The last bout of Asian interest for the month of January comes at the very end of the month as Filipino fighter Aston Palicte (24-2-1, 20) takes on unbeaten Puerto Rican Jose Martinez (20-0-2, 13) in a WBO Super Flyweight world title eliminator in California. The winner will become the mandatory challenger for the WBO title currently held by Donnie Nietes, who won the belt on December 31st in Macau when he defeated Kazuto Ioka. It's worth noting that a win for Palicte would set up a rematch with Nietes, after the two fought to a draw in 2018, whilst a win for Martinez would see the Puerto Rican getting his first world title fight.
The 27 year "Mightly" Palicte is a boxer-puncher who is huge for a Super Flyweight, standing at 5'8" with 68" reach. He's a strong and powerful fighter, who has technical holes to pick at, but does have underrated boxing ability, a very hard right hand and a stiff jab. Where he lacks most is in terms of speed, and he can be seen to be quite a bit slower and less sharp than the other top Super Flyweights. He used his size and timing well to neutralise that difference, but it is still clear than he's a split-second behind the top guys with his hands and feet.
During his career Palicte has mostly fought at home in the Philippines, but has travelled to Macau, Mexico and the USA, where he has linked up with Roy Jones Jr and his promotional company.
Palicte's key to winning is using his physicality, size and power, things that really are big advantages too him. He needs to look to get Martinez's respect, and keep him at the end of his hard straight punches. If he can do that he can chip away at Martinez before unloading powerful combinations at the Puerto Rican slows down.
Martinez is a 26 year old who is a more...regular sized Super Flyweight at 5'4" and with a 64" reach. His career began back in late 2011 and saw him reel off 18 wins, 11 by stoppage, before taking on the then 20 year old Alejandro Santiago Barrios. Barrios entered the bout as a bit of an unknown but was very unfortunate not to give Martinez his first defeat, in an 8 round bout. That win slowed Martinez's rise and a rematch in 2018 ended up pushing Barrios into an IBF title fight with Jerwin Ancajas, who was lucky to get a draw against the diminutive Mexican. Aside from the two bouts with Barrios there is little of major value on Martinez's record, with most notable wins being a win against an old, out of shape Juan Palacios and a win against Jesus Martinez, who has been stopped in 2 of his 3 subsequent bouts.
In the ring Martinez is a pretty unspectacular looking fighter. He appears to fight off the back foot a lot, throws arm punches, and has little in terms of crispness to his work, he looks defensively very liable and rushes a lot of what he does. We're not saying he's terrible, but to get such a big opportunity and to have shown so little actual skill is a worry. He's shown a willingness to bite down on his gum shield, he let his hands go, and he does seem to have power behind his shots, but looks pretty poor if we're being honest. In fact it does seem like someone likes him given the two very suspect draws with Barrios and his high ranking.
We suspect Martinez will have the confidence of an unbeaten fighter, but it's hard to imagine his wide and open style will work against Palicte. We suspect the Filipino will use his reach to counter the Puerto Rican before taking him out in the second half of the fight. If not, and if we get a surprise win for Martinez we can't see him posing any questions, at all, of Donnie Nietes in an eventual mandatory title fight.
The Featherweight division is expected to heat up during 2019, after a truly frustrating year in 2018 with inactive champions and some less than stellar match ups at both title and contender level. Thankfully to begin 2019 we do have some interesting Featherweight bouts either lined up, or in the works.
One of the first of the great looking Featherweight bouts comes this Saturday when Mongolian puncher Tugstsogt Nyambayar (10-0, 9) takes on explosive Dominican Claudio Marrero (23-2, 17) in a really excellent match up that we can't see going the distance.
The bout was first mooted in late 2018, though was held off whilst Nyamabayar recovered from an injury to his hand. That injury is now fully healed and the Mongolian is looking to continue on a fast track to the top, a fast track that has only been slowed by that injury. The former Mongolian amateur stand out debuted in early 2015 and ended the year 4-0 (4) since then he has been less active, but very impressive, beating the likes of Jhon Gemino, Harmonito Dela Torre and Oscar Escandon in his last 3.
