Last weekend fight fans at the EDION Arena Osaka saw Japanese prospect Toshiki Shimomachi (13-1-2, 9) score his latest win, as he stepped up from Super Bantamweight to Super Featherweight and stopped Thunder Teruya in 3 rounds, in one of the most impressive performances of his career. Following the win he and his team made it clear that his immediate future lay at 122lbs, and it's there that he will look to make a name for himself, despite the depth in Japan at the weight.
Following his latest win his promoter seemed to suggest they were chasing the Japanese national champion, Gakuya Furuhashi. If they can't land that fight however there are a lot of very, very interesting domestic options out there for him right now in a brilliantly packed Japanese scene. We'll discuss 4 of those options, as well as the title fight, as we take a look at "Five for... Toshiki Shimomachi"
1-Gakuya Furuhashi (27-8-1, 15)
After Shimomachi's win at the weekend Masaya Motoishi made it clear his man was targetting Gakuya Furushashi, the current Japanese Super Bantamweight champion, and it seems clear that Furuhashi is their primary target. The reality is that it's unlikely this bout will be next, but is certainly one that Shimomachi and Motoishi want, and one that makes for a very interesting match up. Furuhashi won the title earlier this year, winning a thrilling war with Yusaku Kuga, but at 33 years old his career is certainly coming to an end in the next year or two, especially given his style. Style wise Furuhashi's pressure and aggression against Shimomachi's smart footwork and defense would be an excellent clash. We suspect Furuhashi would prefer a less awkward first defense, however there's no reason that this bout can't take place in 2021.
2-Ryoichi Tamura (14-5-1, 7)
Whilst a bout with Furuhashi seems to be the one that Shimomachi wants it we expect it to be one that he has to wait for. With that in mind we'd like to see the slippery and under-rated Shimomachi take on someone with a similar style and someone who has previously held the Japanese title. One man who fits through criteria pretty damn well is Ryoichi Tamura, who is relentless with his pressure, never stops throwing and doesn't understand what it's like to take a backwards step. Shimomachi will need to deal with incessant pressure when he faces Furuhashi and we can't think of many better ways to prepare for that than facing Tamura. Interestingly Tamura and Furushashi clashed in 2019, with Furuhashi taking a close decision over Tamura, and this would serve as a good chance for Shimomachi to compare his own performance with that of the current champion.
3-Yusaku Kuga (19-5-1, 13)
An alternative option who fits the "similar style, and former champion" mould would be Yusaku Kuga, the man Furuhashi beat for the title. Kuga is less of a pure pressure fighter than Furuhashi and Tamura, and is more of a puncher-pressure fighter, but he style would do a decent enough job of replicating the incessant offense of Furuhashi. This bout would also help give Shimomachi a proper chin checking, something he's yet to have. Notably Kuga has been in a lot of recent wars, including two with Tamura and one with Furuhashi, and is seen as a man on the slide, due in part to the accumulated punishment of a very hard career, something that should help Shimomachi. At the time of writing Kuga is ranked #3 by the JBC and a win over him would shoot Shimomachi to the verge of a mandatory title fight.
4-Ryohei Takahashi (19-4-1 8)
At the moment there are a few things working against Shimomachi in regards to securing a title fight. One of those is his awkward and slippery style, which we don't think he should change for anyone. Another is the fact he's based in Osaka, which has a decent boxing scene but one that pales compared to the scene in Tokyo. A third is that he is, relatively speaking, an unknown compared to many of the more notable fighters in East Japan. One way to change that would be getting a bout on a Dynamic Glove card. One of the few notable Japanese fighters who he could face in a G+ televised bout would be former world title challenger Ryohei Takahashi, who is best known for losing to TJ Doheny. We suspect the styles of the two men would see Shimomachi make this one look really easy, but it would be more about the exposure, and fighting at Korakuen Hall, rather than testing Shimomachi.
Although this one is one we'd like to see we suspect that Shimomachi will be headlining a Green Tsuda card in Osaka next, rather than focusing on bolstering his appeal to fight fans in Tokyo. It's understandable that he wants strong home support, but we can't help feeling like it would be great to see him getting TV exposure through G+ sooner rather than later.
5-Yosuke Fujihara (18-7, 5)
Potentially the easiest of these bouts to make, but the least interesting, would see Shimomachi take on former 2-time Japanese title challenger Yosuke Fujihara, who is certainly coming to the end of his career. Fujihara is, as we write this, ranked higher than Shimomachi by the JBC, but would almost certainly be a big under-dog against the talented youngster, who seems to be on a roll in recent performances. Fujihara has the experience to ask some question of Shimomachi, but we don't see anything other than a win for the youngster, who is the much more skilled, slippery and intelligent. Fujihara, in many ways, is made to order for Shimomachi to look good, and the veteran would almost certainly travel to Osaka to fight, meaning he would be available for the scheduled date for the next Green Tsuda show. Of the options on this list he seems the most likely, at least if Shimomachi wants to be the "home" fighter.
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).