This coming Saturday Korakuen Hall plays host to a really good looking OPBF Welterweight title fight, as defending champion Ryota Toyoshima (14-2-1, 9) makes his second defense of the title and takes on the teak tough Shoki Sakai (26-12-2, 14) in what should be an exciting all action bout.
Toyoshima made his professional debut in 2014, as an 18 year old, and despite struggling early in his career he has developed into a very solid boxer-puncher. He drew on debut and was 7-2-1 (5) after 10 bouts, with two losses to Masaharu Kaito, and despite winning the 2016 All Japan Rookie of the Year the expectations on him were quite low at that point. Since the start of 2018 however he has gone 7-0 (4) and been on a solid run with wins against the likes of Moon Hyun Yun, Woo Min Won, Riku Nagahama and Yuki Beppu. He won the OPBF title with a 12 round decision win over Nagahama and unified it a fighter later with a dominant 10th round KO win against Beppu.
In the ring Toyoshima has proven himself to be aggressive, heavy handed, exciting and yet patient. He comes forward, applying educated pressure, looks to keep busy with his hard right hands and uses his jab well to set the tempo. He's not the most polished, or rounded fighter out there, and he's also not quick, but he is strong, heavy handed, has good stamina and does a lot of things well. He's never going to be a threat to the top guys internationally, but there's not too many regional level fighters that would be fancied above him, and with a few more wins he could end up moving up the world rankings towards a more significant international fight. Sadly his flaws would limit him at that level, but at this level he's going to be a hard man to dethrone.
With 40 bouts to his name Shoki Sakai is not a typical Japanese fighters. In fact "EL PV" has had one of the most unique careers of any active Japanese fighters. He started his career in 2010, in Mexico, and his first 36 bouts were all outside of Japan as he picked up fights in Mexico, Nicaragua and the USA. He also managed to fight some pretty notable fighters during those years of his career such as Ashley Theophan, Eddie Gomez, Alexis Rocha and Gor Yeritsyan, and was often matched with promising prospects. In 2020 he finally fought in Japan beating Hironori Shigeta, and since then has fought twice more in the Land of the Rising Sung, including a great fight with Japanese Welterweight champion Keita Obara this past April.
Whilst Sakai's career is unique for a Japanese fighter, he does have a lot of stereotypical Japanese traits. He's strong, rugged, tough, and comes forward, applying pressure. His toughness made him so valuable over in the West, where he would always come to fight and take the fight to prospects, but it's also quickly endeared him to local fans back in Japan, who were awed by his will to win against Keita Obara, who was pushed all the way. His style lends it's self to fan friendly fights, and given his under-rated skills and work rate, it also means he has a chance against very solid regional and domestic fighters. Such as a Toyoshima. He's predictable, and has slow feet, but his pressure is incessant, and he will be looking to press Toyoshima, using his high guard to put Toyoshima on the back foot and look to break him down with body shots.
Coming in to this we feel Sakai is the perfect opponent to test Toyoshima, like he was for prospects in the west. He will come forward, he will pressure, and he will march towards Toyoshima like a man possessed. Sadly for him however the difference in foot speed will be the key, with Toyoshima lighter on his feet, a better mover and the man who wants to fight at a longer range. Sakai will certainly have moments, and a lot of them, but we feel the cleaner, more eye catching shots will be from Toyoshima, who will just about manage to do enough and take the decision. He'll have to work hard for it, but the youth, speed and the fact he has fewer miles on the clock should help him over the line in a potentially thrilling battle.
Prediction - UD12 Toyoshima
This coming Saturday we'll see Japanese Featherweight champion Hinata Maruta (11-1-1, 9) take on Ryo Hino (14-2-2, 9) at Korakuen Hall in a really good looking match up, which will be streamed live on PPV in Japan.
For Maruta this will be his first defense, and follows an excellent title winning performance back in February against Ryo Sagawa, whilst Hino will be getting his second shot at the Japanese title, having previously come up short against Sagawa back in 2019. For fans it'll be a chance to see whether the 24 year old Maruta is still developing into the star we all expected him to become when he turned professional, whilst the 31 year old Hino is likely to not get a third shot, if he comes up short here.
