One of the best divisions in boxing, both historically and currently, is the Flyweight division. At the moment it not only has two of the best fighters in the world plying their trade there but also some of the most entertaining, including OPBF champion Koki Eto (16-3-1, 12). Eto isn't a star, he isn't one for the purists and he isn't a fighter who show the nuances that will define the sweet science, he is however a warrior through and through a man who brings as much “bang for buck” as anyone else in the sport.
On June 8th Eto makes the second defense of his OPBF title as he takes on domestic foe Yuki Fukumoto (17-9, 5) in what is widely believed to be Eto's final defense before he moves on to chasing for world honours.
Eto first caught our attention back in 2013 when he engaged in back-to-back FOTY contenders. The first of those saw Eto claim the WBA interim title courtesy of an all-out war with Kompayak Porpramook. That bout, in Thailand, was one of the most exciting performance we've seen and it seemed like Eto was set to become a star. Just a fight later Eto lost that title, suffering a 12th round stoppage at the hands of the very capable Yodmongkol Vor Saenghtep.
In 2014 Eto returned to being a champion as he claimed the OPBF title with a dramatic 8th round TKO win against Filipino warrior Ardin Diale. Since then he has defended the title once, stopping Cris Paulino in the 10th round of a relative tame contest. That bout showed that Eto can box, even though he was being out boxed by Paulino at time, though was a much more reserved performance from the Japanese warrior.
Eto can box, as seen against Paulino, though brawling is much more natural to him and it's the brawling that has made us fans with his high octane fight style. Defensively he's very poor but he's managed to make his offense into his defense and he's shown a real grit and toughness which has helped him see him through some incredibly tough match ups, such as the Diale one.
Whilst we've managed to see plenty of Eto over the last few years we've got to admit we weren't really familiar with Fukumoto when this bout was announced. He has however been in with some pretty notable opposition suffering losses to Yota Sato, in a Japanese title fight, Silvester Lopez, Cris Paulino, Yusukue Sakashita and Toyoto Shiraishi. Worryingly many of those losses have come by stoppage.
On paper Fukumoto's best win is over former world title challenger Takashi Kunishge, back in 2011, though he does hold a few other notable victories including ones Toyoto Shiraishi, Ken Achiwa and Hyobu Nakagama, Unfortunately those wins, at best, have come against Japanese level foes with their best days behind them.
Although footage of Fukumoto is scant we do know he's not a big puncher, he's not the most elusive and that he appears to struggle under pressure. That's back up by the fact he's been stopped 5 times in his 9 losses. We suspect that this will be stoppage #6 with with Eto applying early pressure and Fukumoto wilting early in the contest, at least if the aggressive Eto turns up.
If Eto is out there to box there is a chance that we do see Fukumoto having success, though we really can't see how the challenger manages to win here given that he's up against a fighter who is so much better than men who have previously beaten him.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
The last time we saw Japanese fighter Koki Eto (15-3-1, 11) in the ring he was a victor in one of this years most brutal and exciting fights against Ardin Diale. He may have been shaken unconscious by his own corner man in rather exuberant celebration but he was a victor all the same and had claimed the OPBF Flyweight title in a bout that deserves a mention as a 2014 FOTY contender. For Eto his it was his third success grueling war following back to back FOTY contenders in 2013 against Kompayak Porpramook, which saw Eto claim the WBA interim Flyweight title, and Yodmongkol Vor Saengthep, which saw Eto losing the title to Yodmongkol and it continued to show that he was one of the sports most exciting fighters, despite numerous limitations.
This week we see Eto return to the ring to defend his OPBF belt against once beaten Filipino challenger Cris Paulino (14-1, 4), the #1 ranked OPBF ranked contender. On paper it should be a less damaging contest for the Japanese fighter though it's still a tough one as Paulino attempts to move from the Filipino scene to the Oriental scene and put his own loss to Diale well and truly behind him.
If you've not yet seen Eto in action we do need to ask a genuine question, why not? The Japanese fighter is a 1-man highlight reel who could have entertaining fights with his shadow or a heavy bag. In fact he has probably lost to his shadow on points before. He's one of the sports most fun to watch fighters due to his his open defense, all out offense and incredibly heart and it's those things that have made us fans of Eto.
Whilst Eto is incredibly exciting and fun to watch he is incredibly limited and we know that he'll never be classed as a genuine world class Flyweight, despite his short reign as the WBA's interim champion. Sometimes however we have to accept that fun and entertaining fights are just as important as the elite fights and Eto is as fun as any fighter on the planet with everyone of his fights almost guaranteed to be exciting.
