We get one such bout on November 9th as OPBF and Japanese Middleweight champion Akio Shibata (26-8-1, 12) defends his titles against Koki Tyson Maebara (9-1-1, 9).
Shibata goes into the bout as the boxer, a jab first and move fighter who is in great form with a 10-1 (4) record over the last 4 years. His sole loss during that run was to 2012 Olympic champion Ryota Murata whilst wins have come against the likes of Daisuke Nakagawa, Takayuki Hosokawa, Makoto Fuchigami and Hikaru Nishida.
In the ring Shibata is a pretty pure boxer who likes to use his speed, jab, movement and the ring. He has shown an improvement in power, stopping his last 3 foes, though he has remained a boxer who likes to control the distance and tempo of the fight, using his jab to establish his rhythm.
Sadly for the champion he is heading towards his 34th birthday, he has shown frailties with 5 stoppage losses and may well know that the next loss could be the end of his career. Also coming in to this bout he's 11 years older than his foe and, for once, the smaller man giving away around 2” in height.
The challenger is a pure puncher. He seems to like to view himself as a boxer but at the end of the day he's a true puncher, as shown by the fact that all 9 of his wins have come inside the distance and his 11 total bouts have added up to just 33 combined rounds. It is worth noting however that 19 of those 33 rounds have come in his last 4 bouts, including a 7th round TKO win against former Japanese title holder Sanosuke Sasaki, who was the test opponent for the aforementioned Murata, and Petchsuriya Singwancha, a former WBC Youth champion.
Aged 22 Maebara is a fighter who boasts youthful confidence. It was that confidence, or rather over-confidence, that saw him suffer his sole defeat, at the hands of the previously win-less Keisuke Kanazawa back in 2013. Since that loss however he has run off 7 win and claimed the All Japan Rookie of the Year, doing so with an opening round KO over Wataru Seino.
Whilst Maebara's power is legitimate and his skills are improving this is still a huge step up in class and for the first time he'll be facing a fighter who is confident that they can win. For the first time he is likely to be really asked questions when his first plan fails. If Maebara does have plan B and plan C in his locker however there is a good chance that the Osaka man may be able to over-come the huge gulf in experience.
This is a hard one to really predict. With power overcome skill? Will experience over-come youth? With the champion defeat the challenger? It's a 50-50 though we're leaning, slightly, to the challenger who we think may get lucky early on. The longer it goes however the more the bout favours Shibata who certainly has the experience over the longer distance