When he turned professional, back in 2015, everyone who followed Japanese boxing had high hopes for the then 18 year old Maruta. He quickly backed up those high hopes by beating the then world ranked Jason Canoy in his debut, and quickly raced away to his first title, the WBC Youth Bantamweight title which he won in his third bout. After moving to 5-0 (4), in less than 18 months, Maruta then took a leap up in class to challenge OPBF Super Bantamweight champion Hidenori Otake, and came up short against the tough and experienced Otake. The loss was a set back for the then 20 year old, but it was also a learning experience. He would have another set back 10 months later, as he was held to a very controversial draw in the Philippines against Ben Mananquil, but those losses seem to have made Maruta into a better fighter. At times he had been lazy in his career, happy to shows his slippery defensive skills but not show the output he needed. Since the Mannaquil bout however he has gone 4-0 (3) with notable domestic wins against Tsuyoshi Tameda, Coach Hiroto, Takenori Ohashi and most recently Sagawa.
In the ring it has always been obvious that Maruta is an incredible talent, and a man with a frame made to be a boxer, with a tall, long frame. Early on however he was immature, he seemed to fight like a man happy to show case his skills, rather than make a statement. In recent bouts however there has been a new found spite in his work, and he has looked like a fighter who wants to hurt his opponents. That was clear when he stopped Tameda, Ohashi and Sagawa, all of who are good fighters in their own rights. He is blessed with incredible speed and balance, a frightening jab, fantastic movement, both upper body and foot, and genuinely nasty power. He has matured physically from his early days, and his body has filled out from a scrawny looking Bantamweight to a strong looking Featherweight and he really is getting better with every fight. As a fighter he is a boxer-puncher, but he can also play the role of counter puncher when he needs to, and we have seen him show some traits of a pressure fighter, when he's had to. One thing that is very clear however, is that he has a very special boxing brain, and that, added to his speed and power, could make him a real nightmare for the division in years to come.
As for Ryo Hino he's a 31 year old who's been a professional since 2013. His career started with 4 wins against domestic novices, before being held to a draw by Yoshifumi Tamaki, and not long after that he suffered his first loss, losing to Reiya Abe. Following that defeat Hino would record a string of low level wins before upsetting the then touted Sho Nakazawa, in one of the best wins of his career. Sadly momentum from that win was killed off quickly, as he was held to a draw by Coach Hiroto in his very next fight. Sadly it seemed the draw scared his team, who didn't want to risk a high domestic ranking and he picked up two low level domestic wins before challenging Sagawa in 2019, and losing a wide decision to the then Japanese champion. Since that loss he has fought just once, stopping Ryukyu Oho in 7 rounds this past April.
In the ring Hino is a very solid boxer-mover. He has a nice jab, which he uses to control range and dictate the tempo of action, he's light on his feet, and can make fighters miss by using his speed and movement. He's not the most exciting fighter to watch, and his competition hasn't been great, but it's clear he has talent and skills. He fights to a game plan well, and when he finds his groove he begins to fire in the left hand behind the jab, closing the distance when he wants and letting shots go with more flow. Sadly though he typically seems to lack fire, and even a bit of the stereo-typical Japanese fighting spirit. He's happier to box and move, and does what he can to avoid an actual fight. He's incredibly relaxed in the ring, and looks composed and calm, but that can be easy against opponents levels below you.
Sadly for Hino it feels very much like he's a poor man's Maruta. Like Maruta he's slippery, has a nice long jab and looks calm in the ring, but he lacks the power, the spite, and work rate of the current version of Maruta. Maruta will likely win the early portions of the bout by out boxing Hino, before taking it up a gear and taking out Hino in the middle rounds. We expect to see the stoppage coming from a body shot, after Maruta has broke his man up up with stiff, hard, head shots.
