This coming Sunday fight fans in Hyogo will get the chance to see the latest Japanese Youth title fight, as Seira Kishida (5-1-2, 2) and Seika Fukuda (6-2, 1) battle for the vacant Japanese Youth Super Featherweight title. Both men are in their early 20's and this will be the first title fight for both men, with both knowing a win here could give their career a notable boost in the right direction.
Of the two men Kishida the older man, at 23, and also the naturally bigger fighter, standing at 5'11". He's also the man in better form. In fact since losing to Kazuki Higuchi in December 2018 he has gone 4-0-2, albeit at a low level whilst slowly but surely building up his record and getting ring time. Notably he has often gone rounds, but did score only his second stoppage win last time out, and as he matures we suspect his frame will fill out making him perhaps nasty puncher at range. Though he's certainly still a boy in the ring, and not yet a man.
Sadly recent footage of Kishida is hard to come by, however there is some video of him to work from to get a read of his style, and he really does look a gangly freak who hadn't filled out his frame at all when the fights took place. For a tall he he, unsurprisingly, has very long arms, a good sharp jab, albeit one he should use more. He's quick with both his hands and feet, but does seem to waste a lot of energy with some nervous movements. For such a tall guy who does have some lovely body shots in his arsenal, and can fight on the inside, but we suspect his team will try and train him not trade up close going forward, and the early footage may well not be reflective of his current style, which for his success needs to focus more around his jab and using his size.
Aged 22 Fukuda is the slightly younger man. He made his debut in 2019 and won his first 5, reaching the belated All Japan Rookie of the Year final in 2020 (which took place in February 2021), where he lost to Tsubasa Narai. Since then he has gone 1-1- but hasn't been matched softly and a loss last year to Yuna Hara over 8 rounds isn't a bad result. Interestingly Fukuda holds a win over Kazuki Higuchi, the man who beat Kishida early in his career. Sadly whilst his recent results haven't been good, it is worth noting he has gone 8 rounds, in the loss to Hara, which could serve him well here in a scheduled 8 rounder.
Thankfully there is a surprising amount of footage of Fukuda and he looks fun to watch, but very flawed. He comes forward behind a high guard, likes to get up close and let his hands go, especially with hooks. He is open when he throws, and leaves a lot of opportunities to counter, but he also makes action exciting and and fun to watch. Sadly he doesn't really have the make up for his style, he's not a big puncher or particularly quick, but he is fun to watch and will make for fun action fights at the lower levels of the sport. He sets a good tempo, he keeps coming forward and he likes to really let his hands go. But technically he is very, very flawed, and his lack of power is a major issue for someone who throws shots like he does.
We suspect that Fukuda will look to pressure, get close and try to make the fight a high tempo one. Sadly though we're not sure he'll be able to over-come the size of Kishida, who will look to keep things at range and will hold his own on the inside, when Fukuda gets up close. Fukuda will have moments, but his lack of power will be a major downfall here, in what should be a very entertaining little war between two well matched, but flawed, fighters.
Prediction - UD8 Kishida
By William Ridgard-
Ongjunta takes on 41-1-1 Majungoen for the WBO Oriental Flyweight Title on May 7th in Thailand.
For starters, Majungoen has more ring experience than Ongjunta, having fought in 169 more rounds. Ongjunta, on the other hand, has the better win of the two, a decision win against Suriyan Satorn (61-11) for the WBA Asia Flyweight title in early 2021. While Majungoen has greater experience and a more impressive record, it is devoid of any notable wins, with the majority of his victories coming against boxers with losing records or even debutants.
Now, in terms of style and how Ongjunta will approach this bout, we expect him to maintain his come-forward aggressive style from previous fights. Ongjunta's impressive footwork allows him to generate angles and use his impressive shot selection and combinations to the body and head, all whilst he is on the front foot and fighting with an aggressive tempo. Despite the fact that he throws a lot of punches per round, he lacks actual power, as evidenced by his only 4 KOs. This suggests that if his opponent can withstand the barrage of punches and fire back, he could be in trouble, as demonstrated by his only loss to Adrian Lerasan, who, after taking Ongjunta's best shots and knowing he could withstand the power, fought back fearlessly, and stopped Ongjunta in the eighth round.
There is not much known about Majungoen, as there are no fights of his on tape, but what we do know is that he carries a KO percentage of 47% and is unbeaten in 7 years. He has also won multiple titles, including recently the WBC Asian Silver Super Flyweight Title against Lerdchai Chaiyawed (6-6).
