Last year we saw a lot of great bouts, one of which was an OPBF Flyweight title bout that saw Filipino Ardin Diale (29-9-3, 15) come up short against Koki Eto. The bout, which was one of the most dramatic bouts of the year and one of the biggest comebacks, left Diale feeling heart broken despite a great effort. To end 2015 he gets a second shot at the title as he faces once beaten domestic rival Renoel Pael (19-1-1, 9) in a mouth watering match up.
Of the two men Diale is the more well known. “The Jackal” has faced some of the best lower weight fighters of the last few years including Rodel Mayol, Wanheng Menayothin, Johnriel Casimero, Julio Cesar Miranda and Juan Francisco Estrada. Whilst he has come up short at the top level he has proven to be a genuine gate keeper and most of those who have beat him have gone on to either win, or challenge for, world titles.
In the ring Diale is a really talented boxer with a high level of skill and under-rated power. He's not an elite level fighter in any are, but a very capable one who seemingly makes a brilliant “gate keeper”. Sadly however he's short for a Flyweight, at just 5'3” and with 4 stoppage losses on his record he has proven that he can be stopped, however he has run up 6 successive wins, including 5 by T/KO, since his last loss, the one to Eto.
Whilst Diale has mixed at the top level the same cannot be said of the 25 year old Pael who has really only faced one notable foe, Thailand's Noknoi Sitthiprasert. In that fight Pael lost, though it was a split decision in Thailand which perhaps was a “dodgy” defeat. Sadly aside from that loss it's hard to get much from the opposition that Paekl has faced, which have mostly been against Filipino domestic opposition.
Although Pael's opposition has been poor he has shown a lot or promise and has claimed a national title and fought as high as Bantamweight. Sadly though there are a lot of question marks about how proven he is and that could well be a problem here as he takes a huge step up in class. What we do know however is that he's a fighter looking to take his first major opportunity. And break through from the domestic scene.
Whilst Pael does, on paper, have a better record in terms of numbers this will a huge leap up in class against a man who is proven at a much higher level. Whilst Diale hasn't scored a world level win he has shown the potential to do so and does hold wins against solid fighters, like Lolito Sonsona, Cris Paulino, Ryan Bito and Renerio Arizala. We suspect that Diale's experience at a higher level will be the difference here, though if Pael is as good as his record suggests then there is a chance that he could get the upset and prove himself as one to watch.
One of two title fights taking place in Japan this weekend will come at the Japanese domestic level where Tatsuya Fukuhara (15-4-5, 6) takes on Hiroya Yamamoto (9-3, 3) in a bout for the currently vacant Japanese Minimumweight title, which was recently given up by Go Odaira.
Of the two fights it's fair to say that Fukuhara is the more well known. He has faced the better competition, achieved more and been involved in the more notable bouts. Those bouts have included the 2009 Rookie of the Year final, an 8 round bout with future world title challenger Yu Kimura, the then debuting Takuma Inoue and a contest with Fahlan Sakkreerin Jr, in fact he held Fahlan to a draw. Notably since losing to Inoue, almost 2 years ago, Fukuhara has gone 3-0-2.
In the ring Fukuhara is a solid fighter. He's not a sensational one but he's certainly a capable one and has shown that with his draw against Fahlan, a draw with Koji Itagaki and a win over Koki Ono.
Although Fukuhara is probably the more well known it's certainly fair to say that Yamamoto isn't a “nobody”, in fact he will be fighting in his second Japanese title fight and his third title fight overall. In his previous Japanese title fight he was widely beaten by Go Odaira whilst he has also lost in a WBC International title fight against Xiong Zhao Zhong. Despite those losses he has actually shown enough talent to prove he can go places and at 24 years old he is improving drastically and now seems to believe in his himself. Although best known for his two high profile losses, he has also won the Rookie of the Year back in 2012.
For both fighters this is a great opportunity to claim their first title and should be a great fight. Although neither is a big name, and neither is viewed as a potential world champion, it is a well matched bout.
From what we've seen both men are well matched. Neither is world class, but neither has shamed themselves when they have stepped up in class and against each other we're expecting a very close one, in fact don't be surprised if this ends in a draw.
Sometimes a title fight can take a back sea to an under-card bout. That appears to be the case this coming Sunday as Dennis Laurente's (49-6-5, 30) OPBF Light Middleweight title bout with Takayuki Hosokawa (27-10-4, 9) has taken the back seat for many fans in Osaka, who are more interested in viewing the professional debut of Hinata Maruta, who faces Jason Canoy in a baptism of fire.
Whilst the bout certainly has taken a back seat in fan interest it's still a really good fight and sees one of the toughest fighters take on a man looking to continue a late career resurgence, and perhaps even end his career on a high.
Of the two men it's perhaps the champion who is the better known internationally. He was last seen in the US, where he lost a wide decision to John Jackson though impressed with his toughness and bravery. Although fans who have only seen that one fight will view Laurente as a limited plodder he's actually a fighter who simply up against a much better, technically capable, younger and faster fighter. Typically he's an aggressive fighter who looks to apply pressure and causes a fight, rather than chasing a fighter around.
