Of all the current OPBF champions the most lucky is probably Light Middleweight champion Takayuki Hosokawa (28-10-5, 9), who probably should have lost his title last time out to Koshinmaru Saito, and was also relatively lucky to even win the title against Dennis Laurente last November. Although a fortunate champion Hosokawa is a fighter looking to move forward with his career and record his second defense of the title as he takes on the limited Yutaka Oishi (13-5, 7) this coming Wednesday.
At his best Hosokawa is a solid boxer, not amazing or world class but solid. He has notable wins over the likes of Randy Suico, Patomsuk Pathompothong, Tadashi Yuba and Dennis Laurente. Those wins have come from his boxing ability alone, and all have been by decision, though unfortunately they have all been struggles and have shown Hosokawa's lack of power and physicla strength. That lack of power was again seen last time out against Saito, and what was more worrying there was that Hosokawa was dropped twice before struggling to earn a draw.
Ranked #3 by the IBF Hosokawa won't just be defending his OPBF title but also defending that world ranking, and a loss here would totally destroy any chance he has of getting a long awaited world title fight. We'll be honest and admit that Hosokawa wouldn't have much of a chance against a top world class guy but he is certainly chasing a title fight before he calls an end to his career.
Whilst Hosokawa is a lucky champion it's fair to say that Oishi is a fortunate challenger, who is just 15 months removed from an upset loss to Toshihiro Kai, albeit at Middleweight. In fact Oishi has lost 2 of his last 4 bouts and has done little to earn a chance to fight for a title, with his best career wins being victories over Hisao Narita and Hiroshi Ohashi. Notably though this isn't his first title fight, with with his first being a 2014 defeat to Zac Dunn in a bout for the WBC Eurasia Pacific Boxing Council Super Middleweight title.
From the little footage of Oishi there is little there that should worry Hosokawa, and that's despite the fact that Hosokawa himself looks so beatable. One thing he perhaps does have though is power, he's not a huge puncher but if Saito can hurt, and drop, Hosokawa then Oishi does have a punchers chance here.
We might think that Hosokawa is incredibly beatable but we think he'll be too skilled for Oishi who really lacks the skills needed to land his power on Hosokawa. If Oishi can land his power shots he could give Hosokawa another scare, like Saito did.
On July 31st Japanese fans will have a pair of title bouts in Osaka, at the Sumiyoshi Ward Center. The more notable of those bouts takes place up at Light Middleweight where OPBF champion Takayuki Hosokawa (28-10-4, 9) defends his title against Koshinmaru Saito (23-8-1, 13). For the champion it will be the first defense of the title, that he won last November from Dennis Laurente in a Split Decision, whilst the challenger will be having his 6th shot at a title belt, having gone 0-6 so far.
Aged 31 Hosokawa is having the run of his career with a 6-0-1 (2) streak against some solid names, like Patomsuk Pathompothong, Tadashi Yuba, Laurente and a draw with Yuki Nonaka. Given that he was, once, 11-6-3 (2) Hoskawa really has forged a solid career for himself and has claimed both the Japanese and the OPBF title at 154lbs.
The champion debuted back in 2002 and although he won his debut he quickly racked up losses falling to 2-3 within 18 months of his debut. Despite those setbacks, and others that left him with a record of 9-6 and later the 11-6-3 record mentioned above, he kept ploughing on, refusing to give up on his dreams. In 2011 he eventually got his first title bout, but was stopped by Makoto Fuchigami in a Japanese Middleweight title bout, before dropping back down to find his natural weight. Since losing to Fuchigami we've seen Hosokawa lose just once, and winning 10 of his 12 bouts. That loss, for those wondering, came to Akio Shibata who wasn't a bad fighter himself.
In the ring Hosokawa isn't anything special. We don't mean that in a harsh way either. He's not the fastest, the most powerful, the best mover or the strongest. What he is however is true worker and he will always give his all. It's that hard work that has seen him become the fighter he is today and it's that same hard work that sees him being such a frustrating fighter to face. He moves a lot, he throws a far bit, he stands up to opponents who want to try and impose themselves on him and given his southpaw stance he's also a bit extra awkward.
