Back in February news broke that IBF Super Featherweight champion Kenichi Ogawa (26-1-1-1, 18) [尾川 堅一] would be returning to the ring in June to make his first defense, as he takes on unbeaten Welshman Joe Cordina (14-0, 8), with the bout pencilled in to take place at the Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff, Wales.
Today we finally saw that bout being confirmed, with Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing announcing the bout would be taking place on June 4th, and would be aired on DAZN.
For Ogawa the bout will serve as his first defense of the title he won last November, when he defeated slippery South African fighter Azinga Fuzile. The original hope for Ogawa was to have a home coming defense in March, though that bout never materialised, and instead the focus is now on travelling to Wales to over-come Cordina, who will be having his first shot at a world title.
Aged 34 Ogawa is no spring chicken, though this is a bout that could further enhance his standing in the sport, and grow his reputation, which is already on an all time high things to his win over Fuzile. He's a heavy handed fighter who has shown his toughness and power through his career, though has also shown a lack of foot speed, and some questionable defense at times, relying more on his toughness and his power rather than his defensive moves.
As for Cordina, who is getting his first shot at a world title, the 30 year old Welshman has long been tipped to be the new face of Welsh boxing, though has struggled to make the impact many expected to see from him. As an amateur he was brilliant, and won Gold at the 2015 European Amateur championships, but as a professional we have only seen glimpses of his brilliance, in what has felt like a slow burn career for such an amateur standout. There is no denying his ability in the ring, but he has had questions about his power, and he was given genuine fits in 2021 by European champion Faroukh Kourbanov. Cordina has the tools wo be a major player at 130lbs on the world stage, but it does, sometimes, feel like he can't put all those tools together. Against Ogawa, he will need to get things right and will need to get Ogawa's respect.
Given the fact Cordina is highly regarded in the UK, and he's fighting at home, he will likely be the favourite for this bout. Notably Japanese fighters haven't had much success when fighting in world title bouts in Europe, though it is worth noting that in 2019 Naoya Inoue made history, becoming the first Japanese fighter to win a world title bout in Europe, if Ogawa can beat Cordina, he will join Inoue and will be able to make a genuine statement for Japanese fighters. It is, however, a huge ag for the 34 year old champion.
Earlier today NoSmokeBoxing.com reported that IBF Super Featherweight champion Kenichi Ogawa (26-1-1-1, 18) [尾川 堅一] would be returning to the ring in June to make his first defense, as he takes on unbeaten Welshman Joe Cordina (14-0, 8), with the bout pencilled in to take place at the Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff, Wales.
The hard hitting Ogawa won the title last November, when he took a career best win against Azinga Fuzile, to make the most of his second shot at the title. That bout saw Ogawa dropping Fuzile in rounds 5 and 12, and come close to stopping the slippery South African whilst announcing himself as a world level fighter. Sadly though that was his only bout last year, and he only fought once in 2020 as well, as the Pandemic has limited his activity. In fact the original plan was him to have a home coming defense in March before travelling to the UK for his second defense, though Pandemic regulations in Japan made that home coming bout impossible for him to have.
As for Cordina, the "Welsh Wizard", was a former amateur standout who turned professional in 2017 following years competing as a notable, and successful, amateur. Early in his days as a professional he showed promise, but struggled to show what he could really do whilst testing the water at Lightweight and even Light Welterweight. Over the last 2 years or so he has started to put together some good performances, despite a struggle against Faroukh Kourbanov last year.
Notably with the bout coming in Wales, Cordina will have the crowd behind him, though it worth noting that Ogawa has travelled abroad for his two biggest bouts, his win over Fuzile and his No Contest against Tevin Farmer. Travelling to the UK is unlikely to phase him, but only one Japanese fighter in history has ever won a world title bout in the UK, and that was the rather sensation Naoya Inoue, who beat Emanuel Rodriguez in Glasgow, Scotland, in the WBSS.
For those wanting to read the original article from NoSmokeBoxing regarding this bout, it can be read here.
It's fair to say that 2021 has been a year where under-dogs picked up wins and where great performances seemed to come much against the grain. We all remember Mauricio Lara battering Josh Warrington, Oleksandr Usyk out boxing, and almost stopping, Anthony Joshua, and Kiko Martinez blasting the form book, and Kid Galahad, in some of the many shocks of 2021.
