All too often boxing gives us fights we don't want, we have little interest in and we don't really understand the point of them. Every so often however we get a fight we didn't really think we wanted, until it was made and then we think, "that's a really good match up". On December 1st we get one of those "really good match ups" as Japan's Masao Nakamura (24-3, 23) faces off with Filipino Carlo Magali (23-10-3, 12) for the vacant WBO Asia Pacific Super Featherweight. It's a bout we hadn't really thought about, but as soon as it was announced it was hard not to be excited about, given the styles of the two men.
Japan's Nakamura is a 30 year old boxer-puncher, who has shown a sense of fragility through his career but also very heavy hands and explosive KO power. He debuted back in 2006 and reeled off 12 straight wins inside the distance to win the OPBF Super Featherweight title, pulling himself off the canvas to take the belt from Allan Tanada. Sadly his reign was a short one, losing the belt in his first defense against Ronald Pontillas. Another stoppage run saw him race away to 18-1 (18) before being upset by the then unheralded Masayuki Ito. The loss to Ito was followed by another upset loss to Rey Labao in late 2014. That seemed like the start of the end for Nakamura but he since battled back, and scored a career best win over Daiki Kaneko in a brilliant 2015 clash as he began to move towards a world title fight. Sadly however Nakamura would retire in 2016, citing a mental and physical decline. Thankfully however he ended his retirement earlier this year and looked rejuvenated with 2 stoppages since his ring return.
Nakamura is, as mentioned, a boxer-puncher. He's a very heavy handed fighter who has good boxing skills, surprising speed and movement and a good boxing brain. Sadly however he has questionable durability, with a chin that could let him down if he's caught cleanly on it. He can be out boxed, as we saw against Ito, and he's not great when fighters get inside and work him up close. If he can control the range, and get his thundering shots off, he's hard to beat, but up close and when he's smothered he will always struggle.
On paper Magali doesn't look like any thing special, however the 32 year old Filipino is a nightmare to fight, having learned from his defeats and really developing a style that is hard to look good against. He's not quick, he's not a massive puncher, and he's not the toughest fighter, but he's a short, aggressive type who looks to cut distance and wailing in shots up close, with heavy clubbing hands, and a good engine. Through his career he has been stopped 3 times, once early in his career and twice on the road against Lightweights, with those two losses coming late in the bout. During his long career he has scored wins over Mark John Yap, Mark Gil Melligen, Ryuta Miyagi, David Browne Jnr and Masatoshi Kotani.
If you can keep Magali at range you can have great success against him however Magali's desire and toughness will see him looking to cut the distance, march down his man and wear them out mentally as well as physically. That is his real threat to Nakamura, as he's not going to collapse when caught, instead he will march forward and get into Nakamura's head, whilst looking to land with his thudding power.
We suspect Nakamura will have the edge in speed, power and movement, and will likely control much of the bout, but Magali will always be a threat and if he lands clean he could, very easily, drop Nakamura. That'd be when things get interesting. Although Magali has a chance, we suspect that Nakamura will take the win, either by decision or a stoppage, if he can intelligent jump on Magali when he has him hurt. If he takes too many risks however Nakamura could find himself staring up at the lights, wonder what he go caught by, so he does need to box smartly and not get dragged into a war.
This coming Wednesday fight fan at the Korakuen Hall will see OPBF Super Featherweight champion Carlo Magali (23-9-3, 12) defending his title against against fast rising Japanese youngster Hironori Mishiro (5-0, 2). On paper this looks likely to either be a mismatch in favour of the veteran or a coming out party for Mishiro, who would suddenly find himself as one of the hottest prospects at 130lbs if he were to win. A win for Magali would however help him vent some frustrations after two other bouts have fallen through in recent months, and he has clearly had a few months which have seen him messed about and forced to miss out on some big opportunities.
The 31 year old Magali has been a professional for 12 years and had really mixed fortunes in the professional ranks. He began by scoring 5 straight wins, all back in 2016, though his career began to falter as he dropped to 9-4. Since then he has gone 14-5-3 and scored notable wins, including two against Mark John Yap as well as victories over the tragic David Browne Jr, Mark Gil Melligen and, most recently, Masatoshi Kotani. With those wins he claimed a number of minor titles before becoming the OPBF Super Featherweight champion last year, with his first defense coming this past January against Kotani.