Whilst Hosokawa has built his resume following an awful start the same cannot be said for Saito. The worst the challenger's record has ever been was 5-2 (3) and whilst his record was never bad he has never been able to “get over the line” in a big one, with a 0-5 record in title bouts. The first of those title bout defeats came in 2009, when he was stopped by Daisuke Nakagawa whilst other defeats at that level have come to Akinori Watanabe, Suyon Takayama, twice, and Yuki Nonaka. He has also been stopped by the ever dangerous Arnel Tinampay back in December 2014.
Due to those losses Saito will be entering this bout 3-3 in his last 6, with defeats to Takayama, Tinampay and Nonaka and wins over Koki Koshikawa, Takehiro Shimokawara and a visiting Thai novice in what was just a stay busy bout.
In the ring Saito is another worker, but one who has shown durability issues in recent times. He has shown a perhaps questionable ability when he gets his big chances and we suspect we'll see that issue arise here,especially given that he's now 37. At his best he was a good title contender, but we suspect his best has been and gone, and whilst he could pose Hosokawa some problems we can't see him winning, even though this will almost certainly be his last big opportunity.
We suspect Hosokawa's relative freshness will be the difference and the champion will retain with a clear, but hard earned, decision in an engaging but not thrilling contest.
Sometimes a title fight can take a back sea to an under-card bout. That appears to be the case this coming Sunday as Dennis Laurente's (49-6-5, 30) OPBF Light Middleweight title bout with Takayuki Hosokawa (27-10-4, 9) has taken the back seat for many fans in Osaka, who are more interested in viewing the professional debut of Hinata Maruta, who faces Jason Canoy in a baptism of fire.
Whilst the bout certainly has taken a back seat in fan interest it's still a really good fight and sees one of the toughest fighters take on a man looking to continue a late career resurgence, and perhaps even end his career on a high.
Of the two men it's perhaps the champion who is the better known internationally. He was last seen in the US, where he lost a wide decision to John Jackson though impressed with his toughness and bravery. Although fans who have only seen that one fight will view Laurente as a limited plodder he's actually a fighter who simply up against a much better, technically capable, younger and faster fighter. Typically he's an aggressive fighter who looks to apply pressure and causes a fight, rather than chasing a fighter around.
It's been Laurente's pressure that has brought him success over a 21 year career. That career has seen “Mr Humble” claim OPBF titles at both 135lbs and 154lbs as well as GAB and PABA titles in a career that really has been full of achievement, albeit without receiving a lot of plaudits.
During that 21 year career Laurente has never been stopped though has taken scalps like Yosuke Otsuka, Rustam Nugaev, Zaid Zavaleta, Ben Tackie and Tadashi Yuba. He's tough, aggressive, has great stamina and is a genuine handful for most out there. He's not the best but he is a real handful and not many fighters in Asia will be able to handle his pressure.
The challenger isn't well known, and certainly hasn't had the success of the challenger, but Hosokawa is certainly a late bloomer. He began his career 2-3 (1) and at one point was 11-6-3 (2), since then however he has gone 16-4-1 and scored wins over Randy Suico, Patomsuk Pathompothong and Tadashi Yuba, who he beat for the Japanese title last year.
Although Hosokawa has been in good form in recent years he has still lost to the best opponents that he's faced, including Akio Shibata, Makoto Fuchigami and Charlie Ota. They have typically stopped him and in 6 of his 10 losses he has failed to see the final bell. Unfortunately he's also began suffering sight issues and it's known that he has had issues with his retina in recent times, issues that will likely lead to his retirement in the near future.
In the ring Hosokawa has shown he can fight or box, though has typically been a fighter who can be forced on to the back foot and can be intimidated relatively easily.
Given the styles of the two men it's hard to see how Hosokawa survives 12 rounds with Laurente who will come for 12 high paced and hard rounds. Those rounds will take their toll on Hosokawa and eventually break down the challenger. If that happens we expect Hosokawa to announce his retirement very soon after the bout. If Hosokawa can take the pressure and guts out a win, we'd not be shocked to see him fight maybe once more in a fight that could see him on the road to collect a retirement payday before spending time with his family. For Laurente the future is what he wants it to be, at 38 he should be aging but hasn't really shown those signs inside the ring.
