Some bouts look like mismatches from the moment they are signed to the moment they end. Other bouts however look brilliant from the second they are made to the moment the winner has their hand raised. One bout we suspect will go in the second category is this Saturday's OPBF Super Featherweight title bout that looks like the first mouth watering fight of 2015 and potentially one of the best bouts of the year.
Going into the bout the champion is Thailand's unbeaten Jomthong Chuwatana (8-0, 4) a Muay Thai fighter who is also considered on of Thailand's best boxers. He is powerful, skilled, intelligent in the ring, tough and appears to be very aware of what is happening every moment he is in the ring. We won't pretend he is a KO artist or the fastest man in the division but he is a very complete fighter at both close range and at distance.
Whilst the champion is talented and strong so to is the challenger, Daiki Kaneko (21-3-3, 14), himself a former world title challenger and a former Japanese champion. Like the champion Kaneko isn't the fastest nor is the heaviest handed fighter in the division but he's built like a rock, brings action and pressure and is very highly skilled.
What we're expecting here is a battle between Jomthong's powerful boxing and his intelligent movement and the pressure and strength of Kaneko. Though even that is really simplifying what is likely to be a bout that has it's twists, turns and moments of magic.
Jomthong first won the title way back in May 2012 when he stopped South Korea's teak tough Dong-Hyuk Kim, who had a grotesquely swollen face. Since then he has defended it 3 times with decision wins over Ranel Suco, Ronald Pontills and Koseki Nakama. Although he hasn't scored a stoppage since he won the title has continued to show his impressive boxing which has seen scarcely losing a round, in fact the one clear round he lost came against Nakama, when the Thai was dropped.
Trying to box with Jomthong is typically a mistake. He's defensively very good, sharp with his punches and his jab is exceptional, in fact his jab is the key to a lot of his offense and allows him to both box and move or come inside and use his physical strength as well as crisp work on the inside.
Kaneko, like Jomthong, likes to work off the jab though often appears happier up close than at distance and has blistering shots up close even if he does look little bit slow when he tries to set some of his attacks up. The scary thing about Kaneko isn't his “boxing” ability however, instead it's his physicality and despite fighting at Super Featherweight he looks like a monster. It's that physicality that allowed him to give Takashi Uchiyama a really tough bout at the end of 2013 and it's the same trait that would give anyone in the division time.
Defensively Kaneko isn't as intelligent as Jomthong though he's every bit as talented, as strong as hurtful with his blows.
In many ways we suspect these two will look like a mirror image of each other. They will both be trying to use their jabs to open up the other man, they will both be looking to come inside following their sharp jabs and they will both be willing to let shots go on the inside. The only real differences between the two are minor. Jomthong is better defensively whilst Kaneko is more physical, Jomthong appears to be slightly quicker whilst Kaneko appears the more powerful. With that in mind we suspect this one will be a very close bout and wouldn't be surprised by a razor thin decision either way.
Although we can't pick a winner in this fantastic match we do suspect that whoever comes out on top will fight for a world title later this year. Amazingly we do give both fighters a real chance at world level and wouldn't be hugely surprised to see both men winning world titles in the future.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
They say good things come to those who wait and the return to boxing of Jomthong Chuwatana (7-0, 4) is certainly a good thing, and a thing we've certainly had to wait for. In fact we've waited significantly longer than we'd have expected due to several out of the ring problems, non of which have been due to Jomthong.
Jomthong, a great Muay Thai fighter-turn boxer, quickly rose to the OPBF Super Featherweight title, a title he won by stopping South Korea's Dong-Hyuk Kim way back in May 2005. At that point in time Jomthong looked like he was going to be the next Thai boxing superstar. Since then though he has fought just 3 times defending his title twice. Unfortunately that inactivity has seen him being out of the ring since March 2013 and the OPBF title has been on ice since February 2013 when Ronald Pontillas challenged Jomthonng.
Jomthong is a fight who really does a lot of tools to go a long way. Not only does he have a fighters mentality, something that clearly comes from a long term Muay Thai career, but he also skills, heavy hands and a very relaxed style. He's like many Thai's in some ways, he's strong and comes forward a lot, though unlike many Thai's he actually has very good head movement and most impressively the ability to fight inside or outside, something many fighters world wide seem unable to do. He's not quite a complete boxer but he'll be a nightmare for anyone at 130lbs.
Whilst we should all know a bit about Jomthong we need to admit we don't know a lot about his opponent Koseki Nakama (17-4, 8). At one point, early in his career, he looked to be a fighter going places and in just his 7th professional bout be he defeated Antonio Cermeno, unfortunately a year later Aozora Nishida knocked out Nakama to take his previously unbeaten record. Interestingly the loss to the big punching Nishida is the only time Nakama has been stopped.
Following his first loss Nakama won his following 5 bouts before suffering a trio of losses, including a notable one to Hero Bando who was, at best, a fringe domestic contender albeit a tough one.
To date the best wins scored by Nakama have been the Moreno one, one over Ikuto Kobayashi and most recently a stoppage of Jose Ocampo. That's not to say he's a bad fighter but he's not proven himself to be anything special and in many ways he appears to have little chance of over-coming his talented Thai foe. Ranked #4 by the OPBF however he is a high ranked challenger, though one that the OPBF really have over-rated in our estimation.
We expect this to be fun. Jomthong is usually fun to watch combining skills, power and a relaxed aggression, though with Nakama being a bit of an unknown to us. With Jomthong having been inactive for so long he may start slowly though by the mid rounds we expect him to be landing his southpaw left hands regularly and eventually do enough damage to Nakama to force a stoppage.
(Image courtesy Okinawa World Boxing Gym)
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.