The first Japanese fight of the new year comes just days after the first OPBF title fight.
Whilst the OPBF fight, between Yoshitaka Kato and Masayoshi Nakatani looks like something special, we're unfortunately left with some less exciting for the Japanese title fight which sees the #2 and #3 ranked Japanese Minimumweights fighting for the vacant title.
The belt, vacated late last year by Ryuji Hara, will see the light hitting Go Odaira (8-3-3, 1) fighting against the much harder hitting Masashi Tada (11-3-1, 7). We've got to admit that whilst both men are highly ranked it's not a bout that is setting our pulses racing.
Of the two men it's Odaira, pictured above, that has been more impressive so far. Although he's not blown the world away with great performances he has been scoring the occasional note worthy victory, including a 6 round decision 2 fights back against former world title challenger Takashi Kunishige. What's notable about the victory over Kunishige is that he himself gave Hara a real scare just a few weeks back.
As well as the victory over Kunishige it's worth noting that Odaira is on a 7 fight unbeaten run going back to his own narrow loss to Ryuji Hara. Other than the Kunishige win there is little of note on his record but the light hitting southpaw at least has that one notable victory.
Whilst Odaira's victory over Kunishge is the most impressive between the two fighters it's hard not to be impressed by Tada's reputation as a puncher.
Tada, pictured opposite, has yet to score a really notable victory, in fact it's hard to even come up with a semi-notable victory on his record. Despite that he has been fighting above the 105lb Minimumweight limit as he's searched for suitable opponents.
Unfortunately despite the move to 108lbs and even 112lbs it's hard to say much about Tada's opponents. In all honesty the most noteworthy thing about them is that Tada was beaten by Junior Salvador, a very limited but tough Filipino. Albeit that bout was controversial and in the Philippines.
Worryingly neither of these two men have been scheduled to go 10 rounds before. That may not sound like an issue but we believe it could well be with both likely to go into uncharted water. This may well favour Odaira, the boxer, who would be more likely to be to control his stamina for 10 rounds. Of course it's not out of the question however that he could be stopped by Tada.
On paper it's not a bout that looks great but it is one that looks competitive. Not much more you could want in a bout. We do favour Tada, but only just. His power is likely to leave the more telling effect at least in the early rounds which we believe will see him building up a small but notable lead before Odaira comes back in to it.
As well as the Odaira/Tada bout we expect a number of other contests on this show.
These other bouts include seeing Takaomi Abe (15-2-2, 1), pictured opposite, fighting the big hitting Kazuya Nakano (6-2, 6) in a very good looking contest, Hiroaki Teshigawara (8-1-1, 4) battling Yuta Nakagawa (11-4-1, 7) and a potentially brilliant clash between Kohei Kubo (16-4-1, 11) and Hayato Kimura (20-5, 15).
We really wouldn't be shocked if the Kubo/Kimura bout ended up being the show stealer as it looks really good on paper.
This show will be held at the Korakuen Hall on January 14th. At the moment we're unsure who the promoter is though as mentioned above it will be the first Japanese title fight of the year. This is also the first of the "Champions Carnival" bouts and will hopefully kick off a great of Japanese domestic action.
The first big Asian fight of 2014 is penciled in for January 11th as Yoshitaka Kato (26-4-1, 7), the Japanese and OPBF Lightweight champion, attempts to defend his OPBF title.
Kato, ranked #10 by the WBC and WBO, is a fringe world level fighter. He's not a name known in the west but he does hold a notable 1-1 record against Nihito Arakawa and is a man who has been impressing on the Japanese domestic scene.
Not only has Kato been one of the rising domestic forces but he's a man who has been on a solid winning run. His last loss came via a shock stoppage to Mitsuya Omura back in April 2010 and since then he has won 9 straight. Those 9 fights have included 5 successful defenses of the Japanese title and of course him winning both the Japanese and OPBF titles.
Those victories, on the whole, have come by decision with Kato needing to show his boxing skills to over come the likes of Rey Labao, Akihiro Kondo and Takashi Inagaki. He has scored the odd stoppage, including a 91 second TKO over the very limited Kota Koike, but they have been rare and haven't come against any sort of quality.
Aged 29 Kato will have his eyes on a world title fight at some point. That however is dependent on him keeping his world ranking and also the OPBF title title that he claimed last year with a decision over Motoki Sasaki.
Although Kato has already defended the OPBF title once, defeating Rey Labao, he's now set to defend against one of the most promising fighters in Japan, Masayoshi Nakatani (6-0, 5).
For many Nakatani is a real obscurity. He's not a fighter who has climbed into any world rankings, he's not even ranked in the top 100 by the IBO but he is a man who has probably flown under-the-radar a bit more than he should have. He's not only a member of the Ioka Gym alongside world champions Kazuto Ioka and Ryo Miyazaki, but he's widely regarded as the "third" best fighter at the gym.
What Nakatani has done as a professional is look exceptionally promising and highly dangerous. His most impressive performance to date was a stoppage over the very dangerous Shuhei Tsuchiya. It was that fight more than any other that really showed what Nakatani was about and in fact some described him as showing glimpses of Tommy Hearns about him.
Aged 24 and stood at 5'11" Nakatani is a Lightweight giant. He has long arms which he has used to great effect, he has genuine power and with the Ioka training you know he is well skilled.
Of the two fighters it's clear that Kato is the more experienced man. He has an impressive 31 fights behind him with 206 professional rounds. These have included numerous bouts that have gone the scheduled 12 rounds. Nakatani has just 6 bouts and a mere 21 rounds under him with the longest fight of his career going just 6 rounds.
Despite the experience edge we think the most telling edge will be in power and size. Kato isn't a big puncher at all. He's only managed 2 stoppages in his last 12 bouts dating back to 2009. Nakatani though is a monstrous puncher and we have seen Kato stopped once before, by Mitsuya Omura. We're expecting a repeat of that and will be calling the apparent upset.
As well as the main event we're expecting to see 5 other bouts on the show. These will include former OPBF Super Bantamweight champion Yukinori Oguni (11-1, 2) fighting against Yuki Fujimoto (7-2-1, 2) in the chief support bout. This contest is scheduled for 10 round.
The other bouts on the card will include Kenji Kubo (3-2, 1) and Yusuke Sakashita (10-4-2, 6).
The card, put on by Kadoebihoseki, will be held at the Korakuen Hall and will be expected to feature some really great action.
Although far from a super card we expect the show to be very interesting, most notably because of the main event which bares a lot of importance on the domestic scene and the world scene.
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.