By - George Delis (@Delisketo)
On the undercard of the upcoming Obara x Lagumbay “Revenge Fight”, Taiki Minamoto defends his Japanese Featherweight championship against Tatsuya Otsubo.
Taiki Minamoto (15-5/12 KOs) began his pro-career in 2011, just 2 weeks after turning 20. Unlike most fighters who face opponents with losing records, in order to gain experience in their early years, Minamoto’s road was different, a path that led to a few losses, including one to future world champion Masayuki Ito. However, these encounters only made him more determined to come back stronger and defeat well-versed boxers like Eita Kikuchi (14-3*) and Seizo Kono (14-5*), even earning an opportunity at the Japanese Super Bantamweight champion and future IBF world title holder Yukinori Oguni (14-1*), a match that went the distance. Since then, Minamoto is on a 5 fight winning streak, with wins over the likes of Ryota Kajiki (28-9*) and Dai Iwai (21-4*) as well as Takenori Ohashi (15-4*), who he TKOed in order to become the Japanese Featherweight champion for the first time.
Tatsuya Otsubo (12-8/4 KOs) will be Minamoto’s inaugural title defense. Otsubo, despite struggling through out his 11-year career, has won all of his last 4 bouts, since resurfacing from his hiatus in 2015, including victories over Ryuto Araya (twice) and Indonesian champion Musa Andy Letding. It’s worth mentioning that Otsubo holds a win over Akihiko Katagiri, the man who knocked Minamoto out on his 9th pro fight.
On paper, Minamoto is the favourite to leave Korakuen Hall with the strap, as he’s currently ranked the #1 featherweight in Japan and has bested better fighters than his opponent. On the other hand, Otsubo seems to have turned a new page of his career and has vastly improved over the course of these last 2 years, so it wouldn’t be unthinkable if he can pull off the upset once again, this time with the gold on the line.
*Fighter’s record before the fight.
One of the most bizarre endings to a bout last year saw Takenori Ohashi (15-4-2, 10) score a 5th round KO against Kosuke Saka to claim the Japanese Featherweight title. The finish to that bout came as Saka misheard the 10 second clacker, dropped his hands and turned away, giving Ohashi the chance to finish his man off, which he took. This coming Saturday Ohashi returns to the ring to make his first defense of the title, as he takes on mandatory challenger Taiki Minamoto (15-4, 11) in a really good bout on paper, between evenly matched but flawed fighters who can both bang and can both be hurt.
Like many fighters in Japan Ohashi began his career in 4 rounds and would move into competing in the Rookie of the Year, fighting in the East Japan Rookie of the year in 2010. It was in the Rookie competition that he suffered his first loss, being stopped in the East Japan semi-final by Coach Hiroto inside a round. The loss slowed Ohashi's rise but he bounced back and scored 3 straight wins before suffering back to back losses, including a defeat to Tatsuya Takahashi. Since then however he has gone 7-1-2 (4), with his only loss during that 10 fight run coming to the big punching Tsuyoshi Tameda.
In the ring Ohashi is pretty crude, but is very heavy handed, and he has stopped 3 of his last 4 foes. He can certainly be out boxed, out moved and blown away, as Tameda did just over 3 years ago, but if you let him get going he's a nightmare who will bring heavy hard hitting pressure, and be pretty unrelenting unless you can some how get his respect. Which isn't as easy as it sounds, and even the hard hitting Saka failed to get much respect from Ohashi before his mental lapse and subsequent stoppage loss.
The 27 year old challenger will be getting his second Japanese title fight, having previously challenged for the Japanese Super Bantamweight title where he came up short against Yukinori Oguni. His career has been very frustrating as he's really struggled to generate any career moment. He won his first 4 bouts, before losing inside a round to Yuki Iwasaki, a 3 fight winning run was then stopped by a pair of losses and he then struggled to string together any wins. That was until 2016, and he's now riding a 4 fight winning streak, the equal longest of his career.
Not only is Minamoto enjoying a winning run but he's also notched his 2 biggest wins recent, out pointing both Ryota Kajiki and Dai Iwai, with the win over Iwai earning him this title fight. Those wins showed he can do 8 rounds and win a decision, something he had never previously done. He's certainly showing signs of development, turning from a pure puncher to a more rounded boxer-puncher and adapting well. He will still have question marks over his chin, but recent results are really promising for the challenger..
Coming in to this both men are beatable, both men have questionable chins but both men are in good form. We're expecting a really explosive contest here and we can't imagine it going the distance, both men hit too hard and too questionable to last 10 rounds together. The edge in power and experience sides with Ohashi,but Minamoto looks to be the better boxer and the man with the slightly better durability. In bouts like this it's not always about who hits harder, but who sets their shots up better, and with that in mind we're going with Minamoto, who we suspect will create the distance counter more effectively than Ohashi,eventually stopping the champion to claim the title, and continue his good run of recent results.
To end the month of September Japanese fans get a title double header at the Korakuen Hall. One of those is a Japanese Welterweight title bout that really is uninspiring to say the least, the other is a Super Bantamweight title bout that has actually caught our eye in anticipation of a potentially intriguing fight.
The champion, defending his title for the second time, is Yukinori Oguni (14-1-1, 4), a former OPBF champion who suffered his sole loss to the excellent Shingo Wake. His challenger is the heavy handed Taiki Minamoto (10-4, 9), who may lack in skills but is a danger at the domestic level. It's a puncher vs a boxer contest and could well provide a bout that either sees skills blunting brute force or brute force over-coming the more skilled man.
In the ring Oguni is a boxer. He's a quick fight who likes to use his sharp jab, his quick movement and establish a comfortable range whilst he prevents an opponent from getting into rhythm. Early on he had great success by doing that and won his first 10 bouts. It was during that run that he won the OPBF Super Bantamweight title, upsetting Roli Gasca, and defended it 3 times. Back then it seemed like he was on his way to the top.
Unfortunately for Oguni his winning run came to an end against Wake who did everything better than Oguni, and hit harder, eventually breaking down Oguni in 10 rounds with Oguni's corner team then stopping their man. Since then he has bounced back with 4 wins and a draw, though did look less than outstanding in his last couple of bouts, a razor thin win over Yasutaka Ishimoto and a draw with Gakuya Furuhashi.
Although Oguni hasn't looked great recently he's also not looked terrible, and he has been facing solid competition. We know Ishimoto and Furuhashi aren't world class, but both are very good fighters who will mix in, and around, the top of the domestic level for the foreseeable future.
Whilst Oguni has had notable success we're about to see Minamoto step up to title level for the first time. Whilst this will be his first title fight he's certainly not facing his first notable opponent, in fact over the last 3 years he has faced the likes of Akihiko Katagri, Masayuki Ito, Eita Kikuchi, Seizo Kono and Yukinori Hisanaga. He has lost to Katagiri, Ito and Hisanaga but he did score botable stoppages over Kikuchi and Kono over the last 2 years.
Minamoto isn't the most skilled but with 9 T/KO's in his 10 wins it's clear he can punch and it's obvious that he will try to use that power to unsettle Oguni. It will be a case of whether or not he gets the chance to land on the slippery champion. If he does then this will be interesting.
Although we do give Minamoto a chance, given his power, we suspect that Oguni will be too good, too quick and too skilled for the challenger, who will never give up looking for that KO punch but will never quite land it.
(Image courtesy of Kadoebi.com)
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.