By Rene Bonsubre,Jr
Filipino contender Joe Noynay (16W-2L-1D,5KO’s) is slated to fight Kosuke Saka (18W-4L,15KO’s) of Japan for the vacant WBO Asia Pacific junior lightweight title at the Edion Arena in Osaka,Japan.
Noynay, a 23 year old southpaw from Bogo,Cebu, previously held the Youth version of the WBO Asia Pacific title. He was an underdog in Zhongshan,China when he took the belt from previously unbeaten Chinese Pan Jinxiang by eighth round technical decision in 2017. Noynay dropped Pan twice before the fight was stopped due to Noynay’s worsening cut that was inflicted by an accidental headbutt.
The February 2019 ratings of the WBO has Noynay at number 11 in the 130 lb division.
Saka, a 27 year old Osaka native, won the Japanese featherweight title in 2017 by third round TKO against Shota Hayashi.
Hayashi is known to Filipino fight fans having fought in Bohol,Philippines in 2017 and lost by unanimous decision to Mark Magsayo.
Saka lost in his first defense by fifth round knockout to Takenori Ohashi. The fight had a rather bizarre ending when Saka, who was reeling from a series of hard punches, turned his back during the last ten seconds of the round and was caught by a hard right and went down for the count.
Saka bounced back in 2018 with two wins via the short route against Masanori Rikiishi and Indonesian Gusti Elnino.
The previous holder of the WBO Asia Pacific title, Japanese Masao Nakamura, was reported to have retired in a story posted on asianboxing last March 5.
Noynay informed this writer in a short internet chat that his training is going well. He also said he has seen fight films of Saka.
Videos of Saka’s fights show him to be an all-action volume puncher. This could pose problems for Noynay but it is a style he is all too familiar with. Last year, he defended his WBO regional belt against Mexican Hector Garcia in his hometown of Bogo and Noynay had to dig in deep against the Mexican’s pressure and came up with a majority decision win.
Noynay is a bit anxious about returning to Japan, having suffered his second career loss at the Korakuen Hall in Tokyo last February 28,2017 against Reiya Abe by unanimous decision. Fight report on this website stated it was a close and competitive bout with the final scores of 77-76,77-75,78-75.
“I will just try my best, train hard and leave it up to God,” Noynay told this writer.
The fight against Saka is set on April 20.
(File photo - Joe Noynay winning in China against Pan Jinxiang in 2017)
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