On Monday in Hyogo we got an intriguing card thanks to Taisei Marumoto, who promoted a card that was shown on TV Osaka. It wasn't the biggest card we've had recently, but it was one with a number interesting names on it, and some very good match ups. Surprisingly though it was the less notable match ups that left the bigger mark on us, with one of those lesser bouts being the Bantamweight clash between Wataru Ikegami (8-5-1, 5) and Shion Tamada (6-4, 3). This was, for all intents, a very low level Japanese Bantamweight bout, but it ended up being the highlight of the second part of the event, which was split into 2-part due to Covid19.
Although not a big bout it was one we wanted to discuss more and as a result we've decided to share our take aways from the bout.
1-The Bunka Center looked like a school theatre
One thing we've found outselves doing a lot with this series is talking about the venues, and in fairness Japanese boxing, during this current era, has seen us get the chance the appreciate the differences in venues. From the unique benches at Korakuen Hall and the balcony for the TV teams, the weird almost garage like look of the FujisanMesse, and the uber pale Central Gym in Kobe. All the venues have very different looks to them, and that was the case again here, with a venue that has a school theatre look to it. It was dark, it was solemn and all the lights were on the ring. It was a simple look, but one we rather liked.
2-Tamada's is a tough kid and we have no idea how he was making Super Flyweight
On to the actual fighters now and we'll start with Shion Tamada who left us with two really interesting things. Firstly we have no idea how he ever made Super Flyweight, something he was doing back in 2017. He looked huge compared to Ikegami, and was thicker, taller, wider, and looked a division, if not two, bigger than his foe. Standing at 5'7" he's a big guy at Bantamweight and we wouldn't be surprised at all if he ends up fighting at Super Bantamweight, or even Featherweight, in 2021 or 2022. We really do wonder how much he took out of himself making Bantamweight here and would love to see him allow his body to fill out. In saying that however what a tough kid he is. He took a pounding from round 3, after a good start and despite now being stopped 3 times few can doubt his heart and toughness.
3-Ikegami's far better than his record indicates
One of the regular comments in their series is that records are meaningless, and any regular reader of this series will see us state that repeatedly. Wataru Ikegami was a fantastic example of that. Coming into the fight with a 7-5-1 (4) record it was easy to assume he was a limited fighter, with perhaps not much on his punches. For those watching however he didn't look limited, at all. He started slowly, got a read on Tamada's speed, timing, reach and style, and then went through the gears from the end of round 2. In round 3 he gave Tamada a beating, and began to break him down, eventually dropping Tamada in round 7. He showed skills, and attributes not really associated with fighters sporting such poor records. In fairness he showed what he could do last year, giving unbeaten Korean Min Jang a real scare, in a bout that the judges got wrong. He has real skills, good work rate and has learned from his setbacks that he needs to put his foot on the gas more. At 30 years old he might be too old to really make a major mark on the sport, but he certainly has the ability for a good, late career run on the domestic stage. Unfortunately however the Japanese Bantamweight scene is a deep and tough one.
4-The stoppage looks odd....but was right
Sometimes looking at a stoppage doesn't tell you everything you need to know about it, and looking at this stoppage in isolation does look odd, wrong, and like the referee really messed up. He counted to 8, Tamada was on his feet, then he continued the count to 10 and waved off the bout. In isolation this decision was wrong. In reality however it was the right call from the referee. Tamada had taken a pounding, was a long way down on the cards, and didn't need to take more punishment. Given how round 6 had gone and how round 7 was going the referee made the right call. He saved someone from a potentially career changing beating. Yes the stoppage looked wrong, but it was, given the context, the right call.
5-A versatile arsenal is key
Ikegami showed a lot to like here, and proved a point that many fighters over-look. A versatile arsenal is a key to success. Ikegami had a really good jab, that helped burst up Tamada's face at range, he popped it regularly, and he landed it a lot. But he didn't rely on it. He mixed it up well on the inside, ripping uppercuts, straights, hooks, body shots and everything in his tool kit. He fought well on the outside, despite being the smaller man, and fought excellently on the inside. He broke down Ikegami up close and at range, and was always the one having the final say in the exchanges. He forced Tamada to fight at a higher pace than he would have wanted and dictated the action by being busy. We've all seen fighters who are excellent on the inside, but have no way in, or are brilliant on the outside but have no inside game. Ikegami showed both sides here and it would be something that better fighters would be well off copying. When at a range he didn't want to be at he quickly reset, put Tamada out of position and re-asserted himself. It was simple but effective stuff through out from a man who really does know how to box.
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).