This past weekend we had the chance to see WBC Light Flyweight champion Kenshiro Teraji (18-0, 10) [寺地 拳四朗] retain his title as he defeated Tetsuya Hisada (34-11-2, 20) [久田 哲也] by a wide unanimous decision. The bout wasn't a FOTY contender, or anything like that, but it was one with plenty to talk about, and was one we had, legitimately, waited 4 years to see! With that in mind let's share what we took away from the clash, and the broadcast of it.
1-The broadcast shouldn't have been so hard to watch
We'll start with the obvious one here. The fight was only made available via Cantere Doga, a subscription streaming service in Japan, available only in Japan, that's run by Kansai TV (KTV), with "Cantere" being a bit of a portmanteau of "Kansai" and "Telly". That was the ONLY way to watch the bout.
When you consider that Kenshiro has a growing international fanbase, and Japanese boxing as a whole has an audience outside of Japan, this decision is among the stupidest we've seen this year. Especially as it was essentially shown for free to all Cantere Doga subscribers, with the minimum cost being 300yen (about $3 or £2.50). The bout should, really, have been on available internationally, without the use of technological work arounds, VPN's and other spoofing tricks. The smart move for KTV and for Shinsei Promotions, who promoted the show, would have been an international feed on YouTube, via Boxing Real or KTV themselves, which would have been geo-locked, locking out a domestic audience, who could pay to watch.
The way the bout was broadcast was a big, big mistake, and hopefully one we'll not see repeated in the future.
2-Kenshiro looked really sharp
Coming in to this bout we hadn't seen Kenshiro in the ring since late 2019, when he beat Randy Petalcorin. That was 16 months out of the ring, the longest of his career by far. Despite the long lay off he looked sharp through much of the bout. His footwork was on point, allowing him to get in and out, and dictate the range and tempo for much of the contest, his jab was as brilliant as ever, his combinations were brilliant, he was scary accurate, and his straight right hand was crisp and clean. He really didn't look like a man with a long lay off, or like a man who had been in trouble outside of the ring.
The right hand Kenshiro dropped Hisada with in round 2 was an absolute beauty and it seemed at times that he was going to stop Hisada, something that has only ever happened when Hisada has fought at Super Flyweight. We'll get on to why a stoppage didn't happen in a few moments.
The only real issues with Kenshiro's performance were some defense lapses, where he was caught with some solid right hands, and he seemed to lose some spring in legs late in the bout, with the lack of activity likely playing a factor on his stamina more than anything else. It really was an excellent performance by the champion.
3-Hisada is stupidly tough
There are some undeniable facts when it comes to Tetsuya Hisada, one is that he's popular in Osaka, one is that he's aged like fine wine and one is that he is as tough as they come. The 36 year old has only been stopped once in 37 bouts, and that came in 2012 at Super Flyweight against 4-time world title challenger Hiroyuki Kudaka. Here he showed how incredibly tough he was once again. He was dropped from a clean right hand in round 2 and and hurt numerous times through the bout, but never really came close to being stopped. He showed a really impressive will to win, and a steadfast determination that really did show that he wasn't happy to just be on the big stage.
Sadly for Hisada his toughness wasn't enough to cope with the skills of Kenshiro, but no one can fault his effort and we really hope this isn't the end for him.
Also it needs to be noted that despite having 11 losses to his name, Hisada is very much a world class fighter, and shouldn't be written off for having double digit losses. Revisionist history will suggest he was a "weak" challenger, but he showed that records really aren't the be all and end all.
4-The audience was massively pro-Hisada
One of the most telling things through out the bout was the strong, strong crowd support for Tetsuya Hisada. In all honesty this shouldn't have been much of a shock, given he was the local fighter in Osaka, but it was still weird just how silent fans were to Kenshiro's entrance, giving him a very polite and subdued clap when he got in the ring. The crowd also applauded Hisada pretty much any time he landed anything, whilst a lot of Kenshiro's work was met by relative silence. Despite both men being Japanese it was clear who brought the crowd to the venue, and who they wanted to see win. There was a scattering of Kenshiro fans, but they were very clearly out numbered by Hisada fans who went wild every time he landed anything of note.
The fans were also very appreciative of Hisada as he walked back to his changing room after the fight.
It should be noted that the fans were also very pro-Hisada when he fought Hiroto Kyoguchi, and it shows Hisada's local appeal, even against higher profile fighters than himself. Win or lose, and he has lost plenty, he has become a local boxing hero in Osaka.
