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Yoshiki Takei: An Announcement Of Greatness

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The bout between Naoya Inoue and Luis Nery has become one of the biggest to take place on Japanese soil.

The intense, six round war that took place within the hallowed walls of the Tokyo Dome has dominated the headlines, with discussions of the brutal stoppage and surprising knockdown dominating the discourse.

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However, there was another warrior that should be regarded as a threat to the bantamweight division that Inoue once ruled.

The division now belongs entirely to the Japanese and – it might – belong to Yoshiki Takei.

Many people disregarded Takei going into the May 6th card, wondering why a fighter with only eight bouts to his name was challenging the long established Aussie and WBO World Bantamweight champion, Jason Moloney (now 27-3).

Of course, what they were disregarding is his high combat sports pedigree, with Takei having a long and dominant history in the world of kickboxing.

The 27 year old southpaw would debut in kickboxing in 2014 and make his name in the well-known and well-regarded K-1 Championship. The Tokyo native would go on to dominate within the promotion, becoming the super bantamweight champion with ease and going on to have a dominant reign throughout.

In 2020, with the pandemic in full-swing, Takei made the decision to truly test himself; not just as a fighter, but a true warrior. He would vacate his title and fully transition into the realm of traditional boxing.

These are very different sports, despite the similarities they may share on the surface. After all, many kickboxers instead transition to MMA, where more of their skillset can be retained and, in most cases, dominate.

Takei, however, strived for more.

With the retired Japanese veteran Akira Yaegashi and the Ohashi Gym in his corner, Takei was certainly primed for success. In his first fight, he would end Kazunori Takai (then 6-7-3) within the first round. Evidently, the experience gap between Takei and his fellow Japanese debutants was obvious.

Within his fifth fight, he had proven himself enough to earn a shot at the Oriental and Pacific Boxing Federation Super Bantamweight title, a prestigious title in the microcosm of Eastern boxing. Pete Apolinar (then 16-2) was simply keeping the belt warm for Takei; it was torn from Apolinar in the fifth round.

With one defence of his OPBF belt, it was clear that Takei was comfortable, even at a regional level. He was destined for the world.

And the world was waiting for Takei.

On one of the biggest cards in Japanese history, Takei, a knockout artisan, was presented with a golden challenge in the way of Jason ‘Mayhem’ Moloney. A veteran of 29 professional bouts and with droves of amateur experience, Moloney had collected swaths of belts, titles and accolades through sheer skill alone.

And, having lost to Naoya Inoue himself, this became a golden opportunity to make a statement like no other.

Takei would use his awkward, unorthodox southpaw style to confuse Moloney from the outset, his reach keeping the Australian champion from making any leeway.

Early into the bout, Takei was given a point deduction for low blows, perhaps a remnant of his kickboxing days. This stalled his progress, with Moloney able to take advantage of the change in pace.

However, Takei was calm and calculated; every movement was precise and well thought out. His style, pace and movement all resembled that of a mature and dignified fighter, one with experience sharpened into a deadly weapon.

Moloney began to lower his pace and work-rate towards the end, with Takei able to garner valuable points moving into the final round. Within the 12th, Moloney would rally hard in an attempt to take it in the final stretch, although Takei would survive the onslaught with ease.

In a brilliant fight, the first of Takei’s boxing career to go the distance, he would win via unanimous decision and claim the WBO World Bantamweight honour.

With this, his next step is obvious.

An all-Japan unification bout with his fellow countrymen would be an outstanding move from Takei, although the question of his readiness will still be on the line.

After all, a match-up with Junto Nakatani, the 27-0 WBC World Bantamweight champion would be decidedly difficult – but thoroughly entertaining nonetheless.

If a statement is what Takei is considering, perhaps 20-1 WBA World Bantamweight champion Takuma Inoue is the strongest option. Not as difficult as Nakatani and a notable name to add to the resume, this would be entertaining.

Lastly, newly crowned IBF World Bantamweight champion Ryosuke Nishida, currently 9-0, would be the easiest and – for fight fans – most boring option. Takei might smell blood in the water with a fighter like Nishida.

So, with all this to consider, Yoshiki Takei has legitimised himself as a champion of two sports and certainly put himself on the radar of every fight fan on the planet with an impressive style and, now, an emphatic win.

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