This coming Friday we get the chance to see an OPBF Super Middleweight title bout, as Australian fighter Jayde Mitchell (14-1, 8) defends his title against Chinese challenger Ainiwaer Yilixiati (10-0, 8). For Mitchell the bout will be his first defense of the title whilst Yilixiati will be looking to score a career defining victory and prove that he is one of the most promising fighters from China.
The champion won the title last year, when he travelled to Japan and out pointed the limited Shintaro Matsumoto in Tokyo. Since then he has been busy, racking up 4 wins, all by stoppage, but not defending his OPBF title. His competition during those 4 stoppages hasn't been great, but he has been staying busy, staying fresh and preventing any risk of ring rust, whilst also gaining some valuable ring time.
In the ring Mitchell is a really nice to watch boxer. He's not a big puncher, despite his run of 4 stoppages, but he is a sharp and accurate fighter, with a solid work rate, nice movement and solid technical skills. Defensively he's a little bit lapse at times but throws nice counter shots and will tough to beat at this level, unless a fighter can either out work him and neutralise his counter punching, or can physically bully him.
Although talented Mitchell does always seem like an under-sized Super Middleweight. He seems to carry a bit of flab around the mid-section and looks like someone who could drop a weight, or two, if he really wanted to. At the age of 31 however it may well be a simple case of not wanting to move down, and being happy at 168lbs.
Aged 24 Yilixiati is one of a number of rising Chinese fighters who began to create a buzz for themselves as part of the “League of Fists” tournaments. He won the Super Middleweight crown there last year, and proved he could go 8 rounds in the final when he beat Chaogun Dong to score one of his most impressive wins to date. Since then he has gone 2-0 (2) with a notable stoppage against once promising Thai Chaloemporn Singwancha back in February.
Through his career so far the Chinese fighter has never fought outside of China, so fighting in Australia will be a big difference and will be one of the big things that he will have to adapt to. He has also never faced a fighter as skilled, or as sharp as Mitchell. If the location of the fight doesn't bother him he will potentially have a chance, however we have seen fighters travel horribly in the past, and that could be a problem here.
Stood at around 6” and with a long reach the Chinese fighter is a fully fledged Super Middleweight, with wide shoulders and a naturally powerful frame. In the ring he's slightly on the slow side but is very powerful, with even his jab looking like a hurtful shot. Although powerful he doesn't have the natural snap on his punches that the best schooled fighters do and a fighter like Mitchell could take advantage of that with his counters.
If Mitchell can control the range it's hard to see him losing here. However Yilixiati has got the power, size and strength to hurt him and if he can land his shots with regularity he has got the potential to break down and wear out the champion in the later rounds.
We suspect Mitchell will retain, though for the sake of Chinese boxing it would be amazing to see the challenger pick up the victory here.
(Image courtesy of https://aus-boxing.com/)
This coming Sunday fight fans in Osaka should be in for a thrilling OPBF Bantamweight title fight, as under-rated champion Mark John Yap (26-12, 12) takes on former 2-time Japanese champion Kentaro Masuda (27-7, 15). On paper the bout might might not look amazing, especially given the relatively poor records of both fighters, however the styles of the men should make for something special, and both fighters are far better than the numbers suggest.
Japanese based Filipino Yap is a true veteran, despite only being 28. He debuted way back in 2007 and had some early success before his career started stumbling. He went from 8-0 (2) to 17-7 (8) and later 19-12 (10). At that point it looked like Yap's career was going to swirl down the drain and go nowhere, with the fighter being written off despite only being 26.
Instead of fading away Yap has been on a charge over the last two years, having some of the best performances of his career. They have included a shock win over the then unbeaten Tatsuya Ikemizu, a pair of wins over former world title challenger Hiroyuki Hisataka, a win over Juan Jose Landaeta and, most notably, a win over Takahiro Yamamoto for the OPBF title last November, in which he showed surprising power.
Like many Filipino's in recent years, such as Rey Loreto, Sonny Boy Jaro and Rey Megrino, we've seen Yap learn a lot from his losses before finding his groove in the sport. Now he's find it it's leading to a snowball effect of better performances and better results, and of course the OPBF title.
