As one of the hottest hopefuls in Japan there is a lot expectations resting on the shoulders of the unbeaten Shokichi Iwata (5-0, 4). Last Friday he was in the ring for his 5th professional bout, and faced off with the tough Ryo Narizuka (9-10-1) in the first of two Dynamic Glove cards to take place Korakuen Hall.
Although this bout wasn't shown live it did managed to get aired on a relatively short tape delay, being shown on Monday after taking place the previous Friday. Having now watched it back a couple of times we've decided to share what we took from the bout, with the latest in our Take Aways series.
1-Iwata is great fun to watch
For many in Japan Shokichi Iwata's hype and potential comes from his days as an amateur, where he beat the likes of Kosei Tanaka. Whilst that's great we're actually a lot more excited about what we see of him in the ring. He's someone who can box and move, but also show an aggressive, exciting and offensive style when he wants to. At the end of this bout he really let his hands go, moved through the gears and put on a show to force a stoppage. Whilst he clearly has a good amateur fundamentals he's happy to not rely on them as a crutch and will instead be aggressive and be exciting when he wants to be. With that in mind we feel he's adapted to the professional ranks incredibly well and will likely become one of the must watch little men in the next few years, able to box, fight, brawl or bang.
2-A lack of power has held Ryo Narizuka back
Although Ryo Narizuka lacks in too many areas to ever have been a big star it needs to be said that his complete lack of power has been a major issue. During his 20 fight career he has never scored a stoppage, and his inability to get respect from his opponents has hamstrung his career pretty notably. It's a shame that he doesn't have more bang on his shots as his record would likely look very, very different if he had a bit of pop. He's tough, he can box, he can move, but he can't make opponents respect him and he can't make them think twice. In many ways this has really limited his potential to make a mark and almost certainly held him back from bigger and better things.
3-Iwata is thinking about the future
Although Iwata had to go 7 rounds here we suspect part of going later into the bout was a deliberate thing. He knows he will have harder bouts, he knows he'll face questions in regards to his stamina, and that he'll have to work hard. Instead of being super aggressive from the off he decided to test things, use his movement, attack in bursts and not try to finish off Narizuka too quickly. In some ways he was playing with his food, but did it in a way where he was trying new things, where he was fighting within himself to get ring time and experience. He had never been beyond 6 rounds prior to this bout and can now say he's done 7, he can now feel confident in his ability to do 8, and maybe even 10. Getting this type of ring time, this early, is really valuable for a young prospect.
4-It's time for Iwata to step up
Our last take away in regards to Shokichi Iwata is that it's now time he stepped up. He really does need to be given a serious test and we'd like to see him in with a top domestic level fighter next. He's proven his skills and stamina, and now we'd like to see him prove himself against someone like Tsuyoshi Sato, Ryuto Oho, Daiki Tomita or Takuma Sakae as he moves towards a title fight. This was a decent match up to see where Iwata's at, but he's a long, long way above the likes of Narizuka and it's time we see him in with better competition than Narizuka
5-Takahiro Ao looked a natural in the corner
We suspect most people missed this one, but this bout actually featured former Featherweight and Super Featherweight world champion Takahiro Ao working the corner for Iwata. It was the first time he'd worked as a chief second and whilst it's not a real he seemed eager to take on full time we thought he looked natural there, and with his excellent boxing brain he will likely prove a great asset for anyone able to get him in the corner. Fingers crossed he changes his mind and does become a regular chief second, as he we suspect he has the tools needed to really get the most out of his fighters going forward. Saying that however he is said to be a very good trainer, and that might be his calling if he doesn't choose to work the corner more often
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).