Azn Badger's Blog

What About the Lysine Contingency…?

I Believe In Toshiaki Nishioka

Pictured: Toshiaki Nishioka posing with Rafael Marquez.

Well folks, it’s that time again.

Tomorrow night, a Japanese boxer will once again challenge fate and attempt to defend their world title on American soil.

Said boxer is Toshiaki Nishioka, a hard-punching and tenacious veteran who will be defending his Super Bantamweight title against the equally powerful, but slighty shopworn Rafael Marquez.

It might not sound like a big deal to us here in the states, but to date, no Japanese fighter has ever succeeded in defending a legit world title on American soil.

The last champion to step up to the challenge, was former Jr. Featherweight champion Akifumi Shimoda, who if you’ll recall was knocked senseless in the 7th round via a left hook to the jaw from the challenger, and now champion; Rico Ramos.

Pictured: Shimoda, laid out after a monster left hook from Ramos.

Though it hurt to watch Shimoda lose in such dramatic fashion, but in my heart I knew it was to be expected.

I keep tabs on quite a few Japanese fighters, and in that sense I feel the fact that Shimoda was never one of them should speak to his abilities/promise as a fighter.

Besides, the man he won the title from, Ryo Li Lee; was perhaps the biggest underdog champs in recent memory, so in many ways it’s surprising that Teiken was willing to take the gamble in sending Shimoda to the states without a few more tune-up fights under his belt.

That being said, unlike Shimoda, I truly believe Toshiaki Nishioka is the real deal:

Hozumi Hasegawa was, and forever will be, “my guy” in Japanese boxing, but deep down I’ve always known he was little more than a upper-middle tier fighter.

He was never as good as I hoped he would be, but I “picked” him, and wasn’t about to lose faith in him just because of a few losses.

A few REALLY BAD losses...

That’s just who I am.

While Nishioka may not be “my guy,” the fact of the matter is, he’s likely one of the best Japanese world champion boxers of his generation.

2 names always pop up in discussions involving the current state of Japanese boxing, namely that of Koki Kameda, and Toshiaki Nishioka.

While Kameda is easily the more popular fighter, especially among Japanese fans, in my mind I view the older and more accomplished Nishioka as the better and more complete fighter.

Kameda has immense potential, but I don’t see his no-jab, counter heavy-style sustaining him on the world stage for very long.

Plus, HE LOOKS LIKE A MONKEY. And he smells funny.

Like many Japanese boxers, Nishioka took a few losses early in his career, though this in no way prevented his career from being a consistent march upward in terms of quality of opposition.

Left-handed and atypically powerful and gutsy for a Japanese fighter, Nishioka’s only real sore spot in his career was in the early 2000’s when he fought the immensely prolific and longstanding Bantamweight champ, Veeraphol Sahaprom a mind-boggling 4 times in as many years.

During this series of fights, Nishioka lost to, and drew with Sahaprom 2 times, with each fight going the distance and being closely contested on the scorecards.

Fun fact:

Despite Nishioka’s 4 attempts to dethrone Sahaprom, it was my boy Hozumi Hasegawa who ultimately succeeded in 2004 via unanimous decision.

Not only that, Hasegawa KO’d Sahaprom in the rematch the following year, thereby cementing his reputation as a true Bantamweight champion.

Nishioka got a badass clip, so I figure it’s only fair I give one to my boy Hasegawa as well:

In fighting Sahaprom, I feel Nishioka came up short due to a clash of styles.

Nishioka isn’t the most elusive of fighters, making him easy prey for Sahaprom’s cagey tactics and seasoned boxing.

In this way, Hasegawa’s superior handspeed and constant lateral movement were likely responsible for his victories over Sahaprom.

Nishioka may not have Hasegawa’s speed or elusiveness, but he does have a solid chin, power in both hands, and the tenacity of a pit bull.

That counts for a lot when you’re a world class Southpaw with soild fundamentals.

At 35 years old, may not have many fights left in him, nor does his “on paper” reputation paint him as the best of fighters, but as of writing this, I truly believe him to be the best active boxer in Japan, and potentially in his weight class.

