The rise of Hiroto Kyoguchi (6-0, 6) has been something special to watch and this coming Tuesday we get the chance to see it continue as he looks to make his first defense of the OPBF Minimumweight title, a title he won in just his 13th professional round! In the opposite corner to the destructive Watanabe gym prospect will be Filipino southpaw Jonathan Refugio (16-5-5, 4), the third successive southpaw foe for Kyoguchi.
Kyoguchi turned professional last year to some notable fan fare and expectation with many in Japan tipping the youngster as a special talent. His first two bouts however were low key, and a little bit under-whelming as he despatched hapless Thai's in a combined 3 rounds. In his third bout however he shone, stopping the capable Kenichi Miyazaki in 3 rounds,then blowing away Michael Camelion in just 33 seconds before ending 2016 with a 3rd round KO win over Junuel Lacar. To begin 2017 he claimed the OPBF title by stopping veteran Armando De La Cruz in 3 rounds.
Despite being a novice professional Kyoguchi has been nothing less than sensational so far and looks like another top Japanese pressure fighter, like Daigo Higa. He uses a lot of educated pressure, under-rated defensive work, frightening combinations and some of the best body work in the sport. He's a pure offensive machine, and fans of Roman Gonzalez should be following Kyoguchi's rise through the ranks, with Kyoguchi's style being similar to that of the Nicaraguan star.
Whilst Kyoguchi has looked amazing so far he has still got a lot of questions to answer. He's not been hit cleanly much, with De la Cruz having tagged him clean once and then being given a battering in the moments that followed. He has also never proven his stamina, with his longest fight to date not lasting more than 3 rounds. That's likely to change in the future, but we really don't know how well his style and stamina hold out in the later rounds.
Filipino fighter Refugio has been a professional for close to 7 years and has mixed with a number of top class opponents. Those opponents include current world champions Wanheng Menayothin and Knockout CP Freshmart, as well as former world champion Merlito Sabillo and world title contender Melvin Jerusalem. He may have lost to those notable names but only Menayothin and Sabillo have managed to stop him so far, and he does hold a notable win over Richard Claveras.
In the ring Refugio is a well schooled fighter. He moves well, has good technical ability and plenty of heart, having pulled himself off the canvas to fight on in the past. He's show a good attitude and a will to work hard to avoid a loss, but he lacks power and will struggle to force his will on good regional level fighters, despite his solid skills and work rate. If he can't make top fighters then he's set for problems here when he's taking on the likes of Kyoguchi.
Although Refugio is a quality operator it's hard to see anything but a win for Kyoguchi. We think he will have to prove his stamina, but will eventually break down Refugio with body shots to retain his title and his 100% stoppage record, before looking towards a potential world title fight later in the year.
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.