The “least significant” title bout on New Year's Eve sees Japanese Super Flyweight champion Sho Ishida (20-0, 10) defending his title against former title challenger Ryuta Otsuka (15-8-2, 5). For Otsuka this is his second shot at a Japanese title whilst Ishida will be hunting his 4th defense of the belt and looking to continue his climb towards a world title fight in 2016.
The champion won the title back in August 2014 when he defeated Yohei Tobe and although he has looked impressive against Masato Morisaki and Hayato Kimura he did appear to struggle against Taiki Eto, in what was his second defense. That struggle was a wake up call for Ishida who found that his stamina needed work and has been a key of his development since.
Prior to winning the title Ishida looked like one of Japan's brightest prospects. He had shown great variety in punches, an ability to keep the action at long range, which suited his style, and ability to really hurt opponents with both head shots and body shots, with the body shots showing their effectiveness against Petchbarngborn Kokietgym.
Since winning the title Ishida has had some questions raised about how far he'll go and how much power he has, but it's clear that with his 5'8” frame he's going to be very difficult to beat given his speed, sharp punching and accuracy.
When it comes to Otsuka it's fair to say he's not expected to reach the top of the sport but he is better than his record indicates and, at 30 years old, he knows it's now or never. It is fair to question his record however many of his losses have come to solid fighters, such as Toyoto Shiraishi, Go Onaga, Yuki Nasu, Teiru Kinoshita, Malcolm Tunacao and Ryuichi Funai, with the loss to Kinoshita coming in a Japanese title fight. He has also fought to a draw with Konosuke Tomiyama. Whilst his losses have come to his notable opponents he does also have some credible wins, including recent victories over Takaaki Ishikawa, Yosuke Fujihara and, going back a little further, Shota Kawaguchi.
In the ring Otsuka is an aggressive fight, he comes to fight and doesn't like to back away too much. He is however a fighter with defensive holes, a guard that lowers too far and a lack of head movement, which has allowed opponents to land their jabs at will and set up their offense. Unfortunately him it's likely to be a case of all or nothing and if he tries to hold back he will make for a very easy target for someone with Ishida's ability.
Notably Otsuka was stopped just 9 months ago by Funai who landed a devastating right hand. We suspect that will foretell the result of this bout with Ishida scoring a knockout in the middle rounds to retain his title. Prior to the knockout Ishida will have dominated with his speed, range and jab.
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.