Courtesy of Boxrec.com
Not every fighter has wrecking balls as fists but one man who certainly does is Russian Light Heavyweight Sergey Kovalev (21-0-1, 19).
The hard hitting Russian is widely regarded as the most dangerous man at 175lbs and he'll be hoping to add to that reputation on August 17th as he takes on WBO champion Nathan Cleverly (21-0, 12) in the champions homeland of Wales.
The young Welsh champion who has held the WBO title for more than 2 years is a fighter who widely splits opinion. In the eyes of some he's a talented fighter who has been matched softly by Frank Warren, a man who has seen his biggest names jumping ship for rival promotional outfit Matchroom Sports, in the eyes of others he's a soft champion protected for his own good just as much as Warren's.
Whether he's protected or not one thing Cleverly does have going for him is his brain. He's a smart guy outside of the ring and has something to fall back on once his ring days are over thanks to a university education, though in the ring those smarts don't always help.
Inside the ring Cleverly's boxing is brain is questionable, especially in terms of his defense, though so far he has had the gas tank to see through his toughest tests and like former training mate Joe Calzaghe, he has a genuine impressive work rate. Unfortunately Cleverly doesn't appear to have the skills to match the "Welsh Dragon" even if he does have the excellent stamina.
With a fantastic work rate and solid, if unspectacular, skills Cleverly is genuinely a good fighter who seems to take a shot even if his own power is lacking. Sure he takes more than he should but he appears to have a solid chin which allows him to take shots without too much effect. Unfortunately his match making has left him open to much more doubt that he perhaps deserves and that same match making has left him a butt of some jokes in the boxing world.
Kovalev isn't as well known as Cleverly though he appears to be a fighter who can end careers. He's an offensive fighter first and foremost and although he appears to be defensively poor at times he knows his best defensive lies in his own heavy artillery which can forced almost anyone to think twice about opening up.
At the moment the sport is starting to see a rise in genuine powerhouse fighters. We recently saw Omar Figueroa defeat Nihito Arakawa and we've also seen the recent coming out parties of Lucas Matthysse and Gennady Golovkin, it's fair to also put Kovalev in that bracket, even if he is yet to claim a world title.
Like Golovkin, Matthysse and Figueroa, and to an extent Takashi Uchiyama, every punch Kovalev lands, even on the arms, hurts. It's a thudding, blunt force trauma that could be rivaled to a lead pipe. He not only has this amazing power but he also seems more than capable of landing it on even defensively savvy fighters by intelligently understanding range and pacing of a bout.
Unfortunately when you have that destructive power you leave yourself open to other questions. No one will question Kovalev's power or strength but his stamina is genuinely untested. His longest bout to date is an 8 round split decision over Darnell Boone whilst his second longest was his tragic bout with Roman Simakov who sadly passed away after the bout, which lasted 7
What we have here, rather like the recent Figueroa/Arakawa bout, is a hard hitting phenom taking on a tough and hard working opponent who has a fantastic engine but questionable power. Like that bout we have two questions. Can the banger take out the the hard working and tough fighter? Can the hard working fighter take advantage of the fact the hard hitter hasn't got proven stamina?
If Cleverly can use his brains and find a way to keep Kovalev from setting himself to land his hammer like blows he has a chance. In all honesty it make take Cleverly to copy, to some extent, the tactics of Arakawa who smothered Figueroa at times to have any chance of seeing out the early stages of the bout. If the brawn of Kovalev manages to take control early this bout may not last long, in fact Kovalev has stopped his last 4 opponents, including the world ranked Gabriel Campillo and Cornelius White, in a combined 11 rounds.
Whilst we have worries if Kovalev goes beyond 6 or 7 rounds we have bigger worries for Nathan Cleverly, who has appeared far too willing to take a shot to land one so far in to his career. A clean shot from Kovalev can leave almost any fighter at 175lbs devoid of their senses and if Cleverly takes one clean he may not seem so clever afterwards.