I predict the contest will be competitive throughout, with Ongjunta winning the early rounds with his fast pace and aggression, but Majungoen, with his experience, will take control later in the fight. Overall, I predict Ongjunta will win by a slim margin on points, but anything might happen.
On April 23rd fight fans in Osaka are set for a treat as Japanese Super Featherweight champion Kosuke Saka (21-6, 18) defends his title against mandatory challenger Kanehiro Nakagawa (11-6, 5). On paper the bout is certainly not one which will grab the attention of international fans, especially given the records of the challenger, but for those following the Japanese scene this is a very interesting match up, and one that has the potential to be very, very exciting.
Of the two men the champion is the much more well known. The hard hitting Saka is someone who has really, really heavy hands, but is also incredibly flawed in the ring making his bouts great fun, action packed, unpredictable, and always worth tuning in for. When he's on song he's a destructive and violent force, but he's also a bully and when a fighter fires back he can be in all sorts of problems. Despite his flaws he has had a very solid career so far with highlights including being a 2-weight Japanese champion, having previously held the Japanese Featherweight title, and beaten the likes of Ryuto Kyoguchi, Shota Hayashi, Masanori Rikiishi, Masaru Sueyoshi and Takuya Watanabe. Sadly for him he has also suffered some 3 stoppage losses in his last 8 bouts, and has proven that his chin isn't made out of the same material as his hands.
As a fighter Saka is very much a rock handed boxer-puncher. He comes forward, he presses the action, and uses his physical strength and power to back opponents up. We saw him dominate Sueyoshi with his straight shots, activity and power, before breaking him down to claim the title. Notable we've also seen him box and move, something he did to great affect against the tough Takuya Watanabe, who he broke down whilst mostly fighting off the back foot. When he is on form and focused, he's a deadly fighter, who comes to break opponents up. Sadly though he has over-looked fighters in the past, and switched off mentally during fights, most notably against Takenori Ohashi who knocked him out when he turned away thinking the bell had gone, when it was the 10 second clacker. Losses to Joe Noynay and Yoshimitsu Kimura have also been by stoppage, early in bouts, when they've made him pay for his poor defensive skills.
On paper Nakagawa doesn't look like much of a challenger, given his rather un-pleasing looking record. That however doesn't look at what he's done, and the forms he's in, and in fairness to him, he is in some of the best form of any fighter on the Japanese domestic scene. The reason his record is so underwhelming was a nightmare start to his professional career, with Nakagawa going He started his career 4-5 (3) in his first 9 bouts, before turning things around and going 7-1 (2) since then, with wins in his last 6 fights, and in fair the "1" in that 7-1 was a very controversial loss. Whilst numbers alone don't tell much of a story, it needs to be said that Nakagawa's wins have been fairly notable, with victories over former Japanese champions Seiichi Okada and Taiki Minamoto, wins over highly ranked contenders Shinnosuke Hasegawa and Ken Osato and one over former OPBF title challenger Ryuto Araya. The 26 year old, has had to do things the hard way, and has genuinely earned a shot with his current string of wins.
Despite his winning run Nakagawa will enter as the under-dog, something he's now accustomed to given his recent competition. Nakagawa has proven himself in those wins as a tough cookie, willing to wage war when he needs to. At his best however he's a rather technical fighter, who presses forward, has a rather awkward looking style but is some how hard to catch clean, and surprisingly accurate, with good timing, and gritty toughness. He's a pressure fighter with under-rated defensive skills and he looks like the sort of fighter who is hard to back up and hard to dissuade from coming forward. Technically he looks off, yet it's his technical skills and unusual rhythm that gets him success, and he's one of the few Japanese fighters at 130lbs who is less orthodox than Saka.
Coming Saka should be favoured. He's more proven, more dangerous, fighting at home, and the man who enters as the champion. And we fully suspect Saka to win. However the style of Nakagawa will potentially give Saka fits at times, especially early on, as Nakagawa uses his under rated defense, and awkward strength to make Saka miss. Sooner or later Saka will land, and will make Nakagawa feel his power, but we wouldn't be surprised at all if that was in the second half of the bout, after Saka has been frustrated, tagged and made to look very ordinary. We suspect Saka will have to show some mental resolve, but will eventually get to his man.
