This coming Saturday we'll see a new WBO Asia Pacific Super Featherweight champion being crowned as hard hitting Japanese fighter Kosuke Saka (18-4, 15) takes on talented Filipino southpaw Joe Noynay (16-2-1, 5), with the two men battling for a belt recently vacated by Masao Nakamura. For Saka it will be his first title bout at 130lbs, as he looks to claim his second professional title, whilst Noynay looks to claim the full version of the Asia Pacific title, following a reign as Youth champion.
At the age of 27 Saka is the much older man, and the much bigger puncher. The fighter from the Nakazato gym has been a professional since 2012 and he has had a really intriguing career. He was the runner up in the 2012 All Japan Rookie of the Year, losing in the final to Masayuki Ito. He would bounce back, scoring wins over Satoru Sugita and Katsuya Sato, before losing twice in a row, with the second of those losses coming to Hiroshige Osawa. Since then he has gone 10-1 (10), with notable wins over Ryuto Kyoguchi, Takafumi Nakajima, Shota Hayashi and Masanori Rikiishi. During that stretch he would win the Japanese Featherweight title. The sole loss was a weird one, losing the Japanese title to Takenori Ohashi when he mistook the 10 second clacker for the bell, and was subsequently knocked out.
Saka is a huge puncher, he has serious power, a nasty aggressive streak and seems to have actually become more devastating since losing the title, proving his power at Lightweight. He's crude, but offensive, heavy handed and very dangerous. There is also no real stamina questions as he has scored stoppages in the later rounds, though was stopped in 9 rounds by Osawa back in May 2014.
Filipino fighter Noynay is a 23 is a talented boxer, with good movement, good skills and a much, much smarter boxing brain than Saka. Despite being a better pure boxer he does have a relative lack of power, and he isn't likely to get Saka's respect with single shots. Instead, he will have to work hard, rely on his boxing skills and if we're being totally honest they are impressive skills, with Noynay having held his own with the excellent Reiya Abe back in early 2017. In fact both of Noynay's losses have been razor close decision defeats to notable regional fighters, Abe and Richard Pumicpic.
Although not well known outside of the Philippines Noynay is genuinely a brilliant prospect, and the losses on his record look worse than they are, losing close decisions to regional level fighters is nothing to be ashamed by. He's not the most exciting, and he's not got much power, but he is very talented, very smart, quick and sharp. He's defensively smart, has an educated jab and a very long straight left hand with quick body shots in his arsenal. Although a boxer by nature he can pick up the pressure and fight as an aggressive boxer, rather than relying on jack back foot work.
The result of this bout depends on a few really interesting questions. Can Saka cut the distance and get his power shots off? Can Noynay maintain the distance and use his southpaw jab to make space?
If Saka can get close, and if his power can affect Noynay, this could be over inside 3 or 4 rounds. If, however, Noynay boxes smart, stays on the move and stops Saka from unloading, then he can make this look easy, though he will have to work incredibly hard through out and have an incredible level of concentration. We expect Saka to come out on top, and for him to break down Noynay, though a decision win for the Filipino wouldn't be a huge surprise by any stretch.
All too often boxing gives us fights we don't want, we have little interest in and we don't really understand the point of them. Every so often however we get a fight we didn't really think we wanted, until it was made and then we think, "that's a really good match up". On December 1st we get one of those "really good match ups" as Japan's Masao Nakamura (24-3, 23) faces off with Filipino Carlo Magali (23-10-3, 12) for the vacant WBO Asia Pacific Super Featherweight. It's a bout we hadn't really thought about, but as soon as it was announced it was hard not to be excited about, given the styles of the two men.
Japan's Nakamura is a 30 year old boxer-puncher, who has shown a sense of fragility through his career but also very heavy hands and explosive KO power. He debuted back in 2006 and reeled off 12 straight wins inside the distance to win the OPBF Super Featherweight title, pulling himself off the canvas to take the belt from Allan Tanada. Sadly his reign was a short one, losing the belt in his first defense against Ronald Pontillas. Another stoppage run saw him race away to 18-1 (18) before being upset by the then unheralded Masayuki Ito. The loss to Ito was followed by another upset loss to Rey Labao in late 2014. That seemed like the start of the end for Nakamura but he since battled back, and scored a career best win over Daiki Kaneko in a brilliant 2015 clash as he began to move towards a world title fight. Sadly however Nakamura would retire in 2016, citing a mental and physical decline. Thankfully however he ended his retirement earlier this year and looked rejuvenated with 2 stoppages since his ring return.
Nakamura is, as mentioned, a boxer-puncher. He's a very heavy handed fighter who has good boxing skills, surprising speed and movement and a good boxing brain. Sadly however he has questionable durability, with a chin that could let him down if he's caught cleanly on it. He can be out boxed, as we saw against Ito, and he's not great when fighters get inside and work him up close. If he can control the range, and get his thundering shots off, he's hard to beat, but up close and when he's smothered he will always struggle.
On paper Magali doesn't look like any thing special, however the 32 year old Filipino is a nightmare to fight, having learned from his defeats and really developing a style that is hard to look good against. He's not quick, he's not a massive puncher, and he's not the toughest fighter, but he's a short, aggressive type who looks to cut distance and wailing in shots up close, with heavy clubbing hands, and a good engine. Through his career he has been stopped 3 times, once early in his career and twice on the road against Lightweights, with those two losses coming late in the bout. During his long career he has scored wins over Mark John Yap, Mark Gil Melligen, Ryuta Miyagi, David Browne Jnr and Masatoshi Kotani.
If you can keep Magali at range you can have great success against him however Magali's desire and toughness will see him looking to cut the distance, march down his man and wear them out mentally as well as physically. That is his real threat to Nakamura, as he's not going to collapse when caught, instead he will march forward and get into Nakamura's head, whilst looking to land with his thudding power.
We suspect Nakamura will have the edge in speed, power and movement, and will likely control much of the bout, but Magali will always be a threat and if he lands clean he could, very easily, drop Nakamura. That'd be when things get interesting. Although Magali has a chance, we suspect that Nakamura will take the win, either by decision or a stoppage, if he can intelligent jump on Magali when he has him hurt. If he takes too many risks however Nakamura could find himself staring up at the lights, wonder what he go caught by, so he does need to box smartly and not get dragged into a war.
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.