This coming Saturday we are going to see a new national champion being crowned as Teiken's Masaru Sueyoshi (15-1, 10) takes on veteran Ribo Takahata (13-7-1, 5) for the title vacated by Ogawa. It's a battle between rising youngster and a hard luck veteran, who are both looking to secure their biggest career win, and put themselves on the proverbial boxing map.
Of the two men it's the 26 year old Sueyoshi who should be favoured, and is certainly the man flying high, in good form and with a lot of confidence. He debuted in 2011 and suffered his sole defeat the following year in a split decision loss to Masayuki Ito, of whom there is no shame in losing to. Since then he has reeled off 12 straight wins and climbed up the Japanese rankings in pretty impressive fashion.
Sueyoshi's career isn't full of big wins, but he has seen off the likes of Yuta Nagai, Kazumi Sanpei, Shingo Eto and come through the aggressive Allan Vallespin. They are wins won't mean much outside of Asia, but they were solid wins on the domestic, and even regional, scene.
In the ring Sueyoshi is a genuine talent. He's a solid boxer with nice text book skills, who has been allowed to develop under the TV cameras due to regular appearances on the G+ “Dynamic Glove” shows. Those appearances have shown that Sueyoshi is a composed fighter, especially under pressure, and that he knows how to move, how to box and how to counter. Saying that however he has shown holes in his defense, and has been backed up a bit too easily by aggressive fighters. There is a good fighter here, but one who is clearly a work in progress, and isn't an obvious air apparent to the two Takashi's.
Whilst Sueyoshi is a rising star the same can't be said for the 38 year old Takahata, who has a “win-loss-win-loss” record going back to September 2010, winning 8 and losing 7 of his last 15, and if the pattern continues he's set for another loss. On one hand that's poor form, on the other hand he has faced good fighters, losing to the likes of Rikki Naito, Shingo Eto, Kenichi Ogawa and Daiki Kaneko, and has scored notable wins over Johnrieil Maligro and Yusuke Tsukada.
Takahata isn't a fighter who has shown incredible skills or power but his will to win is credible and his ability to come back from set backs is impressive. He has developed a tougher mentality in the ring in recent times, and took Daiki Kaneko 10 rounds not too long ago. Despite that he has been stopped twice and isn't the sturdiest, even if he has developed a more survival mentality. In the ring he has a rather peculiar style, with very flat feet and footwork that constantly looks wrong. Although not a puncher his recent win over Tsukada did come from a dynamite short right hand, so we know when he connects clean he can take them out.
Coming into this Takahata will know this is going to be his only shot at a title, a loss here and retirement looms. A win on the other hand could see him extending his career, making a defense of the title and keeping his career alive. Sadly for Takahata we can't see him coping with the movement, youthfulness and energy of Sueyoshi. We aren't expecting a thrilling fight, but we do imagine that Sueyoshi will win with either a wide decision or a late stoppage.