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Japanese prospect Kazuki Anaguchi dies at 23 after December loss

Kazuki Anaguchi was 6-1 with two knockouts as a professional

Patrick Stumberg is a freelance writer for SB Nation, first joining the network in 2011 before linking up with Bad Left Hook in 2015.

Japanese bantamweight prospect Kazuki Anaguchi entered last Boxing Day’s clash with Seiya Tsutsumi as a fighter on the rise. Despite turning pro just two years prior, he had already picked up a number of noteworthy wins, including UDs over former title challenger Jonathan Taconing and undefeated countrymen Kento Uchigamae and Shori Umezu.

He and Tsutsumi wound up putting on a late contender for Fight of the Year. Anaguchi proved the superior boxer, but could not consistently withstand Tsutsumi’s power, ultimately falling via UD due to four knockdowns despite winning the six rounds on two cards.

Our own Scott Christ noted afterwards that Anaguchi did not look well and his assessment sadly proved accurate. Anaguchi was rushed to the hospital for emergency surgery to treat a subdural hematoma, or brain bleed, and remained in a coma throughout the month of January. The Japanese Boxing Commission now report that Anaguchi passed earlier this morning.

I cycled through a few boilerplate responses when planning this article. Another reminder of the danger fighters face, left it all in the ring, went out on his shield, very promising career, etc. I don’t think that’s fair to Anaguchi’s memory to just slap some generic sentences down and call it a day.

Kazuki Anaguchi, by all accounts, had an incredible future ahead of him. He risked that future against an older, more powerful, and more experienced countryman. It was the sort of ambition we as fans demand of young prospects and it killed him. You can call it an honorable death, the kind blowhards claim to crave in pre-fight hype reels, but it killed him all the same.

There were no safeguards, or at least ones acceptable to fighters and fans, that could have prevented this. Anaguchi continued to fight, and fight well, until the final bell.

We knew he could die in the ring. Nobody could forget the Maxim Dadashevs, Duk-koo Kims, and Benny Parets that came before, but that knowledge can’t be an abstract. It can’t be a statistic to you, just some caveat you acknowledge from time to time to show that you’re an enlightened fan and not merely bloodthirsty. Never let yourself get numb to it.

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