Last weekend we were supposed to see Japanese Flyweight champion Seigo Yuri Akui (15-2-1, 10) fighting in a non title bout against Yuto Nakamura, who pulled out of the bout on a days notice. To save the show Masamichi Yabuki (12-3, 11) [佐藤政道] stepped in to take part in a 4 round spar with Akui, whilst Akui and his team spoke very angrily about the situation which they had found themselves in.
With the bout against Nakamura falling through it's clear that Akui has a point to prove when he returns to the ring later this year, and won't have taken much damage in his spar with Yabuki.
With that in mind, lets take a look at some opponents who could be next for Akui as we give the Japanese Flyweight puncher the Five for treatment.
1-Sho Kimura (19-3-2, 12)
It's known that Akui wants to work his way towards a world title fight, though it's also clear there is a lot of work to do before that can happen. With that in mind a former world champion being next for him would be a great idea. It would allow us to measure where he is, and allow him to, potentially, score a win over a big name fighter. It wouldn't be an easy bout to make, especially not over in Okayama where Akui is based, but a bout between Akui and former WBO world champion Sho Kimura would be huge for boxing in the area and give us a marker as to how good Akui really is. It was also let us see how much Kimura has left in the tank. Although he's a former world champion Kimura doesn't demand huge purse, though he may not be too willing to step down to Japanese class for a bout like this. If it can be made however this would be incredibly exciting, and a properly violent clash.
2-Ryota Yamauchi (7-1, 6)
Whilst Kimura would be a huge fight for Akui, on route to potentially moving into the world title mix, there are other options out there and testing himself at regional title level would make more sense. With that in mind a bout against WBO Asia Pacific champion Ryota Yamauchi would be huge and a chance for the two Japanese youngsters to massively boost their careers and take huge strides towards big fights. It would also, brilliant, unify two of the 3 major sub-world titles recognised in Japan and leave the winner as the leading Japanese contender to move on to the world stage. The bout would, potentially be a tricky one to make, given that both would likely want to fight in their current home city, but wouldn't be impossible, and style wise it would be thrilling. This bout, would, however be on the caveat that Yamauchi beats Yuta Nakayama on June 24th without suffering too many cuts. Given the date of that fight it may, sadly, be one we end up waiting until 2022, or even 2023, for.
3-Taku Kuwahara (8-0, 4)
Staying on the idea of Akui facing fellow Japanese youngsters one man who instantly springs to mind, as an alternative to Yamaguchi, is Ohashi promoted fighter Taku Kuwahara, who is opening wanting title fights and looks like potentially the next bit thing from the Ohashi stable. Him facing Akui would be a brilliant match up of styles, with Kuwahara being a more volume intensive fighter, but a highly skilled one and Akui being an aggressive fighter with incredible power. Style wise this would be a brilliant clash and would be a chance to see what both men are made of. We do wonder whether Kuwahara would travel to Okayama for a title fight, especially given his promoter is the bigger one, though it would be a great chance for him to prepare for the bigger fights expected of him down the line. This wouldn't be the type of fight to create international attention, but would certainly be a very solid domestic fight.
4-Jayr Raquinel (12-1-1, 9)
We mentioned Ryota Yamauchi a few moments ago, but he's not the only man with a regional title. Another is OPBF champion Jayr Raquinel, who has a history in Japan thanks to wins over Keisuke Nakayama, Shun Kosaka and Takuya Kogawa, having stopped all 3 of those men. He's also on the fringes of a potential world title fight himself, has a hard hitting style, and is very much the type of fighter who brings excitement. A Raquinel Vs Akui bout would promise fireworks, excitement, and almost certainly end with one, or both, of the fighters hitting the canvas. In terms of styles and meaning this fight is a potential cracker though it does have an issue, at least right now. At the moment Japan still isn't letting visitors into the country without a 14 day quarantine period, and a bout between a Japanese fighter and an international fighter may still be somewhat impossible to arrange due to the Covid19 restrictions in the country. Fingers crossed they are eased in the future, but it seems that, for now, this could be another that we need to patiently wait for.
