand the logic behind this bout, and we'd be stupid to think it was more than it was, but the reality is that he's re-running a bout with a guy he beat 3 years ago. Since then we've seen him impress against better fighters than Kimura and show what he can do to an international audience, though his fights with Top Rank. He now needs to be matched tougher. And we mean much, much tougher. Fingers crossed that the plans for later in this year include a bout with a title holder of some sort. We'd love to see Hiraoka take on someone like Daishi Nagata, the Japanese champion, or Rikki Naito, the OPBF champion. This should be the type of level Hiraoka is fighting by the end of 2021, and there's no real reason why he shouldn't bet getting that level of bout, especially given his dominant win in 2019 against Akihiro Kondo.
3-Kimura's a tough, tough dude!
It's fair to say that Kimura didn't come to roll over. In fact he came with the belief that he could do better against Hiraoka this time than he did in their first meeting. Whilst he had the belief he could do better, it quickly became evident that he couldn't. Although Hiraoka isn't the complete article, he is a much, much, better fighter than the one who went 8 rounds with Kimura 3 years ago. The belief of Kimura however saw him refuse to just fold and instead he took a beating. A vicious, one sided, beating, especially in round 3. Despite being hammered from pillar to post he, somehow, remained upright. This was an incredible showcase of toughness from him, and one that really didn't need to be done. Credit to Kimura for not going down, but man was this brutal to watch at times.
4-A poor showing from Katsuhiko Nakamura
Genuinely we need to credit Kimura's toughness, but in reality we need to question referee Katsuhiko Nakamura for letting this continue as long as it did. Nakamura could easily have stopped this a minute or so earlier. Kimura barely landed a shot of note after the opening minute of the round and took a genuine hammering until Nakamura stepped in. Either of the flurries with Kimura in the corner, with about a minute of the round left should really have been the end of the fight, but Nakamura left this continue as if he he personally disliked Kimura. It was ugly, and a rare case of a Japanese referee getting it wrong. We understand why he wanted so long, but he really didn't need to.
5-Time for Kimura to hang them up
We've mentioned a few times that the ending to the bout was brutal and one sided. It was also thee third straight loss for Kimura, who is now win-less in 4 and has been stopped in back to back bouts. Whilst we were impressed by how tough the 33 year old was this was punishing and for the good of his health we would live to see this be the end for him. He doesn't need to take more punishment, and he doesn't need to take any more beatings like this. Fingers crossed he walks away from the sport now, on the back of a bout that was televised on Fuji TV against one of the brightest Japanese hopefuls at 140lbs.
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).