Way back on December 10th fight fans at Korakuen Hall were able to see the touted Rentaro Kimura (3-0, 3) score his latest win as he over-came domestic foe Thunder Teruya (7-8-1, 4). A few days later the bout was then televised on Fuji TV giving us the chance to watch the youngster from the Suruga Boys Gym show what he could do. Now, around 3 weeks later, we're going to take a look back over the bout as we return to our "Five Take Away" series.
1-Fuji TV are going in big on Kimura
Whilst some fans might think it's a pretty usual thing to see Japanese TV channels tend not to go in big on someone quickly. Even the top prospects. There are, exceptions to this rule, but typically fighters in Japan aren't given the big TV build up, the star treatment and the pre-fight video packages. Kimura however was given that honour ahead of this bout, and it's clear that Fuji TV, in association with Misako Gym and the Suruga Boys gym, see Kimura as a star of the future. The well mannered, good looking, talented youngster ticks a lot of boxes, and we expect this special treatment to continue for Kimura going forward.
2-Teruya was there to win!
Sometimes we see fighters with lesser records just coming to the ring knowing they are their to take a beating and have no self belief of their own. Teruya however wasn't there to play second fiddle. He wanted to win and fought like a man who believed he could win. He was walking through some huge shots from Kimura, looking counter, draw mistakes and fire off his own shots. The first round wasn't a good one for him, but rounds 2 and 3 saw him having some genuine success and he even seemed to wobble Kimura at one point. This sort of a performance from Teruya is what we tend to see in Japan from "losers" and do a lot more for the prospects than some of the stitch up mismatches we see padding records in other corners of the world.
3-Kimura's body punching is brutal
Going forward we expect to see more and more people talking about this, but the body punching of Rentaro Kimura is absolutely brutal. He's not just a powerful body puncher, but he throws there with both hands, finds some really nice holes to hit and hits quick and cleanly. He finished this one with a body shot and we suspect he'll score a lot more stoppages with body shots going forward. They are an excellent part of his arsenal, and he throws their with natural fluidity. It really is a joy to see him unloading with them as he did, particularly well, in round 4.
4-Kimura's defense needs some work
We've given credit to Teruya for trying to win, but we do also need to make it clear that he had some of his success due to flaws that Kimura has. Kimura is an exceptional offensive fighter, and his variety is brilliant, as is his ability to mix up his power and speed on shots. Offensively he seems to have the tools to go a long way. Great fighters however have more than just offensive skills, and there are holes defensively that Kimura has that need sorting. He drops his hands too much for our liking and seems to still be wanting to entertain a little bit too much. That's fine at this level, as long as he gets away with it, but when he steps up a level he will need to sharpen up defensively and not get caught by some of the shots he got caught with here. We will, however, admit we are looking at flaws, and in reality it was, only, his third fight.
On this note, we also need to credit him as well. The two moments where he did look in some trouble he remained composed and held quickly, not something we see too often from Japanese fighters.
5-Nobuhiro Matsubara was solid
One thing we've wanted to do with this series was not just talk about the fighters but the others things about a fight. With that in mind it's only fair to talk about Nobuhiro Matsubara, the referee. He's not one who gets too much attention, but here he was really solid. He was clear in calling a slip in round 1, he split them quickly when they got tangled in in a clinch, he always had a good view of the the two men and was always close to them, without being an obstruction for viewers. He's rarely had title fights, of any kind during his career, but hopefully that changes soon as he really does seem a very calm pair of hands.
On Sunday we were treat to a sensational performance by Japanese prospect Rentaro Kimura (2-0, 2), who showcased pretty much everything he could for a 2-0 fighter, as he defeated the incredibly tough Takafumi Iwaya (4-4). The bout was shown on the Suruga Boys YouTube channel for free and the young prospect made the most of his chance to shine for an international audience.
The bout, which was held at the FujisanMesse, was one that we had anticipated being a quick blow out win for Kimura, but instead it turned into something much, much more interesting. And with that in mind we've decided to share some of our take aways from the bout.
1-The Suruga Boy's stream was solid!
