This coming Saturday we'll see a new Japanese Youth Super Featherweight champion being crowned as Hyoga Taniguchi (5-3-2, 1) and Seika Fukuda (6-3, 1) clash for the title. The bout pits two talented but flawed youngsters against each other, and although neither is likely to make a name above domestic level, both could well be major players on the domestic scene over the coming decade or saw.
Of the two men Taniguchi is the more well known. The 23 year old southpaw made his debut in 2018 and struggled early on, going 1-2-1 after 4 bouts. He then reeled off a nice run going 3-0-1, and winning the All Japan Rookie of the Year in 2019, before suffering something of an upset loss last year to Hiro Ichimichi. Since that loss he has bounces back with a 6 round decision win over Caliente Koyasu, though it's really hard to know what he has to offer. Taniguchi is a work horse in the ring, but with a lack of power, a lack of physicality and desire to dig deep to win bouts, his future does seem to depend on whether or not he can grow into his man strength in the near future or not.
In the ring Taniguchi is an aggressive fighter who comes forward behind his jab, sets a nice tempo, and looks relaxed coming forward. Sadly for him he is very much a work in progress. Defensive he is open, especially to counters, and given his lack of power and physical strength fighters will be willing to take one to land one. It's clear, watching him, that he's a thinking fighter, but unfortunately for him it's not thoughts that are instinctive and instead he's thinking about things as we see them, and at times it looks like we can see the cogs turning when he's fighting. When found out of his comfort zone he really looks like he's really uncomfortable, though to his credit he is willing to hold when he needs to, and does have nice speed that he and his team can build on. Though there is so many areas where he will need to improve if he's to make a mark at the top of the domestic scene, rather than just becoming a bit player on the domestic level.
Aged 22 Fukuda is a tall and rangy fighter who debuted in 2019 and won his first 5 bouts, reaching the All Japan Rookie of the Year final, before losing inside a round in the final against Tsubasa Narai. That bout could have seen Fukuda being written off, but in reality it said more about Narai's power than it did about Fukuda. He bounced back with a win over Eiji Togawa but has lost his last two, losing 8 round decisions to Yuna Hara and Seira Kishida. With 3 losses in his last 4, it's hard to know what his mindset is, but this is a great chance for him to make a mark on the sport and to claim his first professional title.
In the ring Fukuda really is someone who looks like he has a nice under-standing of the ring. He uses quick footwork, changes leaves and comes forward. Sadly though he looks like a boy rather than a man and, like Taniguchi, lacks his man strength and power. As well as lacking in terms of physicality, he also seems to have questionable balance, and there's something of an awkwardness to his footwork at times, along with wide, looping slow punches. He's certainly not a bad fighter, but just like Haniguchi, he looks like a work in progress, and someone trainers need to spend a lot of time with to really develop and round off.
With neither man having much power we're not expecting an early finish here. Instead we're expecting something of a light punching war, with the styles gelling, and both men digging deep to try and dictate the tempo and work rate. Of the two men, Fukuda does look the better fighter, but he'll know he's the away fighter, travelling from Osaka for the bout, and will need to try harder to win over the fans and the judges. Sadly though we do get the feeling that home advantage will be the key here, and in a very, very hotly contested bout, fought at mid to close range, we'll see Taniguchi just do enough to edge the decision. Regardless of who wins, neither of these youngsters is the complete product yet, and hopefully in a few years time we'll see them clash again, after both have had time to work on some of their flaws and limitations.
Prediction - MD8 Taniguchi
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.