On December 9th fight fans in Osaka will see Japanese Welterweight champion Ryota Yada (17-4, 14) make his second defense as he takes on Shusaku Fujinaka (16-9-2, 10) in what looks set to be a really fun and exciting contest.
Yada won the title this past April, when he stopped Toshio Arikawa in a war at the Champion Carnival. Yada's win was a really excellent performance against a dangerous and feared champion, who he neutralised well for the most part and broke down. The bout was his second at title level, following a loss to Jayar Inson in a WBO Asia Pacific title bout, and he really did look like a totally different fighter against Arikawa. Between those bouts he learned a lot, especially from an hellacious Japanese title eliminator against Moon Hyun Yun in 2017. That win over Yun seemed to change how Yada fought and committed himself, and that was again seen in Yada's recent defense against Kazuyasu Okamoto, who was stopped in the 7th round.
Yada is a boxer-puncher, blessed with genuinely nasty power at this level. He seems to struggle with fighters who use distance well, and make him over-commit and also against southpaws, like Inson. Despite the struggles he is an improving fighter and certainly has added a lot more polish to his boxing in recent bouts. He's still not a razor sharp fighter, but is a lot more accurate and crisp than he once was. It's going to take a very good domestic fighter to dethrone him, and we're not sure really is there's anyone, Keita Obara aside, we'd favour over him in Japan right now.
For Fujinaka this will be his third shot at a title, having been stopped by Randall Bailey and Keita Obara in bouts for the WBO Asia Pacific Welterweight title. Sadly for Fujinaka those losses been among the bout that have shown his limitations and he is 7-7 in his last 14 bouts, dating back more than 5 years. Not only has he lost at title level, but also domestic level, losing to the likes of Koshinmaru Saito, Kengo Nagashima, Moon Hyon Yun and Toshio Tarumi. He tends to put in a good effort in his losses, but still comes up short and now, at the age of 32 and with a hard career behind him we do wonder what his body has left ot give.
Fujinaka's style is that of a high tempo, grinding fighter, who comes to fight. He can struggle to judge the distance, and can rush in wildly at times, but on the inside he loves letting his shots go in volume. It makes him an exciting fighter to watch, but he's a man who is open to eating counter shots, something we saw in spectacular fashion in his bout with Randall Bailey. His openess will be a major issue here against Yada, who is a very solid puncher and will eventually land a clean show as Fujinaka rushes in.
We love watching Fujinaka, who does fight like someone who wants to give fans value for money. Sadly that style will take a toll on a fighter, and we suspect that toll has already been taken and that Yada will catch him, and finish him at some point here.
The Welterweight scene in Japan is one of the country's weakest in terms of depth, yet it does give us some strangely compelling match ups due to the flaws, and strengths, of the fighters at the top. That includes the flawed but hard hitting champion Ryota Yada, and the explosive but shaky chinned pairing of Keita Obara and Toshio Arikawa.
On October 21st we'll see two of the best Welterweights on the Japanese domestic scene face off, with the two men fighting for a place at the 2019 Champion Carnival, and a shot at the Japanese title. The men involved in that eliminator are the heavy handed Yuki Beppu (18-0-1, 18) and the in form Yuki Nagano (14-2, 11), who are expected to put on an explosive clash in Fukuoka to get a shot at the national title.
Of the two men it's clearly Beppu who has the better looking record. He's unbeaten in 19 fights with 18 wins, all by stoppage. The 27 year old has been dubbed the “Tyson of Kyushu”, in relation to his stoppages the region where he's based. His power is legitimate and would lead him to begin his career 14-0 (14), before fighting to a draw with Charles Bellamy in early 2017. Those first 4 wins included Beppu taking the All Japan Rookie of the Year title in 2014, scoring a notable win in the final against Hironobu Matsunaga. Sadly the results against Matsunaga and Beppu aside there is very little of note on Beppu's record. The numbers hide the distinct lack of competition that he's faced with a record padded with poor Thai and Indonesian imports who rarely lasted more than 2 rounds.