In the ring Yap isn't a fighter that stands out as “world class” in any area, however he is tough, strong, heavy handed, has a good engine and is incredibly determined. He can be out boxed, he can be out slugged, but he has solid all-round skills and is real nightmare for fighters, especially though who just look at his record, and over-look him. He's developed some great skills and has 261 rounds of professional experience to rely on in the ring, which has clearly helped him develop into a very good Oriental level fighter.
Masuda has been like a fine wine, developing into a very good fighter whilst getting older and older. He's now 34, so probably in the twilight of his career, but is riding a good 6 fight winning run, including stoppages over Hideo Sakamoto and Yushi Tanaka and a decision over Yu Kawaguchi. Not only is he on a 6-0 run but he's actually gone 13-1 (7) over the last 5 years, with his only loss being to Shohei Omori.
In the ring Masuda is a solid battler, who can box, hits harder than his record suggests and can brawl. He's a little on the small side for a top Bantamweight, at 5'5”, but often uses that lack of size to his advantage, making him a harder target and getting on the inside with out taking too much damage on the way in, then darting out. It's something that has got him a lot of success, and will likely continue to do so.
Whilst Masuda did suffer a number of early career losses they included defeats to the likes of Akihiko Katagiri, Hidenori Otake and Ryosuke Iwasa. Experience at that level will mean a lot and it's fair to say that Masuda has learned from his set backs. That's likely to show again here, but there is also the toll father time takes and it could be that Masuda has got wear and tear on his body that could show against a strong and powerful guy like Yap.
Given that both men enjoy a fight, both are criminally under-rated, both can punch and both are physically strong this is likely to be a gruelling and tough war. Don't expect this to be a beautifully boxed contest, but do expect it to be exciting, and a real hard scrap.
When it comes to a hard scrap like this we have to favour the younger man, and feel that Yap's freshness and lack of miles will be the difference, but this will be an incredible fight, with both men dealing out some incredible punishment. Masuda's older legs will likely hold him back in the later stages, and that will be the difference, but we can never write the old dog off and an upset certainly isn't off the cards.
The Oriental Light Middleweight scene is a bit of a mess at the moment, with the Oriental title being passed around as it looks for a steady champion to take the belt forward. Since Charles Bellamy vacated the title more than 4 years ago it has had 5 champions, and only a single successful defense. It has been vacated by Koji Numata and lost by Dennis Laurente, Takayuki Hosokawa and Yutaka Oishi.
Now that's not to say there's no good Oriental fighters at 154lbs, but no one seems to be chasing the Oriental title, which is currently held by limited Thai Ratchasi Sithsaithong (8-3, 6). The Thai will be making his first defense this coming Sunday as he takes on the biggest name in Japanese boxing, well actually the longest, Jumbo Oda Nobunaga Shoten Petagine (10-4, 8). The bout will be Petagine's first title bout and could see the title change hands, once again.
The Thai won the title earlier this year, when completed one of the biggest comebacks in recent memory and stopped Oishi in the 12th round whilst 11, 5 and 3 points behind. That win was a second successive one for Ratchasi who beat Cobra Suwa last December, avenging his most recent loss. Interestingly the Thai's only other losses are a decision to the unbeaten Atchariya Virotesunobon and Japanese Middleweight champion Hikaru Nishida.
Ratchasi is limited, no one would suggest other wise. However he showed last time out that there is no quit in him and he's a long way removed from the fighter who was 4-2 (3). He can hit, he can take a shot, and he keeps coming, refusing to give up until the final bell. Oishi out boxed him with relative ease, but in the end the Thai's stamina and will to win were too much, and it's clear that if a fighter can't get him out of there early, he's going to be on the front foot in the later stages looking ti turn a bout around, and he hits hard enough to do just that.
Aged 29 Petagine is coming in to his prime though he's a real unknown in many ways. He claimed his most significant win almost 4 years ago, winning the 2013 “Rookie of the Year” crown at 140lbs. That win saw Petagine move to 8-1 (7) and look like he was set for an interesting career. Sadly however he has gone 2-3 (1) since then, split a series of close decisions with Shohei Kanemoto, losing to Valentine Hosokawa, being stopped by Jay Solmiano and beating a Thai novice. Hardly the form of an Oriental title contender.
