At the end of this week Okada attempts to make his second defence since winning the title almost a year ago to the day and attempts to over-come the more experienced though some what limited Hayato Hokazono (18-4-1, 11), a man who was twice beaten by Obara.
Okada began his career in brilliant fashion stopping his first 7 opponents including the experienced Heri Andriyanto and the tough Jaypee Ignacio. His stoppage run only came to an end last year when he stepped up to title level and was take the distance by the tough Masayoshi Kotake. Although Kotake took Okada 10 rounds he couldn't over-come the unbeaten man. Okada was also taken the distance in his first defence, as he over-came Shamgar Koichi in a very competitive match up.
Although Okada has gone the distance in his last 2 bouts it's clear he can punch and that the 20 of championship quality action will have helped him mature and develop as a fighter. Those bouts will have boosted his confidence and made him realise he can do 10 rounds.
The 28 year old Hokazono will be fighting in his second title fight having been stopped in 4 rounds by Keita Obara in a bout for the vacant title a little less than 2 years ago. That was the second meeting between Hokazono and Obara and lasted just 4 rounds, half as long as their first meeting just 5 months earlier. The stoppages to Obara account for 2 of Hokazono's 3 stoppage losses, though the other came more than 8 years ago as he was stopped by Makoto Yoshida.
Hokazono isn't a great fighter but he also isn't terrible and his stand out win is over Kazuyoshi Kumano, a solid but unspectacular fighter himself, though like the champion he does hit hard enough to make opponents respect him.
What we're expecting to see is a promising champion over-coming some real adversity here to prove that he's on his way up. Hokazono isn't a fringe world class fighter, nor is he even really a contender on the oriental scene, however he is experienced enough to make life very difficult for an inexperienced young fighter like Okada, who has a lot to learn before he thinks about moving beyond the Japanese domestic scene.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)