Although Beppu's competition is poor his power does look to be legitimate. He's really hurting fighters when he lands, and the win over Matsunaga certainly backs up the idea he's a solid puncher. His ability to go 8 rounds against Bellamy showed he has stamina and can take a shot, and he seemed to be the one finishing that bout by looking like the stronger man.
Nagano is a 29 year old fighter from the Teiken gym who is based in Tokyo, and this will be his first fight outside of the Korakuen Hall. He debuted in 2012 and despite losing 2 of his first 4 bouts he has now rebuilt with 12 straight wins, 9 of those by stoppage. Included in his successes is the 2015 Rookie of the Year crown, which saw him defeat Masaharu Kaito and Giraffa Kirin Kanda,and notable wins over Dai Taoka and Riku Nagahama since then. Notably coming in to this he is riding a 5 fight stoppage run.
In the ring Nagano is an accurate fighter who boxes well on either the front foot or the back foot. He's a southpaw with a sharp left hand, who finds holes and has good timing. He's not particularly quick and in his biggest fights he's not been amazingly offensive, but does look like a man who understand how to box smartly and lure opponents in. His win over Nagahama saw him really unloading the left hand, bursting the eye of Nagahama and forcing the referee in. The finish however showed that he's no a big 1-punch hitter and whilst he has got finishing instincts he does leave himself open.
The edge in power and home advantage are both with Beppu and we suspect that will be the difference here in what will be a shoot out. Nagano has got the better boxing brain, but we suspect he'll be dragged into a free swinging battle, with Beppu's power landing being the difference. It's worth noting that Nagano's southpaw stance my trouble Beppu, but even then we favour the “Kyushu Tyson” to land the big right hand and take his man out.
The Welterweight scene in Japan is one of the weakest domestic scenes in the country, with very little depth in the division. Despite the lack of depth there are interesting match ups to be made, such as the recent Japanese title fight that saw Ryota Yada (16-4, 13) defeat Toshio Arikawa. This coming Saturday will make his first defence of the title as he takes on Kazuyasu Okamoto (14-5, 4) in Hirakata. For Yada the bout sees him getting a home coming coming defense, as he returns to the city of his birth whilst Okamoto gets a surprise opportunity following a loss last time out to Vladimir Baez.
The champion has has a bit of an up-and-down career, though is certainly in the form of his career with 4 solid wins coming into this bout, including a career defining win over Arikawa. Whilst the first two of those wins were relatively meaningless the last two have seen him over-come the teak tough Moon Hyon Yun and score the win over Arikawa. Those wins have seen him bounce back brilliantly from a painful defeat to under-rated Filipino Jayar Inson as he's got his career back on track. Those recent wins help shore up a record which does lack other wins of major note, with Yada's next best wins coming over Makoto Kawasaki and Yuta Maruoka. What is notable however about Yada's record is that he's turned a 3-3 start around to a 16-4 record by going 13-1 and really putting those early losses behind him.
In the ring Yada is a rough around the edges boxer-puncher, or rather more a puncher-boxer. He's not smooth, he's not fluent and he's not the most relaxed fighter, but he does have surprising speed, very decent size and reach and when he gets his full weight behind a shot fighters at this level really feel it, as Arikawa did. He doesn't seem to cope with pressure well, and fighters who can get inside can give him real issues, and his chin isn't the most solid, but his heart isn't to be questioned and he had to dig deep against Arikawa.
Okamoto first came to the attention of Japanese fight fans back in 2010, when he reached the All Japan Rookie of the Year final, losing in the final to the more experienced Tomoya Yamada. Following the to Yamada it seemed like Okamoto's career struggled a little, as he went 3-3 in his next 6 bouts, including losses to So Takenaka and a stoppage loss to Kazuya Murata. That bad run was then followed by Okamoto's best career run of 5 straight wins before Vladimir Baez stopped him in 8 rounds to secure himself a Japanese title fight at 140lbs.