Through his career Petagine has fought mostly at Light Welterweight, a genuine achievement given that he's more than 6'0” tall. His body shouldn't struggle to fill into a Light Middleweight, but his power is unlikely to carry up, and against Solmiano it was clear that he didn't like taking shots from a big punching Welterweight, though he did get stopped standing after taking some huge bombs. His body may have filled out a bit more, and he may be more physically developed than he was against Solmiano but it's still going to take a career best performance to win here.
With so many title changes in recent years it's almost like we'd expect Ratchasi to lose the belt here. The reality though is that he should be favoured here, and he should have the power to stop Petagine. Saying that Petagine does have power himself, and if he's got some self belief he may well score the upset.
Our prediction a stoppage for the Thai, but the bout is a hard one to call with neither man being hugely proven, or particularly consistent.
This coming Sunday we'll see a trio of OPBF title fights in Osaka. On paper the biggest mismatch of those bouts will see Middleweight champion Koki Tyson (12-2-2, 11) make his second defense of the title and take on Japanese based American Brandon Lockhart Shane (8-5-1, 7). The bout really is a straight forward, looking, second defense for Tyson but it's fair to say the challenger will be fired up knowing this could be his only title bout, and at the age of 36 this actually could be the final bout of his career.
Tyson won the title last year year, when he upset the previously unbeaten Dwight Ritchie. In that bout Tyson proved he was more than just a puncher, as he out boxed, out fought and out slugged the Australian, en route to a clear yet competitive decision. It was a win that showed Tyson was improving as a fighter, and although he was still rough around the edges there was a genuine talent in there.
Prior to winning the title Tyson had had flaws exposed. He had been easily out boxed by Akio Shibata, before being stopped by the then Oriental and Japan champion, and prior to that he had been stopped Keisuke Kanazawa was back in 2013, in a result that now looks pretty irrelevant to Tyson as fighter today. The one big recent blemish however is a lucky draw against Korean journeyman Joon Yong Lee, in a bout that many including ourselves felt he was not to lose.
In the ring Tyson is a boxer-puncher who, at 6'3”, is a huge Middleweight and as a southpaw is a tricky, rangy fighter. He's only 24, and is certainly still improving, but looks like the type of fighter who could dominate on the domestic and regional scene for years to come. It's hard to see him mixing globally, but regionally he's likely to lead the pack at 160lbs and in the future 168lbs.
The challenger is one of the nice guys of boxing, and we have interviewed him and he really did seem like a person. Sadly though he's giving away pretty much every everything here. As mentioned he's 36, he's 9” shorter than the champion, has the shorter reach, he's a natural Light Middleweight and he lacks the power and speed of Tyson.
Don't get us wrong, Lockhart can fight, he can punch, and he can take a shot. But the truth is that he's not proven to be on the same level as Tyson. His most notable bout was a 3rd round loss to Makoto Fuchigami last year, in which he dropped Fuchigami several time, and other than that he's faced other novices and hopefuls, pushing Riku Nagahama close in one of his best performances. He's aggressive and fun to watch, with nasty power, but we can't see him getting close enough for long enough to land his power on Tyson.
We suspect Tyson will show a lot of respect to Lockhart early on, break him down from range with his spiteful jabs and then pick it up when Lockhart begins to slow down, stopping the challenger in the middle rounds.
The Super Bantamweight division is one of the most interesting around Asia, with Japan in particular having a very strong base for fighters. At the moment the country boasts two world champions, Shun Kubo and Yukinori Oguni, along with a host of contenders, like Ryosuke Iwasa, Tomoki Kameda, Hidenori Otake and Shingo Wake. Below those men are a number of rising fighters, looking to make their mark and move themselves into global contention.
Among those rising fighters is heavy handed Japanese champion Yusaku Kuga (14-2-1, 10) who looks to make his first defense of the title this coming Saturday, as he takes on the under-rated Ryoichi Tamura (8-2-1, 5). On paper the bout is “just” a Japanese title defense for Kuga, but an impressive win could see him jumping into the fringes of the world rankings, whilst Tamura will be looking to score a career best win and get his career rolling with a big win.
Earlier this year Kuga won the Japanese title stopping the popular Yasutaka Ishimoto in 2 rounds, announcing himself as a real dangerman. Prior to that he had been on the radar for a while. For most that was due to a loss to Ishimoto in 2015, though for others it was back in 2013 that he started to capture the imagination with a good win over former amateur standout Yusuke Suzuki and an unfortunate draw against Naoto Uebayashi. Those bouts began a run of solid performances that lead to Kuga getting his first bout with Ishimoto, which he lost narrowly.
