Many of the 2018 Japanese title decider bouts are ones where there is a clear favourite and a clear under-dog. One of the exceptions to that is the Super Featherweight contest where Ken Osato (14-2-1, 4) will face Satoru Sugita (14-5-1, 9) in a second meeting between the two men. In fact it's not only their second bout, but also their second bout to decide who gets a domestic title fight. Last time out it was Osato who narrowly over-come Sugita, claiming a split decision last December but Sugita will certainly be looking for revenge. If Sugita does manage to get revenge he will secure his third title shot, whilst Osato will be looking to get his second.
Aged 24 Osato is younger fighter and he's had mixed success since his 2012 debut. He would begin his career 4-0 (3) before losing in a round to Shohei Fujimoto, suggesting that he wasn't the toughest out there. Since that loss however he has gone 10-1-1 (1) with his only defeat coming to Masaru Sueyoshi earlier this year in a Japanese title fight. That bout saw Osato losing in 8 rounds to the champion after dropping Sueyoshi earlier in the bout. In terms of notable results he has not only got the win over Sugita but also victories over Retsu Kosaka, Sho Nagata, and a draw with veteran Kento Matsushita.
Osato has impressed in his performances against the most notable names he's faced. He's technically good, accurate, fast and sharp. His lack of power is an issue, but he's never going to be a puncher and has developed a style that is based around his jab, controlling distance with smart footwork and creating angles to land both his jab and his right hand. He's very much an outside fighter who plays safety first, but does manage to come in well when he doubles up the jab. He's solid, and go on to win a title down the line, but he really does need to develop some extra bang in his shots. If, or when, he does that he could be very hard to beat at Japanese domestic level.
Although unknown outside of Japan Sugita is pretty well known in the country and has genuinely faced a number of notable fighters. His first loss was in 2011, when he was stopped by Ryuto Kyoguchi the older brother of Hiroto Kyoguchi, his second loss was in 2013 to future Japanese champion Kosuke Saka, with his following two losses both coming to the then Japanese king Kenichi Ogawa. His most recent defeat was the loss to Osato. As for wins he holds notable victories over Ryota Kajiki and Tsuyoshi Tojo. In the ring Sugita is a technically solid boxer-puncher. He's got a sharp jab, follows it up with a good straight and applies pressure behind his jab. He also hits hard enough to get respect from his opponents, which Osato can't do.
At his best Sugita is a match for pretty much any current Japanese Super Featherweight. He gave Ogawa fits in both of their bouts. His jab is a nightmare to defend against and his timing on the right hand is brilliant, especially when he throws it as a counter. Given his loss last year to Osato we expect him to be busier than he was, to start faster and not let Osato get a foothold to build off. He has the power and the better competition and will be determined to get revenge over Osato.
This has the potential to be a frustrating bout though we suspect both men will want to put on a show, and will do so in a high speed chess match. There's unlikely to be much inside fighter, neither seem to be that willing to fight on the inside in general, but we could well see a lot of jabs with both looking to follow the jab with a right hand. Sugita has the edge in power but Osato has the faster feet and it could be that foot work will be the differenc. We however suspect that Sugita's heavier hands will help him land the more eye catching shots as he takes a close decision over Osato and secures a shot at the Japanese belt during the 2019 Champion Carnival.
The 2017 Champion Carnival has a number of rematches taking place. The first of those was in February, when Yusaku Kuga stopped Yasutaka Ishimoto in 2 rounds and announced himself as a serious threat, the second will take place on March 2nd when we see Ishimoto's stable mate Kenichi Ogawa (20-1, 16) defends his Japanese Super Featherweight title against Satoru Sugita (12-3-1, 7). The two fought last year, with Ogawa recording a 9th round KO win against Sugita, but failing to really shine, with Sugita making the champion look clumsy and awkward.
Since their first bout Ogawa has again failed to really shine. He's defended the title twice since beating Sugita but those defenses were a very late stoppage win against against Kento Matsushita, in what was a very close bout, and a narrow decision win over Rikki Naito. Neither of those bouts showed that Ogawa could become a world champion, and perhaps they both showed that Ogawa is actually on the slide.
At his best the 29 year old Ogawa is a solid boxer-puncher. He's not the quickest but he can move, he can box and he can certainly punch, and he has also shown he carries his power late, with 10th round stoppages over Matsushita and Deivi Julio Bassa. Those stoppages have been part of a 12 fight unbeaten run from Ogawa, who scored 10 stoppages in those 12 bouts. Unfortunately his flaws have become more apparent in recent bouts and he does leave openings opponents to counter, his punchers are relatively slow and he's not the quickest on his feet, giving opponents a lot of chances to get him out of position.
