On March 23rd, in the Numata Boxing Gym in Tokyo, GRABAKA's boxer Akihiro Gono held a public-training session. Gono will face Korea's Kim Dae Won at the April 2nd PRIDE BUSHIDO 10, to be held at the Ariake Coliseum. Gono showed off two new punches and revealed that his strategy included something that he gained from the recent Japanese win at the World Baseball Classic.

Tashiro, a trainer at the gym, held the mitts for Gono's rhythmic punches. Gono said that even when he was injured, he never stopped his boxing training and his skills seemed to have improved even further.
"My in-fighting defense hasn't changed very much but after giving some thought to my last fight, I started working more on fighting while keeping distance (between us)," Gono said.

"My KO punch... well, I don't have much punching power," Gono said, laughing. "Mr. Tashiro has developed two new counter punches for me, though."
"One is the Doronpa and the other is the Prairie Dog. The Doronpa is a counter that will do a lot of damage if it's timed well but the Prairie Dog is the real problem. When I throw a Prairie Dog, my body position makes me look like a prairie dog when he's sticking his head out of his hole to look around, and leaves me open for my opponent's counter. If I don't defend properly after throwing it, it's possible that the prairie dog will get his head torn off by an eagle."

Gono also said that he's been working hard on both punches and they are both developed enough to be used in a real fight, "I've got two versions of the Prairie Dog; one for the head and one for the body. I hope that I'll be able to use it somewhere in this fight."

Gono also declared that he was through with fighting for decisions. "I'm tired of decisions. I was watching Japan play in the World Baseball Classic (WBC) recently. They used a "small baseball" strategy (using small techniques and mobility to win), so I thought I would try "small fighting." I don't have a one-punch KO or powerful submissions but if I use the defense that I researched, my faints and all the techniques that I've been working on, I think I can win. My opponent may be stronger and more physically fit than me but I will win with my "small fighting."



Watching the WBC and coming up with a strategy for mixed martial arts is classic Gono, a fan of baseball and fascinated by baseball player Kazuhiro Kiyohara
"Small fighting" doesn't seem very exciting but if they use the techniques that they know, the score will be 6-0. If I compared it to martial arts, it would be a win by submission or KO. I said that I will focus on defense but since I was beaten in September, I realized that my defense wasn't as good as I thought. I realized that I needed to use the other skills that I have and be better than my opponent, even if just by a little, to win. I got that idea from the phrase "small baseball."

Oddly, Gono's opponent this time is from Korea, the country that inflicted a lot of pain on Japan's team in the WBC. Gono said that is also a point of motivation for him.
"This is the first time for me to fight a Korean fighter. The Japanese baseball team lost to Korea twice and then won once, so I'm a little worried that I might have to lose first. (laughing) So, I'm going to try to make it a 6-0 shutout on the first try. I've gotten advice from Yamamiya [Keiichiro Yamamiya, GRABAKA, lost to Kim by decision in DEEP]. He said that Kim is very strong and his expression never changes so it's hard to tell if he's wearing down or not, so I want to break him, make him angry and make him swing wildly."

Asked whether he'd like to beat Kim so soundly that the wouldn't want to fight for 30 years, Gono responded, "I won't be able to fight in another 30 years. (laughing) 3 months would be enough. I'd like for him to think that he doesn't want to fight Gono for another 3 months. Maybe "small fighting" is turning me into a "small man" (laughing).
Coincidentally, Yuki Kondo also showed up on the same day to train with Tashiro. One might think that these two men, the pride of the Japanese Welterweight Division, might be training their striking together but...

"We don't train together at all. (laughing) We might say 'hi' and 'goodbye' but that's about it. I tried to put out an 'I want to talk' aura but Kondo was like a rock, as always (laughing). I just gave up and said what will be, will be."
"I'm just going to use what I've been practicing in the ring. It may be "small fighting" but that doesn't mean I'm a "small man," Gono said emphatically, making the reporters laugh.