The rematch with Ishimoto came after an impressive stoppage win over Jonathan Baat in 2016 and saw a more mature and more aggressive Kuga fight with the intention of taking Ishimoto out early, and he did drop him very quickly. With that aggression and power Kuga is a handful for many, and although he's flawed, with rough edges, he's a really dangerous fighter and not someone to have a war with.
Tamura made his debut back in May 2013 and lost to Wataru Miyasaka in a very competitive debut bout. That loss could have been it but instead Tamura's team showed their belief in him and kept putting him in hard fights. That resulted in a few early set backs, with Tamura being 3-2-1 (1) after 6 bouts, but developing massively into a solid professional during those early set backs. The tough love and hard development paid off and in 2015 Tamura beat Yusuke Suzuki, before following it up with stoppages against domestic foes like Yuki Matsuda, Ryoji Okahata, and Renji Ichimura. Those wins saw Tamura shoot up the rankings, and earn a shot at the title.
Although not the smoothest fighter Tamura is a strong and powerful fighter, with a very heavy right hand which he constantly looks to set up. Like Kuga he's more on the “crude” side of the spectrum, more so than Kuga in fact, and he can certainly be out boxed, but he does have some nice boxing skills and knows how to use his jab well, even if he under utilises it. Although he can jab and move he does seem to prefer fighting at close to mid range, and often looks like a fighter looking for a war.
With both fighters being crude, heavy handed sluggers this really could be a fire fight, and we'll admit that's what we're hoping for. If it is a fire fight we do suspect that Kuga will come out on top, making the most of his edge in speed and better accuracy and timing, , but with Tamura's power there is danger there that Kuga himself will be hurt. We don't see anyway this one can go the scheduled 10 rounds, but we also have no idea how this one can be anything but explosive given the two men involved.
The Minimumweight division has long been one of the most over-looked in weight classes in the sport, and we suspect it will remain that way going forward despite the division having some of the most exciting fighters of the last decade, such as Katsunari Takayama and Akira Yaegashi both feature in some simply amazing fights at 105lbs.
This coming Saturday we see a bout to crown a new OPBF champion champion at the weight as Tsubasa Koura (10-0, 7) takes on unheralded Filipino Jaysever Abcede (14-6, 9) for the currently vacant title, which was vacated by current world champion Hiroto Kyoguchi prior to his bout with Jose Argumedo. The bout may not set pulses going around the boxing world, but for fans who have seen the two men in action, this really looks like something that could be very enjoyable, and a potential coming our party for Koura. That however isn't a given, as Abcede has the potential to spring the upset, which he's done in the past, notably against Pigmy Kokietgym.
Of the two fighters it's Koura with the most upside. He's unbeaten, good looking and developing a fan base which has grown since he won the 2015 Rookie of the Year tournament. Since then he had gone 4-0 (4) including a big stoppage win over former world title challenger Jeffrey Galero. That win over Galero is his best to date, and came less than 2 years after Galero had challenged WBC champion Wanheng Menayothin.
Blessed with natural power Koura looks like a puncher on the rise, and couples that with good development out of the ring, at the E&J Cassius Gym. In the ring he's blasting away opponents at a lightning quick speed, taking just 10 rounds to stop his last 4 opponents, but he has shown the stamina to go 5 rounds before and is likely able to go deep in to the bout. The question does remain in regards to “how far?” but so far he's not shown any issues with stamina, and at 22 years old we're not expecting him to have issues in regards to going 10 or 12 rounds.
Filipino road warrior Abcede is also 22 and is a talented southpaw with an upset based mentality. That mentality was seen most notably against Pigmy Kokietgym, who Abecede stopped in 11 rounds back in 2015 in Thailand. That win is Abecede's only win on the road, but he has shared the ring with Petchmanee Kokietgym and Wanheng Menayothin, and didn't look dire against either of those unbeaten men. His record looks marked up, but he did begin 3-3, including a loss to the talented Dexter Alimento, since then there was the losses to Petchmanee and Wanheng as well as a surprise stoppage loss to Lito Dante. They aren't bad losses to have on your record, and really show that he has just been matched hard, rather than carefully developed.
