The title was vacated earlier this year by Satoshi Hosono and left a scramble of fighters trying to get a shot at the belt. The scramble resulted in Hayashi Vs Ueno, with the winner to face former world champion Akifumi Shimoda in their first defense.
On paper the favourite here will be Hayashi. The Hatanaka man has his promoter in charge of the show, he has the better record, he's the younger man and he's also the #1 Japanese ranked contender.
Hayashi debuted back in September 2005 and reeled off 9 straight wins before beginning to struggle with his career and quickly fell to 11-3, going 2-3 in a 5 fight run over the space of 19 months. Since those setbacks Hayashi has got his career back on track, going 16-2-1, and more pertinently he's on an 11 fight winning run. It's fair to say that none of those wins are huge however there are some notable ones including wins over Koji Umetsu, Ryosei Arai and Zuri Kannan.
In the ring Hayashi is full of confidence, confidence that is built from a long run of wins. In the ring however he looks pretty unremarkable. There's no sense of any fantastic trait., he's not hugely explosive or super sharp defensively. He is however solid on the whole and has a nice intensity in the ring, particularly with his body shots. He is a bit one paced and comes forward in a relatively predictable manner but could be in exciting fights if matched with a decent opponent. Sadly though his lack of a second gear will likely hold him back from ever progressing much beyond domestic level.
Aged 34 the future of Ueno's career pretty much depends on his upcoming bout. The bout is also set to be the biggest of his 15 year career, and it's been a career of real ups and downs. It started on an up with an opening rounds KO win, but then seemed mostly down as he fell to 1-2 and then 2-6-1 (1). A string of positive results saw Ueno climb to 9-7-3 (3) and resulted in him getting his first title fight,which he lost to Takahiro Ao. He would go on to have two other Japanese title bouts, losing to Naoki Matsuda and Hisashi Amagasa, and an OPBF title fight, which he drew against Hiroshige Osawa.
Despite his less than stellar looking record, with only a 50% win rate, Ueno has mixed at a high level with bouts against Osawa, Ao, Amagasa. He has also scored notable wins over the likes of Yuki Ogata, Manabu Fukushima, Tomoki Kanazawa and Motokazu Abe. He has the mindset of a fighter who has been written off and will be coming in to this one hungry to prove a point.
Although Hayashi is the favourite, clearly, we suspect we might see a shock with Ueno putting it all on the line in an attempt to claim a title at his fifth time of asking. Whether he manages to pull it off or not is unclear but he will certainly go all out in pursuit of a victory, and as a result we think this bout will be very, very close and hotly contested with not a lot to separate the two fighters at the final bout. Hayashi may well get the result but their won't be much between the two men and a split or majority decision certainly wouldn't be a shock.