By - George Delis (@Delisketo)
On January 5th, 2019, Thai veteran Suriyan Satorn returns to the ring and challenges Chinese rising star Jing Xiang for the WBC Silver Light Flyweight Championship.
Suriyan Satorn (59-6/40 KOs), (Ed's note - Satorn is also known as Kompayak Porpramook) has been around the sport for most of his life. Began boxing at the age of 10, he made his pro debut before even turning 18 and within a year, he won Lumpinee Stadium’s Minimumweight title.
Satorn is a boxer who likes to, as they say, fight inside a phone booth. He’s at his best when he comes head to head with his opponents and starts throwing body shots, picking them apart round by round. A perfect example of this was his match with Adrian Hernandez (30-5) for the WBC Light Flyweight World Championship in 2011. In what was an action packed affair, the Thai fighter kept working on the body of Hernandez, creating openings to land heavy blows to the head. During the tenth round, he had the champion hurt and proceeded to finish him of with an overhand left/right hook combination. After 11 years of fighting, Satorn was finally a World Champion. He marked one successful title defense against WBC International Champion Jonathan Taconing (28-3) before eventually losing the belt back to Hernandez.
Kompayak Porpramook (as he’s also known) became a 2 division World Champion when he beat Jean Piero Perez (21-9) for the interim WBA Flyweight title in 2013. Much like his match with Hernandez, he kept punishing the body until he got him boxed in a corner and started peppering him repeatedly, forcing the referee to jump in and stop the fight.
A few often changes in gyms and managers, forced him to be less active in the past 5 years and more focused on training other fighters, like Karoon Jarupianlerd (42-8) and Wittawas Basapean (33-8), both top ranked Thai boxers. Satorn made his definite comeback this past March against Siridech Deebook (17-6), this time for the WBC Light Flyweight Asia title. Despite some ring-rust and the fact that his rival was younger and way faster, he still managed to win the match. Deebook was attacking with reckless abandon and got dropped in the tenth round with a massive right hand, much to the joy of the Thai fans in attendance. In the end, Porpramook got the split decision and the belt. In their rematch however, 3 months later, Deebook was the one that got his hand raised.
Satorn gets another opportunity at championship glory, this time against an even better opponent, in Jing Xiang (15-4/3 KOs). 2018 has been a quite successful year for the Chinese star as he, not only captured the vacant WBO Intercontinental title in January, but also earned a huge victory this past September, after outclassing former WBO Minimumweight World titlist Merlito Sabillo (27-6), to become the WBC Light Flyweight Silver champion, winning a very wide decision. Xiang likes to keep his distance (unlike Satorn) while throwing bombs, making every fight into a brawl, despite his luck of KO power.
This fight will probably determine the future of both men. For the 36 year old Satorn, to win the WBC Silver title means finding himself once again in the world rankings. For Xiang, to defeat a 2 division champion, means one step closer to a world title opportunity. The Thai veteran clearly has the experience on his side, as well as the power advantage (Satorn has finished 62% of his fights, while Xiang only 14% of them). What he doesn’t have anymore though is that ferocity that he used to display during his big championship matches. That belongs to Xiang now. As we saw in his bouts with Deebook, Satorn has significantly slowed down and had trouble getting his game started. If he doesn’t shake that ring-rust off, Xiang (WBO Top 10/WBC Top 15) will walk right through him. So what will be the key factor here ? Experience ? Ferocity ? Power ? Speed ? We will get our answer this Saturday in China.
In 2018 we saw the Flyweight division change a lot, with new champions being crowned through the year and really very little stability in the division. It's fair to say that the champion's won't be wanting the same in 2019, they'll be wanting solid and lengthy reigns instead. The contenders however will be jostling for position and trying to secure themselves a world title fight as soon as they can.
On January 5th we'll see two talented contenders facing off, with both seeing the bout as a potential stepping stone towards a world title bout.
The men in question are Chinese fighter Wenfeng Ge (11-0, 6) and Filipino Giemel Magramo (22-1, 18) who will battle for the WBO International Flyweight title and a potential world title fight.