Nyambayar is a very heavy-handed boxer-puncher. Technically he's well schooled, does things properly and can fight at a high work rate, a high work rate that he has proven he can keep up for 10 rounds as he showed against Gemino. He has impressively shown an ability to move through gears when he wants. One thing that is a bit of a worry is the fact he has been dropped in his last 2 bouts, though they both seemed to come from balance issues rather than actually being hurt. That's perhaps his biggest issue, his balance and foot work, which isn't terrible, but looks to be his weakest aspect, whilst his power is clearly his strongest attribute. He's a true puncher.
Whilst Nyambayar is a true puncher we would describe Marrero as more of an athletic slugger, with a style we would describe as being "elastic" and explosive. A lot of what Marrero does is wrong, but he is incredibly quick, wiry and makes the most or his awkward southpaw stance. His fast left hand is a brutal weapon and he has scored amazing KO over the likes of Rico Ramos, Carlos Zambrano and Jorge Lara. Whilst he can score sensational KO's he has also been dropped a few times during his career, and was stopped himself from Jesus M Rojas in 2017.
Marrero, dubbed "the matrix", is a really exciting fighter who takes risks, punches hard, and looks for the stoppage. He's at worst however when he switches off or tries to work on the inside, somewhere he really shouldn't ever be. There's question marks about his stamina, as well as his chin, but with his power, speed he is a danger to almost anyone in the division.
This is a huge step up in class, and in terms of danger, for Nyambayar. He certainly has the power to stop Marrero, but will need to keep himself defensively tight early on, whilst Marrero's speed is at it's most blinding. If Nyambayar can see out the first 5 or 6 rounds we favour him to get a stoppage, but those early rounds will be tough for the Mongolian.
We're backing Nyambayar to get a late TKO, but we suspect he will have to go through hell to get it. Marrero is a massive step up in class for the Mongolian warrior, and a fantastic chance to see what Nyambayar really has. A win for Nyambayar opens the door to a world title fight later in 2019, whilst a loss would see the 26 year old really need to rebuild through the rest of the year.
We get the first OPBF title fight of the year on January 19th with Korea playing host to an OPBF Light Middleweight title bout, fill the void left by Takeshi Inoue, who fights Jamie Mungia for the WBO title a week later. The match up will see little known Korean fighter Jung Kyoung Lee (6-2-1, 2) [이중경] battling against Australian based Cameroonian fighter Samuel Colomban (25-10-1, 11), in the first ever event held under the "Annihilation" banner.
The Korean fighter has been a professional since early 2017 and has risen through the ranks rather quickly, a surprise given he lost on debut and was 3-2 when he had his first bout of note. His first big bout came in December 2017 when he fought to a technical draw with In Duck Seo, in a bout for the Korean Light Middleweight title. Prior to the bout with Seo being stopped we did get a chance to see Lee as an aggressive, exciting southpaw, who was technically crude but looked confident and like a solid puncher. Sadly for Lee that bout was stopped following a pretty brutal clash of heads, but since then he has won the Korean title, thanks to a very late stoppage over Se Ho Joo in April 2014.
Since beating Joo for the title Lee has fought twice, scoring a huge win over Chinese fighter Tonghui Li in October and Nakhon Muensa in November. In those bouts he did look more patient, less reckless and less open than he did against Seo. He was lucky to get the decision against the Chinese fighter, but showed his toughness and desire, taking the fight to Hui. He had developed his lead hand since the earlier fights, but was still pretty crude.
The 34 year old Colomban has been a professional since 2006 and has had a long and hard career, but has proven to be a genuinely tough fighter. He first made his mark in the amateurs, competing at the 2006 Commonwealth games, and would go on to face a who's who of the Australian scene, facing the likes of Ryan Waters, Wale Omotoso and Jeff Horn, who is the only man to have stopped him. His career has seen him travel to the UK, where he fought the then unbeaten Denton Vassell, and proved to be a handful at his very best. Sadly Colomban hasn't looked close to his best recently, and has gone 3-4-1 in his last 8 bouts.
Rugged, aggressive and powerful Colomban was a solid Welterweight and a decent regional Light Middleweight. With over a year-gone since his last bout however it's unclear what he has left in the tank. If he's half the fighter he once was it's hard to see anything but a win for Colomban, but he's clearly not the fighter he used to be, it's just unclear how much he has slipped.
