This past week we saw hard hitting Japanese Minimumweight-come-Light Flyweight Kai Ishizawa (7-1, 7) score his latest win, stopping Masashi Tada in 6 rounds. With that win in mind we've decided to do an extra "Five For" this week, looking at Ishizawa, who has a lot of really interesting options to face off with on the Japanese domestic scene.
Although Ishizawa is a flawed fighter he's a very, very fan friendly one, with destructive power, and great combinations, and with that in mind we suspect he could be in some amazing fights over the next year or two, at least if he's matched well. And to be fair, it's probably easier to match him well than not to at the moment, given the exciting talent at 105 and 108lbs.
1-Masamichi Yabuki (11-3, 11)
Puncher Vs Puncher bouts are regularly ones that get the juices flowing and there's no better Puncher Vs Puncher bout in Japan at 108lbs that a bout between Ishizawa and Japanese national champion Masamichi Yabuki! This would guarantee fire works, with neither man happy to hear the bell, in fact neither man has won a decision thus far into their career. On paper Yabuki would be the favourite, having achieved more and fought at a higher level, but Ishizawa shouldn't be written off. On paper we think Ishizawa is the heavier handed fighter, and the more study man, but Yabuki is the better boxer, and the smarter fighter. Either way seeing them climb into the ring and face off would answer a lot of questions and give us something very violent, and very exciting!
2-Tsuyoshi Sato (10-2-1, 5)
When we think of great domestic match ups for Japanese fighters at 108lbs one name that will always pop up is Tsuyoshi Sato, who has an exciting style, through a lot of leather, comes forward and tries to make a war. It has cost him in the past, notably against Masamichi Yabuki earlier this year, but it's a style that makes him a must watch fighter. Combine that aggression and work rate with Ishizawa's fire power and brute strength and we have a potential Japanese Fight of the Year contender. If the naturally bigger Sato can get Ishizawa's respect this would would be an amazing war, though of course Ishizawa's power could end up being too much for Sato. Either way we would love to see these two men clash, and we would implore Kadoebi and MT Gym to give us this one in 2021!
3-Katsuki Mori (7-0, 1)
We love Ishizawa's power and aggression, but he is a flawed fighter, he's terrible with lateral movement, can be handcuffed by an opponent with good footwork and a busy style. With that in mind a bout between Ishizawa and Ohashi Gym prospect Katsuki Mori would be a great fight. Ishizawa probably has the power to take Mori out, though that's not a given and we're yet to see Mori actually being hurt, however Mori has the style, the activity and the tools to really test Ishizawa. This would be two men with different styles, that could end up gelling perfectly to give us something very, very special. We can understand the two men being kept apart for now, but we'd love to see this one take place.
Not only would Mori Vs Ishizawa be a great match up in terms of styles, but it would also be a huge local bout, with both men hailing from Kanagawa Prefecture giving the bout another extra edge to it!
4- Ryu Horikawa (3-0-1, 1)
There's no denying that Ishizawa is a heavy handed, pressure fighting monster, though we do question his work rate and his ability to adapt during a fight. On the other Ryu Horikawa looks like a sensationally talented boxer, with good movement, a great boxing brain and no fear of taking on good fighters early in his career. With that in mind we'd love to see this Puncher Vs Boxer bout. Although he only has 4 bouts to his name Horikawa has been very aggressively matched so far and Ishizawa would certainly not be beyond the radar of Horikawa, especially given the fact that Horikawa is the naturally bigger man, and was the more impressive amateur.
5-Takumi Chono (6-1, 5)
Another possible bout at 105lbs would see Ishizawa drop back down in weight and take on the 2019 All Japan Rookie of the Year runner up Takumi Chono, who's style, aggression, power and toughness would make for a great bout with Ishizawa. Chono might not be as strong, or as tough or as heavy handed as Ishizawa, but his style would gel well with Ishizawa's, the bout would be an exciting war up close and we suspect, given that Chono can punch, he'd draw the best out of Ishizawa. One complaint with Ishizawa is that he turns off in bouts, and against a fellow puncher we suspect we won't see that type of thing from him. Sadly though it's probably a bit too early for Chono to take on Ishizawa. Maybe one for late 2021...