Of the two men it's fair to say that Ge is the man who needs the win more. He turns 32 in April, and that's pretty old for a Flyweight, and really can't afford a set back. So far in his career he has been moved quickly, likely know that there's not much time to waste. He made his debut in late 2015 and in just his second bout he faced off with Joseph Omana, then 12-3-1. A fighter later he claimed his first title, a minor WBO one, before adding another title the following month. Within 2 years of his debut Ge had raced out to 8-0 (6) and has since added notable wins over Amnat Ruenroeng and Ivan Soriano, with both those wins coming in clear 12 round decisions.
Watching Ge we see a rather baic but very strong fighter. There's a few tricks up his sleeve but the reality is that he doesn't look special, however he is rangy, long, strong and applies good pressure. He has shown an ability to go 12 rounds, at a date if unspectacular tempo. Despite not being anything special he does have an awkwardness to him, and gets away with making mistakes due to how physically imposing he is and he appears to be a fighter who is very confident in his toughness.
At 24 years old Magramo is a man who is probably a year or two away from his prime, he is however a man who looks like a future world champion. His sole loss was a very close one in Korea to Muhammad Waseem in November 2016, and since then he has gone 5-0 (5) and looked sensational. Despite only being 24 Magramo is already a young veteran with 23 bouts to his name, and he debuted almost 7 years ago, in March 2012. During his career he has scored wins over Lester Abutan, Renz Rosia, Benezer Alolod, John Mark Apolinario and Petchchorhae Kokietgym.
Whilst Ge looks awkward but basic the same can't be said of Magramo, who looks like a very special boxer-puncher. He's very heavy-handed, but combines that power with a real sharpness to his punching, a tight defense, impressive ring craft and a brilliant boxing IQ. On the inside he finds room for excellent shots whilst on the outside he controls range and tempo. There are some flaws, and he does sometimes let his guard slip and seems too willing to let his hands go, but he really does look like a special talent.
Getting a win in China is never easy and Magramo will know that, however we feel he is the better fighter, the more rounded fighter and should be the favourite. He will have to win clearly to get the decision, but we suspect he'll be too sharp, too quick and too powerful for Ge. The Chinese fighter certainly can get the win, but will need to put on his best performance, by far, to over-come the very talented Filipino.
On neutral soil Magramo would be the clear favourite, but here we see Magramo as the slight favourite. Magramo will clearly have to work incredibly hard to get the decision, but suspect he can do what's needed to get the nod on foreign soil.
The Japanese boxing scene gives us a pre-Christmas treat on December 24th as Keita Kurihara (12-5, 11) and Yuki Strong Kobayashi (14-7, 8) face off in Osaka for the vacant OPBF Bantamweight title. On paper this may not look like anything special, but in reality it's a brilliant match up, that again shows records really don't tell us everything.
Of the two men the more impressive has been the 25 year old Kurihara, who has really impressed in recent years with his power, aggression and wonderfully exciting style. His record is a total mess due to a less than great start to his career, losing 4 of his first 7 bouts to record a 3-4 (3) record. Since then however he has gone 9-1 (8) with his sole loss during that 10 fight stretching coming in a war to Hiroaki Teshigawara. On the other his wins during that run have included stoppages against Sonin Nihei, Ryan Lumacad, Tetsuya Watanabe and Kazuki Tanaka.
Blessed with power, heart and grit Kurihara is a nightmare to face at this level. His skills probably won't take him to the top, unless he works on his technical flaws, especially his defense and how he sets up offensive work, but on the Oriental scene there's not many who will defeat him. Many may feel they can, but they'll end up in a war that really won't do them well. To beat him either a fighter needs to be insanely tough themselves, like Teshigawara, or be a very sharp boxer-mover who can counter him and make him pay for his aggression. Fortunately for him there's not too many of either those on the Oriental level at the moment.
