New Faces: Andy Hiraoka
Hometown: Yokohama, Japan
Weight class: Junior lightweight
Height: 5 feet 11 inches (180 cm)
Amateur record: None
Turned pro: 2013
Pro record: 7-0 (4 KOs)
Trainer: Justice Hiraoka
Manager: Hideyuki Ohashi
Promoter: Hideyuki Ohashi
Best night of pro career: Hiraoka was unsure of his most impressive outing. However, on paper, it appears to have been his most recent fight, last October (a third round TKO over Nakharin Phromchak), having returned from two years of inactivity. During his time away from boxing, the 20-year-old gained valuable experience sparring and training in America, notably at Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s Las Vegas gym.
Worst night of pro career: Again, Hiraoka wouldn’t commit to what he felt his weakest performance was. He has won all seven bouts to date and, while he’s done so with relative ease, perhaps his least impressive fight was against Shintaro Nakamura in November of 2014. Although he won a five-round unanimous decision, he was given a few problems and only won by a point on each of the three official ringside judges’ scorecards.
Next fight: Hiraoka returns on Dec. 30 against Egy Rozten in his first scheduled eight-rounder in support of stablemate Naoya Inoue’s WBO junior bantamweight title defense against Kohei Kono at the Ariake Colosseum, Tokyo.
Why he’s a prospect: Hiraoka wasn’t a noted amateur and, as such, is learning all the time.
He turned pro four months after his 17th birthday and initially raced to 6-0 before heading to America in October of 2015, for three months, where he worked under the tutelage of Eddie Mustafa Muhammad and Roger Mayweather.
During his stay in Sin City, Hiraoka did cross paths with Floyd Mayweather Jr., albeit briefly.
“When I was at the gym, Floyd was doing the world tour as a vacation after his retirement from boxing,” he said recounting his experience. “Therefore, I was able to meet him only once. At that time, it seemed he said to me, “Good luck.” However, I don’t remember exactly, since I was too nervous to remember because of his popularity.
“Roger is a very interesting person. I did my best to remember his move of padding during my exercise with him.”
Since moving back to Japan, Hiraoka has aligned himself with former two-time world titlist Hideyuki Ohashi, who manages/promotes a host of top Japanese fighters including the Inoue brothers, Akira Yaegashi and Ryo Matsumoto. So far, Hiraoka has yet to spar with any of them but hopes that will change in the near future.
He feels he has two key strengths: “My biggest strengths are speed and counter-punches.”
Mr. Ohashi is clearly impressed by the physical specimen of Hiraoka.
“His strength is his distinguished physical ability,” explained the venerable ex-boxer-turned-manager/trainer. “He got into a 3000-meter track-and-field race at an Inter High School Game of Japan and did it in eight minutes 30 seconds. It takes only 30 minutes to run for 10,000 meters.
“In addition, his style of boxing is quite different from those of normal Japanese boxers. I am convinced that he is the same as a shining light as Naoya Inoue i,n light of physical ability. All he has to do, from now on, is to build his own career as a boxer, utilizing his physical ability and good boxing sense.”
Why he’s a suspect: It is still early in the lanky 140-pounder’s career. Going to America on his own was a bold move, one that seems to have paid off. Now we’ll learn just how much.
Despite being tall for the junior welterweight division, Hiraoka has still to fill out and gain his man strength, that will come over time.
Although the youngster feels his strengths are his speed and counterpunching ability, he also says he wants to hone them further.
“I would like to improve my advantage of speed and counter-punches more and more.” he said.
Story lines: Hiraoka was born in Yokohama, the second largest city in Japan. He comes from a culturally diverse background. His mother is Japanese but his father is originally from Ghana. He also has two sisters, both who boxed initially but no longer.
Interestingly, Hiraoka first took up boxing when he was just four years old and has continued boxing since he was in Kindergarten.
“At that time, I played boxing in accordance with my father’s instruction,” he explained. “However, I have taken the initiative to continue boxing by myself since I was 12 years old.”
Unsurprisingly, he lists Floyd Mayweather Jr. as his boxing hero because of his defensive skills and speed.
Hiraoka enjoys pop music, fashion and watching movies. He also likes to find new ways of keeping healthy, whether it be via diet or in training.
Oct. 3 – Nakharin Phromchak – TKO 3
Nov. 2 – Shintaro Nakamura – UD 5
Sept. 25 – Shoma Sekine – TKO 4
June 20 – Yoshihito Takahashi – UD 4
April 4 – Susumu Nakata – TKO 3
Jan. 10 – Yoshikuni Hashiguchi – UD 4
Dec. 3 – Katsuhiko Kudo – TKO 4
Questions and/or comments can be sent to Anson at [email protected] and you can follow him on Twitter @AnsonWainwright.
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