So, another month is in the books for this weird, awkward, odd, never ending, frustrating year. Thankfully whilst there has been a host of issues, both boxing and non-boxing related, we have, thankfully, had this great sport to following during much of the year and October was no different with Subscription Service Boxing Raise once again delivering some of the most interesting action of the month.
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".
Youngster steps up!
Rei Nakajima (3-0) Vs Shinobu Charlie Hosokawa (12-5-1, 11)
First up was the compelling match up between rising youngster Rei Nakajima, who has been impressive but over-looked, taking on former WBO Asia Pacific and OPBF Middleweight champion Shinobu Charlie Hosokawa. This was a compelling bout, rather than an exciting one, with the under-sized Nakajima forced to rely on skills, timing and movement, against the cruder but heavier handed Hosokawa.
Thrilling back and forth war!
Takuya Kogawa (30-6-1, 13) vs Hayato Yamaguchi (15-8-1, 2)
For years we have been huge fans of Takuya Kogawa, a man who could have a full series done in regards to his thrilling wars and all action bouts. In 2019 he suffered the first stoppage loss of his career and many, including ourselves, thought he should probably hang them up. This past month he looked to silence us doubters as he took on domestic foe Hayato Yamaguchi. This turned out to be a real thriller of a fight. The skill levelw asn't the highest but the intensity and action were great, and this was a real fun one to watch.
Yoji Saito (1-1-2, 1) vs Masashi Wakita (10-9-2, 5)
If you only have a few minutes and want something fun and enjoyable we highly recommend watching Yoji Saito's bout with Masashi Wakita. This was very much boxing's version of fast food. There was no feeling our process, with Saito just on the front foot from the off. He faced Wakita to fight off the ropes and just threw pretty much non-stop. A great fun, short, action thriller. A really fun one to watch.
Cracks show in Kazuki's chin!
Tatsuya Yanagi (16-6-2, 6) Vs Kazuki Saito (7-2, 5)
There are two things we know when it comes to Kazuki Saito. He is an incredibly talented boxer. He has a poor chin. With that in mind his bout with Tatsuya Yanagi always looked like it was going to be an interesting one. It proved to be interesting, and despite not being the most exciting bout you'll see this month it was certainly one worth watching.
Japanese title bout!
Seigo Yuri Akui (14-2-1, 10) vs Seiya Fujikita (13-4, 6)
Probably the best bout on Boxing Raise this month was the Japanese Flyweight title bout between defending champion Seigo Yuri Akui and mandatory challenger Seiya Fujikita. This was just a fantastic bout, with Fujikita looking to take the fight to the hard hitting Akui, and really applying determined pressure early on. This was the type of test the champion needed and it was the sort of bout that helped remind us exactly why we all love this sport. If you missed this one, give yourself a 40 minute window in November to watch it, we advise grabbing a few beers too! Genuinely a great fight.
Future Rookie of the year contender?
Jinu Lee (2-0, 1) Vs Naoya Nishimura (4-9-1, 3)
One of the best things about Japanese boxing is the annual Rookie of the Year competition. The competition serves as a major window into the next generation of Japanese domestic fighters and for many it's their first real chance to shine. With that in mind we were really glad to see 24 year old Jinu Lee in action before he participates in Rookie of the Year next year. Here we saw him battle Naoya Nishimura and we were left really wanting to see more of Lee. A fun, destructive, performance from a man some are already tipping for next year.
Utsuki helps Sakai sleep!
Shu Utsuki (6-0, 5) vs Takayuki Sakai (9-2-2, 6)
Japan has a lot of well known prospects, who have received a lot of press and time, and generate buzz when people just mention their names. The country also has a number of lesser known prospects who deserve some of that attention but don't yet get it. One such fighter is Shu Utsuki, who is trying to create buzz by his performances. He did just that in October with a brutal KO win against the over-matched Takayuki Sakai. This was up there with the very best KO's in Japan this month and even knowing the result shouldn't stop you from giving this one a watch. The KO is worth it!