Whilst Abecede has been matched hard he has proven a number of things. He has shown he can fight well on international soil, with his win over Pigmy essentially costing Pigmy a world title fight, he can go the distance, stopping Pigmy in round 11 and going 12 with Petchmanee just 2 months later. Those could be significant coming into this 12 round bout with Koura, and will leave him feeling that if he can see out Koura's early surge he can come on strong and take the Japanese fighter into deep water late on.
This bout really could be a very interesting one. It'll test Koura's power for sure,and potentially check his stamina and heart, and if he goes on to win late he could end up answering a lot of questions fan have of him. However it's not a foregone conclusion and Abecede will not turn up to just roll over. Instead he will look to see out the early power of Koura and take the fight to him late, likely making for a fun fight, especially in the middle and later rounds.
We suspect Koura will win, but he will be forced to really prove himself to come out on top here, in a really good match up.
The Light Flyweight scene is one of the most interesting, with Asia and Latin America have a number of really great fighters in the division right now. Sadly with the top fighters being so good it can leave those at regional or domestic level looking a long way behind the leading pack, and that is clearly the case with the Japanese domestic scene. Despite that the Japanese level is giving us some good fights at the weight and this coming Thursday we get the next Japanese Light Flyweight title fight, pitting two grizzled veterans against each other.
The match up will see 32 year old champion Tetsuya Hisada (28-9-2, 17) attempt to make his first defense of the title as he takes on fellow 32 year old Atsushi Kakutani (19-5-1, 12), who is getting his third shot at a Japanese title.
Of the two fighters it's the challenger who is the better known. He's a tall and wiry fighter who debuted back in 2008 and fought between Minimumweight and Super Flyweight, as he's looked for opportunities. That has seen him sharing the ring with a bit of a who's who, and he's suffered losses to Warlito Parrenas, Teiru Kinoshita, Adrian Hernandez and Ken Shiro whilst scoring a very notable win against Rey Loreto.
At his best Kakutani is a solid boxer-puncher, but unfortunately his lack of durability is a real issue and he has been stopped in 4 of his 5 losses, and was taken out in a round by both Parrenas and Ken Shiro.
Although “only” 32 and with “only” 25 bouts on his record the reality is that Kakutani is an old fighter. He has had a lot of damaging bouts and really has aged more than most fighters who have his raw “numbers”. He has also struggled to score wins of note, often facing Thai journeymen to stay active, and that's hard helped when he's had to move up through the levels and faced of the more notable names in his career.
With 39 bouts on his record Hisada would “seem” like the older and more worn man but the reality is that his career, whilst is has been hard, hasn't really had the damaging fights, and that's depsite having more than twice as many rounds as Kakutani. His only stoppage defeat was more than 5 years ago, to Hiroyuki Hisataka, and although he has suffered losses they haven't been the break damaging beatings that Kakutani has had, where he has been dropped multiple times. Instead they have been decisions. Those losses have included defeats to the likes of Ryoichi Taguchi and Kenichi Horikawa, as well as a string of lesser names. In recent years however he has found his rhythm and got things going his way, with a 7 fight winning run, punctuated by a decision over Kenichi Horikawa in April to win the title.
Although Hisada has got power, and has stopped 6 of his last 7, he's more of a gutsy fighter, looking for a fight rather than a punch out. His engine is solid, and he can take a shot, two things we suspect could be a key here, along with his confidence and the fact he is riding the crest of momentum.
At their best this really could be a thriller. However we do believe that Kakutani has seen better days and that this version of Kakutani won't be able to last the distance with a hungry and driven Hisada, and that's despite the fact he's going to be coming in to this as a man knowing he's in last chance saloon.
The Super Flyweight division is one of, if not the, best in the sport right now with so many top fighters making waves whilst fighting at 115lbs. That's top talent fighters like Naoya Inoue and Roman Gonzalez, as well as top entertainment fighters, like Rex Tso and Jamie Conlan.
This coming Sunday we get the chance to see a huge show in Japan with two world title bouts, one at Minimumweight and one at Light Flyweight. In the chief supporting to those to world title fights we'll see Japanese Super Flyweight champion Ryuichi Funai (27-7,19) look to make his first defense as he takes on Takayuki Okumoto (18-7-3, 8), in yet another really interesting bout at 115lbs.
