It's been a while since we've been able to share the "Best of Boxing Raise" but after the month we've just had we feel it's an ideal time to bring back this series, and celebrate how much boxing has been added to the service this past month. We do that knowing the service has had one of the best KO's of the year and one of the best bouts of the year in recent weeks!
For those unaware Boxing Raise is a brilliant little Japanese subscription service, run by the people behind the DANGAN shows, and combined video on demand with live streams to give us an excellent outlet for non-televised Japanese domestic bouts. At around $9 it's a fantastic value service and is something we suggest all fans wanting to get a deeper knowledge of Japanese domestic bouts considers.
Of course August didn't feel like the biggest months for boxing, but we are now seeing regular new and fresh content being added to Boxing Raise, and we saw their first live show since boxing returned to Japan, and it was a good one. With that in mind we really do feel like the month is one worthy of sharing some of the service's highlights
As with our previous "Best of Boxing Raise" article all the fights featured here can be accessed by subscribers by logging into Boxing Raise and adding the "movie/####" to "https://boxingraise.com/".
Rookie Brawl - Shota Tanaka (2-0, 1) Vs Shunta Terai (2-5-1, 2) [/movie/8214/]
Back on August 3rd,in front of an empty Korakuen Hall, Shota Tanaka and Shunta Terai battled in East Japan Rookie of the Year bout, and put on a real brawl! This wasn't high quality but was hotly competitive, exciting, and thrilling back and forth. If you want some thrilling low level action this is well worth 15 minutes of your time!
Good night! - Tsubasa Murata (2-1, 1) Vs Yuya Miyazaki (1-1, 1) [/movie/8252/]
We stay with Rookie of the Year action for this recommendation, which came in a Central Japan Rookie of the Year bout between Tsubasa Murata and Yuya Miyazaki. This was less of an action fight and is instead more worth watching due to the finish, which is one of the best KO's we've seen this year. This was a sensational finish and one worth watching the full bout for.
Blink and you miss it! - Kosuke Hayashi (0-0) vs Kanta Yamauchi (0-2-1) [/movie/8240/]
Only got 2 minutes? Then we have the fight for you! This was a short, brutal and intense war between the debuting Kosuke Hayashi and the previously win-less Kenta Yamauchi. The bout really is a blink and you miss it bout that just sees the two men tosses bombs at each other from the opening bell. Short, exciting, and very much bite sized!
Blink and You miss it 2! - Kazuki Terasaki (2-1-1, 2) vs Shori Umezu (0-0) [/movie/8242/]
Of course it wasn't just Hayashi and Yamauchi who decided to have a shoot out this month, and Kazuki Terasaki and Shori Umezu also gave us a shoot out. This was two young men fighting like they had been told they had 1 round to shine, and both just unloaded on each other. This was entertaining violence from the off and a truly brilliant fight!
Regional champion is crowned - Ryota Yamauchi (6-1, 5) vs Satoru Todaka (10-3-4, 4) [/movie/8333/]
In the only title bout on Boxing Raise this past month we saw Ryota Yamauchi take on Satoru Todaka for the vacant WBO Asia Pacific Flyweight title. This was, for all intents, the most significant bout on the service this month, and it also turned out to be a pretty fan friendly bout, and a great chance to see one of the most promising Flyweights show what he can do. This is again a shorter bout, but one well worthy of watching if you use the service.
WAAARRR! - Daisuke Watanabe (10-4-2, 6) vs Shingo Kusano (13-8-1, 5) [/movie/8359/]
The best bout of the month, at least in terms of Asian boxing, was actually shown on Boxing Raise and saw Daisuke Watanabe and Shino Kusano go to war in the final of the Hajime No Ippo 30th Anniversary tournament. This was 8 rounds that gave us everything. This had nice boxing early on, with both men showing good skills, and thrilling back and forth action on the inside later in the bout. This had everything we could want from a tournament final. This is the true stand out fight of the month and the one that is worth the 40 or so minutes it'll take to watch. A genuinely brilliant bout that got better and better as it went on!
