In one corner will be the defending champion Yohei Tobe (8-1-1, 5), a man making the first defence of the title he won in impressive fashion earlier this year. Tobe goes into his first defence ranked in the top 15 by the IBF and with a lot of confidence courtesy not just of his team at the Misako Gym but also his results so far which have included wins over Wandee Singwancha, Kohei Kono and Taiki Eto.
Talented with nice speed, developing skills and credible power Tobe has strangely become one of the forgotten men in the Japanese scene. He started his career with sensational results then floundered before rebuilding to where he is now and another win in his first defence would likely move him into more world rankings and possibly even send him on to an OPBF title fight.
In the opposite corner to Tobe will be the unbeaten Sho Ishida (16-0, 9) of Ioka Gym. Ishida will be competing in his first professional title bout though has shared a gym with various championship level fighters, such as Masayoshi Nakatani, Kazuto Ioka and Ryo Miyaaki. He has also scored a very notable and highly impressive victory over Petchbarngborn Kokietgym, easily the most impressive victory on his ledger thus far.
Like Tobe, Ishida is a very promising fighter who seems to still be developing his enviable skills. Aged just 22 he appears to be the rising star of the Ioka Gym and has shown great skills, fantastic speed, under-rated power and a very sharp jab. Those skills have helped Ishida to a high world ranking with the WBA and presumably a win over Tobe would move him into contention for a shot at their belt in the next year or so.
Going in to the fight there is a lot of questions for both men and a lot on the line. In fact it's fair to say that this is the most important bout either man has been in and, aside from Tobe's loss to Ryo Akaho, this is the toughest bout either man has been involved in, and that's including Tobe's tough assignment with Richard Pumicpic.
For Tobe the question is how will he cope with the jab of Ishida. It's sharp, powerful and a really amazing weapon that he uses to great effect time and time again. The unbeaten man not only has a fabulous jab but he works off it amazingly well, throws it on the move and has shown that he can vary it's power and speed, a trick many fighters should make full use of. Tobe himself has nice movement though it's not quite looked as good as Ishida's movement which as really been great.
Whilst Ishida looks to be a better mover this is a big step up for him and, for the first time, he's facing someone who is not just talented but is actually his equal in many ways. Tobe, like Ishida, can hit harder than his record indicates, can box and move and can actually apply very intelligent pressure. The question of how Ishida copes with someone who is just as skilled is a huge one and we expect this to be the first time he is asked really serious questions.
Going in to the bout we dare say Ishida is the more gifted fighter, however we believe that Tobe's bouts with tougher opponents, such as Taiki Eto, Richard Pumicpic, Ryo Akaho and Kohei Kono will be the difference. He will know what to do when things aren't going all his way, something that Ishida hasn't ever had to face. With that in mind we are picking Tobe to win with a very late stoppage in a very good, highly competitive contest that brings out the best in both men.
For those lucky few who can get to the venue for this bout, you will also get the OPBF Light Welterweight clash between Keita Obara and Shinya Iwabuchi. That one looks to be special.
(Image courtesy of Danganboxing)