Funai won the title earlier this year, when he beat old friend Kenta Nakagawa with a 7th round KO. That win has been the defining one of his career, which had seen him come up short in previous title bouts to Sho Ishida and Rolly Lunas, as well in a notable bout against Shinsuke Yamanaka. An early career dogged by set backs, with Funai being 2-2 and later 8-4, could have spelled the end but he has gritted it out, been determined and forged a notable career whilst scoring wins over Hiroki Shiino, Gakiya Furuhashi, Ryuta Otsuka and course Nakagawa.
Aged 31 Funai is a real ring veteran, having debuted back in 2005, despite that he is still a quick fighter and combines ring experience with natural ability, a gritty determination and under-rated toughness, with his only stoppages in the last decade coming at Bantamweight. In fact his loss in his last 11 bouts has been a razor thin one to Sho Ishida in a Japanese title fight back in 2016.
Funai isn't going to be looking to mix with Inoue, Gonzalez and the truly top fighter at the pinnacle of the division, but he's got the ability to be a challenger of a world title in the future, and has a team who can push for that opportunity in the future. He's a good all rounder, but has nothing that stand out as being truly world class, at the moment, about him.
Aged 25 Okumoto is the much younger fighter here, yet is himself a bit of a veteran having debuted back in 2007 as a 15 year old in Thailand. He had mixed success, going 1-1, before maturing out of the ring for a bit and resurfacing in 2009 in Japan. Like Funai we saw Okumoto struggle early in his career, going 1-2 in his first 3 and 3-2-1 in his first 6 bouts. Despite those early struggles he kept going, and started to show clear signs of improvement, running his record up to 8-2-1 (4) before coming up just short against Myung Ho Lee in late 2011.
Okumoto's good run was then following by a bad one, and from 8-2-1 he slipped to 10-6-2 (5) and it seemed like his career was coming to a screaming halt. Amazingly though he has turned things around, scoring notable domestic wins over Yuki Yonaha, Shota Kawaguchi, Yuta Saito and Sonin Nihei, as well as a good win over Filipino Romel Oliveros. He hasn't been perfect in his recent run, but he has looked like a young fighter finding his groove, with his only loss being a split decision to Eaktwan BTU Ruaviking and his only other set back being a technical draw with Eranio Semillano.
Okumoto has under-rated power and is tougher than you'd expect, given he has a couple of stoppage losses but hasn't shown that he belongs in the same company as the likes of Funai. With that in mind we do see him losing this one, but in the long term another loss won't be a big problem for the youngster, who will be able to take positives from another defeat and develop further.
We see a close start here, before Funai takes over and stops the challenger in the later rounds, following a good effort from Okumoto, who is stepping up too much too fast here.
n September 9th the boxing world focuses on the Super Flyweight division, as we get arguably the biggest day in the division's history, as 5 of the top fighters at the weight are all showcased on the same show in the US. The show, dubbed “Superfly” will feature WBO champion Naoya Inoue, WBC champion Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, former 4-weight world champion Roman Gonalez, former WBC champion Carlos Cuadras and former Flyweight champion Juan Francisco Estrada. It's a night that will put the division on the global boxing map, and could potentially make Inoue into the global star that his talent deserves.
Before that super show there will be a number of other notable Super Flyweight bouts, with the next of those taking place on July 19th as OPBF champion Rene Dacquel (19-6-1, 6) looks to extend his reign as champion. In the opposite corner will be Japanese contender Hayato Kimura (26-9, 17), who looks to score the biggest win of his career and upset a man who is enjoying a good run at the moment.
Filipino fighter Dacquel has been a professional since 2011 and has had mixed success, though seems to be maturing into a very capable Oriental level fighter, despite having struggled early in his career. Over his last 9 fights he has gone 7-2 scoring notable wins over Melvin Gumban, Lucky Tor Buamas, Go Onaga and Shota Kawaguchi, and only losing to fringe world class guys like Jonas Sultan and Takuma Inoue.