Kobayashi is the slightly older man at 27 and has had 21 fights, to Kurihara's 17, but in terms of rounds fought is much more experienced, with 109 rounds to Kurihara's 53. Despite that he is also a heavy handed fighter, who has stopped fighters like Hikaru Matsuoka, Satoshi Ozawa and touted Filipino Vincent Astrolabio. Unfortunately for him he has been matched hard, and has lost 3 of his last 8, with stoppage losses to Takahiro Yamamoto and Rey Megrino, as well as a decision loss to Ye Joon Kim. Against Megrino and Yamamoto there was simply too much of a difference in power, whilst Kim out boxed and out moved Kobayashi.
Kobayashi is also an aggressive fighter, who likes to stand just inside range and launch hard right hands up top, and short hooks. His ability to close distance is one of his weakest points from a technical; stand point, with his slow feet and weak looking jab being an issue, but he is sharp with his power shots. Sadly he is relatively flat footed, and looks to be someone who sets him self a bit too much, with a lack of fluidity to his overall work, and is a bit of an "offense or defense" fighter, rather than someone who can switch between the two on a whim.
Give that both like to let their hands go, both are relatively slow of foot and neither likes to back down we're expecting the two to meet centre ring and have a tear up. And we mean a tear up. In a war we favour the hard hitting and more aggressive Kurihara, but he will certainly give Kobayashi openings for his right hand, and we're expecting him to land plenty of those.
As a prediction we're going with a Kurihara stoppage in the middle rounds. Given that this is on Kobayashi's home turf Kurihara may fight like a man who feels he needs a KO and will fight like that's his only way to win in what we're expecting to be a Christmas cracker!
On December 22nd we see a former world title challenger look to keep his career alive as he takes on a world ranked opponent in Osaka. A loss for either man will be a major set back at the moment, and in fact could end their dreams of winning a world title before their career is over.
The former world title challenger in question is Hiroshige Osawa (33-5-4, 19), who is best known for challenging Oscar Valdez in 2016. In the opposite corner to the 33 year old Osakan is once beaten Colombian fighter Belmar Preciado (18-1-1, 11), who enters the bout with a WBA #9 ranking at Super Bantamweight.
Prior to facing Valdez in a WBO Featherweight title fight many fans hadn't heard of Osawa, who was obscure even by typical Japanese standards. As a fighter based in Osaka he lacked the press that fighters in Tokyo get, and in many ways he was best known for angering the JBC rather than any achievements in the ring. He'd angered the JBC in 2012 when he had defended a title the JBC hadn't yet recognised, with his team misleading the JBC in regards to the bout, and giving Osawa a 12 month ban. That ban essentially cost Osawa the OPBF Featherweight title and a potential shot at a world title when he was much younger. Since that ban he has gone 10-2 (7), with notable domestic wins over Kosuke Saka and Shota Yamaguchi, as well as wins over international opponents like Julio Cortez and Alexander Meija. Sadly for him however he has suffered losses to Oscar Valdez and, more recently, Shun Kubo.
Whilst Osawa was an unknown until recently it's fair to say that Preciado is still an unknown, despite his WBA ranking. Boxrec ranking him a long behind the WBA, and even their rankings appears to be high given his competition so far. His 20 career bouts have all taken place in Colombia so far and his competition has been terrible, with his most notable opponent being Venezuelan puncher Franklin Manzanilla, who he narrowly beat via split decision last December. His sole loss came in 2016, when he was upset by chinny domestic foe Mauricio Martinez and his only other result of real note on Preciado's record was a draw against Hugo Berrio back in 2014. What is worth noting about him however is that he's a training partner of former world title challenger Miguel Marriaga.
Footage of Preciado doesn't show a typical power punching Colombian. That's not to say he's not aggressive, he is, but just that he lacks the stereotypical bang seen in Colombian fighters like Marriaga, Edison Miranda and Breidis Prescott. Instead of being an explosive puncher he looks more like a solid puncher more technical grounding, a heavy jab and a solid work rate. It is however easier to dictate the tempo against the competition he's been facing than someone like Osawa. As for the Japanese fighter he's a tough and busy fighter, who has some clear technical flaws but is actually a lot better than he looked against Valdez, who was too quick, too strong and too powerful for Osawa. One of Osawa's problems is his age and another is his relative lack of power, but he's a busy fighter and with the Osakan crowd behind him we suspect he will have that extra bit of energy needed to get over the line.