Courtesy of Boxrec.com
WBC Bantamaweight Shinsuke Yamanaka (18-0-2, 13) is regarded by some as the best Bantamweight on the planet. Although some would argue Anselmo Moreno has a better body of work one thing is certain Yamanaka is an elite fighter in the 118lb division.
On August 12th Yamanaka again tries to prove that he is a class above the rest of the division as he takes on Puerto Rican challenger Jose Nieves (22-2-3, 11).
Although Nieves is a bit of unknown amongst boxing fans he is ranked #2 by the WBO and#7 by the WBC. These rankings are helped somewhat by his recent run of 5 fights unbeaten as he's defeated Cuauhtemoc Vargas, twice, Alejandro Delgado, Glenn Porras and Danny Flores. These victories have seen him also claiming WBO Latino and Inter-Continental titles.
Aged 32 Nieves has been a professional since 2001 and started his career with an excellent run of 18 fights unbeaten (16-0-2) before suffering a loss to Victor Fonseca in 2008. Prior to the loss to Fonseca Nieves had looked like a very promising fighter and had actually beaten Tomas Rojas just 2 fights earlier.
Unfortunately for Nieves the fact that Fonseca had dropped him 3 had left many questioning his durability and just 3 fights later he was stopped by Chris Avalos in 4 rounds. This loss seemed like to end any dreams of Nieves ever becoming a world title challenger, just 6 fights later however he's managed to earn his chance to become a world champion.
Whilst Nieves's Win-Loss record looks solid it's a bit of a worry that his best victories are over Tomas Rojas and Cuauhtemoc Vargas. It's an ever bigger worry when you consider Rojas twice dropped Nieves whilst Vargas twice ran him incredibly close (with plenty of neutral observers feeling that Vargas should have won both bouts).
The biggest worry if you're a Nieves supporter however isn't his record but is his durability. Having been dropped by Rojas, Fonseca, Avalos and Danny Flores he really doesn't seem like the sort of fighter who should be up against a hard hitting fighter.
Well schooled and able to fight on the inside or the outside Yamanaka is tricky customer to face. He's able to assume control a fight behind his jab if he wishes or hold his own in a brawl if needed, as he did with Ryosuke Iwasa. When he's confident however Yamanaka is a devastating puncher, especially with his venomous left, that left Tomas Rojas out cold less than a year ago.
Although Yamanaka's record isn't that of a monster puncher with just a 65% stoppage rate he has impressively stopped 11 of his last 12 opponents with only Vic Darchinyan seeing out the distance. Those 11 stoppages have included victories over Iwasa and Rojas as mentioned above but also victories over Malcolm Tunacao and Christian Esquivel two genuinely world class fighters.
If called up on Yamanaka can box or fight though from the footage of Nieves it looks likely that Yamanaka will be able to set the pace he wants. Nieves doesn't really do anything spectacularly and if Yamanaka wants this over quickly it's quite likely it will be.
The likely outcome is that Yamanaka takes a few rounds to work out Nieves, see if he does have an extra gear hat he's hidden away, then opens up with his his devastating left hand and probably forces a stoppage of Nieves in the middle rounds, quite possibly after dropping the Puerto Rican 2 or 3 times.
Courtesy of boxrec.com
When it comes to pound-for-pound conversations few can rival the pound-for-pound excitement given to us by Japanese warrior Akira Yaegashi (17-3, 9).
Yaegashi, a former WBA minimumweight champion and the current WBC Flyweight champion is one of the fighters that we watch and always expect an enthralling contest from. Be it his FOTY style war with Pornsawan Porpramook, his narrow defeat to Kazuto Ioka or his bloody victory over Toshiyuki Igarashi it appears Yaegashi just makes every fight fun.
After the run Yaegashi has been on in recent years, including the 3 fights mentioned above as well as 4 hard Japanese title fights it's fair to suggest he's one of the few fighters who does deserve an "easy one". It appears that he'll be getting that easy one in the first defense of his WBC Flyweight title.
