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Asian Faces-Masayuki Ito

Right now the Japanese scene at Super Featherweight and Lightweight are rather amazing with a host of world class fighters who all seem to bring something different to the table. In Takashi Uchiyama and Takashi Miura Japan has two of the heaviest handed fighters, pound-for-pound, in the sport, in Rikki Naito and Masayoshi Nakatani they have two insanely promising prospects whilst in fighters like Nihito Arakawa, Yoshitaka Kato and Akihiro Kondo they have a trio of all action fighters who always deliver excitement.

One man who does appear to get over-looked however is Masayuki Ito (15-0-1, 6) who is capable of fighting at either Super Featherweight or Lightweight and appears to be a fighter taking his time to climb to the top. There is no rush for unbeaten man however and at just 23 years old he is still several years from his prime despite having already had 16 fights and being on the verge of the world rankings.

The talented Ito is a product of the Banryu in Tokyo and whilst the gym is certainly not one of the bigger or more established gyms in Japan the fighter does appear to be the jewel in their proverbial crown.

Ito debuted in relative obscurity as an 18 year old in May 2009 when he defeated Katsunari Fujii by wide scores in a 4 rounder. Like many young novices in Japan with out notable amateur pedigree his aim was the Rookie of the Year tournament, an annual competition for the young novices in Japan. It was at the 2012 Rookie of the Year that Ito first caught the eye as he scored impressive wins over Masaru Sueyoshi, Kazuhiro Miura, Kazuyuki Yamao and Kosuke Saka in the space of just 5 months.

As a still young and inexperienced novice it seemed clear that Ito didn’t need rushing in 2013 so his handlers let him build experience over the 8 round distance with wins over Yasuyuki Masuda and Taiki Minimoto before moving him up a level. The move up saw him defeat Filipino fighter Jeffrey Arienza to claim the WBC Youth Lightweight title, the first physical title of his career.

Although Ito’s talent was clear by the end of 2013 it wasn’t until his most recent fight, in July of this year, that we found just how good he was as he took on “KO King” Masao Nakamura and and took a very well earned decision over the former OPBF Super Featherweight champion. Going into the bout Nakamura was world ranked by several world bodies and boasted a record of 18-1 (18), his sole loss coming to the unpredictable Ronald Pontillas of the Philippines. By he end of the bout however Ito had worked out Nakamura, neutralised the power and managed to get control of the pace distance of the fight courtesy of his movement and sharp jab.

Currently ranked #4 in Japan and #3 by the OPBF we suspect Ito will be in notable title fights next year. He’s still maybe 2 or 3 years from a world title fight but with the progress he’s making in the professional ranks the odds are he could well become a world champion over the coming years, as long as Banryu can get him the fights he needs to reach his very high potential.

Talking about the future Ito will next be in the ring on November 25th when he battles Filipino fighter Ryan Sermona (16-6, 9), himself a former WBC International champion at Super Featherweight and a man who will be coming into this bout know he needs a win to keep his once promising career alive. A win over Sermona is expected of the promising Japanese fighter who will be headlining Dangan 116 in a bout scheduled for 8 rounds a contracted 133lbs.

Scott Graveson covers the Asian boxing scene for www.asianboxing.info