On Monday we get Christmas, and it's fair to say we're in for some treats away from the world of boxing. Just a day later however action returns to the ring and our attention turns to Kobe for a Japanese Minimumweight title fight. On paper the match up, between defending champion Reiya Konishi (14-0, 5) and challenger Kenta Matsui (8-6, 1), looks likes a mismatch but the reality is that it could very well be an incredibly competitive contest between two men looking to prove themselves.
The unbeaten champion won the belt in April, with a razor thin decision win over Masataka Taniguchi, and made his only defense in September, when he took a majority decision over Shin Ono. Together those two wins are less than amazing and suggest that Konishi, whilst unbeaten, isn't an elite fighter in the making. Instead the 24 year old looks like a talented fighter who could mix at world level, but is unlikely to become a long term champion.
In the ring Konishi is a decent boxer-fighter who has a good engine, nice technique but really lacks power, even at this domestic level. He doesn't mind having a war but no one is going to be afraid of his power, and he has scored just 1 stoppage in his last 9 bouts, and that came against a very limited Thai. Whilst going the distance with Ono and Taniguchi isn't a bad thing there is just a general feeling that he doesn't have the physicality to go to the top, or the power to make domestic type of fighters really respect him.
Aged 22 Matsui is a proverbial boxing baby but is also a man who has had more than 5 years professional experience and has also mixed with good company. His early career saw him having very mixed results, including a close loss to Jun Takigawa in November 2013 and a loss in a rematch in 2015. That mixed form would later lead to Matsui fighting Riku Kano in 2015, losing to the then fast rising Kano. In his last 3 bouts he has gone 2-1, with his only loss coming to current Japanese Light Flyweight champion Tetsuya Hisada and scoring wins over Rikito Hattori and Genki Hanai.
Having scored big upsets over Hattori and Hanai we've seen that Matsui is a very upset minded fighter, who fights with the intention of beating better fighters. It's a nice mentality and one that needs to be applauded, rather than seeing him come in to pick up more losses. He'll be fully aware that no one is giving him a chance, given his record, but he'll know that he has the ability to shock opponents, and will also know that Konishi isn't as good as his record suggests.
On paper it's easy to feel like Konishi will win, with little problems. The reality however is that whilst we do believe that Konishi will win, we think he'll be forced to work very hard for the victory. Matsui will be there to win, he's tough enough to take the shots of Konishi and will be in his face. Matsui's ability will make things very tough for Konishi, but we think Konishi will again retain his title.
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.