Yaegashi's first challenger since he claimed the title from Igarashi will be Mexican veteran Oscar Blanquet (32-5-1, 23), a fighter who has an impressive looking record though one that is more style than substance.
Typically when a fighter has more than 30 victories from 38 bouts and has been a professional for 10 years you'd expect them to have mixed with fringe world level opponents. To date Blanquet has only really faced 2 "names" of note, Ricardo Nunez who stopped Blanquet in 7 rounds and Wilbert Uicab who took a majority decision over Blanquet.
Blanquet's problem so far in his career is that he's spent most of it fighting limited opponents, effectively padding his record with out ever developing the skills and experiences needed to move up through the levels.
The best victory on the Mexican's record is over Warlito Parrenas, better known as Wars Katsumata. The victory over Parrenas came just last year in Blanquet's only previous bout in Japan and whilst his record over in Japan is 1-0 (1) there is a gulf of difference between Parrenas and Yaegashi.
In terms of Blanquet as a fight he's wild with his offensive work and defensively he's not the most intelligent. His shots are often wild and looping and he's there to be countered by a good fighter. Although his defense is weak he has seemed rather tough so far and has only suffered 2 stoppage losses, with only one of those occurring in the last 7 years.
The champion, who is pure excitement bottled in to a 5'3" frame, his defense is generally under-rated though when needed to be defense he can be, as he showed in his battle with Eagle Den Junlaphan where his toughness was also shown. The reason his defense is so under-rated is because his main defense is in fact his own offense. He's none stop action who hits harder than his record shows and refuses to let an opponent off the hook if he has them hurt.
No single shot from Yaegashi will stop an opponent though he cumulative effect of blows will wear fighters down both physically and mentally. He's smart with his shots and they are often accurate and sharp and he finds his way into range with alarming easy despite being relatively short.
Although not a a super skilled and slippery fighter Yaegashi is a nightmare for anyone at 112lbs whilst Blanquet is little more than a contender in a multi-title era. It really shouldn't be competitive unless Yaegashi has slipped massively since his victory over Igarashi.
With the toughness of the challenger it wouldn't a surprise for him to go the distance though he'll certainly look like he's been on the losing end of a fight after the 12 rounds.
Courtesy of Boxrec.com
Thai veteran Kompayak Porpramook (50-4, 35) is one of those fighters that has really battled away in his career to make a name for himself.
It took Porpramook more than 11 years and 45 fights to earn his first world title shot. When he finally got it he showed the world what he could do in a thrilling contest with Adrian Hernandez. The contest with Hernandez saw Porpramook earning the WBC Light Flyweight title, though unfortunately he'd drop it less than a year later with Hernandez defeating him.
Although Porpramook's first title reign was short lived he refused to accept that that was going to be his only reign and has since claimed the WBA "interim" Flyweight title, a title he defends for the first time on August first.
In the opposite corner to the 31 year old Thai will be young Japanese fighter Koki Eto (13-2-1, 10), a 25 year old who's career has been almost the opposite of Porpramook's.
Whilst Porpramook had to wait and wait for his first title fight Eto has received his inside 5 years of his debut and in just his 17th professional contest. He has, admittedly, climbed in to the rankings quickly and been pushed hard towards a world title but it may still grate on the Thai that he was forced to wait a long time whilst Eto has had his chance without really paying his dues.
Despite being 31 Porpramook has made the move from Light Flyweight to Flyweight excellently and in his most recent bout, a stoppage over Jean Piero Perez, he looked like a fighter who still had several years left at the top.
Porpramook is a hard nosed warrior with heart, a fighters mentality and a style that is hard not to enjoy. He comes to fight every time and whilst he's not the most skilled he knows how to get the most out of what he has as he fights his way inside and goes to war in a style that is both damaging and draining to his opponents.