Sadly with so little Asian action taking place through the year, it's been harder to think of great performances from Asian fighters, though there was a few notable ones, including Masataka Taniguchi at the end of the year.
For us however one man did stand out for particular credit here, and that was Kenichi Ogawa who put in the performance of his career to out box, out punch, out bang and out skill the incredibly tricky Azinga Fuzile.
Going in to the bout we thought Fuzile would have the tools to make Ogawa look silly. We thought Fuzile had all the advantages, the speed, the youth, the slippery style, and was going to be able to take the aggression of Ogawa and make the Japanese fighter look crude and clumsy. Instead we saw Ogawa put in a near punch perfect display to drop Fuzile several times en route to a wide and clear decision.
This was the performance that Ogawa's career needed, especially in his second bout in the US. He neutralised the slick movement of Fuzile, he didn't give the South African chances to counter, instead he found a home for his right hand, he was patient, he was relaxed, calm and near punch perfect through much of the bout. This was a stark difference to the man who had fought Tevin Farmer the last time he had fought in the US, and was also massively difference to the man who had been stopped 13 months earlier by Kazuhiro Nishitani, or had been involved in a head clash marred technical draw with Joe Noynay.
On the subject of Joe Noynay he also deserves an honourable mention here for his excellent performance in July against Liam Wilson. A performance that saw him dropping the much fancied Wilson numerous times in away in Australia. Sadly for this bout we were some what expecting a big performance from Noynay who delivered, whilst we weren't expecting what we got from Ogawa.
This past weekend we saw Japan's Kenichi Ogawa (26-1-1-1, 18) [尾川 堅一] score the biggest win of his career, as he defeated South African fighter Azinga Fuzile (15-2, 9) and won the IBF Super Featherweight title.
Today, following that win, Ogawa arrived back in Japan where several interesting bits of news were reported regarding his future, and the ridiculousness of the IBF.
Ogawa sadly wasn't able to take the IBF world title back to the Japan as the IBF had failed to prepare the right title for the fight. Instead of preparing the IBF world title, they had some how managed to only get an IBF Intercontinental title ready for the winner in an embarrassing mistake that makes it clear that the title bodies really do have too many titles. Thankfully Ogawa seemed to take it in good spirits and will be getting a world title in the future.
Whilst he was unable to get a title on the way home, he did get congratulations from around the world, and apparently from those working his flight back to Japan after the bout.
Regarding his future, the plan now is for Ogawa to make his first defense in March in Japan. His opponent for that bout hasn't been announced as of yet, but it's likely that his opponent will not regarded as a top contender with plans for his second defense also being spoken about.
That second defense is planned to take place in the UK later in 2022, with Joe Cordina regarded as the most likely opponent for that bout.
Later today we'll see Kenichi Ogawa (25-1-1-1, 18) [尾川 堅一] take on South African fighter Azinga Fuzile (15-1, 9) in a bout for the IBF Super Featherweight. The bout is a very interesting match up, and is one that could see some very interesting action.
For fans wanting to have a bit of a boosted interest in the bout the contest does have some odds available on it, with numerous bookies, world wide, taking bets on the bout. With that in mind we though we'd take a look at the match, and some of the bets being offered on the bout.
First the To Win market, which sees Fuzile enter as the clear favourite, with the South African being priced at 20/41 to take home the victory and the title. Ogawa on the other hand is best priced at 19/10 to take home the title, in what would be an upset. As for the draw, that is 18/1.
The Method of Victory market is an interesting one of this bout. Fuzile is 9/5 to win by stoppage and is 2/1 to win by decision, making both outcomes for him preferred over any outcome for Ogawa. As for Ogawa he is 4/1 to win by stoppage and 5/1 to win by decision. Given that Ogawa is a noted puncher, it is interesting to see the bookies have his two methods of victory priced so similarly.
For those wondering whether the bout go the distance or not, it seems even the bookies are unsure. The bout is 4/5 to end early and 11/10 to go the scheduled distance, suggesting that whilst unsure, they do feel that it's slightly more likely for this to end within the 12 round schedule.
For fans wanting to watch the bout, it will be aired live on DAZN around the globe.
Related -Ogawa faces Fuzile for IBF title!
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