Back on January 16th we saw Japanese Welterweight fighter Ryota Toyoshima (13-2-1, 8) score the biggest win of his career, by far, as he overcame Riku Nagahama at Korakuen Hall to claim the OPBF Welterweight title. The victory over Nagahama was a hard fought bout overall but one where Nagahama seemed to be the clear winner, and one where his performance was genuinely fantastic. He was full of energy throughout the contest, kept throwing bombs and seemed on the verge of a stoppage, several times.
With that win under his belt, and with the current restrictions with entry to Japan we’ve decided to take a look at 5 potential opponents for Toyoshima’s first defense. Sadly due to the restrictions in Japan we’ve only looked at fighters currently based in the Land of the Rising sun for this “Five For...” though there is every chance things will change by the time Toyoshima returns to the ring much later in the year.
1-Yuki Beppu (21-1-1, 20)
One thing we’re huge fans of are unification bouts. By that we don’t just mean world title unification bouts but unification bouts at every level of the sport, including regional unification bouts. With that in mind seeing Toyoshima put his OPBF title on the line against WBO Asia Pacific champion Yuki Beppu makes an obvious #1 pick for us here. The two men are both based in Japan, both hold regional titles, but are heavy handed, and both make for good action fights. Together they should give us brutal action and thrilling back and forth exchanges for as long as the two men can last. Of the two Beppu is the more proven and the more experienced, but Toyoshima’s win over Nagahama is pretty much on par with Beppu’s best win, over Ryota Yada, and the two men would match up very, very nicely in the ring. This is genuinely a bout we’d love to see later this year and one which would likely give us a FOTY contender.
2-Shoki Sakai (25-11-2, 13)
Talking about potential FOTY contenders, a bout between Toyoshima and the teak tough Shoki Sakai would also have the potential to deliver something amazing. Toyoshima is a big punching boxer-puncher, when that style goes up against a tough and aggressive pressure fighter we tend to get something very special and that would be expected if Toyoshima clashed with Sakai. Although not too well known in Japan, where he has only fought twice, Sakai has proven his value as a gatekeeper in the West with bouts against the likes of Gor Yeritsyan, Alexis Rocha and Eddie Gomez. This would be a real mental test for Toyoshima, who would be facing a man with the edge in experience and toughness, but also a chance to legitimise his reign. It would also give Sakai a shot at a regional title, adding it to the WBC Youth world title he won way back in 2015.
3-Rikuto Adachi (14-2, 11)
It’s fair to say that against either Beppu or Sakai we would expect to see Toyoshima being given hell. A much easier bout would be a defense against Rikuto Adachi, as long as Adachi gets through his March bout for the Japanese Youth title. Compared to Beppu and Sakai it’s fair to say that Adachi would be a massive down ground, but the heavy handed youngster, who now fights out of the Ohashi gym, would likely jump at the opportunity to take on the OPBF champion. Adachi is very much a work in progress, and although he’s been at the Ohashi gym for a while now he hasn’t been active, due to injuries, and will likely need a couple of wins under his belt before taking on Toyoshima. On the other hand that might suit the champion who damaged his hand in 2019, and may well feel like a good rest after his war with Nagahama, which was a very punishing bout for both men. If this doesn’t take place this year it will certainly be one that could end up happening somewhere down the line, given that both men are still relatively young.
4-Yuichi Ideta (14-15-1, 7)
Whilst we love unification bouts there is also a bit of us that loves seeing a fighter rewarded for a really big win. Last year Yuichi Ideta scored a massive win as he upset Ryota Yada in December, ending a very long winless run. At the 36 Ideta isn’t going to have many bouts left in his career, and as a feel good story it would be great to see Ideta get a shot at a title. With that in mind, why not have Ideta get a shot at Toyoshima later in the year. On paper it would be a massive mismatch, but so was Ideta’s bout with Yada and he showed that when he was determined and hungry he could score big upsets. It’s a shame in some ways that Ideta beat Yada, as a bout between Yada and Toyoshima would be more interesting on paper, but we certainly wouldn’t complain if Ideta got a crack at the OPBF title as a reward for beating Yada last year.
5-Keita Obara (23-4-1, 21)
We go back to unification bouts to finish this off, as a bout between Toyoshima, the OPBF champion, and Japanese national champion Keita Obara would certainly be one worth considering. On paper Obara would be the massive favourite, given his higher level of experience and his more proven career track record. However at 34 years old Obara is certainly getting on in terms of age and isn’t actually a natural Welterweight, despite looking good at the weight. He fought much of his career at Light Welterweight and only moved up to 147lbs in 2017, following a loss to Eduard Troyanovsky. He has also had mixed success at Welterweight, with a loss to Alvin Lagumbay in 2018 really standing out as proof he can be beaten by regional level fighters. Saying that, Obara would be favoured over Toyoshima but Toyoshima certainly has the power and energy to make this interesting and the win over Nagahama will have filled him with a lot of confidence. This would be explosive and exciting, but also potentially, very tense.
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).