This past Monday we saw talented teenager Jin Sasaki (8-0, 7) score his biggest to date, blasting out Shun Akaiwa inside a minute to claim a JBC ranking at 140lbs. The win was incredibly impressive for the 19 year old and immediately sees him make up for the disappointment of his Rookie of the Year journey ending the way it did last year, where he was unable to compete in one of the bouts.
The win for Sasaki also opens up the big question of "What is next for Jin Sasaki?" To try and answer that we have decided to feature Sasaki in our latest "Five For..." article, looking at 5 potential domestic rivals for the talented and fast rising teenage prodigy.
1-Akihiro Kondo (32-9-1, 18)
We start with potentially the most interesting possible match up, and one that, on paper, should be relatively easy to make. That would put Sasaki against veteran tough guy Akihiro Kondo. This would be a serious test for Sasaki, who would go into the bout knowing that Kondo is teak tough, but also a great chance for the youngster to get some serious ring time and experience. The teams of the two fighters both work closely with those behind A-Sign, with Sasaki being an Hachioji Nakaya gym fighter and Kondo being from the Ichiriki, and it would be a brilliant main event for an A-Sign show, with a potential passing of the torch moment...or a potential chance for Kondo to put in one final great performance.
2-Ryuji Ikeda (14-7-3, 9)
Of course Kondo might be seen as a step too far, a step too much, and too much too soon. With that in mind Sasaki's team might want to find someone a little bit easier. If that's the case then a bout with Ryuji Ikeda might made a lot of sense. Ikeda fought for the title Japanese title last year, being stopped in 5 rounds by Koki Inoue, and despite that loss, and a subsequent one to Aso Ishiwaki, he has proven himself to be a fan friendly and aggressive fighter who comes to win. With that in mind we suspect Ikeda Vs Sasaki would be a lot of fun, and a very, very winnable bout for the teenager, who could potentially do the job much quicker than Inoue.
3-Cristiano Aoqui (15-8-2, 11)
Talking about fan friendly bouts a contest between Sasaki and Japanese-Brazilian puncher Cristiano Aoqui is one that oozes potential excitement. Aoqui isn't the most polished or talented fighter out there, but he's a wicked puncher, with an aggressive style and has a fighters mentality. He can be out boxed, but not many in Japan will be able to do that, and even fewer will be able to win a war with him. Given how Sasaki fights we suspect he'll be one of the very few who would fancy his chance in a war with the man from the Kadoebi Gym. This would be a great bout on either an A-Sign show or a Kadoebi promoted Slugfest show, and would be fit to be the chief support on an event from either team.
4-Kenta Endo (5-1-1, 4)
We stay on the idea of wanting to see Sasaki in fan friendly bouts with a contest against Teiken's Kenta Endo, with the added fact that this could well end up on a Dynamic Glove card, televised by G+. Endo was destroying fighters early in his career, with his power, aggression and physicality, but lost last time out to recent Sasaki victim Shun Akaiwa. For Endo a bout with the man who beat the man who beat him would certainly be an attractive proposition whilst Sasaki would be taking on a puncher and potentially getting some TV exposure. This would be a fun clash and a potentially very explosive one between two men who can really throw bombs.
5-Aso Ishiwaki (8-2-1, 6)
We end this with a fight that, from a fans perspective, would be great but a bout that really doesn't make a lot of sense from the fighters perspective. That is a clash between Sasaki and 21 year excitement machine Aso Ishiwaki. Unless the Japanese Youth title could be put on the line we don't see Sasaki and Ishiwaki meeting, though we do wish we could. Sasaki is of a hard hitting boxer-puncher with a very aggressive style and heavy hands. Ishiwaki on the other hand is a teak tough pressure fighter, with under-rated power and very over-looked boxing skills, putting them together would provide real fireworks, test both men and give us something truly memorable. At the moment though it's one we suspect will be left to the side, and could end up being one that builds for a few years. Both of these young men have the ability to win national titles and we would love to see them clash when the bout is worth more, even if it would be an amazing bout for the start of 2021.
Earlier this week we saw the latest show from A-Sign boxing and one of the most eye catching bouts on that card was the opening round win scored by 19 year old Jin Sasaki (8-0, 7) against Shun Akaiwa (5-2-1, 3). The bout lasted around 45 seconds, with Sasaki putting on arguably his best performance so far and stopping the JBC ranked Akaiwa in very, very impressive fashion.
With that bout now viewed, re-viewed, and viewed again we thought we'd share some of our take aways from the bout.
1-A-Sign Boxing's presentation is solid!
