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.