One man looking to move in the same direction as Obara is current Japanese national champion Hiroki Okada (12-0, 10), who returns to the ring this coming Monday to seek the 5th defense of his title as he takes on Japanese-Brazilian Cristiano Aoqui (11-4-2, 7).
Okada has slowly but surely been making a name for himself among Japanese domestic fans, and with good reason. He's an exciting, talented and heavy handed fighter who seems like he could, potentially, go a very long way. Unlike many punchers Okada isn't at his best coming forward but, instead, fighting as a counter puncher with his boxing on the back foot being his strength. Saying that however he can fight on the front foot when he needs to.
The 26 year old from Tokyo has started to string together some genuinely notable wins including victories over Masayoshi Kotake, Koichi Aso, twice, Hayato Hokazono and Masanobu Nakazawa. Not only has he been putting together really good domestic wins but he has been scoring stoppages over good domestic fighters too, with Aso being stopped in 7 rounds earlier this and Nakazano lasting less than 3. At the moment he's the top guy domestically, though of course he's behind Obara who has progressed well beyond the Japanese domestic scene, however we suspect he'll be looking to move beyond the domestic scene and hunt an OPBF title in the near future and take on the top guys from the region.
Whilst we have seen plenty of Okada the same cannot be said of Aoqui who has most fought at the lower levels of the Japanese scene since making his debut almost a decade ago. On paper his record isn't great however he back his career 4-2-1 (3), with both of those losses coming by stoppage, however he has since gone 7-2-1 (4) with both of those recent losses being very narrow decision defeats. Whilst he has suffered defeats, in fact losing as recently as last December, Aoqui has been scored notable wins beating Koicho Ogawa, Quaye Peter and Ryosuke Takami in the last 2 years.
Although on on paper Aoqui doesn't look like a puncher the footage of him out there certainly shows a man who can whack, particularly with the uppercut which he used to devastating effect against Takafumi Yamada in a 58 second blow out win 3 years ago. The uppercut really is his danger punch though he does have heavy looking hooks and seems to be the aggressive sort of fighter than can make for an exciting type of fight. Saying that however he is flawed, technically his punches leave him open and his footwork is sloppy, and even slow at times
Given the aggressive and front foot nature of Aoqui we suspect he'll play right into the hands of Okada who we think will stop him in the middle rounds with a devastating counter punch.
Notably this bout will be streamed over the BoxingRaise website and for fans interested in watching that appears to be the only way of seeing the bout, unless you have a ticket to the Korakuen Hall for the show