5-Kento Hatanaka (11-0, 9)
The most likely man, a least in regards to being next, is the unbeaten "Prince" Kento Hatanaka, who is currently ranked the #1 contender for the Japanese Flyweight that that Akui holds. The 22 year old Hatanaka is always involved in fun, exciting fights and seems like he wants to challenge for the Japanese title as early as possible, making him a very plausible challenge to face Akui next. In terms of styles this would be something a little bit special, between two men who can punch, go to war and can actually box, even if both do hide that part of their game at times. The only issue, perhaps, is that Hatanaka may be seen as still needing a little bit more seasoning by his team, including his father, before facing someone like Akui. Though there is also the argument that he has already proven what he can do and deserves a shot at the title. We suspect this bout would get the best out of both fighters and although not a huge name fight it's the sort of bout which would see the winner really banging on the door of becoming a Japanese break out. Notably both fighters are from relatively minor boxing markets, though both markets do have a very dedicted fan base, which would make the bout easy to put together and could lead to a fantastic atmosphere.
This past Sunday hard hitting Japanese Flyweight champion Seigo Yuri Akui (15-2-1, 10) recorded his first defense of the national title as he defeated mandatory challenger Seiya Fujikita via decision. With that win under his belt the the challenger now for Akui and his team will be to move him from Japanese domestic level to world level.
With that in mind we're going to make Akui the focus of this week's "Five For..." article, where we look at 5 potential match ups for the fighter in question.
1-Sho Kimura (19-3-2, 12)
Arguably the most interesting bout Akui could have on the Japanese domestic scene would see him defending his title against former WBO world champion Sho Kimura, in what would be a brilliant Japanese national title fight. Akui has looked impressive, we know he's a fast starter, a big puncher, and someone who can box. By that same token we know Kimura is the opposite in many ways. Kimura is a slow starter, who gets better the longer bouts go and is very much a pressure fighter. This would have the potential for fireworks early on, and would see Akui getting a chance at a very relevant fighter. It would also give Kimura a chance to claim a big domestic win. This would be high risk for both men, but from a fans point of view, what a fight!
2-Ryota Yamauchi (7-1, 6)
On the subject of great domestic bouts a contest pitting Akui against Ryota Yamauchi would be another sensational bout on the Japanese scene. This wouldn't just be for Akui's Japanese title but also Yamauchi's WBO Asia Pacific title, making it a unification bout between two men in their mid-20's both looking to mount a serious challenge for a world title in 2021. It's worth noting that, at the moment, Yamauchi's world title options are limited due to Japanese rules, but getting the Japanese title would open up more options, whilst Akui would be looking at the world rankings that Yamauchi holds. Maybe this bout doesn't have the well established name and international profile that a Kimura bout would, but it would still be a special fight and a very hotly contest one, with two men eager to prove themselves.
3-Kento Hatanaka (11-0, 9)
Our final all-Japanese bout for Akui would see him in with Kento Hatanaka, and this may actually end up being what we see in 2021. Whilst Akui's last bout was a mandatory defense he will have another one of those next year and as we write this Kento Hatanaka is the #2 ranked contender, with the rankings not yet being updated following Akui's with Fujikita! For us Hatanaka is probably not quite ready for a Japanese title fight, but he's certainly not far off, and a bout before the end of the year, just to season him a bit more, then a shot at Akui in 2021 does make a lot of sense. Stylistically this would be sensational. Both men are solid punches, both can box, both can bang and both can brawl. Of the two we would favour the more proven and more explosive Akui, but Hatanaka is not a push over, and the 22 year old is probably the more technically sound of the two. If this one gets made next year, we are set for a genuine treat as fight fans
4-Jayr Raquinel (12-1-1, 9)
Earlier we mentioned a potential bout that would have seen Akui unify the Japanese title with the WBO Asia Pacific title. Another possible title that Akui could be interested in would be the OPBF title, which is currently held by Filipino puncher Jayr Raquinel. We've Raquinel fight in Japan a few times, he's been willing to be the away fighter and is very much a confident young man with heavy hands. A bout between Akui and Raquinel would be an explosive encounter, it would give Raquinel a chance to collect another decent Japanese payday, and move his career forward, and it would give Akui a great chance to move towards a world title bout. Although not a massive fight on the global scene, and not one likely to get any attention in the West, this would have the makings of a true hidden gem of a fight, for as long as it lasts!
