One of the brilliant match ups that has been set for 2015 will see former world title challenger Satoshi Hosono (26-2-1, 20) defending his Japanese national title against former foe Rikiya Fukuhara (30-7-1, 22), himself a former Japanese Super Bantamweight champion, on March 5th. The men will be meeting for the second time though this time there will be a title, and potential world title fight on the line.
Hosono, who won the first meeting, will obviously be risking his national title though will also be risking world rankings with all 4 title bodies, including a #2 ranking with the WBA and a #9 ranking with the IBF. He will however enter as the clear favourite and will be expected to record the 2nd defence of the Japanese title that he re-won last year, when he stopped Yuki Ogata in the 10th round.
For those who recognise Hosono's name he has competed at the world level in the past, in fact all 3 of his career set backs have been at the tier of the sport. The first of those came more than 5 years ago when he narrowly lost a brilliant bout with Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym for the WBA Super Bantamweight title, that bout seemed to be very competitive though Poonsawat's brilliant stamina and experience helped him to record the win. In his second world title bout, in late 2011, Hosono was clearly beaten by elongated Panamanian fighter Celestino Caballero, in a fight for the WBA Featherweight title. More recently we saw Hosono fight to a 3rd round technical draw with WBA Featherweight super champion Chris John, in what would be John's final successful defence of the title.
Internationally Fukuhara is a relative nobody. That's not to be harsh to him but very few fans outside of Asia, and particularly Japan, will recognise his name. Despite that he is a former Japanese champion at 122lbs and holds notable wins over Shoji Kimura, Masaaki Serie and Yuji Gomez. Most telling however is the fact he is popular, exciting and comes to fight with the knockout often being his aim. Sadly it's not always worked for him, as seen in numerous losses including an upset loss to then little Allan Tanada of the Philippines.
Dubbed the “Bazooka” Hosono is a very heavy handed and tough fighter. He can, at times, be out boxed especially early in a fight, however he is tough, has solid stamina and is always dangerous. What makes him dangerous isn't just his power but is also his style which is built around pressure with slow but intelligent footwork, a tight defense and the knowledge that he can take a very solid punch if he needs to. When looking for flaws with Hosono we get the usual flaws we see with pressure fighters. He is relatively slow on his feet, his hands aren't the quickest and when he's come up against quick boxers or movers he can be made to look predictable and 1-dimensional as he follows his foe.
When we watch Fukuhara we see a man who can box and move and is a naturally explosive puncher. We won't pretend he's an elusive type of fighter but he can use his feet and box on the back foot, which he did early on against Hosono in their first meeting back 2012. Typically however he's struggled with fighters who have managed to take his power and fight back, as shown in his 5 stoppage losses. Another issue with Fukuhara is his defense which can get very sluggish under pressure and makes him seem like a bully who can't take it when the fight is turned on him.
Knowing what we know about both men we have to go with a repeat of their first bout. That saw Fukuhara winning the first few rounds as he used his feet to get in and out of range. As the fight progresses we'll see Hosono getting his shots off as the fight gradually becomes a slugfest with Fukuhara eventually getting ground down. This time however we'd be shocked to see Fukuhara lasting into round 7, as he did last time. Instead we suspect Hosono breaks him down inside 5 or 6 rounds to retain his title. Sadly at 36 we suspect a loss for Fukuhara will be his swansong in the sport before a retirement
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)