Japanese hopeful Kenta Onjo (4-0, 3) is one of the country's most over-looked prospects though is a man who has looked promising since his debut back in July 2013, when he dismantled Thai novice Tanut Sitmanopchai in just 41 seconds.
Although relatively unknown and unheralded internationally Onjo has been stepping up his level of competition fight after fight and and his last two bouts have been impressive wins over Ryuji Ikeda (then 6-1-1) and Kazuya Soma (then 7-5-2). Those wins have moved him into the lower levels of the Japanese domestic rankings however he stills lacks a win that would make fans sit up and take note.
Onjo will be seeking his first "big" win on March 16th when he returns to the ring for the 5th time as a professional and battles against the highly experienced Japanese based Filipino Jonathan Baat (27-6-3, 13) in what looks to be a major test for Onjo and a chance for Baat to score his 14th win in Japan and to defend his OPBF ranking.
Coming in to the bout the 34 year old Baat is ranked #15 by the OPBF and #10 by the JBC at Super Bantamweight. He will, unfortunately, be giving away notable size to Onjo, who is ranked #11 by the JBC at Lightweight, however he may find Onjo to be slightly drained with the youngster dropping to Super Featherweight for the bout.
On paper this is likely going to be a case of size and youth against experience and we suspect that if Ono can't impose his strength and speed on Baat then he may be asked some serious questions for the first time in his career. If however Onjo blows away Baat, as we're actually expecting, then we'd suspect Onjo will be moved onto the fringes of a title fight and possibly even get a show at a belt at either 130 or 135.
(Image courtesy of http://www.tokashikigym.com)
When we talk about Japanese prospects we tend to talk about the very young fighters such as Kosei Tanaka and Takuma Inoue who are both still teenagers. There are a few older prospects however such as the 24 year old Hikaru Marugame and the 25 year old Kenta Onjo (3-0, 3) despite their slightly more advanced ages however both are expected to achieve plenty due to their ability.
Onjo had began his professional career by blasting away two Thai fighter in double quick fashion. It would have been easy for others to have beaten the Thai's that Onjo had taken care of but the manner with which Onjo did it, especially against Tanut Sitmanopchai, was impressive.
In his third fight Onjo showed his ability against fellow Japanese fighters and quickly dispatched Ryuji Ikeda to further enhance his reputation as a heavy handed and promising prospect capable of leaving a mark at either Super Featherweight or Lightweight.
This coming November will see Onjo, now ranked #12 by the JBC at Lightweight, return to the ring and take another slight step up in class as he battles against the heavy handed 34 year old Kazuya Soma (7-5-2, 6) in a bout scheduled for 8 rounds. On paper the hope should be that we can get to see Onjo given a chin check in reality however we imagine that Onjo will be too quick, too sharp and too powerful for his more experienced foe to deal with.
If Onjo wins again here he is likely to move into the JBC top #10 ranked Lightweights. Whilst a top 10 ranking doesn't sound amazing it would actually put him in a great position to fight for the domestic title considering that many of those ranked above him have no interest in fighting for a Japanese title, fighters like Jorge Linares and Takahir Ao for example who have eyes on world title aspirations.
Whilst Soma is a step up we actually think that Onjo is so sensationally talented that only a handful of men in the country could actually give him a good test.
A new week in the boxing world kicked off earlier today with a show at the Korakuen Hall which featured 2 highly touted Japanese prospects who both did as they were supposed to and claimed notable wins.
The first of those wins came for the destructive punching Kenta Onjo (3-0, 3) who stopped Ryuji Ikeda (6-2-1, 2). Onjo was taking a big step up as he battled against the Japanese #15 ranked Lightweight Ikeda though his counter punching and power did their job as he dropped Ikeda for the 10 count following a power straight right hand.
Onjo had, up to this point, beaten just Thai debutants so this win is eye opening and could well help him enter the Japanese rankings. For Ikeda, who was the all-Japan Rookie of the year at 135lbs, this ends a 4 fight winning run and a 6 fight unbeaten streak.
In the other major bout the very, very highly touted Naoto Uebayashi (5-0-1, 3) stopped Indonesian veteran Anis Ceunfin (16-19-5, 6). Ceunfin had been stopped just 7 times in his previous 39 bouts and had heard the final bell against the likes of Tabtimdaeng Na Rachawat, Hirofumi Mukai and Denkaosan Kaovichit though couldn't take the power or accuracy of Uebayashi.
Ranked by the OPBF there is a lot of excitement about the 27 year old Uebayashi who was a former amateur stand out. His talent and potential was on show here though it was a step back after beating Marjohn Yap last time out.
(Photo, courtesy of http://boxingnews.jp, shows Uebayashi lining up a right hand on Ceunfin)
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