This past Tuesday we had the chance to enjoy an A-Sign Boxing card live on YouTube. Among the many interesting bouts on that show as a bout between former Japanese Youth Minimumweight champion Kai Ishizawa (7-1, 7) and former multi-time Japanese national title challenger Masashi Tada (13-8-3, 8).
The contest wasn't the most exciting, but was still an interesting contest, until Ishizawa went through the gears and made the referee step in in round 6. Until then we had seen an interesting bout which had seen Ishizawa start well and Tada battle his way back into the contest until Ishizawa finally started to land bombs.
With the bout now in the record books and having been watched back here are our five Take Aways.
1-The gameplan to beat Ishizawa has been set
We've been following Ishizawa for a while and it does seem like there is a clear gameplan to beating him. We've seen one fighter do it, and take victory, we've seen another do it and come up short, and we saw Tada show glimpses of it here. To beat Ishizawa you need to use a lot of movement, a lot of jabs, and not remain in position for long. Ishizawa is a pretty predictable fighter, he likes to be set, hates lateral movement, and struggles to get past the jab. Tada wasn't able to consistently replicate the success of Masataka Taniguchi of Yuga Inoue, but it's clear he had scouted those two and was trying something similar at times.
2-Ishizawa doesn't let his hands go enough
As a short pressure fighter Ishizawa's entire gameplan is based around getting up close and personal and working away combinations. He has the perfect set up to that with a real stiff jab, very fluid combinations and hurtful power. Sadly though there are times that he sleep walks through bouts. We've seen this as a few times but it was particularly notable here in rounds 3, 4 and 5. There were a number of times where he was in range and instead of throwing and letting leather fly he just tucked up, letting Tada getaway. He wasn't made to pay for it too much here, but at the higher levels he needs to feel confident enough to let his shots go. Ishizawa's best asset is his combinations on the inside, and we'd love to see a lot more of them going forward.
3-Tada had real success, but maybe too much
When Ishizawa was pressing forward and not doing we saw Tada build his confidence, have success on the outside and work well on the inside. In fact at times the veteran was making it look easy to out box Ishizawa, who looked timid, and maybe even too wary of what Tada was doing. There was some great work from Tada. Sadly for him however there was several times where he got too greedy and was made to pay. This happened pretty often, and was occurring as early as round 2. If Ishizawa had let his shots fly early there's a good chance he'd have closed the show earlier than he did.
4-Ishizawa's power is legitimately nasty
In round 5 we were desperate to see Ishizawa let his hands go. He had spent 3 fighting ultra-conservatively and it was genuinely frustrating to see him doing so little and being easily out worked by Tada. In round 6 Ishizawa then opened up and oh boy did he every prove his power was genuinely fight changing. In just over 100 seconds he rocked Tada, dropped Tada and then stopped Tada. It was a brutal display of clean, hard, combination punching. It looked natural, free flowing, destructive and fantastic. This is not the sort of thing we typically see from Minimumweights or Light Flyweights. This young man has fight changing power, he just needs to use it more!
Just to add to this, this was only the second time someone has stopped Tada, who is well known in Japan for his toughness!
5-There are some great bouts to make at 105 and 108 in Japan
Ok this is quite an Ishizawa centric 5 Take Aways article but it's hard not to not see just how many great bouts there are out there for him. For example who wouldn't love to see Ishizawa in with Tsubasa Koura, Katsuki Mori, Ginjiro Shigeoka, Yudai Shigeoka, Masamichi Yabuki, Ryu Horikawa, Shokichi Iwata or Reiya Konishi? We understand some of those guys won't be on a collision course any time soon but some of the bouts we could see Ishizawa in in the coming years look amazing!
From September 26th to November 23rd there are set to be a number of Japanese shows made available, for free, on YouTube. Whilst we'll be tuning in to all of them we know some fans need a reason more than just "free boxing" to put their time aside, so with that in mind let us try to tempt you into watching the free action we'll be getting!
