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 main bouts on Wednesday's Kadoebi show at Korakuen Hall saw Yoji Saito (2-1-2, 2) clash with Masashi Wakita (10-10-2, 5). This wasn't a bout that went long, but was a brilliantly entertaining little war right from the off. This was a For those who just need a little war to enjoy the week this was brilliant and the type of thing that a casual fan can just enjoy, as much as everyone else.
Having now watched this one back a few times here are our five take aways.
1-This was so much fun!
There are several different ways to watch boxing. Some people only want to see the best, and enjoy the highest level of action, the most skilled fighters on the planet. Others only want to see the names they recognise, and enjoy what they know. For us however one of the things we enjoy most about the sport is the action between the ropes, ignoring the names and just enjoying the fights. With that in mind this is a bout everyone should watch. From opening bell Saito made it very clear he wasn't wanting to mess around, pressing the action immediately and making this into a tear up. Wakita tried to respond in kind and as a result we ended up with a truly brilliant 1-round war. This pure, unadulterated, all action excitement.
2-Saito's record...it doesn't matter!
One of the more common parts of this series is that records don't matter and we need to echo that again here. Yoji Saito is not your typical 2-1-2 (2) fighter. He's not some limited novice struggling against other novices. He was a very good amateur, he's a solid professional, and he's the sort of fighter who will man handle some fighters with better records. He's a damn monster in the ring, with great physical strength, thudding power, a real gritty toughness and a brilliant aggressive style. We're not sure he'll ever win titles, but very, very few fighters at Japanese or Oriental level will enjoy having a fight with Saito. The guy is a genuine nightmare, it's just a shame it's taken him a little while to adapt to the professional ranks. If we're being truth the sport needs more Yoji Saito's!
3-The Hall Filled up for this ones!
Just before doing this article we re-watched the Takuya Kogawa Vs Hayato Yamaguchi fight and Korakuen Hall was almost empty for that. There was large gaps in the crowd, and from an optics point of view it looked awful. There's social distancing and then there's an almost empty venue. It seems that between that fight and this one crowd really filled up and there appeared to be far, far more people in their seats for this one. Whilst we enjoyed the Kogawa fight, a lot, we can't help but feel the fans knew this was going to be a lot of fun...and it was!
4-The count was strange
We've seen a few cases in recent weeks where Japanese referees seem to pause their count at "9" after a knockdown and give a fighter the benefit of the doubt. If you watch this one you'll see what we mean. Wakita is up at 6, the referee counts to 9, then looks at him, reads the situation and the fighters, and decides to to issue the 10 count. Looking at this through a fans eyes this is a weird thing to see. Almost like It's 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9......10. And it's certainly not a consistent count. However! We like it, it gives the referee the extra second to assess the fighter, and decide whether he's alright to go on or not. As a fighter who's been downed you like do appreciate the extra second, the referee can certainly take a little bit of extra time to decide if the bout should continue, and fans get the chance to see a fight go on longer if it can. This is very, very different to referees who will look to wave the bout out at "9.9". We like the thought process behind this, and whilst we know other's won't, we would like to see more referees doing this type of thing.
5-Thank you Wakita
After the bout we saw Masashi Wakita go to social media and he seemed legitimately heart broken about the result and about the sport in general. He gave a solid account of himself against a physical monster here and simply got broken down, but lesser men would have folded quicker, and wouldn't have gone out on their shield like he did. He gave a great account of himself, against a stronger, more powerful opponent and we genuinely want to thank him for the effort he gave. Despite the loss we want to see more of him, just maybe in more evenly matched bouts than this. On paper this might have looked competitive but those who have previously seen Saito likely knew he was stylistically all wrong for Wakita.
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).