Okay we start this by talking about the presentation and not the fight, but bear with us as it's certainly relevant here. The whole event was presented very nice, despite being very dark. The lights weren't focused on the crowd but instead on the fighters, hiding the fact that there was only a small crowd, the commentary for the event worked nicely and added the occasion and the stream quality was clear and clean through out. This is the first time, to our knowledge, that A-Sign have live streamed one of their own events and the way they did it was really solid. Yes there are issues that can be picked at, such as reusing music for introductions through the show, but overall a very nice presentation with a multi-camera set up. The commentators didn't talk for the sake of talking, and the the focus was on the in ring action.
If, or rather when, A-Sign do this again we would like to see them add replays post-fight, maybe include some post fight interviews and tweak the onscreen graphics, but that's us being picky. This was very professional, and very nicely presented. Simple but very solid.
2-Power, speed and aggression...Sasaki has em!
It's hard to talk too much about a fight that lasts around 45 seconds, but even in that short glimpse of time we saw enough to say that Sasaki has some of the tools needed to go a long way. Straight from the opening bell he was aggressive, exciting, and throwing sharp, hard, fast punches. He looked incredibly quick, incredibly powerful and strong. Whilst there was some real crudeness to his work at times, there was also the brash confidence of "I can take you out". He did look very wild in the opening seconds, but he also showed a really nice jab and the finishing shot, a brilliant left hook, was brutal. Sasaki does need some polishing, but there is already a lot to like about him, and he looks like he has natural tools to have a successful career.
3-Akaiwa was beaten before a punch was thrown
With it being a short bout it's hard too read too much into what happened in the ring, but we can't help feeling that Akaiwa was a beaten man before he got into the ring. He looked nervous, was looking down a lot, and seemed to be a man who had accepted that he was going to get beat before a punch was thrown. This probably wasn't helped by Sasaki looking like a confident ball of machismo. Akaiwa seemed to be a fighter who had mentally crumbled in his ring walk. Maybe we are reading too much into things, but it very much felt like Akaiwa, despite being JBC ranked coming into the bout, didn't have the belief in himself that he could win here.
Whilst it's easy to look back on what happened and say that, it seemed like it was the case during the short fight as well. Akaiwa threw little more than arm punches, there was little conviction on what he threw and he didn't seem to complain at all at the referee stopping it, despite the fact he was up on his feet after being dropped.
4-Koji Tanaka's count was really weird..and isn't consistent.
We've just mentioned how Akaiwa was stood up right when the bout was stopped but that really doesn't explain the finish very well at all. Referee Koji Tanaka picked up the count after the knockdown at the count of 3 and seemed to be giving a consistent count up to the count of 8. Akaiwa had gotten up quickly and it seemed like we would go on. Then Tanaka made a Steve Smoger like decision to delay the "9" slightly and the "10", giving Akaiwa around and extra 2 or 3 seconds. Tanaka then waved off the bout.
On first viewing this may look very awkward and weird, and is perhaps unfair to the fighter scoring the knockdown. In reality however this actually gave Tanaka an extra second or two to decide to stop the bout. Making the right decision. It also gave Akaiwa that extra moment to decide if he wanted to continue. Too often we see a fighter "pretend" the wanted to go for it, getting up at 10. The style of count Tanaka gave was awkward but prevent any type of situation like that. We're not sure if it's a normal thing for him, but we liked it and would like to see more referees use that touch of discretion where needed. It's not like he let Akaiwa continue and turn the fight around, but it was an extra second or to decide whether or not Akaiwa needed to be stopped.
We'll be looking to see if this is a usual Koji Tanaka thing, or whether it was a case of "this fight hasn't gone long, lets see if I can give the fighter benefit of the doubt", but whatever it was we liked it and it was a good bit of common sense refereeing. Notably it doesn't appear to be a consistent thing with Tanaka, who didn't do the same on August 18th, for a bout between Yuichi Wakita and Kazunori Hirano, but it was very notable and clearly looked deliberate in this bout with Sasaki and Akaiwa so we will keep a close eye on how he issues counts going forward.
5-Boxing is a form of entertainment...and Sasaki gets it!
From his entrance and gown to his performance in the ring it was clear that Sasaki gets it! He walks confidently, he's naturally charismatic, catches the attention and oozes the "Come watch me" magnetism that stars need and knows he needs to entertain. This was seen through out his entrance but also the fight. After dropping Akaiwa he was making it clear he desperately wanted Akaiwa to get up so he could finish him in style. Had the referee now ruled Akaiwa was unfit to continue we would have almost certainly been left with a brutal finish. This is a young kid who knows that he needs to sell himself, he needs to entertain and he needs to excite. And he's doing a real good job at exactly that!
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).