Prediction - TKO7 Maruta
This coming Saturday fight fans in Kobe will get the chance to see a new Japanese Youth Light Flyweight champion being crowned, as Yuga Inoue (11-2-1, 2) and Aoba Mori (7-2-1, 1) face off for the currently vacant title, which was vacated earlier this year by Yudai Shigeoka.
For Inoue this will be his second shot at a title, following a loss to Kai Ishizawa back in a 2018 clash for the Youth Minimumweight title, whilst Mori will be getting his first shot at a belt. For both men however this will be regarded as a great chance to put their name on the map and potentially open doors to bigger and better fights down the line. Given they are both young, they will both know a loss isn't the end of the road, but a win would be a huge boost to their standing in the sport.
Of the two men it's the 22 year old Inoue who is the more known. Despite the surname, he's not related to "Monster" Naoya Inoue, or the always fun to watch Takeshi Inoue, and unlike those men he's also not from a massive area, fighting out of Hyogo rather than Tokyo. Despite that he has managed to carve out a solid career for himself since debuting as a teenager in 2016. He went unbeaten in his first 8 bouts, won the 2017 All Japan Rookie of the Year and gave Kai Ishizawa fits back in 2018. Since the loss to Ishizawa Inoue has gone 4-1 with his sole loss being a competitive one to Daiki Tomita, whilst he has picked up good wins against Daiki Kameyama, Katsuya Murakami and Tetsuya Mimura.
In the ring Inoue is a very skilled boxer mover. He's light on his feet, has a very solid jab, uses upper body movement really well and despite not having much power he does put his shots together really well. Inoue's big problem is that he can't get respect of opponents, which is a real shame as he's an excellent boxer, with a lot of good technical skills, and an exciting style. At times he can look a bit deliberate with what he does, but he's certainly able to mix things up thanks to his fast, crisp shots, and lovely combinations.
Mori is 21 years old, and like Inoue debuted as a teenager, back in 2017. Unlike Inoue however his career didn't get off to a great start, losing in his debut against Kaito Takeshima. In fact Mori could easily have been 0-7 in his first 7 bouts, instead of 5-2, with all of his early wins being razor thin decisions that could easily have gone the other way. Since those early struggles however we have seen Mori begin to mature and last time out he scored his first stoppage win, taking out Keisuke Iwasaki. Now in his early 20's he seems to have matured from a young, light punching kid into a youngster with enough power to get the respect of his opponents, even if he will never be a KO artist.
In the ring Mori is flawed but a fun to watch youngster who brings pressure, and an exciting style. Sadly he really does lack power, and while he is maturing he doesn't look a physically imposing kid, or someone who's ever going to have true fight changing power. Instead he seems like someone who's going to be in fun fights, but has a style which will lead to him losing bots and taking punishment when he faces better fighters. The key to Mori's pressure is his upper body movement, and he is a fighter who is hard to catch clean, lets his hands go and fighters like someone who trusts his chin, when he needs to.
We expect to see Mori coming forward, pressing and trying to make this into a war, forcing the tempo and letting shots go. Sadly for him we don't think he'll get Inoue's respect, and instead we're expecting to see Inoue land a lot of clean jabs, slowly chipping away at Mori. As the rounds go on, the shots of Inoue will begin to break down Mori, who'll show his toughness and see out the final bell, but will finish the bout with a swollen face and battered looking face.
Related - UD8 Inoue
This coming Wednesday fight fans will be in for something of a treat at 154lbs as teak tough Japanese fighter Takeshi Inoue (17-1-1, 10) takes on unbeaten Australian puncher Tim Tszyu (19-0, 15), in a bout with the potential to be an instant classic. The contest is mouth watering on paper, and a genuinely meaningful one in regards to the WBO, with Inoue looking to defend his WBO Asia Pacific title against WBO Global champion Tszyu. The winner will not just be a unified minor title holder, but will also be on the verge of a WBO world title fight as we head into 2022.
