One of the many bouts we've seen take place this past week was Takuya Kogawa (31-6-1, 14) scoring a TKO win over Hayato Yamaguchi (15-9-1, 2) at Korakuen Hall on Wednesday. The bout wasn't the best on paper, but it was seen as being a must win for both men. Sadly for Yamaguchi, there was only one winner and it wasn't him.
As has become a bit of a custom in recent weeks we've enjoyed the bout, and now we're here to share our views on the bout with our Take Aways from the contest.
1-The venue was incredibly empty
We know venues in Japan are taking the current on going global situation seriously and are limiting the number of fans in venues for shows. Even with that in mind the Korakuen Hall was still very, very empty here for this bout. There was only a scattering of fans on the benches opposite the camera and it looked really eerie. Whilst we understand mid-week shows typically draw smaller audiences than weekend shows, and this was a small show anyway, it was still a bit sad to see the Hall so empty. That was especially true given how exciting Kogawa bouts typically are, and what an incredible servant he has been to Japanese boxing over the years.
2-This was a real fun fight
Typically bouts involving Takuya Kogawa are fun. They always have been and they always will be. He's a talented boxer, but tends to find himself involved in fights, wars and exciting brawls. This was no exception! The styles of the two men gelled really well, they were trading punches on the inside from early on and it was a case of both men thinking they could win in a battle of high output. Whilst this wasn't a FOTY contender or anything like that, it was still a good old fashioned phone booth war and if you missed it it's well worthy of a watch, especially from round 2 and onwards!
3-Weight classes matter
To his absolute credit Hayato Yamaguchi gave this a real good go against Kogawa and there was times where Yamaguchi was landing the better shots, throwing more and seemed to be the better guy. Sadly he was also the smaller guy, the less imposing guy and the guy without the power to make an impact. His best performances have been at Light Flyweight, including a close loss to Masayuki Kuroda. Here his success always seemed blunted by Kogawa being the much stronger man, and thats not a surprise given he's a natural Flyweight. In fact Kogawa was once a very effective Super Flyweight. Physically they looked similar, but Kogawa was a natural Flyweight taking on a natural Light Flyweight and the physical differences showed.
4-Kogawa won, but it's not the same as him being back to his best!
We genuinely thought Kogawa was shot to bits entering this bout. He's not looked good in since his 2016 bout with Yudai Arai, and since then he had gone 2-2-1, but struggled on both wins and could well have been 0-5. Genuinely he could have lost all 5. He looked strong, he looked good and he looked the boss, scoring his first stoppage since 2013. It should however be noted that Yamaguchi was the smaller man, he'd been stopped a few times earlier in his career, and he was fighting for just the third time since 2017. Yes this was a good win for Kogawa on paper, and for his confidence, but it will take a more serious test to know if this win was more about him being good, or Yamaguchi being bad.
5-Match Yamaguchi right and he could be in some amazing fights!
One thing we don't want to do is write Hayato Yamamguchi off after this bout. Instead we actually want to see more of him, but we want to see him matched softer than this. With that in mind we can't help but think Yamaguchi against someone like Tsuyoshi Sato, Katsuki Mori or Kenshi Noda could be really good in 2021. Those would all be fun fights, real exciting contests up close and at a high pace. We would see Yamaguchi as the under-dog in all 3, but he has enough about him to ask questions or all 3 men, and make for some really good action!
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).