Before any of those bouts however we get a Japanese title fight as the world ranked, IBF#3 and WBO #11, Hidenori Otake (22-1-3, 9) defends his national title for the 5th time in under 2 years and attempts to extend a 17 fight unbeaten run that dates all the way back to 2008.
Although Otake, for our money, isn't the best Super Bantamweight in Japan right now he is an accomplished fighter who has been stringing together credible wins on a regular basis in recent years. Those wins have included victories over Kentaro Masuda, Takfumi Nakajima and Mikihito Seto, though they have all proven that he's not a major puncher and has had to rely on his toughness and work rate which in turn has shown off his stamina and heart.
This time around Otake will be fighting against a real under-dog in the form of Japanese #6 ranked challenger Daisuke Furuhashi (16-5, 6). It's fair to say, considering how highly Otake is ranked by both the IBF and WBO as well as numerous independent ranking bodies, that this is widely viewed as a mismatch, however in our eyes it's more competitive than it looks on paper, though we do still favour Otake.
On paper Furuhashi's looks like a very limited fighter though one thing that needs noting is that his record is mostly marked up from fights that he had at Bantamweight, fights that were very close and fights fought before he began to reach his prime. If Furuhashi had had a bigger name backing him we'd suspect 3 of his losses would likely have been wins. In the last 12 months it's also worth noting that Furuhashi has started to find his boxing groove and has scored a trio of solid wins including a very notable stoppage over former Japanese Featherweight title contender Toru Suzuki.
From what we understand Furuhashi, who is the man pictured in the top right of the poster, is an aggressive fighter who can be out boxed but comes to win. He lacks power himself though has scored notable stoppages over both Suzuki, as mentioned above, and Nobuhisa Coronita Doi, who gave Otake some serious questions last year. If he can make the most of that power he could give Otake some real issues, especially when you consider that Otake isn't defensively the most sound.
Whilst we're not Otake's biggest fans he has been finding ways to win fights by gritting his teeth and toughing it out. For this fight he has even more reason to grit his teeth, as a chance for a world title fight is just around the corner and anything but a convincing win could see that chance vanishing. With that in mind we expect to see Otake trying not just to win but to make a statement taking the fight to Furuhashi from the off.
Of course Otake doesn't need to impress us but he will need to impress someone to get a chance at a world title and we imagine that this performance will be all about impressing his team, the title bodies, the JBC and the fans. To do that we think OTake will be hunting a stoppage and we acctully expect him to get it very late in the fight, though not without a struggle early in the bout.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)