Firstly the shows are free. There is no catch there. If these are a success they may become a more regular thing, and may show promoters that there is a market for these, and a reason to put them on. Secondly they give everyone a chance to dip their toes into Japanese boxing during a time when life is certainly not great for many of us, and it could a bit extra escapism from what is going on outside of where we all live.
And there's also some interesting fighters and bouts coming up on those shows.
On paper this is probably the show we are the least interested in, especially given the other action taking place on the same day, however this shouldn't be ignored outright. Firstly the fact that BOXING REAL are behind the stream is something to sit up and make a note of, as they have provided amazing streams in the past and are very much a growing channel at the forefront of these free streams.
Anyone who has ever watched an Atomweight fight will know the women are small, but never stop throwing and we suspect that will be the case again here when Mika Iwakawa (9-5-1, 3) defends her WBO Atomweight title against Nanae Suzuki (10-3-1, 1). It may not be the most dramatic bout of all time, but it will certainly by a high tempo battle and given that women's rounds are still 2 minutes long this will really fly by. We're expecting non-stop punching, in a thrilling, if some what low level affair.
Former world champion Shun Kubo (13-2, 9) isn't a huge name in the sport but as a former world champion it'll be interesting to see what, if anything, he still has to offer the sport. He shouldn't struggle too much with Takashi Igarashi (13-4, 5), but there is a chance that Kubo's heart isn't in the sport after stoppage losses to Danny Roman and Can Xu in recent bouts.
One time world title contender Kohei Oba (36-3-1, 14), who was once dubbed the "Mayweather of Nagoya", will end a multi-year break from the ring to take on former Rookie of the Year winner Yoshiki Minato (8-3, 3). Not a great bout, but you've got to admit that having the nickname of "Mayweather of Nagoya" is at least a little bit interesting and we're curios as to what he has left in the tank.
Whilst the September 26th show isn't the best we do really want you to get behind the September 27th show if possible. This is from a small local promoter in Shizuoka who are almost certainly losing money to put this show on, but wanted to continue to have boxing in the region during these tough times. Originally they had wanted to run a boxing festival, as they have the last few years, but the on going situation prevented that but they are going to showcase local fighters regardless. With that in mind it'd be great to get behind the Suruga gym for this one.
If the feeling of supporting a small promoter isn't good enough there are 3 interesting bouts on this show.
The first of those is the return of Tsubasa Murachi (4-1, 3), who was knocked out hard by Froilan Saludar last year. Murachi was hoping to be fast tracked and risked it all against Saludar, who's experience and power proved too much. Rather than having an easy comeback he's taking on under-rated domestic foe Ryotaro Kawabata (12-3-2, 6) in a well matched 8 rounder. This looks competitive on paper and will let us see what Murachi's loss to Saludar has done to the 23 year old.
Although a faded force Koichi Aso (23-9-1, 15) has been a consistently exciting fighter to watch. Win or lose Aso is rarely in a dull fight and his aggressive, pressure style makes him on of Japan's most fan friendly fighters. He's up against a man flying high, as he takes on Shogo Yamaguchi (12-5-3, 7), who scored a a career best win over Shuhei Tsuchiya last time out, having been knocked down before pulling out the victory. This has the potential to be a real humdinger of a bout!
There are a lot of exciting prospects making their name in Japan, this is not a secret. One of the very best from those is Rentaro Kimura (1-0, 1), who made his debut earlier this year with a KO of the Year contender, which you can see below. He is the big hope of Shizuoka, a former amateur standout and a man who we suspect will be fighting for titles in 2021. One thing we'd love to see from fans is for them to get on the Kimura express early, and if you missed his debut there's no need to miss his second bout, as he takes on Takafumi Iwaya (4-3) on this show. There's a good chance this ends in Brutal fashion just as Kimua's debut did
From where we're sat the October 13th card on A-Sign Boxing is the show that needs the least amount of "selling" done for it. Before we even mention the fighters we need to just say this is promoted by arguably the most forward thinking promoter in world boxing. Ichitaro Ishii is thinking out of the box regularly, employing social media brilliantly, adapting things like behind the scenes and special documentaries into promoting events and giving fans more access to knowing fighters than any other promoter in the sport. What he's doing on a relatively small budget brilliant for the sport.
