If there is one divisions that is looking amazingly deep in Asia at the moment it's the Super Bantamweight division with notable fighters from all across the region, such as world champions, like Hozumi Hasegawa to world ranked contenders like Shingo Wake, Yukinori Oguni, Ryosuke Iwasa, Qiu Xiao Jun, Yasutaka Ishimoto, Genesis Servania, Ye Joon Kim and recently deposed champion Nonito Donaire. With so much depth in the region it may well be the weight class that really comes to the fore in 2017.
Given the depth it does seem a lot of fighters are all lining up to get a shot at a world title and taking small steps to get there. One such fighter is OPBF Shun Kubo (10-0, 7) who returns to the ring this coming Friday to defend his title, for the second time. In the opposite corner to Kubo will be little known Korean Jin Wook Lim (8-4-5, 2).
Kubo has been long ear marked as one of the rising stars of the Shinsei gym. That was clear in his third fight, when he beaten experienced Filipino Monico Laurente, and again in 2014 when he beat Luis May to first claim a world ranking. He wasn't on the hyper-speed track to the top, like Naoya Inoue and Kosei Tanaka, but he was clearly on a faster track than many others. That was again shown at the end of 2015 when he claimed the OPBF Bantamweight title with a 5th round TKO win over Lloyd Jardeliza. Sadly his rise sort of slowed after that win, with his only subsequent bout being a narrow decision win over Benjie Suganob back in May, with that performance leaving some to question whether he was ready for a bigger step up.
Given Kubo's competitive encounter with Suganob it was no surprise to see his team look to him to make another “safe” defense of the OPBF title, rather than move through the world rankings and that's why we have his upcoming bout with Lim.
In the ring Kubo is a rather peculiar fighter. He has skills, speed and power, and fighters from a southpaw stance, a stance that is made doubly infuriating or opponents due to just how awkward and unique his actual stance is. Not only is he awkward but he's a talented fighter, with an air of confidence and a strong team behind him, with a clear mentor in the form of 3-weight world champion Hozumi Hasegawa who is also a member of the Shinsei Gym.
On paper the Korean visitor looks really limited, in fact with just 8 wins from 17 bouts he has a sub 50% rate and only has a 12% stoppage rate. Poor numbers by any measure for a title level fight. He has however had a long time to prepare for this bout, with Korean sources reporting it as a done deal weeks before the Japanese had, and he's also not been easily matched facing a variety of Ket Korean fighters in and around the Bantamweight division. That has seen him claim a win over Sa Myung Noh and fight to a draw with Ye Joon Kim. He has also gone 10 rounds in a somewhat competitive loss to Shohei Kawashima, who impressed recently against Cristian Mijares. Sadly though he is 0-1-2 against Japanese fighters.
Given the lack of stoppages on his record it will come as no surprise to hear that Lim is the type of fighter who rarely sits on his punches. Instead he likes to use the ring, move a lot and use his speed of hand and foot. He's relatively basic in regards to what he does in the ring but he's fast enough to use his jab and move out of range. There is potentially a good boxer here, and one who looks comfortable in the ring, but his total lack of power is a problem and the way he was out boxed by Shohei Kawashima does suggest that against good fighters he's going to come up short.
Although we've got a lot of questions to ask about Kubo he shouldn't really struggle too much with Lim, though there is a chance he will look bad at times chasing the Korean moved around the ring and being countered at times by the shorter man.
Over the last few years we've seen a lot of Japanese hopefuls begin to make their name around the 122lb division. Some of them have already suffered shock losses, with Ryo Matsumoto, Sho Nakazawa and Shohei Omori all being upset recently. One man looking to avoid a similar fate is OPBF champion Shun Kubo (9-0, 7), who looks to make the first defense of his title this coming Monday as he faces Filipino challenger Benjie Suganob (10-4-1, 5).
The 26 year old champion is widely viewed as the next potential star from Hyogo and has been groomed as the spiritual successor to Hozumi Hasegawa at the Shinsei Gym. Like many promising Japanese fighters he has been on an accelerated learning curve, fighting in 8 rounders as soon as his third bout, and last December he claimed the OPBF crown with a stoppage win over Lloyd Jardeliza.
