One of the main bouts on Wednesday's Kadoebi show at Korakuen Hall saw Yoji Saito (2-1-2, 2) clash with Masashi Wakita (10-10-2, 5). This wasn't a bout that went long, but was a brilliantly entertaining little war right from the off. This was a For those who just need a little war to enjoy the week this was brilliant and the type of thing that a casual fan can just enjoy, as much as everyone else.
Having now watched this one back a few times here are our five take aways.
1-This was so much fun!
There are several different ways to watch boxing. Some people only want to see the best, and enjoy the highest level of action, the most skilled fighters on the planet. Others only want to see the names they recognise, and enjoy what they know. For us however one of the things we enjoy most about the sport is the action between the ropes, ignoring the names and just enjoying the fights. With that in mind this is a bout everyone should watch. From opening bell Saito made it very clear he wasn't wanting to mess around, pressing the action immediately and making this into a tear up. Wakita tried to respond in kind and as a result we ended up with a truly brilliant 1-round war. This pure, unadulterated, all action excitement.
2-Saito's record...it doesn't matter!
One of the more common parts of this series is that records don't matter and we need to echo that again here. Yoji Saito is not your typical 2-1-2 (2) fighter. He's not some limited novice struggling against other novices. He was a very good amateur, he's a solid professional, and he's the sort of fighter who will man handle some fighters with better records. He's a damn monster in the ring, with great physical strength, thudding power, a real gritty toughness and a brilliant aggressive style. We're not sure he'll ever win titles, but very, very few fighters at Japanese or Oriental level will enjoy having a fight with Saito. The guy is a genuine nightmare, it's just a shame it's taken him a little while to adapt to the professional ranks. If we're being truth the sport needs more Yoji Saito's!
3-The Hall Filled up for this ones!
Just before doing this article we re-watched the Takuya Kogawa Vs Hayato Yamaguchi fight and Korakuen Hall was almost empty for that. There was large gaps in the crowd, and from an optics point of view it looked awful. There's social distancing and then there's an almost empty venue. It seems that between that fight and this one crowd really filled up and there appeared to be far, far more people in their seats for this one. Whilst we enjoyed the Kogawa fight, a lot, we can't help but feel the fans knew this was going to be a lot of fun...and it was!
4-The count was strange
We've seen a few cases in recent weeks where Japanese referees seem to pause their count at "9" after a knockdown and give a fighter the benefit of the doubt. If you watch this one you'll see what we mean. Wakita is up at 6, the referee counts to 9, then looks at him, reads the situation and the fighters, and decides to to issue the 10 count. Looking at this through a fans eyes this is a weird thing to see. Almost like It's 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9......10. And it's certainly not a consistent count. However! We like it, it gives the referee the extra second to assess the fighter, and decide whether he's alright to go on or not. As a fighter who's been downed you like do appreciate the extra second, the referee can certainly take a little bit of extra time to decide if the bout should continue, and fans get the chance to see a fight go on longer if it can. This is very, very different to referees who will look to wave the bout out at "9.9". We like the thought process behind this, and whilst we know other's won't, we would like to see more referees doing this type of thing.
5-Thank you Wakita
After the bout we saw Masashi Wakita go to social media and he seemed legitimately heart broken about the result and about the sport in general. He gave a solid account of himself against a physical monster here and simply got broken down, but lesser men would have folded quicker, and wouldn't have gone out on their shield like he did. He gave a great account of himself, against a stronger, more powerful opponent and we genuinely want to thank him for the effort he gave. Despite the loss we want to see more of him, just maybe in more evenly matched bouts than this. On paper this might have looked competitive but those who have previously seen Saito likely knew he was stylistically all wrong for Wakita.
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).