Firstly we'll start with the obvious. The stream was solid through out. We've seen numerous events over the years where an official stream is pretty dire but here the stream was a really good quality one, with a multi-camera set up, a high quality feed, and on screen graphics. For, what we believe is, a first attempt this was really good from the folks in charge. Saying that there are areas where improvements can be made. They had a round graphic in the bottom corner, but that could have had a clock on it as well, and they could have given us commentary, replays and little introduction videos. However they are all minor complaints on what was a very good stream and fingers crossed not the last one we see from them.
Compared to the streams from Boxing Real and A-Sign this was a less professional look but it was their first attempt, and it was still very, very good from start to finish. Top job folks!
2-The FujisanMesse looked rather unique
Okay we're again focusing on something that wasn't the fight but instead looking at the venue. For those unaware the FujisanMesse is a multi-purpose convention center at the base of mount Fuji. Looking at the inside of it during the fight however it was easy to mistake the venue for a warehouse or a garage or something. It had a big wide door open that looked like a loading door, the walls looked rather plain and boring and overall it didn't look like a boxing venue. That might sound like a complain but in all honesty it felt raw, unique and different. During these testing times unique venues are certainly not a bad thing and we genuinely liked how this looked. Not the best venue we suspect, but certainly a rather interesting one.
One other thing about the venue was the acoustics. When Kimura landed a meaningful shot you could really hear it, with the sound filling the venue. This issue with the acoustics did however make the post fight in ring interviews a tough unbearable with feedback being a very notable issue.
3-Kimura gets it!
After the bout Rentaro Kimura stated he wanted to not just be a world champion but to be a charismatic one, like Joichiro Tarsuyoshi and Takanori Hatakeyama. He seems to understand that winning sometimes isn't the only thing he needs to do to become a star. As well as winning he needs to entertain, put on a show, and make fans sit up and take note. When you're levels above your opponent, as he was here, the focus is on leaving a mark on the fans, rather than just playing safe. After 2 rounds of trying to break Takafumi Iwaya in half Kimura seemed to change tactics, and rather than continue trying to blast his man out he entertained and showed glimpses of being a superstar. He could have played safe, used his jab, kept Iwaya away and took an easy decision. Instead he stood up close, slipped, slid, countered, lured Iwaya into thinking he was there to hit and moved away. He realised this was a chance to show off his defense as well as his offense and he did just that. It was, perhaps, a case of playing with his food, but it was also realising his food was as tough as a $2 steak.
4-Iwaya really is tough
On a weekend where fans were accusing Jeison Rosario and Downua Ruawaiking of taking dives we saw Iwaya some how walk through hell fire. Kimura banged away at Iwaya's body repeatedly in the early going, smashed him with uppercuts up top and genuinely seemed to use Iwaya as a punch bag. We dare say that Iwaya is toughed than most punch bags. The punishment he took here was just insane, and he played up too the stereo type of Japanese fighters being inhumanly tough. Had Iwaya's corner pulled him out after round 2 we'd have not complained, yet it wasn't until part way through round 5 that they saved their man. Even then he had never been down and kept pressing. Not only was he tough, but he kept trying to win, he was coming forward, trying to get to Kimura and that gets our respect, bit time!
5-Kimura is a very, very special talent
Whilst Kimura is obviously a man who adds flash to his work he also has a lot of substance to what he does. The guy can dazzle with his footwork and quick hand speed but he also knows that he needs to let his shots go and make openings for himself. He realises he can't just wait for the opportunities to come to him. This was shown through out the bout. Early on he seemed to look to barge through the front door but as the bout went on we began to see him spinning off from Iwaya, turning his man at will, using angles and a lot of lateral movement. At times it felt like we were watching the Japanese version of Vasyl Lomachenko with his movement, shot selection and the way he varied the pacing and power on his shots.
We are huge fans of Hinata Maruta, genuinely massive fans of Maruta, but we've seen Maruta sometimes show more style than substance. We dare say that Maruta could learn a lot from watching how Kimura goes about his business and tweaking his style to show what he can do to.
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.
When we started this series we didn't expect to be talking about many great KO's scored by a fighter making their debut, but this time around we get to talk about a great KO scored by a fighter on their pro debut. Not only that, but it was also scored earlier this year!