In the last 10 years Porpramook is unbeaten in Thailand. He not only knows how to fight but he's also a fighter who can cope very well with the harsh conditions of fights in his homeland. His victory over Hernandez was as much about the conditions as Porpramook's own talent, though of course he had to fight in the same conditions.
Whilst on the subject of Thailand it's worth noting that this won't be Eto's first fight there having fought there just under 2 years ago. Although Eto lost in his Thai debut, dropping a decision to Panomroonglek Kaiyanghadaogym, he really did run Panomroonglek close an impressive result considering Panomroonglek almost defeated Koki Kameda just a few fights later.
Although Eto lost to Panomroonglek his record against Thai's current stands at an impressive 6-1 (5) including a stunning KO over the previously unbeaten Denchailek Kratingdaenggym.
Sadly for Eto the win over Denchailek was a bit of a double edged sword. It showed off that he was a powerful puncher but also that he had no idea how to use his size to his advantage and very poor defense.
Whilst Eto can bang (and has shown that numerous times) the way to beat Propramook is to box and move. The Thai is a demon on the inside a waging a war with him is never a good idea. Sure Porpramook can be hurt and has been stopped 3 times in his 4 losses but the last time he was stopped in Thailand was back in 2002 by Allan Ranada, he has improved a lot since then.
If Porpramook, as we expect, can make the fight in to a war we actually think this could be one of those "sleeper fight of the year" contenders. You know, the fights that are amazing yet very few people give it a second glance on paper. Unfortunately if this is a war only man is going to win it and that's the Thai.
Courtesy of Boxrec.com
When both of your older brothers have claimed world titles it's fair to say that pressure is on your back not to let the family down when you get your first chance.
For the 22 year old Tomoki Kameda (27-0, 18) that's the position he finds himself in at the start of August.
The unbeaten Tomoki, the younger brother of both Koki and Daiki, has seen both of his brothers claim world titles already. He'll be looking to join them when he faces unbeaten Namibian Paulus Ambunda (20-0, 10) for the WBO Bantamweight title.
Ambunda is best known for his stunning victory earlier this year over Thai Pungluang Sor Singyu, who was defending the WBO belt for the first time when Ambunda upset him in a very hard fought decision. Though other than the victory over Sor Singyu not too much really stands out about the champion's record.
Japanese native Tomoki really made his name in Mexico. Whilst his two older brothers were fighting at home in Japan and picking up various world titles between them Tomoki was quietly claiming regional titles like the WBC FECARBOX Bantamweight title and the WBC Youth World Bantamweight title whilst honing his skills.
Although fighting a long way from home Tomoki was welcomed in Mexico by fans who dubbed him "El Mexicanito" ("The little Mexican") and warmed quickly to his aggressive style. It was in Mexico that he scored arguably his best victory, a thin decision over Stephane Jamoye (the current Europe Bantamweight champion).
In recent fights Tomoki has returned to his homeland and actually won his last 2 bouts in Japan including a stoppage of Nouldy Manakane, a man who challenged Koki for the WBA Bantamweight title just last year.
Ambunda, the champion, is 32 years old and has yet to fight outside of his homeland. This fight, scheduled for Cebu City in the Philippines, may be on neutral ground but will be his first away from home, an issue that may effect him.
From what we've managed to see of Ambunda he seems to be a teak tough bundle of energy. He's able to sit in the trenches and go to war with fighters if they want a battle or he's able to cut the ring off and impose himself if heeds to. Whilst it's fair to say he's not a concussive puncher, his last 4 bouts have all gone the 12 round distance, he does hit hard enough to make a tough fighter thing twice and he appeared to shake up Sor Singyu several times in their bout.
One thing that is incredibly notable about Ambunda is his size. He stands at around 5'0" (possibly 5'1" with shoes on). This makes him a tiny fighter, especially in the Bantamweight division. Sure he's shown the ability to slip shots and get inside taller fighters but the likes of Bongani Mahlangu and William Prado are not on par with Tomoki.