Prediction - TKO8 Saka
On April 23rd we'll see a new Japanese Super Flyweight champion being crowned, or more precisely we'll see a former champion being reclaiming the throne as Hiroyuki Kudaka (28-18-4, 11) [久髙寛之] and Kenta Nakagawa (20-4-1, 12) [中川健太] clash for the belt that both have held in the past, and now want to recapture before bowing out of the sport.
The title became vacant at the end of 2021, when former champion Ryoji Fukunaga landed the opportunity of a life time, and got the chance to face Kazuto Ioka for the WBO Super Flyweight world title, losing a competitive decision to Ioka. As a result of Fukunaga vacating it lead to the JBC ordering the two top ranked fighters to face off for the vacant title, Kudaka and Nakagawa.
Of the two men the more well known is Kudaka is the more well known, and with good reason. The 50 fight veteran is a 4-time world title challenger, who has faced a legitimate who's who of the lower weight classes over the last 15 years. Win or lose he has really faced a huge number of notable fighters, including Tomonobu Shimizu, Panomroonglek Kaiyanghadaogym, Hussein Hussein, Takefumi Sakata, Denkaosan Kaovichit, Hugo Fidel Cazares, Tetsuya Hisada, Oleydong Sithsamerchai Sonny Boy Jaro, Omar Andrez Narvaez, Ryo Matsumoto, Takuya Kogawa, Suguru Muranaka, Takuma Inoue, Go Onaga and Takayuki Okumoto. Whilst he has lost to most of those top names he hasn't been discouraged, and has instead proven himself to be a strong, aggressive, tough handful. Now aged 37 his career is coming to an end, but his desire to recapture the Japanese title, which he briedly held in 2018, is obvious and would be the perfect way for him to end his career.
In his prime Kudaka was a big, strong and aggressive fighter, who came forward, and looked to out work, out fight and out tough opponents, in thrilling clashes. Technically he was always limited, but made up for it by having a very fan friendly style that gained him opportunities, despite his losses. His physicality often made him a handful, though his technical flaws were there to be picked apart, as we saw when he faced Narvaez and and really had no answer to the brilliant Argentinian's work rate and accuracy. In recent years he has however adapted to getting older, and although still a physical fighter he does now rely more on setting up his attacks than just wading in, relying on a high guard, and really crushing the distance down to get close. Up close he's a nightmare to fight, with his body shots being particularly notable, and fighters who do well against him typically keep him at range, use their feet and prevent him from turning the fight into an inside war.
Despite the fact Kudaka is more well known, it would be rather foolish to say he's more successful, with Nakagawa being a 2-time Japanese champion and now looking to claim the Japanese Super Flyweight title for the third time in his career. The 36 year old Nakagawa began his career in 2004, but took a 6 year break from the ring after his third professional bout. Since returning to action in 2011 he has fought regularly and notched notable wins, whilst winning the Japanese title in 2016, when he beat Hayato Kimura for the vacant title, and in 2019, when he beat Takayuki Okumoto. Sadly though his two reigns have a combined only a single defense and only around 18 months with the title. He has also been stopped in both of his title losses, losing to Ryuichi Funai and Ryoji Fukunaga who both went on to fight for world titles afterwards.
Nakagawa is certainly the more technical of the two fighters, with his boxing relying more on fighting with some room, and landing straight head shots from mid-range. Nakagawa has a good understanding of the ring, decent hand speed, and a an ability to mix it up when he needs to. Although a more technically rounded boxer than Kudaka, we have see Nakagawa wage war when he's had to, and he's proven he is a warrior at heart as we saw against Fukunaga in an instant classic. Sadly for Nakagawa his chin has let him down in the past, though to his credit, he has taken a lot before getting stopped and won't fold under the first sight of pressure. Instead he will stand, fight his ground and make for some thrilling back and forth action.
Given the styles of the two men there is a chance, albeit a slim one, that this could be messy with Kudaka closing the distance and Nakagawa trying to neutralise his man up close. However we're expecting something a little bit special instead.
What we're expecting early on is for Nakagawa to create space, work his straight shots and land regularly on Kudaka, as Kudaka comes forward. The first 4 or 5 rounds of the fight will see Nakagawa having success at mid-range though before too long Kudaka will begin to get inside, and from there on we will end up with a war with Nakagawa looking to repsond when he's hit, giving us 4 or 5 rounds of brutal bath and forth violence. By the end of the 10 round bout the early success from Nakagawa will have been relatively forgotten and Kudaa will have done enough, just, on the inside to take home the win with a hotly contested decision.