Of the two fighters it's fair to say all the buzz is around Tszyu, the son of former Light Welterweight great Kostya Tszyu. The second generation fighter has quickly been racking up wins against notable opponents, and impressing with his calculated style, heavy hands and brutal finishing mentality. The last few years have been huge for him, and he has essentially cleaned out the domestic scene with wins against the likes Wade Wyan, Dwight Ritchie, Jack Brubaker, Jeff Horn and Dennis Hogan. Early on he was promoted heavy on the fact that his father is a modern day great, but with his recent wins he has moved out of being the son of a legend, and became a legitimate contender in his own right, and someone who seems almost ready for a world title fight of his own.
In the ring Tszyu has real star potential. He's a very impressive boxer puncher, who applies intelligent pressure, lets his shots go when in range, counters well, and is incredibly heavy handed, seemingly inheriting the power of his father. He's not the quickest, and he's not the most active, but he's a very heavy handed fighter, who is very calculating, smart in the ring and physically incredibly strong. To date he has answered a lot of questions, though there is still some question marks hanging over him. He has proven his stamina, by going 10 rounds a number of times, but there is some question marks over his chin, and what happens when a fighter can take his power and keep coming forward. We've not seen a fighter really test him since Wade Ryan did, way back in October 2017, and since then Tszyu has racked up 12 straight wins and looked like a destructive force along the way.
Whilst Tszyu is waiting for a shot at the big time, Inoue has had a shot, which came in 2019 when he challenged the then WBO champion Jaime Munguia, and gave the unbeaten Mexican a legitimately tough nights work. The bout with Munguia showed how tough, rugged and strong Inoue was, but also showed his technical limitations as he pressured but had little overall success against Munguia. Since then Inoue has worked on technical things, and has been showing a much better jab in recent bouts, better defense and overall more to his boxing than just the pressure style that had made him a very fun fighter to watch in Japan. That slightly more rounded style has seen him scoring 4 wins since the loss to Munguia, though they have been at a regional to domestic level.
In the ring Inoue is a small, rugged fighter with incredible physical strength, fantastic power of recovery and a staggering will to win. He is slow, and like many Japanese fighters in the higher weights, he relies more on his physical tools rather than his skills to get by in the sport. He can be out boxed, as Munguia showed as Yuki Nonaka showed at times too, but over 12 rounds he will give fighters fits, and if a fighters tried to blow him out early on there's a real risk of them taking a lot out of themselves in the process. Here we expect to see him trying to rush and cramp Tszyu for space, and work up close, much like we saw Ricky Hatton do to Tszyu's father. Sadly for Inoue he doesn't have the foot speed and tenacity of Hatton, but we see that being the gameplan he'll be looking to apply here.
The reality is that Tszyu is the better boxer, the bigger puncher, the more natural athlete and the quicker man. Despite that we suspect Inoue will cause problems for Tszyu, just through he sheer bloody mindedness and determination. He will walk through some of Tszyu shots, the type of shots that have been taking out domestic competition, and smile. He will look to break Tszyu mentally, through his pressure. He will certainly have some moments, but in the end Tszyu will come out on top, either a late mercy stoppage from the referee or a clear, and wide decision victory.
Prediction - UD12 Tszyu
For a third day in a row we get title action in Japan as Japanese Youth Featherweight champion Kyonosuke Kameda (7-2-1, 6) defends his title, for the first time, and takes on Hiroki Hanabusa (8-2-3, 3) in an interesting looking match up.
Kameda won the title back in July, when he stopped the previously unbeaten Tsubasa Narai in 2 rounds to claim his first professional title. During that bout we saw a very polished performance from Kameda, who looked relaxed, calm, confident and heavy handed. He took the first round to see what Narai had in the longer, and then hurt, and stopped Narai with some huge head shots in the second round. That was the biggest win of his career, so far, and showed the improvements Kameda has made since signing with the Harada gym.
