Wake returns to the ring just days after the Otake/Furuhashi fight and defends his OPBF title against the #1 ranked OPBF challenger Jaesung Lee (17-3-2, 9) from South Korea. Like Otake, Wake is world ranked and is looking towards a world title fight, though will know that he needs a win, and better yet an impressive one, if he is to make that next step get a fight for world honours either at the end of this year or early next year.
Wake is a fighter we are huge fans of and despite his record he appears to be a genuinely class fighter who is combining his fantastic skills with experience and maturity. In fact in many ways he's a big like Hozumi Hasegawa, as far out as that sounds, who suffered early losses then developed into a sensational fighter.
Wake lost 3 of his first 10 bouts though has gone 10-1-1 in his last 12 contests whilst moving through the rankings and becoming a real force.
The first sign of Wake's potential was shown back in 2011 though he began finding his groove last year when he shocked the previously unbeaten Yukinori Oguni to claim the OPBF belt. Since then he has scored a trio of title defences, all by stoppage, and looked like a fighter who has really grown in confidence and self belief.
Although Wake has recorded 4 successive stoppages his real trait isn't his power but his frustrating trickery. Firstly he's a tall, rangy Super Bantamweight, add that to the fact he's a southpaw with quick reactions and sharp counter-punching and the fact he can take a shot without being troubled and you have a nightmare to fight. Sure he picked up losses early in his career but in recent fights he has been busier, more accurate and hard hitting than he was early on and it's shown in his results and his ever growing reputation as a potential world champion in one of boxing's more loaded divisions.
In the Korean challenger we have a man who will be determined to launch himself on to the world stage. Lee not only has a chance to claim an OPBF title here but also put himself immediately into the world title mix. That's a huge opportunity for a man who is one of the few active South Koreans to actually look like he's got something about him.
Lee is a fighter who, like Wake, suffered losses relatively early in his career. In fact Lee began his career 10-3-1 before going 7-0-1 in his last 8 bouts which have included wins over a number of Wake's compatriots, including Akihiro Matsumoto, Seigo Sato and Takuya Watanabe. Rather interestingly Lee is 3-0 (1) in Japan and is 4-0-1 (1) again Japanese opponents, a very impressive record for a South Korean right now. Further to that is that all 3 of Lee's losses have come in the US to Jesus Salvador Perez, Jorge Diaz and, most notably, world champion Mikey Garcia.
From what we've seen of Lee he has a lot of traits one has come to expect of Korean fighters. He's brave, he takes a good shot, despite having 2 stoppages on his record, and he's happy to take one if he's going to land one in return. Of course like many Korean's his defence isn't a strong point though he certainly looks after himself better than, for example, Ji Hoon Kim who fights like defence is a dirty word. One thing we did find very misleading about about his record is that on paper he's not a puncher, in reality it does look like he has some real sting in his right hand, he's not a concussive puncher obviously but he looks like a solid puncher.
Whilst we do enjoy watching Lee, and his fight with Watanabe from earlier this year was an amazing blood bath, we really don't see him posing any threat to Wake who we expect will be too sharp, too skilled, too fast and too good for Lee. Lee is what he is, an entertaining but crude action fighter unfortunately for him we don't see any way in which he can trouble Wake who is an exceptional sharp shooter. Hopefully however Lee will be invited back to Japan for a better stylistic match up for his next fight as he's someone who is made for TV.
As for Wake we think a win here will be followed by either a world title fight in early 2014 or a world title eliminator. Hopefully he'll get a major bout that is given international exposure so a fight with someone like Leo Santa Cruz, Carl Frampton or Scott Quigg would be really top of our list for Wake for next year.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)