Preciado certainly looks like he could be dangerous, but we're struggling to see him beating Osawa, who looks the more versatile and more proven fighter coming in to this bout.
The 2018 curse of the Japanese Bantamweight title has really been a massive problem this year. First we saw Ryo Akaho vacate the title after falling ill from weight, cancelling a January fight with Yuhei Suzuki, then we saw Suzuki suffer an injury ahead of a scheduled bout for the vacant and then we saw Suguru Muranaka fail to make weight. In the end we had to wait until September to see a champion being crowned, with Yuta Saito defeating Eita Kikuchi for the vacant title.
Even with a champion being crowned things haven't been plain sailing, with Saito then being diagnosed with ulcerative colitis. This has caused a number of issues, including the JBC taking the rare step of organising a JBC "interim" title bout, with Hayato Kimura (27-10, 18) facing off with Seizo Kono (19-10-1, 12) for the JBC Interim Bantamweight title on December 20th.
Sadly the bout doesn't capture the imagination in the way a title bout should, though we expect the contest to be a good one all the same. The two men are both flawed, on paper they are similarly matched, and both are hungry fighters looking to make the most of their chance. A chance that perhaps neither has really earned.
The 29 year old Kimura began his career as a teenager in Thailand, debuting on his 16th birthday. Over the last 5 years however he fought solely in Japan where he has mixed success. To begin his career he was 19-5 (14), fighting in Thailand, Korea, Japan and the Philippines. Since fighting exclusively in Japan Kimura has gone 8-5 (4) That has included losses in two Japanese title fights, losing decisions to Sho Ishida and Kenta Nakagawa, as well as a loss in a OPBF title fight against Rene Dacquel, all at Super Flyweight. He has been matched hard, with other losses coming to Marlon Tapales and Michael Dasmarinas, both at Bantamweight, but his best wins have come against the likes of Toyoto Shiraishi and Kenya Yamashita, and those wins were 2 years apart.
Although Kimura is lacking results, and has scored his most notable wins at Super Flyweight, he is a very capable fighter and he is still developing, both technically and physically. He'd a quick boxer puncher, with a sharp jab and nice offensive work. Sadly for him his foot work and balance questionable and he does lack real thunder in his shots. Although tough he is defensively flawed can be tagged, often relying too much on his reactions.
The 29 year old Kono has been a professional for a little over 11 years and has had an interesting career, but like Kimura it's not all rosy and successful. In fact his career has seen him fighting for the WBC Youth Intercontinental Super Bantamweight and OPBF Bantamweight title, losing by stoppage to Rey Vargas and Mark John Yap respectively. Other losses on his record to notable names include a TKO loss to Taki Minamoto, a decision loss to Yu Kawaguchi and a decision loss to Kazuki Tanaka. Worryingly he is now 18 months from a win, following back to back losses to Yap and Tanaka. Not only is he ona 2 fight losing run but he is 6-7 over his last 13 fights dating back over 6 years! Not the sort of form a fighter should be getting a title shot from, even if some of those losses have been at Super Bantamweight.
Although out of form Kono is a decent fight, with a good work rate, a fun enough style and someone who brings a decent amount of aggression and excitement. He's at his best on the front foot, however his foot work is a touch slow, his punches don't appear to be crisp and snappy, and he can often be seen with his hands down when on the edge of range, sometimes inside it. His lack of real speed or power is a major issue, and although technically pretty solid he is clearly missing a standout out trait.
Given the recent losses for Kono it's hard to see him bringing any momentum into this bout, or much confidence. Kimura however is coming into the bout on the back of a win over Kenya Yamashita and we suspect that that sort of boost will really help Kimura. Kono is the naturally bigger man, but he's not a man who fights with his size usually, and we suspect that the size advantage will actually be neutralised by the speed and movement of Kimura anyway.
Although we don't think these are the best in the division in Japan this should still be a very interesting match up, and leave us going into 2019 with some interesting things going on at 118lbs in Japan. Hopefully next year will be a much better one than this year for the Japanese Bantamweight title, which has really been cursed through the whole year.
