Another decision! What Tenshin Nasukawa “lacks”, direct words from former world champions Masataka Taniguchi & Ryoichi Taguchi. | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Another decision! What Tenshin Nasukawa “lacks”, direct words from former world champions Masataka Taniguchi & Ryoichi Taguchi.

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From a professional standpoint, “his speed is world-class.”

On September 18, Tenshin Nasukawa (25) entered the ring for his second fight since switching to boxing and won an eight-round decision against Luis Guzman (27), taking him down twice and winning by such a wide margin that three judges scored the fight 80-70 each. At the post-fight press conference, he mentioned that he had hurt his left hand during the fight, and it was publicly announced on the 20th that he had been diagnosed with “left carpal instability.

During Nasukawa’s fight, the Ariake Arena was filled with “Go, Tenshin! Go, Nasukawa! and “Go, Nasukawa! A different crowd of boxing fans filled the arena. It seemed that Teiken, Japan’s largest boxing gym, had started a new business.

This time, I asked three experts to talk about Nasukawa’s fighting performance.

First is Masataka Taniguchi, 29, a former WBO world minimumweight champion. He is an active fighter who also does commentary work, and his accurate analysis is highly regarded.

He said, “In the beginning, he had his center of gravity low and his weight slightly behind his back. It reminded me of Jyunjin Nakatani, who defended his WBO world super flyweight title in his previous fight. His attack at the start of the fight was impressive, as he back-stepped when his opponent came out and hit a straight left hand. You also took a down right after the start of the match with it. I couldn’t tell whether he was reacting or looking at his opponent’s punches, but his timing was superb.

Guzman, who was knocked down, must have been flush or something, like, “No way! I’m sure he felt like a flash or a “No way! He must have been damaged, but I think he was surprised. From what I saw of Nasukawa, I think he is the type of fighter who takes down fighters with his sharpness rather than with his power. So, if you are too enthusiastic and say, “I’m going to knock him down,” it won’t work. I felt that if he was too enthusiastic, it would not go well.

I think his hand speed, reaction speed, and body movement speed are world-class. However, I think the use of these skills is monotonous. I was concerned about the lack of speed, the lack of a quick and easy attack, and the lack of a few things to draw from. If he had such skills, I think he would have been able to finish me. Nasukawa was always perceived as “fast” and “strong,” but I dared him to slow down his speed or let his opponent punch. I think there is a better plan, such as letting the opponent throw punches.

Also, in the beginning, my waist was firmly sunk, but in the second half, my body floated. When Guzman came out and I got a little tired in the second half, I floated when I was tired of hitting and attacking. I think this is an area that needs to be addressed. I am sure he is not satisfied with this victory, because he is also aiming to win the world title, but if he is looking at the world, I think he should learn how not to float, and to use more variation in his fighting style.

Nevertheless, I am looking forward to seeing him in the future, because he can do that kind of movement in his second fight. If you look at him and say, “He’s going to be a world champion,” then you can see some rough parts and holes, but if you think of it as the second round, the level will be high. I think it depends on how you look at it. The talent is very good, isn’t it? I think he has a great sense of style. There are strong champions in the bantam and super bantam weight classes, so it will be difficult for him to win the world championship, but I think he will reach a certain level, and he has the potential to become a world champion.

Next up is Ryoichi Taguchi, 36, who Naoya Inoue, 30, kept describing as “the strongest man I fought” until after his first fight with Nonito Donaire, 40; four and a half years after his last fight on March 16, 2019, he is now on the path to becoming a mentor.

Nasukawa said before the fight that he was going to KO this time, so I had high expectations for him. I think I wanted to see that a little bit. He showed good movement, such as countering a straight left and ducking to the right to throw a right hook, so I think his talent is perfect.

I felt his level had improved, but as to why he missed the KO, I think it was his spirit. I think he didn’t have the heart to say, “I’m going to beat him by KO for sure! I think he could have had a chance if he had pushed harder and attacked more aggressively. Boxing is a world where spirit is the key. I hope he will bring that out in the future and show that he is truly desperate. I want him to learn how to fight by head on head, and I want him to show his determination to win by KO at any cost. This time, I feel that if I had been more concerned with knockouts, I could have finished him.

