In recent years we have seen Japanese fighters being fast tracked at a thrilling and exciting pace. The top prospects aren't forced to wait and wait, and they aren't given the chance to stagnate, instead they are pushed, and told to sink or swim. That will be seen again this coming Monday when 2012 Olympic bronze medal winner Satoshi Shimizu (3-0, 3) takes on OPBF Featherweight champion Sa Myung Noh (11-3, 4), with Shimizu looking to become the “fastest” Japanese fighter to an OPBF title.
For those unaware Shmizu was one of the long standing stars of the Japanese amateur scene for years. He competed at the 2008 Olympics, claimed bronze at the 2012 Olympics and has a reported amateur record of 135-25 (65). His amateur background was part of the reason his professional signature was pursued hard by a number or promoters, before he signed with the Ohashi Gym, who have fast tracked Shimizu's former national amateur team-mate Naoya Inoue and taken him to huge success.
Although Shimizu did have his signature chased following the 2012 Olympics he decided to stay amateur an attempted to claim a place in the 2016 Olympics, before coming up short in a national qualifying event. Having missed out on a third successive Olympics he finally turned professional and debuted less than 13 months ago. On debut he stopped In Kyoo Lee in 5 rounds, and since then has impressively blasted away Carlo Demecillo, in frightening fashion, and Takuya Yamamoto. Those bouts have seen Shimizu show a rather peculiar, and unique style. He's long, and rangy, in fact at 5'10” he's freakishly tall for a Featherweight, and fighting as a southpaw he's exceptionally awkward. What makes him even more unique is he's very stand uppish, yet appears to have really unique angles, with his stance and stature both helping there.
Offensively Shimizu is wild looking, though it's fair to say it's almost a controlled wildness as weird as that sounds. Given that he's wild with his offense it's fair to say that he looks open defensively. It's worth noting however that he rarely takes a clean shot and certainly has the amateur pedigree to suggest that he knows his way around the ring, and knows how to look after himself. It is worth noting however that Shimizu only has 9 rounds of professional boxing.
The champion really made his mark earlier this year, in his title winning effort against Ryo Takenaka in Tokyo. Going in to that bout Noh had never fought outside of Korea, had lost his previous bout and had only fought 7 rounds in the previous year. The early going against Takenaka went the way most had expected, but a huge cut to Takenaka's lip in the later stages ended up turning the fight around, and Takenaka would be stopped in 10 rounds, in one of the biggest surprises in Asian boxing this year. Although that win put Takenaka on the Asian map, he had already been known in Korea, have won and defended the Korean title.
In the ring we've seen Noh have a strange career. He was down against Min Suk Choi, and struggled by Jaymart Toyco, though showed great toughness and energy against Takenaka. His will to win saw him pull out a victory whilst down on all 3 cards and he certainly can't be questioned on his desire. Technically he's flawed, much like Shimizu, and is both slow and clumsy. But he really can take a shot, and really doesn't know how to quit. He lacks massive power, but has that damaging power that takes it's, and makes fighters question whether or not they should take risks.
Coming in to this one Noh will know that he has to drag it out. There no point getting into a slug fest with Shimizu early, especially given the Japanese fighter's lack of professional experience. Instead we expect to see Noh show some real caution early, try and avoid Shimizu's bizarre angles, and ease himself into the contest. If he can do that, like he did in some ways against Takenaka, then he has a real chance. Saying that however we suspect Mr Ohashi has taken a very calculated gamble here, and has ran his man through long spars, testing his stamina, getting him to tighten up and fully preparing him to make a statement here. And we think Shimizu will actually go on to stop Noh in the later rounds, answering a number of questions en route to his win.
The Light Flyweight division might not be getting much attention in the Western boxing world right now, with even the Mexican interest in the division seemingly on the wane a little. But it's a division that is really interesting, with a trio of Japanese champions who have all spoken about unification and a Filipino champion who is set to make his first defense against a really highly regarded challenger. Below world level there are a host of contenders and prospects looking to make their mark and earn a world title fight of their own.
Two of those hopefuls are Edward Heno (10-0-5, 4) and Seita Ogido (11-2-3, 3), who will be fighting for the OPBF title, and essentially looking to distinguish themselves as a top contender. Not only will this be an OPBF title fight, but it will be a second meeting for the title between themselves this year, after the two fought to a draw way back in May. Originally Heno was declared the majority decision winner of that contest, before a judging error was found, resulting in the decision being reversed to a draw.
In their first fight it seemed like Heno was the better fighter. He was more aggressive, seemed like the boss and was really unlucky not to get the win. Whilst he was a complete unknown going in he really proved himself as a potential nightmare on the regional scene. It'd take a lot of improvement for him to become a world champion, but at the age of 24 he does have time on his side.
Fighting from the southpaw stance and with both a good work rate and unexpected power Heno is a real handful. His KO win over Cris Ganoza is a really impressive win and although he was held to a draw by Roque Lauro that really says more about how under-rated Lauro is. Heno is a prospect, but an incredibly good, and over-looked, one.
As for Ogido his career was a slow burner and he was 6-2-1 (1) after 9 bouts, though those set backs included a draw with Seigo Yuri Akui and a razor thin loss to Kenii Ono. Since that “weak” start he has gone 5-0-2 (2) , with his most notable win coming against Jeffrey Galero last year. That win proved there was some real quality with him,but overall the rest of his record is somewhat limited with little to get excited about.
At the age of 24 there is potential for Ogido to improve, but the reality is that draws in his last two bouts, to Jonathan Refugio and to Edward Heno really suggest that he's fortunate, with both results arguably losses. He lacks fight changing power, and doesn't appear to have the aggression, or work rate to really come on strong and turn fights around, with his next looking like it's around the corner, and could well come to someone like Heno in a bout where his opponent is just too hungry.
Coming in to this one Heno will feel aggrieved by his draw in the first meeting with Ogido. He deserved the win, he knows he deserved the win, and this time we suspect he will be even more aggressive and determined, and will come out there hunting a stoppage. Whether he gets the early win or is a hard call,depending on how tough Ogido is, but we struggle to see anything but a win for the visitor.
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.