Tomorrow we'll see WBO Asia Pacific Bantamweight champion Yuki Strong Kobayashi (16-8, 9) [ストロング小林佑樹] look to make his second defense of his regional title, as he faces the challenge of former WBC Flyweight champion Daigo Higa (16-1-1, 16) [比嘉 大吾].
Despite entering as the champion Kobayashi is regarded as a very, very clear under-dog. Just over a week ago, when the betting markets in the UK opened on the fight, he was 6/1 to pick up the win whilst Higa was an unbackable 1/10. Since then things have changed, and no only have the odds shifted a little bit but extra markets on the fight have been opened up as well.
As we write this odds on Higa have gone from 1/10 to 1/5, a significantly better price for Higa backers. As For Kobayashi he has been bet down from 6/1 to 4/1, suggesting that there is belief in the the under-dog. Incidentally the draw has drifted massively, from 22/1 up to 28/1.
Now, along with the "To win" market we have several other markets. Included among them is the "Method" of victory market, which strongly backs a Higa T/KO win, with pricing that at 4/9. The next most likely outcome is regarded as a Higa decision, at 10/3.
For Kobayashi backers, a stoppage by the champion can be backed at 8/1 whilst a decision for Kobayashi is a huge 10/1! A very, very attractive price in our eyes.
Another market now available on the bout is the "Total rounds" market, which set at 6.5 rounds, where both the over and under are priced at 5/6. Unsurprisingly the bout is not expected to go the distance, with a price of 3/10 on the bout finishing early and 12/5 on the bout completing the 12 round schedule.
For fans wanting to watch this, Japanese TV channel TBS, along with streaming service Paravi, are show the bout at 5PM Japan time, whilst Box Nation and international broadcasters are expected to air the bout after the main event.
Related - WBO Asia Pacific champion Kobayashi takes on Higa as the year comes to an end!
Tomorrow at the Ota-City General Gymnasium we'll get two notable fights. The first of those will see WBO Asia Pacific Bantamweight champion Yuki Strong Kobayashi (16-8, 9) [ストロング小林佑樹] battle against former WBC Flyweight champion Daigo Higa (16-1-1, 16) [比嘉 大吾]. The bout will serve as Kobayashi's second defense of the title, whilst Higa will be looking to claim his biggest win since he returned to the sport earlier this year, after a lengthy suspension.
Earlier today the two men took part in their weigh in for the bout, and both men made the Bantamweight limit with no issues at all.
On the scales a determined looking Kobayashi was 117.6lbs, and looked in solid shape. He wasn't shredded and cut to pieces, but he looked solid and like a man who was naturally fighting at his weight. Despite being well under the limit he was clearly the naturally bigger man, and was several inches taller than Higa.
Higa on the other hand weighed in on the 118lbs Bantamweight limit, making weight with no issues at all. In regards to physical shape he looked in better shape than Kobayashi, and looked relaxed, as if he had been in this situation before.
Interestingly Kobayashi wasn't too impressed by his foe's physical shape stating that Higa's body wasn't "insanely big". In face Higa, although heavier, didn't look like the bigger man at all.
For fans wanting to watch this, TBS are airing the bout at 5PM Japan time, along with Paravi, whilst Box Nation and international broadcasters are expected to air the bout after the main event.
Interestingly there is still some confusion on whether the TBS broadcast of the fight will be "live" or "as live", so for those wanting to watch that bout without spoilers, we advise being cautious about this one.
Related - WBO Asia Pacific champion Kobayashi takes on Higa as the year comes to an end!
Earlier today at Korakuen Hall we got a sensational triple title unification bout at Super Flyweight as the OPBF, WBO Asia Pacific and Japanese titles were unified in an instant Classic! And not only were fans in the Hall treat to it, but saw was a wider audience as the bout was shown live on the brilliant Boxing Raise.
The match up in question saw the hard hitting Ryoji Fukunaga (13-4, 13) [福永亮次], who entered as the WBO Asia Pacific champion, taking on defending Japanese champion Kenta Nakagawa (19-4-1, 12) [中川 健太]. Not only were their titles on the line but so too was the vacant OPBF title.
With 3 titles on the line, the bout had a big fight feel, at least a big domestic fight feel, and it quickly delivered as we got a real fun opening round that set the tone for the early going. Fukunaga, the bigger puncher with the more durable chin, took the center of the ring and managed to land some solid shots whilst Nakagawa looked to take outside of the ring, using his speed and movement. For almost the first 3 rounds we saw Fukunaga pressing, and Nakagawa trying to box and move, with both men having moments. Then we got to the end of round 3 that saw both men land some huge head shots, giving us a taster of what was to come later in the bout.
In round 4 Fukunaga's power proved it's self, as he landed a hard right hook that dropped Nakagawa. Following the knockdown the tempo rose again, with Fukunaga going all out for the stoppage, then seemingly punching himself out as Nakagawa ended the round strong. It was a huge round, but it came at a cost to Fukunaga who seemed sluggish in the following few rounds as Nakagawa managed his best run of success, using his footwork well, and landed some really clean head shots whilst Fukunaga seemed to be visibly tiring.
Despite the success of Nakagawa after after being dropped his inability to really hurt Fukunaga was an an issue and and by round 8 it seemed like Fukunaga was getting his second wind and the round was something else, with both men unloading through out the round. Nakagawa was in trouble early in the round, and took some massive headshots as Fukunaga hunted a finish, and again ended up exhausting himself in an attempt to score a KO. Nakagawa then roared back, unloading himself, before the two just let huge shots go, with Nakagawa luck to see out the round, an amazing round.
