If there is one divisions that is looking amazingly deep in Asia at the moment it's the Super Bantamweight division with notable fighters from all across the region, such as world champions, like Hozumi Hasegawa to world ranked contenders like Shingo Wake, Yukinori Oguni, Ryosuke Iwasa, Qiu Xiao Jun, Yasutaka Ishimoto, Genesis Servania, Ye Joon Kim and recently deposed champion Nonito Donaire. With so much depth in the region it may well be the weight class that really comes to the fore in 2017.
Given the depth it does seem a lot of fighters are all lining up to get a shot at a world title and taking small steps to get there. One such fighter is OPBF Shun Kubo (10-0, 7) who returns to the ring this coming Friday to defend his title, for the second time. In the opposite corner to Kubo will be little known Korean Jin Wook Lim (8-4-5, 2).
Kubo has been long ear marked as one of the rising stars of the Shinsei gym. That was clear in his third fight, when he beaten experienced Filipino Monico Laurente, and again in 2014 when he beat Luis May to first claim a world ranking. He wasn't on the hyper-speed track to the top, like Naoya Inoue and Kosei Tanaka, but he was clearly on a faster track than many others. That was again shown at the end of 2015 when he claimed the OPBF Bantamweight title with a 5th round TKO win over Lloyd Jardeliza. Sadly his rise sort of slowed after that win, with his only subsequent bout being a narrow decision win over Benjie Suganob back in May, with that performance leaving some to question whether he was ready for a bigger step up.
Given Kubo's competitive encounter with Suganob it was no surprise to see his team look to him to make another “safe” defense of the OPBF title, rather than move through the world rankings and that's why we have his upcoming bout with Lim.
In the ring Kubo is a rather peculiar fighter. He has skills, speed and power, and fighters from a southpaw stance, a stance that is made doubly infuriating or opponents due to just how awkward and unique his actual stance is. Not only is he awkward but he's a talented fighter, with an air of confidence and a strong team behind him, with a clear mentor in the form of 3-weight world champion Hozumi Hasegawa who is also a member of the Shinsei Gym.
On paper the Korean visitor looks really limited, in fact with just 8 wins from 17 bouts he has a sub 50% rate and only has a 12% stoppage rate. Poor numbers by any measure for a title level fight. He has however had a long time to prepare for this bout, with Korean sources reporting it as a done deal weeks before the Japanese had, and he's also not been easily matched facing a variety of Ket Korean fighters in and around the Bantamweight division. That has seen him claim a win over Sa Myung Noh and fight to a draw with Ye Joon Kim. He has also gone 10 rounds in a somewhat competitive loss to Shohei Kawashima, who impressed recently against Cristian Mijares. Sadly though he is 0-1-2 against Japanese fighters.
Given the lack of stoppages on his record it will come as no surprise to hear that Lim is the type of fighter who rarely sits on his punches. Instead he likes to use the ring, move a lot and use his speed of hand and foot. He's relatively basic in regards to what he does in the ring but he's fast enough to use his jab and move out of range. There is potentially a good boxer here, and one who looks comfortable in the ring, but his total lack of power is a problem and the way he was out boxed by Shohei Kawashima does suggest that against good fighters he's going to come up short.
Although we've got a lot of questions to ask about Kubo he shouldn't really struggle too much with Lim, though there is a chance he will look bad at times chasing the Korean moved around the ring and being countered at times by the shorter man.
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.