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)
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.