As for Paulino he too is an exciting fighter though fundamentally he's a more technically schooled fighter than Eto, then again so are some bar brawlers. Fighting as a southpaw Paulino is a tidy little fighter for the most part with a nice jab, a solid straight left hand and fast foot movement. He has also shown that he hits harder than his record indicates having stopped Hayato Yamaguchi in 2012 and having dropped his last 3 opponents. He is also unbeaten in fights outside of the Philippines with a win last year against Yuki Fukumoto at the Korakuen Hall, the same venue he will be fighting at this Wednesday.
Although more well technically capable than Eto we do wonder what Paulino is really made of and his sole loss, an 11th round TKO at the hands of Ardin Diale in a GAB Flyweight title fight, do leave us wondering about his over-all toughness. Prior to being stopped by Diale it's fair to say Paulino was impressive with his boxing, especially early, looking very impressive. That leads us to a second issue about Paulino, what's his stamina like? He's never been 12 rounds before and in the latter rounds against Diale he was beginning to look really tired, giving Diale the openings and opportunities he needed to land the fight ending blow.
We're expecting to see Eto impose his style on the fight as he usually does. He will go on the offensive and Paulino will be forced to answer back. Earlier on we suspect Paulino will be forced to use his legs and box and move. It won't take long however for Paulino to realise he has to fight fire with fire and when that happens we'll be given an all out war between two men who can hurt and be hurt. When that happens we suspect Eto's extra power, home advantage and insatiable will to win will just manage to wear down Paulino as it did with Diale. Prior to the finish however we're expecting a real war between two men who will be throwing repeated power shots in an attempt to finish off the other man in what will turn out to be a thrilling contest.
For those wanting to watch this bout it will be streamed FREE on the Gushiken Ustream channel!
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
All too often in boxing fans over-look the smaller fighters despite how exciting they can be. Last year so one such over-looked but brilliant fight in Thailand as Japan's Koki Eto (14-3-1, 10) went to Bangkok and won a war with Thailand's very own Kompayak Porpramook for the WBA interim Flyweight title. The bout was one our favourites from last year and one of the most scintillating bouts of recent years.
Eto's reign as interim world champion didn't last long and less than 4 months after his victory over Porpramook he was beaten himself by Yodmongkol Vor Saengthep in what was his first defence. Like the Porpramook bout it was a ard one and will have added considerable miles to the clock of the all action Japanese fighter.
Almost 7 months on from the loss to Yodmongkol we see Eto returning to the ring and fighting against experienced Filipino Ardin Diale (23-8-3, 10) in a bout for the vacant OPBF Flyweight title, a bout that promises to be an all out war.
From the fights we've seen of Eto he's never gong to be a talented boxer. He is a warrior through and through, he comes to fights and will either win or go out on his shield in exciting fashion. In all honesty he is a perfect "made for TV" fighter but sadly doesn't appear to be getting much TV time.
In Diale we have a more experience fighter who has seemingly been around forever but at just 25 years old he is younger than his Japanese and has already fought at a higher level. In fact in 34 fights the list of notable names Diale has faced include Rodel Mayol, Wanheng Menayothin, John Riel Casimero, Julio Cesar Miranda and Juan Francisco Estrada, a very impressive list of opponents.
Although Diale typically comes up short against the best opponents that he faces he has proven to be a very credible fighter who combines toughness, heart and action. Just like Eto he is a very TV friendly fighter who comes to the ring to fight. Sadly he has been stopped 3 times, though all of those stoppages have come to world class fighters and and they have all come with Diale having given a good account of himself against opponents who looked bigger than himself.
With a pair of warriors we are bound to have a fire cracker here and we're actually very split on who we think will come out on top. Eto has home field advantage, though has never previously fought in a title fight in Japan, and has had a slightly longer training camp. Diale, who was a replacement opponent, is in the form of his life and has won 6 of his last 8, all by KO.
We, as a team, couldn't make a guess on the winner though we all agreed that this has potential FOTY written all over it and is very unlikely to go the scheduled 10 rounds. It has a war written all over it and we hope that it lives up to that potential. The winner is unlikely to progress to winning world titles, especially in the insanely difficult Flyweight division, but the fans are certainly not going to be disappointed by following either man after this fight.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
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.