We're guessing that the Korean and his team know that Colomban isn't the fighter he used to be, and that their man is the younger, fresher figfhter. They will assume that will be anough to take the win, and the OPBF title, and we think they are right...but Lee will certainly have to earn his victory and Colomban won't just give him it for free. This will be an interesting test of Lee's toughness, but a test we're expecting to see him pass en route to a wide decision win.
Over the last few years we've seen Reiya Abe (18-2, 9) develop from a 1-1 fighter to the 2014 Rookie of the Year to a a fighter on the fringe of a title shot, in fact he's set for a Japanese title fight on May 1st. On January 19th, prior to his title bout, Abe will be in the ring looking to score his 11th straight win, as he takes on former amateur stand out Daisuke Sugita (4-0, 3) at the Korakuen Hall. The bout hasn't really been put together to push the winner towards a title fight, but more because both men have been struggling to get good fights, and this is a very good fight to prepare both men for the year ahead.
Abe is a 25 year old southpaw who is a sharp punching boxer. His current run of form has been one of the most impressive on the Japanese domestic scene, with wins over the likes of Ryo Hino, Tsuyoshi Tameda, Joe Noynay, Satoshi Hosono and Daisuke Watanabe. He has proven to be a very smart boxer-mover, with a high ring IQ, good movement, under-rated power and a very sharp southpaw jab. Despite not being a huge puncher he is a sharp puncher, and those sharp shots do do damage, especially with the consistency he lands at.
Although really talented Abe has frustrated at times, and has often fought within himself. He's a sharp punching counter puncher, who looks to draw leads and mistakes to counter, but against someone unwilling to open up he really struggles to create chances. When up against a negative fighter, as we saw when he faced Masashi Noguchi, Abe's bouts can be hard to watch and can really become boxing. Against an aggressive fighter however, he is fantastic to watch.
Sugita, as mentioned, was a standout amateur and went 110-31 (47) in the unpaid ranks winning a number of domestic competitions. Sadly he didn't turn professional until he was 29, and even then did so whilst still working as a full time policemen. Due to his age he isn't really able to waste time fighting in low key bouts, and given his outside of the ring professional he doesn't even get to keep his purses. Instead he appears to be fighting for the love of the sport and his desire of competition. That desire is almost certainly the reason he's accepted a bout with Abe and has already faced Jun Blazo and Masaaki Serie.
Having only debuted in April 2018 Sugita has been impressive, with 2 very solid wins this early in his career. Sadly footage of him has been hard to come by, though some video has been made available through Boxingraise. From the footage that is out there Sugita is an aggressive fighter, with a good guard, an exciting style and good power. His amateur background shows through with his crisp punching, his sharp movement and his composure in the ring. Whilst he is mostly composed there is a sense that he gets over excited at times and can be wild when and attacking.
Given the extra professional experience, a natural size advantage and his counter punching skills we suspect that Abe will come out on top. However Sugita will not make things easy for him, and this should be an entertaining fight. We're expecting to see Sugita on the front foot, making this into a fight and Abe responding, en route to a clear, but hard fought, decision victory.
The Minimumweight division in Japan is really interesting right now, with great fighters across every level, from domestic Youth right up to world level. At the moment the domestic champion is Shin Ono (23-9-3, 6) and on January 12th he'll make a mandatory title defense, as he takes on veteran Norihito Tanaka (17-7, 9) in a very good match up that could well launch the winner into a world title fight later in the year.
Aged 36 Ono doesn't have long left in his career, in fact the Southpaw from the Watanabe gym has already had a career that is almost 18 years long. During his career he has faced a who's who including Xiong Zhao Zhong, Tatsuya Fukuhara, Masayuki Kuroda, Yu Kimura, Katsunari Takuyama, Knockout CP Freshmart, Reiya Konishi and Riku Kano, with wins against a number of those men. Through his career he has proven to be a gutsy fighter, with a good work rate, a real hunger and, even in his mid 30's, he's pulling out good results.
This is set to be Ono's second defense of the title, following his title win last year against Ryoki Hirai and his maiden defense against Riku Kano. Whilst he has proven to be a fantastic servant to Japanese boxing he has had a very hard career, his lack of power has made things even tougher and he has already had over 221 rounds of professional boxing. Those rounds have often been tough, with Ono getting embroiled in battles of attrition, rather than battles of skill, and that's despite being a pretty skilled fighter.