5 -Jaysever Abcede (20-9, 12) II
Akui has suffered 2 losses. One of those was to Junto Nakatani, back in 2017, who is now lining up a world title fight, and the other came in 2018 to under-rated Filipino Jaysever Abcede. Whilst we don't imagine we'll see Nakatani Vs Akui II any time soon, especially given where Nakatani's career is heading, we wouldn't be disappointed at all in seeing Akui get a second bout with Abcede, in fact this would make a lot of sense. Not only would it allow Akui a chance to avenge his loss, which was from injury in the final minute of an 8 rounder, but would also give him a real test, regardless of whether he wins, against a very rugged, under-rated guy who's very ccapable of pushing decent fighters. Abcede may not have a regional title but he does have a WBC world ranking, and he would likely feel confident he'd have the tools to do the double over Akui. If the other 4 men can't be got by Akui's team, then Abcede would certainly be a very, very solid choice!
Last weekend fight fans had the chance to see Japanese Flyweight champion Seigo Yuri Akui (15-2-1, 10) make his first defense of his national title. The heavy handed Akui over-came mandatory challenger Seiya Fujikita (13-5, 6) with a 10 round decision to keep a hold of his belt and move one step closer to a world title fight, but did face a spirited effort from Fujikita, who was certainly not there to just make up the numbers.
With the bout now in the books, and with the sport moving on we though we'd take a look back on the bout and share our take aways before the week cam to a close.
1-The canvas was strange
In the west we typically see a blue ring canvas with sponsorships all over it. It's almost the only way we see rings in the US and the UK. Outside of those two regions however there are various ring canvases used, some are awful, such as a white canvas used a few weeks ago by Shinsei, and others are great, such as the old red and white canvases we used to see in, we believe, Panama. The one used for this show was just weird. It was like it had a blue border, with a white center square, broken into 5 stripes. Very strange and very unique.
2-Fujikita had a really good gameplan
Although he came up short no one can question Fujikita's gameplan. It was all about getting inside, taking away Akui's ability to get full extension on his shots, swarming him like a rabid terrier and breaking him down mentally. Against a puncher most fighters don't want to take risks and get inside, knowing they might get caught on the way in. Fujikita however kept close through long stretches of the bout, and worked the body well. He wasn't good enough to get the win, but the gameplan was a really good one, he just lacked the tools needed to make it count.
3-Akui is developing as a boxer
Akui's strength and power has always been his two big calling cards. He has shown some ability to box, but the reality is that he's been more about his power, early on, and less about his ability to box. We saw something different here however. He has success up close, but also did really well at creating some space to use his jab. His boxing is basic, there's no bells and whistles there, but it is a developing asset of his, and will certainly be a valuable tool when he steps up a level. It is, however, clear that there are still improvements to be made here and this should be regarded as a good test and learning experience rather than a sign he's ready for world level.
4-This was a great fight
Genuinely if you have Boxing Raise and haven't yet seen this bout you really need to go and check it out, it's one of the best in recent weeks. It was, for the most part, a well fought, inside bout with Fujikita giving his all and Akui just being that much better. Akui picked his moments well, picked his shots really well, tucked up when he needed to, and controlled stretches of the bout against a very tough and determined challenger. Fujikita was the under-dog, he travelled for the fight, few gave him a chance, but he backed himself and he really played his part in a fantastic contest.
5-Nobuto Ikehara deserves more chances
It's become a bit of a regular thing in this series, but once again we're being positive about a referee, in this case Nobuto Ikehara. The referee caught the attention more than some Japanese referees, but he did a really good job here. He told both men to watch their heads early on, and then involved himself as little as possible in what was a real inside battle. He did a great job, and we're genuinely surprised to see how little refereeing he does in Japan. We accept boxrec is incomplete, esppecially when it comes to officials, but it appears this was one of his first shows in 2020. A real shame as he did a great job. More Ikehara in the ring please JBC!
