One of the bouts shown last weekend on Fuji TV was the Super Bantamweight clash between the unbeaten Kazuki Nakajima (9-0-1, 8) and the upset minded Kenta Nomura (7-4, 3). On paper this wasn't expected to be much of a test for Nakajima, and in the end he didn't need to work too hard for the win, stopping Nomura in the third round of a scheduled 8 rounder.
With the bout now aired and having been watched, and rewatched, we've got some take aways from the bout to share.
1-Nakajima is horribly stiff and upright
The first thing to note watching this bout, and other Kazuki Nakajima bouts, is that Nakajima is so stiff and upright. He looks really rigid, everything he does looks forced and his chin is in the air. We get that it's very much his style, but he looks so hittable, predictable and like someone with a bit of skill will be able to take him out. Nomura wasn't the guy to ask questions, but we did see Seiya Tsutsumi ask those questions earlier in the year and we assumed that Nakajima would have looked less stiff here than he there. Nope. Just as stiff. The focus for Ohashi should be on trying to get him to relax in the ring a little bit, it's obviously not easy, but it would improve his game so much. Despite being stiff he does have surprisingly quick handspeed.
2-Despite being stiff Nakajima has a nasty straight left hand
Again we're not stating anything new here but Kazuki Nakajima has a fantastic straight left hand. It's straight, it's quick, it's powerful and it's sharp. It's a bit on the predictable side of things, as a lot of Nakajima's work is at range and worked off his straight shots, but it's easily the best punch in his arsenal and does, in some ways, remind us of Shinsuke Yamanaka. It's not quite as brutal as Yamanaka's, but the way he makes every shot counts, and is efficient with is it Yamanaka-like.
3-Koji Matsumoto wears glasses in a weird way
This is an odd one, for sure, but it was weird that Koji Matsumoto put his glasses on the back on his head. It's more of an observation than anything else, but we are curious as to why the great trainer rests his glasses in such an odd position. Several of our team wear glasses and we put them on the top of our heads, but Koji, he puts them on the back of his head, under his ponytail when working in the corner, as he was for Nakajima. If anyone can explain this one we'd love to hear it!
4-Nomura isn't very good against southpaws
This was Nomura's second bout against a southpaw in 13 months and he has been stopped by both of them. He tried to box with Nakajima, and didn't look like he had any idea how to cope with the left stance. He was throwing out range finder jabs that had no effect, was caught regularly by left hands and looked genuinely lost and confused. Nakajima, although rather stiff looking, is quite tricky, but Nomura really showed no idea how to deal with even the most basic of Nakajima's work.
5-Michiaki Someya is a referee that is in the right place at the right time
We've mentioned Michiaki Someya in one of these before and we do so again here as he once again showed his ring positioning is brilliant, and he's where he needs to be, when he needs to be there. This wasn't a tough bout for him but we can't ignore that he was consistently doing what he had to, was in the perfect place for the stoppage and made things crystal clear. He's not a big name referee but he is certainly a very good one, and from his showings on this card he's one we'll be keeping a close on here following two solid performances on this show.
This past week Japanese fight fans at Korakuen Hall saw Kazuki Nakajima (9-0-1, 8) score his latest win, as he dipped his toes at Super Bantamweight and took out Kenta Nomura in 3 rounds. Following that win his promoter, Hideyuki Ohashi, suggested that next year Nakajima would be fighting for a Japanese or OPBF title.
Whilst Nakajima was fighting at Super Bantamweight for the contest he seemed open to fighting at either Bantamweight or Super Bantamweight, and with that in mind we have some interesting for the hard hitter in this weeks "Five For..."
Given travel restrictions in Japan we have kept to just looking at Japanese opponents for Nakajima, but that's not a bad thing given the Japanese depth at Bantamweight and Super Bantamweight.
1-Keita Kurihara (15-5, 13)
With Bantamweight being one of the division's where Nakajima is plying his trade we can't think of a more exciting bout than seeing Nakajima take on Keita Kurihara in what would be a thrilling shoot out. The hard hitting Kurihara is the current OPBF Bantamweight champion but has only defended his belt once since winning it in December 2018. Given the power of both men and their styles this would be a sure fire barn burner, for as long as it lasted. This would be a huge step up in class for Nakajima, but given he wants a title fight he needs to step and this is an ideal match up.
2-Toshiki Shimomachi (12-1-2, 8)
A completely different type of match up for Nakajima would be a clash with the slippery and skilled Toshiki Shimomachi at Super Bantamweight. The talented Shimomachi is the type of fighter who would expose Nakajhima's technical flaws and over-all stiffness, but the bout would always have the potential to end with just a single shot, from either man. Although he's slippery Shimomachi is a heavy handed counter puncher and he could pounce on a mistake from Nakajima, whilst Nakajima's power will mean he's always a threat. A really interesting match, even if it's not the assured fire works of a bout with Kurihara.
3-Yusaku Kuga (19-4-1, 13)
Back to potential wars, a bout between Nakajima and the heavy handed Yusaku Kuga would have the ingredients for a Japanese Fight of the Year. Nakajima is the better boxer, but he is rather rigid at times, and a bit on the predictable side. Kuga, the current Japanese Super Bantamweight champion, is less technical but is rather unpredictable in the ring and can box, brawl or bang. Kuga would likely bring the pressure and the aggression and it would be interesting to see if Nakajima could control the distance and make Kuga pay for his offensive charges. This is, probably, the toughest bout for Nakajima but also the one with the biggest rewards. A win over Kuga would not only see Nakajima become a Japanese champion but also take huge strides towards a world ranking.
