We love fighters misleading records, and we love fighters who want to be fast tracked and chase glory earlier in their career. This coming Sunday we see those two things clash, as Richard Pumicpic (21-8-2, 6) defends his WBO Asia Pacific Featherweight title against unbeaten 18 year old Musashi Mori (7-0, 5) at Aioi Hall in Kariya. Pumicpic boasts one of the most misleading records in the sport today whilst Mori is looking to punch himself into the fringes of the world rankings in a bout that looks nothing short of brilliant on paper.
The 28 year old champion seems like he's been around for an eternity, having debuted back in March 2008 as a fresh faced 17 year old. He would lose on his debut and would pick up quite a few early career set backs, falling to 9-5-1 (3) after 16 bouts on the Filipino domestic scene. Since then however he has gone 12-2-1 (3) and proven to be a total nightmare on the regional scene with a draw against Yohei Tobe, a razor thin loss to Ryosuke Iwasa, a win over Joe Noynay, a competitive loss to Cesar Juarez, and recent wins over Hisashi Amagasa and Yoshimitsu Kimura. The win over Amagasa, in 2017 saw Pumicpic claim the title and send Amagasa into retirement, whilst his win over Kimura saw him notch his first defense of the title.
In the ring Pumicpic has made a reputation for being a nightmare to fight. He's aggressive, tough, surprisingly intelligent in terms of his defense, brings a lot of smart pressure and although not a puncher he hits hard enough to get the respect of his opponents. He finds a way to make his lack of stature, he's 5'4", work for well for him and there's very few fighters who will enjoy getting in the ring with him, even if he's not likely to knock people out.
The exciting Mori began his career in late 2016, stopping Kazuya Fukai in just 41 seconds. The follow year he rose to prominence by winning the All Japan Rookie of the Year at Super Featherweight, stopping all of his opponents on route to the final, before taking a decision win over fellow puncher Zirolian Riku in the final in December. So far in 2018 he has faced two international opponents, stopping a Thai novice inside a round in April before stepping up in class and taking a narrow decision win over Filipino Allan Vallespin, back in July. The struggles with Vallespin seemed to show that Mori was a work in prospect, and perhaps also not a natural Super Featherweight, hence him dropping down in weight for this bout with Pumicpic.
When you watch Mori it's easy to forget he's an 18 year old who debuted back in late 2016. He looks composed, quick, sharp and really confident in the ring. Fighting out of the southpaw stance he's quick with his jab, gets in and out of range well and has a nice variety of shots. From his career so far however it does seem like he has questionable stamina, and against Vallespin he spend the last few rounds looking worn out and tired. He showed maturity, in spoiling, holding and making life difficult in the later rounds, whilst he tried to get his second wind.
We do think that Mori has a really bright future ahead of, sadly though we suspect this will be too much too soon and he'll come up short against Pumicpic. The Filipino will apply pressure through out and will prove to be too active, too aggressive and too experienced for the Japanese youngster. A loss at this point however is not the end of Mori and we'd expect to see the talented Southpaw comeback in the future. For Pumicpic a win here is expected and will continue his run in Japan, potentially leading to more good bouts on the road. For example a potential WBO Asia Pacific / OPBF unification bout with Satoshi Shimizu would certainly be a great bout and a world title eliminator, and we'd love to see that in the new year.
When it comes to Japanese fighters on the verge of a world title fight few are closer than "Eagle Eye" Ryosuke Iwasa (16-1, 10). Iwasa, who could well be favoured to beat some of the current champions, is a man who the WBC view as the #1 contender, the WBO have him at #3 and the IBF have him at #12.
Despite his high rankings Iwasa's next bout won't be for a world title though it will be a title bout as he attempts to make the first defence of his OPBF Bantamweight title in a bout that seems likely to be one of his last bouts before stepping up to fighting for a world championship.
Blessed with toughness, heart, power, speed and skill Iwasa is one of the most complete fighters to have not yet fought for a world title. Unfortunately for Iwasa he probably would have fought for a world title some time back had he not had the misfortune to run in to Shinsuke Yamanaka in a Japanese title fight back in 2011. Prior to that fight, the only loss on Iwasa's record, he seemed to be heading straight to the top.
The loss to Yamanaka really delayed the progress of Iwasa who went from being on the fast track to the top to being a man in need of rebuilding. Thankfully though the rebuilding process was a quick one with Iwasa claiming the Japanese title just 8 months later as he bounced back in style.
Since losing to Yamanaka some 3 years ago Iwasa has gone on an 8 fight winning streak claimed both the Japanese and OPBF titles and scored a hugely impressive victory over 2-time title challenger David De La Mora. He'll be hoping to extend that winning run to 9 fights on March 25th when he defends the OPBF belt for the first time and battles the criminally under-rated Filipino Richard Pumicpic (14-5-2, 4).
Whilst Iwasa is one of the rising stars of Japanese boxing Pumicpic is a man who has been over-looked and under-sold through out his career. Unfortunately for the Filipino he began his career 5-3-1 (1) after 3 close and somewhat debatable decision losses as well as a technical draw. From then on he was always fighting an up hill battle with people looking at his record and claiming he wasn't a fighter to really make a note of.
Those early losses on Pumicpic's record did seem to haunt him somewhat and although he moved to 9-3-1 more losses were on the way with the Filipino dropping hard fought decisions to more experienced fighters to drop to 9-5-1.
Since those last 2 losses Pumicpic has really developed in to a much better fighter and gone 6-0-1 whilst claiming the WBC Youth Silver and Philippines Boxing Federation (PBF) Bantamweight titles. He has turned his career around excellently and proven to be much better than one would have imagined. So impressive has Pumicpic been recently that he came incredibly close to upsetting the highly regarded Yohei Tobe just over a year ago, needing to settle for a draw in that particular bout.
Although Pumicpic is less proven than Iwasa we have been impressed by the little Filipino who has looked tough in his bouts to date, through some lovely combinations, seems defensively capable and hits harder than his record indicates. That's not to suggest he's world class, he has too many issues to be considered that highly, but he is very capable and upset minded, as he showed against Thailand's Ratchasak Kkg back in February 2012.
Although we do think highly of Pumicpic we're not as high on him as the OPBF who have him as the #1 ranked challenger, We do however agree that he is a very credible opponent for Iwasa and should bring the best out of the Japanese fighter who will be hoping that a victory here will move him on to world title fights in the first half of 2014.
From what we've seen of both men we do favour Iwasa who is a lot more clinical and well rounded than most of the men that Pumicpic has fought so far. Pumicpic isn't likely to fold under Iwasa's power but is likely to be widely out boxed by the Japanese fighter who can do it all when he's switched on. If Iwasa tries to make it a brawl and tries to take Pumicpic out he could find himself making life very difficult for himself, though he should still manage to come out on top in a brawl with Pumicpic's lack of power limiting him against the talented Japanese fighter.
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.