Earlier this week we saw the latest show from A-Sign boxing and one of the most eye catching bouts on that card was the opening round win scored by 19 year old Jin Sasaki (8-0, 7) against Shun Akaiwa (5-2-1, 3). The bout lasted around 45 seconds, with Sasaki putting on arguably his best performance so far and stopping the JBC ranked Akaiwa in very, very impressive fashion.
With that bout now viewed, re-viewed, and viewed again we thought we'd share some of our take aways from the bout.
1-A-Sign Boxing's presentation is solid!
Okay we start this by talking about the presentation and not the fight, but bear with us as it's certainly relevant here. The whole event was presented very nice, despite being very dark. The lights weren't focused on the crowd but instead on the fighters, hiding the fact that there was only a small crowd, the commentary for the event worked nicely and added the occasion and the stream quality was clear and clean through out. This is the first time, to our knowledge, that A-Sign have live streamed one of their own events and the way they did it was really solid. Yes there are issues that can be picked at, such as reusing music for introductions through the show, but overall a very nice presentation with a multi-camera set up. The commentators didn't talk for the sake of talking, and the the focus was on the in ring action.
If, or rather when, A-Sign do this again we would like to see them add replays post-fight, maybe include some post fight interviews and tweak the onscreen graphics, but that's us being picky. This was very professional, and very nicely presented. Simple but very solid.
2-Power, speed and aggression...Sasaki has em!
It's hard to talk too much about a fight that lasts around 45 seconds, but even in that short glimpse of time we saw enough to say that Sasaki has some of the tools needed to go a long way. Straight from the opening bell he was aggressive, exciting, and throwing sharp, hard, fast punches. He looked incredibly quick, incredibly powerful and strong. Whilst there was some real crudeness to his work at times, there was also the brash confidence of "I can take you out". He did look very wild in the opening seconds, but he also showed a really nice jab and the finishing shot, a brilliant left hook, was brutal. Sasaki does need some polishing, but there is already a lot to like about him, and he looks like he has natural tools to have a successful career.
3-Akaiwa was beaten before a punch was thrown
With it being a short bout it's hard too read too much into what happened in the ring, but we can't help feeling that Akaiwa was a beaten man before he got into the ring. He looked nervous, was looking down a lot, and seemed to be a man who had accepted that he was going to get beat before a punch was thrown. This probably wasn't helped by Sasaki looking like a confident ball of machismo. Akaiwa seemed to be a fighter who had mentally crumbled in his ring walk. Maybe we are reading too much into things, but it very much felt like Akaiwa, despite being JBC ranked coming into the bout, didn't have the belief in himself that he could win here.
Whilst it's easy to look back on what happened and say that, it seemed like it was the case during the short fight as well. Akaiwa threw little more than arm punches, there was little conviction on what he threw and he didn't seem to complain at all at the referee stopping it, despite the fact he was up on his feet after being dropped.
4-Koji Tanaka's count was really weird..and isn't consistent.
We've just mentioned how Akaiwa was stood up right when the bout was stopped but that really doesn't explain the finish very well at all. Referee Koji Tanaka picked up the count after the knockdown at the count of 3 and seemed to be giving a consistent count up to the count of 8. Akaiwa had gotten up quickly and it seemed like we would go on. Then Tanaka made a Steve Smoger like decision to delay the "9" slightly and the "10", giving Akaiwa around and extra 2 or 3 seconds. Tanaka then waved off the bout.
On first viewing this may look very awkward and weird, and is perhaps unfair to the fighter scoring the knockdown. In reality however this actually gave Tanaka an extra second or two to decide to stop the bout. Making the right decision. It also gave Akaiwa that extra moment to decide if he wanted to continue. Too often we see a fighter "pretend" the wanted to go for it, getting up at 10. The style of count Tanaka gave was awkward but prevent any type of situation like that. We're not sure if it's a normal thing for him, but we liked it and would like to see more referees use that touch of discretion where needed. It's not like he let Akaiwa continue and turn the fight around, but it was an extra second or to decide whether or not Akaiwa needed to be stopped.
We'll be looking to see if this is a usual Koji Tanaka thing, or whether it was a case of "this fight hasn't gone long, lets see if I can give the fighter benefit of the doubt", but whatever it was we liked it and it was a good bit of common sense refereeing. Notably it doesn't appear to be a consistent thing with Tanaka, who didn't do the same on August 18th, for a bout between Yuichi Wakita and Kazunori Hirano, but it was very notable and clearly looked deliberate in this bout with Sasaki and Akaiwa so we will keep a close eye on how he issues counts going forward.
5-Boxing is a form of entertainment...and Sasaki gets it!
From his entrance and gown to his performance in the ring it was clear that Sasaki gets it! He walks confidently, he's naturally charismatic, catches the attention and oozes the "Come watch me" magnetism that stars need and knows he needs to entertain. This was seen through out his entrance but also the fight. After dropping Akaiwa he was making it clear he desperately wanted Akaiwa to get up so he could finish him in style. Had the referee now ruled Akaiwa was unfit to continue we would have almost certainly been left with a brutal finish. This is a young kid who knows that he needs to sell himself, he needs to entertain and he needs to excite. And he's doing a real good job at exactly that!
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).