Last Monday we saw Japanese youngster Riku Kano (17-4-1, 8) over-come Ryoki Hirai (13-7-1, 4) with a close decision win to claim the WBO Asia Pacific Light Flyweight title. The bout was a remarkably dull, unexciting and unmemorable one that really failed to catch light. In fact if anything it really did under-whelm on a card that had, on the whole, over-delivered.
Despite being a poor bout there was a lot to take away from it, for both guys, who both had some obvious issues shown up here, and potentially even had their futures sealed, as harsh as that sounds.
1-These styles did not make for a fun fight
We'll start with an obvious one and that is that the styles of these two did not gel, at all. The first few rounds were low tempo action as both men trying to draw mistakes and counter. With both men fighting as counter punchers the bout never really got going until the middle rounds. We know match making is tricky task but this was just an awful bit of match making from a stylistic point of view, and it didn't help that the two men were fighting out of opposite stances, which made both guys more patient. Interestingly Kano made life harder for himself being as timid as he was as he seemed the much quicker fighter, and Hirai's lack of power meant he had little real threat to offer.
2-Hirai should have done more
We mentioned Knao made life hard for himself, and he really did. He was too timid, too cautious and not doing enough to separate himself from Hirai. He did, however, take home the win, so his tactics at least worked in the eyes of the judges. Hirai however didn't do enough early on. He let Kano get comfortable, take center ring and look like the aggressor. Funnily for Hirai he did drop Kano, he learned he had the power to hurt Kano and better yet he had seen other fighters bully and outhustle Kano in the past. Why he thought cautious cautious, single shot boxing was his best gameplan is a mystery.
3-TV Osaka's graphical over-lay is busy and still misses something
TV Osaka streamed this card and, on the whole, we thought the stream was fantastic, it was high quality and smooth. There was however a a lot of graphical overlays, with the channel identify in the top left, the match up in the top right and the round number in the bottom right, along with the show name. For some reason however they didn't actually show a round clock! If you're going to put all the other stuff there at least have a damn 3 minute counter folks!
4-This was kinda fun...when it finally warmed up
The bout took a long time to warm up, but when it did, it did become quite exciting with both men firing off leather on the inside, and getting much more physical with each other. It wasn't a fire fight, but it was much, much better in the second round as both guys began to work up close. The only problem there was that we did see accidental headclashes and holding, but it as so much better than the earlier rounds, where they did little. Sadly for Hirai the judges really didn't like his work in the second half of the fight, as still didn't do enough, but this part of the fight was certainly much better than the first half and saw both men letting their hands go more. If the bout had been fought more like that this it would, potentially, have been a decent bout.
5-Neither of these men are a threat at world level
It's a sad fact but none of the top guys in the division will have seen this and been left with any fear at all. The likes of Hiroto Kyoguchi, Carlos Canizales, Elwin Soto, Felix Alvarado and Kenshiro Teraji will not be shaking in their boots here. In fact we'd go as far as to suggest that fighters like Masamichi Yabuki and Kenichi Horikawa are looking at Kano and that WBO Asia Pacific title as something they could go off and chase in 2021. Kano might be the new WBO Asia Pacific champion but he needs to be really selective in who he defends against, as many of the more notable regional fighters at 108lbs will be licking their lips whilst looking at him. He's skilled, but very flawed, and still looks a long, long, long way from being ready for a second world title fight.
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).