So, another month is in the books for this weird, awkward, odd, never ending, frustrating year. Thankfully whilst there has been a host of issues, both boxing and non-boxing related, we have, thankfully, had this great sport to following during much of the year and October was no different with Subscription Service Boxing Raise once again delivering some of the most interesting action of the month.
As with our previous "Best of Boxing Raise" article all the fights featured here can be accessed by subscribers by logging into Boxing Raise and adding the "/movie/####" to "https://boxingraise.com".
Youngster steps up!
Rei Nakajima (3-0) Vs Shinobu Charlie Hosokawa (12-5-1, 11)
First up was the compelling match up between rising youngster Rei Nakajima, who has been impressive but over-looked, taking on former WBO Asia Pacific and OPBF Middleweight champion Shinobu Charlie Hosokawa. This was a compelling bout, rather than an exciting one, with the under-sized Nakajima forced to rely on skills, timing and movement, against the cruder but heavier handed Hosokawa.
Thrilling back and forth war!
Takuya Kogawa (30-6-1, 13) vs Hayato Yamaguchi (15-8-1, 2)
For years we have been huge fans of Takuya Kogawa, a man who could have a full series done in regards to his thrilling wars and all action bouts. In 2019 he suffered the first stoppage loss of his career and many, including ourselves, thought he should probably hang them up. This past month he looked to silence us doubters as he took on domestic foe Hayato Yamaguchi. This turned out to be a real thriller of a fight. The skill levelw asn't the highest but the intensity and action were great, and this was a real fun one to watch.
Yoji Saito (1-1-2, 1) vs Masashi Wakita (10-9-2, 5)
If you only have a few minutes and want something fun and enjoyable we highly recommend watching Yoji Saito's bout with Masashi Wakita. This was very much boxing's version of fast food. There was no feeling our process, with Saito just on the front foot from the off. He faced Wakita to fight off the ropes and just threw pretty much non-stop. A great fun, short, action thriller. A really fun one to watch.
Cracks show in Kazuki's chin!
Tatsuya Yanagi (16-6-2, 6) Vs Kazuki Saito (7-2, 5)
There are two things we know when it comes to Kazuki Saito. He is an incredibly talented boxer. He has a poor chin. With that in mind his bout with Tatsuya Yanagi always looked like it was going to be an interesting one. It proved to be interesting, and despite not being the most exciting bout you'll see this month it was certainly one worth watching.
Japanese title bout!
Seigo Yuri Akui (14-2-1, 10) vs Seiya Fujikita (13-4, 6)
Probably the best bout on Boxing Raise this month was the Japanese Flyweight title bout between defending champion Seigo Yuri Akui and mandatory challenger Seiya Fujikita. This was just a fantastic bout, with Fujikita looking to take the fight to the hard hitting Akui, and really applying determined pressure early on. This was the type of test the champion needed and it was the sort of bout that helped remind us exactly why we all love this sport. If you missed this one, give yourself a 40 minute window in November to watch it, we advise grabbing a few beers too! Genuinely a great fight.
Future Rookie of the year contender?
Jinu Lee (2-0, 1) Vs Naoya Nishimura (4-9-1, 3)
One of the best things about Japanese boxing is the annual Rookie of the Year competition. The competition serves as a major window into the next generation of Japanese domestic fighters and for many it's their first real chance to shine. With that in mind we were really glad to see 24 year old Jinu Lee in action before he participates in Rookie of the Year next year. Here we saw him battle Naoya Nishimura and we were left really wanting to see more of Lee. A fun, destructive, performance from a man some are already tipping for next year.
Utsuki helps Sakai sleep!
Shu Utsuki (6-0, 5) vs Takayuki Sakai (9-2-2, 6)
Japan has a lot of well known prospects, who have received a lot of press and time, and generate buzz when people just mention their names. The country also has a number of lesser known prospects who deserve some of that attention but don't yet get it. One such fighter is Shu Utsuki, who is trying to create buzz by his performances. He did just that in October with a brutal KO win against the over-matched Takayuki Sakai. This was up there with the very best KO's in Japan this month and even knowing the result shouldn't stop you from giving this one a watch. The KO is worth it!
