The Light Welterweight scene in Japan might not be the strongest but it's a division that is still really interesting domestically. One of the most interesting fighters there is current Japanese champion Hiroki Okada (10-0, 8), a heavy handed and exciting 25 year old with a lot of promise and a fun to watch boxer-puncher style.
It's been announced this morning that Okada will make the third defense of his title on July 4th as he battles the tough Masayoshi Kotake (9-9-2, 5).
Okada won the title last year when he out-pointed Kotake. Going in to that bout Okada had a perfect looking 7-0 (7) record though found himself unable to see off Kotake, who has never been stopped. It's fair to say that going into this rematch Okada will be looking for the stoppage.
As for Kotake he's not looked good recently and is 1-2-1 in his last 4 bouts. That includes the loss to Okada, back in March 2014, as well as a technical draw with Jimrex Jaca and a decision loss to Kazuki Matsuyama last December. He's almost certainly not being given this opportunity with anyone thinking he'll win, but to see how much Okada has improved since winning the title.
We suspect that if Okada shines here he may be moved towards an OPBF title fight either later this year or early next year, possibly even in a bout with fellow puncher Shinya Iwabuchi (25-5, 21). If however Okada is taken the distance we'd imagine he'll be given more time to develop whilst defending his national title.
(Image courtesy of http://www.kadoebi.com)
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