One of the more overlooked prospects in Japan is Jinki Maeda (6-0, 4) who recorded his 6th win on December 27th at the EDION Arena Osaka, as he stopped Kaito Okubo (5-2, 2). With Maeda being one of the prospects that deserves more attention we’ve decided to take a look back on this bout and share our take aways from it.
With Maeda expected to climb up the Japanese rankings in 2021, and potentially even move into a title fight in 2022 or 2023 his career is going to be a good one to follow. On paper this was a really, really good test against a fighter who had won his last 2 bouts, and was looking to really give his career a boost. It was an overlooked bout, but one worthy of a watch for those who use the Boxing Raise service.
1-Okubo is a physical freak...but doesn’t use his size all that well
The first thing that really caught our eye here wasn’t the action in the ring but the size of Okubo. The 23 year old from Neyagawa was fighting at Featherweight here and yet stood just shy of 6’. Maeda is a good sized Featherweight, at 5’8”, but was made to look small by Okubo. Not only is Okubo tall but he’s wiry, with long limbs. Oddly though he really didn’t use his long leavers to great effect. He should have been pumping out the jab but was out jabbed by the short man and all too often looked super apprehensive. For a man with his size and frame he has the potential to be a nightmare opponent, and will almost always be bigger than his opponents at 126lbs, and even going up to 140lbs not many will have his dimensions. We do maybe wonder if his future lies a weight class or two higher than he fought here, especially given that he’s a growing and maturing young man.
2-Maeda figured out Okubo within a round
One of the things that has impressed us with Maeda is his boxing brain, countering punching, footwork and control of distance. These were all on show here, and within a round he had figured out Okubo and what Okubo had to offer. He had a really good read on Okubo’s reach, his speed, and his shot placement. With that in mind he was then much more willing to take risks. He was caught once or twice in round two, but there was little on the shots from Okubo, certainly not enough to trouble the rising youngster. This resulted in him landing several decent left hands before the eventual KO.
3-The KO was nasty!
The bout was ended by a single left hand part way through round 2, with Maeda landing a brutal counter shot. This was a nasty KO blow, and credit to Okubo’s corner for quickly aiding their man, rather than allowing him to try beating the count. If you have a Boxing Raise subscription we suspect you’ll be going back to watch this finish a fair few times as it was a beauty. Interestingly it was the second successive time Maeda has scored a 2nd KO and his 4th T/KO in the first 2 rounds. Despite the early stoppages we wouldn’t describe him as a heavy puncher, but he is a very, very clean puncher, and when he lands he lands right on the point.
4-This fight was a very quiet until the KO
Although both men looked to fight at range, behind their straight punches the styles really didn’t gel at all. Okubo was inactivity, had shots falling short, and only really connected with a couple of worthwhile shots during the 5 minutes that the fight lasted. Maeda did land a few more, and did land the huge KO blow, but in reality this was a very un-Japanese fight. It was rather dull and we suspect Green Tsuda will be looking to put Maeda in with more aggressive fighters in 2021.
There are a lot of interesting Japanese Featherweights out there, and Maeda taking on someone like Ryugo Ushijima would be much, much more interesting. If they want to get him rounds, a bout with Hyuma Fujioka may also be worth considering, especially if he's intending to move into 8 round bouts sooner rather than later.
5-Jun Kawakami had an easy day at the office
The third man in the ring here was Jun Kawakami, who actually did 3 bouts on the same show totalling 11 rounds. This was the second of his bouts and was a very, very easy bout where he was rarely, if ever needed. We would have liked to have seen him encourage the fighters to give a little more effort, though in fairness they were trying they just didn’t gel, but other than that his performance was flawless in a bout that really didn’t see him being needed other than to break a single clinch in round 2, counting to 5 and spotting Okubo’s team waving the towel. A very easy bout for him.
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).