On Saturday we saw the Hajime No Ippo 30th anniversary tournament come to a conclusion with Daisuke Watanabe (11-4-2, 6) taking a unanimous decision over Shingo Kusano (13-9-1, 5) in the final. It was a brilliant fight, one of the best bouts we've seen since boxing returned a few months ago, and was fought between two men desperate to win, despite both men coming in to the ring with losses to their name. This was brilliant from the off, and got better and better as it went on.
It needs to be said that this was not the final that we expected when we saw the tournament bracket last year, but it was, in the end, the perfect way to end the tournament. With that said what exactly did we take away from this bout?
1-We need more tournaments in boxing!
This isn't something new, but it is something that needs repeating. Tournaments in boxing are brilliant, and should be a format used a lot more in bouts at a domestic, or regional level. Whether they are 7 man tournament, which this was, or a 4 man tournament, or something more extravagant, such as the Rookie of the Year or The Fighter, tournaments do give some great moments. Coming in to these the fighters have something to battle for, such as a cash prize or a title fight, fans know every bout in the tournament will have meaning, and in the end there are something that sells a longer story. Boxing is too focused on the here and now and forget that it needs to keep fans coming back. A tournament gives an over arching story, and that is a reason to continue to follow the fighters, at least for the short term.
If boxing promoters need some ideas for their mid-tier talent, a tournament is the right option!
2-These two can take a shot!
Prior to this fight Watanabe had been stopped in 2 of his 4 losses and Kusano had been stopped in 3 of his is 8. From their 12 combined losses, 5 were by stoppage. That would suggest that both men had questionable durability right? Well that sure didn't show here as both men landed a huge number of shots and neither man looked like they were close to being stopped. The final 3 rounds saw the two trading bombs in the pocket and providing some sensational back and forth. After seeing this fight we can safely say, both these men can take a shot!
3-Records really are for DJ's
With a combined 23-12-3 (11) record coming in to this bout it would be easy to say these two aren't talented. In fact we dare say some reading this without having seen the fight might say just that. The reality however is that both men are very, very good fighters. Both know their way around the ring, both can box, both can fight. These aren't guys who have records indicative of their talent. Instead they are fighters who have faced stiff competition and picked up losses.
People might like seeing an "0" in a fighters loss column, but in reality a lot of the best fights that happen in global boxing come between fights with losses on their record. This was a great example of that, and really over-delivered, giving us a brilliant fight, despite the perceived limitations of the two men, on paper.
4-Unique prizes can make for an interesting incentive.
We mentioned this bout was the Hajime No Ippo 30th anniversary tournament final. The bout was being fought for a large financial prize and the bonus of having the winning fighter immortalised in Jyoji Morikawa's legendary fictional work. This was something Watanabe himself admitted he wanted to win before the final. Whilst it's certainly a unique prize for winning a bout we can't help but feel that having something out there for the winner of bouts could add the occasion.
We see belts tossed around all the time. The idea of being a "world champion" is being devalued by the week. We regional and international titles tossed around like they are candy. But truly 1-off prizes in this sport are rare. The closest thing we can thing of is the Muhammad Ali Trophy. It would be somewhat cool to see sponsors and the like getting involved in the sport to offer truly unique and exclusive prizes for fighters. If both fighters want the prize that's up for grabs we expect to see them both digging deeper and really going for it.
With that in mind, a UFC style financial incentive for KO's and Fight of the Night is also something we'd like to see more of.
We understand this prize is "so Japanese", but the reality is that other countries could almost certainly do something similar if they thought bout it enough.
5-Japanese referees are fantastic
We often complain about referees stepping in too soon, or too late, or not doing enough about holding and spoiling. We rarely give referees credit when they do a great job. Here however Nobuhiro Matsubara did a great job. It was rare that we saw him, he let the action flow, he maintained continued have a great view of the action, a clean line of site and kept himself out of the picture. Whilst this was a relatively easy fight to referee, he did only what he needed to and split them when they were wrapped up and told them to watch their heads. He let them fight on the inside, allowing for the great action we ended up getting. One thing we see in the West is referees not allowing inside work often enough, but here the referee allowed it as often as possible and didn't instantly break them.
It's not just Nobuhiro Matsubara who has done a great job, but so many of the referees in Tokyo at the moment. They are some of the best in the sport right now and hopefully they begin to get some of the big jobs that seem to be reserved for a very small handful of officials who have been consistently making big mistakes on the big occasions.
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).