In the ring Kameda is an awkward fighter to go up again. He's long, he's rangy, heavy handed and although he's still raw around the edges, he's dangerous and tough to get to. He's improved significantly since his debut, which he lost, and although we doubt he'll ever go on to win world titles, he certainly has the potential to mix it up at domestic and regional level, and certainly has the power to be a nightmare at this Youth title level, especially against naturally smaller fighters, such as Hanabusa. Worryingly for the Japanese domestic scene, Kameda is only 23 and could have a few years to develop his skills at the Harada gym before needing to face the top dogs.
The 22 year old Hanabusa has been a professional since 2017, and began his career as a Super Flyweight, though went on to most of his notable success at Super Bantamweight, where he won the All Japan Rookie of the Year in 2018. Heading in to 2019 it seemed Hanabusa was heading places, but a loss in 2020 to Toshiki Shimomachi and one in 2021 to Katsuya Fukui have really left him in desperate need of a good performance. Sadly those two losses have come in his last two bouts, and he has no momentum at all coming into this bout. Also he's moving up in weight, from Super Bantamweight to Featherweight, and isn't a naturally big, strong or powerful fighter.
In the ring Hanabusa is a talented boxer-mover. He lacks fight changing power, but uses the ring well, throws plenty of leather and comes to fight, but does so in a technical, efficient manner. Sadly for him he hasn't the natural size to compete at Featherweight, and although he has had solid results at Super Bantamweight, he's not really a naturally 122lb'der either. In fact he'd probably have more success at Bantamweight, though the 118lb weight class is stacked in Japan at the moment. He's a talented, aggressive, comes to win and should make for a fun dancer partner, but one without much threat.
Given Hanabusa likes to fight, he likes to throw punches and comes to fight, we expect him to bring pressure early on, try and force Kameda into a high tempo fight. Kameda on the other hand will be patient, look to create some space, relax, and then use his power, taking out Hanabusa in the first half of the fight. The size, power, and strength of the two men will be the difference maker here.
Prediction - TKO4 Kameda
Back in July we saw a scheduled Japanese Bantamweight title fight between Kyosuke Sawada (14-2-2, 6) and Ikuro Sadatsune (11-4-4, 4) end in an inconclusive manner, as a head clash early in round 2 left both men bloodied, and saw the bout being waved off as a technical draw. It was a disappointing conclusion to the bout for both men and the fans, and it also left the title vacant. Prior to the early ending we had seen a lot of things happen in the opening round, including a knockdown and some really telling moments.
Rather than looking back of the career of the two men so far, as we usually do in their previews, we're going to focus on that first fight as the basis of how we expect to see the second bout go.
The first bout, or rather the first round of it, was controlled by Sawada, a former Japanese amateur standout who used two really effective tools through the first round of their first bout. One of those was his boxing brain and the other was his movement. Through out that first round he out thought Sawada, made him make mistakes and used his quick hands and understanding of range and distance to counter, land cleanly and dropped Sadatsune with a gorgeous combination. Through out the round, not just on the knockdown, Sawada seemed too quick, too sharp and too smart for the more bull like Sadatsune, who trudged into shots at times.
Although Sadatsune is a southpaw, that didn't really help him, and in fact Sawada seemed more than comfortable with the lefty stance of Sadatsune, and it helps him landing his straight right hand damaging left hook.
Whilst the first didn't lead to a conclusive ending, it was clear, just from the first 3 minutes, that Sawada is a much, much better boxer than Sadatsune.
Despite feeling like Sawada is the better boxer, and the man who looked likely to win the first bout, had it not ended the way it did, it is worth noting that that was only round 1 and Sadatsune was likely to find his way into the bout. We think that'll be the case again here, and he will begin to get a read on Sawada's speed and timing, will begin to close the distance, and make it a rough fight in the later rounds. By then however we feel it will be too little too late for Sadatsune, who will be in a deep hole by the time he begins to have success against a tiring Sawada, who will finish the bout on cruise control.