After 4 rounds the scores were 39-36, twice, and 40-35, all in favour of Fukunaga, after 8 rounds Nakagawa had fought his was back into the fight. Despite that Fukunaga was still in the lead with scores of 77-74 across the board,
Sadly for Nakagawa any hope at edging closer in round 9 was destroyed as he was rocked and staggered numerous times by the heavy hands of Fukunaga. Even though Nakagawa had real success of his own, it was clear he simply couldn't rock his foe, whilst Fukunaga rocked him repeatedly through a tense, brutal and damaging round. By the end of the round it was clear that Nakagawa was running on fumes, and his shots, which had been crisp though the bout, were looking slow and tired. He still had hunger, but his body was letting him down and he was taking real punishment.
After two tough, brutal and hard rounds it seemed impossible to think this bout could go much longer. Both men were looking tired, but Fukunaga's heavy hands still looked damaging and they proved it in round 10 when he rocked Nakagawa to his core, forcing him to stumble. The referee knew it was time, and quickly stepped in, saving him from further harm.
Given the punishment both men took here, they should both be looking at a lengthy break from the ring. We wouldn't be surprised if Nakagawa, following this loss, calls time on his career. He's currently 35, and has taken a lot of damage in recent years. As for Fukunaga he'll likely look to either defend all 3 titles next year or potentially look to move towards a world title fight, allowing him a chance at the top before calling time on his short, but dramatic, and entertaining, career.
Tomorrow at Korakuen Hall we'll get the latest show from Kadoebi and it's a really, really solid one with several bouts worthy of attention. Despite there being a number of bouts of intrigue there is one that stands out, and that's the main event which will see 3 Super Flyweight titles being unified as Japanese champion Kenta Nakagawa (19-3-1, 12) [中川 健太] battles WBO Asia Pacific champion Ryoji Fukunaga (12-4, 12) [福永亮次], unifying not just their titles but also the vacant OPBF title.
Today, ahead of their bout, the two men took part in their weigh in, and both men managed to make the 115lb weight limit whilst looking in amazing condition.
On the scales Nakagawa, who is looking to make his second successive defense of the Japanese title, came in marginally under the limit, at 114.8lbs, and showed a steely determination in his eyes. Fukunaga on the other hand came in bang on the divisional limit for what will be his first defense of the WBO Asia Pacific title.
Interestingly this is an all southpaw bout and both men have seemingly been open in admitting they aren't good against lefties. Fukunaga has however been preparing for this bout by sparring exclusively with lefties since winning the title with a TKO victory over Froilan Saludar, with it seeming almost like he was aiming for Nakagawa for some time.
Nakagawa on the other hand stated the bout was a high risk one, and it seemed very much like he had the feeling that this was high risk-high reward, with the winner potentially being on the verge of a world title fight, and the loser looking down the barrel.
For fans wanting to watch this, it will be shown globally on subscription Boxing Raise, who will be streaming the entire show live on their brilliant service.
Related - Fukunaga and Nakagawa battle for the triple at Super Flyweight!
(Photo credit - Kadoebi Gym)
Earlier today it was announced that former WBC Flyweight champion Daigo Higa (16-1-1, 16) [比嘉 大吾] would be returning to the ring on New Year's Eve, as part of the under-card for the year ending show at the Ota-City General Gymnasium in Tokyo.
The popular Higa won't be given an easy bout however and rather than being given a gimme win, following his recent draw with Seiya Tsutsumi (5-0-2, 4) [堤聖也] he'll actually be in title action. In fact he'll be up against WBO Asia Pacific Bantamweight champion Yuki Strong Kobayashi (16-8, 9) [ストロング小林佑樹], in a mouth watering clash.
On paper the might seem like an easy one for Higa, though it really won't be. Firstly we need to remember that Higa hasn't really impressed since returning to the sport earlier this year following a lengthy suspension. His aggressive style and the power that brought him so much success at Flyweight hasn't been looked quite the same since moving up to Bantamweight.
Higa sounded confident in comments given to the media of not just winning but of scoring a KO and winning inside the distance. It seems clear that he's in a good place and seemed really hungry despite his recent bout with Tsutsumi.
Of course it's not just Higa involved in the bout but also Kobayashi, who's record is a very misleading one. At one point in his career he was 10-7 (5) with 4 losses in 6 bouts, including defeats to Takahiro Yamamoto, Ye Joon Kim and Rey Megrino. Since then he has gone 7-1 (4) with wins against Vincent Astrolabio and Ben Mananquil standing out as notable victories. He also gave the hard hitting Keita Kurihara real fits in their controversial 2018 bout, despite being dropped 4 times.
In regards to the bout Kobayashi stated: "I am the champion, but I will fight with the intention of a challenger" and whilst he did speak highly of Higa he did add "I will show you my fight style, Kobayashi of Infight. Higa has raised the rank to bantam, so I wanted to do it."
It was also revealed today that Kobayashi suffered with covid19 in the summer and spent more than 3 weeks in hospital. He seemed to suggest that despite the illness he he is stronger than ever.
The bout will take place on the same show as the WBO Super Flyweight title bout between champion Kazuto Ioka (25-2, 14) [井岡一翔] and mandatory challenger Kosei Tanaka (15-0, 9) [田中恒成].
At the moment TBS is only listing Ioka Vs Tanaka for a live broadcast, which would begin at 6PM local time on December 31st. That's 9AM for fans in the UK and early hours in the morning for those in America. It's also worth noting that international broadcasts, if there is any, may be able to pick up the Higa bout, and it wouldn't be the first time a bout that took place in Japan was shown internationally.
We would assume, although it's yet to be confirmed, that Higa Vs Kobayashi will be shown in the new year on one of TBS's "Guts Fighting" Broadcasts, much like Higa's bout with Tsutsumi was.
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