5-Yuji Fukuchi had an easy job
When we talk about Japanese referees there are a few that stand out, and one of those is veteran referee Yuji Fukuchi. With more than 2 decades experience of refereeing at the top level Fukuchi knows what his job is, he knows how to do his job, but here he really wasn't really needed. The bout was a very cleanly fought one, and barring the knockdown there wasn't much else for him to be involved in. A few clinches to break up, a minor headclash in round 6, and very, very little else. This would be one of the easiest world title fights he's ever been the third man for.
Despite being an easy assignment Fukuchi never took his eye off the ball. His positioning was fantastic through the bout, he let them fight without getting in the way and he was focused on letting the fighters fight, something they were happy to do.
In fairness it wasn't just Fukuchi who had an easy job but also the judges, and the cards, of 119-108 and 118-109, really were the only two ways this could have been scored. Despite a very spirited and valiant effort from Hisada.
Did you know - The song Kenshiro entered to was "Ai o Torimodose!!", which is also known as "YOU wa SHOCK", and was the theme song for anime "Fist of the North Star", which focuses on a warrior names Kenshiro! We've included the full version of that song below.
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.
This coming Tuesday we'll see an all-Japanese bout the for the WBA Light Flyweight title. One of those involved is Hiroto Kyoguchi, a man who's career we've followed very carefully. The other is Tetsuya Hisada, a relative unknown outside of Japan.
To help introduce Hisada we've decided to include him in one of our new features, and we bring you 10 facts you probably didn't know about...Tetsuya Hisada
1-Hisada competed in both the 2004 and 2005 Rookie of the Year, at Flyweight. Sadly though he failed to get into the latter stages of either competition. Interestingly he did end Yuki Nasu's KO run in 2005, taking the then 5-0 (5) Nasu 4 rounds, though Nasu ended up winning the All Japan tournament just a few months later.
2-Despite the fact Hisada is, at the time of writing 34-9-2 (20) overall he has gone 11-2 (7) when he's fought at Light Flyweight. The losses in those two bouts have come to Ryoichi Taguchi and Kenichi Horikawa, with the loss to Horikawa being avenged!
3-The losses to Taguchi, in 2011, and Horikawa, in 2013, at Light Flyweight both came in Strongest Korakuen Bouts, which were essentially small tournaments to decide the Japanese mandatory title challengers.
4-Despite the losses in Strongest Korakuen bouts mentioned above he would actually secure his first title bout thanks to the Strongest Korakuen in 2016, when he stopped Hayato Yamaguchi in 7 rounds to secure a place at the following year's Chamnpion Carnival.
5-Hisada was 32 years old, and sporting a 27-9-2 (17) record, when he got his first title fight, a Japanese title bout against Kenichi Horikawa, in what was their third bout.
6-Prior to facing Horikawa for the then vacant belt in April 2017 Hisada had been the mandatory challenger for Kenshiro, who vacated the title to pursue a world title fight against WBC champion Ganigan Lopez.
7-When Hisada faces Hiroto Kyoguchi on October 1st he will be the first fighter from the Harada gym to fight for a world title since Tsuyoshi Harada challenged the then WBC Super Bantamweight champion Daniel Zaragoza 1996! Interestingly Tsuyoshi Harada is the son of the Harada gym chairman Jitsuo Harada
8-Despite facing 4 unbeaten men in his first 5 bouts, including a debutant, Hisada hasn't faced an unbeaten opponent in over 14 years and more than 40 bouts! That ends on October 1st when he faces the 13-0 Kyoguchi.
9-During his career so far Hisada has fought 4 men who, at some point in their career, fought for a world title. These were Junichi Ebisuoka, who challenged the then WBC Minimumweight Oleydong Sithsamerchai in 2008, Ryoichi Taguchi, who would go on to have a solid reign as the WBA Light Flyweight champion, Hiroyuki Kudaka, who had 4 world title shots through his career, and Atsushi Kakutani, who lost to the then WBC Light Flyweight champion Adrian Hernandez. Kyoguchi will be the 5th!
10-Prior to his 5th, and final, defense of the Japanese title in November 2018 Hisada had twins! They were born around a week and a half before he faced Akihiro Toya, and retained his title with a 10 round decision win.
(Image courtesy of the Harada Gym)
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).