Tanaka is the slightly younger man at 33, though he turned 34 in February, but has also had a long career that began in 2005. Notable though Tanaka's career hasn't been as active as that of Ono, in fact Tanaka took a break of more than 5 years, between 2011 and 2017, and that gave his body time to rest. Since beginning his comeback he has gone 3-2 (2) and earned this shot on merit with an upset win over Takumi Sakae in late 2018, earning a mandatory title shot. Whiilst that's his biggest win of the comeback he did manage to give the touted Tsubasa Koura real problems in an OPBF title fight, before being stopped.
Through his career Tanaka has proven to be tough, smart and tricky. He has given problems to the likes of Koura, Takashi Kunishige and managed to go 10 rounds with Akira Yaegashi in a Japanese title fight, way back in 2011. Tanaka has under-rated power, a veteran's patience and a good ring IQ. Sadly he's not the quickest, his work rate isn't amazing and despite being skilled there are holes in his work that a quicker fighter can take advantage of.
We expect to see Ono being the one who comes forward, bringing the pressure and forcing Tanaka to respond. Strangely that'll actually be something that works in favour of Tanaka, who will be hoping to be able to counter Ono, bring his under-rated straight right hand into play. Despite Tanaka having the edge in power we suspect that Ono's work rate and toughness will see him over the line, albeit narrowly, in a very competitive contest. We do see Ono being rocked, at least once, but gutting it out for the win.
The Super Bantamweight division is one of the most top heavy division's in Japan, with a number of world class fighters, such as Tomoki Kameda, Ryosuke Iwasa, Yukinori Oguni and Shingo Wake all looking to make their mark at the very top level. Sadly with such a top heavy division is leaves the domestic level looking a little bit thin, and with Wake vacating the Japanese title late in 2018 it leaves us without a clear domestic divisional #1. On January 12th we'll see Mugicha Nakagawa (24-5-1, 14) and Ryoichi Tamura (11-3-1, 6) battle for the vacant title, and to fill the hole left by Wake.
Nakagawa earned his shot at the title back in Otober, when he defeated Naoya Okamoto in a Japanese title challenger decision bout. That was a close win but a well earned one for Nakagawa who had narrowly missed out on a mandatory title shot in 2018, when he lost in a Japanese title decider bout to Yasutaka Ishimoto in later 2017. His record looks a good one on paper, even more so when you consider he is 14-1-1 (8) in his last 16 bouts, but his competition hasn't been sensational during that run, sadly.
In the ring the 29 year old Nakagawa is good boxer, with good basic skills, a long winding jab and nice movement. There's nothing spectacular about him, but he does a lot of things really well, boxing off the jab, moving calmly around the ring and showing patience when he needs to. When he needs to pick up the pace he has shown that he can, and that he can also take a good shot when he needs to, as he did against Ishimoto. One thing that is perhaps under-rated about Nakagawa is his ability to find unusual angles for his shots, and he can can't people from unusual places due to his long reach, but again for the most part he pretty straight forward.
For Tamura this will be a second title fight, after having come up short against Yusaku Kuga last year. Since that loss Tamura has scored 3 wins, shown an improvement in his technical boxing but remains a crude, strong, forward foot fighter. In fact much of Tamura's success is based on his physicality. He began his career 3-2-1 (1) but has since gone 8-1 (5), with the sole being to Kuga last year. On paper his record doesn't look amazing but he does hold notable wins against the likes of Yusuke Suzuki, Renji Ichimura, Robert Udtohan and Jestoni Autida.
Tamura is defensively flawed, he's particularly quick or elusive. He is however a very heavy handed, his jab is incredibly hurtful, his right hand is dynamite and his willingness to take one to land one makes him very dangerous. He's one of the very few fighters who has made the aforementioned Kuga back up, and he managed to apply pretty effective pressure on Kuga in fact. Sadly for Tamura a lot of what he does is pretty predictable, pretty basic and there's little thought really put behind his pressure. He's powerful but doesn't really know how to use his power properly.
On paper this is a match up between the skills of Nakagawa and the power of Tamura. If Nakagawa can keep things basic, box and move and use his brains he should be able to rack up plenty of rounds. However, Tamura will be dangerous through the full fight and if Nakagawa slows down we could see the pressure and power of Tamura undo all Nakagawa's good work.
