If one Japanese fighter impressed us last year, without getting major acclaim, it was the sharp shooting Shingo Wake (15-4-2, 8) who really came in to his own. Wake, a relative unknown prior to last year, began to live up to his promise in 2013 and also claimed the OPBF Super Bantamweight title in the process as he moved from Japanese domestic class to fringe world class.
The talented Wake, who kicked off his 2013 with an upset stoppage over the previously unbeaten Yukinori Oguni, went 3-0 (3) in the year. This was his year, the year that saw him believing in his talent and putting a few forgettable years well and truly behind him.
Despite the success of 2013 Wake will be hoping to keep his career momentum going when he returns for his first bout of 2014, a bout that sees him defending his OPBF title against Japanese based Filipino challenger Jovylito Aligarbes (10-2, 4) on February 10th at "Dangan 93". Although on paper Wake will be the favourite, Wake himself will know all too well that being the under-dog can be a blessing in disguise.
Of course Wake's biggest win was the victory over Oguni, an upset that wasn't foreseen by many. At the time Oguni was 10-0 (2) and world ranked, Wake was a distinctly average looking 12-4-2 (5). It's fair to say that Wake was in the situation Aligarbes is in now, a man looking to score their break out victory. For Wake though he'll not be wanting to through away what he has accomplished over the last 12 months, especially not to a fighter like Aligarbes.
Wake, at his very best, is a nightmare to fight. He's slippery, he's fast, he's accurate and most frustratingly is the fact he lures opponents in time and time again before countering with a sharp straight shot. He's just as frustrating as he is talented and if he doesn't beat you physically with his sharp accurate shots he beats you mentally by making you chase shadows and tag the air. What makes Wake even more frustrating to fight is that he's a southpaw and a tall for the weight at 5'8".
At his worst though, Wake can be very disappointing, lazy and lacking the fire to really be a star. Thankfully however Wake did seem to find his fire in 2013 and hopefully that will continue in to 2014.
Aligarbes, also known as Jovy Katsumata, is a fighter who as just 19 years old is improving and is clearly talented. Unfortunately for the youngster he's still a long way from beating the likes of Wake.
From his career so far Aligarbes has shown some genuine class, though he's also making a lot of mistakes still. He's a typical diamond in the rough that we often see with promising Filipino fighters. Unfortunately he suffers from one of the other problems of being a talented young Filipino, he's being matched in an harsh and unfair manner. Sometimes it works, as it did when Aligarbes took on Monico Laurente, but there is a big difference between the likes of Laurente and Wake.
Added to Aligarbes problems regarding his unpolished skills is the fact he's moving up in weight. Aligarbes is the WBC Youth Super Flyweight champion and moving up to Super Bantamweight to take on Wake just seems like a ridiculously tough step up in terms of weight and class. Of course a loss to Wake isn't the end of the world but he certainly doesn't need another loss. Aligarbes should be given more fights in his division at his level than taking this big step up.
We're expecting Aligarbes to start confidently and try and get to Wake but Wake's movement and accuracy will make him pay. By round 3 or 4 Aligarbes will be getting broken down and whilst we expect him to go out on his shield he'll never really be in the bout.
Hopefully, for Wake, this will be his final bout against a lesser foe before moving on. He can, by all means, continue defending his OPBF title though he should only really continue defending it if he can get someone like Hidenori Otake, Genesis Servania or Albert Pagara in the ring with him. No one else in the OPBF Super Bantamweight rankings deserve to be in the ring with him and none of the other others would even give Wake a competitive bout.
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.