Prediction - UD10 Sawada
On November 12th we'll see a really interesting Minimumweight bout, as Tsubasa Koura (15-1, 10) and Yudai Shigeoka (3-0, 2) face off for the WBO Asia Pacific title, which was vacated earlier this year by Yudai's younger brother Ginjiro Shigeoka. On paper this is a huge step up in class for Shigeoka, in his first 12 round bout, but it's one he and his team will go in to with a lot of confidence, whilst Koura will be looking to fight for the first time in well over a year, for only the third time since the start of 2019. In fact for Koura this is a really important bout and a loss here leaves his once promising career hanging by a thread.
Of the two men Koura is the more well established and was genuinely regarded as a prospect with a huge future ahead of him a few years ago. He began his career in 2014, and won the All Japan Rookie of the Year in 2015, beating future Japanese national champion Yuto Takahashi along the way. In 2017 Koura announced himself on the Oriental level, stopping Jaysevera Abcede in 4 rounds, and then defended the belt against future world title challenger Masataka Taniguchi and Norihito Tanaka, as well as the then unbeaten Daiki Tomita. He seemed on the verge of a major bout before suffering a shock 12th round TKO loss in 2019 to Lito Dante. Since that loss Koura has fought just once, picking up a low key win over Ariston Aton in February 2020.
At his best Koura was a hart hitting boxer-puncher. He looked brutal in his early bouts, and whilst he was clearly flawed, he looked like he had the physical tools and the boxing skills to go a very, very long way. He just needed time, experience and a chance to develop his in ring style. Then the loss to Dante happened, and it was a massive one, that saw Dante failing in so many areas. He was out boxed by Dante, he was pressed and pressured and crumbled, both mentally and physically. It seemed he had over-looked Dante and never found a way into the bout against the Filipino, who has a very misleading record. Over 12 rounds Koura just simply didn't have what was needed. That fight was his last at title level, and one that showed a lot of problems that Koura had, back in 2019. The hope for him is that he has matured, physically and mentally, and has refound some hunger for the game here, or he could end up suffering another defeat.
Yudai Shigeoka is much less well known than Koura, but is the man coming in to this on the back of some impressive performance, and the one now regarded as a top prospect, with major potential He turned professional after his younger brother but quickly impressed, beating Manop Audomphanawari in late 2019 and then beating Lito Dante over 6 rounds, the same Dante who had stopped Koura. Sadly Covid19 derailed his rise through the ranks, but he did fight this past February and stopped the previously unbeaten Ryu Horikawa in 5 rounds to claim the Japanese Youth Light Flyweight title. That fight, for those who haven't seen it, is a tremendous contest, and saw Shigeoka needing to pass something of a gut check, before breaking down and stopping Horikawa in a great bout that showed the significance of the Japanese Youth title scene.
In the ring Shigeoka is a fantastic boxer-puncher, with brutal body shots, a nasty straight left hand, a brilliant array of punches.He moves around the ring really easily and looks like someone with the potential to do huge things. There is however a lot of work for him to do going forward, and we suspect he, and his team, know that his defensive work is a weak point, and something he will need to tighten up on going forward. Given he's fighting out of the Watanabe Gym, it's clear he will be sparring with top fighters, and will be working on defense, but it still a clear weakness from what we've seen of him so far. Another, potential issue, is his stamina and this is his first 12 rounds. In fact his first 3 bouts have been just a combined 13 rounds, and we do wonder if he can do 12 without many problems.
Coming in to this it's really had to know where the biggest issues lie. Is it Koura and his inactivity or Shigeoka and his lack of experience? Even with that question in mind there are then other questions, such as whether the speed and movement of Shigeoka will be too quick for Koura, or whether Koura's power will be too much for Shigeoka?
We suspect that Shigeoka will get off to a great start, against a rusty looking Koura. Get off to a big lead and fight to orders. Looking to avoid a tear up with Koura. As the rounds go on however Koura will begin to wake up, Shigeoka will get drawn into a fire fight, and realise that's not where he wants to be. After a few tough rounds for the younger man, we then expect him to be read the riot act, get back to his boxing, and to a close, but clear, decision victory.
Prediction - UD12 Shigeoka.