It's rare for the JBC to feel the need to create an "interim" national title, but that's what they did at Light Middleweight earlier this year, when Nobuyuki Shindo (20-4-1, 8) suffered a hand injury when being crowned the full champion. In the wake of Shindo's injury Akinori Watanabe (37-7, 31) became the interim champion, putting on a fantastic performance to defeat Ryosuke Maruki inside a round this past August.
Now we'll see Shindo and Watanabe face off to unify the interim and regular titles, in what could be a very good pre-Christmas treat for fight fans in Tokyo and those who subscribe to Boxingraise.
Shindo is enjoying his second reign as a Japanese champion, having held the domestic Welterweight title from January 2016, when he claimed the vacant belt with a win over Yasuhiro Okawa, to April 2016, when he was stopped in 10 rounds by Toshio Arikawa. His reign was a thoroughly disappointing one, and had come less than a year after he had lost to Suyon Takayama in a bout for the same title. Following the loss to Arikawa he moved up in weight and has scored 3 wins, stopping Sanosuke Sasaki and Cobra Suwa before taking a very competitive decision over Ryosuke Maruki. It was in his title win against Maruki, back in May, that he suffered a damaged hand and he has been in action since.
Shindo is a tall awkward boxer, with a frustrating style, but one that works for him. He's very gangly and rangy, and makes fights tricky for his opponents. Although he has a good engine he certainly doesn't have an incredibly high work rate and he does lack power. However his flaws are covered relatively well by his awkward size. His biggest issue however is that he's coming back from injury and has shown in durability, losing the title to Arikawa and being dropped by Sanosuke Sasaki, something that could be an issue here.
Watanabe is a veteran on the domestic scene and has been a successful one with reigns as the Japanese and OPBF champion at Welterweight and the PABA champion at Light Middleweight. The 33 year old has long had a reputation as a glass cannon, and if he tags you it can be the start of the end, but he can also be left flat if he gets caught clean. In his 44 fight career he has only heard the final bell 7 times, 6 times in victory and once in defeat. As he's matured however he has developed the skills to go with his power, and his ability to survive, and box has improved. During his long career he has Takayuki Hosokawa, Yasuhiro Okawa, Tadashi Yuba, Yo Inoue, Koshinmaru Saito, Toshio Arikawa and Takeshi Inoue, among others.
In the ring Watanabe is an aggressive fighter, who takes risks and comes forward. His fighting style, at least domestically, seems to be focused on the idea that he's more powerful than his opponents, hard hitting than them and tough. Sometimes this works out well for him, other times he ends up being caught by a bomb and being finished off. As mentioned he does seem to have become less vulnerable recently, going the distance with Takeshi Inoue and lasting into round 8 with Magomed Kurbanov.
We suspect Shindo has the tools to make life very difficult for Watanabe, but we can't feeling like Watanabe's power, aggression and experience at title level will be the difference. Shindo will try to keep the fight long, but we suspect that at some point Watanabe will catch him, and leap all over him, forcing a stoppage. Shindo will likely start well, but be broken down in the second half of the fight.
On October 28th we saw Accel Sumiyoshi and Tatsuya Yanagi, fight to a draw in a Japanese title eliminator at Lightweight. Despite being held to a draw Sumiyoshi became the mandatory, and now the next question is who will he be up against at the 2019 Champion Carnival, when he gets his shot at the belt.
We'll find out who Sumiyoshi's opponent will be on December 13th, when current Japanese Lightweight champion Shuichiro Yoshino (8-0, 6) makes his third defense and takes on the challenge of Kazumasa Kobayashi (10-7-1, 6). On paper this looks like a very straight forward defense for the talented champion, but sees him keeping a very good level of activity with a 4th bout in just 14 months.
