At the moment the title is vacant though that is expected to change this coming Thursday when Japan's heavy handed Tadashi Yuba (46-9-2, 33) battles against Filipino Dennis Laurente (48-5-5, 29) in what promises to be an incredibly exciting contest between two men looking to add one more big win to their long records.
Of the two men it's Yuba who is better known and the easier man to get footage of. In fact in some ways Yuba is genuinely a celebrated fighter in Japan, having managed to win national titles in 5 weight divisions, from Lightweight to Middleweight, something no one else has done on the Japanese scene. Part of that success is his insane power whilst another part is his freakish size which has helped him climb through the weights.
Stood at 6” Yuba was a relative beanpole when he won the Japanese Lightweight title in the early part of the century. Since then he has filled out and although he still looks freakishly thin he still manages to hit with genuinely nasty power. As well as being heavy handed and freakishly rangy and tall Yuba is also a southpaw making him a nightmare to fight in yet another way.
Although a nightmare in many ways Yuba is also an incredibly flawed fighter who is offensively wild, defensively open and doesn't have the greatest of chins. We're not saying he's “chinny” per se but he's not made of granite and with his defensive liabilities this is a major issue, as seen in a number of his losses. Another issue is that he can be bullied around by a strong fighter and although he often has success on the back foot he can be made to look negative at times as he backs up looking for his powerful left hand. If a fighter can push back Yuba and prevent him from landing the left hand then Yuba is often in trouble,. Saying that however Yuba can fire back in a slugfest and win, as he did in a thriller with Carlos Linares.
There is a lot out there on Yuba and he has genuinely been in with a who's who of the Japanese boxing scene including the likes of Takayuki Hosokawa, Charlie Ota, Akinori Watanabe, Koji Watanabe and Motoki Sasaki. On the other hand Laurente isn't as well known, hasn't faced a similar level of competition and, although he is world ranked, he hasn't scored many wins that have really caught our attention.
Laurente's first break out win saw him claiming the OPBF Lightweight title when he beat the then unbeaten Yosuke Otsuka in Japan. His reign as the OPBF champion was long but lacked any real substance and it wasn't until 2006 that he scored another win of note, beating Rustam Nugaev. His next wins of note came against Zaid Zavaleta and Ben Tackie, both of whom are better known for their losses than their wins.
In recent years Laurente has seemed happier to pick up wins that genuinely achieve anything. As a result only 1 of his last 5 opponents, Khomkaew Sithsaithong, has actually had a winning record. Unsurprisingly he has stopped all 5 of them, with the last 3 ending via body shots, and you now need to go back more than 2 years to find his last notable opponent, Kenny Abril, who actually beat him with an 8 round split decision in the US.
At his absolute best Laurente was a good fighter, as seen in his narrow win over Chikashi Inada. However aged 37, the same age as Yuba, it's fair to say Laurente isn't what he once was and now a days his wins over weak foes see him fighting like a wild man confident that his over-matched foes have nothing to threaten him. It's hard to say if he will fight the same way against Yuba though we suspect he won't. Sadly though we think his recent level of competition will end up biting him in the backside when Yuba starts to find the range for his powerful straight lefts. We think Yuba will fight as a counter puncher and have real success on the back foot as Laurente comes in and is forced to eat clean shots as he neglects his own defence.
This could become a really entertaining war though at the end of it we think Laurente will suffer his first stoppage loss. It'll be fun until the end though we can only see the Japanese fighter winning this one. Unfortunately for Laurente his ambition seems to have waned to the point where we think he'll lack the fire needed to over-come Yuba.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)