As for the bouts the main event is a truly fantastic match up between world ranked Featherweight Reiya Abe (19-3-1, 9) and the unbeaten Ren Sasaki (10-0, 6). Abe is one of the most talented boxers in Japan, but also a frustrating one, with a style is focused around countering, a lot. As a result Abe needs a suitable dance partner to look good against, and we suspect Sasaki will be such an opponent. If you like boxing skills, counter punching, ring craft, a cerebral approach to boxing and in ring genius, this is a bout you'll enjoy. A lot.
Of course not everyone likes the cerebral stuff and some people just want to see action! You need not worry as Kai Ishizawa (6-1, 6) is in the house and taking on the rugged Masashi Tada (13-7-3, 8). Ishizawa is a super heavy handed, aggressive youngster who's somewhat rough around the edges, but scary strong, a serious puncher and one of the most exciting youngsters in the sport. When he gets in the ring it's always worth tuning in for. Tada isn't the best fighter, but he's tough and it'll be great to see if he can blunt the buzz saw that is Kai Ishizawa.
Although the other two bouts mentioned for this show have the ingredients to be show cases of different styles the bout we suspect will be the best of the bunch is the clash between Kai Chiba (12-1, 8) and Haruki Ishikawa (8-2, 6). On paper these two are made for each other, and in the ring we'll likely see that play out. Chiba is a real solid boxer-puncher, who had his chin cracked by Brian Lobetania. We know Chiba can punch, and can be taken out. Ishikawa on the other hand gave us one of the best fights of 2019 last time out, as he took on Toshiya Ishii, and in that fight showed a willingness to wage war on Ishii.
For something of a taster for the Chiba Vs Ishikawa bout, enjoy round 2 of Ishikawa's last bout:
We don't think we need to really tell people why they should tune in to see Hiroto Kyoguchi (14-0, 9) take on unbeaten Thai Thanongsak Simsri (14-0, 12), but if you're not already on board for this one we'll try to entice you to tune in on Kyoguchi's own YouTube channel.
Kyoguchi is regarded by many who follow the lowest divisions as one of the very best at 108lbs. Don't take our word for that though but instead that of experts. He's the Ring Magazine champion, the WBA "Super" champion, and is ranked #2 by BoxRec, TBRB and ESPN. He's a fun, exciting fighter and is quickly becoming a YouTube star in his own right, with his own channel being the outlet for this bout.
Simsri is obviously not regarded as highly as Kyoguchi, but he is a hotly tipped Thai fighter who has been dubbed "Srisaket II" by the Thai press and is regarded as one of the brightest hopes in Thailand. He's actually fought in Osaka a few times and despite being in Kyoguchi's homeland we don't see that being an issue for the hard hitting Thai. He'll be there to win and should make for a thrilling bout here.
On paper the best card, from what we know of right now, is the final card which takes on November 23rd and features a former multi-time world champion and 3 world title challengers and a man we have already mentioned for one of his previous bouts. This is being shown by Osaka TV and should, in theory, have the best production values, and the stronger overall name name appeal.
The main event here will see youngster Riku Kano (16-4-1, 8) one of the former world title challengers, battle against Ryoki Hirai (13-6-1, 4) in a brilliantly well matched bout do the vacant WBO Asia Pacific Light Flyweight title. At one point Kano was seen as the super prospect, and fought for a world title when he was just 18! Sadly things haven't gone his way since then, but it's still way too early to write him off. Hirai on the other hand had a terrible start to his career but is very much in the mix for regional and domestic titles. We expect this to be a compelling, and hotly fought 12 rounder for the belt.