Yoshino is a really classy fighter who was former amateur standout before making his professional debut in 2015. Ever since debuting Yoshino has been earmarked for success and has been matched hard as he and his team chase titles and accomplishments. In just his 4th professional bout he beat Yoshitaka Kato and he would claim the Japanese title in just his 6th bout, stopping veteran Spicy Matsushita. Since then he defended the belt with stoppage wins over Masaski Saito, in the 2018 Champion Carnival, and Genki Maeda. Not only has he been stopping opponents but he has been doing it early, and late, proving he has stamina to go with his power and skills.
Although Yoshino hasn't yet gone beyond Japanese level, we believe he's the best Japanese Lightweight out there. We feel he'd beat OPBF champion Masayoshi Nakatani and WBO Asia Pacific champion Nihito Arakawa. Hopefully in 2019 he gets those chances, as he is far too good to waste time on the domestic title scene.
The 35 year old challenger has had a relatively weird career, . He debuted almost 13 years ago, as a 22 year old, and has had a stop start career. He fought 4 times within 11 months to begin his career but suffered his first loss and spent over 30 months away from the ring. He would go on to have several more breaks over the years, including taking the entire of 2016 out of the ring. As well as the inactivity he has also had inconsistent results, though he has gone up against notable fighters, such as Takashi Inagaki, Masanobu Nakazawa, and Kota Tokunaga.
From his last performance Kobayashi looked like a huge Lightweight, who appeared to be tough, surprisingly fit for a 35 year old with a decent work rate and his knockout blow against Noriyoshi Taki looked really impressive. He's a weird looking fighter, who lacks a lot of technical ability, but is unorthodox, awkward and can clearly hit hard, if he can connect with a thunderbolt.
We suspect that Kobayashi will be dangerous and unpredictable, but will struggle to cope with the variety, speed and slickness of Yoshino, who we expect to continue his reign and do so in style. The challenger has only been stopped once, in 7 rounds by Tomoya Yamada, but we expect him to be stopped again here by the smart, talented and strong Yoshino.
Sadly in 2019 we suspect that Yoshino will deal with Accel Sumiyoshi as well, and prove that he really is a class above the Japanese domestic level fighters who will be challenging him whilst he continues to hold this title.
Not every bout worth talking about is a title bout, and of not every title bout is worth talking about. One great fight coming up with no title on the line is a match up between recent OPBF Featherweight title challenger Shingo Kawamura (16-4-1, 8) and former amateur stand out Ryo Sagawa (5-1, 3), who clash in what could be the hidden gem of the month on December 13th. Both men have real ambition, both know a win will give their career a huge boost and both know that a loss could see them being forced to work incredibly hard to get an opportunity of any kinda next year.
With 21 professional fights under his belt the 28 year old Kawamura will likely go into the bout as the slight favourite, though even that's not a given in what is a 50/50 in our eyes. Despite his record having multiple defeats on it he has had a really notable career bouncing back from a stoppage loss on debut, in 2012, to win the 2013 All Japan Rookie of the Year at Featherweight. As his career looked to be booming he was upset by Attanon Kunlawong in 2014. He would rebuild from that loss before losing on his international debut, coming up short in a decision loss to Mike Tawatchai. That loss however seemed to allow Kawamura to build his confidence and he would string 5 wins together, including a decision victory over Tae Il Atsumi in 2017. That run of good form lead him to a fight with OPBF champion Satoshi Shimizu earlier this year, and he gave Shimizu fits, setting a high tempo and forcing the 2012 Olympic bronze medal winner to back up several times. Despite the aggression, work rate an electric start Kawamura would be stopped by Shimizu, though had impressed and was clearly going to be getting other big fights in the future.
In the ring Kawamura is an aggressive fighter, who fights out of the southpaw stance with a high work rate. He uses his southpaw jab well to set up his other work, but is defensively open, something that Shimizu made him pay for. Although he has a good jab his straight left hand is rather sloppy at times, though when it lands it can do damage. Watching him you sometimes get the feeling he's a fighter who is battling some internal urges, which wish to have an inside war, and if we're being honest his hooks do seem to be among his very best weapons and are often thrown with more conviction than his jabs and straights. Almost as if he's a natural inside fighter who is being taught to fight on the outside and make the most of his size.