To date Okamoto has only fought twice as a fully fledged Welterweight, going 1-1 in those two bouts. He's pretty tall for a Light Welterweight, but he'll be shorter than Yada here and hasn't shown the power or durability to live with Yada. That however shouldn't take away from the fact that Okamoto likes to press the fight, force a bout to be fought up close and bring a lot of pressure. It gave him real moments against Baez and we expect to see him rush Yada as well, especially given that that was something that worked for Inson against Yada.
Sadly for Okamoto we think his lack of power will be a major issue and Yada has the power to hurt him coming in. Okamoto could cause some problems for the champion but we expect to see Yada land clean too often and take him out in in the second half of the fight, after Okamoto's feet start to slow and begins to struggle to cut the distance.
The Japanese Welterweight scene has never been the most exciting or the deepest. Despite that it can be an interesting one at times, and right now with heavy handed, but some some what fragile, Toshio Arikawa (15-4, 13) it really interesting to follow. With Arikawa as the champion you assume there's a stoppage coming, you're just unsure if it'll be the champion scoring it, or being stopped himself. This coming Monday Arikawa will make his third defense of that title, and take on fellow puncher Ryota Yada (15-4, 12).
The 33 year old champion struggled early in his career, suffering an opening round loss on his debut, and then another 2 years later for have a record of 3-2 (3) after 5 bouts, amazing only one of those 5 bouts actually lasted more than a round. Since then he has gone 12-2 (9), suffering a third opening round loss along the way. With 3 opening round losses Arikawa certainly isn't the toughest fighter out there, but he is currently riding an impressive 7 fight winning run, with 6 straight stoppages. That current 7 fight run includes notable victories over Akinori Watanabe, Nobuyuki Shindo, Yasuhiro Okawa and Daisuke Sakamoto, avenging 2 of his career losses with those wins.
Arikawa really is a brutal puncher. His last 6 fights have all ended early and come a combined 30 rounds, with Shindo last 10 of those. His punches don't to score clean knockouts, but they do destroy opponents. That was seen last time out when he left Sakamoto a bloodied mess, with a huge cut around his left eye, and has been seen numerous other times where his heavy hands have simply broken opponents down. His hands are just that pure heaviness that hurt when any shot connects and at this level that is incredibly dangerous for his opponents.
Aged 28 Yada is the younger man, and is the less known of the two fighters taking part in this bout. Like Arikawa his early career was less than spectacular, losing 3 of his first 6 whilst bulking up from a Featherweight to a Light Welterweight. Despite that 3-3 start to his professional career Yada has since gone 12-1 (10). Sadly however his most notable win was a razor thin one last time out against Moon Hyon Yun, which sort of shows the level that Yada is fighting out. That win over Yun was Yada's third straight victory following his 2016 loss to Jayar Inson, who genuinely hammered Yada in a bout for a WBO Asia Pacific title bout.
In the ring Yada is a decent fighter at domestic level, but much of his record is padded with Thai visitors who have fallen over in the first 3 rounds. In fact 4 of his 12 stoppages have come against Thai's and a total of 6 wins have come against fighters with losing records, including 2 of his last 3. Yada can clearly punch at domestic level, as wins over Ryota Itoyama and Makoto Kawasaki show, but fighting against Arikawa is a huge step up in class.
We're expecting a fun fight here. Arikawa can obviously be hurt, and Yada has got power, but unless Yada can jump on his man and take him out early on we suspect Arikawa's power and consistency will be too much, breaking down the challenger toe secure his third successful defense.
The Japanese Welterweight title has been one of the most over-looked domestic titles in recent years. A lot of that is due to the relatively weak domestic scene. Whilst globally the Welterweight division has been among the best in recent years it hasn't shone in Japan, where the division really lacks name value and real stand out talents. Strangely however it's the lack of stand out talent the makes the division so interesting, and makes the November 7th Japanese Welterweight title unification bout so intriguing, with both fighters coming in as “champion” and both believing they will walk away the winner.
In one corner is “regular” champion Toshio Arikawa (14-4, 12), a huge puncher who claimed the title in April 2016 when he stopped Nobuyuki Shindo. He has recorded just one defence of the title, stopping Yasuhiro Okawa last November, though has sadly seen his reign put on ice this year with a nasty injury. That injury actually forced him to pull out of a Champion Carnival bout, which would have seen him face off with Daisuke Sakamoto (14-8-3, 8). Due to the injury to Arikawa fans saw Sakamoto battle against Makoto Kawasaki for the interim title, with Sakamoto claiming a decision win for the interim crown.