Prediction - UD10 Kudaka.
saOver the years the Middleweight division in Japan has long been over-looked, at least internationally, with only Shinji Takehara and Ryota Murata managing to make much of an impact on the international scene at the weight. Despite that the division has been really interesting to follow domestically and has featured a host of stunning bouts which are well worth checking out, for example Makoto Fuchigami's incredible war with Koji Sato or Tadashi Yuba's bout with Carlos Linares. On April 17th we might be in for another treat as Riku Kunimoto (5-1, 2) clashes with the unbeaten Mikio Sakai (4-0) for the currently vacant title, in what has the potential to be a really interesting bout, even if it's not set to be the most explosive of bouts.
On paper this is a hard one to call, and one that we’re expecting will be a very, very high level technical bout, unlike the aforementioned bouts with Tada and Fuchigami, but that’s certainly not a bad thing, especially given the credentials of the two men, and the level they are fighting this early in their respective careers. In fact with just a combined 10 professional bouts to their name, the bout is a sign of what makes Japanese boxing so interesting, the lack of record padding and the willingness to take risks early in careers and losses not being the end of the road, like we can sometimes see in the West.
Of the two men, the 24 year old Kunimoto will be the favourite going in. He's the younger, taller, fight who's also fighting at home, with this bout being held in Osaka on a card promoted by his promoter. He is also the one with title fight experience, having challenger Kazuto Takesako for the Japanese title last year, where he entered as the mandatory challenger. Sadly for Kunimoto he was stopped within a round by the hard hitting Takesako, who vacated the title after that win. Prior to that loss Kunimoto had looked impressive, racing out to 4-0 in just 8 months, before the pandemic totally derailed his rise. During his firsy 4 bouts he had made his international debut, fighting in China, and scored a good win over Shoma Fukumoto. Sadly though more than 2 years out of the ring before facing Taksesako was not great preparation against someone as dangerous and heavy handed as Taksesako. Since that loss he has returned and picked up a low key win over Kazuki Kyohara.
In the ring Kunimoto is a really solid fighter, despite the loss to Takesako. He's a boxer-puncher, with a big frame, a good amateur background, and some very polished skills. He stands at 5'10", which is big for a Japanese fighter, moves well on his feet and likes to use his straight punches to set other things up. Although he does have very nice straight shots he's not against putting up the earmuffs and walking forward with a high guard, getting inside and working away up close with some very educated body shots. At times he can be found over-committing, but for the most part he's accurate, smart, aggressive and versatile.
Aged 28 Mikio Sakai is very much a pure boxer, with next to no power on his shots, but a lot of skill, energy, boxing IQ and a very, very strong amateur background. He made his professional debut in 2019, beating Elfelos Vega, and then squeaked past Ran Tomomatsu, in a really good fight. Sadly he was then inactive for a year before resurfacing in late 2020 to beat Toshihiro Kai and last year he defeated veteran fighter Koshinmaru Saito, in a real got check. With no stoppages in his first 4 bouts it's fair to say he has no real power, though with 28 rounds to his name in just 4 bouts, he has done pretty well in proving he has decent stamina and can go 8 rounds without an issue.
In the ring Sakai likes to come forward, boxing behind his jab, using his footwork and drawing errors from opponents that he can counter. He's accurate, patient, very sharp, has varied offensive weapons and intelligent defensive work. Although not a big puncher he is physically strong, and he knows how to tie up opponents when he needs to. Where Sakai really excels is his boxing brain, and whether he's on the front foot or not he is constantly thinking a step or two ahead of his opponents, luring them into making errors, and conditioning their behaviour. He's not the most eye catching or glamorous of fight but he does a lot of subtle things, really well.
Sadly for Sakai it doesn't really matter how skilled he is, when he's in an opponents home town, in a title fight and he has no fight changing power. Unfortunately for Sakai we expect to see Kunimoto press more of the action, and whilst Sakai will pick some gorgeous counters he will find himself being out worked, and fighting the crowd just as much as Kunimoto. The judges, almost certainly by accident, will end up giving the closer rounds to Kunimoto, and at the end of the day those close rounds will end up deciding this bout.
Kunimoto will press, pressure, and try to bully the more naturally gifted Sakai. He won't dominate the bout, but will do enough to catch the eye of the judges often enough to take home the victory.
