Back on November 23rd we saw a really intriguing match up in Hyogo between Sho Ishida (28-3, 15) and Toshiya Ishii (3-1, 2). The bout was a must win for Ishida, who did end up doing enough to earn the decision, and a massive step up in class for Ishii, who acquitted himself but came up short on the score-cards. The bout wasn't a big one in regards to the wider sport, but it was a compelling one, and a really good meshing of styles, matching a heavy handed pressure fighter against a quick, sharp mover.
The bout ended going the 8 rounds, and giving us a lot to talk about, and we'll look at some of those things here, as we give the bout the Five Take Aways treatment.
1-Ishida's jab is fantastic
With a tall long frame Sho Ishida has always been a fighter with the frame to be a fantastic outside fighter. Not only that is he long and rangy but he's also quick and has under-rated power. With that in mind it'll be absolutely no surprise to anyone that he has a good jab. In fact his jab is one of his 2 real weapons. The jab is his best weapon, his crutch and the shot he uses to create space, and and control range, when he doubles and triples it however it's really something special. When he uses the jab to set up the straight right hand however he looks sensational. The one thing he lacks is work rate, and his combinations using the jab and straight were far, far too rare. If you have a jab like Ishida does, with is sharp, piercing and stiff, you use it more, and launch that sneaky right hand more often!
2-Ishii will come again, do not that loss against him!
The 19 year old Toshiya Ishii put in a great effort, and we dare say that had the bout been in Kanto he'd have gotten the decision. He may have a "1" on his record, but that's not the end for Ishii and this will not be the last we'll see of him. Sometimes we talk about "good losses" and this was a good loss for Ishii, who put in a great account of himself, in a big step up, and showed he belonged at this level. However it also showed there was work to do, and a bout like this is a really good way to learn those things. He needs to move his head more, he needs to slip in and out of range better, and he needs to tighten up defensively. Those are technical areas he can work on, and are areas his team will get to work on before his next bout. There is absolutely no reason, at all, to write him off after such a good, competitive loss.
3-Ishida has no inside game
We've praise Ishida's jab and straight right hand, and they really brilliant, however they are, sadly, Ishida's only two consistent weapons. He really is lacking in terms of an inside game, and seems to have no real belief when it comes to fighting on the inside. We understand he's a tall, long, rangy fighter, and doesn't want to be on the inside, but we would still expect him to be able to fight up close. He really can't. Against an experienced shorter fighter, for example Roman Gonzalez or Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, his inability to fight up close would be a major issues. He kept Ishii at range for long periods but Ishii still managed to get up close and have good success without Ishida have any answers, and that was an inexperienced Ishii. If Ishida is going to make a mark at world level he needs to be able to hold his own up close.
4-Credit goes to how Ishii dealt with his facial damage
The jabs and straight right hands of Ishida left Ishii's face a mess, he had a bloodied nose and a very nasty cut on his left eyelid. These were the type of injuries that could dent a young fighters confidence and even, potentially, lead to a stoppage. Ishii however dealt with them like they were nothing. The cut on his eyelid, at one point, seemed like it could end up really becoming a problem and stopping the fight, but really didn't show any discomfort at all from it, in what was a real sign of boxing maturity. Fingers crossed there won't be future issues with eye though we now know, after just 4 bouts, that Ishii is not afraid of giving his blood in the ring or fighting through adversity.
5-Masahiro Muroya wasn't needed
It's really rare to have a fight where a referee isn't needed but Masahiro Muroya was rarely seen here, with him not really being called on for more than a few moments late in the bout. We love to rave about the referees in this series, and if we got a chance we'd say something about Muroya, but it's hard to say anything at all about him. This was a clean, well fought contest, at a good pace, in great nature and as a result Muroya had what we suspect was one of the easiest fights he will ever have. From the little we saw of him, we liked his style, he let them work in the clinch and wasn't desperate to make himself part of the story. A minimalist job well done here Masahiro!
We continue with our Remarkable Rounds series this week with a recent round, coming from 2019. Although it's a newer round it is a phenomenal round with drama, excitement, a knockdown, bombs being traded and intense action between two talented youngsters. It also had one of the most remarkable moments, when the both men landed at the same time and both were rocked backwards!
The fight this is taken from is one of the gems from 2019, and whilst the best round form it we suggest everyone does try and give it a watch if they do have the time for something a bit more meaty than this 3 minute excerpt from it.
Toshiya Ishii (2-0, 1) Vs Haruki Ishikawa (8-1, 6)
In one corner was former amateur standout out Toshiya Ishii He had impressed in his first two bouts but was stepping up here against as he took part in his first 8 rounder, taking on Haruki Ishikawa for the JBC Youth Bantamweight title.
As for Ishikawa he wasn't a standout amateur but had shown a lot of promising, coming runner up in the 2018 Rookie of the Year and scoring two solid wins earlier in 2019. He had shown power, aggression, skills and a lot of promise.
