Over the next few weeks we get a lot of Japanese title eliminators, as we find out who will be challenging for Japanese titles at the Champion Carnival in 2020. Whilst some of those are more attractive match ups than others one that looks like it could be a lot of fun is the Light Welterweight bout between Cristiano Aoqui (14-7-2, 10) and Daishi Nagata (13-2-1, 5). On paper this might not look like a great bout, but in reality we are expecting this to be one of the best eliminators this year, with the styles of the two men expected to gel perfectly.
Of the two men it's the Aoqui who is the more experienced professional. He turned professional back in 2006 and with 23 pro bouts under his belt the 30 year old puncher is a bit of a veteran. His record is certainly not great on paper, but losses to the likes of Valentine Hosokawa (SD8), Hiroki Okada (TD9) and Koki Inoue (RTD 2) are certainly nothing particularly shameful. Instead that show the level he has been competing at the last few years and there's certainly one or two of his career defeats that could easily have gone his way.
In the ring Aoqui isn't the most skilled, or the smoothest, but he is an entertaining fighter, with explosive power, an exciting and aggressive style. When he gets opponents hurt he goes for the kill with quick, heavy hitting combinations looking to take them out without giving them a chance to recover. Whilst it is the exciting combinations from Aoqui that catch the eye he does box well, using a good jab to open the door for his power shots, moving well and setting a solid tempo from start to end. He's always looking to get on the front foot and set the pace of the bout. As well as being aggressive Aoqui is quite flawed, he can be hit, and he can also been caught coming forward. Those defensive flaws, alongside his aggression, is why he makes for such good fights, and is a very TV friendly fighter.
Although less experienced as a professional Nagata was a solid amateur, running up a solid 41-21 (11) record, and he won the 2012 All Japan champion. He turned professional with pretty loft expectations on his shoulders, and those expectations didn't fade despite a draw on his debut, to Takeshi Inoue no less. Since then Nagata has been consistently matched tough, struggling with some opponents that he perhaps faced a little bit too early in his career. Those tough bouts have however toughened him up and last year we saw him give Rikki Naito all he could handle in an excellent bout for the OPBF Light Welterweight title, losing a split decision to Naito. In the bout with Naito we saw Nagata answer a lot of questions and prove what a good boxer he was, and show his will to win.
In the ring Nagata is a smart pressure fighter, he brings the pressure behind intelligent footwork and good jabs, pressing for openings, looking for gaps to strike in and mentally challenging his opponents. It's not the all action pressure of some other fighters, but it's a very clear style that is based around making opponents work hard for their space and their opportunities. Defensively he's relatively tight with his guard, but he can be hit through it and around it, and he is open to over hand rights, as we saw against Naito. He seems to be able to take a decent shot, but there are question marks about his overall durability given how he was essentially bullied and battered by Vladimir Baez in his first defeat.
Given that Aoqui likes to box at a high tempo, and unleash combinations, and Nagata applies a lot of forward movement, we're expecting to see the two men in range a lot, and trading blows in some thrilling sequences. If the power of Aoqui can trouble Nagata then this could be a short but thrilling action bout, but we're not expecting Aoqui to blow through his foe. Instead we suspect the jab of Nagata will offset Aoqui's power early on and we'll end up with a very exciting back and forth, in a bout that is very, very hard to call.
Prediction SD8 Nagata
The Japanese Light Welterweight scene is one that doesn't get a lot of attention, but is interesting at the moment with several fighters starting to break through the ranks, such as Daishi Nagata Noriaki Sato and Shuichiro Yoshino whilst at the top of the tree is future world title challenger Keita Obara.
One man looking to move in the same direction as Obara is current Japanese national champion Hiroki Okada (12-0, 10), who returns to the ring this coming Monday to seek the 5th defense of his title as he takes on Japanese-Brazilian Cristiano Aoqui (11-4-2, 7).
Okada has slowly but surely been making a name for himself among Japanese domestic fans, and with good reason. He's an exciting, talented and heavy handed fighter who seems like he could, potentially, go a very long way. Unlike many punchers Okada isn't at his best coming forward but, instead, fighting as a counter puncher with his boxing on the back foot being his strength. Saying that however he can fight on the front foot when he needs to.
The 26 year old from Tokyo has started to string together some genuinely notable wins including victories over Masayoshi Kotake, Koichi Aso, twice, Hayato Hokazono and Masanobu Nakazawa. Not only has he been putting together really good domestic wins but he has been scoring stoppages over good domestic fighters too, with Aso being stopped in 7 rounds earlier this and Nakazano lasting less than 3. At the moment he's the top guy domestically, though of course he's behind Obara who has progressed well beyond the Japanese domestic scene, however we suspect he'll be looking to move beyond the domestic scene and hunt an OPBF title in the near future and take on the top guys from the region.
Whilst we have seen plenty of Okada the same cannot be said of Aoqui who has most fought at the lower levels of the Japanese scene since making his debut almost a decade ago. On paper his record isn't great however he back his career 4-2-1 (3), with both of those losses coming by stoppage, however he has since gone 7-2-1 (4) with both of those recent losses being very narrow decision defeats. Whilst he has suffered defeats, in fact losing as recently as last December, Aoqui has been scored notable wins beating Koicho Ogawa, Quaye Peter and Ryosuke Takami in the last 2 years.
Although on on paper Aoqui doesn't look like a puncher the footage of him out there certainly shows a man who can whack, particularly with the uppercut which he used to devastating effect against Takafumi Yamada in a 58 second blow out win 3 years ago. The uppercut really is his danger punch though he does have heavy looking hooks and seems to be the aggressive sort of fighter than can make for an exciting type of fight. Saying that however he is flawed, technically his punches leave him open and his footwork is sloppy, and even slow at times
Given the aggressive and front foot nature of Aoqui we suspect he'll play right into the hands of Okada who we think will stop him in the middle rounds with a devastating counter punch.
Notably this bout will be streamed over the BoxingRaise website and for fans interested in watching that appears to be the only way of seeing the bout, unless you have a ticket to the Korakuen Hall for the show
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.