In the ring Dacquel is a talented and hungry fighter who is slowly, but surely, climbing up the rankings. He's no world beater, and no one would suggest he was, but he's a genuinely talented fighter on his way up, and in fairness he still has plenty of time to develop into a real contender given that he is only 26 and still has maturing and developing to do. If he continues to develop in the way he has done in recent years, and continues to rack up solid wins, he will be getting big opportunities in the near future.
Kimura has been a professional since 2005, having made his debut on his 16th birthday back in South Korea. Many of his early bouts took place outside of Japan, and at one point he looked like a genuine super prospect having gone 13-0 (8) whilst still a teenager. Sadly though he has never really built on that start and over the last 8 years he has struggled to get much going in his career. As a result he has lost to the likes of Brix Ray, AJ Banal, Martin Mubiru, Oleydong CP Freshmart, Marlon Tapales, Michael Dasmarinas, Sho Ishida and Kenta Nakagawa, with the losses to Ishida and Nakagawa coming in Japanese title fights.
Despite falling short against his best opponents it does seem like Kimura has the potential to score a decent win at title level. Unfortunately for him it would take a career best performance for him to match the skills of Dacquel. He has an edge in speed here, and is certainly an experienced fighter with, but is unlikely to have the movement, skills or power to ever really put Dacquel under the pressure he'd need to to take the title away.
We're expecting to see this be another successful defense for Dacquel, but a very hard fought and competitive one with the Filipino taking the fight on the score cards.
The Super Bantamweight division is one of the most interesting in Japan right now, with two world champion, a really exciting national champion, a number of rising prospects and some top class contenders. This coming Wednesday we'll see two Japanese Super Bantamweights trading blows for the OPBF title, and the potential to meet one of the world's best prospects.
The bout in question will see OPBF Super Bantamweight Hidenori Otake (28-2-3, 12) defending the title for the first time, as he defends the crown against veteran Kinshiro Usui (27-5, 11) in a well matched all-Japanese bout. Whilst it's clear neither man is a spring chicken, with a combined age of 73, it's also clear that neither fighter can really afford a loss at this point in their career.
Of the two men Otake is the more well known. In 2012 he claimed the Japanese title, beating Takafumi Nakajima, and he went on to defend that title 4 times before vacating it in 2014, as he got a crack at Scott Quigg and the WBA world title. Although Otake came up short against Quigg, scarcely winning a round, he proved his toughness and his incredible engine going 12 rounds against the Englishman and rarely taking a backwards step.
Since losing to Quigg we've seen Otake go 6-0 (3), with a win over Jelbirt Gomera last time out for the OPBF title. During his 6 fight winning run that was the only win of real note, and the only bout at Super Bantamweight, following a short flirtation at Featherweight.
At his best Otake is a tough, rough and energetic fighter. He's not the quickest, the heaviest handed or the most skilled, but his will to win is second to none and it will take something very special to slow his charge forward.
Aged 37 Kinshiro Usui is a name many won't be familiar with, at all, despite the fact he's had a 15 year career and holds wins of note against the likes of Mike Tawatchai, Nobuhisa Coronito Doi, Masaaki Serie and Hikaru Marugame. He fought regularly between 2002 and 2011 before walking away from the ring for more than 3 years. In 2014 he began an unexpected comeback and reeled off 6 straight wins before losing last time out in a razor thin decision to Hisashi Amagasa, in a bout many felt he deserved.
Talented, and with a steely toughness, Usui is a solid boxer. Sadly at 37 his time is running out, and it's a shame it's taken more than 8 years for him to get his second shot at a title. He's got under-rated skills, decent speed for someone his age and real hunger, with it being clear that this could be his final shot at silverware.
On paper it's really against Usui here. He's older, smaller, less proven, less experienced and the lighter puncher. However he's coming in with little pressure on his shoulders and he will clearly be the under-dog.
We'd love to see Usui win here, it'd be a great way for him to end his career. Saying that however it's hard to bet against Otake, who has proven his title ability and will likely be too busy and too physical for the smaller, Usui.
Interestingly the winner of this is booked in to defend the title later in the year, against the very highly regarded Hinata Maruta in what could be the coming out party of the next Japanese boxing superstar.
Having canned the old "Full Schedule" of Asianboxing we have instead decided to concentrate more on the major bouts. This section, the "Preview" section will look at major bouts involving OPBF and national titles. Hopefully leading to a more informative style for, you the reader.