We get the first of this year's Japanese title decider bouts on October 6th as Flyweight prospect Junto Nakatani (16-0, 12) takes on recent OPBF title challenger Shun Kosaka (15-4, 4), with the winner receiving a shot at the Japanese title next year, in the Champion Carnival.
Of the two fighters it's Nakatani who is the more promising and the one viewed as the favourite. He is unbeaten, big for the weight and has been very impressive through his career so far. Despite only making his professional debut in April 2015 he has already won the Rookie of the Year, in 2016, and the Japanese Youth Flyweight title, in 2017. He won both of those by scoring notable wins, defeating Masamichi Yabuki in the Rookie of the Year final and Seigo Yuri Akui in the Japanese Youth title fight. Nakatani hasn't just beaten notable domestic fighters but also some international fighters, beating Mario Andrade and Dexter Alimento in his last two bouts.
In the ring Nakatani is a busy, aggressive and heavy handed fighter. The 20 year, who is huge for a Flyweight, gets in the ring with the intention of beating up his opponents. He's a pressure fighter at heart but has shown the ability to box his way in, rather than charging at his opponents he uses his reach well to control the tempo then dominates on the inside, using his powerful hands and explosive shots.
The 23 year old Kosaka is the slightly older man and debuted back in December 2012. Notably he reached the 2014 Rookie of the Year final, where he lost to Kenya Yamashita. The following year he would suffer his second loss, to Tetsuya Hisada. Since then he has gone 6-2 (4), losing a close decision to to Akinori Hoshino last year and Jayr Raquinel back in May. In both of those bouts Kosaka had different flaws picked out, with Hoshino out boxing him and Raquinel out moving and out punching him. Given his record it's fair to say he has lost against his 4 most notable opponents but the man from the Shinsei gym will know that a win will give his career a sudden impetus.
In the ring Kosaka is a pretty basic fighter. He's doesn't do anything spectacularly well, he's got a nice jab, and knows his way around the ring but doesn't have much power in his shots, backs off a lot and despite having good timing in regards to his shots he often reaches when he punches, taking the snap of his punches. He won his first 9 bouts by decision, relying on his skills and jab, but as he's gone up in class and faced opponents who can box back he has struggled.
We suspect that Kosaka's jab and movement could give Nakatani some early problems, but before long Nakatani will have his own jab in the face of Kosaka, and will be following it up with body shots, which will break down Kosaka. The real question for Nakatani is whether he can stop Kosaka quicker than Raquinel did, which was mid way through round 4.
Interestingly we suspect that Nakatani may also have a secret weapon here, with Nakatani fighting out of the MT Gym, which also manage the same Akinori Hoshino who beat Kosaka last year.
Earlier this year Filipino youngster Jayr Raquinel (9-0-1, 6) announced himself as one to watch, ripping the OPBF Flyweight title from Keisuke Nakayama at the Korakuen Hall. This week the 21 year old southpaw returns to Japan to defend that title against Shun Kosaka (15-3, 4) in another bout that could help Raquinel enhance his reputation as Filipino prospect with the potential to go all the way.
In his title win Raquinel showed no fear of Nakayama, or of fighting in Tokyo. Instead he went about his business with the intention of scoring the biggest win of his career, stopping Nakayama in the 9th round of their bout, whilst up on all 3 cards. Other than his win over Nakayama there wasn't too much else on his record, a DQ win over Jimboy Haya, a split decision draw with Glenne Calacar and a majority decision win over Richard Rosales being the only things were even mentioning. Despite his thin record he has impressed, and he has risen to the challenges put in front of him and for such a youngster he looks like he has the ability to go a very long way.
As with many Filipino youngsters, though obviously not all with Mark Anthony Barriga being a notable exception, Rqauinel is a bit crude, a rough around the edges fighter who has heavy hands, a good engine and a second of toughness. He looks like he's a fighter who really could be moulded into an excellent fighter if he got the right training. There is a lot of natural gifts that he appears to have, and really just needs the right training to develop the skills to go with those gifts.
The challenger made his debut back in 2012 and reached the Flyweight Rookie of the Year final in 2014, losing a decision to the then unbeaten Kenya Yamashita. In 2015 he would suffer his second loss, being stopped by Tetsuya Hisada, who has since gone on the claim the Japanese Light Flyweight title. Since losing to Hisada we've seen Kosaka rebuild his career, going 6-1 (4) with a notable win against Yota Hori last time out, and a very close loss to Akinori Hoshino. Sadly the other wins were against most limited opponents, and it's hard to know how good he really is. A win over Hori is decent, but given that Hori had lost 3 of his previous 4, and was stopped last time out by Ryota Yamauchi, it's hard to put too much value on the win.
At 23 years old there is potential for Kosaka to become a really good fighter. He has got some skills and appears to be developing in terms of his power and physical strength. Sadly, though similarly to Raquinel, he really needs to be taken under the guidance of a top trainer if he's to reach his potential, which is likely to be below that of Raquinel. He doesn't seem to hard, have the speed or the experience to cope at title level, and has yet to go beyond 8 rounds. He might see this bout as a chance to prove himself, but it would take a career best performance to even test the challenger.
Given that Kosaka looks to lack in terms of power and top tier experience we are expecting to see him being stopped by the champion. Kosaka has got a chance of springing the upset, but needs to put everything together to defeat the impressive Filipino, and we'd be very surprised to see Kosaka see the final bell, never mind spring the upset win.
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.