Whilst Kawamura impressed in a loss to Shimizu earlier this year Sagawa impressed with a win against Ryo Matsumoto, a stablemate of Shimizu's, who he stopped in a 3 round upset in September. The win over Matsumoto was a shock, though it perhaps shouldn't have been given that Sagawa was a notable amateur, going 62-22 in the unpaid ranks, was the naturally bigger man, and was in good form with wins over the likes of Tasuku Suwa and Junki Sasaki coming into the bout. Perhaps the one reason it was a shock however was that Sagawa had lost his second professional bout by stoppage, losing in 2 rounds to Retsu Kosaka in May 2017. That loss however said more about Sagawa's lack of experience and he didn't know what to do when he was hurt, and decided to stand and fight, rather than survive, something he had learned by the time he fought Matsumoto. Technically he looked very good, prior to being hurt, and now with that extra professional experience he does seem to have developed, significantly.
As mentioned Sagawa is technically good, he's a sharp puncher, who understands the ring, moves fluidly with light feet and picks his shots well. There really isn't a shot that looks to be missing from his arsenal and he can box well on the back foot as well as from center ring. As for flaws we do wonder how he comes under intense pressure and what his chin is really like. It's also worth noting that he is typically in control of the tempo, and it's usually not an intense one, so question marks do remain about his stamina, though he has already gone 8 rounds in a bout.
If Sagawa has got a poor chin it will be found out here though we suspect he can take a solid shot. If he can take a shot he should have the edge in speed and skills and that could be enough to take him to a very hard fought decision. There is however the work rate and intensity that Kawamura can bring and that could end up being too much for Sagawa, and if Kawamura can force the action he may well break down and stop his man.
This is a fight where unknowns play a big part and in the end we will learn a lot more about both men. Given the unknowns and the fact and they will both be looking to win, we're expecting a very hotly contested contest.
By - George Delis (@Delisketo)
A clash of top Japanese lightweight boxers will take place on December 9, at the EDION Arena in Osaka, as Masayoshi Nakatani defends the OPBF crown, for the 11th time, against the WBC International champion Hurricane Futa.
Masayoshi Nakatani (17-0 / 11 KOs) had an extensive career as an amateur, before turning pro, participating in 60 bouts. Finally made his debut in 2011, at the age of 21, winning 6 fights in a row (5 stoppages), including a victory over future Japanese champion Shuhei Tsuchiya. Nakatani punished the veteran (Tsuchiya was 14-1 at the time) with left hooks and body blows to get the KO win, in just the third round.
In 2014, he went face to face with former Japanese and the then reigning OPBF champion, Yoshitaka Kato, for the OPBF belt. Despite again being the less experienced of the two, Nakatani took the champion to his limit for 12 rounds, earning the majority decision, thus the championship and the East Japan Boxing Association Monthly MVP Award.
Since then, Nakatani has defended his title 10 times, including wins over Ricky Sismundo (35-11), Amphol Suriyo (23-3), Krai Setthaphon (27-4) and Ryan Sermona (20-9), placing himself at the top of the division, as he is ranked #5 by the IBF, #8 by the WBC and #12 by the WBO.
Hurricane Futa (25-7 / 15 KOs) is a fighter who has been around for a very long time. A 14 year professional, who has competed in over 30 matches and has faced competition from all over the world. His biggest fights to date have been against Will Tomlinson (25-3) and Vage Sarukhanyan (18-2).
Specifically, Futa stopped Tomlinson, a former IBO “world” & WBO Asia Pacific champion, in only 40 seconds of the first round, with a killer left hook, to win the interim WBA Oceania title. Also, this past February, he took on the WBC International champion Sarukhanyan, in a WBSS show, for the Russian’s title. Futa delivered a KOTY candidate in the 7th round, as he endured a plethora of punches before he caught the champion with a counter left hook, which knocked him out cold. Prior to the knockout, the Japanese fighter was controlling the entirety of the bout, even dropping Sarukhanyan with the same move in the 3rd. It’s worth mentioning that both title matches took place at his opponents’ home countries.