4-Yusuke Suzuki (11-3, 7)
Current Japanese Bantamweight champion Yusuke Suzuki is another interesting potential match up, and one that looks easy on paper, but would deliver fireworks. Nakajima's chin, mental toughness and work rate would all be questioned by Suzuki who is insanely tough, improving with every fight and will be hungry to keep the title he won last year. In his title win Suzuki fought through some serious facial damage and gutted out the victory, showing his will to win was incredible and we suspect that would be a major problem for Nakajima, who would begin to question himself when Suzuki was still there 6 or 7 rounds into the bout.
5-Ryoichi Tamura (13-5-1, 7)
If Nakajima can't land a title fight then a bout with Ryoichi Tamura is as good as it gets from a fan perspective. Tamura is insanely tough, has an amazing work rate, heavy hands and real desire to show what he can do in the ring. Technically he is limited, but he's a nightmare to face due to his physicality and strength. If Nakajima is looking to see what he can do at Super Bantamweight a contest with Tamura, himself a former Japanese champion at 122lbs, would serve as a great test for Nakajima before a title fight at the weight.
The month of November has been a strange one in many ways, with some really awesome fights, some disappointments, and some real up and down moments through out boxing. The brilliant WBSS final was certainly one of the highlights of the year but bouts falling through was an issue at times.
Thankfully we do have something that is consistent with boxing, and that is that Boxing Raise will show some absolutely amazing fights. This month that was once again true, with some absolutely tremendous action being made available on the Japanese service, that once again made a great case as being the best value service for any boxing fan.
As with our previous "Best of Boxing Raise" article all the fights featured here can be accessed by subscribers by logging into Boxing Raise and adding the "movie/####" to "https://boxingraise.com/".
Youngsters go to war - Ryugo Ushijima (3-0-2, 2) vs Taison Mukaiyama (4-2, 3) [movie/7017/]
Earlier in 2019 we had our attention grabbed by Ryugo Ushijima, thanks to a thrilling contest with Shota Ogasawara. On Boxing Raise this month Ushijima faces off with Taison Mukaiyama and this was some that possibly exceeded the Ogasawara bout, with the two men really smashing lumps out of each other, in a bout that had an opening round knockdown, and a lot wild action. This wasn't as polished as some of the other bouts from through the month but was genuinely great fun to watch.
Bantamweight Shootout - Kazuki Nakajima (7-0, 6) vs Jin Minamide (4-0, 3) [movie/7019/]
The God's Left Bantamweight tournament is a genuinely brilliant idea, and although it hasn't managed to quite deliver as hoped it's still given us some great action. That was certainly seen in the semi-final bout between Kazuki Nakajima and Jin Minamide. This wasn't a drawn out war, we do have one of those coming up, but was a thrilling shoot out. It took a few moments for the fighters to light the touch paper, but as soon as that happened you knew the end was night, but weren't sure who would land a bomb first. Genuinely brilliant and hugely entertaining, little battle here!
Extreme Eliminatorion - Taiki Minamoto (16-5-1, 13) vs Takuya Watanabe (36-9-1, 21) [movie/7020/]
Whils the WBSS Bantamweight final was, easily, the best bout of the month we did see some other thrillers during the month. One of best of the rest was an 8 round war in a Japanese Super Featherweight title eliminator between Taiki Minamoto and Takuya Watanabe. This looked great on paper yet massively over-delivered and gave us one of the best fighters we've seen in Japan this year. It pit Watanabe's toughness and strong yet basic boxing against Minamoto's explosive boxing, and delivered what was an absolute barn burner, and a real must watch for any fan who had 40 minutes of time to enjoy themselves. This was amazing and got better and better as the fight went on and both men began to show the damage of war.
OH DAMN! - Tsuyoshi Tameda (21-4-2, 19) vs Jae Woo Lee (6-2, 5) [movie/7045/]
We've already mentioned a shoot out and a war, but when Tsuyoshi Tameda took on Jae Woo Lee in the Hajime No Ippo 30th anniversary tournament we ended up with something of a hybrid. This was was an up close war, fought as if both men wanted to have a shoot out. Both fighters unloaded bombs from the early going, setting their feet and firing off huge power shots, and trying to take each other out. If you like fights fought on the inside, with machimso being the driving force you'll love this. Absolutely amazing fight, and one that will have you engrossed from the first moment to the last.
Knockdowns traded in thriller! - Shingo Kusano (11-8-1, 4) vs Qiang Ma (5-1-2, 3) [movie/7047/]
On paper the Hajime No Ippo 30th anniversary tournament looked interesting with out being amazing. That thanking was instantly blown out of the water by he Tameda Vs Lee fight and just moments later we were given another fight as Shingo Kusano and Qiang Ma traded knockdowns in a brilliant war. This wasn't quite as intense as the Tameda Vs Lee bout but was another thriller, with bombs galore, both men being hurt and despite the lower intensity it was a more dramatic bout. Despite the records of the two fighters these two delivered something very special.
Whilst we certainly have less great action on Boxing Raise in November than in October, what we did get was some of the months very best fights from anywhere in world boxing. This month we were lucky to get such quality, even if the quantity was lacking!
(Image courtesy of Boxing Raise and Boxmob.jp)
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).