Now, almost 7 months after the original date for the bout we'll see the two fighters finally facing off, and just like the first time around there is a lot of back stories running though this bout. These include the unification status of the bout, the delaying of the bout and the fact that this is a rematch are all interesting threads to the contest.
We've already explained the delay and unification, of the interim and regular titles here, but it's worth mentioning the first fight between these two men before looking at either man in much detail. These two fought back in April 2014, and surprisingly Sakamoto blew away Arikawa in just 69 seconds. Since then however both men have been unbeaten, with Sakamoto going 7-0-2 (5) and Arikawa going 6-0 (5), and both showing real improvements from their first contest.
Of the two men it's Arikawa who enters in the more impressive form. His last 6 bouts have included stoppage wins over Akinori Watanabe, Shindo and Okawa as well as a technical decision win over the pretty decent, though now forgotten Yoshihisa Tonimura. He has really turned his career around after an 8-4 (7) start, which included 3 stoppage losses, and has not only kept his power but improved his overall boxing ability. The naturally heavy hands of Arikawa are sledgehammer like and every shot he lands looks damaging, especially at this level.
Whilst Arikawa has turned his career around brilliantly it should be noted that Sakamoto has done something similar himself. He was 7-8-1 (3) prior to beating Arikawa, having lost 4 of his previous 5, but has genuinely turned his career around and was a well deserving winner over Kawasaki for the interim title. Sadly aside from the win over Arikawa little really stands out for him in terms of quality wins, and it did sort of seem like he shook Arikawa and never let him off the hook until the referee had to stop the bout.
Given the result of their first bout it's obvious that Sakamoto will be full of confidence, and certainly has activity in his favour, having fought as recently as June. We however feel a determined and focused Arikawa will be too much for Sakamoto, and will break down Sakamoto late, though may need to pull himself off the canvas to score a victory here.
To begin 2017 we had expected to see Japanese Welterweight champion Toshio Arikawa (14-4, 12) to defend his title at the Champion Carnival against mandatory challenger Daisuke Sakamoto (13-8-3, 8). Sadly in the run up to that fight the champion suffered a training injury, breaking his jaw, and forced that bout to be cancelled. Rather than leaving the title on ice the JBC ordered Sakamoto to face off with Makoto Kawasaki (9-4-1, 2) in a bout for the interim title. That bout closes out the relatively quiet month of June and gives fans at the Korakuen Hall another potentially thrilling contest.
On paper the bout might not look great. After all between them they have a combined record of 22-12-4 (10) and neither has made an impact above domestic level. The reality however is that they are are well matched, both are hungry and both men are looking to make the most of their opportunity here. It's a bout that has real intrigue and has a genuine reward for the winner.
Of the two fighters it's Sakamoto who comes in to the bout with genuine form. The 35 year old veteran has gone 6-0-2 since losing a very narrow decision to Nobuyuki Shindo back in December 2013. That 8 fight unbeaten run has seen him score a now huge opening round win over Toshio Arikawa, a little more than 3 years ago,claim a decision over Ryoji Tanaka and fight to a technical draw with Takashi Inagaki. Whilst his last 3 wins have been against poor Thai's he hasn't been allowing ring rust to build up, and has instead been keeping his eyes focused on the Japanese title.
Although Sakamoto is in the form of his career, and has turned a 7-8-1 (3) record around, he is much better than the numbers suggest. He has lost close ones to the likes of Shindo, Kazuyoshi Kumano, Yasuhiro Okawa, and Yoshitaka Katabami and has been matched hard on the domestic level, fighting the likes of Yuji Wauke and Daichi Sakoda very early in his career. Like many he has been matched hard and had to develop the hard way, which is why he is now reaping the rewards of such a poor looking record.
