This coming Monday fights fans in Japan will get the chance to unified Heavyweight champion Kyotaro Fujimoto (18-1, 10) defending both of his regional titles, the OPBF and WBO Asia Pacific titles, against Australian challenger Aaron Russell (11-4, 4). For the champion, who also holds the Japanese national title, the bout will be his third defense of the OPBF title and the second of the WBO regional belt, whilst Russell will be fighting at this level for the first time in his career.
The Japanese 31 year old turned professional following a career in K1 and has had more success than many would have expected. He turned professional back in late 2011 and after winning his first 5 bouts was stopped by Solomon Haumono in a bout for the OPBF title, on the 1 year anniversary of Fujimoto's debut. At the point many fans wrote him off for a negative style, being under-sized and a perceived weak chin. Since then however he has reeled off 13 straight wins, 7 by stoppage, claimed the triple crown of domestic and regional titles and put himself in the world rankings.
As a fighter Fujimoto doesn't fight like a typical Heavyweight. He's not in there using his power and strength and instead fights in a pretty none-physical manner, relying on his speed, movement and timing. It's a small Heavyweight and uses that to his advantage by using his legs, making opponents look slow and tagging them with counters as well as speedy single shots when he leads. Rarely will we see him look to exchange blows of throw combinations, but what he does do works for him.
Despite not being a puncher Fujimoto does enough bang to keep opponents at this level wary. His speed on the counter has dropped opponents in the past and it will be something he'll look to make the most of again here.
In Russell we have a pretty underwhelming challenger. In fact it's hard to see what Russell has done to earn a shot at an OPBF title. He debuted in 2010 and after winning his first 3 bouts would fall to 4-3, losing a trio of bouts by stoppage. He's done well to rebuild since then, but his durability has always remained an issue, and he was stopped last year by Lancy Bryan after being dropped several times in the second round of their bout.
Whilst Russell clearly lacks in terms of durability he is also lacking in natural fighting size, having made his debut at Light Heavyweight and having never fought above 20llbs before. This will be one of the few times that Kyotaro is the naturally bigger man and that could again be a problem for the challenger, who is moving up in weight have not shown much punch resistance at Light Heavyweight or Cruiserweight.
Footage of Russell is mostly old but it doesn't show a very good fighter. We know he will have improved with experience but in the footage we've managed to get out hands on he looks slow, clumsy and unsure of himself. He looked like a fighter who really looked like he wasn't sure why he was in the ring. Again we accept that was old footage, but we don't suspect he's become a fringe world class fighter since that footage was shot.
We expect Russell to be stopped by Fujimoto in the middle rounds of their bout. He'll lack any tools needed to deal with the champion and his inability to take a shot will be a major issue here.
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.