By - George Delis (@Delisketo )
On July 27 at Korakuen Hall, one of the most exciting Japanese fighters makes his first appearance in 2018, as Takuya Kogawa (29-5) takes on Yusuke Sakashita (16-8).
During his 13-year career, we have seen Kogawa in numerous wars, in and out of his native country of Japan. In 2009, he faced world title contender and future world champion Chaozhong Xiong (12-2*). That was Kogawa’s, who himself was 12-1 at the time, first major challenge. The Chinese fighter was coming off his WBC championship match against Daisuke Naito (34-2*), less than 2 months prior to this bout, losing a unanimous decision but still looking impressive, even dropping Naito in the 6th round. It was obvious that Xiong was eager to climb up the rankings again and was looking for a quick KO win, which proved to be a mistake, as Kogawa was constantly catching him off guard and nailing him with some good combinations. After 10 action packed rounds, Kogawa got the decision and a much crucial victory.
One year (and 3 stunning knockouts) later, he was booked to fight Danilo Pena (23-7) for the vacant OPBF Super Flyweight title. Kogawa outclassed the Philippino for 6 consecutive rounds, until the referee was forced to stop the fight (Danilo suffered a deep cut during the match) thus declaring him the new OPBF champion. That fight put Kogawa in contention for the WBC World Flyweight title and on July of 2011, in Thailand, Kogawa got his big opportunity against one of the best fighters of our generation, Pongsaklek Wonjongkam (80-3*). The Thai boxer was clearly the more experienced of the 2 in this outing, as he was already competing for 17 years ! The last time someone managed to stop him was in 1996 while his last loss was at the hands of the aforementioned Dasuke Naito in 2007, which was a decision loss. Wonjongkam, who defeated Koki Kameda the previous year for the WBC, the Ring and Lineal Flyweight title, found himself in a much bigger fight, than he expected to be, against Kogawa, going the distance, in what it was a thrilling encounter. Kogawa didn’t get the decision, but he certainly proved that he can hang with the best of them, considering that this was only his 18th pro career fight.
Kogawa made his return to Japan, on January 26 of 2012, winning the vacant Japanese Flyweight title, in another barn burner, against fellow rising star Shigetaka Ikehara (22-2*) and successfully defending it thrice, over the likes of Tetsuma Hayashi (18-1*), Keita Yamaguchi (8-11*) and Ikehara again in a return encounter, knocking him out this time in the very last round. He eventually lost his belt, in a close call, to Suguru Muranaka (18-2*). However, despite that loss, he received an Interim WBA World title fight, once more in Thailand, this time against Sirichai Thaiyen (33-2*). Despite putting on an amazing performance, the Thai fighter got the majority decision…..a decision some may even call a biased one.
After yet another frustrating missed world title opportunity, Kogawa went on a winning streak that lasted 3 years, defeating top Japanese boxers like Hiroyuki Kudaka (22-12*), Tetsuma Hayashi (25-3*), Masayuki Kuroda (24-6*) as well as regaining the Japanese crown.
At the age of 33, Kogawa, who is currently No.8 in the WBC World Flyweight rankings, will face young knockout artist Yusuke Sasashita (11 KOs) on his way to yet another crack at the gold.
* The fighter’s record before the fight.
(Image courtesy of Miyata Gym)
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