It's not too often that we can get excited about a Japanese title clash at Light Middleweight but on April 19th we have a genuinely significant clash between two Japanese fighters who are both eyeing up potential world title clashes later in the year. One of those is current Japanese national champion Yuki Nonaka (27-8-2, 8) whilst the other, Takayuki Hosokawa (26-10-3, 9), is a man who held the title a year ago but vacated it when he was ill. Together they are both world ranked by the IBF and both are likely eyeing up this fight as being not just a Japanese title bout but a potential world title eliminator.
Coming into the bout Nonaka is really riding the crest of wave. Aged 37 he is on an 8 fight winning run dating back more than 5 years and includes wins over Dmytro Nikulin, Lee Oti, Ryo Okayama, Kengo Nagashima and Charlie Ota. We won't say he's looked sensational in all of those wins, with the Ota fight in particular being close, but he has shown glimpses of being a wonderfully talented boxer. He has shown a lovely variety of punches, sharp and accurate shots, and impressive speed though at for the most part is a very basic but polished boxer.
The "one hole" in Nonaka's game is his lack of power which has been an issue in finishing opponents off. That lack of power however hasn't stopped him from having success and it's clear that his skills and sharpness are a level above many Asian rivals in the division.
In the ring Nonaka likes to box off his southpaw jab, uses straight punches wonderful and has found ways to neutralise a number of opponents with those sharp straight shots and his movement. Those skills neutralised the aggressive Charlie Ota, who had success of his own but not enough to break down Nonaka over the 10 round distance. Watching him we tend to notice that he is basic, but that is the beauty of Nonaka, he's got fundamentals down to a tee.
Unbeaten since suffering a narrow decision loss to Akio Shibata in November 2009 it takes a genuinely good fighter to beat Nonaka. These have included Shibata, Kazuhiko Hidaka, Nobuhiro Ishida and Taisei Marumoto.
At 30 years old Hosokawa is the significantly younger man coming into this bout and is in solid form himself with 4 straight wins, including victories over Patomsuk Pathompothong and Tadashi Yuba, which he have helped him claim the Japanese and IBF Asia titles at Light Middleweight. In turn those titles have helped him move into the world rankings and focus on getting a world title shot, somewhere down the line.
In the ring Hosokawa is a flawed fighter but is riding high on confidence and stacking up notable wins which have helped to to more success. In fact with 8 wins in his last 9 bouts he has genuinely turned his career around following a 2011 stoppage loss to Makoto Fuchigami in a Japanese Middleweight title bout. Those wins have seen him develop more belief in his ability and power and also make a permanent move to Light Middleweight which really does suit him a lot more than 160lbs.
As with Nonaka we've seen Hosokawa come up short against many of his most notable opponents. That has seen him suffer losses to the likes of Akinori Watanabe, Charlie Ota, Tadashi Yuba, Fuchigami and, most recently, Shibata in a Japanese title fight and he was also fortunate to over-come Patomsuk. He is however a much improved fighter to the one who was blasted out in the second round by Watanabe back in 2005 in fact he's nothing like the fighter who began his career 11-6-3.
Coming into this bout it's a real must win for both men. Neither can afford a loss at this moment in time. The pressure to perform couldn't be much higher. Of the two however it's Nonaka who has shown a more complete ability to perform under-pressure, as seen in his bout with Ota. Nonaka may be 37 but he's a fighter who has matured and is arguably at his best now. For Hosokawa it's hard to say how good he really is under-pressure, the win over Patomsuk was close, likewise the win over a very faded Yuba and his 2012 win over Randy Suico was razor thin to say the least. The challenger hasn't had that stand out performance despite taking a number of solid scalps.
With that said we need to favour Nonaka who appears to be a much better, more rounded and more intelligent fighter. His boxing, which is genuinely eye pleasing, is basic but very effective and we suspect that he'll use that to over-come Hosokawa. The southpaw jab, the simple movement and technical proficiency will be his keys to victory.