Although Tomoki will have around 7" in height and significant reach advantage we're not too sure whether he'll really use that to his advantage. He has shown the ability to fight with a jab and box at range though he has often looked more comfortable mixing it on the inside. If he gets dragged in to an inside battle here he may come undone against the energetic champion.
We're certain that if Tomoki, seen as the most talented of the 3 Kameda's, can fight on the outside here and maintain a control of the distance he should manage to claim a decision. If he can't create that much needed space then we could well see Amdunda, known as the rock, out toughing Tomoki in what could well be a fight of the year contender.
Note-A victory for Tomoki would see him becoming Japan's first ever WBO world champion
Courtesy of Boxrec.com
July 27th appears on paper to be one of the most exciting nights in boxing so far this year. Whether you're from Asia, Europe, North America or South America there is something there for you.
For us the most exciting bout of the night sees Japanese veteran Nihito Arakawa (24-2-1, 16) taking on the explosive and highly entertaining youngster Omar Figueroa (21-0-1, 17) for the WBC "interim" Lightweight title.
This is a bout that screams "war" to us and of course we all love an in ring war.
For those who haven't seen Figueroa lets talk about him first. He's a very talented and very aggressive youngster who has started to create a real buzz in recent bouts. In his most notable victory to date he blew out Abner Cotto in just 177 seconds.
The explosiveness and fast starting nature of Figueroa has seen him scoring 8 opening round victories and 17 inside 3 rounds (including 1 DQ). It appears that if you can ride out the early storm of Figueroa you can test him, though so far only Arturo Quintero has actually managed to really take him close as he fought Figueroa to a draw.
At 23 Figueroa is not the complete article. He's very promising but also pretty untested and still relatively wild and wasteful. So far he's managed to get away with his flaws (other than the draw with Quintero) but he is stepping up notably here.
Aged 31 Arakawa is a 9 year veteran and despite his 27 bouts he is still referred to as the "Baby Faced Sniper". He's known to be a very tough fighter and both of his losses to date have been controversial.
The first of Arakawa's losses came in 2006 to Yoshitaka Kato via a majority decision whilst his most recent loss was last year in a technical decision to Daniel Estrada in Mexico. The loss to Estrada was highly controversial with Estrada winning a technical following injuries that appeared to come from punches (and should have forced a TKO).
Arakawa is not only tough but also defensively smart taking a lot of shots on the arms. He's awkward and can apply intelligent pressure whilst looking to land his powerful straight left. He's not the most active fighter but appears to be almost impossible to discourage and with the damage his shots can do he'll be dangerous through out the fight.
What we effectively have here is a fast starting youngster against a gradually grinding veteran. If Figueroa can't take out Arakawa with in the opening few rounds he'll be seriously tested in the middle and latter stages of the bout when the Japanese fighter starts to connect with his heavy left.
Figueroa has only been beyond 5 rounds 5 times in his career, he's only been 10 rounds once and has never been the championship distance. With such untested stamina we are going with with Arakawa to break him down down the stretch. Sure Figueroa might manage to take Arakawa out early, but no-one else has managed to. If Figueroa can then boxing has a new superstar on it's hands. If he can't and if Arakawa wins then Figueroa will grow from a loss and develop with the experienced he'll have gained from the bout.
One thing is for sure, this has "exciting" written all over it.
Courtesy of Top Rank
Former amateur stand out Evgeny Gradovich (16-0, 8) shocked the boxing world earlier this year when he claimed the IBF Featherweight title and defeated Australian Billy "The Kid" Dibb. Now the man dubbed "The Mexican-Russian" seeks his first title defense.
Gradovich, originally of Igrim, Russia though now based in Oxnard at the Robert Garcia Gym, will be taking on Argentinian Mauricio Javier Munoz (26-3, 12), otherwise known as "Chucky".
