From looking at the fighters records it'd be fair to assume that Horikawa would be the under-dog. Although he's more experienced with 38 fights on his ledger he has lost around 30% of his contests. This is however a case where numbers don't tell us the full story and in fact will mislead people.
Horikawa, 33, started his career back in 2000 and actually started his professional career with a 3-4 record. Despite that poor start Horikawa developed and advanced his record to an impressive 17-5-1 by August 2008. Having won 14 of 16 fights he had genuinely established himself on the domestic stage and moved in to a position to get a national title fight.
In 2009 Horikawa would get his first title fight. Unfortunately for him it came against Akira Yaegashi who narrowly outpointed Horikawa over 10 hard fought rounds to claim the Japanese Minimumweight title. Less than a year later Horikawa lost to Michael Landero in an OPBF Minimumweight title fight and since then his career has struggled for traction with losses in 4 of his subsequent 10 bouts.
Although Horikawa has been losing fights regularly over the past few years he has been facing a high calibre of opponent with losses coming to Florante Condes, Edgar Sosa Ryuji Hara and Noknoi Sitthiprasert. Those losses, whilst bad on paper, were often competitive with the losses to Hara and Noknoi both being very competitive. Horikawa may have several losses but he has mixed in extremely good company and will have learned more from those losses than he will have learned from many of his victories.
Aged 30 Kimura is the younger man though is much less experienced in terms of both quantity and quality of fights. He has been a professional since 2006 and started his career unbeaten through 5 bouts, going 4-0-1, before dropping a technical decision to Shin Ono. That loss was soon put behind him as he recorded 5 straight victories, including one over Masayoshi Segawa, to move to 9-1-1.
Unfortunately for Kimura he would then run into his most well known opponent, Ryoichi Taguchi, who stopped him in 6 rounds to inflict the first stoppage loss on Kimura's record. Since then he has bounced back with a trio of victories though when you consider that the most recent of those came against Tatsuya Fukuhara, who was beaten by the debuting Takuma Inoue back in December, then it's fair to say he's not yet proven his real quality.
The one certainty here seems to be that the bout will go the distance. Neither man has real power and in fact with just a combined 6 stoppages from 37 wins it's fair to say that neither man will fear the others power. Sure both have been stopped before but those stoppages have come to a higher level of fighter.
Going in to this fight we know to expect a decision and we also assume that many will be picking Kimura, we however fancy that the experience of Horikawa will help see him through to the victory. He's proven to be tough, he's tricky and whilst not the most technically skilled he does look like the sort of fighter who will give anyone who lacks concussive power a real nightmare. Not only does Horikawa have the experience edge but he also knows that this will likely be his final title opportunity, that can help fighters find an extra gear and we think that will just do enough to see him over the line.