When "Ring of Gold" was announced we had expected two world title fights. One of those was a WBA Featherweight super title fight between Simipiwe Vetyeka, the man who ended the legendary career of Chris John, and Japan's Akifumi Shimoda (28-3-2, 12). Unfortunately that bout got pulled by the WBA who demanded that Vetyeka took on WBA regular champion Nicholas Walters rather than Shimoda, who is a top contender.
It seemed at that point that Shimoda wouldn't be on the card and was unfortunately going to miss out a major opportunity.
Thankfully Bob Arum, of Top Rank, and Teiken have managed to do a great job and kept Shimoda on the card and in a title fight, albeit "just" a WBO international Featherweight title fight. Not only have they kept Shimoda on the card but also got him a fight with a former world champion as he meets once-beaten Filipino Marvin Sonsona (17-1-1, 14).
Shimoda, a former WBA Super Bantamweight champion, is currently on a 6 fight unbeaten run following his shocking KO loss at the hands of Rico Ramos. The loss to Ramos saw Shimoda losing his world title and soon afterwards he moved up in weight filling out to a Featherweight.
Although Shimoda's last 6 fights have come at a "sub-world" level he is still clearly a talented fighter. Not exceptional but still solid with good skills, good movement a decent engine and plenty of experience under his belt. The one thing he genuinely lacks is power and although he was stopped by Ramos that said more about Ramos's power than Shimoda's chin.
At his best Shimoda is a world level fighter, there is no debating that at all. The question about him going in to this bout and future Featherweight bouts is whether or not he's a Featherweight. He's been fighting there but comfortably making the weight and one would assume that if he was offered a Super Bantamweight world title fight he'd be able to make 122lbs with out any problem.
Whether Shimoda is a natural Featherweight or not is unlikely to make a huge difference here as he takes on former WBO Super Flyweight champion Sonsona.
As with Shimoda, Sonsona is a world level fighter when he's on song. He's fast, aggressive, powerful and genuinely fun to watch. He's not the most technically proficient of fighters but he does have enough about him to make life difficult for most fighters when his head is on boxing. Unfortunately Sonsona is a play boy outside of the ring and you can tell that boxing isn't always his focus which is a real shame considering his prodigious talent.
Aged 23 and fighting from the Southpaw stance the expectation on Sonsona is "IF" he can commit himself to boxing he can easily reclaim another world title somewhere down the line. On the other side of that is that if his out of the ring issues rear their head again his career could very easily be over.
In regards to this fight Shimoda seems to be the naturally bigger man, though there isn't much between them in all honesty, he's certainly the more experienced and older man. Unfortunately for Shimoda his relative lack of power and the fact he's "stepping" down after thinking he was fighting for a world title may work against him. We've seen it in the past where a fighter thinks he's fighting one guy, then it's gets changed to a lesser opponent and he just doesn't turn up.
Shimoda could try to use his natural skills to keep Sonsona off balance and neutralise his dynamite left hand. Unfortunately for Shimoda that could be a problem with Sonsona being very fast himself and being capable of throwing whilst taking one.
With aggression and power on his side Sonsona is a man who is hard to bet against here. Shimoda's the more complete fighter but something tells us that Sonsona will manage to land a huge left hand at some point. If Rico Ramos can knock you senseless then Sonsona can do the same.
Unfortunately for the winner of this fight, we don't think they will have much of a chance with the WBO world champion and may need to wait their turn for a title fight in the hope that a weaker champion comes around in 12-18 months. We suspect that Vasyl Lomachenko will beat Orlando Salido in the coming weeks and without trying to sound harsh Lomachenko would have an easy time with either Shimoda or Sonsona. Below Lomachenko though are plenty of beatable opponents and these two will favour their chances against a number of other top challengers.
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.