Rentaro Kimura (0-0) vs Yuya Azuma (5-3-1, 1)
After having had a successful amateur career Rentaro Kimura turned professional earlier this year. As an amateur he had won 3 national titles, scored over 70 amateur wins and had a lot of hype in Japan before making his debut. Unlike many Japanese debutants he didn't debut against a foreign fighter, sadly for him that wasn't something that was possible due to the global situation. Instead he had to take on a domestic fighter, and as a result he was matched with Yuya Azuma behind closed doors at Korakuen Hall.
It's fair to say that any amateur standout making their professional debut will want a crowd, they'll want family and friends behind them, seeing them begin their professional journey. Sadly that wasn't possible for Kimura, though thankfully we did have the Fuji TV camera's rolling and they managed to show his entire debut just days after it took place.
Before we talk about the finish we do need to talk, briefly about Yuya Azuma. He had a somewhat scratchy looking record but had won his last 3 bouts, including an upset over Ryo Tanimoto, and, with a little bit of luck, he could easily have been 8-1. He had never been stopped and he had only been clearly beaten once, by Ryuku Oho in June 2018 in what was Azuma's 4th professional bout.
Although no world beater Azuma had proven his ability at at the lower level of the Japanese domestic scene. The win over Ryo Tanimoto was solid, but he had also given rising prospect Tom Mizokoshi a very close run contest.
Azuma had come to win, he had proven that in the first round, by trying to box with Kimura and then trying to take the fight to him in the early stages of round 2. Midway through round 2 however we saw Kimura show his class in a short, but brutal, combination that saw everyone watching get very, very excited about the youngster.
The finish began when Kimura backed Azuma on to the ropes. He then followed up with a few feints, drawing a mistake from Azuma, which was then instantly punished by a brutal combination of straight left hands and sensational uppercuts. The combination send Azuma crashing to the canvas, and forced the referee to wave off the bout. Within the blink of an eye we had seen Kimura lay out Azuma, and poor Azuma had no idea what had happened.
On replay things looked even more brutal, with the finishing uppercut in particularly looking incredibly nasty as it snapped back the head of Azuma.
The finishing combination had been a straight left that had rocked Azuma, a right uppercut, a left hand around the guard, another right that looked more like a jab than anything, a monstrous left hand, and then another right uppercut. The uppercut at the end snapped back the head of Azuma before he crashed to the canvas.
Despite Azuma being badly hurt from the first shot in the combination there no way the referee could have stopped the action, the flew from Kimura with such speed and accuracy that the referee was simply unable to save Azuma from the final blows.
This was nasty from Kimura and the perfect way to make a statement on his debut.
Despite having no fans in attendance Kimura had left the TV audience with something to remember and had left Fuji TV with the perfect highlight reel quality KO. This is how you make a statement in a fan free environment, and this was the perfect way for Kimura to close the show!
Last week Rentaro Kimura (1-0, 1) [木村蓮太朗] made his professional debut with a lot of hype and expectation on his shoulders. His bout was, sadly, behind closed doors, but in front Fuji TV cameras and there was a clear intention from Fuji TV to make sure that they were show casing the 23 year old Kimura.
Before we discuss the bout lets just speak about Kimura. As an amateur he went he had gone 72-16 (26), he was the 2016 All Japan Bantamweight champion, before moving through the weights to claim the Lightweight crown at the 72nd and 74th National Athletic. He had also been the captain of the boxing team at the Toyo University.
His success as an amateur had lead to a lot of interest from professional boxing gyms for his signature, with some comparing him to other recent Japanese wunderkind. Despite a number of gyms wanting him to sign with them he eventually decided to sign with the relatively small Suruga Boys, a small and relatively new outfit in Shizuoka, where he was originally from. The hope, when he announced that he was turning professional, was that he could be the first Japanese world champion from a Shizuoka based gym.
Suruga Boys don't have experience and sparring depth needed for a fighter like Kimura to become a star. They are an emerging gym, and he needed to have a more established gym helping him. That came in the form of the Misako Gym, a gym that is very much an established on in Japan and is going through a rich vein of form with a host of Japanese national champions among their ranks. One those, Japanese Featherweight champion Ryo Sagawa, was the man that Kimura shared the ring with for his pro-test earlier this year.
