In 2016 we saw the Watanabe gym have a year to forget with both Takashi Uchiyama and Kohei Kono losing world titles, whilst other notable names like Shin Ono, Akio Shibata, Ayaka Miyao, Sansosuke Sasaki and Hayato Kimura all suffered notable defeats. Despite last year being an horrific one for Watanabe it's fair to say that 2017 has started with some promise for the gym with title wins already this year for Nihito Arakawa and Yusaku Kuga.
Looking to extend that success for Watanabe will be fast rising youngster Hiroto Kyoguchi (5-0, 5), who looks to claim his first title at the end of the month, when he takes on Filipino veteran Armando Dela Cruz (25-14-3, 11) in a bout for the vacant OPBF Minimumweight title.
Kyoguchi turned professional last year, following a solid amateur career, and was quickly on the road to success. His first two wins, in April and May, were against obscure Thai foes but in August he stepped up to take on Kenichi Miyazaki, who he dismantled in 3 impressive rounds go claim his first notable scale. In November Kyoguchi scored an excellent KO against Filipino Michael Camelion and in December followed that win with a win over Junel Lacar.
In the ring Kyoguchi is an aggressively minded fighter who can counter punch, as the win over Camelion showed, but call also go on a seem and destroy mission, as he did against Miyazaki and Lacar. His combinations are some of the most beautiful in Japanese boxing and his shots just flow together. Sometimes those combinations, and flowing shots, do end up making him look a bit wild and reckless but he never looks worried and appears to be full of confidence. Worryingly for opponents he appears to be improving every fight and is genuinely looking like a world champion in the making.
Although Kyoguchi is a novice,with just 5 fights and a total of just 10 rounds, the same cannot be said of Dela Cruz who has 42 bouts under his belt and an impressive 282 rounds of experience. Not only has the 32 year old Dela Cruz got experience, from a career that dates back to 2001, but he has also shared the ring with a who's who of the lower weight classes. That's seen him battle the likes of Oleydong Sithsamerchai, Florante Contes, Denver Cuello, Wanheng Menayothin, Marlon Tapales, Sonny Boy Jaro and Fahlan Sakkreerin Jr.
Although highly experienced it should be noted that Dela Cruz is very fortunate to have an OPBF ranking, never mind the bizarre #2 ranking he has coming in to this bout. He has gone 2-4 in his last 6, dating back 7 years, and has scored just 2 wins in the last 6 years. Through his 42 fight career he has been stopped 4 times, showing that he was tough, and he has been the distance with Marlon Tapales among other. However with his inactivity one could question his toughness, and whether could with stand the blistering assaults of Kyoguchi.
Whilst Dela Cruz did have a fun, almost warrior like, style it's not a style that will work work well against Kyoguchi who we suspect will be too quick, too sharp and too powerful for the Filipino veteran. Dela Cruz might have some moments but we really don't see him lasting long with the exceptionally talented Kyoguchi. We might be surprised, and Dela Cruz might put in a great showing, but we suspect the body shots of Kyoguchi will help take their toll on the Filipino and he'll be put away within 5 rounds.
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.