In the ring Kubo is a fast handed and highly skilled fighter with spiteful power. Whilst a very promising youngster he is also a flawed fighter with a very wide stance and some punches that could certainly be straightened out. Saying that however he is still a fighter coming through the ranks and he has been a professional for less than 3 years, progressing at a very respectable speed.
When it comes to the challenger, dubbed “Wild Beast”, things haven't been straight forward. Suganob drew on debut, against Julian Abines, and subsequently suffered set backs against Randy Braga, twice, Cristian Abili and Patomsith Pathompothong. Whilst those losses are notable he is known in Japan for scoring a win over Seizo Kono last year, with that win, along with victories over Vergil Puton and Rey Juntilla, showing that he can score notable upsets.
Whilst Suganob can be an upset minded fighter he has suffered in the past with bouts being marred by headclashes and although he has only been stopped once he has been dropped several times.
Given that Suganob has been involved in headclashes, and that Kubo is a southpaw. We could see heads coming together here, however we're expecting to see Kubo's wide stance work to his advantage and we're expecting to see him make the most of his speed and power, to force a mid round stoppage of a game but limited challenger.
Recently Japanese fans saw Hozumi Hasegawa look like an old man as he struggled past Carlos Andres Ruiz Machuca. The talented Hasegawa, a staple of the Japanese scene for the last decade, was the star of Kobe and one of the leading figures in Japanese boxing. Thankfully for local fans, and for Hasegawa's promoter Shinsei, it seems like they have another star in the making, Shun Kubo (8-0, 6).
On December 26th, just a day after Christmas, Kobe fans get to see Kubo in his most notable bout to date, a contest against Filipino puncher Lloyd Jardeliza (7-2-3, 6) for the vacant OPBF Super Bantamweight title.
Despite Christmas coming just a day earlier it's fair to say that the fighters will be focused on this bout, which really will allow the winner to burst out and take a huge step towards much more notable bouts.
Kubo, as mentioned, is meant to be the next Kobe star and the next mane from the Shinsei Gym to be worth follow. He really came on to our radar in late 2013, when he beaten Monico Laurente in an 8 round decision and has since scored a very notable win over Mexico's Luis May.
The 25 year old Kubo is a strange fighter to watch. He's a fast and hard hitting Southpaw with a lot of natural talent but a very wide stance, as he showed against May. Despite the stand he really does look like a diamond in the rough. There is great speed and power to Kubo when he attacks, and like Hasegawa he has often found a way to draw mistakes from opponents and then punish them with accurate punches. Unfortunately he does still look very much like a fighter he needs some more work, however there is a lot to like already.
With just 8 bouts, and 35 rounds under his belt Kubo obvious lacks experience. He can seen reaching and making simple mistakes. So far he hasn't been punished too much for those mistakes but with experience those mistakes will be sorted. It's just a question of whether this bout has come a little bit too soon for Kubo who probably needs another 4 or 5 fights before really correcting some of those simple issues.
Whilst we have seen a few of Kubo's fights, we have yet to see Jardeliza in action, however we have seen some training footage of the 20 year old, and he already looks very promising, with fast hands and nice movement, whilst his record suggests he's a serious puncher. The footage however did suggest another fighter who made novice like mistakes, especially with his footwork and defense.
Jardeliza debuted back in June 2012 and has slowly climbed through the ranks, despite suffering losses to Jimmy Aducal, an 8th round TKO loss, and Nathaniel May, a 10 round decision losses. Those losses were, clearly, set backs but he has bounced back from both and certainly didn't embarrass himself in either of the losses, in fact he pushed May very close.
The Filipino, who has shared the ring with Denver Cuello among others during training, is heavy handed. He has scored 6 KO's in his 7 wins. Sadly though those wins have come against relatively limited Filipino level opponents, none of whom have really shown the ability to go further themselves. Notable of course he also has 3 draws on his record, including two against Felipe Cagubcob Jr..
On paper it looks really interesting, two young fighters facing off in the hope of becoming an Oriental champion. Sadly however it does look like we have a semi-proven man, Kubo, up against a totally unproven, yet still promising, fighter. We always need to side with the proven man and as a result we suspect Kubo takes home the win here.
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.