Another of the world title challengers on this show is Sho Ishida (28-2, 15), who is best known for his competitive bout with Kal Yafai in the UK. Once tipped as a potential face of Osakan boxing Ishida's career is beginning to struggle and he's likely hoping that a move to Bantamweight will help save give new life to his once promising boxing career. In the other corner is the unbeaten Toshiya Ishii (3-0, 2), the main who faced off with Haruki Ishikawa in that round we shared a little bit earlier. Given Ishii's fun aggressive boxing style and Ishida's need to win to remain relevant this really can't disappoint.
Once again we have saved the best until last with former multi-time world champion Katsunari Takayama (31-8-0-1, 12) taking on multi-time title challenger Reiya Konishi (17-1, 7) in a 6 rounder that could end up being something very, very special. This will be Takayama's first bout since announcing his return to professional boxing earlier this year, afater failing to qualify for the Tokyo games, and there are real questions over what he has left in the tank. On the other hand Reiya Konishi is no push over and has twice fought for world titles, showing his heart and toughness in those bouts. Both of these men like letting their hands go, both get involved in trench warfare far too often and together they have the potential to give us the best damn 6 rounder of 2020!
For those note familiar with Takayama we have have left one final treat below, his incredible war with Francisco Rodriguez Jr, from 2014.
Through out this month we've been doing our "19 for 19" list of prospects. Here is part 4 in our series, and it looks at 4 men with perfect records, not just in terms of 100% winning rates, but also a 100% KO rate. This part of the list features an Indonesian fighter, a Japanese fighter and a couple of fighters from Uzbekistan.
If you missed the previous parts they are here. The first part 19 for 19: Part 1 - The Teenage Prospects, the second part is here 19 for 19: Part 2 - A Rookie, an Uzbek puncher, a Pinoy Prodigy and an Olympic champion and the third part 19 for 19: Part 3 - Unbeaten novices from China, Uzbekistan, Thailand and Japan!
Ari Agustian (7-0, 7)
Indonesian fight fans don't usually have much to get excited about, but Ari Agustian could be the fighter to change that, with an exceptionally fun style, a lot of power and no fear of going away from home. Agustian was a decent amateur before turning professional in 2017. In his first 12 months as a professional he was 6-0 (6) and has since added a big win over Baolin Kang, in China, to his record. Sadly he's not fought much this year, but there is talk of him facing Khunkiri Wor Wisaruth in the near future. He's exciting, hard hitting and very aggressive. The sort of fighter who will get the attention of fight fans.
Kai Ishizawa (5-0, 5)
Japanese Minimumweight Youth champion Kai Ishizawa is a flawed but thrilling fighter, who isn't the most technically apt, but is very heavy handed, with under-rated boxing skills and a good ring IQ. He lacks in terms of speed, but fights with an intense pressure that breaks down good fighters, as we saw earlier this year when he stopped Yuga Inoue in a thrilling fight. Ishizawa certainly needs to work on his technical skills if he's to progress to the top, but he's still one to watch in 2019, as he will be taking on better competition, staying busy and looking to retain his Youth title. Due to his aggression he's going to be a fighter who is always worth watching.
Bakhodir Jalolov (4-0, 4)
We don't get to talk about real Heavyweight prospects very often so it's always a good thing to bring attention to Uzbek Heavyweight giant Bakhodir Jalolov. Jalolov was a former amateur standout who turned professional earlier this year, debuting in May. Jalolov's amateur credentials are brilliant with an Asian Championships gold medal and a world championship bronze medal among others and he's adapted to the professional ranks really well. Sadly his competition hasn't been great but he has been doing what he's supposed to do and taking his opposition out quickly. With his size, amateur background and age, he's only 24, there is so much to like about Jalolov.
Elnur Abduraimov (3-0, 3)
It's rare we see a fighter in action almost monthly but former amateur standout Elnur Abduraimov, from Uzbekistan, debuted in September and managed to fight in October and November. Whilst his competition hasn't been great, lasting a combined 4 rounds, it's hard not to be impressed by how good he's looked. He's aggressive, yet picks his shots amazingly well and has some frankly disgusting body shots. As he steps up in competition we expect activity to drop off massively, but at 24 he looks to be a Lightweight who wants to hit the ground running and get involved in big fights as quickly as he can.
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).