Aged 33 Kawasaki is a man who is really a bit of an unknown outside of the most hardcore of Japanese fans, and really doesn't have the time to suffer another set back. His most notable result is a draw, on debut, with Koki Tyson, who was also debuting. Since then he has fought some notable names, but has come up short against the likes of Hironobu Matsunaga, Noriaki Sato and Ryota Yada. That's not to say he doesn't have any good wins, but victories over Mazuya Murata, Takeshi Goda and Koji Iida are scarcely amazing.
With a lack of power Kawasaki will depend on his work rate and stamina here. He has shown both at at the 5 and 6 round distance but has only gone beyond 6 rounds twice, being stopped in one of those bouts and taking a decision in the other. He has never shown that he can comfortable go 8, never mind more, and he lacks the experience to really know what to do when fatigue sets in.
The bout probably won't be a memorable bout that transcends Japanese boxing, but we do expect the bout to be a lot of fun, and high octane and we expect to see Sakamoto just being that bit too good, too experienced and too hungry for his long awaited rematch with Arikawa to come up short here.
In recent times the OPBF title has given us some amazing bouts, and some less than great bouts. Sometimes we've seen fights we expected to be good, but ended up being mismatches like Daigo Higa's win over Ardin, and other times we've had bouts surprise and be much better than expected. Sadly though we can't see any way in which the upcoming OPBF Welterweight title bout will be anything but a disappointment.
The bout in question will see once beaten 25 year old champion Jack Brubaker (12-1-1, 6) battle against 35 year old Filipino journeyman Mark Sales (22-40-4, 8). We're sorry if we sound like we're being harsh, but this is little more than a sham defense for the very talented Brubaker.
The champion won the title back in 2015, when he stopped China's Xing Xin Yang in 4 rounds. He has since defended the belt twice, stopping Paddy Murphy in 6 rounds and taking a split decision win over Suyon Takayama in what was a genuine classic last July.
Brubaker is a million miles away from becoming a world champion, but he's a really good fighter, with good stamina, genuine grit and under-rated power. He's far from a puncher but has stopped 3 of his last 4, having only been forced to go the 12 round distance by the tough Takayama.
With two defenses under his belt we could really have Brubaker looking to either establish himself as a real champion and face some other top Oriental contenders, such as Czar Amonsot, Cammeron Hammond, or even a promising prospect like Yuki Beppu or Takeshi Inoue, though not fighting Inoue is fair enough given he will himself be fighting for a Japanese title later this month. Instead however he's up against Sale, who is at best a journeyman.
The 35 year old Sale has been a professional since 1997 , when he fought way down at Light Flyweight, and remarkably he picked up his first win as Minimumweight! Since then however Sale has filled into a bigger fighter, fighting all the way up the weights to Light Welterweight, where he has fought the last few years. During his long career he has faced a who's who of the Oriental scene. That has seen him face the likes of Pongsaklek Wonjongkam, Fahlan Sakkreerin, Nonito Donaire, Chonlatarn Piriyapinyo, Terdsak Kokietgym, Allan Tanada, Romeo Jakosalem and Al Rivera. Sadly for Sale he has lost to almost every notable name he has ever faced.
It's worth noting that Sale does have some good wins on his record, the last of which came in 2005, when he beat Bernabe Concepcion. Interestingly that win was the last time Sale beat an opponent with a winning record. That bout, fought around the Bantamweight limit, should tell you why we think this is such a horrible mismatch. Sale hasn't beaten a fighter with a winning record in over a decade, he hasn't scored a notable win above Super Bantamweight and isn't fit for an OPBF title fight, especially not at Welterweight, which he has never fought at.
Given Sales recent results it's hard to see him having any success here. He's proven his durability, with just 6 stoppages losses in 66 bouts, but it's hard to see him lasting the distance with Brubaker, who has shown respectable power in recent fights.
The OPBF Welterweight title has been a bit of an outlier in recent years with no one really making it “theirs” in years. The most notable reign of the last decade was that of Akinori Watanabe and even that only consisted of 5 defenses over the space of 2 years, and since then we've seen Yoshiro Kamegai and Jack Brubaker hold the title but never really establish themselves as the King of the Orient and Pacific region. In fact you probably need to go back to the 1990's to find the last man who was truly the dominant force in Asia at 140lbs, as that was Jung Oh Park who defended the belt 13 times from 1989 to 1994.