It's been Laurente's pressure that has brought him success over a 21 year career. That career has seen “Mr Humble” claim OPBF titles at both 135lbs and 154lbs as well as GAB and PABA titles in a career that really has been full of achievement, albeit without receiving a lot of plaudits.
During that 21 year career Laurente has never been stopped though has taken scalps like Yosuke Otsuka, Rustam Nugaev, Zaid Zavaleta, Ben Tackie and Tadashi Yuba. He's tough, aggressive, has great stamina and is a genuine handful for most out there. He's not the best but he is a real handful and not many fighters in Asia will be able to handle his pressure.
The challenger isn't well known, and certainly hasn't had the success of the challenger, but Hosokawa is certainly a late bloomer. He began his career 2-3 (1) and at one point was 11-6-3 (2), since then however he has gone 16-4-1 and scored wins over Randy Suico, Patomsuk Pathompothong and Tadashi Yuba, who he beat for the Japanese title last year.
Although Hosokawa has been in good form in recent years he has still lost to the best opponents that he's faced, including Akio Shibata, Makoto Fuchigami and Charlie Ota. They have typically stopped him and in 6 of his 10 losses he has failed to see the final bell. Unfortunately he's also began suffering sight issues and it's known that he has had issues with his retina in recent times, issues that will likely lead to his retirement in the near future.
In the ring Hosokawa has shown he can fight or box, though has typically been a fighter who can be forced on to the back foot and can be intimidated relatively easily.
Given the styles of the two men it's hard to see how Hosokawa survives 12 rounds with Laurente who will come for 12 high paced and hard rounds. Those rounds will take their toll on Hosokawa and eventually break down the challenger. If that happens we expect Hosokawa to announce his retirement very soon after the bout. If Hosokawa can take the pressure and guts out a win, we'd not be shocked to see him fight maybe once more in a fight that could see him on the road to collect a retirement payday before spending time with his family. For Laurente the future is what he wants it to be, at 38 he should be aging but hasn't really shown those signs inside the ring.
Bouts that pit boxer vs puncher are among the most interesting stylistically. The questions that arise from having a skilled fighter up against someone who lacks the finesse but has fight changing power are some of the most intriguing questions. Can the boxer neutralise the power-puncher? Can the puncher find a way to land their bombs? Will the fight be a game of cat and mouse or will it represent a steamroller flattening a piece of grass with ease?
We get one such bout on November 9th as OPBF and Japanese Middleweight champion Akio Shibata (26-8-1, 12) defends his titles against Koki Tyson Maebara (9-1-1, 9).
Shibata goes into the bout as the boxer, a jab first and move fighter who is in great form with a 10-1 (4) record over the last 4 years. His sole loss during that run was to 2012 Olympic champion Ryota Murata whilst wins have come against the likes of Daisuke Nakagawa, Takayuki Hosokawa, Makoto Fuchigami and Hikaru Nishida.
In the ring Shibata is a pretty pure boxer who likes to use his speed, jab, movement and the ring. He has shown an improvement in power, stopping his last 3 foes, though he has remained a boxer who likes to control the distance and tempo of the fight, using his jab to establish his rhythm.
Sadly for the champion he is heading towards his 34th birthday, he has shown frailties with 5 stoppage losses and may well know that the next loss could be the end of his career. Also coming in to this bout he's 11 years older than his foe and, for once, the smaller man giving away around 2” in height.
The challenger is a pure puncher. He seems to like to view himself as a boxer but at the end of the day he's a true puncher, as shown by the fact that all 9 of his wins have come inside the distance and his 11 total bouts have added up to just 33 combined rounds. It is worth noting however that 19 of those 33 rounds have come in his last 4 bouts, including a 7th round TKO win against former Japanese title holder Sanosuke Sasaki, who was the test opponent for the aforementioned Murata, and Petchsuriya Singwancha, a former WBC Youth champion.
Aged 22 Maebara is a fighter who boasts youthful confidence. It was that confidence, or rather over-confidence, that saw him suffer his sole defeat, at the hands of the previously win-less Keisuke Kanazawa back in 2013. Since that loss however he has run off 7 win and claimed the All Japan Rookie of the Year, doing so with an opening round KO over Wataru Seino.
Whilst Maebara's power is legitimate and his skills are improving this is still a huge step up in class and for the first time he'll be facing a fighter who is confident that they can win. For the first time he is likely to be really asked questions when his first plan fails. If Maebara does have plan B and plan C in his locker however there is a good chance that the Osaka man may be able to over-come the huge gulf in experience.
This is a hard one to really predict. With power overcome skill? Will experience over-come youth? With the champion defeat the challenger? It's a 50-50 though we're leaning, slightly, to the challenger who we think may get lucky early on. The longer it goes however the more the bout favours Shibata who certainly has the experience over the longer distance
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.