Fight fans who have any idea at all about boxing from the lower weights will be aware of Naoya Inoue, the multi-weight Japanese world champion who has helped put Japanese boxing on the map, in a big way, in recent years. What may know is that Inoue, as a professional has only faced Japanese fighters 3 times in his career. Two of those are notable fighters, Kohei Kono, a former 2-time world champion, and Ryoichi Taguchi, who went on to unify titles at 108lbs after Inoue beat him.
The third is Yuki Sano (17-3-5, 12), a much less well known fighter who Inoue beat in April 2013, in what was the Monster's third professional bout and his first one to get live TV coverage, courtesy of Fuji TV.
With Sano being such a low profile fighter we thought he'd be the perfect fighter to look at and shine a light on in our latest 5 Midweeks fact series.
1-Sano has B type blood. In Japanese blood theory this means he is thought to be selfish and uncooperative but also creative and passionate. Typically the blood type is also linked to being honest and easy going, though will share their opinions and not care too much about whether they hurt people or not.
2-Reportedly Sano began boxing in 5th grade and turned professional after having had around 70 amateur bouts, which explains why he skipped the 4 round bouts we typically see from Japanese fighters.
3-Sano was actually higher ranked by the JBC going into his 2013 bout with Naoya Inoue. Going into the bout Inoue was ranked #5 by the JBC whilst Sano was ranked #1. Despite that Inoue was the clear favourite, and those who had followed Inoue from his amateur days were very confident that the then 20 year old would overcome the 31 year old Sano. Interestingly his bout with Inoue would be the only time Sano was stopped in his 25 fight professional. After that bout Sano left a warning to fellow fighters, stating "Everyone has to fight Inoue now. Next year, next year, it will be even harder."
Notably he had been out of the ring for almost a year prior to facing Inoue, that was due to suffering from cataracts.
4-Sano took part in his retirement ceremony on March 30th 2014 at the Aioi Hall. As part of that ceremony he sparred with the then IBF Minimumweight champion Katsunari Takayama, who gave Sano an IBF T-shirt. Interestingly this took place a week before Inoue beat Adrian Hernandez to become the WBC Light Flyweight champion.
5-Following his retirement from the sport Sano went on to become a trainer at the Matsuda Gym, the same Gym that he fought for as a professional fighter.
During his career Sano was a popular sparring partner for a who’s who of Japanese fighters. Among those sparred with were Kazuto Ioka, Ryo Miyazaki and Katsunari Takayama.
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).