The round saw both men come out aggressively with Ishii on the front foot. Just seconds into the round however Ishii found himself on his backside in the round's first knock down. He wasn't hurt but it did take him out of his rhythm for a moment. Soon after the bout restarted the two men began trading and both men rocked each other with shots at the same time, with both being visible shaken. From there on the bout became a war, with huge shots landing through out.
Although he was hurt several times Ishii relied on some of his amateur experience to clear his head and smother Ishikawa before finding his groove again and having Ishikawa on the verge of going down as we went into the final moments of the round.
After this round the fight continued to be a dramatic one, and ended in spectacular fashion in round 4, but this round was certainly the highlight from one of the best JBC Youth title bouts we've had so far.
Given both men are still very young fighters we might, if we're lucky, see these two share a ring again one day down the line... fingers crossed there!
From September 26th to November 23rd there are set to be a number of Japanese shows made available, for free, on YouTube. Whilst we'll be tuning in to all of them we know some fans need a reason more than just "free boxing" to put their time aside, so with that in mind let us try to tempt you into watching the free action we'll be getting!
Firstly the shows are free. There is no catch there. If these are a success they may become a more regular thing, and may show promoters that there is a market for these, and a reason to put them on. Secondly they give everyone a chance to dip their toes into Japanese boxing during a time when life is certainly not great for many of us, and it could a bit extra escapism from what is going on outside of where we all live.
And there's also some interesting fighters and bouts coming up on those shows.
On paper this is probably the show we are the least interested in, especially given the other action taking place on the same day, however this shouldn't be ignored outright. Firstly the fact that BOXING REAL are behind the stream is something to sit up and make a note of, as they have provided amazing streams in the past and are very much a growing channel at the forefront of these free streams.
Anyone who has ever watched an Atomweight fight will know the women are small, but never stop throwing and we suspect that will be the case again here when Mika Iwakawa (9-5-1, 3) defends her WBO Atomweight title against Nanae Suzuki (10-3-1, 1). It may not be the most dramatic bout of all time, but it will certainly by a high tempo battle and given that women's rounds are still 2 minutes long this will really fly by. We're expecting non-stop punching, in a thrilling, if some what low level affair.
Former world champion Shun Kubo (13-2, 9) isn't a huge name in the sport but as a former world champion it'll be interesting to see what, if anything, he still has to offer the sport. He shouldn't struggle too much with Takashi Igarashi (13-4, 5), but there is a chance that Kubo's heart isn't in the sport after stoppage losses to Danny Roman and Can Xu in recent bouts.
One time world title contender Kohei Oba (36-3-1, 14), who was once dubbed the "Mayweather of Nagoya", will end a multi-year break from the ring to take on former Rookie of the Year winner Yoshiki Minato (8-3, 3). Not a great bout, but you've got to admit that having the nickname of "Mayweather of Nagoya" is at least a little bit interesting and we're curios as to what he has left in the tank.
Whilst the September 26th show isn't the best we do really want you to get behind the September 27th show if possible. This is from a small local promoter in Shizuoka who are almost certainly losing money to put this show on, but wanted to continue to have boxing in the region during these tough times. Originally they had wanted to run a boxing festival, as they have the last few years, but the on going situation prevented that but they are going to showcase local fighters regardless. With that in mind it'd be great to get behind the Suruga gym for this one.
If the feeling of supporting a small promoter isn't good enough there are 3 interesting bouts on this show.
The first of those is the return of Tsubasa Murachi (4-1, 3), who was knocked out hard by Froilan Saludar last year. Murachi was hoping to be fast tracked and risked it all against Saludar, who's experience and power proved too much. Rather than having an easy comeback he's taking on under-rated domestic foe Ryotaro Kawabata (12-3-2, 6) in a well matched 8 rounder. This looks competitive on paper and will let us see what Murachi's loss to Saludar has done to the 23 year old.
Although a faded force Koichi Aso (23-9-1, 15) has been a consistently exciting fighter to watch. Win or lose Aso is rarely in a dull fight and his aggressive, pressure style makes him on of Japan's most fan friendly fighters. He's up against a man flying high, as he takes on Shogo Yamaguchi (12-5-3, 7), who scored a a career best win over Shuhei Tsuchiya last time out, having been knocked down before pulling out the victory. This has the potential to be a real humdinger of a bout!
There are a lot of exciting prospects making their name in Japan, this is not a secret. One of the very best from those is Rentaro Kimura (1-0, 1), who made his debut earlier this year with a KO of the Year contender, which you can see below. He is the big hope of Shizuoka, a former amateur standout and a man who we suspect will be fighting for titles in 2021. One thing we'd love to see from fans is for them to get on the Kimura express early, and if you missed his debut there's no need to miss his second bout, as he takes on Takafumi Iwaya (4-3) on this show. There's a good chance this ends in Brutal fashion just as Kimua's debut did
From where we're sat the October 13th card on A-Sign Boxing is the show that needs the least amount of "selling" done for it. Before we even mention the fighters we need to just say this is promoted by arguably the most forward thinking promoter in world boxing. Ichitaro Ishii is thinking out of the box regularly, employing social media brilliantly, adapting things like behind the scenes and special documentaries into promoting events and giving fans more access to knowing fighters than any other promoter in the sport. What he's doing on a relatively small budget brilliant for the sport.
