This past Thursday we saw talented Japanese Light Welterweight Gonte Lee (3-0-1, 1) pick up his most notable win so far, as he defeated Aso Ishiwaki in an 8 rounder at Korakuen Hall. With that win under his belt Lee has done 8 rounds for the first time, and beaten his first Japanese opponent. He has also taken huge steps towards getting his first title fight.
With that win now under his belt we've decided to focus on Lee this week as we look at 5 potential bouts for the talented southpaw, who recent turned 25 and will not be wanting to waste too much time before moving his career to the next level.
Note - Due to the current restrictions in Japan, we have only considered Japanese fighters here.
1-Koichi Aso (24-9-1, 15)
Although it seems early to be taking major risks with Lee's career we really don't imagine that Teiken will hold him back. Instead we expect Teiken to want him to move towards a title fight in 2022 or 2023. With that in mind we wouldn't be surprised by Teiken looking to match their man with a former Japanese champion. There's few around at 140lbs, but one of those that would be available would be veteran Kocihi Aso. The 35 year old Aso has been an amazing servant to Japanese boxing over the years but is very much a fighter on the slide, he has lost 2 of his last 4 and looked very much washed in his razor thin win over Shogo Yamaguchi. He is an ideal opponent for Lee.
2-Akihiro Kondo (32-9-2, 18)
Although Aso would be ideal there is a chance Teiken have bigger aspiration for their 35 year old hopeful. It that's right then maybe they'll take a look at former world title challenger Akihiro Kondo as a future opponent. This would be a very high risk bit of match making, but the reward would be huge. And Lee has the tools to beat Kondo. We last saw Kondo in the ring in 2020, when he pushed Daishi Nagata all the way in a 7th round technical draw. Before then however he had looked poor against Tatsuya Yanagi and was easily outboxed by Andy Hiraoka. If Lee works on the gameplan that Hiraoka did, using his speed, movement and jab, and avoids a tear with the smaller, much older Kondo, he could well take a wide decision over him. This would be a chance to make a huge statement for Lee.
3-Homare Yasui (5-1-2, 4)
A left of field pick here for a potential Lee opponent is 2019 All Japan Rookie of the Year winner, at Welterweight, Homare Yasui. The 21 year old Yasui is an aggressive, exciting and physically strong fighter who is hungry to make a mark on the sport himself. He wouldn't be there to roll over, and he wouldn't be there to make up the numbers. Instead he would be, much like Aso Ishiwaki was, there to win, there to beat the touted amateur standout. He would be there looking to make a name for himself. We suspect that the skills and amateur pedigree of Lee would be enough to defeat Yasui, but he'd have to work hard for it, and it would be a very interesting match up. It would also give Yasui a chance to return to Korakuen Hall, where he won Rokkie of the Year!
4-Ryuji Ikeda (14-7-3, 9)
In terms of more well known potential foes for Lee one possible opponent would be Ryuji Ikeda, a former Japanese title challenger who has experience, power and a fan friendly style. Sadly he has just one win in his last 5 bouts, and lost to recent Lee opponent Aso Ishiwaki, but there's enough value in him to make him a viable opponent for Lee at this early point in his career. Ikeda wouldn't pose too much of a threat to Lee, but should have the tools to ask questions of Lee, take Lee a few rounds and make the Teiken hopeful work for a win. Obviously it would also be a win over a former Japanese title challenger, and that would be the key here. It would also give Lee a chance to score a rare stoppage, something we don't think he'll get many of
5-Shogo Yamaguchi (12-6-3, 7)
We mentioned Koichi Aso at the start of this and it seems right to mention his most recent opponent, Shogo Yamaguchi, as another potential foe for Lee, and like Aso he makes for a very interesting one. He lacks the name value and recognition of Aso, but is a very viable domestic opponent, who comes to fight, press forward, lets his hands go and can leave himself open to counters. He's not the best fighter out there, but he's more than good enough as an opponent, especially this early in Lee's career. The skills, movement and speed of Lee should be too much for Yamaguchi, but this should still be a bout that proves him as a fighter heading in the right direction and should be a similar type of test to that that Ishiwaki posed this past Thursday.
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).