In their first bout, in March 2016, Kogawa came out on top, defending the Japanese title in a mandatory defense. That was the the exciting veteran's first defense of his second reign and saw him over-come Kuroda with a clear decision, but an exciting one with both men really letting their shots go in some thrilling back and force action.
Although relatively unknown outside of Asia Kogawa has been a staple on the regional since 2010. He won the OPBF Super Flyweight title in 2010 and then moved down in weight to take on the then WBC Flyweight champion Pongsaklek Wonjongkam. Although Kogawa came up short against Wonjongkam he has since stuck around, for the most part, at Flyweight where he is now a 2-time Japanese champion and has also fought for the WBA interim title, losing a close decision to Yogmondkol Vor Saengthep.
During his career Kogawa has faced a relative who's who. As mentioned he has faced Wongjonkam and Yodmongkol, he's also fought Zhao Zhong Xiong, Shigetaka Ikehara, Tetsuma Hayashi, Suguru Muranaka, Hiroyuki Hisataka, Kuroda. Through those bouts Kogawa has shown a warrior mentality, willing to have a tear up, he has shown a gritty toughness, under-rated power and a fantastic engine. Sadly however he comes into this bout on the back of a nasty ear injury and an 8 month lay off. He is also a fighter who has gone the distance in his last 8 bouts, coming for 80 rounds!
We've long been Kogawa fans, but the reality is that the 32 year old has had an incredibly tough career, with 210 rounds, many of which have been damaging and action packed, which are partly to blame for his injury last time out, and subsequent lay off.
Interestingly the 30 year old Kuroda has had a similar career to Kogawa, and has slightly more rounds under his belt at 217 career rounds. His career saw him really come to the fore at Light Flyweight, where he claimed a Japanese title back in 2011. As a champion he defended the belt 4 times, including notable defenses against Yuki Sano and current world champion Ryoichi Taguchi. His reign ended when he vacated, choosing to challenge WBA Flyweight champion Juan Carlos Reveco in 2013. Sadly Kuroda came up short against Reveco and the suffered a stoppage loss to Muranaka just a couple of fights later. Since then he has gone 5-2 and got his career back on track.
Although Kuroda's record is blotchy he has, like Kogawa,mixed with good company. He's fought Shigetaka Ikehara, Shin Ono, Taguchi, Reveco, Muranaka, and Kogawa. He was last seen scoring an exciting decision win over Yuta Matsuo for the Japanese interim title, and will be seeing this bout as a chance to become a 2-weight Japanese champion.
In the ring Kuroda is a tough and gutsy fighter, he's flawed, and is naturally smaller than Kogawa, but appears to have found the second wind of his career, after a bizarre 0-2-3 run in 2012-2014. He's still going to be the under-dog here, but he's hungry, he's going to be looking to make a statement and likely knows this will be his last chance at a Japanese title, and it's going to be now or never.
In the ring we're expecting a real war. The styles of both men is aggressive, energetic and exciting. Both men are tough, defensively flawed and open, but aggressive, exciting and most importantly well matched.
Although we think Kogawa is on he slide, we do favour him here, but only just in a close, competitive, exciting brawl between two fighter who will look to give fans a treat. We wouldn't be hugely surprised by a Kuroda win, but we do think Kogawa will come out on top.