As for the bouts the main event is a truly fantastic match up between world ranked Featherweight Reiya Abe (19-3-1, 9) and the unbeaten Ren Sasaki (10-0, 6). Abe is one of the most talented boxers in Japan, but also a frustrating one, with a style is focused around countering, a lot. As a result Abe needs a suitable dance partner to look good against, and we suspect Sasaki will be such an opponent. If you like boxing skills, counter punching, ring craft, a cerebral approach to boxing and in ring genius, this is a bout you'll enjoy. A lot.
Of course not everyone likes the cerebral stuff and some people just want to see action! You need not worry as Kai Ishizawa (6-1, 6) is in the house and taking on the rugged Masashi Tada (13-7-3, 8). Ishizawa is a super heavy handed, aggressive youngster who's somewhat rough around the edges, but scary strong, a serious puncher and one of the most exciting youngsters in the sport. When he gets in the ring it's always worth tuning in for. Tada isn't the best fighter, but he's tough and it'll be great to see if he can blunt the buzz saw that is Kai Ishizawa.
Although the other two bouts mentioned for this show have the ingredients to be show cases of different styles the bout we suspect will be the best of the bunch is the clash between Kai Chiba (12-1, 8) and Haruki Ishikawa (8-2, 6). On paper these two are made for each other, and in the ring we'll likely see that play out. Chiba is a real solid boxer-puncher, who had his chin cracked by Brian Lobetania. We know Chiba can punch, and can be taken out. Ishikawa on the other hand gave us one of the best fights of 2019 last time out, as he took on Toshiya Ishii, and in that fight showed a willingness to wage war on Ishii.
For something of a taster for the Chiba Vs Ishikawa bout, enjoy round 2 of Ishikawa's last bout:
We don't think we need to really tell people why they should tune in to see Hiroto Kyoguchi (14-0, 9) take on unbeaten Thai Thanongsak Simsri (14-0, 12), but if you're not already on board for this one we'll try to entice you to tune in on Kyoguchi's own YouTube channel.
Kyoguchi is regarded by many who follow the lowest divisions as one of the very best at 108lbs. Don't take our word for that though but instead that of experts. He's the Ring Magazine champion, the WBA "Super" champion, and is ranked #2 by BoxRec, TBRB and ESPN. He's a fun, exciting fighter and is quickly becoming a YouTube star in his own right, with his own channel being the outlet for this bout.
Simsri is obviously not regarded as highly as Kyoguchi, but he is a hotly tipped Thai fighter who has been dubbed "Srisaket II" by the Thai press and is regarded as one of the brightest hopes in Thailand. He's actually fought in Osaka a few times and despite being in Kyoguchi's homeland we don't see that being an issue for the hard hitting Thai. He'll be there to win and should make for a thrilling bout here.
On paper the best card, from what we know of right now, is the final card which takes on November 23rd and features a former multi-time world champion and 3 world title challengers and a man we have already mentioned for one of his previous bouts. This is being shown by Osaka TV and should, in theory, have the best production values, and the stronger overall name name appeal.
The main event here will see youngster Riku Kano (16-4-1, 8) one of the former world title challengers, battle against Ryoki Hirai (13-6-1, 4) in a brilliantly well matched bout do the vacant WBO Asia Pacific Light Flyweight title. At one point Kano was seen as the super prospect, and fought for a world title when he was just 18! Sadly things haven't gone his way since then, but it's still way too early to write him off. Hirai on the other hand had a terrible start to his career but is very much in the mix for regional and domestic titles. We expect this to be a compelling, and hotly fought 12 rounder for the belt.
Another of the world title challengers on this show is Sho Ishida (28-2, 15), who is best known for his competitive bout with Kal Yafai in the UK. Once tipped as a potential face of Osakan boxing Ishida's career is beginning to struggle and he's likely hoping that a move to Bantamweight will help save give new life to his once promising boxing career. In the other corner is the unbeaten Toshiya Ishii (3-0, 2), the main who faced off with Haruki Ishikawa in that round we shared a little bit earlier. Given Ishii's fun aggressive boxing style and Ishida's need to win to remain relevant this really can't disappoint.
Once again we have saved the best until last with former multi-time world champion Katsunari Takayama (31-8-0-1, 12) taking on multi-time title challenger Reiya Konishi (17-1, 7) in a 6 rounder that could end up being something very, very special. This will be Takayama's first bout since announcing his return to professional boxing earlier this year, afater failing to qualify for the Tokyo games, and there are real questions over what he has left in the tank. On the other hand Reiya Konishi is no push over and has twice fought for world titles, showing his heart and toughness in those bouts. Both of these men like letting their hands go, both get involved in trench warfare far too often and together they have the potential to give us the best damn 6 rounder of 2020!
For those note familiar with Takayama we have have left one final treat below, his incredible war with Francisco Rodriguez Jr, from 2014.
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).