In Osaka on December 31st fans will get a trio of title fights. The least significant of those title bouts is a Japanese Super Flyweight title bout between unbeaten champion Sho Ishida (17-0, 9), one of a number of fast rising Japanese youngsters, and unheralded challenger Masato Morisaki (9-3-1, 5).
Of the two men it's Ishida who is the better known fighter, the more established, the more touted and the more skilled. His is, like many at the Ioka boxing gym, tipped to go a very long way and the Japanese title he currently holds is expected to be little more than the first in a huge collection of professional titles that he will win.
Aged 23 Ishida is blessed with wonderful speed and movement as well as a tall and rangy frame that allows him to box from range like a number of his gym buddies. Like those gym mates, including Masayoshi Nakatani and Takeru Kamikubo, he has shown an incredible ability to box on the move with his lightning jab being the root of his success. Not only is his jab lighting quick but it's laser accurate and razor sharp allow him to pick off opponents think they can just charge in on him.
Whilst the jab is Ishida's key offensive weapon it's far from his only weapon and in fact it opens the door for many of his other weapons including vicious uppercuts when an opponent is up close and lovely hooks, especially to the mid-section. It was one such body shot that put away the tough Petchbarngborn Kokietgym, in what was Ishida first stand out win. It that was win over Petchbarngborn that showed just how good Ishida was and since then he has racked up 3 wins, including his Japanese title win earlier this year over Yohei Tobe. The win over Tobe is the best so far for Ishida and really showed off his ability in what was a high skilful contest. That bout proved he was as good as some suggest and that he still has a lot to achieve with OPBF and world titles both like to become his in the coming years.
Morisaki, 32 years old, is significantly older than the defending champion here though is also a man who is sat at the bar in the Last Chance Saloon. He has lost 3 of his previous 7 and is, sadly, without a really notable win. He is the stereotypical “easy first defense” and is unlikely to really have anything to test Ishida with.
For those who haven't seen the challenger as of yet he's nothing special. He is a patient fighter who appears to have spiteful power in his right hand but is predictable, comes forward with his hands relatively low and doesn't have either the speed nor timing to make up for his flaws against a higher level of fighter. Many of his wins have been down to his opposition just as much as himself, with just 1 win over an opponent with a winning record.
As well Morisaki's limited “victims” he has also lost to limited opposition, including Shun Ishibashi, who stopped Morisaki in 7 rounds in late 2013. Ishibashi is the only man to have stopped Morisaki but is a limited non-puncher and this loss needs to send alarm bells for those thinking about the upset.
With what we know about the challenger and what we've seen of him we can only assume one winner here, Ishida. The question is whether or not he can stop the challenger though we have to assume he can, given Morisaki's stoppage loss to Ishibashi.
We suspect this one will be over early. Ishida has the ability, power and speed to make light work of a fighter like Morisaki and we think he'll go out to impact, something he'll accomplish with an early and eye catching victory. Don't be shocked if this one only goes 2 or 3 rounds.
A year ago Ryo Matsumoto (12-0, 10) was seen as one of the most promising prospects in professional boxing. He was 9-0 (8) though hadn't yet faced anyone of anyone of real note with his best to that point being a decision over Takuya Miyamora. This year however he has had a real break out year with wins over former world title challenger Hiroyuki Hisataka and former world champion Denkaosan Kaovichit. He'll be hoping to build further on that success on December 30th when he takes on world ranked Thai Rusalee Samor (25-5-2, 11) in a contest for the OPBF Super Flyweight title. The bout will be the first title bout of the youngster's career and will see him facing a 3rd notable opponent this year as well stepping up to 12 round bouts for the first time.
For those who haven't yet seen Matsumoto you've really been missing out one of the sport's most talented youngster's and a man tipped for success before he had even turned professional. As an amateur he was a multi-time high school champion and racked up a very impressive 53-3 (39) record. That amateur pedigree saw him signing professional papers when he was just 17 and he debuted almost 3 years ago to the day.
Early in his career Matsumoto was matched like many other promising Japanese fighters. He started in 6 rounders against a variety of poor Thai imports and the occasional domestic fighter and made them often look worse than they were. He looked at ease from his debut and showed a lovely variety of shots whilst proving he was capable both at range and on the inside. Since then he has developed as one would have hope and still shows the same lovely variety of shots as well as his quick speed and hurtful power, both to the head and the body.
