We know knowledgeable western fans are acquainted, at least somewhat, with Roman Gonzalez and Juan Francisco Estrada but below those two is a wealth of talent that they may not be aware of. It's that lesser known talent that often gives us some of the best fights as the fighters look to make their mark and make a statement to allow them to get a big fight.
One match up that features two lesser known fighters comes around on April 8th when Japanese champion Suguru Muranaka (21-2-1, 7), one of the few fighters to be world ranked by all 4 world bodies, defends his title against Tetsuma Hayashi (25-2-2, 9). The fighter may not have “knockout out” power, at least according to their records, but they both bring a lot of action, a lot of excitement and a lot of heart in battles that are so entertaining.
Muranaka won the title just a few short fights ago when he over-came former world title challenger Takuya Kogawa with a narrow split decision. That win over Kogawa has been followed by two successful defenses, both ending inside the distance with the most recent being an eye catching 1-punch finish against Yusuke Saksahita last October.
For many hardcore fight fans Muranaka is on the periphery. He's a name they might have seen in the rankings but probably haven't seen in action. He is however a pure work horse in the ring. He is happy to throw a lot of shots, use a high rate and although his power is limited he refuses to lose an exchange, always trying to throw the final punch in any back-and-forth.
In terms of his record Muranaka hasn't been beaten in more than 8 years. Both of his losses were close decisions and he has gone 14-0-1 (5) in his last 15 bouts. Those wins have seen him over-come the likes of Yuki Nasu, Along Denoy, Kogawa and Masayuki Kuroda and he has managed to establish himself as the top Flyweight on the Japanese domestic scene.
For many fans Hayashi isn't even on the periphery of their conversations about the Flyweight division. Despite that the 26 year old is #15 by the WBA and is getting his second shot at the Japanese title, almost 3 years after he came up short in a fight with Kogawa. That loss has since been followed with a run of 7-0-1 (3), including wins over Junichi Ebisuoka and Samransak Singmanasak.
In some ways it's hard to know how good Hayashi is. His world ranking doesn't seem very accurate, especially given the depth of the division, and his two losses have come to the only title level fighters he has fought in Kogawa and Takayasu Kobayashi, who came up short in two title bouts himself. He does look good in regards to “the eye test” and appears to have nice movement, lovely hand speed and explosive combinations, though defensively he can look a bit suspect and can be seen to rush his work.
At times Hayashi can seem apprehensive whilst at other times he can look reckless. Unfortunately for him those are his major flaws. He can't seem to ever find the middle line in terms of committing too much and not committing enough. Against a fighter like Kogawa that was unltimately his downfall.
We suspect the Kogawa bouts for both men to tell us a lot about this fight. Hayashi was relatively apprehensive against Kogawa, it was a big step up and although he was very competitive he never managed to enforce himself on Kogawa for long, it was more an occasional and short burst of success. On the other hand Muranaka managed to boss the bout at times and really forced Kogawa backwards, essentially winning a brawl and forcing Kogawa on the the retreat. We see Kogawa forcing Hayashi on to the retreat. Hayashi will fire back, he will try to force Muranaka back at times but overall there will just bee too much from the champion for the challenger to cope with in a fighter that sees a lot of action but a clear winner.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)