The original plan had been for him to debut in Shizuoka but the on going global situation, something that essentially shut down Japanese boxing for more than 4 months, forced those plans to change. Instead it was last weekend he debuted as he took on Yuya Azuma (5-4-1, 1) [東祐也].
On paper the bout looked like a mismatch. Though after scratching behind the numbers Azuma had never been stopped in his 9 previous fights, he had been a professional for over 3 years and had run the likes of Tom Mizokoshi and Kensuke Fujita very close in two of his loses. He had also entered this bout riding a 3 fight winning run, including a solid upset over Ryo Tanimoto. Beneath the service Azuma was a solid opponent to debut against, and someone who wanted to win.
Prior to the broadcast Fuji TV gave Kimura something of a big build up. They showed some of his amateur footage, explained he had won national title in 2016, 2017 and 2019, and then showed some training footage, as well as footage from his pro-test with Sagawa. Whilst they knew the result, given the bout was aired several days after it took place, it was clear they were still looking to promote him and build up the hype on the youngster.
Although an empty Korakuen Hall always looks weird and strange, given that even under-card bouts usually have a solid attendance, it didn't seem to phase the debutant in the slightest.
Azuma had come to win, that was obvious from very early on. He hadn't come to make up the numbers, but a straight left from Kimura about 30 seconds in showed how sharp he was. Azuma did get some revenge for the shot, tripping Kimura over soon afterwards, and continued to try and box with the debutant. Sadly for Azuma he was regularly countered, tied up up close and forced onto the retreat. Kimura wouldd go on to land several other gorgeous shots later in the opening round, and did so with both hands. He looked offensively sharp, aggressive and despite showing some defensive holes Kimura couldn't ever make him pay, with Kimura's reflexes bailing him out when needed.
After a good first round we seemed to see a rather controlled effort from Kimura through the first minute of round 2. Azuma came out aggressive, and although he had had success he did get caught by a solid body shot and a nasty low blow, as Kimura began to try going to the body.
Then about 80 seconds into the second round we saw Kimura instantly go through the gears. He threw a couple of feints before drilling Azuma with a huge left hand, that began a series of clean shots up top from Kimura. The left hand was followed up almost instantly by a right uppercut, a glancing left hand, a clean left hand, and a huge second right uppercut. The combination took around 2 seconds, and sent Azuma crashing to the canvas.
In the blink of an eye Kimura had hurt his man, and by the time Azuma knew he was hurt was flat out on his back. In an instant we had learned exactly what Kimura was about. In just a few seconds we had seen the youngster make a statement and announce himself on to the professional boxing scene with a brutal finish.
Whilst there were flaws with his debut, and there were certainly areas for him to improve on, this was as good a debut performance as we've seen in a Japanese ring in the last year or two. This was a performance that showed a young fighter's skills, killer instinct and power.
Whilst some will state Azuma wasn't very good the reality is that he gave it a go, more than we typically see in the west from opponents of debutants. He genuinely believed he could win, he fought on after being cracked with a huge left hand in the opening round and a nasty body shot earlier in round 2. Sadly for Azuma he wasn't ever close to the level of Kimura. Even when Azuma did have his moments he was never able to really phase Kimura.
Next time out we'd like to see Kimura show something more on the inside. He did seem happy to tie up but we didn't see much of him fighting up close. That's a bit of a shame, as he did show some really nice touches up close, especially with his uppercuts, when he was willing to fight inside. We'd also like to see a little more patience, with the left hand he missed badly with almost midway through the opening round being a bit too reckless for us, just a tighter defense than he showed here. That is however us picking faults with a 23 year old who showed a lot to like in his debut and impressed us with his killer instinct.
For those that missed his debut we've included it below. Of course we were impressed by it, though it's fair to say we suspect others will be more critical than we are.
Given how quickly Japanese prospects get fast tracked we would expect to see Kimura moving towards title bouts in his next 4 or 5 contests, and he has already spoken about wanting to fight for a world title in in the next 3 years. For that to be viable he will need to improve defensively, but in fairness with Misako and Suruga boys seeing what he looked like on his debut they'll know where they need to focus his training. With Fuji TV in on the ground floor with his career, he has a massive ally who can help link him on to major cards, or keep him as an attraction on Diamond Glove shows. They will help him become a star, and he really does appear to already tick a lot of boxes.