At the moment there are still a few question marks hanging over Matsumoto's head though those questions may get answered here. The first of those regards his stamina which has never really been tested. To date Matsumoto has only been beyond 6 rounds twice in his career and some suspect he may struggle with the 12 round distance. The other major question regards his chin, which again hasn't been tested. Concerning his chin however no one seems to have many doubts there though he still hasn't faced a puncher as of yet.
Samor will go in to this bout as “the other guy” though is himself a very good fighter who is world ranked by the IBF and is the current IBF Asia Super Flyweight champion, and a former IBF Pan Pacific Flyweight champion. Like many Thai's he can be a bit predictable though he comes across as a tough fighter willing to walk through anything in an attempt to make a fight a war of attrition, something he did against Rex Tso in a somewhat controversial bout last year.
Although not the most powerful or quickest fighter out there Samor is a warrior who can often make fights very hard for his opponents with his work rate and aggression. Like a number of his compatriots he really seems to enjoy a fight. On the other however is technically limited and can be out boxed, out moved and made to look silly by a talented boxer. He is small at the weight and could be dwarfed here which could further show up his technical limitations.
At his best Samor is a handful for many in the division. He's a long way from being a world champion however not many will have an easy day with his “in your face” mentality and, to a use western term, he is almost a gate keeper level fighter. To beat him legitimately you often need to be a good fighter, like Sonny Boy Jaro and Denver Cuello. At his worst however he's there to be beat by lesser fighters, as seen in his stoppage loss to Ryen Rey Ponteras in December 2012. Sadly however his best aren't great and as with most Thai's it's hard to read too much into his best wins and over-all competition.
In some ways this bout depends on what Samor turns up, though we can't see him ever being able to beat Matsumoto. If Samor is well prepared and on song he has the potential to make this difficult for Matsumoto and drag the Japanese youngster into deep water. On the other hands if Samor isn't on form, or if Matsumoto is even better than we think, then this could be over quickly. We're hoping Samor can make Matsumoto work for the victory here so that we can asses how good the Japanese fighter really is.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
The Light Middleweight division in Japan has given us some very interesting domestic champions over the years. Those champions have included Koichi Wajima, Tadashi Mihara and, more recently, Nobuhiro Ishida. It's fair to say it's not the title with the greatest history but it certainly hasn't been one of the worst titles to hold wit several fighters going on to bigger and better things.
This coming Sunday sees the Japanese Light Middleweight title up for grabs again as current champion Yuki Nonaka (26-8-2, 9) attempts to defend the belt against former champion Charlie Ota (24-2-1, 16). The bout may not have intentional fans foaming at the mouth in excitement though the bout is a really good one and one that could have world level implications with both men currently holding world rankings, albeit low ones.
Of the two men it's the challenger, Ota, who is better known. Originally from the US he has had carved out a successful career in Japan winning OPBF and Japanese Light Middleweight titles. Internationally Ota has fought in Canada, losing to Jermell Charlo, and in the US, beating both Gundrick King and Mike Ruiz and in Japan he is popularly known simple as “Charlie”.
Whilst Ota is known internationally by boxing fans it's what he's done in Japan that has been impressive and his record reads like a who's who of Japanese boxing in the Middle and Light Middleweight divisions. Among those Japanese fighters that he has beaten are Takayuki Hosokawa, Akio Shibata, Tadashi Yuba, Taisei Marumoto and Koji Numata, all of whom have held titles themselves.
When comparing Ota with top international fighters he is relatively crude and is rather short for the weight, at 5'7” he does however have hurtful power, as seen when he dropped Charlo, and an explosive style that sees him unloading heavy shots. At home however most fighters in the division are similar in stature to him and he's simply more power and tougher than they are. If he chooses to go to war he tends to win even if things aren't the prettiest in terms of boxing. This warrior attitude was seen spectacularly in his bout with King Davidson. In that bout Ota was down in the opening round before showing his fighting spirit and taking the bout to the touted Davidson and shutting down his foe with intense aggression. Like a wounded animal Ota fights back when hurt and that may be when he's at his most dangerous.
Although we are big fans of Ota we also like Yuki Nonaka who is one of the most pleasant boxers to watch anywhere on the planet. Nonaka lacks major power and speed but is technically so sharp with an accurate southpaw jab, razor like left hand and surgical uppercuts, all of which he showed recently to regain the title. He combines very intelligent offensive work with smart defense that sees him slipping shots wonderfully, controlling beautifully and neutralising when he needs. He's not untouchable by any means but he's become very difficult to tag clean with anything of note and is tough enough to shots when they come back.
