This past weekend we all focused on a show in Las Vegas to watch Naoya Inoue retain his WBA "Super", IBF and "Ring Magazine" Bantamweight titles. Prior to Inoue however the same card had unbeaten Japanese 140lb fighter Andy Hiraoka (16-0, 11) scoring his second win in Las Vegas, where he stopped American Rickey Edwards (12-5, 3) in the 4th round.
On paper this looked a decent bout for unbeaten Hiraoka. After all Edwards, although he had lost a few times, had gone the distance with both Kent Cruz and Mykquan Williams, both well regarded American prospects. It wasn't expected to be a thrilling bout, but we did expect to see Hiraoka being asked some real questions.
Sadly it wasn't the test we had hoped for, with Hiraoka making light work of Edwards. Despite the easy nature of the win there was plenty of take aways from the contest.
1-Hiraoka is naturally quick and has some great tools
One of the first things that was clear here is that Andy Hiraoka is a naturally quick athletic fighter. He's looks like a natural athlete with quick twitch fibres. His hand speed is impressive, his foot speed is good, which is no surprise given he was a former distance runner, and his upper body movement was quick. He is a natural athlete in the ring, and has those athletic assets that you can't teach someone. He's explosive, fast, big, strong and rangy.
2-Edwards couldn't get Hiraoka's respect
From very early on it was clear that Edwards couldn't make Hiraoka take him seriously. Edwards lacked the power to make Hiraoka think twice, and he looked worried very early on. Even when Edwards did land clean he posed little threat to Hiraoka who took things clean with no issues at all. It would have been a much more interesting fight if Edwards did have something to trouble Hiraoka. What didn't help matters was that Edwards was also negative, and never seemed to really sit on his shots either, allowing Hiraoka to relax even more.
3-Hiraoka has a lot of polishing to do
Whilst we are impressed by Hiraoka's athletic ability we're unconvinced by his boxing skills. At times he's open, his wide stance could be an issue in the future and he can be countered. It is early days for him still, and he did lack amateur experience, but it's clear that he's a work in progress, he has a lot of polishing to do and his team need to give him bouts that allow him to work on those issues. To develop he needs to be in with better fighters than Edwards, and he needs to be asked questions by opponents. Don't get us wrong, he's a decent boxer, but he's a fantastic athlete. Fingers crossed his boxing skills can, one day, match his athleticism. If that happens he could go a long way.
4-The bout could have been stopped earlier
Whilst we are for giving fighters a chance, we do feel like Celestino Ruiz could have stepped in earlier here. The fight probably could have been stopped after the third knockdown of the bout. By then it was clear that Edwards was over-matched, he was doing little, he was showing almost no ambition, and had been down 3 times in around 4 minutes. We know Ruiz was giving Edwards the benefit of the doubt, but he really didn't need to, and it didn't really add anything. Edwards was mentally done by then. It wasn't a bad stoppage by Ruiz, but he could have stopped it earlier and no one would have complained. Especially given Ruiz did count 10 after the third knockdown...
5-"The Bubble" is a very interesting lay out
If we're being honest venues are one thing that keep catching our eye in this current climate of boxing, with no or limited fans. The Bubble is one of the most interesting ones, with the lights every where a neon heavy look. It almost looks like it's a party venue or something rather than a boxing venue. Credit to those behind setting it up and is a very unique backdrop for a fight. Though we're not sure whether we really like it. It almost feel too bright, and too light. Like they are dressing up the bout too much, rather than letting the action speak for it's self in the ring. That might just be us though and we might be just a touch old fashioned.
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).