Over the coming years we expect to see Kimura's KO of Azuma played over and over and to have a highlight reel KO on his debut will do a lot of favours for him in terms of marketing.
In regards to marketing it's worth noting that Kimura is a good looking kid, and with an exciting style, a willingness to hunt for a KO and a desire to be fast tracked, this young Super Featherweight appears to have everything needed to be a major name in the sport.
This past week the super highly touted Japanese prospect Rentaro Kimura (1-0, 1) began his professional career, doing so behind closed where he stopped Yuya Azuma in 2 rounds. Prior to the bout the talk was that the hugely promising southpaw was going to be looking for a world title within 3 years, or around 10 fights. With that in mind we thought we'd try and look for 5 potential opponents for the 23 year star in the making as we do our latest "Five For".
Although his debut was above the Super Featherweight limit we are going to assume Kimura will be looking to make his mark at 130lbs going forward, and his next bout will either be a 6 or 8 rounder.
1-Attanon Kunlawong (15-6, 11)
A realtively easy bout to make for Kimura, and one he would be strongly favoured in, would be a contest with Thailand' s Attanon Kunlawong, a once touted fighter himself. Attanon, also known as Konthara KKP, looked like a man going places when he began his career 13-0 (10) but since then has gone 2-6 (1). Although not the most mouth watering opponent the 24 old Thai is a decent fighter on his day and he could certainly be a good step up form Kimura's debut, despite his current form. We would expect Kimura to be too good and too sharp, but we this could be a good chance for him to see a new style and go in with someone who, in their day, is very fluid and has some solid sting on their shots.
2-Al Toyogon (10-6-1, 6)
Whilst Kunlawong would be an easy win we would love to see Kimura take on someone a big more testing and tougher. In step Al Toyogon, someone who would serve as a perfect test for Kimura. With Kimura stating he wants to stop everyone he faces Toyogon would serve as a perfect dance partner, being tough enough to force Kimura to use all the tools in his locker. Toyogon is known as a durable opponent, and last year he went the distance with Ryo Sagawa, Shuya Masaki, Jorge Linares and Carlo Magali, so a stoppage over him would be huge. Toyogon is no push over, but we see him being more of a stamina and check than a skills test for Kimura.
3-Dai Iwai (23-6-1, 7)
With the world the way it is it may make more sense to look closer to home for an opponent for Kimura and who better than the experienced Dai Iwai. On paper this is a massive step up for Kimura, and the sort of opponent that proves Kimura is dreaming of greatness. Iwai is no better than a domestic level contender, but that's a great level to be fighting at in just fight #2 and leaves Kimura potentially in the Japanese rankings ahead of his third fight. That would have him on a similar trajectory to Naoya Inoue and Kosei Tanaka. Given the talk that seems to be around Kimura that's the type of fighter he wants to be compared to, so Iwai is the perfect domestic opponent.
4-Seiichi Oakada (22-7-1, 13)
Another potential Japanese opponent, and probably an easier one to beat, would be former national champion Seiichi Okada. The 38 year old Okada has been stopped 4 times in his 7 losses and was beaten last time out by the distinctly average Kanehiro Nakagawa. He's there for the taking and is a long way removed from his days as a national champion. Despite that he's still a decent domestic name, and this could be a passing of the torch. Sadly it would come more than 8 years after Okada lost the Japanese title to Daiki Kaneko, but would still be an impressive step up in class from Kimura's debut.
5-Ulysses Lagos (12-2, 6)
It's unclear what route to titles Kimura is looking to go, with Japanese, OPBF an WBO Asia Pacific titles all out there. If he is looking at the WBO regional title then a smart match up would be for him to take on Filipino Ulysses Lagos. When the rankings were last done for the WBO Asia Pacific title Lagos was ranked at #15, and he would be a rather easy looking entry into those rankings. Although is ranked his record is uninspiring and only 4 fights ago he was stopped by Mark John Yap, a natural Bantamweight. If Kimura and his team want to fast track their way to a regional title this may be the smart way to go, with champion Joe Noynay unlikely to want to remain at this level for too much longer, given he is ranked 3 of the 4 world title bodies.
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).