In Ogawa's first defense of his title he will face mandatory challenger Satoru Sugita (11-2-1, 7) on April 2nd in a Champion Carnival bout that promises a lot.
For those who missed Ogawa's rise in 2015 it was built on a combination of his boxing skills, and his very heavy hands. Unlike most punchers he doesn't wade in looking for a fight but instead boxes and uses his power to keep opponents honest. When he gets a chance to land his venom he takes it, but he sets up his power shots behind his boxing skills and that's why he looks like a man who could become a genuine force on the world stage in the coming years.
Coming in to this bout Ogawa is on a 9 fight winning streak, with 8 of those wins by stoppage. Those wins have seen him avenge his sole defeat, a stoppage to Yuki Miyoshi, move in to the world rankings, with a notable win over Deivi Julio Bassa, and claim the Japanese title, with the aforementioned win over Naito.
Whilst it's clear that Ogawa isn't the most durable man in boxing, given his only loss was by stoppage, it should be noted that he's a significantly improved fighter to the man who was stopped in 5 rounds by Yuki Miyoshi way back in October 2012. He has improved in pretty much every way since that loss and now looks like a man who really could be set to make a mark on the global scene.
Whilst we have enjoyed watching Ogawa's rise we've got to admit that Sugita's career has been much less visible. To date the best win for the 26 year old fighter from Nara is a decision over veteran Ryota Kajiki, back in 2014, and stoppage over upcoming OPBF title challenger Akira Shono.
Despite having a less than stellar record Sugita has won his last 5 bouts, scoring many of his best wins during that run, and has turned his career around some what following a 1-2-1 run during a 20 month window in late 2011 to mid 2013.
Footage of Sugita has been relatively hard to come by though we know he's shown signs of struggling to take solid shots, with his first loss being a stoppage to Ryuto Kyoguchi, and his boxing isn't world class, as seen by a clear decision loss to Kosuke Saka and narrow wins over Kajiki and Yoshiyuki Takabayashi. He does however possess very solid power of his own and is a physically strong fighter who will look to make his strength count against Ogawa.
Whilst Sugita is a solid fighter we can't see him coping with the boxing of Ogawa, and although Sugita could land a “lucky punch” we suspect we'll instead see Ogawa boxing from on the onset, breaking down Sugita and eventually seeing off the challenge in the second half of he fight, to record his first defense.