Home Boxing News Asian Faces – Yasutaka Ishimoto

Asian Faces – Yasutaka Ishimoto

At the start of October Japanese fans will get the chance to see national Super Bantamweight champion Yasutaka Ishimoto (28-8, 7) make the second defense of his title, as he takes on Gakuya Furuhashi (18-7-1, 8). That bout will be televised live on G+ through out Japan this weekend and ahead of that bout it seems fitting to take a look at the 34 year old champion, who has long been a staple of the Japanese domestic scene.

Born in October 1981 the Super Bantamweight has enjoyed a growing fan base domestically, and some international renown however it’s fair to say that most fans won’t be familiar with him. That’s depsite the fact he debuted close to 14 years ago.

That debut occurred in November 2002 when he claimed a 4 round decision over Nobuo Yonetsu in a Super Flyweight bout. Prior to his debut he enjoyed a very short amateur career with Teiken listing his amateur record as 0-1, though that lack of amateur experience allowed Ishimoto to develop slow in the professional ranks. Unlike many Japanese fighters he wasn’t rushed into 6 or 8 rounders and he was 6-2 (1), and a 3 year professional, by the time he stepped into 6 rounders.

In 2007 Ishimoto fought his first opponent of note, future world champion Yota Sato. Ishimoto came up short to Sato, though was competitive through out and it was a bout where both fighters seemed to increase their standing in the sport. He bounced back from that loss with two wins before losing to Teppei Kikui, a former Japanese Super Flyweight champion and someone who had challenged for the WBC title. The bout with Kikui would be Ishimoto’s final bout before he grew into a Super Bantamweight, a weight that he has pretty much fought at for the last 7 years.

In Ishimoto’s first Super Featherweight bout he defeated future world title challenger Shingo Wake with a wide unanimous decision over 8 rounds. The win over Wake was followed by 6 more wins, including a unanimous decision over future OPBF Bantamweight champion Yu Kawaguchi, as Ishimoto began to make a bee-line for a Japanese title fight. He secured the mandatory status for the national title in late 2011, with a win at the Strongest Korakuen against the Yu Enya, and got his first title fight in 2012.

Having fought for a 9 years Ishimoto had earned his title fight the hard way. He had compiled a 19-5 (3) record, he had earned the right to challenge by winning the Strongest Korakuen tournament, and he had started to develop into a very good domestic fighter. Sadly for Ishimoto he was unable to claim the title, losing to the then Japanese champion Masaaki Serie in February 2012.

The loss to Serie would have broken some other fighters, especially given that Ishimoto was 30 at the time, for Ishimoto however the loss seemed to galvanise his career and he would go on to record a 5 fight winning run. That run included his first taste of international success as he claimed the WBO International Super Bantamweight title, defeating former world champion Wilfredo Vazquez Jr in Macau, on a card featuring Zou Shiming’s debut.

Sadly for Ishimoto his winning run would come to an end in 2014 when he returned to Macau and was stopped by Chris Avalos in an IBF world title eliminator. The gutsy Ishimoto lacked the power and toughness to last with the big punching Avalos and was saved by his corner in round 8. That loss was followed by another loss as Ishimoto lost a Japanese title fight against Yukinori Oguni in December 2014.

With back-to-back losses against him Ishimoto seemed to be staring down the barrel to speak. He was 33 years old, 24-8 (7) in the ring and had seemingly peaked with his win over Vazquez Jr. The slide of Ishimoto seemed to be confirmed in April 2015 when he struggled to a technical decision win over Yoshihiro Utsumi. He then rolled the clock back a bit and put in a thrilling performance to over-come Gakuya Furuhashi in a really fan friendly bout in August 2015.

Having beaten one of the leading Japanese domestic contenders, in Furuhashi, Ishimoto would get another shot at the national title in December 2015 when he took on Yusaku Kuga for the vacant title. The bout was a nail biter, with the younger more powerful Kuga looking to land the heavier blows against the more rounded and busier Ishimoto. In the end the veteran’s experience just got him over the line and he finally claimed a Japanese title at the third time of asking.

Since winning the title in December we’ve seen Ishimoto make the first defense of the title, easily out pointing Yosuke Fujihara at the Korakuen Hall in front of a brilliant crowd who were involved in the bout from the introductions to the final bell. In that bout it seemed like Ishimoto had found a new gear, as if the title had galvanised his belief and brought the best out of him at 34 years old.

Although the upcoming rematch with Furuhashi won’t receive wide TV coverage it’s bound to be another thrilling match up and further proof that two sub-world level guys, who are well matched, can put on something very special to watch.

Although coming to the end of his career, he turns 35 in October, Ishimoto is still an incredibly fan friendly fighter and I’d hope everyone gets a chance to see some more of his bouts before he retires and whilst he is a long way from the elite he is well worth watching, when matched well and I’ll certainly be following what’s left of his career.

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