The worst kept secret in boxing was confirmed earlier today as a joint press conference held by Hanagata and Nakazato announced that Katsunari Takayama (27-7-0-1, 10) would indeed be fighting compatriot Go Odaira (11-3-3, 1) in a bout for the vacant IBF Minimumweight title on December 31st in Osaka on the card headlined by Kazuto Ioka's (15-1, 9) bout with Jean Piero Perez (20-7-1, 14).
The bout, which came about after promotional complications regarding Jose Argumedo, had been confirmed a little while but no specific date had been set. It was assumed that we would be getting the contest on December 31st but that was confirmed until earlier today.
For Takayama it's a chance to regain the title he lost in a grueling yet thrilling contest with rising Mexican Francisco Rodriguez Jr. That bout, which saw Rodriguez unifying the WBO and IBF titles, was one of the FOTY contenders and saw Takayama attempting to become the first Japanese fighter to complete a "grandslam". Since then however Rodrgiuez Jr has vacated the title with a lot of talk being that he will also vacate the WBO belt as he moves up in an expected challenge of WBO Light Flyweight champion Donnie Nietes.
In his 35 fight career Takayama has shown the courage of a throw back fighter traveling to Mexico, South African and the Philippines for some thrilling contests whilst also chasing the best opponents and looking for the toughest fights. We won't pretend he's the best fighter on the planet but he is one of the most exciting and gutsy fighters out there and is always well worth a watch with his insane work ethic, refusal to lose and brilliant mentality to boxing, a mentality that we wished was shared by more fighters.
Whilst Takayama is well known at world level following bouts against the likes of Eagle Den Junlaphan, Yutaka Niida, Roman Gonzalez and Nkosinathi Joyi it's fair to say that Odaira is somewhat obscure for those living outside of Japan, and even those in Japan may not be that familiar with him. Despite being a professional since 2006 Odaira only really began making a name for himself in 2012 when he scored a very notable win on the domestic stage against Takashi Kunishige, a former 3 time Japanese and 1 time World title challenger. Odaira built on that success and earlier this year he won the Japanese national title by out pointing Masashi Tada in a very impressive performance that saw him fighting in a fashion that garnered him considerable praise.
Since winning the Japanese title title in January we've seen Go defend the belt twice, scoring a narrow win over Yuma Iwasashi in June and a clear win over Hiroya Yamamoto in September.
Although relatively unknown Odaira is managed by former world champion Susumu Hanagata and has a similar style to the former WBA Flyweight world champion. It's a style based on speed, movement and more speed. In theory it seems a perfect style for Odaira is never going to be considered a "puncher" and knows that he should fight to his strengths.
With both of these fighters being happy to throw a lot of shots and neither having the power to really hurt the other we suspect we could be in for a thrilling contest here between two men each looking to prove a point. Don't be surprised if this ends up being the best fight on New Years Eve.
News! We try and give you the most interesting news stories from the Asian boxing world!