We're expecting Nakagawa to win, by decision, though it's far from a foregone conclusion, and Tamura only needs to land one or two clean shots to turn the bout on it's head.
By - George Delis (@Delisketo)
On January 5th, 2019, Thai veteran Suriyan Satorn returns to the ring and challenges Chinese rising star Jing Xiang for the WBC Silver Light Flyweight Championship.
Suriyan Satorn (59-6/40 KOs), (Ed's note - Satorn is also known as Kompayak Porpramook) has been around the sport for most of his life. Began boxing at the age of 10, he made his pro debut before even turning 18 and within a year, he won Lumpinee Stadium’s Minimumweight title.
Satorn is a boxer who likes to, as they say, fight inside a phone booth. He’s at his best when he comes head to head with his opponents and starts throwing body shots, picking them apart round by round. A perfect example of this was his match with Adrian Hernandez (30-5) for the WBC Light Flyweight World Championship in 2011. In what was an action packed affair, the Thai fighter kept working on the body of Hernandez, creating openings to land heavy blows to the head. During the tenth round, he had the champion hurt and proceeded to finish him of with an overhand left/right hook combination. After 11 years of fighting, Satorn was finally a World Champion. He marked one successful title defense against WBC International Champion Jonathan Taconing (28-3) before eventually losing the belt back to Hernandez.
Kompayak Porpramook (as he’s also known) became a 2 division World Champion when he beat Jean Piero Perez (21-9) for the interim WBA Flyweight title in 2013. Much like his match with Hernandez, he kept punishing the body until he got him boxed in a corner and started peppering him repeatedly, forcing the referee to jump in and stop the fight.
A few often changes in gyms and managers, forced him to be less active in the past 5 years and more focused on training other fighters, like Karoon Jarupianlerd (42-8) and Wittawas Basapean (33-8), both top ranked Thai boxers. Satorn made his definite comeback this past March against Siridech Deebook (17-6), this time for the WBC Light Flyweight Asia title. Despite some ring-rust and the fact that his rival was younger and way faster, he still managed to win the match. Deebook was attacking with reckless abandon and got dropped in the tenth round with a massive right hand, much to the joy of the Thai fans in attendance. In the end, Porpramook got the split decision and the belt. In their rematch however, 3 months later, Deebook was the one that got his hand raised.
Satorn gets another opportunity at championship glory, this time against an even better opponent, in Jing Xiang (15-4/3 KOs). 2018 has been a quite successful year for the Chinese star as he, not only captured the vacant WBO Intercontinental title in January, but also earned a huge victory this past September, after outclassing former WBO Minimumweight World titlist Merlito Sabillo (27-6), to become the WBC Light Flyweight Silver champion, winning a very wide decision. Xiang likes to keep his distance (unlike Satorn) while throwing bombs, making every fight into a brawl, despite his luck of KO power.
This fight will probably determine the future of both men. For the 36 year old Satorn, to win the WBC Silver title means finding himself once again in the world rankings. For Xiang, to defeat a 2 division champion, means one step closer to a world title opportunity. The Thai veteran clearly has the experience on his side, as well as the power advantage (Satorn has finished 62% of his fights, while Xiang only 14% of them). What he doesn’t have anymore though is that ferocity that he used to display during his big championship matches. That belongs to Xiang now. As we saw in his bouts with Deebook, Satorn has significantly slowed down and had trouble getting his game started. If he doesn’t shake that ring-rust off, Xiang (WBO Top 10/WBC Top 15) will walk right through him. So what will be the key factor here ? Experience ? Ferocity ? Power ? Speed ? We will get our answer this Saturday in China.
In 2018 we saw the Flyweight division change a lot, with new champions being crowned through the year and really very little stability in the division. It's fair to say that the champion's won't be wanting the same in 2019, they'll be wanting solid and lengthy reigns instead. The contenders however will be jostling for position and trying to secure themselves a world title fight as soon as they can.
On January 5th we'll see two talented contenders facing off, with both seeing the bout as a potential stepping stone towards a world title bout.
