Alexander Otsuka held an open-practice session at BCG on the 10th of this month. His sparring partner was none other that former WBC Bantam Weight Champion, Yasuei Yakushiji. Otsuka and Yakushiji apparently became friends through their work at V-Cinema. Yakushiji received a call from Otsuka in March of last year. Otsuka said that he wanted to learn boxing so Yakushiji coordinated a five-day sparring sessions with World and Japan ranked boxers for him.
hen asked about how his training would affect his upcoming fight, Otsuka replied, "If I can just use 20% of what I've learned, I'll be fine." Yakushiji then said, "I'm not going to be able to go to the event but if you just go out there and start wrestling right at the bell, I'm going to turn my TV off! (laughing) I want you to at least get some jabs or 1-2's in first." Otsuka, whose record has been very good recently, believes that his fight with Yamamoto will be a battle of wills. "He's really tough. I think it will be a battle to see who's tougher. At a minimum, I want to do everything that I can." Will the Goddess of Victory smile upon Otsuka this time?
Pride Fighting Championships:
What are you concentrating on now?
The first time that I met him was in 1996, when a friend introduced us the year after I retired. He came on the show I was in called V-Cinema and we talked about pro-wrestling. We sometimes went out to eat but I never saw any of his matches. Last year, he called me and said he wanted to learn boxing and I had him show me some of his fights. He's a really bad boxer. When I look at his fights, his offense and defense is horrible. I gave him some advice but I could still easily beat him even though I had retired. He's got some really bad problems. My teacher, Mack Kurihara, happened to be coming back to Nagoya from Los Angeles when I got the call from Otsuka. So, I set up a 5-day sparring session (for Otsuka) with current World and Japan ranked fighters. After that, he said that he knew how weak he is and that he wanted to learn striking. I don't want to just give away the boxing that I've developed but I also don't want to go around saying that I'm his instructor. I held the mitt for him today and he's just as bad as ever. (laughing) I'm not completely familiar with PRIDE rules but I think if you improve your hands, the fight will be much easier. I also told him that it would improve his striking and defense. There's not much time so I can't say that he'll be able to use what he's learned. If you go toe-to-toe with a fighter, the first thing to come out will be the hands, right? I definitely want him to learn more boxing and do his best.
Have you sparred with him?
About 2 times.
How are his punches?
His ability to judge distance is not very good. I think he'll learn in his fight.
What are his good points?
His fighting spirit. The fans really appreciate that. When he gets in the ring, he gets everyone excited, regardless of whether he wins or loses. I guess that's why he's got a lot of supporters. There's not much time until the fight but if he can just use the advice I gave him today, he should be okay.
I feel good. I felt good when Mack was teaching me in Nagoya and I feel good today working with Yakushiji. I know how bad I am but I feel that I might have improved a little bit, mentally and technically.
Do you think your were able to communicate with Yakushiji using your boxing?
Yes. Last time, the fans were expecting a striking battle but it didn't work out that way and I wanted to improve my boxing. In terms of my takedown distance and my punching distance, boxing will expand my abilities. I want to keep improving little by little, punch more and show some change in my skills during my fights.
He's got a very serious personality but when he fights, he forgets what he learned. He overheats. It's best if you fight like you practice. But, just because you just learned it, doesn't mean that you will be able to use it in a fight.