Now, almost 5 months later, we see Odaira returning to the ring as he attempts to make the first defence of his title. In the opposite corner to the lightning quick Odaira will be another light hitting fighter in the form of Yuma Iwahashi (11-6-1, 1) who, although relatively unknown, has shared the ring with a number of credible fighters.
The most notable opponents that Iwahashi has faced are Atsushi Kakutani, Kenichi Horikawa, Ryuji Hara and Wanheng Menayothin, all of whom defeated, Iwahashi who is a little bit fortunate to be ranked #1 by the JBC. Despite those losses however we have been impressed at times with Iwahashi who has developed into a decent, though not outstanding, fighter and given that his reported amateur record was just 3-2 (1) he is still very inexperienced. From what we've seen he's tough, brave and has solid movement early in a bout though he's unfortunate not to be gifted with much power though does throw some good combinations, sadly his opponents do tend to walk through them and they are often too few.
Whilst Iwahashi is tough, and his only stoppage loss came way back in 2008 to Kakutani, he is very limited from what footage is available and unfortunately for him this will be a real issue against Odaira.
Odaira himself is one of 3 fighting brothers, easily the most successful of the trio despite a poor start. Odaira turned professional back in 2006 and began his career 3-3-1 with one of those losses coming to Ryuji Hara. There was obvious talent there and his losses, on the whole, were very close but there was something missing. Since then however things have started to click for Odaira who is unbeaten in 8 fights and has a trio of notable wins as he has over-come Takashi Kunishige, Kazuma Kitahara and most recently Masashi Tada.
What was missing for Odaira seems to have been found with a combination of experience and maturity and he has gone from being a nobody to being a Japanese champion and a man who looks very difficult to beat with a style similar to that of his handler Susumu Hanagata. Hanagata, like Odaira, was speedy, talented and light punching though had a great career that saw him beating Masao Oba and Chartchai Chionoi, defeating Chinoi for a world title.
We're expecting a distance bout, they happen when neither guy really sits on their punches, but we're also expecting a bit of a mismatch with Odaira having too much speed, to much guile and too much aggression for Iwahashi who we think will look like a second class citizen in there. We think Odaira will be too quick on his feet, make the most of his southpaw stance and generally be too quick with hands and feet for the challenger who will be game but outclassed en route to losing a wide decision.
We don't think Odaira will do as well as Hanagata did in his career but we'd be very shocked if he lost to Iwahashi here. Interestingly though there has been talk about Kosei Tanaka challenging the winner of this bout later this year.
For those interested in little details this will be the co-main event at Dangan 103 with the other main event being the Japanese Super Featherweight title fight between the unbeaten Rikki Naito and veteran Kyohei Tamakoshi. All 4 of the main event fighters are featured on the poster above.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)