The next major Super Featherweight bout to feature Japanese fighters will take place this coming Saturday and see Japanese national champion Kenichi Ogawa (19-1, 16) take on former champion Rikki Naito (15-1, 5), in a rematch of the bout that saw Ogawa originally winning the title back in 2015.
When the two men first met Ogawa dropped Naito before securing a 5th round technical decision. That saw Naito suffer his first loss, ending a 13 fight winning streak, and saw Ogawa score an 8th straight win as he began to surge. Sadly though neither man has looked particularly good since that bout.
Ogawa, a boxer-puncher, has twice defended his title but looked poor in wins over Satoru Sugita and Kento Matsushito. He stopped both of those men in the later rounds but showed limited boxing ability and left some to wonder whether he had peaked and was now on the downside of his career. As for Naito, a speedy boxer, he has won two bouts at Lightweight, though was very fortunate against Filipino domestic fighter Argie Toquero.
At his best Ogawa is a heavy handed boxer who is strong, powerful and can steam roll opponents. Sadly we've not seen that Ogawa recently, instead we've seen Ogawa the boxer, who is a limited fighter who is very lucky to have extremely heavy hands. When he boxes he looks like a fighter who is caught between thoughts and can easily be outboxed, as Sugita did despite the judges not agreeing.
Naito on the other hand is a really solid boxer, but one who lacks power to get the respect of his opponents and has struggled against every decent fighter he has faced. That's included a tough struggle with Shingo Eto, controversial wins over Masayuki Ito and Nihito Arakawa and a loss to Ogawa. When he uses his speed he is talented, but there is question marks now about his toughness, his power and his confidence.
Whilst Ogawa can be out boxed we can't help but think he bullies Naito again here to retain his title and record his third defense. A second loss for Naito will likely end his dreams of becoming a world champion, and that sort of issue could get the best out of him here, however we still can't see him holding his own with Ogawa and the Teiken fighter's physicality and power.