The 2017 Champion Carnival had a number of rematches, across the weight classes. This year however was a bit different and there hasn't been the same feeling of “seen this one before”. The one real exception is the 2018 Champion Carnival bout fort Super Flyweight title, with the bout pitting Go Onaga (28-3-4, 19) and Hiroyuki Kudaka (25-17-2,11) in their second bout, in the space of just over 4 months.
The two men battled last December in a bout to decide who would be facing Ryoichi Funai for the Japanese Super Flyweight title. That bout resulted in a very disappointing and frustrating 3rd round technical draw, due to a nasty headclash, with Kudaka being assured a shot at the title. Funai would then vacate the title, and turn his attention to fighting for a world title, and as a result we not get this rematch between the two veterans.
Of the two men it's Kudaka, who previously fought as Hiroyuki Hisataka, who is the more well known. He is a 4-time world title challenger, who has challenged Takefumi Sakata, Denkaosan Kaovichit, Hugo Fidel Cazares and Omar Andres Narvaez. As well as that world title experience he has also shared the ring with a genuine who's who of the lower weights, including Tomonobu Shimizu, Hussein Hussein, Panomroonglek Kaiyanghadaogym, Oleydong Sithsamerchai, Sonny Boy Jaro, Ryo Matsumoto, Takuya Kogawa, Keisuke Nakayama, Tetsuya Hisada, Mark John Yap, and Takuma Inoue.
Kudaka hasn't just mixed who's a who's who but often held his own thanks to his under-rated skill set, which is something his record really doesn't reflect. Kudaka's record suggests he's a bum, if we're being honest, but he has suffered losses due to the very tough competition he has been up against. Even against the best of that competition he has shown impressive toughness, stamina, work rate and aggression. He marches forward, sometimes quite crudely, throws a lot of leather and looks to make for exciting, fan friendly bouts. He's not the biggest puncher, mostly due to his flawed technique, but he is an imposing Super Flyweight who will take a lot of damage in in the hope of wearing down his opponent, or out working them, which makes him so tricky fighter.
At 32, and given his style, Kudaka doesn't have long left in his career. He already has over 300 rounds since debuting in 2002, but he will know this will probably be his final title fight, if he loses. Through his career so far he has come up short in bouts for the Interim Japanese title, WBC Youth title, WBA and WBO world titles, and WBC International title. In fact from his 8 previous title bouts, he has gone 1-7 winning only the WBC International Silver Flyweight Title.
Aged 37 Onaga is a man who has had a very frustrating career, and has become one of the forgotten fighters of the now top level Ohashi gym. He, like Kudaka, debuted back in 2003 and he was unbeaten in his first 16 bouts. That unbeaten run came to an end in a bout for a Japanese interim title, as he was stopped by future world champion Yota Sato. A second loss would come less than 2 years later, when he was beaten by Teiru Kinoshita in a bout for the Japanese Super Flyweight title. Interestingly that loss came following a technical draw with Kinoshita in a bout at the Strongest Korakuen, before the title was vacated by Sato for a world title fight. A little bit of history repeating here for Onaga.
The loss to Kinoshita was followed by a 10 fight winning run from Onaga, with wins over Reyan Rey Ponteras, Breilor Teran, Masafumi Otake, Jonas Sultan and Renoel Pael. Sadly for Onaga that run came to an end in 2016, when he was beaten by Rene Dacquel, and since then he has gone 1-0-2, though could well have lost a 2017 bout to Ryan Lumacad. In recent bouts Onaga hasn't good, and despite having a very good win over Jonas Sultan less than 3 years ago, there was a feeling that Onaga got a bit of luck from the judges.
We know Onaga wants to win a title before he retires. He has never managed to hide that desire, but we feel this shot has come several years too late. He has a chance, but we feel that his 37 year old legs won't be ale to keep up with the aggression or pressure of Kudaka. Both will be cautious not to have another head clash early in the bout, but Kudaka will still be the busier, more aggressive amn and the one who impresses the judges to take the win and the title.
The Ohashi gym has two of the best young Super Flyweights on the planet, with world champion Naoya Inoue and his younger brother Takuma Inoue. It also has another notable Super Flyweight, the much older and more experienced Go Onaga (27-2-2, 18). On August 21st Onaga looks to secure his biggest win, as he takes on Filipino Rene Dacquel (17-6-1, 6) in a bout for the OPBF title.
For the world ranked 36 year old Onaga this bout is almost certainly his last chance and the final sink or swim moment in a career that began more than 13 years ago.
The southpaw from Yokohama, though originally from Okinawa, began his career 13-0 (9) with solid early career wins over the likes of Carlos Murillo, Nerys Espinoza and Yuki Nasu unfortunately a 2009 draw with Richard Garcia slowed his rise through the ranks. The following year Onaga got his first title fight and suffered his first defeat, a stoppage loss in 2010 to Yota Sato in a Japanese “interim” Super Flyweight title bout.
Further setbacks in 2011 and 2012 to Teiru Kinoshita, a draw and a loss, essentially pushed him out of the title picture for a few years but recent wins over Breilor Teran, Masafumi Otake, Jonas Sultan and Renoel Pael have helped establish him as a credible OPBF title challenger.
In the ring Onaga posses very solid skills but little more, if we're being honest. He is a popular figure from the Ohashi gym but lacks the fighting tenacity of stablemate Akira Yaegashi, the destructive power of Naoya Inoue or the outside boxing skills of Takuma Inoue. He's certainly not a bad fighter, but there is nothing that stands out about him being anything particularly outstanding.
As the champion Dacquel will be making his first defense of the title, a title that was upgraded earlier this year when Takuma Inoue officially vacated the belt. Incidentally Dacquel and Inoue fought last year with Takuma clearly, and easily, over-coming the Filipino for this very same title.
Dacquel's record is less then stellar with the 6 losses, and in fact he's 1-2-1 in Japan, with losses to Takuma and Hideyuki Watanabe. Saying that however Filipino records are usually misleading and do the fighters a dis-service. Notably for Dacquel he has suffered several close losses and some outside of his best weight division. He also holds very notable wins over the likes of Yuki Nasu, Melvin Gumban Thembelani Nxoshe and Mateo Handig.
In the ring Dacquel is an technically solid fighter and at 25 is a fresh, young and hungry fighter in the ring. He's also a man maturing physically and does hit hard than his record suggests, as seen in his stunning KO win last time out against Lucky Tor Buamas. We're not saying he's a KO artist but he certainly hits harder than his record suggests and will likely know that leaving this one in the judges hands will be risky.
For both men this is a bout they cannot afford to lose. For Onaga a loss will kill his world title dreams stone dead. For Dacquel it'll be a 3rd loss in 6 and essentially see him relegated to a man who's level has been “found” at OPBF level class. Sadly for Onaga we think he'll be the man coming up short with Dacquel's youth being the difference down the stretch and Onaga's old legs not carrying him the full distance with the local fighter breaking down in the final rounds.
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.