Internationally Nonaka, who at the time of writing is the WBO #15 ranked fighter, is an unknown domestically however the 37 year old manages to draw in sizeable crowds in Osaka. Whilst we won't pretend he's known for taking on the most dangerous opponents out there he does have a few solid win over the likes of Kazuhiko Hidaka, Dmytro Nikulin, Lee Oti, Ryo Okayama and Kengo Nagashima. He has also only lost 3 bouts in the last decade with 2 of those coming at title level.
If boxing was an art form Nonaka would be highly regarded however boxing is often a fight and we're not certain how a 37 year old Nonaka will perform in a fight against a very good opponent. Against flawed foes he has looked exceptionally talented and he has been able to fight to his strengths. When forced to fight opponents fights however we feel Nonaka can be out worked and a lot of his losses have only been by a couple of rounds.
Going into this bout we suspect we're going to see the boxer against the brawler. Nonaka's sweet science against Ota's street fighting warrior attitude. Sadly for Nonaka we suspect that being rushed and pressured by a guy like Ota won't end well for him and will draw him into a fight that he can't win. Stylistically it's a bout that is all wrong for the champion and although he's fighting at home in Osaka, his 18th fight in the City, we don't think he'll be able to retain his title in one of the most interesting national title fights this year.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
The Light Middleweight division is certainly one where Asian fighters have failed, at least in recent years, to make their make internationally. Long gone are the days of Ki Soon Kim, Koichi Wajima, Jae Doo Yuh and Masashi Kudo. Despite that the OPBF Light Middleweight title is a treasured title with a rich history that dates back to the 1960's and has been by held fighters like Tadashi Mihara, In Chul Baek, Yung-Kil Chung, Daniel Geale and Charlie Ota, who have used it to gain and establish world rankings.
At the moment the title is vacant though that is expected to change this coming Thursday when Japan's heavy handed Tadashi Yuba (46-9-2, 33) battles against Filipino Dennis Laurente (48-5-5, 29) in what promises to be an incredibly exciting contest between two men looking to add one more big win to their long records.
Of the two men it's Yuba who is better known and the easier man to get footage of. In fact in some ways Yuba is genuinely a celebrated fighter in Japan, having managed to win national titles in 5 weight divisions, from Lightweight to Middleweight, something no one else has done on the Japanese scene. Part of that success is his insane power whilst another part is his freakish size which has helped him climb through the weights.
Stood at 6” Yuba was a relative beanpole when he won the Japanese Lightweight title in the early part of the century. Since then he has filled out and although he still looks freakishly thin he still manages to hit with genuinely nasty power. As well as being heavy handed and freakishly rangy and tall Yuba is also a southpaw making him a nightmare to fight in yet another way.
Although a nightmare in many ways Yuba is also an incredibly flawed fighter who is offensively wild, defensively open and doesn't have the greatest of chins. We're not saying he's “chinny” per se but he's not made of granite and with his defensive liabilities this is a major issue, as seen in a number of his losses. Another issue is that he can be bullied around by a strong fighter and although he often has success on the back foot he can be made to look negative at times as he backs up looking for his powerful left hand. If a fighter can push back Yuba and prevent him from landing the left hand then Yuba is often in trouble,. Saying that however Yuba can fire back in a slugfest and win, as he did in a thriller with Carlos Linares.
There is a lot out there on Yuba and he has genuinely been in with a who's who of the Japanese boxing scene including the likes of Takayuki Hosokawa, Charlie Ota, Akinori Watanabe, Koji Watanabe and Motoki Sasaki. On the other hand Laurente isn't as well known, hasn't faced a similar level of competition and, although he is world ranked, he hasn't scored many wins that have really caught our attention.
Laurente's first break out win saw him claiming the OPBF Lightweight title when he beat the then unbeaten Yosuke Otsuka in Japan. His reign as the OPBF champion was long but lacked any real substance and it wasn't until 2006 that he scored another win of note, beating Rustam Nugaev. His next wins of note came against Zaid Zavaleta and Ben Tackie, both of whom are better known for their losses than their wins.
In recent years Laurente has seemed happier to pick up wins that genuinely achieve anything. As a result only 1 of his last 5 opponents, Khomkaew Sithsaithong, has actually had a winning record. Unsurprisingly he has stopped all 5 of them, with the last 3 ending via body shots, and you now need to go back more than 2 years to find his last notable opponent, Kenny Abril, who actually beat him with an 8 round split decision in the US.
