One of the very best things about the Japanese boxing scene right now is the rise of young fighters wanting to be tested early in their career. Some times this does back fire, but on the whole it gives the scene, and those fighters, an extra edge. A risk factor that just captures the imagination a bit more than some of the Western match making, where keeping the "0" in tact is more important than proving yourself early.
One of the next rising fighters wanting to make a statement is the once beaten Masanori Rikiishi (6-1, 4), who has paid for his exciting match making, but also bounced back from a loss. The Japanese fighter will be up against the much more experienced Freddy Fonseca (27-3-1-1, 18), with the two men clashing on September 15th in Kariya. On paper this is an excellent test for both, who will both be hunting bigger fights if they pick up a win here.
The 25 year old Rikiishi didn't have a hugely successful amateur career though turned professional like a man who had done serious things in the unpaid ranks. His first fight was against a 6-3 Korean, his second bout against a 4-1 domestic foe. He was intent on proving himself quickly, though as mentioned, he paid the price for his tough match making suffering a 2nd round TKO loss in his third bout when he was stopped by former Japanese Featherweight champion Kosuke Saka. That loss left some questioning Rikiishi's match making, toughness and chin, though he has since bounced back with 4 straight wins. The only "gimme" among those was a confidence builder following his loss, against Egy Rozten. Since then he faced 3 solid domestic fighters.
In the ring Rikiishi is a tall out boxer, with solid power. Although he can mix it on the inside, and do rather well, it's certainly not the best for him and he's best off setting things up from the outside before moving in. His body shots are wicked and his boxing brain is alarming sharp for someone so early in their career. Defensively he does have some issues, hence why fighting at range is certainly playing to his strengths, but his accurate southpaw jab and good counter punching does make opponents pay for taking risks.
Fonseca is a 27 year old Nicaraguan who has been a professional for close to 7 years. During his 32 fight career he has mostly fought in Latin America, but did actually make his US debut earlier this year, losing to Jo Jo Diaz in 7 rounds. As with many fighters who fight on the Latin American scene his competition has been poor, and sadly he has has lost to the most notable fighters he has shared the ring with, Diaz and Juan Huertas. He's experienced, with out really scoring a notable win and does have a very padded record.
Despite having a record that's padded thicker than it should be Fonseca does pass the eye test, and a loss to Diaz is certainly nothing to be ashamed by. He does look quick, sharp, moves well and has a nice jab. Sadly though passing the eye test says a lot about the level of competition he's been fighting at and that has, for the most part, helped him look good and against Diaz we saw his limitations being on show, big time. He's not terrible, but he does seem to be someone who is very much a front runner and someone who will struggle when it's put on him.
On paper Fonseca is a huge step up in class for Rikiishi. In reality however the one big advantage Fonseca has is experience, and not skills, power or competition, Diaz aside. Yes this is a step up for Rikiishi, but one that he should be the favourite in. He's the more impressive on the eye, the one who has looked better in recent bouts and the man at home.
We expect to see Rikiishi take control behind his jab, find out what Fonseca has then chip away at him before finally scoring a stoppage in the second half of the fight.
Prediction TKO7 Rikiishi
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.