With no fights currently taking place we've had a bit of time on our hands, and with that in mind we've decided to look at the sport in terms of how divisions sit, and do something that had previously been requested. The Asian divisional top 10's. We'll be starting this at Minimumweight and working our way through the divisions over the coming days and weeks. We know there will be some debate about some rankings and there is certainly some area for discussion, and that is certainly not a bad thing at all!
The third division in this series is the rather weird looking Flyweight division. Historically it's been a rich division, full of excellent Asian talent, but right now it's a division that is very much transitional in Asia and there is no recognised #1, like their is in most other divisions. Despite that it's not actually a poor division, in fact it's a deep one, just one lacking in terms of star power.
1-Junto Nakatani (20-0, 15)
Whilst we don't know who the true #1 is in the division it's probably fair to suggest that Junto Nakatani is one of the leading pack now that Kosei Tanaka has left the division. The 22 year old Japanese southpaw is regarded as one of the best youngsters in the sport and with wins over Dexter Alimentoo, Shun Kosaka, Naoki Mochizuki and Milan Melindo in recent bouts he's clearly among the very best in Asia, if not the best. Given his age, his style, his performances and his freakish size he's going to be a very, very hard man to beat. He was supposed to fight for the WBO Flyweight title earlier this year, but as of now, given everything going on, it's unclear when, and even if, that will end up happening.
2-Giemel Magramo (24-1, 20)
The man that Nakatani was supposed to fight for the WBO title was Filipino fighter Giemel Magramo. The once beaten 25 year old is a real talent, who was unfortunate in his only loss more than 3 years ago. Since suffering his sole loss he has scored 7 wins, all by stoppage. They have included victories over Richard Clavers, Petchchorhae Kokietgym and Wenfeng Ge. It's really the win over Ge that has strengthened Magramo's claim as a top Flyweight. Whilst Magramo's record suggests he's a pure puncher he's not, instead he's actually a very heavy handed boxer-puncher. He's aggressive, exciting, talented and has solid pop on his shots. There are area's for him to improve, and he can look a bit raw, but there is no doubting his ability and how much of a danger man he is in the division.
3-Sho Kimura (19-3-2, 12)
Despite being the only former world champion on this list it's hard to really know where to place Sho Kimura. In terms of achievement he's the number one, by some distance, but since losing the WBO Flyweight title to Kosei Tanaka he's not really shown much. Last year he made an ill fated move down in weight, where he was easily beaten by Carlos Canizales, and since then he has only beaten Merlito Sabillo, who suffered what looked like an horrific injury. If Kimura is still the same fighter he was against Zou Shiming, Toshiyuki Igarashi, Froilan Saludar and Kosei Tanaka he'd be the #1 in the division, but at the moment question marks do hangover him. Those questions are magnified by the fact he's also changed gyms, leaving the the Aoki gym that lead him to his success.
4-Muhammad Waseem (10-1, 7)
The most successful amateur on this list Pakistani fight Muhammad Waseem looked like a star in the making early on, when he was impressing in Korea. In his first 5 bouts he had not only won the South Korean Bantamweight title but also beaten Jether Oliva and Giemel Magramo. Sadly financial backing failed to materialise and he would struggle to build on that early success. More than 3 years on he has managed to have only 2 more bouts of note, a close decision loss in an IBF title bout against Moruti Mthalane and a close win over Ganigan Lopez last year. Although clearly talented the 32 is no spring chicken and will likely be 33 by the time he returns to the ring. A real example of why a financially strong backer is needed, even at the lower weights.
5-Jayr Raquinel (12-1-1, 9)
Filipino hopeful Jayr Raquinel is one of the hidden gems in the division. The 23 year old boxer-puncher has scored some very big wins over the last couple of years or so, stopping Keisuke Nakayama, Shun Kosaka and Takuya Kogawa in OPBF title bouts. Clearly a heavy handed fighter Raquinel still has work to do, and we saw him suffer a disappointing loss in China in 2018, when he seemed to be old manned by Wulan Tuolehazi. That loss hopefully serve as a turning point for Raquinel's training, and help him increase his activity in bouts, rather than sleep walking through portions of bouts. He's not yet ready for a world title fight, in our eyes, but is quickly moving towards one and could be ready in 2021 for a very big fight.