After the win against Kotani on January 13th this year Magali was offered a fight with WBC champion Miguel Berchelt, he would accept that fight before the GAB refused to let him fight so soon after the Kotani bout. He would then later have a bout against Yoon Sung Kim being announced, before that too was cancelled, this time due to Kim suffering health issues. Those bouts falling through have prevented Magali from building on the Kotani win, but he may well have used those set backs to further his desire to make a point when he fights here.
In the ring Magali is a short Super Featherweight, though like many Filipino fighters he's a strong, powerful guy in the ring. He's not a huge puncher but he's got solid and consistent power, and carries that power later, with his last 2 wins both being 10th round TKO's. Added to that he is tough, with only 3 stoppages losses against his name, and the only recent ones have come at Lightweight against Emmanuel Tagoe and Pavel Malikov.
Aged 23 Mishiro is another in the ever growing production line of Japanese prospects tipped for success following a successful amateur career. As an amateur he went 41-16 (4), notched up a number of honours and was tipped for big things when he signed with Watanabe Gym. As a professional he's not blown us away, yet, but has impressed with notable wins over Shuma Nakazato and Shuya Masaki in his last 2 bouts. Those wins saw him take the unbeaten records of both men and progressing from 6 rounders to 8 rounders. There is however a big gap between a domestic level win over 8 rounds and OPBF title fight over 12 rounds, as Mishiro is going into here.
In the ring Mishiro is a talented boxer, who looks a little bit raw as a professional, but is developing very quickly, in part due to being at the Watanabe gym and training alongside world class fighters like Hiroto Kyoguchi, Ryoichi Taguchi and Kohei Kono. He has good fundamentals, though they still need work, very good size for a Super Featherweight and nice speed. It's worth noting that he has been hurt, and dropped, but showed good composure to get off the canvas and go on to beat his foe. Sadly for all the good there is a real worry they are rushing him slightly here. It can work, as it did with Kyoguchi, but it does feel like this is a bigger risk than it needs to be for the youngster, at this point in his career.
We think that Mishiro has got the skills to beat Magali, but the question is really whether he has the physical maturity, the experience or the know how. He has fought just 24 professional rounds, he has had just 5 professional bouts and has never gone beyond 8 rounds. He's stepping up massively here against an experienced, tough and strong fighter who is used to being the smaller man. It''s a huge ask for Mishiro to come out on top, and coming in we do consider him the under-dog, but if he pulls it off it will be very impressive. For Magali this is a chance to move to 4-0 (4) in Japan and become a bit of a Japanese Killer, which would certainly open the door to bigger fights in the Land of the Rising Sun.
The Super Featherweight division has been one of the most interesting for Asian fighters in recent years. We've seen fighters like Manny Pacquiao, Takashi Uchiyama and Takashi Miura all take part in some amazing fight at 130lbs and help establish their legacies. Even now the division is a notable one for Asian fighters, with Kenichi Ogawa holding the IBF title and Masayuki Ito being one of a number of leading Asian contenders.
Last year the aforementioned Ito vacated the OPBF title, which has since ended up in the hands of Filipino fighter Carlo Magali (22-9-3, 11), who will be defending this title this coming Saturday against Masatoshi Kotani (22-2, 15).
The 31 year old Filipino made his debut in 2006 and has had a bit of a sow burning career. Despite that he did mix wit good opponents early on, losing Mark Gil Melligen in 2008 before scoring back to back wins over Mark John Yap and avenging the loss to Melligen. Back to back wins in Japan in 2009 began to build Magali's momentum but losses to Vicent Palicte and Randy Braga did slow his rise.
Magali scored his most significant win last July, when he stopped Sandeep Balhara in 10 rounds to claim the OPBF "interim" Super Featherweight title, but was subsequently upgraded when Ito vacated the full title. The win over the previously unbeaten Balhara was a second straight win for Magali, who is 6-2-1 in his last 9. Sadly that 9 fight run includes a tragic victory over Australian David Browne Jr.
