Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
This coming Friday in Tokyo we get a card from Teiken that was originally supposed to take place around a month ago. The show was originally delayed due to the Teiken gym needing to close due to Jorge Linares having a positive PCR test, and despite a few minor changes the card still looks like a real good one.
The main event here will see former Japanese champions colliding as Kenichi Ogawa (24-1-1, 18) and Kazuhiro Nishitani (21-4-1, 12) face off. Not only are both former Japanese champions but both men are also taking world rankings into this one, giving it extra meaning. On paper this looks really interesting and may actually end up being even better when the two men get in the ring. Ogawa, at his best, is a boxer-puncher who likes to get full extension on his shots and let combinations go at mid-range. Nishitani on the other hand likes the action up close, leaning on an opponent and working with smart counters. Stylistically they are pretty much opposites, but they should make for a very entertaining clash here, with the winner taking a huge step towards a world title fight.
Highly touted youngster Shokichi Iwata (4-0, 3) looks to continue his climb through the rankings as he takes on domestic foe Ryo Narizuka (9-9-1) in an 8 rounder. In all honest we don't see Iwata struggling at all with Narizuka here, but it'll be a good chance for the unbeaten 24 year old to shake off some ring rust, with his last bout being around 11 months ago. Iwata would have had big plans for 2020 and whilst those plans have failed to materialise it's better for him to be busy than sit out the entire year.
Another fighter who would have had big plans for this year is the once touted Super Flyweight Hayate Kaji (14-0, 9). The hard hitting Kaji once seemed like the future star of the Teiken gym, but recent performances have been underwhelming. He'll be up against Hiroki Yajima (9-8-3, 4) here and if he puts in another poor performance, after an 11 month break from the ring, it may well be time to write him off. The reality is that Yajima is no push over, but shouldn't be a real test for a prospect as highly regarded as Kaji once was.
In a very interesting under-card bout we'll see Japanese Youth Super Featherweight champion Yamato Hata (10-1, 10) take on the unbeaten Koshin Takeshima (4-0-1, 3) in a very good looking match up. Hata has won his last 7, including bouts against Shingo Kusano and Ryusei Ishii, and at 23 years old looks like a future domestic title contender. On the other hand Takeshima was a solid amateur who debuted as a pro in 2018, and looked good in his first 4 bouts. Sadly Takeshima's rise through the ranks faltered in his last bout, when he had a technical draw with Daisuke Watanabe in the Hajime No Ippo 30th Anniversary tournament. Interestingly Takeshima will be moving up in weight for this one, and it'll be interesting to see how the extra few pounds suits him. Potentially this is the best bout on the card.
In a battle of once beaten men Hikari Mineta (8-1, 5) will clash with Ryuya Tsugawa (7-1, 3). The 24 year old Mineta is best known for his run in the 2018 Rookie of the Year, losing to Yuri Takemoto in the final, and since then he has reeled off 3 wins. Interestingly Tsugawa went a step further and won Rookie of the Year in 2019. These two are both talented young fighters who have the potential to go places, but will need time to full develop, and this bout should serve as a great test for both me. The winner will take big strides towards a domestic title fight, but don't write off the loser as they have plenty of time to come again.