Over the last few years the Bantamweight division has been a division with many top fighters coming from the East. Among those are current world champions Shinsuke Yamanaka, the WBC champion, and Tomoki Kameda, the current WBO champion. Another world class Japanese Bantamweight is Ryosuke Iwasa (18-1, 11) who will be looking to take a major step towards an IBF title fight later this week.
“Eagle Eye” Iwasa is one of Japanese boxing's most promising fighters and he has shown an ability to do it all, even if he's yet to step up to the top table. To get to the top Iwasa's will need to win an eliminator and take next step. To do that we will see him battling against American fighter Sergio Perales (24-2, 16) in an all southpaw eliminator.
Aged 25 and blessed with boxing ability, power, an understanding of the ring and a battle hardened mentality Iwasa is one of the next wave of Japanese fighters looking to rise to the top. His 19 fight career might not seem like a long one but it's already seen him in with with several notable fighters. The most notable of those was Shinsuke Yamanaka, with Yamanaka stopping the then fast rising Iwasa in the 10th round of a thriller for the Japanese Bantamweight title.
Since the loss to Yamanaka we've seen Iwasa re-establish himself and claim both the Japanese title and the OPBF title. Among his wins have been a stoppage of Kentaro Masuda, to defend the Japanese title, a shut out of David De La Mora, to show he belonged at the world level, and a stoppage of Hiroki Shiino, to claim the OPBF Bantamweight title.
Unlike many fighters Iwasa hasn't taken his loss and shown fear, instead the loss has driven him with desire. That desire has lead him to 10 straight wins, and made him hungrier than ever to reach the top. In his way is American 27 year old Perales, a man dubbed “Time to Shine”.
Perales has been a professional since 2007 though unlike Iwasa he has had a generally easy career with a lot of his wins coming against very limited and questionable opposition. Although a lot of his wins have been against poor opponents he has faced 2 or 3 notable opponents. One of those was a well beyond prime Lorenzo Trejo, best known for his exploits at Minimumweight as opposed to Bantamweight. Another was Stuart Hall, who Perales ran very close in an IBF minor title bout just 7 months before Hall won the IBF world title. His best win however came last time out against former 2-time IBF Super Flyweight title challenger Raul Martinez. On paper the Martinez win is his best, by some margin, though in reality Martinez wasn't as good as advertised and he has lost 2 of his previous 4, and 3 of his previous 9.
Against Hall it did seem like Perales was a talented fighter. He was sharp with his straight left, had a rhythm destroying destroying jab and intelligent movement with a lot of half steps that allowed him to draw in Hall and counter. In was a good performance however it showed Hall's limitations as much as Perales's strengths and Hall's slow feet allowed Perales to look good, despite the loss.
Whilst neither man has fought a slew of southpaws it's fair to say Iwasa is more proven against them, having gone 10 rounds with the best left in the division, if not one of the best in the world and also sparring with world ranked fighters Shingo Wake and Shohei Omori. We suspect that will be one of the deciding factors. Iwasa's experience with Yamanaka, the home advantage of fighting in Japan and his more testing opposition should all help the talented Japanese fighter find a way to over-come his American foe. We know Perales isn't travelling to lose however he is up against a very talented Japanese fighter who we have been impressed by a lot in the past and view as a nailed on future world champion
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
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.