Gradovich, as mentioned above, is trained by Robert Garcia and this has seen him sharing a gym with some of the sports best fighters. Not only has he been alongside Mikey Garcia (current WBO Featherweight champion) but also Brandon Rios and Marcos Maidana. It's this level of activity in the gym which has helped Gradovich becoming the fighter he is today.
With boundless energy Gradovich is a pure pressure fighter who throws a lot of shots to both the head and body. His shots aren't concussive but they do accumulate and really wear fighters down mentally and physically. Technically his game is solid though unspectacular and there are holes in it, though he overcomes most of them with his heart and work rate.
For those fans who recognise the name of Mauricio Javier Munoz, he is best known as a former world title challenger having faced the then WBC Super Bantamweight champion Toshiaki Nishioka back on 2011. In that bout Nishioka stopped Munoz in the 9th round with a stunning left hand that sent the bruised and swollen Munoz down for the count.
Interesting for Munoz that was his first fight outside of South American and it was also his first against any sort of a notable name. Since the loss to Nishioka, Munoz had moves to Featherweight and has also scored his most notable victory, a highly debated split decision over Cuban Luis Franco. Funnily it was Franco who was supposed to fight Dibb though retired and Gradovich got the opportunity instead.
In terms of Munoz as a fighter he looks very strong but is incredibly basic in everything he does (much like a number of the B tier Argentinians). He's not a big hitter but he is tough and will look to have a fight with people if they don't run from him.
Unfortunately for Munoz his willingness to engage in a fight is unlikely to serve him well against a man whilst not outstanding technically is better than Munoz in almost every way. Gradovich is busier, naturally bigger, hits harder and more technically rounded than he Argentinian challenger.
With the styles seemingly likely to gel well, we'll admit we are expecting this to be a very fun fight and one that could very easily steal the show, despite feeling that it could be a bit one-sided in favour of Gradovich.
On July 27th at the Venetian Casino & Resort in Macau unbeaten Filipino Milan Melindo (29-0, 12) gets the chance to announce himself on the world stage.
Viewed by many as "the best kept secret in Filipino boxing", Melindo will be hoping to go from "secret" to "superstar" as he takes on Mexican Juan Francisco Estrada (24-2, 18) for the WBO and WBA "super" titles at Flyweight in what will be Estrada's first title defense.
Less than a year ago Estrada was in a similar position to what Melindo is in now. He was talented but unknown and under-rated. That changed when Estrada gave former Teiken fighter Roman Gonzalez a thoroughly competitive contest last November in a fight of the year candidate.
Although Estrada lost to Gonzalez he had made a huge impression and just a few months later he defeated Filipino-American Brian Viloria. With that win Estrada not only claimed 2 world titles but also put himself on the boxing map as one of the worlds elite Flyweights (alongside Akira Yaegashi).
Like Estrada was against Viloria, Melindo is the under-dog here but a very live under-dog who will certainly be looking for the upset.
Aged 25 Melindo is a fighter who has been been creating a buzz in and around the Philippines and with good reason. Not only does he boast an impressive unbeaten record but he has also showcased the skills that suggest he could well be a future world champion.
Although Melindo has yet to fight in a world title bout it's relatively fair to suggest that he does deserve to be considered as capable at the world level. He has already defeated 4 former world champions in the form of Muhammad Rachman, Carlos Tamara, Jesus Geles and Jean Piero Perez and also holds victories over title challengers Francisco Rosas and Carlos Melo.
Inside of the ring of Melindo is a technically solid fighter who has a lovely variety of punches to both the head and body. He can box behind his jab though in recent bouts he has seemed very willing to stand in front of his opponents and counter them up close. It's been this willingness to fight up close in recent bouts that has seen him stopping 5 of his last 6 opponents (compared to just 7 in his first 23 bouts) .
In Estrada, Melindo will be facing a genuine beast. The Mexican 23 year old is a huge fighter at the weight, in fact he's probably a natural Super Flyweight. He's not just big but he's tough, relentless, hard hitting and seems to have infinite stamina.
