For Kono, 35, the bout will be his 4th defence of the title and see him attempting to extend a reign that began back in March 2014, when he stopped Denkaosan Kaovichit. Although his reign hasn't been the best he did create history last year when he over-came Koki Kameda, to win the first ever all-Japanese world title bout on US soil, and effectively retire Kameda.
The Japanese fighter, dubbed the “Tough Boy”, is one of the real success stories of hard work and determination. He began his career with very little amateur experience and lost on his professional debut. That loss was a set back but Kono developed from it and after suffering other losses he eventually climbed his way through the rankings.
In his 21st bout Kono got his first title contest, facing off against Japanese Super Flyweight champion Teppei Kikui. A tough contest saw Kono claim the win, and the title, his first. Since then he has won the OPBF title, twice, and been a 2-time world champion, bouncing back from multiple setbacks to become the fighter he is today.
Although crude Kono is aggressive, tough, determined and hits harder than his record suggests. He's not the best Super Flyweight on the planet, or the best in Japan, but he's a total handful for anyone in the division with his never say die attitude. He's crude, needs to his feet, isn't the quickest to get into position and some times looks rather inactive whilst following an opponent round the ring, an issue that has cost him in the past. He is however someone you outbox and don't try to out fight.
With Concepcion we have another fighter who has been written off, multiple times, before finally getting to where he is today. He debuted back in 2006, as a 20 year old, and won his first 3 bouts before coming up short against Gilmer Baules. A 19 fight winning streak followed, with 17 stoppages, before Concepcion's's next loss. During that excellent winning run he stopped fighters like Omar Salado, Eric Ortiz and Denkaosan Kaovichit, who was dropped 3 times in 90 seconds to claim the WBA “interim” Flyweight title.
That winning run finally came to an end in 2011 when Concepcion fought the first of 3 bouts with Hernan Marquez, losing an 11th round TKO in a FOTY candidate. That was the first time where some suggested Concepcion was on the slide but a rematch 6 months later so many write him off all together, with Marquez stopping him in 109 seconds. That loss left a 26 year old Concepcion being looked at as a “shot” fighter with a record of 23-3 (18), and many felt he was a glass cannon.
Concepcion then went on a 9-0 (5) run, showing serious improvement in his boxing ability and less reliance on his power. He wasn't beating genuine world class fighters, but was over-coming fringe level foes, like Odilon Zaleta, Pablo Carrillo and Nestor Daniel Narvaes, all of whom will be familiar to Japanese fight fans. That run came to an end when he took on WBC Super Flyweight world champion Carlos Cuadras, and lost a wide decision to the Mexican despite putting up a credible effort.
Since the loss to Cuadras we've seen Concepcion score two notable wins, stopping the then WBA "interim" Super Flyweight champion David Sanchez and then out pointing Hernan Marquez, to finally avenge the two losses to the big punching Mexican.
Although Concepcion is a much improved fighter to the one who twice loss to Marquez he is still still an exciting and aggressively minded slugger. His defence is porous, his attitude in the ring isto attack and stalk and he is still looking to march forward and land a big shot. When he faces Kono he'll be in with a man willing to meet him face on and willing to take one to land one, with Kono's own machismo leading us to a fight. Both men can be out boxed relatively easily, but it takes a special fighter to beat either in a fight, and that's what we're going to get this coming Wednesday, a fight.
We'd not like to predict the result of the bout, but we do suggest that everyone tunes in, and we predict that this one could be a genuine FOTY contender between two men who simply like to fight. Don't expect to see the shoulder roll or fighters slipping and dodging, instead expect a tear up, get the popcorn, sit back and enjoy.