6-Wulan Tuolehazi (14-4-1, 7)
With wins over 2 fighters in the top 10 there will be an argument that Wulan Tuolehazi should be higher up the rankings, but in reality he's a hard man to judge. He beat Jayr Raquinel in 2018 but then squeaked some questionable decisions against Ryota Yamauchi and Ardin Diale in 2019, before being decimated by Kosei Tanaka at the end of last year. Had his bouts with Yamauchi and Diale not been in China we would be looking at a very different career for Tuolehazi, and there's a good chance he wouldn't have got the Tanaka fight. Although not a world beater he's proven himself a solid fighter, just maybe not as good as his results suggest. It's going to be very, very interesting to see what he does in his next few fights, as they could make or break him. At 27 he's in his physical prime, but it really is unclear as to how much further he can develop.
7-Masayuki Kuroda (30-8-3, 16)
Former 2-time world title challenger Masayuki Kuroda is one of the more well known names on this list and has certainly proven to be a legitimate fringe world level fight during his 41 fight career. He's been a professional since 2005 and whilst his career is definitely coming to an end, the 33 year old is looking for one more shot at the top. Last year he put on a brave effort against Moruti Mthalane en route to a clear decision loss. That defeat ended a 6 fight winning run for the Japanese veteran who had taken wins over Takuya Kogawa, Yuta Matsuo and Katsunori Nagamine. Given his age and wear and tear he'll not have long left in the sport, but could well have one more crack at the top before hanging them up.
8-Seigo Yuri Akui (14-2-1, 10)
Fast starter Seigo Yuri Akui should be regarded as one of the division's true danger men, though also someone who perhaps struggles if bouts don't finish early on. His 17 fight career has seen him scoring 9 opening round wins, but being stopped every time he has gone beyond 5 rounds. Akui is currently the Japanese champion and holds wins against Ryuto Oho, Masamichi Yabuki, Yoshi Minato and Shun Kosaka, but needs a solid international win to back up his ranking. Interestingly Akui could certainly see beat some of the man ranked higher up this list than himself, but also lose to some of the un-ranked fighters. That makes him very tricky to rank but also very exciting to watch.
9-Tetsuya Hisada (34-10-2, 20)
Another tricky man to rank is Japanese veteran Tetsuya Hisada, who announced that he was intending to compete as a Flyweight for the final few bouts of his career. The former Light Flyweight world title challenger had his best success at 108lbs, where his strength and physicality proved vital, and a move up could see him losing those assets. At 35 years old we can't begrudge Hisada's move up in weight, but he'll likely be 36 by the time he fights again and unless he can land a big fight at the weight we'll maybe never really know what he could do in the division. With 10 losses to his name he's unlikely to lure a big opponent in to the ring with him before calling a close on his career.
10-Ryota Yamauchi (6-1, 5)
One of the divisional stars of the future 25 year old Ryota Yamauchi looks like he could be unleashed back on a fast track when the sport resumes in Japan. He looked red hot early on but a controversial loss to Wulan Tuolehazi in China, in a great bout that saw both being dropped, and he followed that up with a disappointingly messy bout against Alphoe Dagayloan. Whilst he defeated Dagayloan he suffered a cut that prevented him from fighting in a Japanese title eliminator, and miss out on a bout with Akui. He did manage to return to the ring in February but it's hard to know when he'll be back out there and who he'll be against. A talented boxer who can brawl and fight he's one of the division's most interesting hopefuls.
On the bubble:
Wenfeng Ge, Jayson Mama, Taku Kuwahara, Kento Hatanaka, Jaysever Abcede, Alphoe Dagayloan and Dave Apolinatio
*Kosei Tanaka has signalled his intention is to move up and fight at Super Flyweight so isn't included here.
