In the west we are used to seeing big fight nights come on Friday's and Saturdays. In Japan however things aren't that predictable and this coming Wednesday fans in Tokyo will get a world title triple header at the Ota City Central Gymnasium.
Of the bouts on offer the least appealing comes at 115lbs where WBA champion Kohei Kono (31-8-1, 13) [河野 公平] will make the 3rd defense of his title and battle Thai challenger Inthanon Sithchamuang (28-7-1, 15) [อินทนนท์ ศิษย์ชะมวง], who will be fighting in his first world tile bout.
Of the two men it's Kono who is the far better known, even if many do only know him as being “the man who retired Koki Kameda”, following his high profile Stateside win over Kameda last year. The Japanese fighter is currently enjoying his second reign as the WBA Super Flyweight champion having first won the title in 2012, stopping Tepparith Kokietgym, and then reclaimed it in 2014, when he stopped Denkaosan Kaovichit.
In the ring Kono isn't the most technically gifted or the fastest or the most mobile. What he is however is a warrior, he's as tough as old boots, has a fantastic engine and gets into great shape for every fight. That was seen in his 12 round against Kameda and also his enthralling 12 round loss to Liborio Solis, among other bouts. Of course his record doesn't show it, but he posses very solid power and many of his losses have been very close and come at world, or fringe world, level.
Compared to Naoya Inoue, the WBO champion at the weight, Kono is limited and would certainly not be fancied to over-come the Monster, but against almost anyone else at the weight Kono would likely be competitive, and make for a great action fight.
As for the challenger the Thai is relatively unknown outside of those who follow the Asian, and more specifically the Thai, boxing scene. Notably he is better than his record may suggest, and notably began his career by suffering a trio of losses straight off the bat with one loss coming for Yasutaka Kuroki, who won the OPBF and Japanese titles in career, and one to Masayoshi Segawa, who would later fight Kazuto Ioka for the Japanese Light Flyweight title. Other loses include defeats to Rocky Fuentes, Samartlek Kokietgym, Mark Anthony Geraldo and Jerwin Ancajas, all very good fighters.
Since his last loss, to Ancajas in Macau in 2014, Inthanon has gone 8-0-1 (6) which looks impressive on paper but the reality is that he has been matched softly during that run, with the best wins coming against Heri Amol and Jetly Purisima, whilst he also fought to a draw with Espinos Sabu.
In the ring Inthanon, with out being rude, is a tryer. Sadly he hasn't really fought many people at his level and he has either been thrown to the wolves, or matched against very opponents. That has left him generally looking a level better than his opponents, or several levels below them. We suspect that this will be another case of looking lower than his opponent with Kono likely to force the issue and break down Inthanon, probably in the middle rounds.
Whilst we are expecting this one to be one sided, we'd be shocked if it wasn't fun to watch, with Kono likely looking to make a statement from the opening bell and taking the fight straight to Inthanon.
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.