The men in question are Chinese fighter Wenfeng Ge (11-0, 6) and Filipino Giemel Magramo (22-1, 18) who will battle for the WBO International Flyweight title and a potential world title fight.
Of the two men it's fair to say that Ge is the man who needs the win more. He turns 32 in April, and that's pretty old for a Flyweight, and really can't afford a set back. So far in his career he has been moved quickly, likely know that there's not much time to waste. He made his debut in late 2015 and in just his second bout he faced off with Joseph Omana, then 12-3-1. A fighter later he claimed his first title, a minor WBO one, before adding another title the following month. Within 2 years of his debut Ge had raced out to 8-0 (6) and has since added notable wins over Amnat Ruenroeng and Ivan Soriano, with both those wins coming in clear 12 round decisions.
Watching Ge we see a rather baic but very strong fighter. There's a few tricks up his sleeve but the reality is that he doesn't look special, however he is rangy, long, strong and applies good pressure. He has shown an ability to go 12 rounds, at a date if unspectacular tempo. Despite not being anything special he does have an awkwardness to him, and gets away with making mistakes due to how physically imposing he is and he appears to be a fighter who is very confident in his toughness.
At 24 years old Magramo is a man who is probably a year or two away from his prime, he is however a man who looks like a future world champion. His sole loss was a very close one in Korea to Muhammad Waseem in November 2016, and since then he has gone 5-0 (5) and looked sensational. Despite only being 24 Magramo is already a young veteran with 23 bouts to his name, and he debuted almost 7 years ago, in March 2012. During his career he has scored wins over Lester Abutan, Renz Rosia, Benezer Alolod, John Mark Apolinario and Petchchorhae Kokietgym.
Whilst Ge looks awkward but basic the same can't be said of Magramo, who looks like a very special boxer-puncher. He's very heavy-handed, but combines that power with a real sharpness to his punching, a tight defense, impressive ring craft and a brilliant boxing IQ. On the inside he finds room for excellent shots whilst on the outside he controls range and tempo. There are some flaws, and he does sometimes let his guard slip and seems too willing to let his hands go, but he really does look like a special talent.
Getting a win in China is never easy and Magramo will know that, however we feel he is the better fighter, the more rounded fighter and should be the favourite. He will have to win clearly to get the decision, but we suspect he'll be too sharp, too quick and too powerful for Ge. The Chinese fighter certainly can get the win, but will need to put on his best performance, by far, to over-come the very talented Filipino.
On neutral soil Magramo would be the clear favourite, but here we see Magramo as the slight favourite. Magramo will clearly have to work incredibly hard to get the decision, but suspect he can do what's needed to get the nod on foreign soil.
The Japanese boxing scene gives us a pre-Christmas treat on December 24th as Keita Kurihara (12-5, 11) and Yuki Strong Kobayashi (14-7, 8) face off in Osaka for the vacant OPBF Bantamweight title. On paper this may not look like anything special, but in reality it's a brilliant match up, that again shows records really don't tell us everything.
Of the two men the more impressive has been the 25 year old Kurihara, who has really impressed in recent years with his power, aggression and wonderfully exciting style. His record is a total mess due to a less than great start to his career, losing 4 of his first 7 bouts to record a 3-4 (3) record. Since then however he has gone 9-1 (8) with his sole loss during that 10 fight stretching coming in a war to Hiroaki Teshigawara. On the other his wins during that run have included stoppages against Sonin Nihei, Ryan Lumacad, Tetsuya Watanabe and Kazuki Tanaka.
Blessed with power, heart and grit Kurihara is a nightmare to face at this level. His skills probably won't take him to the top, unless he works on his technical flaws, especially his defense and how he sets up offensive work, but on the Oriental scene there's not many who will defeat him. Many may feel they can, but they'll end up in a war that really won't do them well. To beat him either a fighter needs to be insanely tough themselves, like Teshigawara, or be a very sharp boxer-mover who can counter him and make him pay for his aggression. Fortunately for him there's not too many of either those on the Oriental level at the moment.