Despite having 7 losses on his record, it should be pointed that the majority of them are against high level boxers like Foijan Prawet (77-6), the reigning WBA International Featherweight champion & #2 WBA ranked Can Xu (15-2) as well as 2 division world champion Jhonny Gonzalez (66-11).
This is an important fight for both men. Nakatani may be only one or two fights away from challenging for a world championship, whereas this is Futa’s chance to break into the top 10 of the division. Moreover, their styles are very similar to each other. Nakatani’s agility and fast combinations have been the key factors to his success through out his career. He also likes to use body shots in order to create openings and then strike with the left hook, which is something we have seen him do in almost all of his fights. Futa is also a cracking boxer who packs a lot of power in his left hand, much like his opponent here. With 26 KOs combined between these two, it will be no surprise if this ends way before the 12th round.
Will Nakatani reach a perfect 18-0 record or Futa’s experience and power be proven too much for him to handle ? We will find out soon in Osaka !
Earlier this year we saw Takayuki Okumoto (21-8-3, 10) claim the Japanese Super Flyweight title, ending a short reign of Hiroyuki Kudaka. This coming Sunday he will make his first defense of the title, facing off with the unbeaten Masayoshi Hashizume (16-0-1, 10) in a bout between two Osaka based fighters each looking to end the year as a national champion and begin 2019 looking forward to a mandatory defense at the Champion Carnival.
The 26 year old champion won the title in his second shot at the belt, having come up short in his Japanese title challenge against Ryuichi Funai, via a 7th round technical decision. Despite losing to Funai he had been competitive and was certainly not embarrassing himself. In fact in many ways Okumoto's career is built up with solid efforts and peculiar match ups. They include taking on former world champion Ratanapol Sor Vorapin as a 15 year old in Thailand, something that just seems crazy now, and then returning to Thailand 6 years later and losing to Rusalee Samor. In recent years Okumoto has proven to be a very capable having scored wins over the likes of Yuta Saito, Sonin Nihei and the aforementioned Kudaka. In fact since losing to Samor in October 2013 Okumoto has gone 11-2-1 with the loses coming to Funai and Eaktwan BTU Ruaviking.
Okumoto is a southpaw fighter who brings the pressure straight away. He's relatively quick on his feet, and although he doesn't set a mega work rate he does seem to look for a higher tempo than perhaps would like. He has under-rated footwork, and can regularly be seen turning on his opponents, in a similar but much less effective way to Vasyl Lomachenko. Watching him you can see he's a student of the sport and does know how to do things. Sadly why he shows touches of brilliance he is still a very flawed fighter who lacks real power, doesn't have real crispness to his work and can get involved in messy bouts far too easily, something that happened against Kudaka with the two men falling in on each other regularly.
Hashizume is getting his first title shot at the age of 24 though the Ioka gym fighter has long been tipped for success, with fans and fighter himself likely frustrated at the progress of his career. He turned professional in 2013 and went on to win the All Japan Rookie of the Year in 2014. It was then assumed he would be moved aggressively towards a title fight, and build on his 7-0 record with solid competition. Sadly however Hashizume's rise through the ranks stalled massively as he faced off with 7 inept Thai imports who were all stopped in a combined 21 rounds He had gone from a hot property to someone who was frustrating fans. Fans were further frustrated late last year when he did step up and could only just manage a draw with Kota Fujimoto. Thankfully since that draw the youngster has scored two decent wins over Takahiro Murai and Marjun Pantilgan.
We've been impressed by Hashizume on the most part. He looks the part, he's sharp, crisp, aggressive and looks like the short of fighter who is doing things instinctively. His southpaw jab is a huge weapon, his straight left hand is excellent and his movement is very confident. Sadly though he does look like a fighter who is very used to having things his own way and has all sorts of poor habits which have been allowed to build from his low level of competition. If he shows those flaws here, he could come up short against a less gifted but more skilled champion.
We think Hashizume is the more natural talent, but sometimes natural ability isn't the key and instead the will to win is. We suspect that that will be the case here, with Okumoto grinding out a messy decision win, likely having been behind in the early part of the fight.
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.