Stylistically Estrada is pretty much your typical Mexican. He comes to the ring for a fight and will happily go to war with an opponent in an attempt to grind them down in a battle of wills. What helps him win these battles is his tremendous body attack which is one of the best in the sport and so devastating that very few fighters will manage to survive.
For Melindo to win he needs to forget about standing in front of Estrada. Letting Estrada apply the pressure with out moving would be suicide here. He needs to box, move and avoid a tear up at all costs. If Melindo cannot establish a safe distance from Estrada and control the pace this will become a hugely entertaining bout for fans but a very painful one for Melindo who lacks the power needed to back Estrada up (like Gonzalez was able to).
If the bout becomes a firefight there's only one winner and sadly it won't be the man who currently resides in Cebu city. If he can keep the action at range and make Estrada chase him however there is potential for the upset.
Courtesy of Boxrec.com
The always controversial Koki Kameda (30-1, 17) may well be the first 3-weight world champion in Japanese boxing history but he's a fighter who genuinely splits opinion like no other in Asia.
There are those who think Koki is great. He's a champion, he's claimed titles at 3 weights and he's a fighter who's bouts are extremely high profile and massively well watched.
There are of course others that dislike Koki. He's a loud mouth, he's cocky, he's easily matched, has had several controversial decisions in his favour and most tellingly he was filmed advising his brother to fight dirty in a major bout.
Whether you love him or hate Koki is big news in Japan.
On July 23rd Koki will be looking to score the 7th defense of his Bantamweight title as he takes on the WBA ranked #3 fighter John Mark Apolinario (17-2-3, 4) of the Philippines. A fighter who has twice drawn with former 2-weight world champion Roberto Vasquez in bouts for thhe WBA Bantamweight interim title.
The challenger fighting in Japan for the first time is seen as a giant under-dog though comes in to the bout undefeated in 8 bouts dating back more than 4 years. Incidentally Koki's own unbeaten run is also 8 bouts, though dates back just over 3 years and has been fought at a much higher level.
In terms of the competition the two men have faced Koki has been in with the much better fighters. He has faced legendary Thai's including Saman Sorjaturong and Pongsaklek Wonjongkam, former WBA interim Minimumweight champion Juan Jose Landaeta, Daisuke Naito, Alexander Munoz, David De La Mora and Hugo Ruiz all of whom are better than anyone Apolinario has faced.
As well as the competition, home advantage and experienced edge that Koki has he also has the more proven skills. Sure Apolinario has done 24 rounds with Vasquez but he certainly looked very limited in their second bout, a bout he was very fortunate to get a draw in. The challenger lacks he power needed to keep someone like Koki honest, he lacks the work rate to really push him and his movement is likely to become an issue here.
Koki for all his faults, and he has a lot, is a talented fighter. He is defensively very solid and often looks to land counter punches whilst using a high guard. At his best however Koki is a dominant front foot fighter who uses his fast hands to land clean shots to both the head and body of his opponent. Sadly it's been a while since we've really seen the best of Koki with arguably his bout against Mario Mcias being the most recent example.
Fortunately for Koki it's unlikely he'll need to be at his best to defeat Apolinario who in all honesty is a weak challenger. Dubbed the "Iceman" Apolinario will receive a cold reception from the crowd at the Tokyo Big Sight and from Kameda who will likely be set on making an impression after 3 less than impressive performances.
We're expecting Koki to take a round or 2 to see what Apolinario has got. Then as the champion grows in confidence he'll slowly break Apolinario down before probably forcing a stoppage in the middle rounds.
Many are hoping that if Kameda comes out of this with a win, as expected, he will face either the highly regarded Ryosuke Iwasa next or unify with WBC champion Shinsuke Yamanaka, a man some feel is the best Bantamweight on the planet.
World Title Previews
The biggest fights get broken down as we try to predict who will come out on top in the up coming world title bouts.