At his absolute best Laurente was a good fighter, as seen in his narrow win over Chikashi Inada. However aged 37, the same age as Yuba, it's fair to say Laurente isn't what he once was and now a days his wins over weak foes see him fighting like a wild man confident that his over-matched foes have nothing to threaten him. It's hard to say if he will fight the same way against Yuba though we suspect he won't. Sadly though we think his recent level of competition will end up biting him in the backside when Yuba starts to find the range for his powerful straight lefts. We think Yuba will fight as a counter puncher and have real success on the back foot as Laurente comes in and is forced to eat clean shots as he neglects his own defence.
This could become a really entertaining war though at the end of it we think Laurente will suffer his first stoppage loss. It'll be fun until the end though we can only see the Japanese fighter winning this one. Unfortunately for Laurente his ambition seems to have waned to the point where we think he'll lack the fire needed to over-come Yuba.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Since we started previewing all OPBF and Japanese title fights at the start of 2014 we've always had some idea about a fighter, even if it's been very limited knowledge there has always been either footage, fight reports or information that we've managed to hunt down that has allowed us to construct a view on both men involved in a bout. This coming Tuesday however we have a real mystery man challenging for the OPBF Super Middleweight title.
That challenger is the unranked Fijian Abhay Chand (16-13-4, 10), a 35 year old who has certainly not had the sort of fights to get on the radar of many fans.
What we do know about Chand is that he has been a pro turn since the turn of the century having made his debut in 2000 in his native Fiji where we believe he has fought 26 of his 33 professional bouts. As well as his homeland Chand has fought twice in Samoa, losing both bouts including an opening round loss to Leti Leti last time out, and 5 times in Australia, where again he has lost every time he has fought in the country.
Although footage and images of Chand are hard to come by we have thankfully recognised some of the fighters who have beaten him, including Zac Awad, Daniel Dawson and Robert Medley, who have all stopped Chand.
One other thing we know about Chand is that he has often fought in lower weights including Welterweight. It's been at lower weights that Chand has scored his most notable achievements having won both the Fijian Middleweight title and the Oceanic Boxing Association Light Middleweight title.
Up against Chand will be Japan's heavy handed OPBF champion Yuzo Kiyota (26-4-1, 24), one of the heaviest handed men in Asia and someone who we tend to enjoy watching. Of course to compare Chand, an unknown, to Kiyota is frankly ridiculous and we'd be very surprised if anyone reading this wasn't at least aware of Kiyota who of course challenged Robert Stieglitz for the WBO Super Middleweight title last year. Although Kiyota came up short against Stieglitz it was still a chance for many to be introduced to a man who had run roughshod over the national and regional scenes in recent years.
Kiyota, a genuine puncher with a real mean streak, is a multi-time OPBF champion at 168lbs and has featured in every bout for the title over the last 6 years. We'll not pretend he's been beating a who's who of the division but he has been scoring stoppages regularly whilst defending his title against the likes of Les Piper, Shintaro Matsumoto and Hiromitso Miura.
Sadly for Kiyota, though also part of the reasoning for this bout with Chand, is the fact he is seen as a high risk-low reward opponent in an area of the world where Super Middleweights are few and far between. The better ranked contenders, such as Zac Dunn, Jake Carr, Ben McCulloch and Trent Broadhurst, come from Australia where they can get paid more for non-title fights against the limited locals than they would get for a fight with the heavy handed Kiyota. It's been this that has meant his last two bouts have both been non-title fights and also why Chand is viewed as an acceptable challenger despite not being ranked.
Although we don't know much about Chand we are aware than he has been stopped in many of his defeats and suspect that, with Kiyota's power, that will again be the outcome here with the finish likely occurring in the first 6 or 7 rounds, essentially whenever Kiyota feels comfortable going for the kill.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
About 3 years ago Kentaro Masuda (now 20-6, 11) was beaten by Hidenori Otake, it was a loss that saw Masuda's record falling to 13-5(8) and it seemed that his career was never going to progress beyond being a ranked contender on the Japanese domestic scene. Just 2 fights later things didn't look any better for Masuda who had then been beaten, in 7 rounds, by the excellent Ryosuke Iwasa in a Japanese Bantamweight title fight.
Aged 29 when he lost to Iwasa it seemed like Masuda was going to be a fighter who mixed with domestic level fighters looking to get a second title fight one day. What no one expected was that his career would really begin at at 30, though that's exactly what has happened and he has completely turned things around with 6 straight wins. Those wins have seen Masuda move into the IBF world rankings and claim the Japanese Bantamweight title, courtesy of an excellent technical decision win over Yu Kawaguchi, and defend it once, with a very impressive destruction of former world title challenger Konosuke Tomiyama, who lasted less than 3 rounds.
