IT’S not often we get live boxing from Japan to watch here in the UK but when we do, it’s always welcome. And that’s not just because the main event ends up taking place around lunchtime for us on these shores.
Japanese shows tend to feature well-matched fights and the DAZN card over the weekend was no exception. Of course, most of the focus was on Gennadiy Golovkin’s fight with Ryota Murata in the main event, but there was plenty to enjoy beforehand.
On the broadcast we were treated to a terrific lightweight scrap between Shuichiro Yushino and Masayuki Ito before unbeaten flyweight Junto Nakatani very nearly stole the show. He looked imperious in beating Ryota Yamauchi into submission inside eight rounds.
It was a smart move to place Nakatani in chief support on a card that had a lot of eyeballs on it. The 24-year-old made his American debut last year and impressed there also, but with “GGG” in the headliner, this card will likely have had far more viewers.
Nakatani is a really exciting talent and it was a genuine treat to see him on this show.
The overall broadcast had a novel feel to it, mainly because of the cultural behaviours of Japanese crowds, who typically keep their reactions in check while watching live sport. This seemed to coalesce into the commentary from Corey Erdman and Chris Algieri, who were not in Japan but instead calling the fights from a studio in America.
At times it was reminiscent of Olympic boxing broadcasts, wherein commentators keep their emotions in check, don’t have to shout, and just analyse the action. That’s not to say there’s no place for more boisterous commentary of professional boxing, it’s just that this was a welcome change of pace.
That’s particularly true when compared to the other DAZN broadcast of the weekend, topped by Ryan Garcia’s win over Emmanuel Tagoe. Todd Grishma, Chris Mannix and Sergio Mora were falling over themselves to praise the unbeaten lightweight, who churned out a decent yet fairly routine points victory.
Not only were they gushing over Garcia’s “speed” at every opportunity, they were also fairly disrespectful to Tagoe. There was even a point where Mannix openly mocked the fighter. Senesia Estrada was the only saving grace of this commentary team.
There were a few excellent features written over the past week, but two stand out in particular. The first ran on the Australian branch of Fox Sports and focused on unbeaten super-welterweight Andrei Mikhailovich.
Born in Russia but adopted by New Zealand parents when he was 18 months old, Mikhailovich hasn’t exactly had things easy. He’s best known for his part in a viral video that emerged last year from his fight with Alex Walters.
Before the fight, Walters swore at Mikhailovich and made a gun sign at him with his fingers. During the referee’s instructions before the first bell, Walters hit him with a cheap shot to the stomach. Mikhailovich then brutally stopped him in two rounds.
The Fox Sports feature, written by Andrew McMurty, gives us more background on Mikhailovich and it’s somewhat heartbreaking. He battled with alcohol and drug addiction when he was just 12 years old, and relapsed again at 19.
It’s a really interesting read and highlights the torment some fighters have to go through just to get in the ring.
Don McRae interviewed super-featherweight queen Mikaela Mayer ahead of her fight at the weekend, delving into her background. It’s a less harrowing story than Mikhailovich’s, but is still well worth exploring. Mayer had some struggles of her own but the feature really shines when she’s discussing her brief time in an all-girl metal band during her teenage years.
Lastly, it was confirmed that Floyd Mayweather will return for yet another exhibition bout, this time on a helipad attached to a hotel in Dubai. It’s not hugely surprising; Mayweather is the textbook definition of a prizefighter.
What has been slightly odd to see is some of the backlash he’s received in the wake of the announcement. Some of this criticism has come from a concern over Mayweather tarnishing his own legacy. Others have just accused him of chasing another paycheck.
Both arguments miss the point; it’s just an exhibition. This has no bearing on Floyd’s official boxing record and there’s no real danger of anyone getting hurt. Let him do his thing.