Yuba's Light Middleweight title reign began in the middle of 2013 when he stopped Yosuke Kirima inside a round. Whilst on paper that was relatively small domestic title victory it was actually a record setting victory that saw Yuba becoming the first ever Japanese fighter to win national titles in 5 divisions.
Yuba's domination of the domestic title scene began back in 2000 when he claimed the interim Japanese Lightweight title. The following year Yuba was upgraded to the regular Japanese Lightweight champion. In 2002 he moved and claimed the Japanese Light Welterweight title before adding the Welterweight title in 2005. Although his original reign as Welterweight champion was short lived he did reclaim the title in 2007.
After several years without a title Yuba would claim the Japanese Middleweight title in 2012, stopping Carlos Linares. His reign as Middleweight champion, like many of his reigns, was short lived and after he lost that title he dropped down to 154lbs to claim that title.
Since winning the Light Middleweight title Yuba has already defended it once, taking a razor thin split decision over Yoshihisa Tonimura. He now looks for the second defense of that title as he takes on mandatory challenger Takayuki Hosokawa (24-10-3, 8). This bout will be the second meeting between the two men, who first fought back in 2011 with Yuba narrowly over-coming Hosokawa in a an 8 round contest.
Whilst Yuba has been able to move the weights with real success Hosokawa hasn't been able to do the same. Hosokawa has, like Yuba, been able to fight across a variety of weights though, unfortunately, has failed to find any real success in any of them. Despite that he has been willing and able to fight between Welterweight and Middleweight and amazingly started his career as a Lightweight.
Hosokawa's willingness to move between divisions has helped open up opportunities for him including a Middleweight title bout with Makoto Fuchigami and a Light Middleweight title bout with Akio Shibata. Unfortunately for Hosokawa however he was stopped in both of those bouts and was shown not to have the durability of a fighter who was genuinely made to be in either of those divisions. In fact, with 6 stoppage losses on his record Hosokawa isn't the most durable full stop and his lack of fire power can be a real issue. Against Yuba he's facing a tough but crude puncher and it would be no shock at all if Yuba could take the best shots from Hosokawa whilst Hosokawa wouldn't be able to take the best of Yuba's shots.
Although the punchers edge is certainly with Yuba his age could be an issue and the champion is now 37, notably older than his challenger who is only in his 20's. If we accept Yuba as the puncher then it's fair to suggest that Hosokawa is probably the faster man and the most able to use his feet to get in and out, something he will have to use to his advantage here to claim the title.
Since the first meeting between the two men Hosokawa has gone 7-2 (4). He has been stopped in both of his losses and struggled to narrow decisions in 2 of his distance wins. Rather surprisingly Yuba has also gone 7-2 (4) since the first meeting. Like Hosokawa both of Yuba's losses have come by stoppage and 2 of his distance wins were narrow decisions. We've got to admit that is a remarkable statistical oddity though Yuba has been fighting at a higher level over-all.
Although we can see reasons for favouring each man. We do tend to think that this is Yuba's bout to lose. The champion is far more experienced, won their first meeting, is the much bigger puncher and is also the taller and rangier fighter than the challenger. Sure Yuba is getting old and may be considering retirement, but for now it's hard to see him losing to Hosokawa who is limited and lacks the fire power to see off Yuba.
Although Yuba has been stopped 5 times in his 8 losses he's a very tough guy who took bombs from Carlos Linares in their bout and refused to be stopped. He's crude to say the least but has real venom in his shots, especially his straight left hand, and we think sooner or later that power will see off Hosokawa who may actually be winning the fight until he's stopped.
One thing we're sure of, is that we expect this to be a brutal and hard fought contest that could well end up being one of the Japanese fight of the year contenders.
The fight will be the main event of "Dangan 94", a show that features a fantastic looking contest between Hiroki Okada and Masayoshi Kotake for the vacant Japanese Light Welterweight title.