One of the more interesting bouts from Japan this past weekend was the Bantamweight clash between Yoshiki Minato (9-3, 4) and Kohei Oba (36-4-1, 14). The bout wasn't streamed live, but was made available on demand via the Boxing Real YouTube channel the following day and was an interesting bout to watch.
The fight was a huge step up in class for Minato, but also marked the return to the ring for Oba who had been away from the ring for more than 6 years. Oba, who had once been the Japanese Bantamweight champion, was once dubbed the "Mayweather of Nagoya" and was once a world title contender. The idea that even a past his best Oba would have the skills, experience and size to deal with Minato made this a compelling match up on paper, though sadly proved to be a mismatch in the ring.
1-Oba should retire for good
We're starting with a super obvious one here but Kohei Oba should retire and stay retired. This was his first bout in over 6 years and it really showed with Oba looking absolutely terrible from the opening moments and never getting his way into the bout. We're not sure if it was the long break from the ring, the struggle to make weight, or the fact he was 35, or a combination of all those issues, but he didn't look like he should have been in the ring. He tried the shoulder roll that had helped him through his career but he was getting caught repeatedly and really did looked shot to bits with his feet looking heavy, and his reactions looking slow.
Credit to him for trying this comeback, and we mean that as it can't have been easy to lost the weight he lost, but this should be a one off and he should not go back to training.
2-Minato looks suited to 118lbs
Prior to the fight this past weekend Yoshiki Minato had been fighting at Flyweight, he then moved up to Bantamweight for this contest and credit to the youngster, he looked great at 118lbs. He looked fluid, light on his toes, quick, aggressive and like the move up in weight might well suit him longer term. It's a shame that we saw him against the shadow of Oba, but hopefully he decides to either remain at Bantamweight or try his hand at Super Flyweight. We suspect he can get back down to 112lbs if needed, but we think he should rule that out after this bout.
3-Central Gym in Kobe is a lovely little venue
Doing this series has started to make us appreciate how different venues are. Of course we, as fans, know venues are all varied, but with only a scattering of fans we can really appreciate how different they are. With that in mind we can't help but think that the Central Gym in Kobe should be used more often. It's intimate, it's interesting and has a nice look to it. It's a pretty distinct looking venue, and one where social distancing seemed to work well. The one complaint about it is the over abundance of lighting, which, along with the ring canvas and the carpet outside the ring, made things just a tough difficult to see. A darker ring canvas would however solve that problem.
4-Ryuya Yamanaka should do more commentary
Former WBO Minimumweight champion Ryuya Yamanaka was part of the commentary team for this fight and we can't help but feel he was a great mind to have outside the ring to listen too. It's a shame how his career ended, especially given he was so young, but he has a very good boxing brain, and clearly can read a fight well. He worked well here and we'd like to see more of him working on commentary. He also did something that much more experience commentators in the west don't do. He let the action speak for it's self and let the fight breathe. He, along with Yusuke Ohashi, did a good job here in not speaking for every second of the fight. They didn't have long pauses between talking, but they did leave just enough gaps for the fight to talk. Also they did what we love about Japanese commentators, they sounded excited when something big happened. If there was a complaint about the commentary it would have been nice for Ohashi to turn it down just a touch, but that's a minor complaint.
Just to add, though we don't think it needs repeating again, the Boxing Real streams and on demand videos are top notch. These are high level productions and should be seen as the standard bearers for boxing streams. They damn close to TV quality! Well done folks for leading the way in the quality of these videos and streams!
5-The Torch has been passed
Before the bout Minato spoke about wanting to take the torch from Oba, in what was a bout between two men from Hyogo. With the win the 22 year old Minato took that torch. Now the big question is what can he do with it? Given his age it's likely he will find himself in the Japanese title picture in the coming years, but will he managed to go further than Oba? Or will he only manage to go as far as the former world title contender? Whatever the future holds for Minato this win will give his career a significant boost, and hopefully way lay the foundation for his career going forward.
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).