In the days following Christmas Boxing Raise were in Osaka where they recorded the latest Green Tsuda show, from the EDION Arena Osaka. Among the bouts on that card was the highly anticipated return of Katsunari Takayama (32-8-0-1, 12), who faced Reiya Konishi (17-3, 7) in a bout that was originally scheduled for November. The bout, Takayama's first in more than 4 years, saw the former multi-time world champion look fantastic as he out sped, out pointed, out landed, out boxed and out thought the naturally bigger and naturally stronger Konishi, who looked second best throughout.
Having recently re-watched the bout we've decided to share what we took away from the bout, and what the bout really tells us about the two men.
1-Takayama looked so sharp
Little fighters age quicker, and fighters who fight at 105lbs or 108lbs tend to not have very long careers. In fact by their mid 30's they are usually done at the top tier and never really recapture any form. Aged 37 however Takayama looked fantastic, and didn't look like a man who's last professional bout came back in 2016. Whilst he had fought a few amateur bouts since his last professional contest it was still a real surprise to see him looking this good. He was just as fleet as he had ever been, he seemed to have improved his head movement since his 2016 bout with Riku Kano, he looked full of energy, and set a high output, to go along with his non-stop movement. Unsurprisingly he never looked close to stopping Konishi, someone who has gone the distance with Carlos Canizalez and Felix Alvarado, but he dominated pretty much every minute of the fight. A brilliant performance.
2-Stylistically this was a bad bout for Konishi
Through his now 20 fight career Reiya Konishi has been involved in some great scraps, and this one had the potential to be another nail biter, at least on paper. In the end however wasn’t as exciting as we expected and that was because of the styles the two men employed. Konishi has great work rate and a fun physical style, but he’s got relatively slow feet and due to the movement of Takayama he could never force his will, despite being the naturally bigger man. He whiffed at the air time and time again, missing, whilst eating leather. He pressed forward, only to taste more and more of Takayama’s shots. Against the right opponent, one who is willing to stand and trade rather than box on the move, Konishi does have success, but Takayama’s movement, and sharp clean really made him look incredibly limited here.
3-There was real respect for the fighters by the crowd
One of the things that has been a negative in recent months for Japanese boxing is the deathly silent crowd, something that is essentially a requirement from the JBC who aren’t allowing cheering due to Covid19. Despite that this bout did receive plenty of noise from fans in the venue with regular applause, but at the end of the round and during rounds. It was nice to hear noise in a venue, something that has been missing from Japanese bouts, even some really good competitive bouts. Yes this wasn’t anywhere near the noise that would have been made had the bout took place in 2019, but it was still a very nice addition to a really solid fight and we’d love to hear more applause at future fights. Alternatively maybe fans should be allowed to bring something musical to fights, like a drum, to try and boost the atmosphere.
4-This should have been an 8 rounder...if not 10
The only real complaint we have about this fight was that it was only a 6 rounder. This really should have been over 8 rounds, minimum. Both of these fighters are proven at a high level, both have gone 12 multiple times in world title fights, and a 8 rounder, or even a 10 rounder, would have told us so much more about Takayama’s stamina and fitness. He never looked like he struggled, at all, here but it would still have been much more interesting to see how he looked in a longer fight to know whether or not he’d be able to keep this up if he was to get a world title fight in 2021, something that is very possible. A longer distance in this bout would have favoured Konishi, and it would have made the bout a lot more interesting down the stretch.
Sadly for Takayama we suspect he’ll need another fight before a world title bout, and hopefully that will be over a longer distance than this one.
5-Nobuto Ikehara really had little to do
Referee Nobuto Ikehara, himself a former fighter, didn’t have too many appointments as the third man in the ring in 2020 but this would have been among the very easiest he’ll have had. He had to call a couple of obvious slips early on, but other than there was literally nothing for him to do other than enjoy the best view in the house. There was pretty much no clinching, wrestling was kept to a minimum and when he was needed he was decisive, though he was happy to let them fight out of the clinch when they did occur, something Japanese referees tend to allow. For a 6 rounder to have as few breaks as this had was great to watch and enjoy and really easy work for a very good, and very underrated official. According to boxrec this was the first show he had worked since getting the job for the Junto Nakatani Vs Giemel Magramo fight, which he officiated excellently. Despite having an easy bout here he never let his concentration slip and was very rarely out of position.
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).