Footage of Magali shows a pretty basic aggressive fighter, but one who looks physically strong,imposing and defensively tight. He's not going to win any awards for his slickness but he applies pretty intense pressure and comes to fight, with a high guard and aggressive, but somewhat plodding, footwork. Sadly for Magali he is pretty one-paced and and can be out boxed by a fighter who can keep the bout at range.
The Japanese challenger has been a professional since April 2007 but this will be is first title fight. He started his career looking destructive as he went 10-1 (9). A stoppage loss to Cirilo Espino seemed to change him and since that loss he has gone 12-0 (5) with his most notable wins voming against the likes of Edgar Gabejan, Rey Laspinas and Jason Egara, with both Gaebjan and Laspinas running him incredibly close.
Footage of Kotani isn't too widely available and the reality is that he looks pretty decent as a boxer-puncher. But pretty decent is usually a long way from OPBF title quality and he's not a huge puncher, he's not proven to be mega tough, or hugely skilled. He's just a pretty basic fighter who would likely be easily outboxed by the likes of Masayuki Ito or Reiya Abe. He has shown nice touches, but little to get too excited about about.
Although fighting in his first title fight Kotani does have 100 rounds of experience under his belt, he's been in 3 bouts scheduled for 10 rounds and has gone 8 or more rounds on 5 occasions, going 4-1 in those bouts. He can do rounds when he needs to and has proven he has decent stamina, even if he's not yet proven he can go the 12 rounds scheduled here.
With both fighters really failing to shine in the eye test it would be easy to be disappointed by the contest. The reality, however, is the limitations of both men should make for a fun and decent fight, at a very competitive level. We favour the slightly more proven and battle hardened champion, but the bout is a very, very even one.
One of the problems with “interim” titles is they often come about for no real reason. “Real” champions can be busy, they can have defenses lined up but sometimes the powers that be feel an “interim” champion is needed as well, as if we need champions in the world of boxing. One such questionable case is the upcoming OPBF “interim” Super Featherweight title fight between Carlo Magali (19-7-3, 10) and Mark Gil Melligen (21-6-1, 12), in what will be their third bout together with the men currently 1-1.
The “real” champion is set to defend the title in the coming weeks, however before then we'll see Magali and Melligen trade shots for what is a very unneeded secondary title.
Of the two men the one with the better argument to be in a title fight is Magali who's record might not look great on paper but he is better than the numbers suggest, and holds notable wins over the likes of Mark John Yap, Ryuta Miyagi, Rey Perez and David Browne Jr, who sadly passed away after his fight with Magali.
Magali's nickname, “Ferocious”, sums up his style which is aggressive and although he's not the most skilled he is a fighter who brings the pressure, looks to lets his shots go and make a fight of things. His key weapon seems to be his long right hand, which whilst crude does seem to have a lot of bad intent behind it.
Whilst Magali is an offensive minded fighter he does appear to be slow for the weight, relatively small, doesn't fight at a high pace and isn't quite as quick on his feet as he needs to be to make the most of his style. He also appears to leave openings to his body.
When it comes to Melligen his opportunity for an “interim” OPBF title fight seems to be a rather undeserved, in fact coming in to this he has suffered back to back losses. One of those losses was a technical decision against Vinvin Rufino, for the OPBF Featherweight title, whilst the other was a split decision in Japan to Yudai Tamagawa. Not only has he lost his last couple of bouts by the is now almost 2 years from a win of note, a stoppage of the then unbeaten Bualang OnesingchaiGym.
Whilst Melligen has shown promise at times, and was once 9-2-1, it seems that promise has now petered out and he now seems unlikely to really have a memorable career, in fact it seems likely that the 28 year old is just 1 loss from fading into relative obscurity.
Early in his career Melligen looked like a promising boxing but the recent losses saw him looking like a fighter with self doubt, a questionable toughness and more and more flaws. The experience of his career hasn't helped him improve and instead it looks like he is regressing.
Whilst Melligen may get back to his best, we suspect that the pressure and “Ferociousness” of Magali will be too much for Melligen, who will likely fold in the second half 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.