New Faces: Hinata Maruta
Hometown: Kawanishi, Hyogo, Japan
Weight class: Bantamweight
Height / Reach: 5-feet-11 inches (180 cm) / 70 inches (180 cm)
Amateur record: 55-11 (31 knockouts)
Turned pro: 2015
Pro record: 4-0 (3 KOs)
Trainers: Kazanori Morioka
Manager: Kazanori Morioka
Promoters: Kazanori Morioka
Best night of pro career: Maruta is most pleased with his sixth-round stoppage over Filipino prospect Wilbert Berondo (10-0 at the time) last summer.
“My best fight was my third fight,” Maruta told RingTV.com through Kazanori Morioka. “The reason I say this is because I was able to hit my opponent and not be touched. My aim is to be relaxed and be myself, by doing this I was able to get the knockout and claim the WBC youth title.”
Worst night of pro career: At this admittedly early stage Maruta is happy with how all his fights have gone.
“I don’t have a fight where I was disappointed in my performance.” he said.
Next fight: Maruta will look to defend his WBC Youth title for the second time against Hamson Tiger Lamandau on Sunday in Osaka. Lamandau (8-0, 5 KOs) has been a pro for 18 months and fought exclusively at home in Indonesia.
Why he’s a prospect: Maruta enjoyed a good amateur career in Asia but decided to make the leap to the pros before he was able to fight internationally.
In 2013 he won bronze at the Asian junior championships as a bantamweight and came second at the All Japan high school tournament at flyweight. In 2014, he stepped up to bantamweight and again was the runner up in the high school tournament.
Maruta has sparred with former WBO junior bantamweight title challenger Warlito Parrenas and current OPBF bantamweight title holder Mark John Yap.
He also recently traveled to the U.S. and sparred with Daniel Roman at The Rock gym in Carson, California where he worked out from December 30 until January 9.
He has several key attributes, including height and reach. At nearly 6-feet tall he towers over his opponents.
“I have a speed, flexibility, power punch, body punch and footwork,” he said of his abilities.
Maruta’s mentor (Kazanori Morioka) believes he can win a title at bantamweight and follow in the lofty footsteps of Fighting Harada, Joichiro Tatsuyoshi and more recently Hozumi Hasegawa and current WBC/RING champ Shinsuke Yamanaka and become the next great Japanese 118 pounder before moving up through the weight classes.
Why he’s a suspect: The obvious weakness would appear his lack of experience. Maruta and Morioka both agree and are working on getting the youngster more quality gym experience with trips like the recent one to the L.A. area. (Despite his lack of experience, Maruta feels he can be moved quicker than the average fighter.)
Maruta is still growing as a fighter and needs to continue to improve in all areas but appears to have all the components of a future world champion and top fighter. With his height if he is able to build up his strength and use distance, while staying on the outside he’ll be a nightmare for anyone at this weight.
“I do feel there are things I need to work on,” he said admitted. “My footwork and establishing my steps. Also using my jab more.”
Morioka feels his charge is moving at a good pace but estimates he’s around a year away from a title challenge.
“He’s 19, his birthday is April,” said Morioka. “He can be a world champion before he’s 21.”
Story lines: Maruta was born in the Hyogo Prefecture of Japan. He had a regular upbringing and has an older sister. His family supported him and his boxing career.
Maruta first joined the Morioka Boxing Gym on Jan. 17, 2004, when he was just six years old and had his first amateur bout at seven. He went on to win a slew of junior titles before turning pro.
“We are together when he is happy, sad, and worried,” Morioka said of their close-knit relationship. “We spend a lot of time together, more than he does with his family. I have a good relationship with his family also. They trust me to take care of him to lead him to fulfill his dream.
“Regarding the relationship between me and Hinata, we trust each other greatly. I am responsible for making Hinata the world champion. Even if Hinata retires as a boxer, he will be involved with Morioka Boxing Gym. And he will support those that have helped him.”
Maruta is a driven fighter whose only focus is on becoming bantamweight champion.
He lives a simple life, he enjoys eating – but not too much, he has to maintain 118 pounds over his string-bean 5-foot-11 frame – listening to music and relaxing.
Nov. 23 – Joe Tejones – KO 7
July 31 – Wilbert Berondo – KO 6
Mar. 20 – Kerdsuk Saranyu – TKO 1
Nov. 22 – Jason Canoy – UD 6
Questions and/or comments can be sent to Anson at [email protected] and you can follow him at www.twitter.com/AnsonWainwright