Many of the 2018 Japanese title decider bouts are ones where there is a clear favourite and a clear under-dog. One of the exceptions to that is the Super Featherweight contest where Ken Osato (14-2-1, 4) will face Satoru Sugita (14-5-1, 9) in a second meeting between the two men. In fact it's not only their second bout, but also their second bout to decide who gets a domestic title fight. Last time out it was Osato who narrowly over-come Sugita, claiming a split decision last December but Sugita will certainly be looking for revenge. If Sugita does manage to get revenge he will secure his third title shot, whilst Osato will be looking to get his second.
Aged 24 Osato is younger fighter and he's had mixed success since his 2012 debut. He would begin his career 4-0 (3) before losing in a round to Shohei Fujimoto, suggesting that he wasn't the toughest out there. Since that loss however he has gone 10-1-1 (1) with his only defeat coming to Masaru Sueyoshi earlier this year in a Japanese title fight. That bout saw Osato losing in 8 rounds to the champion after dropping Sueyoshi earlier in the bout. In terms of notable results he has not only got the win over Sugita but also victories over Retsu Kosaka, Sho Nagata, and a draw with veteran Kento Matsushita.
Osato has impressed in his performances against the most notable names he's faced. He's technically good, accurate, fast and sharp. His lack of power is an issue, but he's never going to be a puncher and has developed a style that is based around his jab, controlling distance with smart footwork and creating angles to land both his jab and his right hand. He's very much an outside fighter who plays safety first, but does manage to come in well when he doubles up the jab. He's solid, and go on to win a title down the line, but he really does need to develop some extra bang in his shots. If, or when, he does that he could be very hard to beat at Japanese domestic level.
Although unknown outside of Japan Sugita is pretty well known in the country and has genuinely faced a number of notable fighters. His first loss was in 2011, when he was stopped by Ryuto Kyoguchi the older brother of Hiroto Kyoguchi, his second loss was in 2013 to future Japanese champion Kosuke Saka, with his following two losses both coming to the then Japanese king Kenichi Ogawa. His most recent defeat was the loss to Osato. As for wins he holds notable victories over Ryota Kajiki and Tsuyoshi Tojo. In the ring Sugita is a technically solid boxer-puncher. He's got a sharp jab, follows it up with a good straight and applies pressure behind his jab. He also hits hard enough to get respect from his opponents, which Osato can't do.
At his best Sugita is a match for pretty much any current Japanese Super Featherweight. He gave Ogawa fits in both of their bouts. His jab is a nightmare to defend against and his timing on the right hand is brilliant, especially when he throws it as a counter. Given his loss last year to Osato we expect him to be busier than he was, to start faster and not let Osato get a foothold to build off. He has the power and the better competition and will be determined to get revenge over Osato.
This has the potential to be a frustrating bout though we suspect both men will want to put on a show, and will do so in a high speed chess match. There's unlikely to be much inside fighter, neither seem to be that willing to fight on the inside in general, but we could well see a lot of jabs with both looking to follow the jab with a right hand. Sugita has the edge in power but Osato has the faster feet and it could be that foot work will be the differenc. We however suspect that Sugita's heavier hands will help him land the more eye catching shots as he takes a close decision over Osato and secures a shot at the Japanese belt during the 2019 Champion Carnival.
The 2018 Champion Carnival is a real mixed bag of fights. It was officially supposed to begin back on January 20th, with Ryo Akaho defending the Japanese Bantamweight title, but ill health forced him to vacate the title instead and as a result we'll have to wait until this coming Saturday to the see the first bout. Thankfully the wait seems to be worth it and we'll see Masaru Sueyoshi (16-1, 10) defending the Japanese Super Featherweight title against Ken Osato (13-1-1, 4). The bout looks really even on paper, features a fighter making his first defense against a fighter in his first title bout, and is a solid headliner for a Dynamic Glove card on G+.
Of the two men it's the champion who is the more well known. He has been on a number of G+ shows and faced several fighters of note. One of those was Masayuki Ito, who gave Sueyoshi his sole loss back in 2012, in what was Sueyoshi's 4th professional bout, whilst others have included Kazuma Sanpei, Shingo Eto, Allan Vallespin and Ribo Takahata.
In the ring Sueyoshi can be a frustrating fighter who sometimes seems to set a peculiar range and tempo. Whilst that clearly gives opponents headaches it can also be annoying for fans and it often seems like Sueyoshi is a touch too negative and too busy looking to fight on the back foot. It's something that has worked for him, and sometimes in eye catching fashion like his eye catching KO win over Vallespin last year, but can be very awkward to watch.
In his title win Sueyoshi impressively out boxed Takahata. It wasn't a performance without frustrations, but it was one that proved Seuyoshi can go 10 rounds at a good tempo, can take a shot and win in a battle against a hardened veteran. It wasn't an eye opening and outstanding win, but it was a very solid performance from the Teiken man, who turned 27 the day after the win.
The 23 year old Osato earned his shot at the title last December, when he took a split decision over 2-time title challenger Satoru Sugita, in what was a very competitive and interesting fight in Osaka. The win saw Osato extend his current unbeaten run to 10 fights, following an opening round KO defeat to Shohei Fujimoto in September 2013. His current 10 fight unbeaten run includes notable domestic wins over Retsu Kosaka, Sho Nagata and Sugita, as well as a draw with Kento Matsushita.
Against Sugita we saw Osato look sharp, aggressive and accurate in the early stages, with a busy snappy jab and a snappy right hand. He seemed to outbox the talented Sugita in the early stages and clearly build his confidence. His problem in the bout was that he slowed down as we went into the later rounds and Sugita's experience allowed him back into the bout. The shots that were landing clean in the early stages were missing and he was being countered regularly, whilst showing an inability to to adapt.
At times Osato has looked great, as he did early on against Sugita, but the question for him is whether he can do it for 10 rounds against someone as tricky and awkward as Sueyoshi. If he can then we could see a new champion. Our feeling however is that Sueyoshi's extra experience at a higher level, and training at the Teiken gym, will be enough for him to take home the win in a hotly contested battle.
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.