A new champion will be crowned on December 9th when the vacant title is put up for grabs and will be the star prize for a bout between British born Australian Ben Savva (4-1) and Filipino journeyman Dennis Padua (10-11-2, 5). And if we're being honest bouts like this do little to raise the title's standing, which is a shame as the recent Jack Brubaker Vs Suyon Takayama fight was brilliant and saw the title and interim belt being unified in fantastic fashion.
Savva, as mentioned, was born in the UK but has fought his whole career in Australia. He debuted back in April 2015 and lost on debut to Richard Smith but has reeled off 4 straight wins since, including a win over Indonesian journeyman Roy Tua Manihuruk and Australian veteran Alex Ah Tong, with that win seeing Savva claim an Australian State title. Although he has had a 4 fight winning streak all of those have been decision wins and all have been against fighters with less than great records over 8 rounds or less.
Whilst Savaa is a novice, with just a combined 28 rounds, the same cannot be said of Padua, who has had 23 fights during his now 9 year long career. Sadly though, many of those fights have ended with Padua coming up short. In fact he has been stopped in 8 of his 23 career bouts and despite having 23 fights he has only notched up 103 career rounds. Whilst he has mixed with good company, and does hold a notable draw with Jay Solmiano from back in 2008, he has typically come up short suffering stoppages to the likes of Teerachai Kratingdaenggym, Hayato Hokazono, Sirimongkol Singwancha, Yosuke Kirima, and Baishanbo Nasiyiwula.
Although Savva isn't a puncher we'd be shocked to see he need the 12 rounds to over-come Padua. This bout does little to help the OPBF title, and with Padua only winning 1 of his last 10 bouts questions need to be asked as to why he has got a shot, but it will see a champion crowned and hopefully lead to some interesting bouts for the winner in 2017.
The Japanese Welterweight scene isn't the most interesting or notable at the moment but that doesn't mean the division doesn't have some intrigue involved in it, with several interesting fighters rising through the ranks and numerous small stories running through the division. Over the last few years one of the most interesting stories is the rise of the heavy handed Toshio Arikawa (13-4, 11), who has gone from an 8-4 (7) struggling puncher to the Japanese national champion who is set to make his first defense of the title. Another is the story of Arikawa's upcoming challenger Yasuhiro Okawa (14-12-3, 5), who turned a 9-11-3 (3) career around to get a second shot a Japanese title this year. Amazingly this will be the second time the two men have had their stories cross, with Okawa having beaten Arikawa back in 2013.
Since his loss to Okawa back in 2013 we've seen Arikawa 5-1 (4), bouncing back from a 69 second blow out to Daisuke Sakamoto to claim notable wins over Yoshihisa Tonimura, Akinori Watanabe and Nobuyuki Shindo. In those bouts Arikawa has been pretty basic, but he's also shown scary power, with every shot being a thudding, damaging shot. He's not the most skills, or the quickest but what he hits he hurts and that was seen particularly well against Shindo, where a bloodied and beaten Shindo was saved by his corner.
Whilst it's hard to say how much Arikawa has developed in recent years he is certainly a better fighter than he once was, and with the power he has he will always be able to hurt opponents. The big question however is how he copes with being hurt, and he has been stopped 3 times in his 17 fight career. This possibly suggests he's a glass cannon, like former foe Akinori Watanabe, however it could also mean that he's a much improved fighter and the title may well fill his with extra confidence.
Although not an amazing fighter Arikawa has the air of a man who feels unbeatable, and that sort of air can carry a fighter far. That is likely to be seen again here and it's going to take an excellent performance from anyone at Japanese domestic level to beat him
Okawa's win over Arikawa kick started his rise through the ranks with 4 subsequent wins leading to his first title shot, a narrow and competitive loss to Nobuyuki Shindo in a bout for the then vacant title. That was Okawa's first loss in almost 5 years and ended a 5 fight unbeaten run, that also included a win over Tomoyuki Omura.
