We already have talked about the highly anticipated fights coming up at the end of July, in and out of Japan, with Kuga and Wake going toe to toe with so much at stake, Ito taking on Diaz for the vacant WBO Super Featherweight world title, Shohei Omori’s 2018 return. Now let’s take a look at another match-up that takes place during that time frame.
-Tatsuya Fukuhara vs Naoya Haruguchi (29 July):
Tatsuya Fukuhara (20-6) started his career in 2008, fighting in the regional scene for 7 years before earning his first title opportunity in 2015, when he bested Hiroya Yamamoto (9-3*) to become the Japanese Minimumweight champion. Fukuhara defended the championship thrice over the likes of Takumi Sakae (13-0*), Genki Hanai (7-0*) and former OPBF champion and world title contender Shin Ono (19-7*).
On February 26 of 2017, he faced Moises Calleros (25-6*) for the Interim WBO World Minimumweight crown at the Matsushima Athletic Park. Both men, realizing this was their big chance, left in all in the ring, trading punches like there was no tomorrow. After 12 rounds of hard hitting action, Fukuhara won a very close decision and the strap. In April, he was promoted as the undisputed champion, since Katsunari Takayama announced his retirement from the sport. The celebration didn’t last long though, as he lost his title to Ryuya Yamanaka (14-2*) a couple of months later. However, in November, he was given another shot at the gold, this time for the WBC championship, against the undefeated Chayaphon Moonsri (48-0*) in Thailand. Fukuhara got the advantage at the early rounds and even outclassed the champion on numerous occasions.
Much like his bout with Calleros, it was an even fight but this time the judges saw it in favor of Moonsri. Since then, Fukuhara has been looking to climb the rankings of the division and challenge once more for the world title. He defeated Japanese prospect Yuto Takahashi (8-3*) earlier this year and now he faces another rising star in Naoya Haruguchi (15-8), who recently earned a majority decision over former world title challenger Jeffrey Galero (16-3*) this past March. Fukuhara is currently ranked #9 by the WBC whereas Haruguchi is #38. This will be a test for both fighters. For Fukuhara is a chance to prove to that he still has that flame inside him while for Haruguchi is a tremendous chance to boost himself up in the rankings.