Last week talented Japanese amateur stand out Ryutaro Nakagaki (1-0, 1) made his professional debut, taking on Shohei Horii (3-6-2, 2) at Korakuen Hall. The bout wasn't shown live but was aired over the weekend on Fuji TV. Since then we have watched the bout back a few times and have made some notes of what we saw.
1-The Ohashi Team are there for each other
Fans who have watched this will likely have noticed a lot of red Mizuno shirts in the crowd. These are the Ohashi team who are very much a family supporting each other. Those there to cheer on Nakagaki included the Inoue brothers. We can't help but thing that the stablemates of Nakagaki, and other Ohashi gym fighters, does help the stable with it's unity feel. They sit together, they support each other, they act as a team and they are all there to help each other. This is something we see some other gyms do, but few seem to do it in quite the same was that Ohashi does.
2-Nakagaki looks a natural
We've seen a lot of debuts recently of former amateur standouts and we dare say that Nakagaki looked as impressive anyone. He looked razor sharp, used his lead hand to control distance, showed nice footwork, and despite coming forward he was really more of an aggressive counter puncher than an aggressive guy with a high output. He showed a very good boxing brain, looked well schooled, and managed to not only come forward but also draw mistakes and punish them. There is still some tweaks to his style that we would want to see him make, but we were really impressed by how he looked in the ring.
3-Horri wanted to win
We seem to say this a lot about Japanese fighters but Horri wasn't there to just get in the ring and take a pay packet. He was there to win, he wanted to win, he wanted to fight. He was just up against someone several levels above him. He didn't want to fiddle and spoil and hold he wanted to win, and believed he could win. At leats until he went down. He seemed to feel confident that he could draw out a chance to win, and that one of his sweeping hooks would land. He was wrong, and he was completely outclassed, but his effort was something we have to value much more than a fighter in another county coming to fall over, or just survive.
4-Nobuhiro Matsubara continues to impress
We would all prefer a fight was stopped a little bit too early than too late. On first viewing we felt that Nobuhiro Matsubara stepped in a little bit too early. In reality however the stoppage is not we can complain about. Horrii had been down earlier in the round, he was starting to eat consistent leather and and was proving to be a bit too brave for his own good. He could have been stopped after the knockdown, but the referee seemed to feel he'd give Horri the benefit of the doubt, Horri took more punishment and the doubt was gone. This is the second time in recent weeks we've praised Matsubara and he's quickly showing what a fantastic referee he is. He also seemed to a smile and a look of "I know" from Horri, showing that even the fighter himself acknowledged this was being stopped for his health.
We suggest everyone considering becoming a referee looks at how Nobuhiro Matsubara is doing things.
5-Akira Yaegashi is the corner is going to be a big thing
More than a week after this fight Akira Yaegashi announced his retirement form in ring competition. He'll remain a figure in boxing however working for Fuji TV, in their Diamond Glove shows, and working as a trainer for the Ohashi gym, including working with Nakagaki. Given his experience, his know how, his career and his style we suspect he's going to be a very, very valuable man in the corner. We didn't see much of him here, though after the bout you could see him on the ring apron talking to Nakagaki, but we suspect we'll see a lot of Yaegashi working the corner and working closely with fighters to pass on his knowledge. He's going to be a very, very important man in developing talent at the Ohashi gym, along his own mentors Koji Matsumoto and Hideyuki Ohashi.
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).