The late career revival of Masuda has been very impressive and he'll be hoping to keep his current run of form going when he returns to the ring on December 8th to defend his Japanese title against the heavy handed Tatsuya Takahashi (18-5-3, 12), the #13 ranked Japanese Bantamweight.
In regards to current form this should be a mismatch. Masuda enters the bout 6-0 (3) since losing to the world class Iwasa more than 2 years ago and has gone 8-2 (4) in his last 10. On the other hand Takahashi has gone 3-1-2 (3) in his last 6 and 5-3-2 (4) in has last 10 bouts, including a stoppage loss to Filipino fighter Rey Vargas. That is however ignoring the fact that Takahashi is a hungry 25 year old looking for his own break out win, something Masuda scored himself, earlier this year.
If you've not seen Masuda in action you may now know what to expect. He's a tough fighter, with solid work rate, real grit, and skills that have developed massively in recent years. Those skills might not be world class but they are solid as is his power. In many ways he is very much an all-rounder though when he steps on the gas he can be a very good finisher, as he showed against Tomiyama who never got the chance to recover after being hurt. As well as his developing skills he has also developed a lot of confidence in the ring and he knows that a win here takes a step closer to getting a rematch with Iwasa, something he has said he wants. If things go well for both Iwasa and Masuda over the next 12 months he may get that rematch with an IBF world title being up for grabs.
Whilst we have managed to get footage of Masuda we unfortunately haven't been able to do the same with Takahashi. What we do know about him is that he managed to go the better part of 10 rounds with Rey Perez in his most notable bout to date. That's actually a telling result given that Perez isn't a puncher and that Perez was dominating the bout anyway prior to the stoppage. We also know that Takahashi lacks a notable win, with his last 3 victories being quick stoppages over limited foes. Given his competition so far it's very hard to know really how good he is, or rather how bad he is as some of his losses have been to very limited opposition.
With what we know about the two men, their opposition and their form this really only looks like it's going to go one way, Masuda's way. The champion may not be world class but he's certainly on the fringes of it and we suspect we'll see the gulf in class between the two men here and Masuda will almost certainly be the better fighter from start to end.
(Image courtesy of danganboxing.com)
The Middleweight division in Japan isn't the greatest. Aside from Olympic champion Ryota Murata we doubt any other active Japanese Middleweight will make any sort of a mark on the world scene. Despite that we can't help but enjoy some of the fights and fighters, and even though the current fighters aren't going to be seriously challenging Gennady Golovkin they are still interesting to watch on the domestic scene with the occasional gem of a fight.
One of those Japanese Middleweight gems came back in 2011 and saw Makoto Fuchigami (21-9, 12) claim both the Japanese and OPBF titles with a stunning 9th round TKO win over the heavy handed Koji Sato. Since then however Fuchigami has gone 3-3, including losing a world title bout to the aforementioned Golovkin, those losses have left his career hanging on a thread and he now needs another big win to stay relevant. He gets a chance on December 6th to get that big win as he attempts to recapture the Japanese and OPBF belts.
In the opposite corner to Fuchigami this coming weekend is unified OPBF and Japanese champion, and former Murata opponent, Akio Shibata (23-8-1, 9). Whilst Fuchigami is known for his bouts with Golvokin and Sato it's a shame that Shibata is only known, internationally anyway, for his loss to a then debuting Murata. The loss actually over-shadows what is an excellent career domestically which has seen Shibata become a 2-weight unified champion having claimed both the Japanese and OPBF belts at Light Middleweight and Middleweight.
Of the two men it's certainly Shibata who is riding on a high. The loss to Murata was his sole loss in his last 8 bouts, spanning more than 3 years. In that time Shibata has had 6 titles bouts including a win over Fuchigami last year for the OPBF Middleweight title and a win this year over Daisuke Nakagawa to unify the Japanese belt with the Oriental one. Some of the other wins Shibata has scored recently have included victories over Takayuki Hosokawa and Yoshihisa Tonimura, both title level fighters. One of the other wins Shibata has recorded recently has come over Hikaru Nishida who had himself been one of the recent men to defeat Fuchigami.