In the ring Okawa isn't a special fighter, but he is better than his record suggests and he holds notable results on his record, like wins over Daisuke Sakamoto and Hidekazu Matsunobu, along with a draw against Hayato Hokazono, as well as the win over Arikawa. Unfortunately for Okawa he has been inconsistent, losing to fighters like Shinta Kintamura and Tomoyuki Shiotani. There is no shame in some of his losses, such as defeats to Takehiro Shimokawara, Koshinmaru Saito and Nobuyuki Shindo, but the inconsistency has been an issue until recently.
Although not the biggest puncher, or the most physically strong Okawa is a hard working fighter with good stamina and a willingness to fight up in an opponents face. It's not always done him well but he's significantly better than his record suggests and knows that he can beat Arikawa.
Although Okawa has scored a win over Arikawa, we can't help but think the champion, who had an injury earlier this year, will avenge that loss and claim his first defense whilst looking to make a mark on the wider boxing scene, possibly moving towards an OPBF title fight in 2017.
In Europe the traditional route to a world title was to win a national crown, for example the British, Italian or French title, then move towards winning a European title before progressing towards a world title. Whilst are other options, with British fighters often collecting a Commonwealth on their way up for example, the tradition route has always been to gradually step up, before moving towards a world title.
The same is true in parts of Asia. Traditionally fighters will win a national title, before a regional title and then on to world titles. It's true that fighters do often skip stages but many do go, or try to go, the traditional route using each level as a stepping stone.
One fighter trying to take that step up this week is former Japanese Welterweight champion, and current OPBF “interim” champion, Suyon Takayama (24-1, 8) who takes on the OPBF champion Jack Brubaker (10-1-1, 5) this coming Monday in a bout shown over the www.boxingraise.com website.
Aged 30 this is a step for the once beaten Takayama, who has won his last 12 in an unbeaten 6 year run. That run saw him claim the Japanese title in December 2012 and record an impressive 6 defenses. As the champion Takayama beat the likes of Koshinmaru Saito, Cobra Suwa, Moon Hyun Yun and Nobuyuki Shindo. Amazingly however he failed to stop any of the top Japanese fighters and went the distance in all 7 of his title bouts at Japanese level. Whilst that proved his stamina his also also show his lack of power.
At the turn of the year Takayama vacated the national title to focus on the OPBF title and claimed the interim belt in February, when he stopped Filipino fighter Joel De La Cruz. That was Takayama's first stoppage win since November 2012 and it said more about De la Cruz than Takayama, with the Filipino suffering his 10th stoppage loss.
In the ring Takayama has a great engine, a brilliant will to win a genuine grit. He lacks power, he lacks amazing speed and in fairness very little, other than his stamina, really impress. But he's hard to beat and will continue to be so at the level he's fighting. He will however never make a genuine mark on the world stage.
As for Brubaker the 24 year old Australian also has just a single loss to his name, coming in an Australian national title fight at 140lbs. Since then he has moved up in weight and strung together 5 straight wins, including his title winning effort against China's Xing Xin Yang and a single defense of the title against Paddy Murphy. Again Yang we were impress by Brubaker who looked like a promising fighter as he boxed carefully behind a good jab, found a range for his right hand and dropped Yang twice in the opening round before finishing him in the 4th. Although Brubaker impressed Yang did look terrible was out of his depth from the opening bell.
Although he has looked impressive in his last couple of bouts it's hard to really know how good he is given that his competition hasn't been great. He is however a fight who appears to be developing, appears to hit harder than his record suggests and comes to fight. There are a lot of holes in his defence but there is a lot to like about, and his jab is sharp with some crisps coming off of it.
When we see the men in the ring we're expecting to see Brubaker fight on the outside whilst Takayama will try and turn it into a fight. If Brubaker has the energy to avoid a fight and can pick off the challenger with his jab he should be able to take a clear win. If however Takayama can get inside and turn it into a fight then we'd favour Takayama to out work and out point Brubaker for the title over 12 compelling rounds.
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.