Prediction - UD10 Kunimoto
In the last few years Japanese fight Masayoshi Nakatani has flown the flag for Japanese Lightweights internationally. In the eyes of many outside of Japan he was the only Lightweight from the country worth being aware of, thanks to his fights with Teofimo Lopez, Felix Verdejo and Vasyl Lomachenko. There is however several other Japanese fighters at 135lbs who are worth being aware, including the deadly Shu Utsuki and the talented Shuichiro Yoshino (14-0, 11), who fans will be able to see in action this coming Saturday.
The unbeaten Yoshino, a former triple crown and the current WBO Asia Pacific and OPBF champion, will be defending his regional titles against former WBO Super Featherweight world champion Masayuki Ito (27-3-1, 15). For Yoshino the bout serves as his first chance to really show a Western audience what he can do in the ring, and boost his recognition from the regional scene, to a potential contender on the global scene. As for Ito, he'll see the bout as a chance to move towards establishing himself as a Lightweight, as he continues to rebuild following his world title loss to Jamel Herring in 2019. For both men, the bout will serve as a shop window of sorts, given the huge profile of the show they are clashing on, and the fact it's being streamed around the globe thanks to DAZN.
Of the two men the more well known is Ito. He's a former world champion who won the WBO Super Featherweight title in 2018, when he beat the previously unbeaten Christopher Diaz in the US on a DAZN show. He only defended the belt once before losing to Herring, and then abandoned the Super Featherweight division to begin a campaign at Lightweight. Since moving to 135lbs he has gone 2-1, taking a a rather low key win over Ruben Manakane, a close and controversial loss to Hironori Mishiro, and then a sensational TKO win over Valentine Hosokawa. That win over Hosokawa was one of the very best performances from Ito, who looked sensational from start to end.
Early in his career Ito was quite technical, but over the years he adapted a more aggressive style, creating space to line up his heavy right hands. That change saw him have his best success, beating Diaz with an excellent performance for the WBO world title, but also made him look really basic when he faced Jamel Herring, with Herring using a basic but effective game plan built around movement and his southpaw stance. Recent we have seen something of a change in Ito, who now looks crisper than he has in the past. Against Hosokawa he was busy, sharp, relaxed, accurate, and controlled the bout behind his jab and followed up well with his right hand. He countered well, he lead well, and he looked like he had a meaner side to him as he broke down the durable Hosokawa.
Whilst the 31 year old Ito has been at the top of the mountain, had opportunities abroad and made a name for himself, the same can't be said for Yoshino. The 30 year old has, however, managed to impress on the regional scene winning the Japanese, OPBF and WBO Asia Pacific titles. Not only has he been a triple crown champion but he has also done so in impressive fashion, stopping 9 of his last 10 and beating the likes of Harmonito Dela Torre, Izuki Tomioka, Valentine Hosokawa and Shuma Nakazato. Despite impressing in terms of results, his performances have been, at times, under-whelming and there is a feeling that we've not seen the best of Yoshino. In fact we dare say that Yoshino will perform better when he's really being tested. Regardless of that he has proven himself a very solid boxer-puncher, capable of shutting out Valentine Hosokawa, or blasting out the likes Harmonito Dela Torre with a single shot.
In the ring Yoshino can do it all. He can pressure when he feels like it, he can box when he wants to, and he can punch. He has good variety, great timing with counters, a nice crisp jab, and under-rated foot speed. Sadly his real issue seems to be either a lack of confidence, or a willingness to over-look opponents. His worse performance have been against fighters everyone would have expected him to deal with easily, whilst his best performance have come against his most notable opponents. Although not a huge Lightweight Yoshino is a big guy, who fought much higher as an amateur and began his professional career at Welterweight before dropping down the weights. He's strong, powerful, and very dangerous.
Given his ability to step up his performance, we're expecting to see the very best of Yoshino here, and we expect to see him really show what he can do against Ito. Part of that will be Yoshino switching stances, getting Ito to throw when he's out of range and then countering. We suspect those counters will be the major difference maker here, especially down the stretch.
Ito will have success with his right hand, and maybe even buzz Yoshino at times, but as the bout goes on we suspect Yoshino will begin to find a home for his left hook and right hand, eventually getting to Ito, and maybe even forcing a late stoppage in an attempt to announce himself as a legitimate contender to a world title.
Prediction TKO11 Yoshino
Having canned the old "Full Schedule" of Asianboxing we have instead decided to concentrate more on the major bouts. This section, the "Preview" section will look at major bouts involving OPBF and national titles. Hopefully leading to a more informative style for, you the reader.