Not only is Shibata riding a high due to his recent form but he also appears to have developed his strengths to have made him a very hard man to beat. He's fast on feet, fast with his hands and, although he lacks power, his jab is one of the most controlling punches on the Japanese domestic scene as he throws it excellently whilst boxing on the move. Shibata's flaws are well covered by his jab and movement, though there are question marks about his over-all toughness and his power is certainly a weak point, even domestically. Of course when a fighter doesn't sit on their shots the power issue isn't usually a big one with a fighter happier to win a decision than go for the KO and we've seen that Shibata more than happy to take decisions with only 1 KO win in his last 9 bouts.
Fuchigami confidence has got to be low courtesy of his less than stellar form. He has however developed into a a fighter who has shown solid power in recent years and since October 2010 Fuchigami has scored 8 stoppage wins from 11 bouts, he had only scored 4 in his previous 19. Prior to his run of stoppages he was known as a stylist with a sharp southpaw jab and a relaxed fighting style, that style that saw him ride out the storm against Sato before stopping a tired looking Sato in his best win to date.
In the ring Fuchigami appears to struggle against opponents with good work rate and stamina. In recent years he has been he has been out worked by both Hikaru Nishida and Akio Shibata, though of course his loss to Golovkin is nothing to be ashamed by. Hikaru and Shibata are both busy fighters and both manage to keep most fighters off balance and stop them from setting too much.
We suspect that will be the key here with Shibata being too busy, too sharp and too smart for Fuchigami who will be left looking for the home run shot and hitting air for the most part. Shibata won't have the power to discourage Fuchigami but will have the tools to clearly beat him over the distance. If however Fuchigami can connect with his power shots this could become an interesting fight. We suspect that Fuchigami has to strike early however, before Shibata finds his rhythm and gets his jab into play. If Fuchigami can't win this early we think he'll lose a very clear decision.
(Image courtesy of 8nakaya.co.jp)
A little more than 3 years ago the hardcore boxing fans were becoming very excited about a young, and then unbeaten Japanese fighter known as Yukinori Oguni (13-1, 4). At the time Oguni was 7-0 (2), he had claimed the OPBF Super Bantamweight title and upset the highly regarded Roli Gasca in what was a real break out win. At that point we were hoping to see Oguni grow and grow and eventually become a force on the world boxing scene.
Sadly for Oguni he would go on to defend that title just 3 times before running into an inspired Shingo Wake who took his opportunity and dominated Oguni en route to stopping the defending champion in 10 rounds and supplanting himself on the fringes of a world title fight.
Prior to losing the title Oguni had managed to defend his belt against two notable Japanese foes. One of those was Hiromasa Ohashi, who was beaten via a 9th round technical decision, whilst the other was a clear decision over Masaaki Serie.
Whilst Oguni was making a name for himself on the Asian scene we were also seeing Yasutaka Ishimoto (24-7, 7) rising through the Japanese national scene. Though he did, unfortunately, came up short in his first title bout, losing a hard fought decision to Masaaki Serie.
Interestingly just a month after Oguni lost the OPBF title fans saw Ishimoto score his break out win as he traveled to Macau and defeated Wilfredo Vazquez Jr in a performance that left us all wondering whether Ishimoto could reach the top tier in the sport. Sadly however he fell short when he was destroyed by Chris Avalos in an IBF world title eliminator, also held in Macau.
The two men meet this coming weekend as they battle for the Japanese Super Bantamweight title, a belt recently vacated by Hidenori Otake prior to Otake's world title bout against Scott Quigg. The men are both hungry and both will know that a win here could help them on their way back toward a big international fight.
Whilst both have lost to the most notable opponents that they have faced both are talented guys and both are similar in many ways. Neither has real power though they both have nice hand speed and jabs and both have been stopped in their most recent losses. Saying that however both also have some clear differences.
Ishimoto is more willing to fight on the inside, as shown in recent wins over Zun Rindam of Indonesia and Charly Valenzuela of Mexico, both of whom were stopped by Ishimoto who proved he was more than just a tricky and light hitting fighter with solid timing. On the other hand Oguni is a pure outside fighter who uses his length and speed to great use on the outside, he never really sits on his shots but he does fight to his advantages which are size and speed.
With neither being a puncher we have to suspect this will go the distance though the question as to who will win is a tough one to answer. We can see Oguni boxing on the move to a wide decision as Ishimoto chases shadows and gets tagged by the Oguni jab. We can also see Ishimoto imposing his strength, cutting the ring down and grinding down Oguni with body shots late in the bout. The outcome is one we're unsure on though we are looking forward to finding out who will get the win here and who will become the new Japanese Super Bantamweight champion.
(Image courtesy of http://8nakaya.co.jp/)
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.