For Ogawa the bout could be his final stepping stone before a potential world, or OPBF, title fight but he will need to impress here. Just winning won't be enough and hopefully that sort of potential reward will get the best out of the champion.
Sugita has been frustrating inactive since losing to Ogawa last April, with just a single bout since then. That sole contest saw Sugita claim an 8 round decision win over Tsuyoshi Tojo to earn himself a second title fight. In the ring Sugita is a well school boxer, more technically able than Ogawa, but he's lacking in terms of big wins and his notable victory to date is a split decision over Ryota Kajiki. That win is over-shadowed however by losses to Ryuto Kyoguchi and Kosuke Saka, which sort of suggest that Sugita is only in the middle of the domestic mix, as opposed to being one of the top domestic fighters in the division.
With good skills Sugita's major problems aren't actually his abilities. Instead he has serious question marks about his durability, with 2 stoppage loses, his work rate and his stamina. To date he has never never completed a 10 round, and has only gone 8 or more rounds 4 times, winning 3 of those bouts including 2 split decisions. It's fair to say that whilst he can box he has shown his flaws and those flaws will likely be openings for Ogawa, who will try to make Sugita work at a high pace and take advantage of his lacking durability.
Although Ogawa hasn't looked great recently it's hard to see him losing here, in fact we're expecting the champion to see off Sugita in the middle rounds, and really look like a totally different fighter to the one who struggled with Sugita 11 months ago. Sugita will show up some of Ogawa's flaws, again, but in the end the power and physicality of Ogawa will be too much for the challenger.
The Super Featherweight division has been one of the most interesting in recent years with a number of great fights, exciting fighters breaking through and the potential for a lot of brilliant great match ups. One of the fighters who impressed us last year was Japan's Kenichi Ogawa (17-1, 14), who went 4-0 (3) in 2015 and claimed the Japanese title with an upset win against Rikki Naito.
In Ogawa's first defense of his title he will face mandatory challenger Satoru Sugita (11-2-1, 7) on April 2nd in a Champion Carnival bout that promises a lot.
For those who missed Ogawa's rise in 2015 it was built on a combination of his boxing skills, and his very heavy hands. Unlike most punchers he doesn't wade in looking for a fight but instead boxes and uses his power to keep opponents honest. When he gets a chance to land his venom he takes it, but he sets up his power shots behind his boxing skills and that's why he looks like a man who could become a genuine force on the world stage in the coming years.
Coming in to this bout Ogawa is on a 9 fight winning streak, with 8 of those wins by stoppage. Those wins have seen him avenge his sole defeat, a stoppage to Yuki Miyoshi, move in to the world rankings, with a notable win over Deivi Julio Bassa, and claim the Japanese title, with the aforementioned win over Naito.
Whilst it's clear that Ogawa isn't the most durable man in boxing, given his only loss was by stoppage, it should be noted that he's a significantly improved fighter to the man who was stopped in 5 rounds by Yuki Miyoshi way back in October 2012. He has improved in pretty much every way since that loss and now looks like a man who really could be set to make a mark on the global scene.
Whilst we have enjoyed watching Ogawa's rise we've got to admit that Sugita's career has been much less visible. To date the best win for the 26 year old fighter from Nara is a decision over veteran Ryota Kajiki, back in 2014, and stoppage over upcoming OPBF title challenger Akira Shono.
Despite having a less than stellar record Sugita has won his last 5 bouts, scoring many of his best wins during that run, and has turned his career around some what following a 1-2-1 run during a 20 month window in late 2011 to mid 2013.
Footage of Sugita has been relatively hard to come by though we know he's shown signs of struggling to take solid shots, with his first loss being a stoppage to Ryuto Kyoguchi, and his boxing isn't world class, as seen by a clear decision loss to Kosuke Saka and narrow wins over Kajiki and Yoshiyuki Takabayashi. He does however possess very solid power of his own and is a physically strong fighter who will look to make his strength count against Ogawa.
Whilst Sugita is a solid fighter we can't see him coping with the boxing of Ogawa, and although Sugita could land a “lucky punch” we suspect we'll instead see Ogawa boxing from on the onset, breaking down Sugita and eventually seeing off the challenge in the second half of he fight, to record his first defense.
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.