Photos by Sumio Yamada
NOBUO NASHIRO vs KONOSUKE TOMIYAMA
Ive always considered Nobuo Nashiro to be one of those over-achieving fighters. He isnt classy, nor is he an especially hard hitter, but he gets results by being tough, tenacious, superbly conditioned and hard working. These qualities have made Nashiro a two-time world champion in the 115-pound division. On Saturday, in his hometown of Osaka, Nashiro takes part in his second successive all-Japanese title fight when he defends his WBA ordinary championship against Konosuke Tomiyama, of Tokyo.
Nashiro has been matched in tough fights almost from the start, winning a title in only his eighth bout when the much more experienced Martin Castillo was halted due to a bad cut over the eye in the 10th round.
Venezuelas Alexander Munoz was too skilled and punched too hard for Nashiro, outboxing him fairly comfortably, but the gritty Japanese fighter became champion again when defeating fellow-countryman Kohei Kono on a split 12-round decision in a gruelling fight last September.
Tomiyama earned his chance with an impressive stoppage win in the last round over former world title challenger Kuniyuke Aizawa last September.
This looked like being a close fight on paper, but Tomiyama was in command in almost every round. He showed a relaxed style and threw combinations, and although it wasnt an easy fight for him he just seemed to be outpunching Aizawa in nearly every exchange. The end came suddenly and unexpectedly in the last round, when a big right hand very early in the round had Aizawa in deep trouble and a follow-up barrage brought the referees intervention.
Tomiyama looked better than he has ever looked in this fight. It was his fourth win in a row after being stopped in his only loss. In Tomiyama's last fight he had barely squeezed out a split decision win over a Thai with an ordinary record, so it was surprising that he was able to defeat Aizawa in such a dominant fashion. He is facing his toughest fight on Saturday, though. Nashiro, a stocky, sturdy pressure fighter, will be coming at him all night.
One thing that concerns me about Nashiro, though, is that hard fights could catch up with him. The fight with Kono was a draining type of fight, for instance. A fighter such as Nashiro doesnt usually have too many easy nights. He has to give all he has to win, and there was a bit of a tired look about him in the win over Kono.
Nashiro has to be considered a clear favourite in Saturdays bout, but he is meeting a challenger who has just had the biggest win of his career and who no doubt will be buoyed by his best-ever performance. I dont think this will be an easy fight for Nashiro. He should, though, be able to grind out a win with his earnest, unyielding style. Tomiyama doesnt seem to hit hard enough to keep the nuggety champion contained and is likely to find himself being pushed back and outworked. I am expecting a decision win for Nashiro, but one that is hard earned.