The Light Flyweight scene is one of the most interesting, with Asia and Latin America have a number of really great fighters in the division right now. Sadly with the top fighters being so good it can leave those at regional or domestic level looking a long way behind the leading pack, and that is clearly the case with the Japanese domestic scene. Despite that the Japanese level is giving us some good fights at the weight and this coming Thursday we get the next Japanese Light Flyweight title fight, pitting two grizzled veterans against each other.
The match up will see 32 year old champion Tetsuya Hisada (28-9-2, 17) attempt to make his first defense of the title as he takes on fellow 32 year old Atsushi Kakutani (19-5-1, 12), who is getting his third shot at a Japanese title.
Of the two fighters it's the challenger who is the better known. He's a tall and wiry fighter who debuted back in 2008 and fought between Minimumweight and Super Flyweight, as he's looked for opportunities. That has seen him sharing the ring with a bit of a who's who, and he's suffered losses to Warlito Parrenas, Teiru Kinoshita, Adrian Hernandez and Ken Shiro whilst scoring a very notable win against Rey Loreto.
At his best Kakutani is a solid boxer-puncher, but unfortunately his lack of durability is a real issue and he has been stopped in 4 of his 5 losses, and was taken out in a round by both Parrenas and Ken Shiro.
Although “only” 32 and with “only” 25 bouts on his record the reality is that Kakutani is an old fighter. He has had a lot of damaging bouts and really has aged more than most fighters who have his raw “numbers”. He has also struggled to score wins of note, often facing Thai journeymen to stay active, and that's hard helped when he's had to move up through the levels and faced of the more notable names in his career.
With 39 bouts on his record Hisada would “seem” like the older and more worn man but the reality is that his career, whilst is has been hard, hasn't really had the damaging fights, and that's depsite having more than twice as many rounds as Kakutani. His only stoppage defeat was more than 5 years ago, to Hiroyuki Hisataka, and although he has suffered losses they haven't been the break damaging beatings that Kakutani has had, where he has been dropped multiple times. Instead they have been decisions. Those losses have included defeats to the likes of Ryoichi Taguchi and Kenichi Horikawa, as well as a string of lesser names. In recent years however he has found his rhythm and got things going his way, with a 7 fight winning run, punctuated by a decision over Kenichi Horikawa in April to win the title.
Although Hisada has got power, and has stopped 6 of his last 7, he's more of a gutsy fighter, looking for a fight rather than a punch out. His engine is solid, and he can take a shot, two things we suspect could be a key here, along with his confidence and the fact he is riding the crest of momentum.
At their best this really could be a thriller. However we do believe that Kakutani has seen better days and that this version of Kakutani won't be able to last the distance with a hungry and driven Hisada, and that's despite the fact he's going to be coming in to this as a man knowing he's in last chance saloon.
A number of fighters spent 2015 impressing fight fans, one of whom was Japanese youngster Ken Shiro (6-0, 3) [拳 四朗], who claimed the WBC Youth and Japanese Light Flyweight titles in a year that saw him scoring 4 wins and really show serious development. He'll be looking to continue his progress through 2016, and begins the year by defending his Japanese title against former world title challenger Atsushi Kakutani (17-4-1, 10) [角谷 淳志], who is getting a long over due national title shot at his normal weight.
The 24 year old champion turned professional in August 2014 and was tipped for big things pretty much from the off. Now, less than 2 years after his debut, he has already impressed showing both a high level of ability and the skills to adapt if, and when, he needs to. His skills impressed on debut, when he out pointed the highly experienced Heri Amol, and again when he scored a 7th round TKO win over the then unbeaten Katsunori Nagamine, his ability to adapt saw him fight back from a poor start to take the unbeaten record of Rolly Sumalpong and his ability to step up saw him claim a win, in December, against Kenichi Horikawa to claim the Japanese title.
Although he's still a relative novice the young champion has impressed with independent rankings from the PBO, IBO and Boxrec all rating him in the top 25 Light Flyweights on the planet, in fact at the time of writing the IBO have the youngster #3 in the world!
Although not a KO artist the youngster is a sharp puncher, with great accuracy, surprising physical strength, impressive hand speed and very intelligent movement. His “inexperience” seems to be his one flaw at the moment, though it is worth noting that he had a very extensive amateur career and was a former standout Japanese amateur who is guided by his father, a former OPBF and Japanese title holder.
The challenging has been a professional for significantly longer than the champion, in fact Kakutani debuted more than 8 years ago, began his professional career with 3 straight KO wins. Sadly for him his winning run came to an end after 17 months, as he was stopped by Mamoru Honda. That was the first of 3 stoppage losses for Kakutani who has got question marks about his durability. The other stoppages suffered by Kakutani are an opening round loss to Warlito Parrenas, in 2011, and a 4th round loss to Adrian Hernandez in a WBC world title fight. Notably his only other loss was a split decision defeat in a Japanese Super Flyweight title fight against Teiru Kinoshita.
Whilst Kakutani has come up short in his most notable bouts to date he does hold some credible wins, including a narrow decision win over Rey Loreto, who at the time was an unknown though has since proven to be a very good fighter, a win over Katsuya Matsuura and a win over Yota Hori. Notably he also dropped both Parrenas and Hernandez before being stopped himself.
In the ring Kakutani is a talented boxer mover. In recent years he has been racking up stoppages, with his last 5 wins coming inside the distance, though the opposition in those 5 wins was questionable at best with all 5 stoppages coming against very poor imports. That's not to say he can't punch, given that he dropped both Parrenas and Hernandez, but he is certainly not a puncher, and is more of a speedy mover.
For Ken Shiro we see this being another solid test for the youngster, but another one that he will pass. We see Kakutani posing some real issues with his natural size, given that he is notably taller than Ken Shiro, but we think the youth and skills of Ken Shiro will be enough to see him to his first defense, possibly courtesy of a late stoppage.
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.