The Super Featherweight division isn't the best out there at the moment, but is one where there is a nice amount of talent across the various levels of the sport, meaning there are some fantastic fights out there, even if they aren't at the very top level. The Oriental scene has a handful of fighters who could all share the ring and put on great fights. We get one such fight on March 27th when the unbeaten OPBF champion Hironori Mishiro (6-0-1, 2) takes on OPBF Silver champion Takuya Watanabe (35-8-1, 20) in a really mouth watering match up.
The champion is a former amateur stand out who made his pro debut in 2017 and was hotly tipped as a star in the making straight away. He would score 3 straight forward wins before going up against the then unbeaten Shuma Nakazato, taking a hard fought win over Nakazato. He would then add an upset win over Shuya Masaki before challenging OPBF champion Carlo Magali. The bout over Magali was a massive step up, but one that Mishiro made, just doing enough to take a split decision win over the Filipino veteran. Since then he has defended the belt once, fighting to a draw against Masaru Sueyoshi in an OPBF/JBC title unification bout. The Sueyoshi bout was Mishiro's most impressive performance, despite only earning a draw.
In the ring the 24 year old Mishiro is a very fluid fighter, able to box on the back foot, using his size and reach, or on the front foot, bringing the pressure and cutting the distance. He's strong, very quick, and looks incredibly relaxed in the ring. Although he has solid power, he's not a concussive puncher and despite being able to fight on the front foot, he does lack real killer instinct, something has shown it's self in the past. One thing that has really impressed about Mishiro is his stamina, and despite only having 7 fights he has already done 12 rounds twice. He's not a non-stop punching machine, but for someone so early in their career he has impressed, and he certainly paced himself better in his second 12 rounder than his first one.
The challenger isn't the natural boxer that Mishiro is, but is instead a 30 year old veteran who has been a professional for over 12 years and despite having 8 losses is a very good boxer-puncher with a gritty determination that makes him a hard man to beat. His career has also been different to most of his fellow Japanese fights. Not only has he been active, with 44 bouts in just over 12 years, but many of those have been on the road. He has right through South East Asia, with bouts in Thailand, South Korea, China, Hong Kong, and Taipei. On the road he has had some of his most memorable bouts, including his blood bath with Jaesung Lee in Korea his KO win against Leshan Li in Hong Kong and a very hard fought loss to Yongqiang Yang in China. As for bouts in Japan he has faced some pretty stiff competition, including Hisashi Amagasa, Satoshi Hosono and Masayuki Ito.
Watanabe is a tough, solid guy with solid power, solid all round skills, an incredible will to win, and brilliant stamina. Although a boxer-puncher he can get involved in a brawl and is pretty solid in every facet of his game. He's a touch slow, which Ito made the most of, and is slightly limited in terms of skill and timing, but very few will have an easy time with Watanabe, especially now he's a fully mature and experienced fighter.
This is clearly a bout that is designed to give Mishiro a tough defense, and further prepare him for the big time. It's a risk from him and his team, but a calculated one, and one we think they're confident of him passing. It's going to be a tough, 12 round test, but we do favour Mishiro to take the decision, albeit a close decision. If he does then we wouldn't be surprised at all to see his next bout come against a world ranked foe, possibly a rematch with Sueyoshi.
This coming Saturday we'll see titles being unified as OPBF Super Featherweight champion Hironori Mishiro (6-0, 2) takes on Japanese champion Masaru Sueyoshi (18-1, 11), with the winner becoming the de facto #2 in Japan behind WBO champion Masayuki Ito, and moving towards a world title fight of their own.
Although the less experienced of the two men Mishiro is the holder of the high level title, a title he won back in June when he out pointed Filipino Carlo Magali in a very close bout. Prior to that win he had scored notable domestic victories over Shuya Masaki and Shuma Nakazato, and was a former amateur standout. Despite his success he often been a frustrating fighter, showing little killer instinct and being dragged into longer and tough bouts than he probably wanted to have. At his best he is a wonderful fighter to watch, boxing at range and dictating the tempo is something he looks brilliant at. Up close however he can be made to look defensively flawed, open and easy to tag, and we do have questions about his chin and durability as well as his stamina.
If Mishiro can dictate the tempo and range of a fight he's going to be a very hard man to beat, but when he slows down he does look beatable, and this something he will have to work hard to improve as his career develops. After just 6 fights, and aged just 23, we don't expect him to be a complete fighter and in fact his flaws being so numerous make it clear just how much he has to work with already. He's quick, smart, rangy and very promising.
With 19 bouts under his belt Sueyoshi is far more experienced than Mishiro and at 27 he is more mature as a fighter. Not only that but he has been a professional for more than 7 years, and has faced several notable foes, including Masayuki Ito, Shingo Eto, Allan Vallespin and Ribo Takahata. He actually won the title by beating Takahata last October and has made two defenses, beating Ken Osato and Tsuyoshi Tojo.
Like Mishiro we see Sueyoshi as a frustrating fighter. He creates awkward distance and angles, and fighters very well off the back foot, in a rather unusual manner. He's not a puncher by any means, but when he lands clean he can score spectacular KO's, as he did against Vallespin. Instead he chips away at people, breaks them down mentally as well as physically and draws mistakes out of them. He's technically very good, and makes people pay for their mistakes, but has been dropped and hurt before and it's clear that whilst talented he may struggle against the bigger punchers if, or when, he mixes at world level.
We're expecting a bit of an awkward bout here. Both fighters set unusual distances and tempos. Of the two Mishiro is the more aggressive and Sueyoshi the more defensively minded, and given that polarity we do expect this to be a pretty fun bout. We favour Sueyoshi's experience over 10 rounds to get him to victory, but we wouldn't be surprised by a close decision either way in what could be a bout that frustrates at times but is very competitive through out.
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.
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.