The first Japanese title fight of the year saw the talented, and heavy handed, Hiroki Okada (11-0, 9) [岡田 博喜] successfully unify the JBC 140lb title with an interim version of the belt, then held by Masanobu Nakazawa [中澤 将信]. It's now been announced that Oakada will need to make another defense of his title in the coming weeks as he defends his title against former foe Koichi Aso (20-6-1, 13) [麻生 興一] at the Korakien Hall on April 19th.
The bout will be the second time the two men have faced off following a very competitive bout in July 2014, in what was the second time that Okada had been the distance.
Since their first bout Okada has seemingly improved, making light work of both Hayato Hokazono and Nakazawa, stopping both men in 3 rounds, and showing not only his heavy handed power but also an improved level of skill and composure. He has however also suffered a serious thumb injury that unfortunately kept him out of the ring for much of 2015, a year in which he fought just once.
Although the 26 year old champion hasn't been mega active this will be his 4th defense in 25 months. He won the title just over 2 years ago, when he claimed a decision win over Masayoshi Kotake for the then vacant title, and has since defended it against Hokazono, Nakazaawa and Aso, with the Aso bout being his toughest so far.
For the 29 year old challenger this will be his second shot at the Japanese crown and sees him continue to fight some of the best on the Japanese domestic scene. In the ring Aso is a handful, he's an aggressive, fast handed pressure fighter who comes to fight every time he's in the ring. Although that has cost him at times, including a first round loss to Shinya Iwabuchi, it has made him one of the more exciting fighters on the Japanese domestic level.
Coming in to this one the challenger is 7-2 in his last 9, and has scored notable wins over the likes of Moon Hyun Yun and Takashi Inagaki. He has continued to look like a heavy handed handful and has managed to show power late in fights with stoppages in rounds 6, 7 and 8. He will however know that this is a step up in class and he will need to deliver a much better performance against Okada than he's had to in his recent domestic level bouts.
For fans who haven't seen these two in action we've included footage of both, with Okada's bout against Jaypee Ignacio and Koichi's bout against Iwabuchi both being viewable below.
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