This past week the super highly touted Japanese prospect Rentaro Kimura (1-0, 1) began his professional career, doing so behind closed where he stopped Yuya Azuma in 2 rounds. Prior to the bout the talk was that the hugely promising southpaw was going to be looking for a world title within 3 years, or around 10 fights. With that in mind we thought we'd try and look for 5 potential opponents for the 23 year star in the making as we do our latest "Five For".
Although his debut was above the Super Featherweight limit we are going to assume Kimura will be looking to make his mark at 130lbs going forward, and his next bout will either be a 6 or 8 rounder.
1-Attanon Kunlawong (15-6, 11)
A realtively easy bout to make for Kimura, and one he would be strongly favoured in, would be a contest with Thailand' s Attanon Kunlawong, a once touted fighter himself. Attanon, also known as Konthara KKP, looked like a man going places when he began his career 13-0 (10) but since then has gone 2-6 (1). Although not the most mouth watering opponent the 24 old Thai is a decent fighter on his day and he could certainly be a good step up form Kimura's debut, despite his current form. We would expect Kimura to be too good and too sharp, but we this could be a good chance for him to see a new style and go in with someone who, in their day, is very fluid and has some solid sting on their shots.
2-Al Toyogon (10-6-1, 6)
Whilst Kunlawong would be an easy win we would love to see Kimura take on someone a big more testing and tougher. In step Al Toyogon, someone who would serve as a perfect test for Kimura. With Kimura stating he wants to stop everyone he faces Toyogon would serve as a perfect dance partner, being tough enough to force Kimura to use all the tools in his locker. Toyogon is known as a durable opponent, and last year he went the distance with Ryo Sagawa, Shuya Masaki, Jorge Linares and Carlo Magali, so a stoppage over him would be huge. Toyogon is no push over, but we see him being more of a stamina and check than a skills test for Kimura.
3-Dai Iwai (23-6-1, 7)
With the world the way it is it may make more sense to look closer to home for an opponent for Kimura and who better than the experienced Dai Iwai. On paper this is a massive step up for Kimura, and the sort of opponent that proves Kimura is dreaming of greatness. Iwai is no better than a domestic level contender, but that's a great level to be fighting at in just fight #2 and leaves Kimura potentially in the Japanese rankings ahead of his third fight. That would have him on a similar trajectory to Naoya Inoue and Kosei Tanaka. Given the talk that seems to be around Kimura that's the type of fighter he wants to be compared to, so Iwai is the perfect domestic opponent.
4-Seiichi Oakada (22-7-1, 13)
Another potential Japanese opponent, and probably an easier one to beat, would be former national champion Seiichi Okada. The 38 year old Okada has been stopped 4 times in his 7 losses and was beaten last time out by the distinctly average Kanehiro Nakagawa. He's there for the taking and is a long way removed from his days as a national champion. Despite that he's still a decent domestic name, and this could be a passing of the torch. Sadly it would come more than 8 years after Okada lost the Japanese title to Daiki Kaneko, but would still be an impressive step up in class from Kimura's debut.
5-Ulysses Lagos (12-2, 6)
It's unclear what route to titles Kimura is looking to go, with Japanese, OPBF an WBO Asia Pacific titles all out there. If he is looking at the WBO regional title then a smart match up would be for him to take on Filipino Ulysses Lagos. When the rankings were last done for the WBO Asia Pacific title Lagos was ranked at #15, and he would be a rather easy looking entry into those rankings. Although is ranked his record is uninspiring and only 4 fights ago he was stopped by Mark John Yap, a natural Bantamweight. If Kimura and his team want to fast track their way to a regional title this may be the smart way to go, with champion Joe Noynay unlikely to want to remain at this level for too much longer, given he is ranked 3 of the 4 world title bodies.
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).