Unfortunately for the winner, which we suspect will be Nonaka, they are several levels from a real world champion. They do however have a chance at picking up a paper strap, if they are lucky.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
When we talk about the Japanese domestic scene it's almost impossible no to mention Tadashi Yuba (45-8-2, 32) the current Japanese Light Middleweight champion.
Yuba's Light Middleweight title reign began in the middle of 2013 when he stopped Yosuke Kirima inside a round. Whilst on paper that was relatively small domestic title victory it was actually a record setting victory that saw Yuba becoming the first ever Japanese fighter to win national titles in 5 divisions.
Yuba's domination of the domestic title scene began back in 2000 when he claimed the interim Japanese Lightweight title. The following year Yuba was upgraded to the regular Japanese Lightweight champion. In 2002 he moved and claimed the Japanese Light Welterweight title before adding the Welterweight title in 2005. Although his original reign as Welterweight champion was short lived he did reclaim the title in 2007.
After several years without a title Yuba would claim the Japanese Middleweight title in 2012, stopping Carlos Linares. His reign as Middleweight champion, like many of his reigns, was short lived and after he lost that title he dropped down to 154lbs to claim that title.
Since winning the Light Middleweight title Yuba has already defended it once, taking a razor thin split decision over Yoshihisa Tonimura. He now looks for the second defense of that title as he takes on mandatory challenger Takayuki Hosokawa (24-10-3, 8). This bout will be the second meeting between the two men, who first fought back in 2011 with Yuba narrowly over-coming Hosokawa in a an 8 round contest.
Whilst Yuba has been able to move the weights with real success Hosokawa hasn't been able to do the same. Hosokawa has, like Yuba, been able to fight across a variety of weights though, unfortunately, has failed to find any real success in any of them. Despite that he has been willing and able to fight between Welterweight and Middleweight and amazingly started his career as a Lightweight.
Hosokawa's willingness to move between divisions has helped open up opportunities for him including a Middleweight title bout with Makoto Fuchigami and a Light Middleweight title bout with Akio Shibata. Unfortunately for Hosokawa however he was stopped in both of those bouts and was shown not to have the durability of a fighter who was genuinely made to be in either of those divisions. In fact, with 6 stoppage losses on his record Hosokawa isn't the most durable full stop and his lack of fire power can be a real issue. Against Yuba he's facing a tough but crude puncher and it would be no shock at all if Yuba could take the best shots from Hosokawa whilst Hosokawa wouldn't be able to take the best of Yuba's shots.
Although the punchers edge is certainly with Yuba his age could be an issue and the champion is now 37, notably older than his challenger who is only in his 20's. If we accept Yuba as the puncher then it's fair to suggest that Hosokawa is probably the faster man and the most able to use his feet to get in and out, something he will have to use to his advantage here to claim the title.
Since the first meeting between the two men Hosokawa has gone 7-2 (4). He has been stopped in both of his losses and struggled to narrow decisions in 2 of his distance wins. Rather surprisingly Yuba has also gone 7-2 (4) since the first meeting. Like Hosokawa both of Yuba's losses have come by stoppage and 2 of his distance wins were narrow decisions. We've got to admit that is a remarkable statistical oddity though Yuba has been fighting at a higher level over-all.
Although we can see reasons for favouring each man. We do tend to think that this is Yuba's bout to lose. The champion is far more experienced, won their first meeting, is the much bigger puncher and is also the taller and rangier fighter than the challenger. Sure Yuba is getting old and may be considering retirement, but for now it's hard to see him losing to Hosokawa who is limited and lacks the fire power to see off Yuba.
Although Yuba has been stopped 5 times in his 8 losses he's a very tough guy who took bombs from Carlos Linares in their bout and refused to be stopped. He's crude to say the least but has real venom in his shots, especially his straight left hand, and we think sooner or later that power will see off Hosokawa who may actually be winning the fight until he's stopped.
One thing we're sure of, is that we expect this to be a brutal and hard fought contest that could well end up being one of the Japanese fight of the year contenders.
The fight will be the main event of "Dangan 94", a show that features a fantastic looking contest between Hiroki Okada and Masayoshi Kotake for the vacant Japanese Light Welterweight title.
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.