On November 11th we get one of the most interesting OPBF title bouts of 2021 as former WBC Bantamweight title challenger Takuma Inoue (14-1, 3) takes on former IBF Super Bantamweight world title challenger Shingo Wake (27-6-2, 19), in a must win bout for both men, if they are are to be in the mix for a world title in the next year or two. Not only is it a must win bout for both men, and not only does it have the vacant OPBF Super Bantamweight title up for grabs, but it's also a truly intriguing match up between two men who are both known for their technical skills, and they could provide something of a compelling chess match here.
Of the two men the more well known is Takuma Inoue, the younger brother of Naoya Inoue and a man many expected to see great things from. Whilst he is very clearly in Naoya's shadow there is no denying that Takuma is a talented fighter and one who has accomplished plenty during his short career. He has already won OPBF titles at Super Flyweight and Bantamweight and will be looking to become a 3-weight OPBf champion here, he has also held a WBC "interim" world title and holds plenty of noteworthy wins against the likes of Tatsuya Fukuhara, Fahlan Sakkreerin Jr, Froilan Saludar and Keita Kurihara. He was also a lot more competitive with Nordine Oubaali than Alejandro Rochin's scorecard suggested, in what is Inoue's only loss as a professional.
Unlike his older brother Takuma doesn't have the brutal "Monster" power than Naoya does. Instead he needs to rely more on boxing skills, a boxing brain and movement. Sticking to great game plans to neutralise good opponents, winning rounds and taking victories, typically on the scorecards. Despite that it is worth noting that he hits harder than his record suggests, and he certainly trouble Nordine Oubaali late in their bout. He has also proven his stamina, his heart, determination and his ability to box on the back foot for 12 rounds, something that certainly isn't easy to do.
Aged 34 Shingo Wake is very much a man in last chance saloon, however in fairness to him he has easily exceeded the expectations many would have had for him had they followed his career from the start. The talented southpaw really struggled early in his career. He was once 3-2-1 (2) and was 12-4-2 (5) before winning his first title, the OPBF Super Bantamweight title, incidentally the same title he is trying to capture again here. Amazingly however he has rebuilt from a slow start and is 24-4-1 in his last 29 bouts, a stark change to his first 6 bouts. He has proven himself to be a very skilled boxer, a sharp shooting southpaw, with light feet, a good jab, under-rated skills and stunning bravery, as we saw in his brutal loss to Jonathan Guzman in 2016. He can box, he can punch, he can counter, and being a southpaw he's almost always a nightmare for fighters.
Although not as well known as Inoue it's fair to say that Wake is just as accomplished. Like Inoue he has come up short at world level, losing to Jonathan Guzman in an IBF world title fight, he has also won lower level titles including the OPBF and Japanese Super Bantamweight titles, and he has notched notable wins of his own. They include victories over among his most notable wins are victories over Yukinori Oguni, Jhunriel Ramonal, Jae Sung Lee, Panomroonglek Kaiyanghadaogym and Yusaku Kuga. During those wins he has proven he can do a bit of everything, but is at his best at range as a sharp shooter, drawing errors and pouncing on them with stiff, fast, straight left hand counters.
Coming in to this one, the bout really is an interesting one, and one that could be a tricky one to predict as both are very well schooled fighters. Of the two Inoue is certainly the better pure boxer, the quicker man, and the younger man. Wake on the other hand is the natural Super Bantamweight, the southpaw and the much heavier handed fighter. On paper we suspect Inoue will be the favourite, though this is, for us, a 50-50 bout. Wake's power and natural size is a major thing to consider and unlike most Inoue opponents, Wake has the skills to land, and to land clean. He has the ability and timing to draw a mistake from Inoue and counter, and make his success pay.
We will however be favouring Inoue, in a very, very hotly contested bout. We wouldn't be surprised at all to see Inoue dropped, hurt, and needing to tough out some real scares on route to a razor thing decision. His speed, youth and movement being the difference maker. We see this being incredibly close, and perhaps even a split decision, in a very well fought, high level, chess match.
Prediction - SD12 Inoue
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.