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.
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).