Future Rookie king?
Kosuke Tomioka (3-0, 2) Vs Yota Sato (2-0, 2)
We mentioned Rookie of the Year a little earlier, talking about Jinu Lee who will enter Rookie of the Year next year and we head back to Rookie of the Year here, for a bout from this year's Rookie of the Year. In one corner was touted teenager Kosuke Tomioka, who has been viewed as a special talent since his debut, and in the other corner was Yota Sato, an unbeaten puncher who looked fantastic in his previous bout. This is short, explosive and exciting.
After a hectic weekend of fights to begin October the last few days have been more restrained, thankfully, but there has still been some interesting action. Among that action was a bout between unbeaten youngster Rei Nakajima (4-0) and former OPBF and WBO Asia Pacific Middleweight champion Shinobu Charlie Hosokawa (12-6-1, 11). This bout took place at Korakuen Hall on Friday and despite lacking TV coverage it was featured on the brilliant Boxing Raise service, on the same day!
Having seen the bout a couple of times now lets share our take aways!
1-Nakajima is hilarious short
We know this one didn't really need sharing for those that had seen Rei Nakajima, but it is something that needs to be shared for those unaware. Nakajima is tiny! He's a Light Middleweight, who fought at Middleweight for this bout and looked diminutive. At 5'4" he's closer, in height, to a Light Flyweight than a typical Light Middleweight. Notably he uses his lack of height well, and makes himself a hard target to hit, but against a busy guy with a good jab he's going to have issues.
2-Hosokawa is maybe starting to look his age
Despite being the much, much taller man Hosokawa looked his 36 years of age through out this bout. He looked slow, he struggled to keep up his output and only threw a handful of flurries the entire bout. He was neutralised, in part, by Nakajima's movement and speed but he also never really seemed to get his own motor going and it could well be that father time is catching up to him, along with the number of tough bouts he's had in recent years. Alternatively it could be the fact that this was an horrific match up for him from a styles perspective, and he has often struggled with opponents who move and can keep the movement going.
3-The Korakuen Hall was weirdly empty
Sure not every show at the iconic Korakuen Hall will be full, in fact right now we'd be worried if the Hall was full, but this looked weirdly empty. Even more empty than it's been in recent weeks. The promoters are limited by how many tickets they are allowed to sell, for obvious reasons, but this seemed much, much emptier than other recent shows. There was large, visible gaps in the people on the benches, and it seemed like social distancing was being used here, albeit from an under-sized crowd rather than necessity.
4-Nakajima is a real talent
We mentioned he was slow, but it needs to be said that Rei Nakajima is a legitimate talent. He looked so relaxed and calm in there, he picked his shots excellently, has a tight guard, is light on his feet, has very nice hand speed, solid body movement and a very good boxing brain. Even giving away notable size he made Hosokawa think twice about letting his jab go and easily out worked Hosokawa through the 8 round bout. It's just a massive, massive shame that he lacks the size of a typical Light Middleweight and he lacks power, if he had those he would be a legitimate prospect with a very, very high ceiling.
5-The judging was questionable
Typically judging in Japan is very, very good. World title bouts in Japan usually have 3 international judges to help make sure things are fair and for top level bouts judging in Japan is considered very fair. Domestically however there are some poor scorecards, and this very much seemed like one of those cases. For us this was a clear win for Nakajima who out landed Hosokawa, out boxed Hosokawa and showed off what he wanted to show off, whilst neutralising Hosokawa. Some how one judge gave Nakajima just 2 rounds, and the others gave him 5, in an 8 round bout that he seemed to win at a canter. Yes Hosokawa landed the heavier shots, we accept that, but he landed so few of them, and was tagged far more often himself. We struggled to give Hosokawa more than 2 rounds here and we're not sure how the judges had it so close.
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).