The Ohashi gym has two of the best young Super Flyweights on the planet, with world champion Naoya Inoue and his younger brother Takuma Inoue. It also has another notable Super Flyweight, the much older and more experienced Go Onaga (27-2-2, 18). On August 21st Onaga looks to secure his biggest win, as he takes on Filipino Rene Dacquel (17-6-1, 6) in a bout for the OPBF title.
For the world ranked 36 year old Onaga this bout is almost certainly his last chance and the final sink or swim moment in a career that began more than 13 years ago.
The southpaw from Yokohama, though originally from Okinawa, began his career 13-0 (9) with solid early career wins over the likes of Carlos Murillo, Nerys Espinoza and Yuki Nasu unfortunately a 2009 draw with Richard Garcia slowed his rise through the ranks. The following year Onaga got his first title fight and suffered his first defeat, a stoppage loss in 2010 to Yota Sato in a Japanese “interim” Super Flyweight title bout.
Further setbacks in 2011 and 2012 to Teiru Kinoshita, a draw and a loss, essentially pushed him out of the title picture for a few years but recent wins over Breilor Teran, Masafumi Otake, Jonas Sultan and Renoel Pael have helped establish him as a credible OPBF title challenger.
In the ring Onaga posses very solid skills but little more, if we're being honest. He is a popular figure from the Ohashi gym but lacks the fighting tenacity of stablemate Akira Yaegashi, the destructive power of Naoya Inoue or the outside boxing skills of Takuma Inoue. He's certainly not a bad fighter, but there is nothing that stands out about him being anything particularly outstanding.
As the champion Dacquel will be making his first defense of the title, a title that was upgraded earlier this year when Takuma Inoue officially vacated the belt. Incidentally Dacquel and Inoue fought last year with Takuma clearly, and easily, over-coming the Filipino for this very same title.
Dacquel's record is less then stellar with the 6 losses, and in fact he's 1-2-1 in Japan, with losses to Takuma and Hideyuki Watanabe. Saying that however Filipino records are usually misleading and do the fighters a dis-service. Notably for Dacquel he has suffered several close losses and some outside of his best weight division. He also holds very notable wins over the likes of Yuki Nasu, Melvin Gumban Thembelani Nxoshe and Mateo Handig.
In the ring Dacquel is an technically solid fighter and at 25 is a fresh, young and hungry fighter in the ring. He's also a man maturing physically and does hit hard than his record suggests, as seen in his stunning KO win last time out against Lucky Tor Buamas. We're not saying he's a KO artist but he certainly hits harder than his record suggests and will likely know that leaving this one in the judges hands will be risky.
For both men this is a bout they cannot afford to lose. For Onaga a loss will kill his world title dreams stone dead. For Dacquel it'll be a 3rd loss in 6 and essentially see him relegated to a man who's level has been “found” at OPBF level class. Sadly for Onaga we think he'll be the man coming up short with Dacquel's youth being the difference down the stretch and Onaga's old legs not carrying him the full distance with the local fighter breaking down in the final rounds.
One of the things we like about the Japanese boxing scene is the way the promoters don't hold back the young and hungry prospects. Instead of fighters wasting 4 or 5 years building up their reputation, record and name with mismatches they instead jump in to swim with sharks. We've seen it so often in the last few years with the likes of former WBO Minimumweight champion Kosei Tanaka and current WBO Super Flyweight champion Naoya Inoue, along with the newly crowned WBC Youth Bantamweight champion Hinata Maruta. It's almost a given now, that if you're hyped as a potential champion in Japan before your debut, you will be pushed hard.
Another such fighter is Ken Shiro (7-0, 4). He was thrown in with a veteran on his debut, put in with an unbeaten, and naturally bigger, fighter in his third bout, fought for his first title in his 5th bout, claimed the Japanese title in his 6th bout and took on a former world title challenger in his 7th bout. In bout number 8 he will be looking to unify the Japanese and OPBF titles as he faces Toshimasa Ouchi (20-8-3, 6).
For those who haven't followed Ken Shiro's career he's really shown a bit of every thing so far. He's looked like a controlled boxer against Katsunari Nagamine, a thinker against Rolly Sumalpong, a battler against Kenichi Horikawa and a street fighter against Atsushi Kakutani. It my be that he's not sure what type of fighter he is, or it may well be that he's just incredibly versatile. One thing is clear however, there is a lot of ability with the youngster who has already proven he can go out 8 and can physically bully more mature fighters.
Ken Shiro has been fast tracked, and is already talking about potential world title bouts before the end of 2016. The reason for that speed is partial his ability, which is genuine impressive, his amateur background, which again was impressive, and the team behind him, headed by former fighter Hisashi Teraji, Ken Shiro's father. As a fighter Teraji Sr went 20-1-3 (11) and claimed the JBC Middleweight and OPBF Light Heavyweight titles. It's fair to say his father know the game and knows how talented his son is.
Aged 30 and with more than 13 years or professional ring experience Ouchi has never been on the fast track to the top, in fact this is only his second title bout in a career that has already had more than 30 bouts. Like many fighters he began his career fighting in 4 rounders, with out the expectation of becoming a champion. Early in his career he suffered setbacks and was 3-2-1 (1) early on, and later 10-5-1 (2). Since then however he has rebuilt his career, matured into a man and became a solid, though unspectacular, fighter.
His only title bout so far came in 2012, when he fought to a split decision with the then Japanese national champion Masayuki Kuroda. That was a close bout but unfortunately Ouchi couldn't secure a rematch and subsequent defeats to Kenichi Horikawa and Atsushi Aburada slowed down his rise to a second shot at a belt.
Although Ouch does lack a big win he has been in with genuinely notable fighters. He has suffered loss to world title challengers like Shin Ono and Yasutaka Kuroki and another loss to current world champion Ryoichi Taguchi.
Unfortunately for Ouchi we see this as being another test that he simply isn't good enough for. Whilst he has lost to big names he has also suffered set backs to some very limited fighters and with 3 stoppage losses we wouldn't be surprised to see Ken Shiro go into the ring and man handle Ouchi, who will be one of the few Light Flyweights who makes Ken Shiro look big at the weight. If Ken Shiro does indeed win, he'll have claimed his third career title and will likely be a ring side viewer at the upcoming WBA world title fight between Ryoichi Taguchi and Ryo Miyazaki on August 31st.
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.