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Asian Faces – Takuya Yamaguchi

Usually for these “Asian Faces” articles I take a look at an up and comer, or some one making a mark on the scene. The idea being to get a fighter some attention before they get a title around their waist. Today however I’m going to flip that on it’s head and do a much more self indulgent Asian Faces and write about a guy who I know it’s going to go far but who has entertained me so much over the last 12 months or saw that I merely want to increase his profile and attempt to bring him to the attention of other fight fans.

That man is 31 year old Takuya Yamaguchi (3-7-2, 2),who is never going to move into title contention or be a star of any kind but will always be entertaining. And sadly for him he never really caught my attention until late last year, when he amused the socks off me during a quick win over Shinkiro Matsumoto

Yamaguchi debuted back in August 2013 and fought to a draw with Kazuhiro Baba. Just 3 months later he picked up his first win as he stopped the debuting Hiromasa Kato inside a round. The 2 fight unbeaten run of Yamaguchi’s was then ended with a technical decision loss to Yasuki Katagiri in April 2014.

Unfortunately for Yamaguchi his first loss was followed by him struggling, and he would end 2014 with a 1-2-2 record, following a stoppage defeat to Pon Ponta and a draw with Joji Tsuchiya. That poor run would carry over into 2015 when he suffered a third loss in 4 bouts, suffering a decision loss to Masaya Sakamoto in May 2015.

For many a 1-3-2 record would be the end, but not for Yamaguchi who bounced back in October 2015 with a win over Ryuji Kohama, scoring his first win in almost 2 years. Sadly just a month later Yamaguchi would suffer another loss, which was then followed in 2016 by two more, including a defeat in the East Japan Rookie of the Year to Toshinobu Mimura and a loss to Rikuto Adachi on the under-card of Shinsuke Yamanaka’s rematch with Anselmo Moreno.

Although seriously faltering in terms of his record, which was then 2-6-2, Yamaguchi was beginning to attract fans due to his infectious personality and charm. Something that means a lot on the lower levels of the Japanese domestic scene, where fighters don’t come to make up the numbers and always attempt to win fights at their level. That charm helped him land a place on “Fighting Bee Vol 19” in December last year, with the card being shown on the A-Sign boxing site.

His opponent on that show was the aforementioned Shinkiro Matsumoto. Watching the fight at the time I had no idea who either man was, it was my first chance to see either, but immediately Yamaguchi had won me over throwing wild shots and fighting like a wild slugger. He did every thing wrong, he was off balance, wide open and was hurt several times. But he simply didn’t seem to care, he was having fun. Then out of nowhere he landed a bomb, a huge wild right hand, which decked Matsumoto twice. Straight after the win Yamaguchi took his chance to pose for the crowd, and instantly had a fan for life.

I recently had a chance to see Yamaguchi fight “as live” for a second time as he took on Fumio Ujihara, on the under-card of Ryuichi Funai’s bout with Kenta Nakagawa. Once again Yamaguchi proved to be a total showman posing for the crowd like Hulk Hogan before a punch was thrown. As with the bout against Matsumoto we saw Yamaguchi do everything wrong, walk forward flat footed, fought square one and throw punches that went around the house. This time he was unable to land a dynamite shot, and in round 3was stopped due to a cut. Despite being totally out classed during the bout Yamaguchi refused to stop swinging until the cut was too bad to continue.

Now whilst I accept that many fans haven’t, and probably won’t ever, seen Yamaguchi in action he’s someone who has earned a place in my heart for his style and heart. Whilst we all love boxing at the top level, we also love those fighters that stick out, and Yamaguchi has certainly done that in my mind. His record might end up having more losses than most but to me he’s must watch entertainment, and boxing always needs entertainers.

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