Future Rookie king?
Kosuke Tomioka (3-0, 2) Vs Yota Sato (2-0, 2)
We mentioned Rookie of the Year a little earlier, talking about Jinu Lee who will enter Rookie of the Year next year and we head back to Rookie of the Year here, for a bout from this year's Rookie of the Year. In one corner was touted teenager Kosuke Tomioka, who has been viewed as a special talent since his debut, and in the other corner was Yota Sato, an unbeaten puncher who looked fantastic in his previous bout. This is short, explosive and exciting.
One of the many bouts we've seen take place this past week was Takuya Kogawa (31-6-1, 14) scoring a TKO win over Hayato Yamaguchi (15-9-1, 2) at Korakuen Hall on Wednesday. The bout wasn't the best on paper, but it was seen as being a must win for both men. Sadly for Yamaguchi, there was only one winner and it wasn't him.
As has become a bit of a custom in recent weeks we've enjoyed the bout, and now we're here to share our views on the bout with our Take Aways from the contest.
1-The venue was incredibly empty
We know venues in Japan are taking the current on going global situation seriously and are limiting the number of fans in venues for shows. Even with that in mind the Korakuen Hall was still very, very empty here for this bout. There was only a scattering of fans on the benches opposite the camera and it looked really eerie. Whilst we understand mid-week shows typically draw smaller audiences than weekend shows, and this was a small show anyway, it was still a bit sad to see the Hall so empty. That was especially true given how exciting Kogawa bouts typically are, and what an incredible servant he has been to Japanese boxing over the years.
2-This was a real fun fight
Typically bouts involving Takuya Kogawa are fun. They always have been and they always will be. He's a talented boxer, but tends to find himself involved in fights, wars and exciting brawls. This was no exception! The styles of the two men gelled really well, they were trading punches on the inside from early on and it was a case of both men thinking they could win in a battle of high output. Whilst this wasn't a FOTY contender or anything like that, it was still a good old fashioned phone booth war and if you missed it it's well worthy of a watch, especially from round 2 and onwards!
3-Weight classes matter
To his absolute credit Hayato Yamaguchi gave this a real good go against Kogawa and there was times where Yamaguchi was landing the better shots, throwing more and seemed to be the better guy. Sadly he was also the smaller guy, the less imposing guy and the guy without the power to make an impact. His best performances have been at Light Flyweight, including a close loss to Masayuki Kuroda. Here his success always seemed blunted by Kogawa being the much stronger man, and thats not a surprise given he's a natural Flyweight. In fact Kogawa was once a very effective Super Flyweight. Physically they looked similar, but Kogawa was a natural Flyweight taking on a natural Light Flyweight and the physical differences showed.
4-Kogawa won, but it's not the same as him being back to his best!
We genuinely thought Kogawa was shot to bits entering this bout. He's not looked good in since his 2016 bout with Yudai Arai, and since then he had gone 2-2-1, but struggled on both wins and could well have been 0-5. Genuinely he could have lost all 5. He looked strong, he looked good and he looked the boss, scoring his first stoppage since 2013. It should however be noted that Yamaguchi was the smaller man, he'd been stopped a few times earlier in his career, and he was fighting for just the third time since 2017. Yes this was a good win for Kogawa on paper, and for his confidence, but it will take a more serious test to know if this win was more about him being good, or Yamaguchi being bad.
5-Match Yamaguchi right and he could be in some amazing fights!
One thing we don't want to do is write Hayato Yamamguchi off after this bout. Instead we actually want to see more of him, but we want to see him matched softer than this. With that in mind we can't help but think Yamaguchi against someone like Tsuyoshi Sato, Katsuki Mori or Kenshi Noda could be really good in 2021. Those would all be fun fights, real exciting contests up close and at a high pace. We would see Yamaguchi as the under-dog in all 3, but he has enough about him to ask questions or all 3 men, and make for some really good action!
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).