Posing after winning a decision by a large margin

Also, I felt that Nasukawa-kun has a high center of gravity. But this is his second fight after switching from kicking, so it will take time for him to adjust. I thought that should be tolerated. It’s not easy to get results. Rather than putting pressure on him, I think that since he is a Japanese player, he should be watched and supported by everyone. If you create that kind of atmosphere, I think he will be able to grow and develop. It depends on the timing of matchmaking and what kind of opponent he chooses, but I think he has a good chance of becoming a world champion.

And finally, Shigeru Masuda, 65, a boxing analyst who has been watching the ring for half a century. He commented calmly based on his deep insight.

At the moment, Nasukawa has the punching power to put a knockout on a fighter, but he does not have the style to finish a fighter without fail. That may be due to his instinctive nature. Nasukawa’s debut reminded me of Pernell Whitaker, a southpaw defensive master like Nasukawa who won four weight classes from lightweight to super welterweight at the end of the 20th century. Whitaker was also a lightweight gold medalist at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, and there is an anecdote that an American journalist was astonished to see a world-ranked fighter fighting in the fourth round in his professional debut.

The common point with Nasukawa is a “sense of slackness. His body is relaxed and floats, and the harder his opponent punches, the further away he is from him, like a balloon in the wind. This is nothing short of the art of having an excellent sense of distance. In addition, he does not use a counterclockwise (left) rotation, which is the theory of southpaws, but a clockwise (right) rotation, just like an orthodox fighter.

What is different is that Whitaker’s basic form has a lower center of gravity, and instead of striking while floating, he instantly stops and lowers his center of gravity to create a “tame” position when he is certain he will hit a target. This led to the accuracy and effectiveness of his left-right and up-and-down strikes, and provided Whitaker with a variety of patterns for knocking down opponents, such as the left straight followed by the right hook, which is rarely seen in Nasukawa’s game at this point. This was the result of a sense of distance cultivated through a focus on boxing.

Whitaker can hit his opponent’s axis without letting him shift his axis and hit him, but Nasukawa cannot. Nasukawa’s greatest advantage lies in his superior danger-sensing ability and reaction speed, but it seems as if the switch that converts between “offensive” and “defensive” modes is ingrained in his body, with “defensive” as the default setting. Therefore, as a common fault often seen in former top amateurs who have hardened themselves in a style in which one hit can make the difference between a point and a win, it cannot be said that they have a strong awareness of connecting to follow-up after an effective hit.

One example of this is the lack of a finishing pattern as a southpaw due to the lack of a right hook return, but the effective hit should not <end there> but should essentially <begin there>. The most advanced embodiment of this is, of all people, Naoya Inoue.

However, if Tenshin blindly seeks KOs and tries to fundamentally rework his style, he runs the risk of causing some kind of breakdown in the existing system. without landing a single punch. Whee I think it would not be a bad idea to pursue the path of a wizard, a type of technician not seen in conventional Japanese boxers such as Willie Taker and Willie Pep.

When Nasukawa announced his decision to switch to boxing, Teiken Gym President Akihiko Honda said, “If he is going to fight for us, we must make him a world champion. How will Nasukawa climb the wall in the future?

  • Interview and text by Soichi Hayashi

    Born in 1969. Passed the professional boxing test as a junior lightweight, but suffered an injury to his left elbow. After working as a reporter for a weekly magazine, he became a nonfiction writer and educator, teaching at a public high school in the U.S. In 1996, he moved to the U.S. He completed the Graduate School of Interdisciplinary Information Studies at the University of Tokyo in 2014. He is the author of "Minority Fist," "America's Lower Level Education Site," and "America's Problem Child Regeneration Classroom" (all Kobunsha e-books), "God's Ring," "The Door to the World: Forward! Samurai Blue" and "Hohoite to Nurture Coaching" (all published by Kodansha).

  • Photo Jiji Press

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