One of the great things about Japanese boxing right now is the excellent Boxing Raise service which is quickly becoming a necessity for those wanting to watch the best action in Japan every month. The service is certainly not flawless, and the way they share their schedules is nothing short of infuriating at the moment, but it keeps showing some of the best action in Japanese rings on a month by month basis.
With that in mind we've decided to begin a new monthly feature looking at the Best of Boxing Raise. In these articles we will look at the best moments Boxing Raise gave us in the previous month. With this being posted in November we'll be looking over the moments from October, and better yet we'll also include the video reference for those who already subscribe, and briefly explain why the bout is worth watching. We won't, however, share the videos as they are Boxing Raise exclusives, though if you have Boxing Raise and add the "movie/####" to "https://boxingraise.com/" you should be able to go straight to the fight after logging in.
Rematch war-Shinobu Charlie Hosokawa (11-4-1, 10) vs Koki Tyson (14-3-2, 12) II [movie/6862/]
Earlier in 2019 we had seen Shinobu Charlie Hosokawa and Koki Tyson fight to a draw in a bout for the OPBF Middleweight title. That was a good bout, but not spectacular. In October they had a rematch and boy was this one good! The two men fought to a standstill, with both landing some huge shots. Tyson was looking to fight at range and Hosokawa refused to let him, and as a result both men were forced to trade on the inside. A truly fantastic battle
Boom goes the Dynamite-Shingo Wake (26-5-2, 18) Vs Jhunriel Ramonal (15-8-6, 8) [movie/6860/]
The rematch between the world ranked Shingo Wake and Filipino journeyman Jhunriel Ramonal had very few people raving about it before hand, but saw a lit of attention afterwards thanks to a KO of the year Contender. This wasn't the most exciting of bouts to begin with, but was full of drama by the end. A must watch for fans of massive knock outs.
Knock Out Dynamite excitement-Marvin Esquierdo (14-2-1, 8) Vs Koichi Ito (11-7-3, 10) [movie/6892/]
The first bout from the Knock Out Dynamite tournament saw Filipino fighter Marvin Esquierdo go to war with Koichi Ito and although it was a short lived bout on OCtober 19, it was all action in a full on intense shoot out. For us this was the type of bout that the Knock Out Dynamite tournament was designed for, and man was this fun. Sadly though none of the other bouts lived up to this one. A very fun, if short, shoot out!
Prospect Debut-Tuguldur Byambatsogt (0-0) Vs Shusaku Fujinaka (16-11-2, 11) [movie/6899/]
The Knockout Dynamite Tournament was designed to encourage fighters to go for early wins. We didn't actually see that happened when Mongolian fighter Tuguldur Byambatsogt made his debut against Japan's Shusaku Fujinaka. Despite not going for the knock out, the Mongolian genuinely impressed, and for a debut this was the sort of performance that allowed fans a glimpse of what he can do.
Japanese Youth Title action-Tetsuro Ohashi (7-0-1, 2) vs Suzumi Takayama (2-0, 2) [movie/6919/]
One of the real hidden gems of the the month was the Japanese Youth Super Flyweight title bout between Tetsuro Ohashi and Suzumi Takayama. This was fantastic, saw both men being dropped and show cased excellent skills and technique from two very talented youngsters. Although there was a winner and a loser we suspect both men will have improved thanks to this truly fantastic bout from October 19th
Domestic title bout- Seigo Yuri Akui (13-2-1, 9) vs Shun Kosaka (16-5, 4) [movie/6951/]
We've known for a while that Seigo Yuri Akui is a fast starter, though we were interested to see how he'd cope with the usually durable Shun Kosaka in a bout for the Japanese Flyweight title. This looked good on paper, and whilst it didn't live up to expectations it's still well worth a watch for a short and rather explosive performance
Prospect Debut- Yudai Shigeoka (0-0) vs Manop Audomphanawari (3-2, 3) [movie/6969/]
One of the most anticipated debuts in Japan this year was that of prospect Yudai Shigeoka, who's debut came against Thai foe Manop Audomphanawari on the Watanabe promoted "Fight The Power", on October 30th. This wasn't so much a great bout but a showcase for one of Japan's future stars.
(Images courtesy of boxingraise and Boxmob)
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).