Despite his age, Nishioka hasn’t lost since 2004, and in the days since then, his career has blossomed in a renaissance of sorts, rewarding him with sound victories and highlight reel knockouts against solid competition.

He may not have been “my guy” in Hasegawa’s heyday, but now, when I’m forced to pick between him and the impetuous Koki Kameda, I think I’m finally ready to call Nishioka “my guy” in Japanese boxing.

Again, HE LOOKS LIKE A MONKEY.

I believed in him all those times he came this close to edging a victory against Sahaprom.

I believed in him when he finally won the title from Genaro Garcia.

I believed in him when he knocked the piss out of Jhonny Gonzalez.

And tomorrow night, when he faces another cagey veteran in the form of Rafael Marquez, I will believe in Toshiaki Nishioka all the same.

Do it for history!  Do it for Japan!

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Hozumi Hasegawa Got Flattened… Again.

Jesus fuck man… I sure know how to pick ’em, right?

Less than 2 months ago, I pounded out a heartfelt article about Hozumi Hasegawa, a Kobe based Japanese boxer; and my unusual attachment to him.

Totally not gay, I swear.

Anyway, I’d never make it my business to say Hasegawa is an atypically skillful fighter, or even the best Japanese boxer; but fate led to me “choosing” him as a guy I’d keep my eye on, for better or for worse.

That being said, the past year or so has definitely been the worst year Hasegawa’s had in… well, his entire career.

Put it this way, up until April of last year; the guy hadn’t lost since 2001, had set a new Japanese record for consecutive title defenses, and was on a decent KO streak despite not having much of a punch.

He was on top of the world, only to have his reputation and legacy thrown in the shitter via a humiliating TKO loss to Fernando Montiel inside of 4 rounds.

Protip: Blocking with your face is not a sound tactic.

Given that I’ve already talked at great length about that whole fiasco, I think it’s best we move on; lest I lose my temper and start breakin’ shit.

Anyway, following the loss to Montiel, Hasegawa stepped up 2 weight classes to campaign at Featherweight against Juan Carlos Burgos.

Despite the added weight, Hasegawa looked good at 126; retaining most of his quickness and punch accuracy while pounding out a unanimous decision over a very game Burgos.

Which brings us to last night’s fight against Jhonny Gonzalez.

Jhonny Gonzalez is a very good, and more importantly; very tough fighter.

I suppose it’s also worth mentioning that Mr. Gonzalez is also quite heavy handed.

"Bubba beats, Bubba beats, Bubba beats, PEOPLE UP."

That being said, in a big night for Japanese champions, Hasegawa was the only one (Takahiro Ao and Toshiaki Nishioka also fought that night) that was unable to score a win.

While I have yet to sit down to watch the actual fights, from what I’ve read; it sounds like Hasegawa got put on queer street much in the same fashion that he did during his fight with Fernando Montiel.

That is to say, he did well in the opening rounds/minutes of the fight, only to guess wrong on a counter opportunity; and take exactly the wrong punch on the wrong part of his skull.

As I mentioned earlier, Hasegawa’s my boy; I’ll watch and read about his fights for as long as he has them, but even so, it’s no fun seeing your hero get flattened in such humiliating fashion.

Probably the worst part of Hasegawa’s 2 losses over the past year, is the fact that both came as a result of very sudden and highly variable circumstances.

Like I said, to my knowledge the guy was very much in the fight up until the moment he got KO’d, making it a case where it’s hard to say whether he lost as a result of being the lesser or fighter, or just ’cause he got caught by one good punch.

What really grinds my gears about this most recent loss though, is that I remember watching Toshiaki Nishioka beat the ever-loving fuck outta’ Jhonny Gonzalez just 2 years ago.

Does that mean Nishioka is just that much better than Hasegawa, that Gonzalez improved that much since then, or that Hasegawa might be on the downward spiral?

I don’t know, but it’s questions like that always make it hard to have heroes in the sport of boxing.

Trust me, I “chose” Miguel Cotto back when he first appeared on HBO; and look at all the drama he’s spawned over the past few years alone…

Ugh, hopefully I'll never have to see this again...

Filed under: Boxing, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , ,

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