Kobayashi is the slightly older man at 27 and has had 21 fights, to Kurihara's 17, but in terms of rounds fought is much more experienced, with 109 rounds to Kurihara's 53. Despite that he is also a heavy handed fighter, who has stopped fighters like Hikaru Matsuoka, Satoshi Ozawa and touted Filipino Vincent Astrolabio. Unfortunately for him he has been matched hard, and has lost 3 of his last 8, with stoppage losses to Takahiro Yamamoto and Rey Megrino, as well as a decision loss to Ye Joon Kim. Against Megrino and Yamamoto there was simply too much of a difference in power, whilst Kim out boxed and out moved Kobayashi.
Kobayashi is also an aggressive fighter, who likes to stand just inside range and launch hard right hands up top, and short hooks. His ability to close distance is one of his weakest points from a technical; stand point, with his slow feet and weak looking jab being an issue, but he is sharp with his power shots. Sadly he is relatively flat footed, and looks to be someone who sets him self a bit too much, with a lack of fluidity to his overall work, and is a bit of an "offense or defense" fighter, rather than someone who can switch between the two on a whim.
Give that both like to let their hands go, both are relatively slow of foot and neither likes to back down we're expecting the two to meet centre ring and have a tear up. And we mean a tear up. In a war we favour the hard hitting and more aggressive Kurihara, but he will certainly give Kobayashi openings for his right hand, and we're expecting him to land plenty of those.
As a prediction we're going with a Kurihara stoppage in the middle rounds. Given that this is on Kobayashi's home turf Kurihara may fight like a man who feels he needs a KO and will fight like that's his only way to win in what we're expecting to be a Christmas cracker!
On December 22nd we see a former world title challenger look to keep his career alive as he takes on a world ranked opponent in Osaka. A loss for either man will be a major set back at the moment, and in fact could end their dreams of winning a world title before their career is over.
The former world title challenger in question is Hiroshige Osawa (33-5-4, 19), who is best known for challenging Oscar Valdez in 2016. In the opposite corner to the 33 year old Osakan is once beaten Colombian fighter Belmar Preciado (18-1-1, 11), who enters the bout with a WBA #9 ranking at Super Bantamweight.
Prior to facing Valdez in a WBO Featherweight title fight many fans hadn't heard of Osawa, who was obscure even by typical Japanese standards. As a fighter based in Osaka he lacked the press that fighters in Tokyo get, and in many ways he was best known for angering the JBC rather than any achievements in the ring. He'd angered the JBC in 2012 when he had defended a title the JBC hadn't yet recognised, with his team misleading the JBC in regards to the bout, and giving Osawa a 12 month ban. That ban essentially cost Osawa the OPBF Featherweight title and a potential shot at a world title when he was much younger. Since that ban he has gone 10-2 (7), with notable domestic wins over Kosuke Saka and Shota Yamaguchi, as well as wins over international opponents like Julio Cortez and Alexander Meija. Sadly for him however he has suffered losses to Oscar Valdez and, more recently, Shun Kubo.
Whilst Osawa was an unknown until recently it's fair to say that Preciado is still an unknown, despite his WBA ranking. Boxrec ranking him a long behind the WBA, and even their rankings appears to be high given his competition so far. His 20 career bouts have all taken place in Colombia so far and his competition has been terrible, with his most notable opponent being Venezuelan puncher Franklin Manzanilla, who he narrowly beat via split decision last December. His sole loss came in 2016, when he was upset by chinny domestic foe Mauricio Martinez and his only other result of real note on Preciado's record was a draw against Hugo Berrio back in 2014. What is worth noting about him however is that he's a training partner of former world title challenger Miguel Marriaga.
Footage of Preciado doesn't show a typical power punching Colombian. That's not to say he's not aggressive, he is, but just that he lacks the stereotypical bang seen in Colombian fighters like Marriaga, Edison Miranda and Breidis Prescott. Instead of being an explosive puncher he looks more like a solid puncher more technical grounding, a heavy jab and a solid work rate. It is however easier to dictate the tempo against the competition he's been facing than someone like Osawa. As for the Japanese fighter he's a tough and busy fighter, who has some clear technical flaws but is actually a lot better than he looked against Valdez, who was too quick, too strong and too powerful for Osawa. One of Osawa's problems is his age and another is his relative lack of power, but he's a busy fighter and with the Osakan crowd behind him we suspect he will have that extra bit of energy needed to get over the line.
Preciado certainly looks like he could be dangerous, but we're struggling to see him beating Osawa, who looks the more versatile and more proven fighter coming in to this bout.
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.